August 10, 2018

As is my wont, I’m excited about a few books, two popular and two more academic. First, Peter Enns has a new book coming early next year, How the Bible Actually Works: In Which I Explain How An Ancient, Ambiguous, and Diverse Book Leads Us to Wisdom Rather Than Answers—and Why That’s Great News. Enns is one of my favorite authors, an academic who can also write for normal people. In fact, my Mom’s been reading his Genesis for Normal People and loving... Read more

August 4, 2018

Here’s the link to my combined podcast of lessons 29-30, and transcript. I find the order of the next few lessons a bit odd. Today we cover about 100+ years of major history (c. 750BC- 609BC), which happens to be the same time period and historical background for Amos (760 bce), Micah and Isaiah (735-700), Nahum (between 663 and 612), Jeremiah (627-??), Lehi, Urijah (Jer 26:20-23) and we’ve probably skipped Joel (uncertain), Obadiah (uncertain), Habbakuk (uncertain), and Jonah (set sometime before 612). (All... Read more

July 28, 2018

Apparently, the idea has entered popular consciousness that in 2 Samuel 11, Bathsheba herself was on the roof. I’ve actually been confused as to why people seem to think this, since the text doesn’t actually say so; It’s David who was on his flat palace roof, trying to cool off. So, where is this idea coming from that Bathsheba was “bathing” on the roof? I suggest one popular source, Jeff Buckley’s popularization of Leonard Cohen’s song “Hallelujah,” which references David and... Read more

July 28, 2018

Here’s the link to my combined podcast of lessons 29-30, and transcript. These chapters are about the transition from Elijah to Elisha and some of Elisha’ prophetic acts, which raise questions about the varying nature of prophets and prophetic succession. The manual suggests that in 2:1-10, “Elijah prepares Elisha to become the new prophet.” This kind of language assumes several things, namely, that there is only “one” prophet, namely,“the prophet,” the one prophet who is THE Prophet. (more…) Read more

July 28, 2018

These are some of my favorite chapters. Elijah and his fiery talents inspired our creative fire-building on many a scout trip, and even managed to get the back of my head quite singed once. For some excellent background on that story of the fiery showdown, see John Tvedtnes, “Elijah, Champion of Israel’s God”, Ensign July 1990.  (more…) Read more

July 8, 2018

In these chapters, “the golden age” of Israel comes to an end as United Kingdom of David splits into the Divided Kingdom, and things generally start going downhill. No one remembers the names of all the kings that follow Solomon, and there are two parallel kingdoms to keep track of. The way the lesson’s stated purpose frames these chapters, you might expect that Solomon is the ideal leader but then his son goes bad. And indeed, in many ways, Solomon... Read more

July 8, 2018

We skip chapters to move into Kings today, but it’s useful to recap the history. David virtually passes sentence upon himself and his house in 2Sa 12:5-6, “As the LORD lives [an oath], the man who has done this deserves to die.” (NRSV) When Nathan says to him, “Now the LORD has put away your sin; you shall not die” he’s not absolving him of adultery and murder per se (as the JST would take it), as much as “look,... Read more

July 5, 2018

Psalms is one of the most-often quoted books in the New Testament. Psalm 110, in fact, is the most alluded-to passage in the New Testament. (The other two books quoted most often are Deuteronomy and Isaiah.) For Mormons, Psalms is one of those many books we have a strong tradition… of ignoring.  Yet, said President Benson, “The psalms in the Old Testament have a special food for the soul of one in distress.” Psalms are often prayers, songs, or both.... Read more

July 3, 2018

As I gather most people are past these chapters, and I happen to be crazy busy, I am not updating them as much as I (and perhaps you) hoped. First, take a look at my separate post on Psalm 51. Second, here is my podcast on these chapters. I strongly recommend taking a listen/look, because it’s the counterbalance to what is below. (more…) Read more

July 3, 2018

Here’s the podcast on these chapters, with some useful notes. The purpose of this lesson is to focus on the friendship between David and Jonathan, but the narrative is primarily about David trying to avoid being killed. The guy trying to kill him is no other than his father-in-law Saul (since he married Michal), who is also Jonathan’s father.  Your in-laws don’t seem so bad now, eh? Along the lines of “friendship” it’s worth pointing out that Joseph Smith said “Friendship is... Read more

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