We’d especially like to thank Derrick Duncan for volunteering his time and talent to narrate it.
Exodus, The Law of Moses, Covenants, and the Temple
by Ben Spackman
(This originally appeared on Ben Spackman’s blog)
Now that we’re getting into the desert Exodus narrative, we’re going to encounter what scholars call “legal sections” of scripture, that is, the details of the Law of Moses. I’m not interested in these so much as I am in the way the Israelites entered into the law, by covenant. So, let’s talk about these a bit more from an ancient Near Eastern perspective
Parts of a Covenant
Although there are differences, a covenant is functionally very similar to a contract or treaty. Among the ancient Israelites and their neighbors, the covenant pattern had several parts, though not every part was expressed in every covenant, nor was the order of these elements rigidly fixed. Understanding this pattern can help us understand the scriptures and the temple ordinances. [Read more…] about Come, Follow Me Week 18 – Exodus 24; 31-34
Can the Book of Mormon be the Word of God and inspired fiction? Did Joseph Smith’s cultural worldview influence the way he understood the relationship between New World people and the 10 Lost Tribes? How might have Joseph’s worldview influenced his understanding of both the Nephite Interpreters and his own seer stone? What did the Nephite Interpreters look like and how did they resemble “spectacles”? Did Joseph use a seer stone, Interpreters, or the Urim and Thummim to translate the Nephite records? Discussions on these issues begin (to a great degree) in Chapter 23 of my book, Rethinking Revelation and the Human Element in Scripture: A Prophet’s Role as Creative Co-Author.
Chapter 23 is entitled, “‘Translating’ Restoration Scripture,” and is currently available as a FREE pdf file to download here (for a limited time). Meanwhile, my book, Rethinking Revelation, is available in print in the FAIR bookstore, or in print and Kindle format from Amazon. [Read more…] about FREE BOOK CHAPTER: “‘Translating’ Restoration Scripture”
As we reach the last few years of Joseph Smith’s life, the Documents series volumes cover decreasing amounts of time while still requiring a significant number of pages. This volume covers five months in 595 pages. I’ve been told volume 15 will cover a mere five weeks.
Volume 9 takes place between December 1841 and April 1842. During this time, Joseph Smith opened a store, became vice mayor of Nauvoo, took over as editor of the Times and Seasons, joined the Freemasons, and helped start the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, all while continuing to sell land to incoming Saints, lead the church, and command the Nauvoo Legion. An estimated 70 percent of the documents in this volume were not published prior to the Joseph Smith Papers Project. The documents consist of letters, revelations (many of them personal, so not canonized), discourses, legal and business documents, minutes from meetings, and selections from the Times and Seasons. [Read more…] about Book Review: The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Vol. 9: December 1841 – April 1842
This podcast series features past FairMormon Conference presentations. This episode is a presentation from 2017. If you would like to watch the presentations from the conference we had earlier this year, you can still purchase video streaming.
Scott Gordon, Mormon Temples and Freemasonry
Transcript available here.
Scott Gordon is president of FairMormon and as such has been a writer of several articles and a speaker at firesides. He has a master’s degree in Business Administration from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s in Organizational Communication. He has held many Church callings, including Bishop, and currently serves as the Ward Mission Leader. He is married to Sheri Farnsworth Gordon and has five children.
Audio and Video Copyright © 2017 The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, Inc. Any reproduction or transcription of this material without prior express written permission is prohibited.
One of the tactics that critics have used recently to try to destroy faith is to describe a lesser known event in church history in a way that is intended to shock the reader. By sensationalizing and removing it from its context, and often even misrepresenting what actually happened, the victim is left feeling betrayed by the Church, thinking they have been lied to or that the Church has been hiding or whitewashing its history. Sadly, much of this history has been available (though perhaps not readily accessible), but not emphasized in the curriculum that is taught, requiring independent study, which has not been happening as much in recent generations.
The Church has recognized this problem and is producing a solution. The first volume of a projected four-volume series has now been published in 14 languages and is available in paperback and e-book, as well as online text and audiobook formats. It is written in an easy to understand style, which although entirely factual, draws you in like a novel. This was done intentionally by having literary writers on the project, not just historians. For those who want more information, there are extensive footnotes that point you to online resources, including both in-depth essays and videos, as well as original documents from the Joseph Smith Papers.
The book begins with a message from the First Presidency and a preface explaining the purpose of the series. The body of the book continues, contained in four parts, which are broken up by historic periods. There are also maps, but no other illustrations beyond the small ornaments at the head of each chapter. The back of the book has Notes, a Note on Sources, Sources Cited, Acknowledgements, and a fairly good 15-page Index.
The first volume covers the period preceding the First Vision up to two years after the death of Joseph Smith, when the Saints were able to receive the endowment in the Nauvoo Temple. It covers nearly every criticism and puts them in their proper context, where they can be more easily understood. It concentrates on telling stories of the actual men and women involved, rather than just the institutional church, as previous official histories produced by the Church have done. The result is a detailed history of the Church that includes the sensitive issues while building faith, which already has some critics worried that their work will become irrelevant.
