Today we come to another little-read and little-known jewel of the Old Testament. It has not traditionally been appreciated; as Elder McConkie said, “Job is for people who like Job.” I suspect we’ve simply never been “competent readers” or at least, not competent enough to appreciate it. (On “competent readers” see this excerpt from Brettler’s excellent How to Read the Bible and this from John Barton’s Reading the Old Testament) Continue reading “Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson 32- Job”
First, it looks like I didn’t do a podcast for Lesson 31 OR 32 in 2010, so no link to offer there. The Manual is here.
But the good news is, this is the lesson you’ve all been waiting for. Most scripture wasn’t written for the purpose of “daily application” or even “how to live a righteous life.” If that’s what you’ve been looking for in the Old Testament, it’s probably been difficult. Schlimm calls this the “Searching for Saints” model of reading; it doesn’t work very well, because scripture was not intended to provide ideal models to emulate and liken. Continue reading “Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson 31- Proverbs and Ecclesiastes”
I was grateful for the invitation to speak at UVU’s Mormon Studies Conference on Mormonism and the Challenges of Science, Revelation, and Faith in February. I spoke about how and why we’ve come to understand the creation chapters of Genesis certain ways, and then participated in a panel on evolution with two BYU biologists. You can watch my presentation here, with subtitles. My slides aren’t visible, but you can download them here (pdf) to follow along. Continue reading “The Scientific Deformation and Reformation of Genesis: How “Science” Messed It Up, but Also Fixes It”
This is the first of my Old Testament Gospel Doctrine posts. (Yes, it’s Lesson 3. Mea Culpa.) I’ll be updating my old posts and changing the date on them so they reapper.
Inigo Montoya sums this lesson almost perfectly.
Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
Actually, I don’t feel we can even sum up here. Continue reading “Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson 3: Moses 1:27-42; 2:1-31; 3:1-25”
This post of recommendations focuses on the history and culture of the Old Testament. I’ve bolded my simple choices for those who don’t want lots of detailed options. Continue reading “Old Testament Resources Part 4: History and Culture”
LDS Perspectives interviewed me about my book on Genesis 1, which is still in progress.
The beginning of the Old Testament is challenging for a number of reasons. It’s foreign, it’s inconsistent (two creation stories?), it interfaces with history and science in uncomfortable and controversial ways (evolution, “giants”/”sons of god” marrying “daughters of men,” the flood, etc.)
And then for Mormons, add in the Book of Moses, the Book of Abraham, and the Temple, which parallel these chapters. Now if you open your Old Testament teacher’s manual, how much background, explanation, or guidance do you really get with any of this stuff? Continue reading “Reading the Early Chapters of Genesis- Podcast and Followup”
I’ve put together a collection of samples from these books.
First, note that LDS Perspectives is beginning a string of Old Testament-related podcasts, today with Philip Barlow (author of the excellent Mormons and the Bible), Cory Crawford the following week, and then me talking about what’s going on in Genesis 1, Moses, and Abraham. Continue reading “Old Testament Resources Part 3: Paradigm Changers”
If you missed attending one of my firesides or the Sperry Symposium, this is for you. I recorded the audio/powerpoint from my final presentation last weekend, which benefitted from having done it three times.The length is about 1:10, and unfortunately I cut the audio before I closed with some testimony about the utility of the Old Testament, my appreciation for it, etc. The first slide is up for almost two minutes, they do change. And below are books/authors I quote or allude to in the slides. The actual paper has many more references, of course, and I’ll be posting it in chunks. (And if you want to link, please link to this post, not direct to the youtube video.) Continue reading “Virtual Sperry Fireside On Reading the Old Testament in Context”
These are books/authors I quote or allude to in the slides of my fireside/Sperry Symposium presentation. The actual paper has many more references, of course. I’ll be posting it in entirety, first in chunks as posts, and then as a complete pdf file. What is listed below will also overlap with my Recommended Resource for the Old Testament posts, coming in November.
