Christensen and Midgley on Mormon pedagogy

Is it enough to have been taught correct doctrines if you have not been prepared to defend those doctrines? … [I]f Mormon pedagogy fails to prepare some of our best students for what they encounter in the universities, part of the blame may lie with Mormon pedagogy. Our institutional teaching materials should be valued, not solely according to whether they fit a committee’s current notion of preaching the orthodox religion, but also for how they provide the light and knowledge that our students need to make their way through the world. [Melody Moench] Charles had correctly claimed that the Latter-day Saint commentaries on the Old Testament had relied on an overlay of modern revelation rather than on reading the text as it is. In the first number of the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Louis Midgley complained about the tendency of many Latter-day Saint scholars to rely on authoritative statements about scripture in ways that “divert attention away from the message and meaning in the text under consideration, and back towards what we already know. Such efforts do not enhance our understanding; they tend to make the very teachings they celebrate seem merely sentimental and insubstantial. Such endeavors also tend to close the door on the untapped possibilities within the scriptures.”

“The Deuteronomist De-Christianizing of the Old Testament” by Kevin Christensen.
FARMS Review: Volume 16, Issue 2

Comments

  1. Now, given that this statement is True (something I know with every fibre of my being), what is to be done about it? After all, if FARMS/BYU cannot encourage a raising in the standard of our scriptural discussion, who can?

  2. Ronan speaks the truth. I too know this with every fiber of my being.

  3. Didn’t a respected CES-type person write an article in the Church News (within the last year) that basically said all scriptural exegesis should be done within the context of the statements of the modern prophets?

    No, I won’t go look it up, I should be working…I think it was commented on over at FPR when it happened.

  4. Ann, I believe that was Kent Jackson, of BYU’s RelEd department. The FPR commentary (one of several) was on a Church News summary of an article he wrote for the Sperry Symposium volume.

    While I agree with the principles expressed in Jackson’s article, it plays out very differently in actual exegetical process, at least judging from Jackson’s other work.

  5. “Our institutional teaching materials should be valued, not solely according to whether they fit a committee’s current notion of preaching the orthodox religion, but also for how they provide the light and knowledge that our students need to make their way through the world.”

    That sentence comes off incredibly biased to me. Couldn’t it be that the committee’s “notion” of what should be taught is indeed what they consider to be the “light and truth” that “students need to make their way through the world?” After all, the world is much bigger than academia.

  6. Jackson’s talk can be watched and listened to here, select year 2006.

    http://www.byub.org/sperry/

    Jack, the problem is that we shoehorn today’s understanding of the Gospel into places where it wasn’t, and in process, fail to teach any kind of critical theory or response to it. Many LDS thereby come to an (incorrect) understanding that modern LDS doctrine is the original contextual interpretation of the scriptures. When they learn that this is not so, (especially those who go off to graduate programs in religious/biblical areas), it causes problems- from struggling to adapt to new ideas all the way to losing one’s testimony completely.

  7. I already was a Kevin Christensen fan. Now even moreso. It was disconcerting, even at age 35, not in a graduate program, to discover in a neighborhood ecumenical bible study, that in some cases I had never really read the actual text, just skated over it and reminded myself what I had been told it said.

  8. Ronan,
    Surely it is true. However I don’t think we are worse at reading texts this way than any other Christian denomination who also read the Old Testament with an overlay of modern Christian interpretation.

    I think it is difficult for us to come to reading the OT as if we are blank slates, having heard the OT placed within the framework of our own revelation our entire lives. Not only this, but teachers and students alike feel they cannot present nor be sure they are understanding correctly the doctrines of the scriptures without someone in authority backing them up, hence the authoritative quotes.

    Perhaps to solve this people would just have to read their scriptures more, instead of going to GD class and expected to be taught every nuance of scripture 1 hour a week.

