Archive for the ‘Biblical Studies’ Category

Nicodemus, Harold Attridge, and Mormons
May 22, 2009

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

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

Thanks to Michael Heisler.

Two Different Theologies?
October 29, 2008

In my Hebrew class today, our teacher asked us to respond to a certain argument raised concerning the text we were reading. The student who responded hesitated and said:

Are you asking in terms of Mormon theology or academic theology?

The class laughed and emphatically agreed that they were two different things. Our teacher responded that when Academic theology is correct it parallels Mormon theology. I thought the episode was extremely interesting since it raises (or resurrects) an entire host of questions concerning epistimology, the faith vs. reason debate, religion’s place in the academy, and the semantic parameters of those questions.

How would you respond to my classmate’s questions? What are your opinions of the terms, “Mormon theology” or “academic theology?” If you don’t believe in divinely revealed  truth, this question might be easy to answer; but if you believe that truth results from faith as well as the academy, how should each inform the way in which we express truth?

Genesis 18 Problem
February 8, 2008

Genesis 18 opens thus:

And the LORD appeared unto him [Abraham] in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day. (v. 1 KJV)

Afterwards he entertains three men who seem to inform him about Sarah’s imminent pregnancy as well as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Conversations with the LORD are interspersed throughout the chapter with mentionings of the LORD in vv. 1, 13, 17, 19–20, 22, 26, 33. But conversations with the travelers are also woven alongside the divine conversations (vv. 3–4, 9–10, 16, 22). Verses 17–19 seem even to feature the LORD counciling with the other travelers by talking about Abraham in the third person:

And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;  Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?  For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

Verse 22 puts both the travelers and the LORD together, seemingly to indicate that the LORD had actually been there the entire time:

And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

By all accounts, the smoothest interpretation of these events would be, in my opinion, that the LORD was among the travelers who came to visit Abraham. This reading could be problematic for traditions which teach that God is invisible and that no one has seen God. For Latter-day Saints, theophanies (appearances of God) should present no problem. The scriptures teach that they are not only possible but expected. Nevertheless, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: (more…)

Someone Besides Us!
February 6, 2008

Although it’s surprising given the content of recent posts, the purpose of this blog is not LDS apologetics. I’ll leave that to the folks at FAIR, FARMS, and good ol’ Jeff Lindsay. So the aim of this latest find is not “neener-neener” but rather pertinent, as I see it, to an LDS approach to Biblical studies. Joseph Smith taught that the Bible was the word of God as far is it was translated correctly, which statement itself opened the door for Biblical criticism from a faithful persepctive.

Anyway, while I was perusing the tag surfer on WordPress, I came across a post by a J.C. Baker, a Ph.D. student in Texas, who directed me to a post by his friend, Rev. Jason N. Patrick, a fellow Texan pastor. His first post: The Problem with Biblical Inerrancy « Rev. Jason N. Patrick, Ph.D. Coming from a Baptist, this argument floored me! What a pleasant surprise! Am I to understand that some believers besides us reject Biblical inerrancy?

Please read the whole thing! Rev. Patrick argues, if I’m reading him right, that inerrancy is a fairly recent notion foreign to the Bible text itself.  It stems more from the Enlightenment epistemology than Biblical doctrine. According to the Rev., scripture is not authoritative because it is inerrant, but because it is inspired by God. In a follow-up comment, he adds that it is “dangerous” to call the Bible “THE revelation of God” since Jesus Christ was the ultimate Revelation of God.

Latter-day Saints affirm that although the Bible is authoritative as A revelation (or rather, a set of revelations), it is not THE revelation and accept all that God has now revealed and all that he will yet reveal.

Paradigms in Conflict
January 30, 2008

The first week of the semester, I was signed up for an Old Testament class from a teacher with whom I was not familiar. A syllabus was distributed at the first meeting, and as I read through it, I noticed that, in addition to the LDS institute manual and the scriptures, “good LDS commentaries” would be emphasized as texts. I don’t know why this raised suspicion, but it did, and I raised my hand for clarification:

“Would you consider any non-LDS sources ‘good commentaries?'” I asked.

His answer was an emphatic no accompanied by a caution to stay away from non-LDS sources. He said that those “Christian” and “Jewish” commentary mixed truth and the opinions of the learned and that we would have to sift through error to get at the “right” doctrine. “Why,” he asked, “would we need them when we have Talmage and McConkie?”

Now look, I’m not saying that commentaries written by religious scholars should be given equal weight with teachings of living prophets. After all, they have their own interpretations and opinions of scripture independent of modern revelation. But if we are truly seeking a) to understand the scriptures as their ancient audience understood them, and b) following the Lord’s injunction to seek out of the “best books” (D&C 109:7, 14; 88:118), we do poorly to ignore secular scholarship altogether, especially when it represents the greatest modern intellects of the discipline. (more…)