On next thursday and Friday, April 11 and 12, the Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Utah S.J. Qunney School of Law is hosting a symposium on “Religion, Faith and the Environment”. Speakers will include James Rasband, Dean of BYU’s Clark Law School, and Elder Marcus Nash of the First Quorum of the Seventy. The program is set out on their web page.
Abstract: The 1985 publication of John L. Sorenson’s An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon presented the best argument for a New World location for the Book of Mormon. For all of its strengths, however, one aspect of the model has remained perplexing. It appeared that in order to accept that correlation one must accept that the Nephites rotated north to what we typically understand as northwest. The internal connections between text and geography were tighter than any previous correlation, and the connections between that particular geography and the history of the peoples who lived in that place during Book of Mormon times was also impressive. There was just that little problem of north not being north. This paper reexamines the Book of Mormon directional terms and interprets them against the cultural system that was prevalent in the area defined by Sorenson’s geographical correlation. The result is a way to understand Book of Mormon directions without requiring any skewing of magnetic north. Continue reading
Andrew C. Skinner has recently published a short book entitled Third Nephi: the Fifth Gospel. Two chapters emphasize a temple context for 3 Nephi, chapter 3, entitled “The Temple Context of the Fifth Gospel,” and chapter 4, “The Temple Sermon on Exaltation.” It is a theme first proposed by John W. Welch, whom Skinner cites in his introduction: “An arresting feature of the Fifth Gospel is its connection to the temple. Jesus’s ‘appearance at the temple invites the idea that his words have something important to do with teachings and ordinances found within the temple.’”
While there are many aspects of the 3 Nephi version of the Sermon on the Mount that are worthy of examination, it is the assumption that the temple informs its content that is the theme of the two chapters in Skinner’s book and the entirety of Welch’s book, Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple and Sermon on the Mount. That argument is explicit in Welch and paraphrased in Skinner: “The Sermon at the Temple was given in a temple setting—Jesus spoke at the temple in Bountiful (see 3 Nephi 11:1). Since he could have chosen to appear anywhere he wanted (at the marketplace, at the town gate, or any number of other places where people traditionally congregated), and since we may assume that he chose to appear where he did for some reasons, his appearance at the temple invites the idea that his words have something important to do with teachings and ordinances found within the temple.” Continue reading
Information is available that the Harvard Theological Review will not be publishing the paper discussing what has become known as the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” Several scholars who have examined the papyrus believe that while the paper is old, the text itself is recent. See a discussion here.
Abstract: Nephite apostates turned away from true worship in consistent and predictable ways throughout the Book of Mormon. Their beliefs and practices may have been the result of influence from the larger socioreligious context in which the Nephites lived. A Mesoamerican setting provides a plausible cultural background that explains why Nephite apostasy took the particular form it did and may help us gain a deeper understanding of some specific references that Nephite prophets used when combating that apostasy. We propose that apostate Nephite religion resulted from the syncretization of certain beliefs and practices from normative Nephite religion with those attested in ancient Mesoamerica. We suggest that orthodox Nephite expectations of the “heavenly king” were supplanted by the more present and tangible “divine king.” Continue reading