    What I think we miss is that often a good Hebrew reading of the OT will back up much of the basis of Mormon theology (Eve eating the fruit was not a sin, Adam and Eve were blessed to be able procreate after eating the fruit). It seems to me that Mormons often feel they have exclusive rights to this interpretation of scripture, whereas in scholarship this is a common view of what the text actually says. For us, a good and fairly unbiased reading of the OT would not change our view or interpretation (at least not some of it). It has been my experience that evangelicals have a much more difficult time with this (what the text actually says) than most Mormons ever would.
    One question I ask is, if Mormons did do a better job at reading and presenting scriptures without relying on authoritative statements, would we be better at presenting our case as a theology based on scripture rather than the commonly held world view that we are crazy nut-jobs who come up with funny stuff?

  9. Nitsav,
    I don’t think Mormons are more likely to have a hard time adapting to new ideas and losing their faith. Look at Bart Ehrman. I venture that most people who go into graduate programs in RS and Bible theory hold some kind of faith that piqued their interest in religion and the bible. It seems likely that most people would struggle regardless of which tradition they follow when encountering academic analysis of scriptural texts.

  10. mmiles, Ehrman’s example actually cuts against you. He was raised with a similar approach to scripture as LDS tend to get, namely, “it’s all historical, and all the traditional positions on authorship and dating are correct. Now let’s preach it.”

    It was just that clinging to such a rigid position that led to his belief being undermined once he really encountered scholarship.

    The difference is not whether one struggles, but whether one’s previous training has dealt at all with difficult questions or simply swept them under the rug (which results in more problems than normal.) If you do the first, the student can see a faithful LDS model of dealing with such scholarship on its own terms.

  11. Nitsav,
    I am aware of Ehrman background, what I was trying to say is that LDS scholars are not necessarily worse off than scholars coming from other backgrounds.

    It seems to me that Jewish scholars are more likely to have dealt with the problems beforehand that arise during the course of scholarship that Christian scholars. Perhaps we should adopt a Jewish model? This, could I think, leave out modern-day revelation entirely; or leave us extrapolating what we wanted out of every talk, and every word any general authority ever said–and debating it’s merits. Oh wait! That’s what the ‘nacle does!

  12. If I may, I’d like to suggest that this problem is far, far larger that the .0001% of LDS people who will ever do graduate level work in Bible Studies.

    If we look at everyday Mormons who try to read scriptures regularly, doesn’t this apply?

    Such efforts do not enhance our understanding; they tend to make the very teachings they celebrate seem merely sentimental and insubstantial. Such endeavors also tend to close the door on the untapped possibilities within the scriptures.

    We are encouraged to look for answers in the scriptures, but how do we prevent our study from becoming simply an ongoing exercise in 1)selection bias, and 2)confirmation bias?

    For instance, if I approach the Old Testament with the idea that the importance of the Hebrew covenant is analagous to modern-day temple marriage, I might find that analogy in places where it really isn’t, and I will overlook contrary evidence. That is what we call wresting the scriptures, and I found that I do it all the time.

  13. what I was trying to say is that LDS scholars are not necessarily worse off than scholars coming from other backgrounds.

    Indeed. And what I was trying to say, from my own and others’ experiences, is that the purely devotional Ostrich Approach for Dealing with All Difficult Questions is spiritually harmful. It’s not just something LDS scholars (or scholars-in-training) have to deal with.

    What do we teach our students? Are “devotional” and “academic” approaches mutually exclusive? (I don’t believe they are, in the classroom, at least.)

    The real problem of the post, as I understand it, is that students mistake the devotional for the scholarly, and are left with unrealistic expectations and ideas of the content and seriousness of scriptural difficulties.

    I have no problem with someone teaching a purely devotional approach **as long as the students are aware that it is such.**

  14. I have no problem with someone teaching a purely devotional approach **as long as the students are aware that it is such.**

    Right. The problem is not with CES per se so much as with our dressing up of CES types as scholars of the scriptures — “scriptorians” as we are fond of calling them, which really just means master prooftexter in most cases.

