Let’s be Honest:

October 24, 2009 - One Response

I never really had time for this blog anyway, or at least I never gave it the commitment it deserved. And now that I’m in graduate school, I really don’t have time to post anything worth reading, not to mention the fact that I’m beginning to feel I’m not qualified enough to contribute to the conversation. So I’ve decided to let thesundaypage.net expire and stop posting to it. The text of past posts will be preserved at http://sundaypage.wordpress.com. I still hope to see you on comment boards around the usual hangouts. Cheers.

I Dreamed a Dream…

July 18, 2009 - 2 Responses

…that I was looking at a proposed Book of Mormon geography centered in southern California with the narrow neck of land being Baja.

Did my subconscious just make this up, or is this really someone’s idea in real life? Because if not I’m writing a book about it and calling it revelation. Also, I plan on marketing some videos and procuring emeritus general authority endorsements.

Pricelist and speaking engagement calendar to follow.

Athanasius and Gnostic Statue

June 24, 2009 - Leave a Response
Athanasius

Athanasius

Aussie Seamus MacDonald begins a series of posts today on Aathanasius. I think Athanasius gets a less than fair shake among us LDSs. True, the dogmatics of this pedant are responsible for many of the fourth century Christian doctrines we find objectionable—after all, what we normally speak of in derision as the Nicene creed is really the Athanasian creed. However, Athanasius is also one of the foremost proponents of deification at this late date (it might not be exactly what we think of as deification, but at least he talks about it!)

Ever heard this?

God became man so that man might become a god.

Yeah, that’s Athanasius (De Incarnatione 54:3).

Today’s post from Seamus is on Christology, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he highlights in future posts.

Gnostic Statue?

man holding bowl

man holding bowl

A statue is on display until July 10 at the Malta Heritage Office which may or may not exhibit Gnostic symbols. This is the kind of thing I’d expect April DeConick to go nuts over. While the history of the statue is unclear, it is an important example of work from an obscure period in the island’s history.

P.S. What’s this guy doing with his hands?

Serapion on Addition to Scripture

June 1, 2009 - 4 Responses

Serapion, bishop of Antioch

Serapion, bishop of Antioch

Serapion, bishop of Antioch at the turn of the third century, has no extant writing outside of Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History. He gave Christians at Rhossus permission to read the [now apocryphal] Gospel of Peter in their meeting, but, upon reviewing the gospel, changed his mind. Here is his summary reason:

Since we have been furnished with this gospel…, we have been able to go through it and find many things of the correct word of the Savior, but also some things which were added, which we arrange for you below.1

Compare the words of those who stole the 116 pages:

“And if God giveth him power again, or if he translates again, or, in other words, if he bringeth forth the same words, behold, we have the same with us, and we have altered them” (D&C 10:17).

Also the revelation given to Joseph Smith concerning the OT Apocrypha:

Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you concerning the Apocrypha—There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly; There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men (D&C 91:1–2).

Now, lest anyone jump on me for “parallel-o-mania,” I bring up these parallels only to note 1) that the similarity exists, and 2) to put forth questions.

For instance, does this view of “heretical” gospels exists elsewhere among the early Church fathers? If so, in what context? Why did Serapion choose to highlight the dual nature of the writing instead of denouncing the entire thing as a heresy?


1. Eusebius. Hist. Eccl. 6.12.3–6. Translation is mine. In context, Serapion mentions that he obtained the gospel from the successors of the Docetists, who were using the gospel, and whose doctrine the gospel exemplified. Here is the Greek:

ἐδυνήθημεν γὰρ παρ᾿ ἄλλων τῶν ἀσκησάντων αὐτὸ τοῦτο τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, τοῦτ᾿ ἐστὶν παρὰ τῶν διαδόχων τῶν καταρξαμένων αὐτοῦ, οὓς Δοκητὰς καλοῦμεν (τὰ γὰρ πλείονα φρονήματα ἐκείνων ἐστὶ τῆς διδασκαλίας), χρησάμενοι παρ᾿ αὐτῶν διελθεῖν καὶ εὑρεῖν τὰ μὲν πλείονα τοῦ ὀρθοῦ λόγου τοῦ σωτῆρος, τινὰ δὲ προσδιεσταλμένα, ἃ καὶ ὑπετάξαμεν ὑμῖν.

Nicodemus, Harold Attridge, and Mormons

May 22, 2009 - 6 Responses

BYU has long televised its Scripture Discussions on KBYU and BYUTV, in which four religion professors discuss some passage of scripture at length. Well, Yale Divinity School has done the same thing with Yale Bible Study, a series of discussions on selected New Testament books between Dean Harold Attridge and Emeritus Professor David Barlett. Since Attridge wrote an excellent commentary on Hebrews and since I’ll be attending YDS in the Fall, I thought I’d check it out. Part of what makes it a good series is the comparison of perspectives from a Baptist (Barlett) and a Catholic (Attridge). The series on Luke is my favorite so far, but you can watch them all via their Youtube channel.

I was folding laundry while listening to the Gospel of John series in the background when the word “Mormons” made me sit up straight and pay attention. Watch from 10:52 to 12:20.

Barlett’s comparison of Attridge’s hypothetical conversion to Nicodemus’ being born again is sound, and I love his point about the meaning of “born again.” I was also impressed by his accurate understanding of the Book of Mormon’s relationship to the Bible, even apparently without much experience with Mormonism (“Sisters and Brothers in Moroni?” wha…?).

As an added point of context, apparently the New Haven ward is, in fact, almost around the corner from Yale Divinity School.

