Translation and Context: Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra, Isaiah and Job at Ugarit

Communication involves not just words, but the context, culture, and worldview in which they are embedded. Simple translation of words alone, reading words alone, however “clear,” will fail to communicate the entire message, because this kind of information is tacit and unstated. Sometimes we can tell we’re missing an intangible something, but most often we can’t even tell that, illustrated extensively in Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes.

Here are some modern examples. Continue reading “Translation and Context: Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra, Isaiah and Job at Ugarit”

Come Follow Me: Mosiah 4-6

51N-bcLYA2LFirst, a teaser. I’ve got something fun coming down the pike in less than two weeks I think a lot of people will be excited for. You’ll see it here and some other places.

Once again, I’d remind you of the book on King Benjamin’s speech (paper here), and the verse-by-verse commentary in it.

I’ll add my own bits which don’t overlap, and happen to be, well, on quasi-controversial topics. Continue reading “Come Follow Me: Mosiah 4-6”

Science and History as Myth and Fiction: Exploring Some Common Labels

(Originally published in 2010 elsewhere) Most people know the genre of “parable” because they’re in the Gospels, but “myth” is poorly understood and the term carries a lot of negative baggage. Like “literal” you have to be very careful throwing around the term without defining it. One simple definition of myth is that myth is worldview in narrative form. That is, it’s a way of explaining one’s conception of how the world works in everyday language or story form. Continue reading “Science and History as Myth and Fiction: Exploring Some Common Labels”

Revisiting Temple Preparation

Elder Bednar in General Conference talked about the spread of temples throughout the world, as well as doubling the number of available languages of the presentation of temple ordinances. This got me thinking again about something I think about from time to time: the state of our collective temple knowledge and how it affects our temple experience.

Since I have a lot of links below, let me summarize with these three bullet points. Continue reading “Revisiting Temple Preparation”

Joseph Fielding Smith’s Assumptions

The future is difficult to plan right now, but I’m happy to report my proposal for the American Academy of Religion (AAR) national conference has been accepted. It traditionally meets with the Society of Biblical Literature in a massive multi-day conference attended by thousands. This year it’s in Boston, mid/late November. I pray by then we’ll be back to some kind of normalcy. Continue reading “Joseph Fielding Smith’s Assumptions”

Suggestions for Missionaries in Lockdown

I have a young friend currently serving a mission in Norway, who is confined to her apartment except for groceries and cabin-fever prevention walks. She asked me to send her some reading, which prompted this post.

Missionaries tend to be out and about. Being in an apartment with minimal internet or personal connection can lead to feelings of wasted time and lack of utility. But it’s also a real opportunity for missionaries to dedicate time they wouldn’t otherwise have to some intensive and important study, about our own scriptures (especially the Book of Mormon), scripture we share with other Christians (especially the New Testament), or Church history and doctrine. Continue reading “Suggestions for Missionaries in Lockdown”