  15. Mark Brown,
    One one hand, I really think people don’t read them enough to care, frankly. We really do a comparatively pretty good job in seminary, institute, and providing manuals with context and cultural background of the scriptures. However if people don’t read them on their own, they won’t ever get beyond wanting to know more than authoritative quotes here and there.

    On the other hand, I’m guilty too, I wrest the the scriptures too. I would welcome a new approach. It think it would particularly help people like me, and like a family member of mine who doesn’t believe the bible since she discovered it has a talking donkey in it. Let’s suppose we were taking a new approach, who has the knowledge to teach the scriptures in a different context? Where would the average member go?

  16. mmiles,
    Start here, then have a look here and here.

  17. Brad,
    So you are suggesting every member buy those books in order to overcome the obstacle presented in the OP? Is it even CES’s job to do so? Is it in their interest?

    I think we should give people a little more credit. People know, even kids, that their seminary instructor is there to teach a feel good lesson with insights into the gospel rather than teach a course in exegesis. They may see them as scriptorians, but not university professors.

  18. We are encouraged to look for answers in the scriptures, but how do we prevent our study from becoming simply an ongoing exercise in 1)selection bias, and 2)confirmation bias?

    Well said, very well said.

    In general I have been thinking a lot lately about how “likening” the scriptures can get us in trouble as members of the Church, and not only with the Bible, but with unrealistic expectations about the Book of Mormon, as well. That’s one reason I started a short blog series about “likening with care,” with Brant Gardner, who wrote an awesome commentary on the Book of Mormon, published by Kofford books.

    “Scriptorian”=”proof-texter” happens all too often, as well.

    Good food for thought, thanks, Ronan.

  19. ps- if anyone is interested in the series with gardner it is here: http://www.lifeongoldplates.com/

  20. After all, if FARMS/BYU cannot encourage a raising in the standard of our scriptural discussion, who can?

    FPR

    Such efforts do not enhance our understanding; they tend to make the very teachings they celebrate seem merely sentimental and insubstantial.

    Amen, preach on brother.

  21. We’ve had some good FPR posts. Maybe we should do a regular feature, Biblical studies for the Neophyte.

    http://faithpromotingrumor.wordpress.com/2…studies-part-1/

    http://faithpromotingrumor.wordpress.com/2…studies-part-2/

    http://faithpromotingrumor.wordpress.com/2…-old-testament/

    http://faithpromotingrumor.wordpress.com/2…brew-and-greek/

  22. Ok, comment with links got eaten by the spam filter.

  23. Is it even CES’s job to do so? Is it in their interest?

    If CES aims to preserve and encourage spiritual growth and survival, then yes and yes.

  24. Then most people in CES need to go back to school.

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    The Midgley piece Kevin C. refers to appeared in the very first number of the Review (at that time called the Review of Books on the BoM), and it was a review essay responsive to the Doctrinal BoM Commentary. It is absolutely terrific; I highly recommend it. You may read it here.

  26. If that was the case, we would then be quoting authoritative CES voices, instead of personal, thoughtful scripture study. Besides, CES teachers are accessible to the minority of church memebers. CES can’t possibly solve the problem alone. That is not to say they shouldn’t make strides.

  27. Aaron Brown says:

    I second Kevin’s comments. That FARMS essay, more than any other in the Review of Books, is one that I often refer back to, mostly with fondness. Of course, this may be more a function of my laziness and unfamiliarity with most of the other volumes of the Review than anything else. :)

    AB

  28. Nitsav,

    Where do you go to school (of if you don’t feel comfortable what is an equivalent/peer school), what type of program are you in, and what are some of the problems you have encountered based upon the lack of instruction in a standard LDS upbringing?

  29. Curious- A large and well-known school, with a prominent program, dealing with the Old Testament and ancient Near East.

