November 7, 2018

I presented a short paper at the Joseph Smith Papers conference a few weeks ago, a spin-off from my Genesis 1 manuscript. My basic argument was this. Certain common conceptions of revelation, which I term “absolutist,” cannot account for the major textual, doctrinal, and other differences between Genesis, Moses, Abraham, and the temple; this suggests we need to think and teach about revelation differently and in more depth. I defined “absolutist” revelation with a few characteristics. In this view, revelation… Read more

November 1, 2018

Jeremiah! The man, the book, the bullfrog… Jeremiah is the second longest book in our longest book of scripture. (Only Psalms is longer). We know more about Jeremiah than any other Old Testament prophet, because for reasons unknown, much more biographical information is included. First, though, the setting. We are now in Jerusalem, c. 625 BCE. Josiah the reformer has been on the throne for 15 years. Israel is technically an Assyrian vassal but under the direct administrative control of Egypt…. Read more

October 30, 2018

One of my qualifying exams is in Reformation history. As the story goes, Oct 31 is the day Martin Luther nailed his 99 95 theses to the door of the church, so Oct 31 is sometimes known as Reformation Day. What many people don’t know is that a) this story doesn’t mean what people think it does and b) it might not even have happened. University professors, as Luther was, operated differently from today. A primary form of teaching and scholarship… Read more

October 29, 2018

[Updated October 2018] Given the encouragement to do more personal, family, and group scripture study on our own, I’ve updated this post a bit.  A friend asked me about teaching youth about scripture study recently. I happened to have some notes I’d collected, so I wrote it up here. These are things I think LDS adults should know and model to the youth. I’ve grouped them under three logical, progressive headings. Now, I think the Church does a great job… Read more

October 28, 2018

Today we come to the last of our Isaiah lessons. These chapters cover a variety of topics, and I’m going to jump between a few of them. First, some setting of chapter 54. Isaiah addresses the empty city of Jerusalem as a childless mother, promising that its future inhabitants will be many.   54 Sing, O barren one who did not bear; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate… Read more

October 27, 2018

“You either believe the scriptures or you don’t.” I have, on occasion, been accused of wresting or disbelieving scripture. More often than not, this accusation has come from well-meaning people of my own faith who don’t understand how interpretation of scripture works. Often, they don’t even understand that interpretation exists. It is impossible to read scripture without making an implicit claim as to what a passage means, which is “interpretation.” So everyone is interpreting, all the time, consciously or unconsciously. There are… Read more

October 22, 2018

First, I’ve had a lot of Facebook friend requests from readers. I’m taking a break from Facebook to focus on my preparation for my three qualifying exams in spring: American Religious History, Reformation History, and History of Science. However, I will continue posting things to the Benjamin the Scribe Facebook page. I suggest you both Like and Follow that page. (I put a link to it and my GoFundMe  at the end of every post, but apparently, not everyone makes it that… Read more

October 18, 2018

One theme throughout these chapters is the redemption and recovery of Israel, specifically from Babylonian exile and previous scattering by the Assyrians. The lesson manual focuses on the messianic foreshadowing of Jesus as redeeming figure. Scholars refer to these as the “Suffering Servant” passages, and the text is well-known to many people through Handel’s Messiah. All of that, I think, will be quite familiar. I want to focus on a few different passages, though, which invoke certain attributes of God’s… Read more

October 13, 2018

As always, there’s a lot going on in these chapters. First, and majorly, is the issue of Second Isaiah. Much scholarship, dating back a few hundred years, recognizes that Isaiah 39 onwards differs markedly from the preceding chapters. It differs in terms of setting (Babylon instead of Assyria, which means a jump forward of 150 years), assumptions, theme, tone, and vocabulary. They’re not a complete break, but it’s significant enough that most scholars have concluded what scholars tend to conclude;… Read more

October 9, 2018

 I have more thoughts on group and family study to supplement replace our lost hour of Church, but in the meantime, this post (originally 2011, reposted last year) might be helpful.  I plug modern Bible translations one way or another in virtually everything I write and teach. Now that you have two or three translations, how do you integrate them into your family study or teaching? Here’s one suggestion. Our family of two is not very large, so schedules aren’t hard to coordinate…. Read more

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