Reading 1 Nephi With Wisdom

Abstract: Nephi is the prototypical wise son of the Wisdom tradition. As Proverbs advocates that a wise man cherishes the word of God, so Nephi cherishes the words of the wise. Nephi’s record begins with a declaration of his upbringing in the Wisdom tradition and his authenticity and reliability as a wise son and scribe (1 Nephi 1:1–3). His is a record of the learning of the Jews — a record of wisdom. If the Wisdom tradition is a foundation for Nephi’s scribal capabilities and outlook, perhaps the principles and literary skills represented by the scribal Wisdom tradition constitute the “learning of the Jews” that Nephi references so early in his account. Thus, if Nephi’s is a record of the learning of the Jews — a record of wisdom — we would be wise to read it with Wisdom — that is, through the lens of ancient Israelite and Middle Eastern Wisdom traditions. Continue reading

Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?

Review of The Mother of the Lord, volume 1: The Lady in the Temple by Margaret Barker, 2012, London: Bloomsbury.

Mormons who know about her are usually fans of Margaret Barker. Disclosure: I am one of them (Mormon who knows about her, and fan). For further disclosure, she paid attention and respect to the writings of Hugh Nibley, to whom I was and am filially devoted. So it isn’t as if I am unbiased in appreciating Barker’s work. I am also not alone; there are quite a few of us who read and love her. Indeed it may be said we love her because she first loved us—or at least unwittingly agreed with us. With her 2012 book, The Mother of the Lord, volume 1: The Lady in the Temple, she has once again written about ancient biblical events in ways that can cast Mormon scriptural claims as possible, if not consciously validated or proven. Continue reading