March 24, 2015

Brilliant textual analyst and historian of Mormonism, Brent Metcalfe, has started a new project titled, “Mormon Studies Podcast.” Each podcast runs for about an hour. Brent conducted his first interview with the famous historian of Mormonism, Jan Shipps, his second with Julie Smith, a thoughtful contributor to Mormon scriptural exegetical analysis. He invited me to join him for the third discussion. I felt very grateful for the chance to share some of my views with such a thoughtful, articulate host.... Read more

March 23, 2015

“A historical genre does not necessarily guarantee historical accuracy or reliability, and neither the evangelists nor their first readers engaged in historical analysis. Their aim was to confirm Christian faith (Lk 1.4; Jn 20.31). Scholars generally agree that the Gospels were written forty to sixty years after the death of Jesus. They thus do not present eyewitness or contemporary accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings.” This assessment of the Gospels derives from the New Oxford Annotated Bible edited by Michael... Read more

March 22, 2015

Like many, I hold a deep affinity for B. H. Roberts. A brilliant theologian, Roberts saw critical thinking as a key component in the development of spirituality. It would be hard to overestimate the impact Roberts’ work has had on Mormon intellectualism. And yet, recently, a dear friend reminded me of the following entry from his personal diary. I felt a desire to share it: “[March 13, 1882] I am twenty-five years old to-day: perhaps one-half of my life has... Read more

March 21, 2015

Last night I had the opportunity to look at J.R.R. Tolkien’s personal copy of the Greek New Testament. The book is filled with his beautifully handwritten notes–literary observations and discussion of Greek grammar. Given my feelings for both biblical scholarship and Tolkien it was an amazing experience. The book is owned by rare book collector Reid N. Moon. Read more

March 10, 2015

Joseph Spencer, co-editor of the Maxwell Institute’s Journal of Book of Mormon studies, and author of An Other Testament: On Typology and For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope will be our guest lecturer this Thursday night (March 12th) for the University of Utah course, “The Book of Mormon as Literature.” The class meets from 7:15-8:35 PM at the MBH building, room 114. All are invited to attend. Read more

March 7, 2015

Fiona and Terryl Givens have made a thought-provoking contribution to recent online discussions concerning the subject of doubt (a topic I shared a few thoughts concerning in this recent post). The Givens explain that “doubt” is an “ambiguous” term, neither positive, nor negative. Doubt is simply part of spiritual growth: “Doubt, if not suppressed or repressed, can be a fruitful catalyst to spiritual growth and discovery. To vilify doubt in all its forms has pernicious consequences. It can forestall progress,... Read more

March 5, 2015

Yes. Of course historicity matters. My own approach to scripture is founded in the historical critical method. This methodology gives considerable attention to the question of historicity. Historical criticism refers to the process of establishing the original, contextual meaning of scriptural sources and evaluating their historical accuracy. Historical criticism is the term we use to describe the mainline scholarly approach to the Bible. It’s important to note, however, that the word “critical” in this phrase does not hold a pejorative... Read more

March 3, 2015

When religious paradigms break apart through critical analysis, it is natural for believers to experience doubt. The spiritual distress that accompanies uncertainty can be incredibly painful. And this is a problem, since as humans, we have been endowed with a natural aversion to pain—even the emotional kind that accompanies religious doubt. In this situation, it is only natural, therefore, to want to ease that discomfort as quickly as possible by finding simple apologetic solutions to our questions. Thus, rather than... Read more

March 2, 2015

Over the years, I have really enjoyed the writings of prolific New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman. Whether in print or through “Audible,” I have made my way through all of his “popular” books (and several of his contributions to the “Great Courses” series). Recently, I’ve thought a lot about a question Dr. Ehrman raises at the end of chapter 4 in his book Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them). I’m... Read more

March 2, 2015

Tom Hardman, who posts at In Fide Scientiam: To Our Faith Add Knowledge, has posted a nice review of my book Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy, which provides an introduction to documentary analysis in the Pentateuch and the relationship of historical criticism to Mormon scripture. Read more

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