Speaking Announcements: Harry Potter and Faith, Complexity in Church, Plus a MHA Preview

First, Nov 9 at the LDS Institute in Mesa, I’ll be speaking and participating in a panel. I’ve titled my remarks something like Harry Potter’s Faith Crisis and Our Own: The Only Way Out is Through. (The latter phrase is something I’ve heard Elder Holland cite in “For Times of Trouble” and “However Long and Hard the Road,” both excellent)

This event is sponsored by a large Facebook group called Uplift, some fliers and more info below. Continue reading “Speaking Announcements: Harry Potter and Faith, Complexity in Church, Plus a MHA Preview”

On Hiatus until June

“I confess that I am constantly appalled by the scarcity of my knowledge, and the one resentment I think I carry concerns the many pressing demands which limit the opportunity for reading.” President Gordon B. Hinckley, in The Voice of My Servants (BYU Religious Studies Center, 2010): 61.

I have the opposite problem; right now I am doing nothing but reading. Due to time and stress related to preparing for my qualifying exams and dissertation proposal, I will not be posting anything new or updating my Gospel Doctrine posts until June. If you’re looking for them, you can use the category or date selector at the bottom of the page. I’ve also cut out or blocked myself from virtually all my distractions and other activities. It’s eat, sleep, read, and study, for the next 59 days. Continue reading “On Hiatus until June”

A Short Announcement and a Seattle Fireside on Reclaiming the Literal Interpretation of Genesis

First, I’ve had a lot of Facebook friend requests from readers. I’m taking a break from Facebook to focus on my preparation for my three qualifying exams in spring: American Religious History, Reformation History, and History of Science. However, I will continue posting things to the Benjamin the Scribe Facebook page. I suggest you both Like and Follow that page. (I put a link to it and my GoFundMe  at the end of every post, but apparently, not everyone makes it that far.)

Second and more exciting, Friday Nov. 2 at 7:30, I’ll be speaking at a home in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. My topic, “Reclaiming the Literal Interpretation of Genesis: A Short History of How It Went Wrong,” expands on several of my previous papers, presentations, and podcasts (scroll down). Seating is limited, so you must RSVP to this email address. If there are seats remaining, you’ll receive the home address.

See you there.

A Christmas Plug

The Real St. Nicholas

The Real St. Nicholas

One of the best ways for laypeople to learn about the history, text, interpretation, archaeology, and lands of the Bible is through reading Biblical Archaeology Review. In spite of the name, it’s not just about archaeology. It used to have a sister magazine called Bible Review which was more focused on text and interpretation, but they’ve been combined. BAR (the frequent acronym) contains writings by scholars (Jewish, Christian, LDS, nothing particular) written for laypeople, so it’s meant to be accessible and up-to-date.  It also means that you’ll see things that challenge, things written from different worldviews or religious presuppositions, and, often, rejoinders by other scholars who disagree. So you’ll also learn to recognize good scholarship and quality argument.

I’ve pulled out three Christmas-y articles to show the kind of thing they do. First, Hebrew Bible scholar William H.C. Propp writes a tongue-in-cheek piece about relating Christmas and Santa Clause to asherah, the ancient mother goddess/tree/grove that Israel sometimes worshipped. The title riffs off an ancient inscription which some read as “Jahweh and his asherah.”

As it turns out, Propp was also “principal bassoonist of the North Coast Symphony Orchestra of Southern California and conductor of the La Jolla Renaissance Singers.” His musical life (and Jewish upbringing) contributed to another Christmas piece, with some history and critique of Handel’s use and abuse of the Hebrew Bible in writing The Messiah. This is article two.

Article three focuses on the how December 25th came to be celebrated as Christmas.

All three can be downloaded from here. Check out BAR. And if you’re interested in St. Nicholas, read this post.

As always, you can help me pay my tuition here. You can also get updates by email whenever a post goes up (subscription box on the right). If you friend me on Facebook, please drop me a note telling me you’re a reader. I tend not to accept friend requests from people I’m not acquainted with.

 

Old Testament, the Blog in the Upcoming Year, and News

My image.

My image.

