Mary and the Annunciation as a Model for Scripture Study

At the opening of BYU’s 2019 Reconciling Evolution workshop—which focuses on biology pedagogy with religious students— Associate Academic Vice-President John Rosenberg represented the University in welcoming the dozens of participants to BYU. He spoke on the pursuit of knowledge, using medieval depictions of Mary, Gabriel, and the Annunciation. I have adapted from my notes for this post, by permission.

Continue reading “Mary and the Annunciation as a Model for Scripture Study”

Canaanite Santa Claus, Handel’s Messiah, and the Real St. Nicholas

I’ve plugged Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) before, a great magazine (with pictures!) aimed at laypeople interested in the history, text, interpretation, and archaeology of the Bible. (Notably, there are some LDS in there from time to time!) It’s scholarly but accessible, includes multiple perspectives, and the letters to the editor are illustrative and amusing. Worth subscribing to. Continue reading “Canaanite Santa Claus, Handel’s Messiah, and the Real St. Nicholas”

A Missionary Reminiscence on Christmas in Western Europe

I repost this every year.

When the mission president announced to our small group of greenies that I was going to Strasbourg, France’s northeastern border, I shrugged the resigned shrug of a missionary who knew nothing about anywhere but was willing to go wherever. One of the sisters expressed jealousy; Strasbourg, she said, was one of the best cities in the mission.

She was right, and it would not be a good thing. Continue reading “A Missionary Reminiscence on Christmas in Western Europe”

Come Follow Me: Ether

A few general introductory notes about the Book of Ether.

First, unlike the other two Book of Mormon migratory peoples, the Jaredites (as we call them) are not under the Law of Moses. Abraham>Isaac>Jacob (Israel)>>>>Moses. They’re not Jewish nor even Israelite (also a late term) nor Canaanite, but Mesopotamian, probably. So they are operating under a different set of religious ideas, different language— Sumerian, Akkadian, something else? Hebrew isn’t an option— and different cultural background than the rest of the Book of Mormon. And indeed, Ether has a different feel to it than the rest. It’s largely political history, stories of wars between scheming royal families, imprisonment, regicide, etc. All very Game of Thrones-y. Continue reading “Come Follow Me: Ether”

Tales from the Archives 3: The 1934-5 Newspaper Proxy Wars and Writing Hot

From 1934-5, the age of the earth, evolution, and scripture was hotly debated in the Deseret News. (See here for a little history and context.) Elders John Widtsoe and Joseph Fielding Smith wrote nothing themselves, but encouraged, solicited, and pushed articles reflecting their own views. On Widtsoe’s side was James E. Talmage’s son Sterling, who had received a PhD in geology. (JET had died the year before.) On Smith’s side, were several people, including Sidney Sperry, Major Howard S. Bennion, and Dudley J. Whitney, a Pentecostal farmer. Continue reading “Tales from the Archives 3: The 1934-5 Newspaper Proxy Wars and Writing Hot”

Come Follow Me: Mormon 1-9

 I’ll be posting the  final Book of Mormon lessons soon, along with some pre-D&C posts and my “What to Read for D&C.”

With Mormon, we finally arrive in “the present,” that is,  Mormon’s present. He’s no longer working from records that were ancient to him. Remember, the time difference between Mormon and the visit of Jesus is roughly the same time difference between us and Columbus; but in Mormon he’s now working from his own life’s experience, his own memories and thoughts. This is now a primary source, unfiltered through anyone else (well, except translation through Joseph Smith, however that worked.)

You can’t read the beginning of the end of the Book of Mormon without thinking of President Kimball’s stark call against modern idolatry which included this observation— “We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord.” Continue reading “Come Follow Me: Mormon 1-9”