February 24, 2015

Thought I would share the following picture of my friend, Tyler. Tyler (far left) decided to serve an LDS mission a bit later in life. For Tyler, this was not an easy decision. A very critical thinker, Tyler has studied the works of scholars such as Richard Bushman, Dan Vogel, Brent Metcalfe, and Earl Wunderli to better understand his religious tradition from a variety of angles. Tyler was also an avid listener to John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories podcasts. Tyler sent... Read more

February 23, 2015

I thought I would share a helpful follow-up citation to the last critique I posted concerning Kitchen’s apologetic approach to biblical historicity. This assessment comes from John J. Collins, the Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism & Interpretation at Yale Divinity School. Though Kitchen’s work is popular amongst some fundamentalists, Collin’s criticism of Kitchen is very direct. Concerning Kitchen’s On the Reliability of the Old Testament, Collins writes: “This is a richly documented collection of data from the ancient Near... Read more

February 18, 2015

Last month, I wrote a three-part series titled “Don’t Do Bible (but if you do, do it right!). The posts can be accessed here, here, and here. The essays present some of the reasons–and many more could be added–why I find K.A. Kitchen’s work on the Hebrew Bible highly problematic. Recently, my friend Benjamin Spackman has drawn my attention to the following assessment of Kitchen by Kenton L. Sparks. This is a significant indictment of Kitchen’s work from a biblical... Read more

February 18, 2015

There’s been some question as of late on the use of terms such as “historical” and “historicity” in some of my recent blog posts. I’m going to try and provide some clarity. “Historicity” means the act of producing a work that attempts to depict an accurate representation of the real past. “Historical” is closely related, and yet distinct. It refers to something or even someone from the past. So in other words, Jesus was a “historical” person, but the NT... Read more

February 17, 2015

Joseph Smith embraced a dynamic religious view: freedom to believe; freedom to question; freedom to pursue intellectual truth: “One of the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth let it come from where it may.” Joseph Smith in Words of Joseph Smith pp. 229. “The first and fundamental principle of our holy religion is, that we have the right to embrace all, and every item of the truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the... Read more

February 16, 2015

Despite his original divine masculinity, the anthropomorphic Yahweh was eventually emasculated in later biblical and post-biblical conceptions. This desexualization of Yahweh was an inevitable result of the evolution of radical monotheism. The expression “radical monotheism” was popularized by Tikva Frymer-Kensky in her classic work, In the Wake of the Goddesses: Women, Culture, and the Biblical Transformation of Pagan Myth (New York: Free Press, 1992). It refers to the belief that there is only one deity in the entire cosmos. This... Read more

February 14, 2015

From archeology, to literary criticism, to folklore analysis, modern biblical scholars use a variety of tools to help interpret the text. Recently, I have shared a couple of posts that introduce the topic of folklore analysis in the Bible. It’s an exciting field of inquiry. One of the most important contributors to this line of inquiry is Dr. Susan Niditch who teaches in the field of Religious studies at Amherst College. Her book Folklore and the Hebrew Bible provides an... Read more

February 11, 2015

It was the first ever session for the first Faith and Knowledge conference at Yale University. The meetings were organized for young LDS scholars pursuing graduate work in Religious studies. Richard Bushman, the famous historian, held a question and answer session at the meeting. The one thing I remember is Dr. Bushman’s response to the question, “how can I be successful as an LDS scholar who wants to push the boundaries a bit?” Dr. Bushman’s response was both simple and... Read more

February 6, 2015

The Book of Mormon begins by telling the story of a messianic figure named Nephi. The account appears in his own words and is immediately identified as the story of his “reign and ministry.” Nephi is therefore both “king” and “prophet,” two roles traditionally linked with ritual anointing and hence “messianisim” in the Bible. In terms of literary analysis, we might ask ourselves the question, “what is the purpose of this account?” If we read against the grain by questioning... Read more

February 4, 2015

So the Hebrew Bible isn’t history. But what about the New Testament? The concept of historicity, meaning an authentic representation of the past, functions as a crucial tenet within mainstream Christian posturing. Surely, therefore, the New Testament contains “historicity.” Wellllll. . . No. It doesn’t. In fact, not at all. When the New Testament is read from a critical perspective, we begin to find serious inconsistencies. So if you’ve read the previous posts on Genesis and the Bible, you’ve begun... Read more

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