The January Ensign (not available on-line yet) includes “The New Testament: The Historical Context” by BYU prof Thomas Wayment. PhD from Claremont, focused on textual criticism (as I recall), Wayment is one of the young movers and shakers at BYU. He co-authored Jesus Christ and the World of the New Testament, which garnered all kinds of positive press from lds blogs.
The Ensign article includes several statements that represent long-time scholarly consensus but may not be well known to LDS (some more significant than others), as well as a few that cut the other direction. Let’s look at a few.
- Gospel = ‘”good news’ referring to the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.” Often in the Church we use Gospel as an all-encompassing term for all doctrine, tradition, LDS culture, etc.
- The current canon of 27 books wasn’t fixed until the 4th century. [The first time we find our current canon is from Athanasius, c. 367 CE.]
- Mark and Luke are not Apostles like Matthew and John.
- Paul’s letters pre-date the Gospels.
- Hebrews is only traditionally ascribed to Paul.
- The authors of the New Testament were writing primarily for their contemporaries, not for those millennia later.
Only one assertion made in passing really struck me as incomplete. I assume this results primarily from the spatial and institutional constraint of writing in the Ensign.
- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John really wrote Matthew Mark, Luke and John. The writing of the Gospels is much more complicated, but Wayment himself has written about this elsewhere.
This is a great article, and I’ll be referencing it with my Gospel Doctrine classes. Is it a movement in a particular direction for the Ensign? I hope so.