“A Prophet Like Moses,” and “The Journey of the Magi”

“A Prophet Like Moses,” and “The Journey of the Magi” December 21, 2020


Rembrandt's Moses
“Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Law” (1659), by Rembrandt
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


Two items were published on the website of the Interpreter Foundation today.


The first, by David R. Seely, appears in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:


““A Prophet Like Moses” (Deuteronomy 18:15–18) in the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the Dead Sea Scrolls”

Abstract: David Seely provides a wide-ranging survey of interpretations of the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15–18 concerning “a prophet like unto Moses.” He examines relevant passages in the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the Dead Sea Scrolls and shows how the prophecy has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ and others, continuing with Joseph Smith’s role in the Restoration and onward to the present day.

[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 R. Seely, ““A Prophet Like Moses” (Deuteronomy 18:15–18) in the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in “To Seek the Law of the Lord”: Essays in Honor of John W. Welch, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson and Daniel C. Peterson (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation, 2017), 359–74. Further information at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/to-seek-the-law-of-the-lord-essays-in-honor-of-john-w-welch-2/.]


The second is a brief podcast from the seemingly indefatigable Jeffrey Mark Bradshaw:


“Exploring the Symbolism of Christ in Ancient Christmas Carols and Traditions: The French Villagers Who Witnessed Christ’s Birth in Bethlehem”




From the incomparable Jeff Lindsay:


“The Jewish Copper Plates of Cochin, India and a Hint of an Ancient Jewish Tradition of Writing on Metal Plates”




And this, too: a fun and informative short item from “Saints Unscripted”:


“What Did the “Unofficial” Witnesses of the Book of Mormon Plates Experience?”




“The ‘Christmas Star’ Will Make an Appearance Tonight. Here’s How You Can Watch.”




A little bit more on that article in The Atlantic on “Mormonism” as “The Most American Religion”:


Jewish Insider“Why McKay Coppins’ article on Mormons in America resonates with Jewish readers”


KCRW:  “Mormonism is 200 years old. How the American religion is changing”


Deseret News“The most ‘American’ religion is actually a global faith rich with meaning”




I conclude with a septet of items from the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File:


“LDS Church donates $1 million to Salvation Army”


“BYU students, creator of Alexa develop software to preserve Cambodian stories”


I think it extremely unlikely that the dominant religious culture of Utah plays no significant role in this:


“STUDY: Utah ranked best state for the middle class in U.S.”


Back in 2015, Brigham Young University’s two a capella singing groups, Vocal Point (men) and Noteworthy (women), combined for this music video, which some of you might enjoy:


“Oh, Come, All Ye Faithful”


From Meridian Magazine:  “A Cappella vocal group Eclipse 6 highlights the world’s longing for miracles with the plea, “O come, Immanuel.” To those who wait, hunger, pray, and wander, they sing, “Behold your King.”  The video portrays how the miracles of healing performed by Jesus Christ during His ministry can be experienced today by those waiting for the coming of Immanuel. To the hearts that long for a little bit of hope, the group declares, “The Light of the World is here””:


“VIDEO: A Cappella Group Shares Beautiful #LightTheWorld Song Celebrating Miracles of Christ”


And here’s a five-minute video from my long-time friend and colleague Jack Welch (John W. Welch):


“A Thing of Beauty: Bertel Thorvaldsen’s Christus”


Finally, seventh of seven, here’s a great “Christmas poem” from T. S. Eliot (1888-1965).  But it’s very far from the usual kind of Christmas poem.  It’s not the sentimentalized story we often hear about the “babe of Bethlehem.”  Eliot isn’t merely telling the manger story; he’s talking about the doctrine of the humiliation and condescension of Christ (on which, see my 2018 blog entry “Pure love led Christ to descend from the courts of glory”).  According to Philippians 2:5-8, Jesus “emptied himself,” took on the “form of a servant,” was “born in the likeness of men,” and became obedient to the “point of death”– and those facts were already “hardwired” into his mission at his birth and, in fact, since long before it.  “The Journey of the Magi” is also about conversion, which inevitably brings with it an unease with the present dispensation.


The Journey of the Magi

‘A cold coming we had of it,

Just the worst time of the year

For the journey, and such a long journey:

The ways deep and the weather sharp,

The very dead of winter.’

And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,

Lying down in the melting snow.

There were times we regretted

The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,

And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling

And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,

And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,

And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly

And the villages dirty and charging high prices:

A hard time we had of it.

At the end we preferred to travel all night,

Sleeping in snatches,

With the voices singing in our ears, saying

That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,

Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;

With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,

And three trees on the low sky,

And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.

Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,

Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,

And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,

But there was no information, and so we continued

And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon

Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory

All this was a long time ago, I remember,

And I would do it again, but set down

This set down

This: were we led all that way for

Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,

We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,

But had thought they were different; this Birth was

Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death,

We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,

But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

With an alien people clutching their gods.

I should be glad of another death.



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