There are 27 thoughts on “Too Little or Too Much Like the Bible? A Novel Critique of the Book of Mormon Involving David and the Psalms”.

  1. Jeff, were you aware that Bashear’s thesis appears on academia.com? I hope you will post your response to his thesis on that website so that his views do not go unchallenged there.

    Excellent essay, thank you for investing the time and energy. I learned a great deal.

  2. Jeff, were you aware that Bashears’ thesis appears on academia.edu? You should consider posting your rejoinder to that website, so that Bashears’ thesis does not remain uncontested there.

    Your rebuttal is excellent! Thank you for investing your time and energy into its creation.

  3. Pingback: Was Isaiah Written Later Than The Book Of Mormon Claims? | Conflict of Justice

  4. Underlying this article is a very good point: it’s inconsistent to criticise the Book of Mormon for when it differs from the Bible, and at the same time criticise it for when it openly draws upon it.

    I’ve expressed my disagreement with the anti-Deuteronomistic thesis before. It seems a shame that those advancing that position have not responded to LDS criticisms of their argument (most especially, the Book of Mormon’s own use of Deuteronomy and its embrace of several concepts specific to the supposed “Deuteronomists”, and the sometimes inaccurate depiction of Josiah’s reforms in the first place). I’m glad, however, this article accurately depicts the role said “Deuteronomists” are held to have in relation to the composition of the Bible (one they are inseparable from, since they were essential hypothesised on the basis of common features between those books). Of course, that leads to another problem: if one holds that those behind the production of Deuteronomy and “Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings” were opposed to genuine prophets like Lehi, one is faced with regarding those books as less than scripture, despite such a conclusion being at odds with the Book of Mormon’s aims in relation to the Bible, or the Saviour himself quoting Deuteronomy frequently *as scripture*.

    However, it should also be noted that the idea of the “Deuteronomists” as some apostate movement, or even the Deuteronomistic hypothesis at all, is not necessary for the key point about a different perspective. Much of the Bible, including the majority of the prophets, contains perspectives from the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Book of Mormon is explicitly from those descended from Joseph, and so reflect Northern Israelite perspectives. The attitude to David is one example of this, but another example would be the apparent features of the Nephite monarchy’s themselves, which appear to blend hereditary rule with the election or acclamation, which seems more in keeping with Northern Israelite traditions of monarchy as opposed to the Souther Kingdoms strict dynastic succession.

  5. I can see the twinkle of understatement in Jeff Lindsey’s eye as he expresses hope that Beshear’s thesis can be “updated” — this after effectively gutting Beshear’s entire premise.

    • Jeff Lindsay has cultivated a rather irenic “voice” and style. This is a much much needed skill.

      We should encourage those like the Reverend Beshear to become more familiar with our scholarship. I suspect that he was caught between two contrasting and competing ways of deal with the faith of Latter-day Saints. My own remarks, see above, were the result of my effort to figure out, to the degree that this is possible, without actually knowing him, what was the driving his thesis. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) is led by Al Mohler, who is said to be the current leader among evangelical thought, and who is also very hostile to the Church of Jesus Christ. However, when conservative Protestants started to see a threat to religious liberties looming on the horizon, Mohler put aside, at least for the moment, his dislike of our faith, to meet with us up at a conference at BYU where working together to protect religious liberty was the topic.

      As I mentioned, the fellow who directed approving the thesis we are discussing, has been deeply into bashing so-called “cults.” Whatever its faults, this thesis is not merely a collection of the usual slogans of the countercult. Jeff’s carefully crafted response and also the subsequent comments have been, I believe, quite helpful.

      • Thank you, Louis, you are right. Jeff Lindsey’s style and tone are always beyond reproach, as with his scholarship.

  6. Jeff,

    Thanks for the interesting article. I would just like to add a few additional resources that expand on some of the discussion points in your article. At a Book of Mormon Central (BMC) conference last spring, Taylor Halverson gave a presentation which explored a plausible reason that David might not have been discussed much in the Book of Mormon. His presentation was entitled:

    “Covenant Patterns in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon”

    Many of Taylor’s points were summarized in the following KnoWhy published by BMC:

    “How Can the Old Testament Covenants Help Us Understand the Book of Mormon?”

