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This week
in history

Tracing Ancient Threads of the Book of Moses

May 1-2, 2020
251 Tanner Building
Brigham Young University

More information at: https://interpreterfoundation.org/conferences/2020-book-of-moses-conference/

https://witnessesfilm.com/

Now If This Is Boasting,
Even So Will I Boast!

Abstract: When the sons of Mosiah were returning from their preaching among the Lamanites, Ammon was accused by his brother Aaron of boasting. This article demonstrates how Ammon’s response to this charge employed wordplay involving the Hebrew roots ה-ל-ל (h-l-l) and ש-מ-ח (s-m-ch). Identifying and understanding Ammon’s use of wordplay helps us to appreciate the complexity and conceptual richness of his message.

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Pitfalls of the Ngram Viewer

Abstract: Google’s Ngram Viewer often gives a distorted view of the popularity of cultural/religious phrases during the early 19th century and before. Other larger textual sources can provide a truer picture of relevant usage patterns of various content-rich phrases that occur in the Book of Mormon. Such an approach suggests that almost all of its phraseology fits comfortably within its syntactic framework, which is mostly early modern in character.

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The Lost Prologue:
Reading Moses Chapter One as an Ancient Text

Abstract: The character and complexion of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible (JST) is often a puzzle to students and scholars. One text in particular, the first chapter of the Book of Moses, claims that its very words would be lost and later restored to the believing. As this bold claim has not yet been verified by the discovery of an ancient copy of this text, clues to the antiquity of this document will need to be discovered within the text itself. This study investigates Moses 1 with the tools of biblical and literary criticism to discover if the text has the characteristics and content of an ancient religious document.

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Was the Denarius a Daily Wage?
A Note on the Parable of the Two Debtors in Luke 7:40–43

Abstract: This note provides a brief overview of Roman economic history and currency in order to throw light on the value and significance of the two debts illustratively used by Jesus in his parable to Simon the Pharisee. Though we cannot with accuracy make the claim that a Roman denarius was always the daily wage, we can determine that the debtors of Jesus’s parable owed something on the order of a year’s worth of wages and ten years’ worth of wages.

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The Character and Knowledge of Mary, the Mother of Christ

Abstract: The Virgin Mary is arguably the archetype of the virtuous woman and even the divine feminine on earth, but we know very little about her. She is remembered in Christianity in a variety of ways including with cathedrals built in her honor. Though many seek her intercession when they pray, that does not seem to accord with Luke’s account of her self- effacing and private character. This article considers what Latter-day Saints know about Mary from the scriptures, distinct from others of Christian faith who seek to honor her in different ways. That discussion also includes surmise as to what she may have learned from the wise men on their visit of homage shortly after the nativity and what she may have passed on to John in accordance with the two-way charge Jesus gave to both of them from the cross recorded in John 19. There is also consideration of the commonality of the teachings of her two most famous sons.

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Scriptures through the Jeweler’s Lens

Review of Terryl Givens with Brian Hauglid, The Pearl of Greatest Price: Mormonism’s Most Controversial Scripture (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019). 285 pages. $34.95 (hardback).

 

Abstract: Among the many revelatory works of Joseph Smith, members and scholars alike seem to give lesser attention to what is found in the Pearl of Great Price. In The Pearl of Greatest Price, Terryl Givens and Brian Hauglid attempt to provide some of the attention that has been lacking. The result is a book that, while spotty in places, provides a good resource that should receive wide exposure in academic circles. Believing members, on the other hand, may find the book lacking or downright questionable because of the secular approach it takes to dealing with scripture understood to have a divine provenance.

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First Visions and Last Sermons:
Affirming Divine Sociality,
Rejecting the Greater Apostasy

Abstract: There is a kinship between Lehi and Joseph Smith. They are linked to each other by similar first visions, and they faced roughly the same theological problem. Resisted by elites who believe God is a Solitary Sovereign, both prophets affirm the pluralistic religion of Abraham, which features a sôd ’ĕlôhim (Council of Gods) in which the divine Father, Mother, and Son sit. These prophets are likewise linked by their last sermons: Lehi’s parting sermon/blessings of his sons and Joseph’s King Follett discourse. Along with the first visions and last sermons, the article closely reads Lehi’s dream, Nephi’s experience of Lehi’s dream, and parts of the Allegory of the Olive Tree, John’s Revelation, and Genesis, all of which touch on the theology of the Sôd (Council).

