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
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
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
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
Note: this blog post first appeared at this link.
Joseph Spencer gave two interesting papers at the Mysticism conference of the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities meeting last week. In them he proposed (if I understood him correctly) that there is a “way forward” in studying the Book of Mormon that can transcend or bypass the ongoing debate over modern or ancient origins for the Book of Mormon. A second aspect of this type of proposal is often described as “bracketing” truth-claims about the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Of course, in reality, neither of these is a new approach. Furthermore, this type of approach does not actually bracket truth-claims about the Book of Mormon. In reality it brackets certain types of truth claims–is the book an ancient record of a historical people; was Joseph an authentic prophet; is Jesus really the Christ–in order to try to more easily deal with other truth-claims about the book. This “bracketing” approach is simply a rhetorical means of privileging certain truth claims over other truth claims. The assumption here is that if we ignore the question of historicity, and if we bracket religious truth-claims of authenticity, we can better: 1- answer certain types of questions about the Book of Mormon (e.g. literary), and 2- engage in fruitful exchanges of ideas about the Book of Mormon with non-Mormons. Continue reading