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About LDS Perspectives

A podcast exploring LDS doctrine, history, and culture, from a faithful perspective.

Learning from the Ancient Tabernacle with Daniel Smith

Daniel Smith

As part of the Young Scholars Series, Laura Harris Hales interviews Bible-enthusiast Daniel Smith, creator of the YouTube channel “Messages of Christ.” Smith’s channel is equal parts fascinating and popular, evidenced by its view count of over 1 million.

On perusing Smith’s channel, it’s apparent that he has a particular interest that at first glance may seem a bit unusual: ancient tabernacles and its artifacts. That interest has led Smith not only to study them, but actually to build them in addition to creating unique, authentic tabernacle clothing.

During his interview, Smith recounts how and why he creates tabernacle clothing, (get this: it involves a hand-built Lego machine) what exactly happened in the tabernacle in Biblical times, and why it’s important for members of the church to understand it today.

Sometimes, as Smith explains, the best way to understand something is to experience it.

Tabernacle camps are popping up — typically in Youth Conferences — in stakes all over the United States. There’s even one coming to BYU in the coming months, which will be used to teach students about its ancient biblical context. Find out what happens there and why, as well as how it relates to our current temple experience, in this episode of LDS Perspectives Podcast: “Learning from the Ancient Tabernacles.”

Learning from an Impatient Biblical Job with Michael Austin

Michael Austin

Award-winning author Michael Austin, a self-proclaimed writer of an “incoherent assortment of different topics,” is anything but incoherent in his expansion on the true message found in the Old Testament’s Book of Job.

The story of Job is one that will be familiar to most listeners — Job is righteous, but God tests his faith by essentially wreaking havoc on his life. Most notably, Job loses his family and his livelihood — yet he is ever-patient, never losing his temper with God.

Austin, however, is here to turn what we know about Job completely upside down: Job didn’t constantly praise God in the midst of his trials, and he certainly wasn’t always patient. And that’s okay. Yet our limited understanding of Job as a person or character isn’t the only thing Austin revolutionizes. The satan mentioned in the story? That’s not the Satan. It’s not Lucifer — the Prince of the Morning, the Father of All Lies. No, it’s someone else entirely.

Get ready to rethink what you know and the evils of being impatient in the midst of trials.

The details Austin shares in this episode of LDS Perspectives provide a more complete understanding of the book of Job. Typically when Job is referenced, we hear about the first two or last few chapters of his book — but what about the rest? A biblical book with 42 chapters undoubtedly contains wisdom that is not strictly limited to only a few short sections. Job, Austin explains, is so much more than the often one-dimensional figure we make him out to be. And in learning that, we learn so many gospel truths that we otherwise miss.

Listen as Sarah Hatch of LDS Perspectives Podcast interviews Michael Austin about wisdom literature, the true nature of Job and his relationship with God, and what we can learn from what very well may be the greatest ancient poem ever written.

If you’re as fascinated by this episode as we are and find yourself hungering to learn more about Job, check out Michael Austin’s acclaimed book, Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World’s Greatest Poem.

Access resources about Job mentioned in this podcast at LDS Perspectives.

Re-posted with permission from LDS Perspectives.

Sephardic Hebrew in the Book of Abraham with Matthew Grey

Matthew Grey

In the winter of 1836, the Kirtland temple was nearing completion, the Saints were experiencing a period of peace after persecution, and 100 church members enrolled in a seven-week, intensive Hebrew language course. Besides being one of the most ambitious CES endeavors ever, the study of a difficult foreign language seems a bit random considering some of the students lacked even a basic pioneer education.

Matthew Grey has studied this period of history extensively and believes that the Hebrew study was anything but random or casual. Rather it was an outgrowth of the larger translation project that Joseph had begun in the summer of 1835.

A review of church history shows that Joseph purchased scrolls and mummies from Michael Chandler in July 1835. Shortly thereafter, he translated what became known as Abraham 1 and Abraham 2 through the use of a seer stone. He then began working on a “Grammer and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language” (GAEL). In the fall, he started looking for a teacher of Hebrew for the Kirtland School. By January, the school committee had hired Joshua Seixas as a Hebrew teacher.