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Discipleship of Yesterday for Today

Review of Eric D. Huntsman, Becoming the Beloved Disciple: Coming unto Christ through the Gospel of John (Springville, UT: CFI, an imprint of Cedar Fort, 2018). 176 pages. $19.99.

Abstract: What does the Gospel of John say about discipleship? Does early Christian discipleship matter today? Can coming unto Christ be different for each person? Eric Huntsman offers answers to these questions through his excellent scholarly background in Greek, which lends to crisp exegetic interpretations on the fourth gospel. Even more, Huntsman provides valuable hermeneutic applications for a growing diversified membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Indeed, this book delivers a better understanding of how each child of God uniquely comes to know Jesus Christ.

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Bad Grammar in the Book of Mormon Found in Early English Bibles

Abstract: This study describes ten types of grammatical usage found in early modern Bibles with correlates in the original text of the Book of Mormon. In some cases Joseph Smith’s own language could have produced the matching grammar, but in other cases his own linguistic preferences were unlikely to have produced the patterns or usage found in the original text. Comparative linguistic research indicates that this grammatical correspondence shouldn’t be a surprise, since plenty of Book of Mormon syntax matches structures and patterns found in Early Modern English.

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Rethinking Alma 36

Abstract: While Alma 36 has long been one of the most admired examples of classical Hebrew chiasmus in the Book of Mormon, critiques in the last two decades have questioned whether, in fact, it really meets the requirements of classical biblical chiasms. The principal objections have pointed to the large sections of the chapter that are not easily included in the chiasm as outlined by John W. Welch and other proponents. Until now, this debate has not taken note of dramatic new developments in the analysis of Hebrew rhetoric over the last fifty years. The following essay turns to the discoveries made in this new approach to Hebrew rhetoric and shows that when the new “levels analysis” is incorporated into a study of Alma 36, the entire text does have a role to play in the extended chiastic structure of the chapter.

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“Somebody Wrote It:”
The Book of Mormon’s Missionary Message to a 21st-Century World

Abstract: Nathan Oman’s “Welding Another Link in Wonder’s Chain: The Task of Latter-day Saint Intellectuals in the Church’s Third Century” wisely called for “new language in which to celebrate the Restoration.” That new language can be found in understanding the power of the Book of Mormon, which is the tangible miracle at the heart of the Restoration that defies the critics. My father, Senator Robert F. Bennett, devoted his final years to arguing that the Book of Mormon’s existence is a stumbling block to those who try to dismiss it as an obvious fraud. Those who scoff at the Book of Mormon have yet to come up with a plausible secular account of its existence, and this allows the Book of Mormon to endure as the centerpiece of our missionary efforts. But rather than simply use the Book of Mormon to attempt to answer questions people are no longer asking, we need to create a missionary message that uses this sacred scripture to connect people, directly and personally, to Jesus Christ.

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An Approach to Isaiah Studies

Review of Joseph M. Spencer, The Vision of All: Twenty-Five Lectures on Isaiah in Nephi’s Record (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2016). 318 pages. $59.95 (hardback); $29.95 paperback.

 

Abstract: This review makes a case, briefly, for the unmistakable presence of Jesus Christ in Isaiah’s text, which case is based on a corpus linguistic-based description of the Hebrew Bible, equivalent designations of deific names, self-identification declarations by the Lord, and more. And, importantly, one can never set aside the multiple teachings and testimonies of our modern prophets and apostles regarding Isaiah’s prophecies of Jesus Christ. Moreover, in my view, a knowledge of biblical Hebrew helps us to penetrate the very depths and heights of Isaiah’s text.