    The primary problems circle around issues of authorship, dating, and historicity, and the resulting interpretive difficulties. BYU and Institute courses rarely touch on these. When they do, it’s little more then a re-assertion of traditional positions, with no hint that there are problems with those traditional positions, let alone an attempt to engage them.

    Much scholarship argues (or now takes it as well-established) that there was no Moses, no Abraham, no Exodus from Egypt, and (a current topic) perhaps no David and United Kingdom. If there were such characters (it goes), the stories about them may retain some historical kernels, but are largely useless for reconstructing anything historical due to the lateness of the writing/editing, the nature of the sources, and the bias of the writers.

    Now, when the (apparently) best counter-argument one well-trained LDS professor can come up with is, essentially, “the Book of Moses sounds like Genesis; therefore, Moses authored Genesis.” Or, “those are just theories of men. Don’t pay any attention to them” what is a grad student to do?

    Most LDS who have training and opinions on these issues do not deal with them in print or in classes, for various reasons, some reasonable, some not.

    There is slow change on the horizon. This blog post gives hope, and discusses some of the issues in the comments.

  30. Neal Kramer says:

    I just want to let you know that BYU is not as monolithic as it seems on these matters.

    I encourage you all to read just the introduction to Jack Welch’s new book, The Legal Cases of the Book of Mormon, in which Jack argues quite compellingly for a position similar to Louis Midgley’s.

    It is, however, important for people to write, as Kevin has done, compelling interpretations that are such excellent close readings of the scriptural text that we need to sit up and take notice.

    I also encourage people to read Jim Faulconer’s recent work on theology, as well as essays that turn up from time to time in the FARMS Review or even Deseret Book publications. While the dominant mode is still a CES view that perpetuates traditional interpretations and reifies the scriptural text, the plurality of approaches to careful reading in a wide variety of disciplines promises a re-opening of the text to find truths we ourselves have kept hidden.

    I wish you all could have attended the very exciting meeting of the new organization for Mormon Scholars in the Humanities last summer and witnessed the very rich hermeneutical extravaganza we experienced for 2 days. The next decade promises to be very exciting indeed.

    But I must urge people to write as a means to discover what you know about the text. We should all be very excited about Pres. Benson and Pres. Hinckley’s incredible invitations to more regularly and seriously engage scripture.

    Neither Elder Maxwell nor Pres. Eyring has felt encumbered by traditional interpretation. Pres. Eyring always excites with rich and often new insight from the Book of Mormon.

    It’s a good time to be a serious interpreter of scripture

  31. CES is widely seen as being a counter-balance to secular education, something to counter what students learn “across the street.” Well, any undergrad who takes a 101-level intro to the Hebrew Bible is going to be introduced to these issues. The average professional CES employee, by nature of their lack of familiarity with these issues, is very poorly equipped to make any counter-arguments, let alone convincing counter-arguments.

  32. So what I’ve gotten out of this thread so far is that CES sucks at teaching the historicity (or lack thereof) of scripture. However, some good stuff has been written.
    I’m not sure that solves the problem for the average member.

  33. On a personal note: I didn’t go to BYU, and Institute in Indiana and Texas is mainly taught by lay members out here. The one time I went to a BYU class was with my wife to be. It was Camille Fronk teaching NT. She was excellent and was covering everything we covered in my NT class in Indiana, and we had a nice chat about some questions I had regarding women and the priesthood in the letters of Paul. I was very impressed that she took the time to care about a visitor to her class who wasn’t her student.

  34. I have a radical suggestion, and it’s free. Well, almost free.

    If you want to read the Bible on its own terms, just read it! And preferably in a modern translation.

  35. Ronan,
    That is what I was trying to get at in #8.

  36. Yes, and apologies for the duplication. Reading Mormon scripture without the overlay of modern interpretation is really doing wonders in some quarters of Mormon scholarship.