Becoming “Competent Readers,” Learning the “Rules of the Game,” Reading with Ancient Eyes
- Richards/O’Brian, Misreading the Bible with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible
- Brettler, How to Read the (Jewish) Bible (This is very basic, short, and accessible.)
- Barton, Reading the Old Testament (Still accessible, but longer and more complex.)
- Relevant excerpts from the last two here. Highly recommended.
The Bible is Weird
- Matthew Schlimm, This Strange and Sacred Scripture: Wrestling with the Old Testament and Its Oddities and
- Robin Parry, The Biblical Cosmos: A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Weird and Wonderful World of the Bible
- Harper-Collins Study Bible– Based on the New Revised Standard Version, this is often assigned for New Testament 101, or Hebrew Bible 101 at colleges. The publisher is the Society of Biblical Literature, and translation and notes are done by a variety of scholars, so there’s little religious bias.
NIVCultural Backgrounds Study Bible– Based on the conservative Evangelical translation New International Version, this translation is demonstrably quite biased; it cheats. However, the notes (at least, the OT notes I’ve checked) are great. As you might guess from the title, the notes and essays focus on the cultural backgrounds, those things ancient audiences (likely) knew which moderns don’t. Review here. It’s edited by John Walton, an Evangelical scholar I like, and my understanding is that the notes and essays are derived or shortened from this stand-alone series. EDIT: I just learned that you can get these notes with the New King James Version (NKJV) translation, instead of the NIV. I strongly recommend that over the NIV. The NKJV is basically an update to the English of the KJV, so it retains most of the archaicness and problems of the KJV text. But that’s preferable over the deceptiveness of the NIV’s modern (but strongly biased) translation.
- Jewish Study Bible– This translation and notes/essays are all written by Jewish scholars, which means it only covers the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. It’s a fantastic resource that will enlighten and challenge (since, for example, Jews are unlikely to interpret Isaiah as messianic prophecies of Jesus.) I enjoy contrasting its views with those of the NIV.
- NET Bible-The advantage of this is it’s entirely free and online at http://Netbible.org, and in free App form, called Lumina. There are thousands and thousands of footnotes, often about translation or background.
Hebrew-focused translations with notes.
On Bible translations, and using Free Greek and Hebrew tools, see
- my article here in Religious Educator (skip to the Application section for Bibles/tools)
- my two blogposts here and here showing how to use free tools in Logos.
On genre, listen/read my podcast here.
Others Quoted/alluded to–
- Nahum Sarna, a Rabbi with a PhD in Semitics who has written about Genesis.
- Kenton Sparks, an Evangelical Bible scholar who does some fantastic work about faith, scholarship, and the nature of scripture, especially this one and this one.
- V. Philips Long, Art of Biblical History.
- Kevin Barney, “Understanding Old Testament Poetry” Ensign, June 1990.
- Moberly’s article in Reading Genesis After Darwin
- Thomas Alexander, Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Church from 1890-1930. This book, originally commissioned by the Church, contains the discussion of the 1922 FP letter about Jonah and Job.
- C.S. Lewis, various.
- Raymond Brown, I think it’s 101 Questions on the Bible,
- Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon
- Elder Ballard’s blockbuster discourse to Seminary/Institute teachers, and then the edited version in the Ensign.
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In the LDS Perspectives podcast, I alluded to this passage from Kenton Sparks’ section in Genesis: History, Fiction, or Neither?: Three Views on the Bible’s Earliest Chapters. I think he captures very concisely and clearly the nature of genre; A genre is a pattern, established by identifying the characteristics it has in common with other similar things. This is why it’s so important to study ancient Near Eastern literature outside the Bible. By putting the Bible in conversation with texts from roughly the same time and place, we gain more examples and are better able to identify shared characteristics. (Sparks does this here in a more academic handbook style.) Notably, many of these texts were undiscovered or unable to be read and understood until the last century. (See my screencast on the rediscovery of the ancient Near East.) Continue reading “Kenton Sparks on Genre”