An example is the story of how the Word of Wisdom was received: [Read more…] about Book Review: Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days, Volume 1: The Standard of Truth 1815-1846
This is a short (151 pages) paperback book that contains 1,001 numbered paragraphs that chronologically narrate the life of Joseph Smith, essentially constituting a simple biography. “One of the main goals of this book is to tell the real story, while making it simple to read and understand. 1,001 Facts about the Prophet Joseph Smith is a history book for this generation. The entire book can be read in one sitting, or readers can jump around to different moments in the prophet’s life and learn about their favorite and the more fascinating events” (page 2). The author also intends the book to combat the anti-Mormon propaganda being spread on the Internet.
Here are several examples from the book that I thought were of interest: [Read more…] about Book Review: 1,001 Facts About the Prophet Joseph Smith
An Old Testament KnoWhy relating to the reading assignment for Gospel Doctrine Lesson 29: “He Took Up … the Mantle of Elijah” (2 Kings 2:5-6) (JBOTL29B)
Question: Elisha’s request of Naaman to immerse himself seven times in the Jordan River in order to be healed and his “stretching himself” upon a child to raise him from the dead seem highly unusual. Was there any special meaning to Elisha’s actions?
Summary:Like some other Old Testament prophets, Elisha’s invocation of God’s power as he taught and blessed his people was accompanied by actions that symbolized sacred realities. As with modern priesthood ordinances, the physical actions themselves do not bring about the resultant blessings. However, such sacred actions, when required by the Lord, invite participants to reflect about resonances of those actions that extend beyond immediate circumstances and teach eternal principles. Symbolic actions that parallel Elisha’s miracles has at times accompanied healing both anciently and today.
The full article may be found at the Interpreter Foundation website: KnoWhy OTL29B — What Is the Significance of the Unusual Symbolism in Elisha’s Healings?
An Old Testament KnoWhy for Gospel Doctrine Lesson 5: “If Thou Doest Well, Thou Shalt Be Accepted” (Moses 5-7) (JBOTL05B). See the link to video supplements to this lesson at the end of this article under “Further Reading.”
Question: Some people believe that the basic teachings and covenants available today in LDS temple ordinances were not revealed to Joseph Smith until he got to Nauvoo. Others say he knew a great deal about temple matters long before that time. What could the Prophet have learned about temple covenants as he translated Moses 5-8 in 1830-31?
Summary: Because the book of Moses tells the story of the Creation and the Fall of Adam and Eve, it is obvious to endowed members of the Church that the book of Moses is a temple text, containing a pattern that interleaves sacred history with covenant-making themes. What may be new to many Latter-day Saints, however, is that the temple themes in the book of Moses extend beyond the first part of this story that contains the fall of Adam and Eve — their “downward road.” There is a part two of the temple story given in the book of Moses that describes an “upward road” that is to be climbed by making and keeping an ordered sequence of temple covenants. Significantly, Moses 5-8 appears to have been structured so as to present the consequences of both keeping and breaking specific temple covenants one by one.
The full article may be found at the Interpreter Foundation website: KnoWhy OTL05B — How Does Moses 5-8 Illustrate the Consequences of Keeping and Breaking Temple Covenants One By One?
As a video supplement to this lesson, see Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, “The LDS story of Enoch As a Temple Text” (http://www.templestudies.org/2013-enoch-and-the-temple-conference/conference-videos/). Several other excellent video presentations on Enoch and the temple are available at this same link.
For additional discussion of evidence that Joseph Smith knew much about temple matters early on in his ministry, see: “What Did Joseph Smith Know about Temple Ordinances by 1836?” (http://interpreterfoundation.org/conferences/2014-temple-on-mount-zion-conference/2014-temple-on-mount-zion-conference-videos/).
An Old Testament KnoWhy for Gospel Doctrine Lesson 5: “If Thou Doest Well, Thou Shalt Be Accepted” (Moses 5-7) (JBOTL05A). See the link to video supplements for this lesson at the end of this article under “Further Reading.”
Question: For a while, the Lord prohibited Joseph Smith from sharing his Bible translation publicly. Also, Moses 1:42 explicitly says that the account of Moses’ vision should not be shown “unto any except them that believe.” Any guesses as to the reasons behind these restrictions?
Summary: I believe that these initial restrictions were due, at least in part, to the sacred content of many of the changes and additions in Joseph Smith’s Bible translation. This makes sense if we regard the knowledge that Joseph Smith received as he translated the Bible as part of a divine tutorial on priesthood and temple doctrines, authority, and ordinances. In fact, some parts of Genesis seem to contain echoes of what temple studies scholars would call a “temple text.” My study of the book of Moses and others of the initial revelations and teachings of Joseph Smith have convinced me that he knew early on much more about these matters than he taught publicly, contradicting the view of those who consider the fundamental doctrines, covenants, and teachings of the Nauvoo temple ordinances a late invention
The full article may be found at the Interpreter Foundation website: KnoWhy OTL05A — Why Was Joseph Smith Initially Prohibited from Publishing His Bible Translation?
For more discussion of evidence that Joseph Smith knew much about temple matters early on in his ministry, see the first video supplement to this lesson: “What Did Joseph Smith Know about Temple Ordinances by 1836?” (http://interpreterfoundation.org/conferences/2014-temple-on-mount-zion-conference/2014-temple-on-mount-zion-conference-videos/).
For a playlist of one-minute video clips discussing various aspects of Mormonism and Masonry in Nauvoo, see the second video supplement to this lesson at the FairMormon YouTube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0zdSoYy_fg&list=PLw_Vkm1zYbIHW8n88zdpJuzK83caT7A2H).