    Also of interest is that, building on the research of Ben McGuire and others, BMC published a list of nearly 40 textual connections between Nephi’s slaying of Laban and David’s slaying of Goliath. It is listed at the appendix of the following KnoWhy:

    “Why Was the Sword of Laban So Important to Nephite Leaders?”

    Finally, starting today and continuing on for the next several weeks, BMC will be publishing KnoWhys on the Psalms in the Book of Mormon, including an expansion on Hilton’s research, which you mentioned in your article.

    Thanks again for your diligent research and engaging style.

  7. Jeff,

    Thanks for another interesting article. I thought I would just add some resources that expand on some of your discussion points. At a Book of Mormon Central conference in the spring of 2017, Taylor Halverson explored a plausible reason for why David is mentioned so infrequently in the Book of Mormon. His presentation was entitled:

    “Covenant Patterns in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon”

    BMC also published a short KnoWhy which summarized many of Halverson’s points from his presentation:

    How Can the Old Testament Covenants Help Us Understand the Book of Mormon?

    Also of interest is that using McGuire’s and others’ research as a starting point, BMC published a list of nearly 40 connections between the story of Nephi slaying Laban and David slaying Goliath. You can find these listed in the appendix of the following KnoWhy:

    Why Was the Sword of Laban So Important to Nephite Leaders?

    Finally, starting today and continuing on for the next several weeks, BMC will be publishing further research on the Psalms in the Book of Mormon, including an expanded list of connections based on Hilton’s research.

    Thanks again for your diligent research and engaging style.

  8. Jeff, thank you for your thorough rebuttal, which gives us real insight into the culture and viewpoints of Lehi and his descendants. Lehi’s warning to the people of Jerusalem certainly included a critique of the Davidic dynasts then ruling Judea, and put his life at risk from those rulers. Why should we expect his family to be worshipful of David?

    Since the Book of Mormon preserves no original voices from the “Mulekite” colony that apparently preserved descendants of the Davidic line, we have no idea of the extent that people in that group may have revered David, though the recurring rebellions by people claiming a right to kingship may be an indicator. There would be all the more reason for descendants of Nephi, like Mormon, to resist deifying David.

    • That is an interesting suggestion. There could have been a pro-David faction among the Mulekites or among dissenters who were sympathetic to Laman’s views and viewed the authorities in Jerusalem as righteous and Nephi as an apostate rebel. The desire to impose a king over the Nephites could have been marketed as a restoration of the correct old ways.

    • Mormon scholars suggested years ago that the king men in Alma were Mulekites claiming a right to reestablish Davidic rule when Mosiah ended the dynasty established by his grandfather. The theme of the Book of Alma, announced in the very first verses, is that Mosiah’s establishment of a new governmental order was legitimate. The book then explores the contest between those who accept and the king men who reject the new governing order. There can be no doubt where Mormon stands on this contest. He rejects the claims of the two main king men, aMLiKi (Skousen says the c is hard) and aMLiKiah, both of whose names contain the Hebrew word MLK, meaning king. So Mormon is a partisan in a contest between those who rely on the David covenant to establish their right to rule (the king men) and those who reject it (Alma and others). Mormon doesn’t reveal what would have been a key plank in the Mulekite revanchist ideology–Mulek’s and the Mulekite line’s direct descent from David–until well after the the contest is over and the ideological point could not be read, in context, as justifying the Mulekite attempt to reclaim the throne. Basically, Mormon has strong, anti-Davidic views. So it is unsurprising that in the parts of the Book of Mormon where he is the author, the Davidic elements are minimally present, unlike the Small Plates where they are more present. That Davidic elements are not pervasive in the Small Plates is unsurprising given the fact that Zedekiah, descendant of David, was the sovereign when the governing authorities sought to take the life of Lehi. And as noted in the article, there is a lot of reason to think that Lehi was opposed to the reforms of David’s descendant Josiah. Taking everything into account, it is not surprising that David would be less lionized in the Book of Mormon than in some other Hebrew scripture. In context, the reduced emphasis on David (and where it shows up in the Book of Mormon) is another one of those reversals Jeff notes. Both presence and absence are consistent with narrative threads identified long before Beshear took up his pen.

