Category: Scriptures

An Unexpected Gift

At 3:28 this morning we welcomed a new son into the world. As one would expect, congratulations and well-wishes have come flooding in from friends and family all day. And for all of these we have been moved and grateful. First thing this morning, however, we received a congratulatory gift we hadn’t anticipated. Women housed in the Alexandria Detention Center had sent us a hand-crocheted blanket, cap and set of booties. (In Packer yellow-and-green for my Cheese-head wife no less). Both modern and ancient scripture admonish us to serve the “least” of those among us, noting that doing so is akin to serving Christ himself. My wife and I found ourselves touched that, at such a sacred and spiritual time for our family as the birth of our new son, we had been remembered by some gracious women who, by some standard, might consider to be the “least” of those in our society today. Humbled by the act, we resolved to reach back out in some way to those women at the Alexandria Detention Center. Small acts of love are truly contagious.

Genesis and Genre

When we read Genesis, what exactly are we reading? The distinctions and categories we modern readers bring to books and narratives (fiction or nonfiction; science or folk tale; history or literature; poetry or prose; author’s original text or quoted source) may not serve us well when we read the Old Testament, a collection of ancient literature. Its writers used different conventions. What were they? What exactly are we reading when we read Genesis?

Reviving the Hebraic

Every four years we have a celebrated ritual during the second hour of church: it is the discussion by all members present on the topic of being uncomfortable studying the Old Testament. 

Lucan Infancy Narrative

[Once again, these are just notes, and they do not even begin to do the subject justice, but yesterday’s Matthew notes were able to spark some good discussion. I will response and comment as I can today, but, hey, it is Christmas Eve Day!] While Matthew’s is largely from Joseph’s perspective, Luke’s from Mary’s This does not mean, however, that Joseph and Mary were necessarily the sources—rather that the evangelists focused on them and what they represented Luke included poetic passages or songs to personalize the characters of his infancy narrative (canticles, more below) Luke adds the stories about John the Baptist as literary foils to compare and contrast with the story of Jesus While Matthew and Luke differ, and even conflict, on some details, the important facts are all confirmed by the Book of Mormon Mary was a virgin from Nazareth, where she divinely conceived Jesus (1 Nephi 11:13–20) Jesus was the son of God and his mother was named “Mary” (Mosiah 3:8) Jesus was born near Jerusalem (Alma 7:10; Bethlehem is 9 km south of Jerusalem, hence “at,” or in the region, of Jerusalem) Mary was a precious and chosen vessel, who conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost (Alma 7:10; not of the Holy Ghost as in Matt 1:18, 21) Luke’s Infancy Narrative. Doublets: John the Baptist and Jesus [Luke’s prologue to his gospel (1:1–4)] Birth of John the Baptist Foretold (1:5–25) Birth of Jesus Foretold…

The Matthean Infancy Narrative

[Christmas realities have hit, making me admit that full length blogs the last two days of Christmas week are just not feasible! So forgive me as I just post here some “notes” on Matt and later Luke, consisting of largely recycled material from my class lectures!] Matthew’s is largely from Joseph’s perspective, Luke’s from Mary’s This does not mean, however, that Joseph and Mary were necessarily the sources—rather that the evangelists focused on them and what they represented For Matt, Joseph’s proposed status as a Davidid makes Jesus David’s true heir, although admittedly through “adoption” or legal recognition by Joseph, not literal descent Matthew does not mention Nazareth until the end of his account, presenting the possibility that Joseph was from Bethlehem and Mary was from Nazareth Was it an arranged marriage and Joseph went to Nazareth to retrieve his new bride? The problem of the “census” is will be treated in the next blog on the Lucan infancy narrative Joseph and Mary had a “house” in Bethlehem and intended to return to there from Egypt (Matt 2:11, 22) Structure of Matthew’s Infancy Narrative Formula quotations cite Jewish scriptures (usually from the LXX or Greek translation); they give authority to Matthew’s account and demonstrate that Jesus is fulfilling prophecy Genealogy (1:1–17) Conception and birth (1:18–25) first formula quotation, 1:23 = Isaiah 7:14 LXX Visit of the Wise Men (Epiphany; 2:1–12) second formula quotation, 2:6 = Micah 5:2, 2 Samuel 5:2…