    The Sunday School hour — in which little close reading takes place and where we simply parrot the same platitudes — is generally a wasted hour. Alas.

  37. Kevin Christensen says:

    In number 5, Jack said:

    “That sentence comes off incredibly biased to me. Couldn’t it be that the committee’s “notion” of what should be taught is indeed what they consider to be the “light and truth” that “students need to make their way through the world?” After all, the world is much bigger than academia.”

    My own bias comes from my experience. While on my mission, I found it irritating (though not personally disillusioning) to find that my spending upwards of 12 hours a week in LDS activities had not prepared me for a number of rather trivial things. Granted, I also recognize that among the Beattitudes is not one that goes: “Blessed are they who sit like lumps, uncritically taking it all for granted, for they shall be spoon-fed, and never caught off-guard, and never, ever disappointed by anyone.”

    I do applaud much that happens in the institutionally provided materials. Essays by Richard L. Anderson in the Improvement Era on the witnesses, Nibley’s long standing contributions there, several essays in the Ensign on the First Vision accounts, Sorenson’s 1984 essays, the recent one on Mountain Meadows, for example. However, in general FARMS and FAIR, and at times, Dialogue and Sunstone respond faster to issues. On the other hand, the DNA links at the http://www.lds.org were interesting.

    I agree that those who produce institutional teaching materials mean well, and do their best according to their lights. My FR 16 essay even says that. The question is whether the experiences and concerns of their students should feed back into the next set.

    For instance, I personally glad to learn about the Second Isaiah Hypothesis from Nibley in Since Cumorah, which also ran in the Improvement Era. But I have never heard it discussed in my seminary or institute classes. I enjoyed the 1998 FARMS volume on Isaiah, and used it for the Isaiah section in Paradigms Regained. But it would have been much better had I read Margaret Barker’s essay on the original background of the Fourth Servant Song (aka Hezekiah’s Boil.)

    Kevin Christensen
    Bethel Park, PA

  38. #36 “For instance, I personally glad to learn about the Second Isaiah Hypothesis from Nibley in Since Cumorah, which also ran in the Improvement Era. But I have never heard it discussed in my seminary or institute classes.”

    Kevin, I have read through your preliminary conclusions/suggestions as to how the Book of Mormon’s usage of Isaiah can potentially be reconciled with Deutero- and Trio-Isaiah theories current among biblical scholars. I have also read other LDS treatments of the issues, including those by Keith Norman, Bill Hamblin, Blake Ostler, Kevin Barney, Hugh Nibley, and others. Many of the suggestions are intriguing and seem worthy of further analysis. In fact, I even started a paper a few months ago summarizing each modern LDS scholars’ contributions over the years to a solution. However, the problem is that even with all of these proposals, I would still have to agree with Blake Ostler and David Bokovoy that you cannot fully alleviate the issue without recourse to discussions of how the Book of Mormon was translated; in fact, your essay(s) bring up this very issue as well if I am not mistaken. Simply, there are parts of Deutero-Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon that seem quite clearly to belong to the post-exilic period no matter how you slice it. Now, I am fine with accepting inspired insertions into the text and Joseph Smith adopting KJV language, etc. But I think the reason why such an issue isn’t discussed in gospel doctrine is that even if teachers were aware of the issue, I imagine not everyone is comfortable adopting a model of Book of Mormon translation similar to Blake’s suggestions, even if the model they adopt is less robust than Blake’s proposal. I was just called as a gospel doctrine teacher recently, and I am fine with dealing with difficult issues, but I am not entirely sure how I could deal with the Deutero-Isaiah issue in a gospel doctrine setting that would be sufficiently satisfactory. Maybe you have some further suggestions.

  39. The problem is not with CES per se so much as with our dressing up of CES types as scholars of the scriptures — “scriptorians” as we are fond of calling them, which really just means master prooftexter in most cases.