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Labor Diligently to Write: The Ancient Making of a Modern Scripture — Preface

[Editor’s Note: We are pleased to present the eighth (and final) installment from a book entitled Labor Diligently to Write: The Ancient Making of a Modern Scripture. It is being presented in serialized form as an aid to help readers prepare for the 2020 Come Follow Me course of study. This final installment is the Preface for the book. This is a new approach for Interpreter, and we hope you find it helpful.]

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The Prophets Who Wrote the Book of Omni

Abstract: The brief accounts written by Omni, Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and Amaleki, taken alone, don’t always inspire confidence in their righteousness. Nevertheless, when the specific words used by these men and all relevant context are taken into consideration, it’s reasonable to conclude that each of these authors of the book of Omni was a prophet of God.

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Labor Diligently to Write:
The Ancient Making of a Modern Scripture
Chapters 16 - 18

[Editor’s Note: We are pleased to present the seventh installment from a book entitled Labor Diligently to Write: The Ancient Making of a Modern Scripture. It is being presented in serialized form as an aid to help readers prepare for the 2020 Come Follow Me course of study. This is a new approach for Interpreter, and we hope you find it helpful.]

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He Knows My Affliction:
The Hill Onidah as Narrative Counterpart to the Rameumptom

Abstract: The toponym Onidah, attested as the name of a hill in Alma 32:4, most plausibly derives from Hebrew ʿŏnî /ʿōnî/ʿônî (ʿonyî, “my affliction”) + yādaʿ/yēdaʿ (“he knew,” “he knows”) — i.e., “he has acknowledged my affliction” or “he knows my affliction.” This etymology finds support in the context of the Zoramite narrative in which it occurs. In view of the pejorative lexical associations of the Rameumptom, the “high” and “holy stand,” with Hebrew rām (< rwm, “high”) and haughtiness, arrogance, and pride, we see Mormon using the Rameumptom, the “high” platform for Zoramite self-exalting worship, with Onidah, the hill from which Alma and Amulek taught the Zoramite poor and humble. The latter name and Alma’s teaching from that location constituted a sign that the Lord “knew” their “affliction.” Alma devotes a significant part of his message not only extolling the spiritual value of their state of “affliction” and humiliation or compelled “humility” (ʿŏnî Exodus 3:7, 17), but teaching them how to “plant” the “word” (even Jesus Christ himself) in their hearts through prayer — the word that would grow up into a “perfect knowledge” of God — experientially “knowing” God (Alma 32:16‒36) and being known by him (cf. Alma 7:12).

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Labor Diligently to Write:
The Ancient Making of a Modern Scripture
Chapters 14 & 15

[Editor’s Note: We are pleased to present the sixth installment from a book entitled Labor Diligently to Write: The Ancient Making of a Modern Scripture. It is being presented in serialized form as an aid to help readers prepare for the 2020 Come Follow Me course of study. This is a new approach for Interpreter, and we hope you find it helpful.]

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Musings on the Birth of the Savior Jesus Christ

Abstract: In this essay, Kristine Wardle Frederickson muses about “the babe born in Bethlehem,” and who he was — and is — in consideration of those who nurtured, loved, and welcomed the infant Jehovah to Earth. Certain women played critical roles in preparing him for his infinite and eternal Atonement, and that preparation began long before Jesus came to Earth. Four women stand out as devoted mentors, disciples, and witnesses of Jesus Christ’s mission, and of his sublime perfection even on that first Christmas day: Heavenly Mother, Mary, Elisabeth, and Anna. At Christmastime, their witnesses are worthy of deep contemplation as they reinforce the majesty and glory of Jesus Christ, who condescended to enter mortality as an innocent baby, under humble circumstances. Carefully nurtured and loved, he lived a perfect life, pointed the way to salvation, and sacrificed his life that all might live.

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Labor Diligently to Write:
The Ancient Making of a Modern Scripture
Chapters 12 & 13

[Editor’s Note: We are pleased to present the fifth installment from a book entitled Labor Diligently to Write: The Ancient Making of a Modern Scripture. It is being presented in serialized form as an aid to help readers prepare for the 2020 Come Follow Me course of study. This is a new approach for Interpreter, and we hope you find it helpful.]

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