I love doing close readings of scripture. The normal way to do this is reading linearly through the entire book of scripture. An other great way is to study by topic. Each helps you see things you might miss using only the other method. While I’m glad our gospel doctrine has encouraged reading all scripture, part of me kind of wishes there was something akin to the Gospel Principles class. Just with broader topics and focused on reading our key texts rather than simple answers. My goal here is to do that sort of thing with a particular focus on the Book of Mormon. It’ll take time and may follow a somewhat circuitous route. With luck I’ll make a post each week in this series. I’ll be mixing the two methods I mentioned slightly as I’ll typically pick a few texts related to the topic and then do a close reading of them. I was kind of encouraged by a recent BCC post on Nehor and Universalism. It was that best kind of post: one that made me think for several days about the mentioned passages.
I’m presenting this Saturday at the conference in Provo. I’ve kicked some of these ideas around for a while, but only started work on them in earnest recently. I’m addressing conceptions of faith and knowledge in Alma 32 through close reading. For me, that process entails creating a bibliography to see what’s been done, and working through the chapter closely and slowly, looking for patters and connections, textual issues, and logical flow.
I read the Book of Mormon all the way through several times as a teenager. Between multiple readings and a knack for remembering anything that comes in the form of a story, by the time I was 19 I knew the Book of Mormon as well as any other 19 year old I met. Now I’m 34, and I routinely meet people whose familiarity with the text far, far outstrips my own. Sure, some of that comes from the fact that I know more Mormon studies folks now than I did as a teenager, but I’m not talking about the pro’s and the semi-pro’s out there who are doing great devotional and scholarly work. I mean just in terms of your average member: my command of the text is just nothing to get excited about. This isn’t surprising, because in the past 13 years since I came home from my mission, I don’t think I’ve completed a single cover-to-cover reading of the Book of Mormon. Other folks kept going. I didn’t. When I was in the MTC, I started reading the Book of Mormon with a notebook open and a pen in one hand. I jotted down notes of anything that I found interesting and also of questions that occurred to me as I read. I loved doing this, and I kept it up throughout most of my mission. I still have stacks of these notebooks in my garage, and I…
For the past year each Monday afternoon my “Literary BMGD” posts have appeared each Monday — perhaps confusing some readers who have wondered exactly what these posts were all about. And those who clicked on them to read what they had may have been surprised to find that they were… poetry. What exactly is BMGD and why poetry? If I am going to continue these posts, I should probably explain:
I’m pleased that Julie has begun a series of posts that cover this year’s lessons on the Book of Mormon. With this post I will begin a kind of companion series: Mormon poetry and literary texts that can accompany each week’s lessons. Since Mormon literature often gets short shrift (usually from those who haven’t actually read what they dismiss), I think that connecting this literature to a regular part of our worship may help members become more aware of and familiar with our culture.
Marvin Perkins is a Latter-day Saint music producer who is currently the Public Affairs Co-chair for the Genesis Group and who has worked to nurture understanding between African Americans and Latter-day Saints and attack misconceptions (see our 12 Questions series with Brother Perkins from 2009). This morning, Brother Perkins circulated the following email to his “Blacks in the Scriptures” listserve (which is re-posted here with his permission): ______________________________ Friends, Many of you have recognized the new LDS.org website. Some of you have recognized that with the new site also came changes to chapter headings and footnotes in the scriptures. Not nearly as significant in number as the changes that were made in the 1981 edition of the LDS scriptures, but equally confirming on the messages being conveyed. Here are a list of the changes that I’m aware of, along with some thoughts and two very compelling short videos below. I’d love to hear your thoughts as you prayerfully review the changes asking “what would the Lord have me understand about these recent changes?” 1. 1 Nephi 12:23– The footnotes for “dark” have been removed (Jacob 3:3 and Alma 3:7 (6-19)) and replaced with 2 Nephi 26:33 2. 2 Nephi 5– the words in the chapter heading “the Lamanites are cursed, receive a skin of blackness” were changed to “the Lamanites are cut off from the presence of the Lord, are cursed…” 3. 2 Nephi 5:21– The footnotes for “curse” (2…
Thanks, Marc for the introduction, and for the opportunity to converse with friends old and new at T & S. Before I annoy (at least some of) you with some political reflections, let me run past you some thoughts on agency and atonement that occurred to me in trying to teach Religion 121 (Book of Mormon Part 1) to BYU students. I’m not sure I connected with many of themwith these ontological meditations on Second Nephi 2, but I’m hoping somewhere out there in this cyberspace I might find some interested interlocutors. As I review the question of agency with reference to 2 Nephi 2, I notice three aspects of a rich and distinctive teaching on agency in the Restored Gospel: 1) agency is redeemed 2) agency is bodily & fruitful 3) agency is a principle of reality 1) Agency is Redeemed The Fall is finally good news (22-25) because it opens up the possibility of redemption through the Father’s loving sacrifice of His Son. The joy that is offered through the Son’s infinite atoning sacrifice is a joy of infinite possibility, the possibility of acting for ourselves and not being acted upon (v. 26) in the meaningful context of eternal life. In the present mortal probation we exercise our agency most fully by responding to this Sacrifice with our own gift of “a broken heart and contrite spirit” (7), and this free response opens the possibility of freedom on another…
Last month we posted Royal Skousen’s discussion of his work on recovering the earliest version of the Book of Mormon, along with some updates. Unfortunately, that post garnered some annoying formatting problems — mostly due to the new format T&S adopted this year. We’re happy to now present to you mark III of Royal Skousen’s 12 questions interview. Royal Skousen’s book, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, was published last month by Yale University Press and yes, you can order it at Amazon.
5 years ago we published one of my favorite “12 Questions” posts, in which Royal Skousen discussed in some depth what he has learned from his extensive work on the earliest editions of the Book of Mormon. His book, The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, is being published in September by Yale University Press (and yes, you can order it at Amazon right now). To mark this milestone, Royal was kind enough to update his “12 questions” discussion, which we have posted below, for the benefit of those who did not catch it the first time. Enjoy!
I reside in Alexandria, Virginia, about 10 miles south of Washington, DC.
I’m not, by nature, a pacifist.
”Aviva Levine” is the pseudonym used by a woman who told of her conversion to the Church almost 50 years ago. Because I do not know her real name, I cannot update the story she told in 1964, and can only hope that her new life continued as it began. [UPDATE: Justin identifies her as Annette Tilleman Lantos, whom Researcher recognizes as the widow — still LDS — of U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos.] Aviva was born in Hungary in 1932, the daughter of an observant Jewish father and a non-religious, possibly Gentile mother.