    Ah yes, the paid, professional ministers among us…

  40. I wonder if we are speaking in a BCC bubble here. Most members I know are clueless about these issues and have no problem with believing that scripture and modern pronouncements are all in perfect harmony coming from a God that seemlessly feeds the same uniform gospel to prophets in all ages. If this approach is working for the church, why should they change?

  41. Trevor- Is it working? I had a lengthy conversation with a former LDS who lost his faith in God because of his encounter with these things.

    Scholarly discussions are certainly making their way more into the public eye in popular media. And of course, any college that’s not extremely Christian conservative offers religion courses in which you run into these problems on the first day.

  42. CES really isn’t getting enough credit. I took an institute class on Isaiah where we used 3 translations and discussed all the scholarly issues. The instructor was a lawyer by day, and institute teacher by night. It was a great class.

    I am currently taking an undergrad RS Bible class. It is one of the liveliest classes I have ever been in. I have a huge advantage growing up LDS, knowing much more of any of the issues than my classmates. The evangelicals in the class are having a really hard time coming to the bible from another angle.

  43. Just want to echo the portion of Neal Kramer’s post about the Mormon Scholars in the Humanities. I attended this year’s meeting, and it was indeed a “very rich hermeneutical extravaganza.” One of the best conferences I have ever attended in every way.

  44. Kevin Christensen says:

    Regarding The Yellow Dart’s observations, I think it’s enough to mention alternatives and issues for Isaiah, for example, that have been discussed by people like Ostler on one pole, and Gileadi on the other, who both remain committed to the same faith community. And do read Margaret’s essay on the Fourth Servant song as being inspired by Hezekiah’s bout with the plague and in light of the Day of Atonement rituals.

    Depending on the needs and interest of a particular class, I find it helpful to mention a range of thinking on a topic among believers, so that students don’t unnecessarily feel like they face “All or nothing” choices. For example, there was an article in the Ensign back in 1998 which declared that only one reading of the Noah story would do for faithful LDS. When I read it, having been much impressed by Nibley’s “Before Adam” back in 1980, I just thought, “I don’t think so,” and went on to other things, irritated by but unimpressed that particular stream of LDS thought, regardless of the semi-offical context. In Australia, Bishop Simon Southerton read that article, slept on it, and woke up an atheist the next morning. He did not go quietly. It’s the brittle who shatter.

    On the other hand, I also think back on B. H. Roberts’ presentation of the Study to the Brethren in 1922. He reported being disappointed that all they did was bear their testimonies, and drop the topic, but from my perspective in 2008, they were right. In 1922, the questions were premature relative to the Book of Mormon scholarship and with respect to New World Archeology. Sorenson observed that the first serious attempt to do an internal geography appeared in 1938, sixteen years after the study. Brant Gardner has stated that the information necessary to contextualize the Book of Mormon in the New World has only emerged in the last thirty years or so. By 1985, Jack Welch could write a detailed FARMS paper answering all of Roberts’ questions. I notice that publications by Smith, Palmer, and Brigham Madsen, championing the Study uniformly fail to mention the existence of Jack’s paper. So skeptics have their lapses as well. It helps to have the information that makes that obvious when we can.

    In Who Wrote the Bible? Friedman tells a story about how Wellhausen resigned from his University position on the grounds that his teaching was “incapacitating the students for the ministry.” I think he did the right thing. Nowadays, there are a great many ministers, and Kevin Barney and John Sorenson and others in LDS circles, who are comfortable reconciling one or another approach to the Documentary Hypothesis with their faith. It may take time for a faith community to develop a wine bottle that can contain the new wine. I’m fine with the institutional side taking the time to wait for a wine bottle that works, rather than being tossed to and fro by every fad and crisis among scholars. But our institutions do have mechanisms for response and change, and they do get around to doing so eventually, through given variation among individuals, not uniformly.