Another internet resource through May 2009

April 15, 2009 - Leave a Response

Free (Temporary) Access to New Oxford Univ Press Site | The Naked Bible.

Thanks to Michael Heisler.

Bishops in Ignatius of Antioch

April 7, 2009 - One Response

I wrote this paper a long time ago. English translations of Ignatius can be found here.

Otherwise titled:

The Wagon Wheel:
A non-hierarchical model for the episcopate in Ignatius of Antioch

Speaking of ecclesiological development from the first to the fourth century is difficult without mentioning Ignatius of Antioch, for in his letters the concept of a monarchical episcopate first emerges. In earlier texts of the New Testament and even in 1 Clement, the exact nature of bishops had been unclear, and some have even speculated that the ἐπίσκοπος and πρεσβύτερος roughly referred to the same thing.1 Even if ἐπίσκοπος (episkopos “bishop”) and πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros “elder”) were not synonymous, the elementary references to these offices in the NT appear very different from the supreme bishop as understood centuries later. Because Ignatius counsels his audiences to keep close, in faith and love, to their ἐπίσκoποι, of which there is only one in each congregation, he is seen by some scholars raising ecclesiology to a higher level.

ignatiusIn the present age when authority, especially ecclesiastical authority, has lost its potency in many circles, scholarship is quick to classify these references to ecclesiastic offices and centralized authority as evidences of an authoritarian hierarchy.2 Nevertheless, this hierarchical model fails to account for the doctrines of love, faith, and unity present in the writings of Ignatius. For such a detailed hierarchy to be present, Ignatius’ audience would expect him to at least include a delineation of command, but presbyters are never once commanded to be subject to bishops. If anything the presbyters’ authority is equal to that of the bishop. Furthermore, it is not the bishops which Ignatius calls his fellow servants, but the deacons. Ignatius’ concept of a monarchical bishop is a manifestation of the schismatic nature of his opponents and not of a delineated hierarchy, in which the bishop is supreme. Read the rest of this entry »

Resource for Sociology of Religion

April 3, 2009 - Leave a Response

Rodney Stark (whom I keep confusing with Tony Stark) has written several provocative books about the bearing of the social sciences on the study of early Christianity. He should be on Latter-day Saint scholars’ radar for his emphasis on the similarity between the spread of Mormonism and the spread of early Christianity. While I don’t think a social-scientific perspective will or should eclipse other critical methods, I’m sympathetic to Stark’s approach because I think it can provide a nice control when historical-criticism runs away with itself.

So I noticed this morning that there existed an Association for the Sociology of Religion, the website of which also has a bibliographic database. I searched “Early Christian” and “Mormon.”

The Third Member of the Godhead?

March 28, 2009 - One Response

April DeConick, a professor of Early Christianity at Rice University sees this depiction in a 12th century Bavarian church as the Father, Son, and Mother Holy Spirit. She argues that this piece of art relates to her argument that “the original Christian Trinity was the Father, Mother Spirit, and Son.” She believes that evidence for this belief was later suppressed in manuscript transmission and hermeneutical tradition. DeConick plans to include a discussion of it in a chapter of one of her forthcoming books.

Personally, with regards to the painting alone, I’m skeptical. If it is really a graphical representation of an “original” doctrine, how on earth did it survive until the 12th century? An art historian friend of mine noticed the slight purplish hue of the female’s lower garment and postulated that the now-faded purple could indicate the Mother Mary.

As tempting as it may be for Latter-day Saints to infer an LDS Heavenly Mother from this art or DeConick’s argument, I would urge caution. Given DeConick’s interest in sexuality in the early church, I predict that her approach to this fresco will be to explore the sexual implications of this possible doctrine among early Christians using a feminist or feminist-flavored method. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, I think it sounds fascinating. It’s just that DeConick may not agree with a Mormon looking for evidence for Joseph Smith’s “Mother in Heaven.”

Nevertheless, Latter-day Saints would not be wrong to ponder how a painting like that got there? If it is really a depiction of the Holy Trinity and not some other people, why is there a woman there?

P.S. It’s worth noting that DeConick advises at least one Mormon PhD student at Rice.

UPDATE: I actually really like DeConick’s blog. Despite the fact that I disagree with much of what she says, it’s clear she sincerely loves the texts and traditions she studies. My favorite is her “Apocryphote of the Day” series, in which she highlights some of the more inspirational (read: non-psycho) passages from extrascriptural texts.

The Failure of the Poll: UPDATED

January 7, 2009 - 4 Responses

So…I’m taking down the poll on whether Christians have rejected the Bible. After about a few weeks of being up, the poll has proven immensely unpopular. Or perhaps it is just this blog which is unpopular. :(

5 responses were given, and I’m only counting four of those, since one was my own. Out of 8 possible answers, only 3 choices garnered responses:

  • 2 people thought that Some Christians had rejected the Bible while others hadn’t.
  • 1 Person thought that by misinterpreting the Bible, mainstream Christians had effectively rejected it.
  • 1 Person thought that it was the Mormons, rather than Mainstream Christians, who had rejected the Bible.

I don’t think any kind of meaningful analysis can be made with just four responses. And these kinds of polls are not really statistically sound anyway. But let me just say that if I were to analyze the results, I would say that the responses generally fell along a spectrum. 1 response was to the fundamentalist Protestant extreme, and another was to the conservative Mormon extreme, both effectually condemning the other. The middle moderate ground was occupied by the majority of responses (if you include my vote).

Judging by the failure of this poll, I probably won’t be making another one. Thank you to the four who responded.

UPDATE: If you’d still like to vote, you may still do so here.

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