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.

Book Review: The Council of Fifty: What the Records Reveal about Mormon History

The remarkable work of the Joseph Smith Papers Project has continued unabated since the publication of Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839 in 2008. Last year the Church Historian’s Press, which publishes the volumes of the series, released Administrative Records, Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844–January 1846. This landmark occasion has finally brought to light a set of documents that had long held a quasi-mythical status in Mormon historiography. Now the public could dive into the minutes of the Council of Fifty and explore the many issues raised therein.
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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.

Maori Responses to the Mormon Church

An introductory note from Daniel C. Peterson

Dr. Robert Joseph, of New Zealand’s University of Waikato, is currently in the United States as a visiting Fulbright scholar. On 5 August 2017, he spoke to a group of volunteers, authors, and supporters assembled for the dinner hosted annually by the Interpreter Foundation—which happened, also, to be a celebration of Interpreter’s fifth birthday. In his remarks, Dr. Joseph addressed the subject of “Maori Responses to the Mormon Church.” With his kind permission and through the efforts of Tom Pittman and Russell Richins, we are pleased to make a video of his presentation available to a wider audience.