Tag: Institute

DC Institute Class

Thomas B. Griffith (D.C. Circuit Court judge and former BYU General Counsel, Senate Legal Counsel, Bishop and Stake President) is teaching an institute class at the Chevy Chase building this fall on early Church history, with a focus on “Joseph Smith as Everyman.”   The class starts Tuesday, September 2nd at 7pm and will run every Tuesday night throughout the fall. You can register either upon arrival or in advance at the Church’s Institute site.  Please spread the word. Brother Griffith is a fantastic teacher and having a class from him on this topic is a rare opportunity — it is sure to be stellar.

Institute Report: Genesis Week 5 (corrected)

The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything!

(We’re a few weeks behind here on the blog. I hope to catch up. Most important for my students: We WILL have Institute this week, contrary to what I said last Thursday.) Tonight we finished off Genesis 1 and introduced the second creation account in Gen 2. Had a few more people, so I started by recapping Walton’s theory of functional creation (references in previous post.) Seven days It’s long been noticed that days 1-3 parallel days 4-6. Walton argues that days 1-3 create three primary and basic functions, while 4-6 create functionaries that either carry out those functions, or carry out their own within the parallel sphere. Day 1 creates the basis of Time, the cycle of night/day. This is simply the function; the functionaries who carry it out are designated on day 4. Day 2 creates the basis of Weather, which mostly means precipitation. That is, Israelite cosmology held as per Genesis that there were waters below which…

Institute Report: Genesis Week 4

Far Side

This week, we continued talking about Enuma Eliš and Genesis 1, beginning with a review of some of the similarities we talked about last week. Similarities– 1) Opens with temporal clause. 2) pre-creation darkness 3) precreation cosmic waters 4) wind/spirit 5) division of the waters to create space for human existence 6) a solid “roof” created to restrain the cosmic waters from reentering that space. There are also stark differences, which generally fall under the category of semi-polemical monotheistic reinterpretation. That is, while Genesis shares with Mesopotamia (as well as all the other ancient Near Eastern cultures we know of) a very different conception of the physical universe and some other elements, it differs sharply in who’s in charge. Differences– Lack of combat– In contrast to Enuma Eliš, other creation accounts, and other parts of the Old Testament (per the last post), creation is portrayed as being free of combat with other deities or cosmic waters/chaos. Monotheistic. – Things which are deities…

Institute Report:Genesis week 3

The Biblical View of the Universe

(updated!) Attendance down a little this week; I know one student had a date, the weather was poor (no one likes to travel in the rain), and so on, but I also heard that last week was too much for at least one person. But, I felt this week went quite well, and we finally got into Genesis itself. As per the syllabus, class today was divided in two parts. And due to my own schedule and time commitments this week, I’m afraid my notes here are much rougher, less complete and posted later than I’d wish. I. Tools part I We went over a handout about language and dictionaries, talked about why Webster’s modern dictionary isn’t useful, how to use Strong’s Concordance, where to get it for free, and what’s wrong with it, then some resources that you can use once you understand Strong’s and have the number for a word. Here’s the handout (ask if something isn’t clear),…

Institute Report: Genesis Week 2


I was gratified to see most of the class come back, but we’ll see if it happens again. Here’s the tentative syllabus for the next few weeks. I was really apprehensive about today, for two reasons. First, the material in this lesson was largely groundwork for the next few weeks, and really shouldn’t stand on its own, because you don’t see the payoff. Time constrained me, though.  Second, this is some of the most tentative material I’m working with, and I’m hesitant about some of it. I’m still working it out in my own mind, but this seems to be the direction the evidence points in. Because of those two things, and the amount of material to cover, I’m not sure it all got presented in the clearest way, and I know at least one of the major arguments didn’t get presented. Reverse summary: Next week, we’re going to start reading Genesis against other creation accounts, particularly the Babylonian Enuma…

Institute Report: Genesis, Week 1


If there’s sufficient interest,  I will post some general notes, handouts and materials here instead of mailing out everything to my class. Handouts are pdf format and have live links embedded. I felt the first week went well; in contrast to the last time I taught this, few students had a science background, and only 1-2 had previous experience with me. I introduced myself and established some formal bona fides. The more important informal trust that comes from personal experience and knowing someone will come over time, I hope. I had students introduce themselves, give a bit of their own background in terms of studies and interests (only one with hard science, several in literature and humanities, a few in business/finance), and express what had brought them to the class, what they hoped to discusses, or nagging questions or issues in Genesis. As expected, questions ran the gamut, but no one expressed a desperate struggle trying to “square evolution with…

Scripture Unchained: A New York Institute Announcement


After taking off 18 months or so, I’m returning to teaching Institute in my free time. Beginning January 12, 8 PM in the Union Square chapel of Manhattan, I’ll be teaching a class called “Genesis, with an Introduction to Studying the Bible in Hebrew.” The Institute Director added the last part, but I don’t mind one bit. I’m quite looking forward to it. Institute can really be a breath of fresh air, especially for those who are looking for a deeper exploration of the scriptures than Sunday School allows. After all, there’s no schedule to follow, no manual to adhere to, none of the constraints that people argue over. Instead of 45 minutes with ambivalent mostly non-readers, I get 75 minutes with a self-selecting group of slightly less ambivalent reading-a-bit-more. This is not to say there are no constraints; in a lesser implementation of Helaman 10:4-5, teachers generally get vetted one way or another, and then are simply trusted to…