  9. Your took the “shears” to Beshear and made minced meat of his thesis. Thank you.
    The Baptists seem good at putting the foot in it. They ridiculed us for our doctrine of Theosis until the Roman Catholic Church “re-established” it in their catechism, admitting that the Eastern Orthodox were right in keeping the “Christian doctrine”.

  10. I very much enjoyed your response to the Beshear’s thesis. I am interested in knowing how his thesis came to your attention.

    Thank you for all of your fine insights and writings through the years.

    • Stephen:
      I very much appreciate your kind comments. We go way back to what I like to call Wilkinson’s Watergate. I would enjoy a private conversation with me. Go to Interpreter and locate my name. This will assist you in contacting me.

      Now to your question. Jeff Lindsay has provided a link to Beshear’s thesis in his first footnote. When one gains access to his thesis, then it is possible to discover who has influenced him and so forth. And also something about his ambitions and so forth. There is more that I could say about one other fellow (John W. Morehead) who seems to have assisted him with his thesis.

    • A reader of my Mormanity blog called my attention to the thesis. I found the argument to be interesting and original, and seeing that others had not responded, I felt a need to say something.

      In the process of exploring his arguments and oversights, I was fascinated by just how plausible the Book of Mormon’s treatment of David is in light of modern scholarship, and just how implausible it is that someone steeped in Bible lore in Joseph’s day or even our day (but unfamiliar with some key scholarship) could fabricate a record that in terms of David strongly departs from what we would expect from a Bible-savvy work crafted in Joseph’s day versus what we can now properly expect from an ancient record from Hebrews out of the Northern Kingdom, at odds with the Deuteronomists of Lehi’s day, and influenced heavily by the wisdom tradition. Getting this right adds a new challenge for those arguing that the Book of Mormon is merely a product of Joseph’s environment, based heavily on regurgitating Biblical concepts and language. How does that explain the consistent difference in the treatment of David that now makes so much sense, but didn’t until recently?

      Many thanks again to Rev. Beshears for providing this opportunity to identify additional evidence of the ancient origins of the Book of Mormon.

  11. Fantastic points, all. Great article. As I read, I couldn’t help but wonder: did Beshears ever explore Jacob 2:24 as another possible explanation for the relative lack of Davidic content? If not, perhaps polygamy is a topic too far outside the seminary’s realm of expertise to address. Or maybe too taboo to study?

    Another vanity + robbery scripture to add to the list on pp. 53-54:
    2 Nephi 28:13: “They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.”

    • Thanks for a valuable find on the vanity+robbery theme!

      As for Jacob 2:24, an important clue into the Nephite view on David, it is mentioned several times by Beshears, but with very superficial treatment.

      “Three others [three other verses mentioning David], though unique to the BofM, disparagingly chastise the beloved king (Jacob 1:15; 2:23, 24).” – p. 32

      Then on pp. 38-40, he discusses Jacob 2 in more detail and concludes that Jacob is unlike the biblical authors who do not condemn David’s polygamy, only his adultery, and even on that issue Jacob is “uncharacteristically” harsh and unlike actual biblical others, does not praise David’s other great accomplishments to offset the problem of David’s adultery (and murder). Beshears implies that the Book of Mormon in this matter is too different from the Bible: “In sum, Jacob offers a discordant portrayal of David that the biblical authors, especially the Chronicler, would likely not endorse.”

      He does not seem to even consider the possibility that the concerns raised by Jacob could be held by a legitimate Hebrew man in the ancient world and seems unable or unwilling to recognize that a record written by a fan of King David from David’s tribe might not represent the viewpoints of all within the ancient House of Israel. The fact that Jacob’s viewpoints are not entirely consistent with the enthusiastic pro-David attitude in Chronicles is simply evidence that the Book of Mormon is not enough like the Bible.

