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About William J. Hamblin

William J. Hamblin is Professor of History at Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah, USA),
 specializing in the ancient and medieval Near East. He is the author of dozens of academic
 articles and several books, most recently, Solomon’s Temple: Myth and History, with David 
Seely (Thames and Hudson, 2007). In the fall of 2010 his first novel was published (co-
authored with Neil Newell): The Book of Malchus, (Deseret Book, 2010). A fanatical traveler and photographer, he spent 2010 teaching at the BYU Jerusalem Center, and has lived in
 Israel, England, Egypt and Italy, and traveled to dozens of other countries.

Vindicating Josiah

For an introduction, see Benjamin L. McGuire, “Josiah’s Reform: An Introduction.”
For a counterpoint, see Kevin Christensen, “Prophets and Kings in Lehi’s Jerusalem and Margaret Barker’s Temple Theology”

Abstract: 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

The Sôd of YHWH and the Endowment

Abstract: In the Hebrew Bible, the Sôd of God was a council of celestial beings who consulted with God, learned His sôd/secret plan, and then fulfilled that plan. This paper argues that the LDS endowment is, in part, a ritual reenactment of the sôd, where the participants observe the sôd/council of God, learn the sôd/secret plan of God, and covenant to fulfill that plan. Continue reading

Iconotropy and the JS Abraham Facsimiles

This blog post was originally posted here.

Iconotropy is an English neologism from Greek, meaning literally “image turning.”  It is defined as “the accidental or deliberate misinterpretation by one culture of the images or myths of another one, especially so as to bring them into accord with those of the first culture.”   Iconotropy is, in fact, the most common ways cultures deal with images from foreign or ancient cultures.  That is to say, we almost always misunderstand and/or transform, at least to some degree, the iconography of other cultures or religions.  The further distanced we are from another culture in time, religion, ideology, or space, the more likely we are to misunderstand their iconography. Continue reading

The Apologetics of Richness?

[Reposted]

In a recent blog comment Ben Park describes “a different approach to apologetics,” apparently favored by some young scholars.  He describes it by quoting Richard Bushman:

These younger scholars have a new attitude toward Mormon apologetics. They are no longer so interested in defending the faith in the old sense. In the time of Nibley, the aim of scholarship was to prove Mormonism true. In the new age, the aim of Mormon scholarship is to find the truth about Mormonism. Among the scholars writing today are many who are as proud of the Church, as interested in its flourishing, and as committed to its mission as the previous age, but they follow a new maxim, voiced tellingly by James Faulconer: Richness is the new proof. Rather than attempting scientific proofs of Mormonism as a previous age tried to do, they point to its cultural depth, its scope, its usefulness, in short, its richness. The unspoken assumption of this rising group is that Mormonism will flourish best if its true nature is uncovered and investigated, not if it is proven perfect and infallible.  (http://www.juvenileinstructor.org/the-new-mormon-studies-review/, comment 26.)

We need to begin with a couple of clarifications.  No apologist I know tries to “prove Mormonism is true.”  No apologist I know believes there are any “scientific proofs of Mormonism.”  (There can be no “scientific” proof of history–which cannot be empirically investigated since the past no longer exists–nor of religious claims, which are inherently parahistorical.)  No apologist I know claims the church is “perfect and infallible.”  All Apologists I know reject the possibility of establishing such proof using any known scholarly method.  Second, if Mormonism is indeed “true,” then understanding that fact is indeed “finding the truth about Mormonism.”  In other words, the “truth about Mormonism” may well be that “Mormonism is true.”  To me, Bushman’s description of “old” apologetics is a straw man caricature. Continue reading