    I’m calling for a bit broader perspective is all, a bit faster responsiveness by the institutional arms, an approach that matter-of-factly acknowledges the challenges we face, that so often get thrust in our faces, whether we have been prepared to face them or not. It’s also nice when we can give credit where it is due, for the successful resolutions we have. By me, some of the most amazing bits of LDS scholarship in the past few years have been Larry Morris and Mark Ashurst McGee on the relationship of the Moroni stories to the money-digging culture. If we’ve got scholarship that good to draw upon, that in comparison makes the skeptical approaches look as slack-jawed as Wiley Coyote watching the Road Runner’s dust, then I applaud those who spread the good word to their students. One of the nice things about being LDS is that the institutional arm is not the only source of information. If we seek, we soon find those who are brimming over with interesting information and valuable perspectives. Not to mention the occasional crank and zealot.

    It’s easier to deal with unknowns, obstacles, and open questions, if’ I’ve got the sense that I’m on the track of a real treasure worth the hunting.

    When I am called to teach, I put in everything I have. But I’m not always called to teach, probably because I’m not suitable for everyone. At the moment, I do the Pittsburgh 2nd Ward High Priests, a small quorum, but we have fun discussions.

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  45. Gerald Smith says:

    I think the Church’s “officializing” FARMS into the Neal Maxwell Institute was a major step forward in allowing members to see and consider different views of the scriptures. Elder Ballard’s recent encouragement for Saints to take to the Internet and begin sharing their witnesses is another major step. Now, we need to help the members take advantage of the information available on the Internet. It may be that seminary teachers can teach the regular curriculum, but offer occasional papers from FARMS, etc., for the kids to read or hear, so they can see there are alternative views available.

    This does not have to happen on a daily or even weekly basis. But it needs to happen enough, so when the members have major questions, they know there are other resources they can go to to get more information, etc.

    Perhaps that bishop would not have become an atheist, had he been allowed to hear a few other opinions that differed concerning Noah. When an all or nothing approach is given, there are only two options. If we show members that when they need it, there are other possible answers for them to us, then they have an out.

    And I personally agree with the Documentary Hypothesis and a flat earth. ;-)

  46. Thanks for your further observations Kevin regarding my comment(s).

  47. Kevin, your ward must be huge to have a high priests quorum instead of a group ;)

    #

    CES really isn’t getting enough credit. I took an institute class on Isaiah where we used 3 translations and discussed all the scholarly issues. The instructor was a lawyer by day, and institute teacher by night. It was a great class.

    I am currently taking an undergrad RS Bible class. It is one of the liveliest classes I have ever been in. I have a huge advantage growing up LDS, knowing much more of any of the issues than my classmates. The evangelicals in the class are having a really hard time coming to the bible from another angle.

    Comment by mmiles — September 23, 2008 @ 10:12 am

    That is an observation of the type that needs to be made more often.

  48. taking an undergrad RS Bible class.

    What’s RS? Relief Society?

  49. Mike Bennion says:

    I have read the Book of Mormon straight through 6 or 7 times in the past 3 years. I have read the entire Old Testament through twice, and sections of it multiple times.
    The New Testament has been read a great deal in my discussions with Traditional Orthodox Christians. Especially John 15-17, which is perhaps the most profound piece of written scripture in the entire Bible.

    Isaiah has “blossomed like a rose” for me. I began my study of that Book 36 years ago and had one of the best classes on Isaiah from Victor Ludlow at BYU. We read from three translations including a Jewish version, and were required to do poetic and paraphrased chapter rewrites as well as to complete a verse by verse exegesis of a chapter.

    The Doctrine and Covenants has become much richer when read in context of the when, where and why of the reception of the various sections. And the Pearl of Great Price stretches my spirit.

    It is dismaying to see some of the things that people think the Book of Mormon teaches, and this includes members as well as critics. What a profound and transformational document it is! We all need to read it and all the standard works much more often, and feast more avidly on the words of Christ.

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