“Understanding How the Scriptures Came to Be”

“Understanding How the Scriptures Came to Be” September 30, 2022


The first temple in New York City
The Manhattan New York Temple, across the street from Lincoln Center in New York City, was dedicated in 2004. (LDS.org)


Three new articles appeared today, Friday, in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship.  We hope that you’ll take the time to enjoy them!


“The Last Nephite Scribes,” written by Noel B. Reynolds

Abstract In an earlier paper, I concluded that Lehi and Nephi were highly trained Josephite scribes and were associated with an official Jerusalem scribal school that preserved ancient Manassite traditions. There they acquired advanced writing skills and classical Hebrew and Egyptian, which would become the scriptural languages of the Nephite peoples. These they maintained in the new promised land and passed on from generation to generation through the entire thousand-year Nephite dispensation, even though the Nephite language itself would naturally evolve. Evidence of how they did this surfaces repeatedly throughout the Book of Mormon. The following paper documents how both Mormon and his son Moroni abridged and concluded the religious, military, and political records of Book of Mormon peoples, thus preserving key elements of the vast Nephite records collection for a later dispensation. That scribal process parallels the roles and schools of other cultures of the ancient Near East.


“Understanding How the Scriptures Came to Be,” written by Jennifer Roach

Review of Michael R. Ash, Rethinking Revelation and the Human Element in Scripture: The Prophet’s Role as Creative Co-Author (Redding, CA: FAIRLatterDaySaints.org, 2021). 770 pages. $34.95 (paperback).

Abstract: A new book by Mike Ash examines to what degree the human mind is involved in receiving revelation. Ash sums up his view by saying, “prophets have a special calling, but not a special brain.” He then spends 700+ pages describing what that means and how it works. In essence, prophets do not go into a trance-like state, put a pen in their hand, and engage in a process of automatic writing only to wake from the trance and read what has been given. Instead, Ash helps us see how God uses the brains and personality of any particular prophet to bring His word forth. God does not bypass the prophet’s humanness; rather, He relies on it to contextualize His words for a particular people in a particular time.


“Interpreting Interpreter: Nephite Scribal Paths,” written by Kyler Rasmussen

This post is a summary of the article “The Last Nephite Scribes” by Noel B. Reynolds in Volume 53 of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship. An introduction to the Interpreting Interpreter series is available at https://interpreterfoundation.org/interpreting-interpreter-on-abstracting-thought/.

The Takeaway:  Noel Reynolds presents a detailed description of scribal activities in the Book of Mormon, arguing that the scribal tradition of Lehi and Nephi, potentially similar to the traditions of the ancient Near East, can be traced step-by-step all the way to Mormon and Moroni.


The first temple in Connecticut
The Hartford Connecticut Temple was dedicated in 2016.  (LDS.org)


Somebody out there should probably send J. K. Rowling some combination or other of a copy of Witnesses and a copy of Undaunted: Witnesses of the Book of Mormon and the URL for the Witnesses Insights videos and a link to the Witnesses of the Book of Mormon website.  Or, at the very least, a copy of Richard Lloyd Anderson’s Investigating the Book of Momon Witnesses:

“Perspective: What J.K. Rowling got wrong about Joseph Smith and the golden plates: The ‘Harry Potter’ author tweeted that Joseph Smith never showed the golden plates to anyone. Here’s what the historical record indicates”

Ms. Rowling has homes in Edinburgh and in the Kensington district of London.  Beyond that, I’m afraid, I can’t be of much help.


The Palmyra Temple in New York State
The Palmyra New York Temple stands not far from the Hill Cumorah and the Sacred Grove.  It was dedicated on 6 April 2000 by President Gordon B. Hinckley.  (LDS.org)


In the past two days, gearing up for the October 2022 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I’ve shared materials about the experiences of Presidents David O. McKay, Joseph F. Smith, and Spencer W. Kimball with revelation.  President Gordon B. Hinckley, too, expressly claimed revelations on more than one occasion.  Here, for example, is a passage from the dedicatory prayer that he delivered for the Colonia Juárez Mexico Temple on 6-7 March 1999:

“This is a day long looked forward to and much appreciated by Thy faithful Saints in these colonies of Mexico.

“It was here in Northern Mexico, that Thou didst reveal the idea and the plan of a smaller temple, complete in every necessary detail, but suited in size to the needs and circumstances of the Church membership in this area of Thy vineyard. That revelation came of a desire and a prayer to help Thy people of these colonies who have been true and loyal during the century and more that they have lived here. They are deserving of this sacred edifice in which to labor for themselves and their forebears.”


And now, to bring us up to date, I share with you five links relating to President Russell M. Nelson, who currently leads the Church:

“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives”

“CNN Details the Remarkable Way President Nelson Receives Revelation: “This Is Moses in a Business Suit””

“Sister Wendy Nelson Shares Her Personal Witness of President Nelson’s Prophetic Calling and Ministry”

“How President Nelson received a revelation about 2 temples”

“Episode 67: Sister Nelson on being an eyewitness to President Nelson’s four years as Prophet”


The new temple in Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple was dedicated in 2016. On the right edge of the photograph, the new LDS chapel is partially visible.  (LDS.org)


Finally, in a rather different spirit, here are a couple of additional items from the inexhaustible (and inexpressibly horrifying) Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File© in order to help you to fend off all of those nauseating feel-good theistic vibes from General Conference:

“Silicon Slopes Packages 1 Million Meals for Utah Food Bank: 8,500 volunteers expected over three days, including hundreds of young members of the Church”

“JustServe Efforts in Colorado Catch the Attention of the U.N.: Community partners worked together to help resettle thousands of Afghan refugees in Colorado”


Posted from New York City, New York



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