“Understanding Ritual Hand Gestures of the Ancient World”

“Understanding Ritual Hand Gestures of the Ancient World” June 8, 2020


An Interpreter volume
The Interpreter Foundation volume from which the David Calabro article has been excerpted


Here are two new items on the website of the Interpreter Foundation:


“Understanding Ritual Hand Gestures of the Ancient World: Some Basic Tools”

Abstract: The ritual use of hand gestures in covenant-making in ancient times is a topic of peculiar interest to Latter-day Saints. In this article, David Calabro summarizes results drawn from his doctoral research, providing readers with some tools to evaluate ancient gestures. The questions he suggests are novel, as is the way they are couched in an organized scheme. The author concludes that Latter-day Saints, who belong to a tradition saturated with ritual gestures, should be among those most educated about them.

[Editor’s Note: Part of our book chapter reprint series, this article is reprinted here as a service to the LDS community. Original pagination and page numbers have necessarily changed, otherwise the reprint has the same content as the original.

See David Calabro, “Understanding Ritual Hand Gestures of the Ancient Word: Some Basic Tools,” in Ancient Temple Worship: Proceedings of The Expound Symposium 14 May 2011, ed. Matthew B. Brown, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Stephen D. Ricks, and John S. Thompson (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation; Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2014), 143–58. Further information at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/ancient-temple-worship/.]


“Book of Moses Insights #006: Enoch’s Teaching Mission: Enoch and the Other “Wild Man” (Moses 6:38)




Back on 3 June 2020, at his request, I posted a blog entry calling attention to a rather adversarial commenter on this blog who called himself (or herself) “Charles,” and to the $500 wager that “Charles” had proposed:


“Uto-Aztecan languages and a very eccentric Interpreter donor”


I thought it a very odd wager.  “Charles” claimed certainty, on the basis of “insider knowledge,” that no response by Brian Stubbs to critics of his thesis that there were ancient Semitic and Egyptian influences on the Uto-Aztecan language family in the New World would ever appear in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship.


I found his supposed certainty odd, for at least two reasons:  (1) Nobody has better access than I do to insider knowledge of what the Interpreter Foundation is doing.  (2)  Brian’s article had been going through our standard review and preparation process for several months — it had, in fact, been subjected to much more than our standard process because of the unique challenges that it posed not only by its relatively great length but in terms of organization and format — and I knew that it would appear, barring a devastating comet strike or a cataclysmic eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano, at 12 noon on Friday, 5 June 2020.  As, in fact, it did:


“Answering the Critics in 44 Rebuttal Points”


I always thought it a 50/50 chance that “Charles” would renege on his (or her) wager.  I now consider the odds of “Charles’s” welching on the bet much higher than 50/50, since, after days of voluble posting (and boasting) about his (or her) imminent victory — which, though neither of us had specified a term for the wager, “Charles” claimed to expect on Friday — “Charles” went completely silent on Thursday and has not returned.


Quelle surprise!


However, there’s still a chance.  And, if Charles does happen to send a $500 donation in to the Interpreter Foundation, as he promised, I’ll definitely announce it here.



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