Vindicating Josiah

Margaret Barker has written a number of fascinating books on ancient Israelite and Christian temple theology. One of her main arguments is that the temple reforms of Josiah corrupted the pristine original Israelite temple theology. Josiah’s reforms were therefore, in some sense, an apostasy. According to Barker, early Christianity is based on the pristine, original pre-Josiah form of temple theology. This paper argues that Josiah’s reforms were a necessary correction to contemporary corruption of the Israelite temple rituals and theologies, and that the type of temple apostasy Barker describes is more likely associated with the Hasmoneans. Continue reading

Josiah’s Reform: An Introduction

In 1951 in The Improvement Era, Sidney B. Sperry published a short article titled “Some Problems of Interest Relating to the Brass Plates.”  In this article he outlines several problems including issues related to the Pentateuch, Jeremiah’s prophecies, The Book of the Law, and the Brass Plates themselves. In many ways, Sperry laid down a gauntlet that has been taken up many times by LDS scholars looking for answers that help to explain these issues in the Book of Mormon within the context of the best current biblical scholarship. Continue reading

Apostate Religion in the Book of Mormon

Nephite missionaries in the first century BC had significant difficulty preaching the gospel among Nephites and Lamanites who followed Zoramite and Nehorite teaching. Both of these groups built synagogues and other places of worship suggesting that some of their beliefs originated in Israelite practice, but both denied the coming or the necessity of a Messiah. This article explores the nature of Zoramite and Nehorite beliefs, identifies how their beliefs and practices differed from orthodox Nephite teaching, and suggests that some of these religious differences are attributable to cultural and political differences that resonate in the present. Continue reading

Scriptures with Pictures: Methodology, Unexamined Assumptions, and the Study of the Book of Abraham

Research on the origins and nature of the Book of Abraham and the accompanying facsimiles has long been hampered by faulty methodology. And while the last few years have seen a significant reexamination of the assumptions that represent the underpinning of our understandings of the Book of Abraham, some unexamined assumptions persist. This study addresses seven aspects of the Book of Abraham, which include a discussion of the sources, the process, the results, the content, the witnesses, and the historical background. For each of these aspects, this study identifies lingering assumptions and shows how a proper methodology can validate or eliminate these assumptions from the scholarly discourse. Continue reading

Bare Record: The Nephite Archivist, The Record of Records, and the Book of Mormon Provenance

This paper looks at the Book of Mormon through the lens of library science and the concept of archival provenance. The Nephites cared deeply about their records, and Mormon documented a thorough chain of custody for the plates he edited. However, ideas of archival science and provenance are recent developments in the western world, unknown to biblical authors or to anyone at Joseph Smith’s time. Understanding this aspect of Mormon’s authorship and Joseph Smith’s translation provides additional evidence to the historical validity of the Book of Mormon. Continue reading