Come Follow Me: Ephesians

My picture, from the Kidron Valley.

As always, it’s important to start with setting and context. Remember back in Acts 19, where the silversmiths who make Athena shrines start a riot and get Paul thrown out of the city? “Great is Diana of the Ephesians”? Paul met some disciples there and stuck around for three months, and now he writes to that congregation. Paul himself is now apparently in prison (Eph 4:1) and writing letters. Whether in Rome, Ephesus, or Caesarea, we don’t know.  Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and Philemon are known collectively as The Captivity or Prison Letters. These are Paul’s Folsom Prison Concert, if you will. Continue reading “Come Follow Me: Ephesians”

A Paradoxical Preservation of Faith: LDS Creation Accounts and the Composite Nature of Revelation

Creation of the Sun, Sistine Chapel

My 2019 FAIRMormon Conference presentation is up now, here. There’s a lot in the footnotes as well.

The takeaway is this: Many LDS have unsustainably fundamentalist assumptions about the nature of revelation, prophets, and scripture. The conflict these cause sometimes leads to a loss of faith, instead of recognizing and reexamining the assumptions.

I draw on a variety of things to argue against these assumptions, to argue that revelation is composite, that is, always contains divine and human aspects, and we should expect those. It’s ok, though, because it’s a progressive, iterative process. As time goes on, the human progresses towards the divine until the categories overlap completely. But we’re not there yet and won’t be for a long time.

So I take Acts 15:28 as my paradigm for understanding Church leadership. “It seemed good to the Holy Ghost and to us.”

Paradoxically, it is by recognizing and understanding the presence of the human that my faith in the divine is preserved.

Give it a read.

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Genre… and the Temple

The red brick store in Nauvoo, where the first endowments were done on May 4, 1842.

If you follow me, you know I talk a lot about the importance of recognizing genre in scripture: podcast here, Sperry symposium here, posts here, here, etc.

Evolution is also a topic I address with some frequency, such as here (a BYU guest lecture) and here (in context of “what prophets know”).

I also talk a lot about Genesis, how and why it’s historically been misread (e.g. my presentation here and accompanying post here), as well as the parallels in Moses and Abraham (last year at the Joseph Smith Papers conference and this year at FAIR, transcript not up yet.)

And I’m writing a book on Genesis 1 where I tie a lot of this stuff together… but I’ve left a lot of hardest writing for last, including my chapter on the temple. So, let’s talk.  Continue reading “Genre… and the Temple”

2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians constitutes the first preserved “sequel” in Paul’s letters.  In fact, Paul wrote three or possibly four letters to Corinth. Some scholars speculate 2 Corinthians is actually an edited copy of two letters smushed together, based on differing tone and structure. (There’s a break in 2:14 that picks back up in 7:5). In fact, the whole thing is a bit confused. This is one of those letters that emphasizes the fact that we get only one side of the conversation, and have have to muddle through in trying to piece it together. We know Paul’s travel plans to revisit Corinth had changed, that something or things significant had happened since the last time he had written. Let’s look at a few things about the entirety of the letter, then some specifics. Continue reading “2 Corinthians”

Old Testament for Pre-missionaries in Phoenix, Az

Cattermole, The Scribe

Beginning September 12, I’ll be teaching a class called “Old Testament for Pre-missionaries” in a Phoenix Stake Center, Thursdays at 7pm. The class is open to anyone, including high-school seniors. It is neither an official Seminary nor Institute class, and thus will receive no credit for either.

As this is a one-semester class, we’ll read selectively through parts of the Old Testament in connection with the New. The texts and themes of the class have been selected to meet several needs particular to those preparing to serve missions; I’m assuming minimal familiarity. The selected texts/discussions will provide key information for understanding/teaching: Continue reading “Old Testament for Pre-missionaries in Phoenix, Az”

1 Corinthians 11-16

The latter half of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians has a definite flow and organization to it. While our tendency is to zoom in on a single verse or even sentence, sometimes we miss the forest for the trees. So, let’s start with an overview and then zoom in a little.

We pick up Paul in chapter 11, where he regulates some issues about how the community should function, both relating to gender and the Lord’s Supper, which we call “the sacrament.” Then he moves on to a potentially more destructive issue, namely, the Corinthian saints are highly competitive and trying to one-up each other, but with spiritual gifts. Who is the most blessed? Who is the most spiritually in-tune? This is not terribly unusual. The Apostles themselves had argued about which of them “was the greatest” and even asked Jesus to settle the matter- Luke 9:46, 22:24, Matt 18:1 Continue reading “1 Corinthians 11-16”