      I also found it quite interesting to have an Evangelical scholar criticizing the Book of Mormon for being too harsh on polygamy. He notes that “Jacob departed from OT writers who recorded David’s polygamous marriages matter-of-factly” (p. 38). I trust he will maintain this level-headed, non-judgmental attitude about polygamy when discussing Joseph Smith.

      • So he posits that the Book of Mormon is uncharacteristically harsh on polygamy compared to the Bible. “Too little or too much like the Bible,” indeed–your title is incredibly apt.

        “I trust he will maintain this level-headed, non-judgmental attitude about polygamy when discussing Joseph Smith.” Behold the lens whereby Latter-day Saints should approach non-LDS studies of the Biblical polygamists. Hopefully one day that trust will bear fruit.

  12. Jeff Lindsay has done a fine job of responding to what amounts to a weak 48 page Master of Theology thesis by the Reverend Kevin Beshears at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I have now read this thesis. Jeff has, I believe, been very kind to its author. Beshears does not know and hence has simply not engaged Latter-day Saint scholarship.

    I also agree with Lindsay’s complaints about the strange the decision by Beshears to use the odd expression “mormonic,” which is explained in the second footnote in his thesis. It is a kind of slur. In addition, for the most part he substitutes the word “historicism” for “historicity” or “historical authenticity.” A simply Google search would have shown that this was a silly mistake.

    The thesis Beshears strives to support is that those he calls “BofM apologists have fantastic and comprehensive solutions” (p. 5) to the fact that there is no archaeological or other external support for the what he mostly labels the “BofM.” Hence be believes that “BofM apologists” have turned to internal evidences in a desperate effort to salvage what he calls the “historicism” of the “BofM.” His final conclusion is that: “In the end, this desperate search for internal evidences in support of an underlying Hebrew tradition to BofM, as with the search for corroborating external evidences to its supposed ancient historicity, is destined to amount to unproductive digging in the sand.”

  13. Jeff, as we have come to expect from you, great work. I guess it is too late for Beshears to revise his thesis.

    • Beshears degree was awarded at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in 2016. He indicates in his thesis that in 2013 he was an associate pastor at the People of Mars Hill church in Mobile, Alabama. And, even without his Master of Theology degree at SBTS, he was also then an adjunct instructor at the School of Christian Ministries at the University of Mobile. And currently, with a BS at the Moody Bible Institute in 2009, and later an MRE at the Liberty University School of Divinity, and no publications, he currently seems to be the Associate Dean of the School of Christian Studies at the University of Mobile, which is a small private Baptist institution seemingly affiliated in some way with the Southern Baptist Convention.

      I must admit that I have mostly lost interest in anything like countercult criticisms of the faith of Latter-day Saints. The reason is that the conservative Protestant critics virtually never engage our scholarship. The thesis by Beshears fails to engage our scholarship. Jeff Lindsay has made that clear.

  14. Because I think there has been enough argument that The Book of Mormon is non-Deuteronomic or is anti-Josiah reforms, I wonder why this is presented to our day? Is there something we should be learning from these positions that our Bible doesn’t teach? Perhaps The Book of Mormon is arguing that the Bible as we have it is not fully capable of teaching us how to commune with God and His messengers? Is my question even understandable?

    • An angel of the Lord answered your question when he told Nephi:

      “And after [the words of the Bible] go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles…behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.” (1 Nephi 13:26

      • It should be noted, however, that that passage states that “these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles” (1 Nephi 13:25), and the plain and precious things were removed by the Gentiles. Which strongly suggests that any omissions 1 Nephi 13 is talking about are not about books like Deuteronomy, since any Gentile meddling would show up very rapidly compared to Jewish copies.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

All comments are moderated to ensure respectful discourse. It is assumed that it is possible to disagree agreeably and intelligently and comments that intend to increase overall understanding are particularly encouraged. Individual authors are given the option to disallow commenting or end commenting after a certain period at their discretion.

Close this window

Top of Page

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This