Coming back to the Old Testament means I’ve been at this solo blog thing for a while, and I have a lot of prewritten material to work with. In the next year, I’ll be reposting and updating all of my Old Testament Gospel Doctrine posts, so they should appear as “new” posts in your feed and on the blog. If for some reason you get ahead of my updating/resposting, a google search for Benjamin Scribe Old Testament Lesson X or using the blog index (link at the top of every page) can get you to the old post you’re looking for. I also anticipate writing some new posts. Continue reading “Old Testament, the Blog in the Upcoming Year, and News”

“Reading the Old Testament in Context” Fireside in San Antonio Tx, Nov 11

Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 9.55.57 PMMy Oct. 8 fireside in Claremont will be repeated in San Antonio, Tx on Saturday November 11 at 6pm, in the chapel at 6240 UTSA Blvd, San Antonio, 78249.  It’s on “Reading the Old Testament in Context” and is a version of my Sperry Symposium presentation which will be in Provo, October 28. The firesides and presentation are an adapted form of the 25-page paper I submitted for Sperry, so the paper has some things the presentations won’t and vice-versa. I’ve decided to take that paper, and will just post it in sections here as blogposts, starting in mid-November.  Continue reading ““Reading the Old Testament in Context” Fireside in San Antonio Tx, Nov 11″

Repeat of “Reading the Old Testament in Context” Fireside, in Rochester MN

Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 9.55.57 PMMy Oct. 8 fireside in Claremont will be repeated in Rochester MN on October 22. (Flyer) It’s on “Reading the Old Testament in Context” and is a version of my Sperry Symposium presentation which will be in Provo, October 28. The firesides and presentation are an adapted form of the 25-page paper I submitted for Sperry, so the paper has some things the presentations won’t and vice-versa. So I’ve decided to take that paper, and will just post it in sections here as blogposts, starting in November.  Continue reading “Repeat of “Reading the Old Testament in Context” Fireside, in Rochester MN”

Fireside Oct. 8 on Reading the Old Testament in Context

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 10.34.46 AMIf you live in the Los Angeles area, I’ll be giving a fireside on October 8, entitled “Reading the Old Testament in Context.” Flyer (PDF).

As you might guess, this presentation is oriented more towards understanding the Old Testament, reading it like an Israelite or a Hebrew scholar, than devotional or personal application readings of the Old Testament. Those aren’t entirely separate categories, but I assume most Mormons are experienced in the latter and not so much in the former.

I will talk about becoming a “competent reader” (a quasi-technical term) and introduce four kinds of context, moving from the simplest to the most complex. For each of these, I have numerous examples from the Bible, modern parallels to help drive the point home, and study suggestions/questions.

  • Textual Context– By this I mean we need to read what comes before and what comes after a line or verse, especially across verse and chapter boundaries. Those divisions are largely medieval impositions on the ancient text and sometimes break up stories or sections. If you start a book or movie in the middle of one section, and then end randomly in the middle of another, you’re not really getting the whole story as it is meant to be communicated.
  • Historical Context– This includes elements of the historical setting which are relevant. Because the Old Testament authors spoke to their contemporaries who shared this knowledge, they did not provide explanations about or identify people, places, customs, laws, or events. These things went without being said, but modern readers need them to be made explicit in order to understand
  • Linguistic Context– What should we know about language of the Old Testament to better understand it? This includes aspects of both Bible translation from Hebrew/Aramaic into English and usage characteristics of Hebrew. I single out three: poetry, paranomasia/wordplay, and allusion.
  •  Literary Context– This is the most complex section, where I introduce the idea of genre. We experience this natively today, with books, movies, restaurants, which all come in different kinds, each with its own conventions and expectations; You know what kind of clothes to wear and what kind of food to expect if I say “burger joint,” you know the conventions and truth-claims of the Romantic Comedy genre. But we rarely understand that this kind of thing applies to scripture as well.  I talk about the Bible as a library of different kinds of writings, a collected edition or anthology of different genres, set off by genre markers. I drill down into the historical genre, arguing that modern expectations of historical writing are largely journalistic ideals (i.e. verbatim quotes, neutral reporting, a priority on historical accuracy), but ancient history-writers did not remotely follow these conventions. What were the conventions of ancient history-writing? I cover much of the same ground as in my LDSPerspectives podcast and elsewhere on the blog, but more formally and organized, with citations and examples.

I’ll make the text of this available one way or another in late October or early November, as part of my gearing up for Old Testament in January. I have several things in mind for the blog, so check back. In the meantime, listen to the podcast and watch my screencast about the rediscovery of the world of the Old Testament.

As always, you can help me pay my tuition here. You can also get updates by email whenever a post goes up (subscription box on the right). If you friend me on Facebook, please drop me a note telling me you’re a reader. I tend not to accept friend requests from people I’m not acquainted with.