Studying the Infancy Narratives

This Christmas Eve, most of us will at least read the “Christmas Story,” as found in Luke 2:1-20. As we approach the holiday, a few more diligent souls will read all of the Infancy Narratives, as found in Matt 1-2 AND Luke 1-2. Yet even when reading (as opposed to just remembering or “thinking” about) these familiar texts, the tendency will be to harmonize the two accounts, resulting in a hybrid vision of the birth of Jesus that accords nicely with the Christmas pageants that we will watch and the Nativity scenes that we have set up. But our Christmas creches—which confidently put three kings (as opposed to two or more magi or wise men) at the stable (not mentioned in Luke, although he does record a manger) along with shepherds and various animals under a star—are the result not only of jarring harmonization, but even some creative fabrication. This harmonizing tendency is alive and well in the LDS community, perhaps as a result of Elder Talmages well-known and familiar Jesus the Christ, Elder McConkie’s The Mortal Messiah, and our Gospel Doctrine’s curriculum, each of which draws from all four gospels to produce and fill in a rough chronological account of our Lord’s mortal life and final salvific acts. This impulse is natural enough: after all Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection were historical events, so the four surviving, canonical accounts should represent those events accurately. Yet the four gospels were…

Priesthood Session in a Nutshell

President Uchtdorf conducted the Priesthood session, featuring talks by Elder Ballard, Elder Gonzalez, Elder Choi, Elder Uchtdorf, Elder Eyring and President Monson. Direct quotations (based on my notes) are given in quotes; phrases without quotes are my summary of the remarks given.

Royal Skousen’s 12 questions — The Critical Text Version

Last month we posted Royal Skousen’s discussion of his work on recovering the earliest version of the Book of Mormon, along with some updates.  Unfortunately, that post garnered some annoying formatting problems — mostly due to the new format T&S adopted this year.  We’re happy to now present to you mark III of Royal Skousen’s 12 questions interview.  Royal Skousen’s book, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, was published last month by Yale University Press and yes, you can order  it at Amazon.

Divine Comedy, Divine Tragedy

The Bible, as we have received it, sets out the drama of salvation with its wrenching fall and crucifixion, but joyous resurrection and exaltation. Though its compilation is in many ways ad hoc, there is a satisfyingly comedic structure to the whole. As Terryl Givens puts it in his The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction, just out from Oxford University Press, “There is a neat symmetry . . . Primordial creation is balanced by apocalypse and heavenly postscript . . . All tears are wiped away, and the primal fall and alienation are remedied by reunion under the beneficent reign of God the Father” (p61). The Book of Mormon is very different.

12 Questions and a Book by Royal Skousen

5 years ago we published one of my favorite “12 Questions” posts, in which Royal Skousen discussed in some depth what he has learned from his extensive work on the earliest editions of the Book of Mormon.  His book, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, is being published in September by Yale University Press (and yes, you can order  it at Amazon right now).  To mark this milestone, Royal was kind enough to update his “12 questions” discussion, which we have posted below, for the benefit of those who did not catch it the first time.   Enjoy!

12 Questions for Marvin Perkins, Part Four

Here is the last installment of our 12 Questions with Marvin Perkins, comprised of Brother Perkins’ responses to our last two questions. We’d like to thank Brother Perkins for the time and effort he’s put in to giving us a set of very substantive and thought-provoking responses.

DNA Delight

A recent DNA study has gotten some attention, both on our sidebar and in a post by J. Nelson-Seawright at By Common Consent. The Mormon question that inevitably comes up from such a study is does it cast any light on the question of whether Lehi really landed in the Americas long ago? J. Nelson-Seawright discusses some possible ramifications if the study (or ones like it) do matter. Let me make clear that, for those who think Lehi landed in an already populated America, this study is basically irrelevant.

What Does My Lack of Personal Trials Say About Me?

I’ve been thinking long and hard about what I should talk about in my inaugural post on this blog.  Quite honestly, when I agreed to do a stint as a guest blogger, I thought it would be pretty easy.  But, lately, it seems that all my Mormonism-related thoughts have been trite and meaningless.  For example, I considered drafting a post complaining about one of the teachers Elders Quorum and his refusal to teach out of the manual.  But, honestly, I think that post would have just ended up being a rant about a quorum discussion outlining the evils of facial hair (true story, by the way) and I don’t think that’s what the faithful readers of this blog are looking for. 

Breathing the Breath of God

Genesis (2:7) says that God breathed life into Adam’s nostrils. Is our life a portion of God’s? Jesus quoted a Psalm (82:6) that said, “Ye are gods,” when confronted about his claims to divinity. Mormons are usually not so bold, but there is certainly an element in our tradition that states that humans are children of God, like godlings, capable of developing into gods. Is this idea arrogant or humbling? It depends.