Joshua Seixas had published his own textbook and worksheets that were specifically designed for beginners. In his primer, he used his native Sephardic Hebrew in his transliterations, which varied substantially from the more common Ashkenazi Hebrew spellings. Because of the distinctive Hebrew transliterations in Seixas’s texts, we can trace Joseph’s use of his Hebrew training in succeeding years.

What Grey found in his research is that Joseph used his training at key moments. Traces of Sephardic Hebrew can be found in revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Abraham, and recorded Nauvoo speeches. For Joseph, there seemed to be no dichotomy between intellectual and spiritual pursuits. Translations were neither purely static nor pure revelation, but a mixture of both. He used his intellectual training to unpack theological possibilities by creatively reworking traditional translations.  Some of the most distinct Mormon teachings revealed in Nauvoo such as the nature of God, expansions on the plan of salvation, and even verbiage in the temple ritual can be traced to Joseph’s Hebrew studies.

Join Laura Harris Hales as she discusses with Matthew Grey the influence of Joseph’s Hebrew study on his subsequent teachings and the vital piece of the Book of Abraham translation puzzle this new research provides. Check out the resources mentioned in this podcast at LDS Perspectives.

Re-posted with permission from LDS Perspectives.

Walking with Dinosaurs with Steven Peck

Steven Peck

Steven L. Peck is a scientist, BYU professor, and acclaimed author. In recent years he has emerged as a powerful advocate for science and evolution, publishing two books about the topic in as many years.

His latest offering, Science the Key to Theology, is an impassioned plea to members of the LDS Church to teach the compatibility rather than a supposed conflict between science and religion.

He reaches out to individuals who can’t accept the argument for evolution to at least acknowledge that the LDS Church does not have a stated position on the topic. In teaching capacities, members have a duty to respect that position. He hopes that by removing conflicting narratives, the tension between what our youth are taught in school and what they sometimes are taught in church settings will disappear. Too many youth feel they need to make a choice between believing science and believing in religion.

As a youth, Steven became less active after learning that his Seminary teacher didn’t believe in dinosaurs. If there had been room in his teenage theology for prayers and pterodactyls, he wonders, perhaps it would have made a difference for him.

Luckily Steve moved on to BYU where he found faithful professors who modeled a healthy fidelity to both scientific and religious truths. He bemoans that some members of the church insist on misusing scripture as a scientific document rather than teaching of its miraculous ability to show us how to build a relationship with God. Science speaks to the “how” of creation, but religion speaks to the “why.”

Listen in as Laura Harris Hales of the LDS Perspectives Podcast and Steven Peck share a blunt discussion about the harmful effect teaching a tension between science and religion can have on testimonies. Both science and religion can work together in Steven’s model of theology to build faith.

Re-posted with permission from LDS Perspectives.

Adventures in Religious Education with Casey Paul Griffeths

Casey Paul Griffiths

In her debut episode, LDS Perspectives podcaster Stephanie Dibb Sorensen interviews Casey Paul Griffiths, an expert on the history of the Church Education System and its globalization efforts. Together they discuss the history of the LDS Church Education System, its early struggles, and its current vision and scope.

The formal foundation of education in the Mormon Church began in 1888 when the church board of education was established. Around this time, the United States initiated a free schools program. President Wilford Woodruff, the president of the church at that time, became very concerned about the idea that young Latter-day Saints would be receiving their schooling without any instruction in the scriptures. Starting in the 1890s, he instructed every stake to launch their own academy.

By the early 1900s, the academy system became unsustainable, and the church opened its first seminaries. Little did church leaders realize that this would lead to a whole new problem — training religious instructors and the establishment of professional religionists in a layman church.

In the 1930s the consequences of having professional theological scholars started to become apparent as some key tensions emerged — tensions the church is still grappling with. Find out what this first generation of scholars faced when they came back to Utah to teach in Mormon religious classrooms after studying in the liberal classrooms of the University of Chicago on this episode of the LDS Perspectives Podcast.

To listen to this podcast, visit LDS Perspectives Podcast.

Re-posted with permission from LDS Perspectives.