Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Submit a question (2006-2008)

Do you have a question you’d like to pose to the Feast community? Want to request a post on a certain topic? We are primarily focused on scripture study and teaching, so if you have a related question or suggestion for a topic, feel free to submit it here. Of course you can always email the Feast administrators at feastZZZblog@gmail.com (without the ZZZ’s). (Note: comments posted here will most likely be deleted a couple weeks after they have been addressed.)

110 Responses to “Submit a question (2006-2008)”

  1. Robert C. said

    Kevin and JakeW, thanks for your questions. I moved the discussion to the following pages (sorry the formatting’s not too pretty…):

    Joseph going to hell for Emma?

    Does anything matter?

    In the future, at least try to explain how your question is related to LDS scripture, or how to teach, or how to study scripture, so that this doesn’t become a free for all! ;-) (I love philosophical questions such as “why does anything matter,” but this probably isn’t the best place to discuss it in the general sense—though I’ve heard any question can be answered in the scriptures, and I think that esp. holds true for questions like this pertaining to the meaning of life. Anyway, you might be interested in subscribing to lds-phil or lds-herm which are listservs whose purpose is explicitly more philosophical….)

  2. JakeW said

    Okay, this is definitely scripture related. What do we do with Joseph Smith’s non-canonized teachings and revelations? Well, not do, but if we read them, will we be judged by them?

    [See response here.]

  3. JakeW said

    Pardon me for taking liberal advantage of this post, but I’ve got another question; what does it mean to make your “calling and election made sure,”? Does this mean we should “wear out our lives,” until God appears before us and personally decrees us one of His chosen? Is this tied into Paul’s teaching of “working out our own salvation with fear and trembling,”? Joseph Smith did at times plead with the early Saints to make their calling and election sure, if I’m not mistaken. It sounds very important.

    [See response here.]

  4. Robert C. said

    A reader emailed in the following question, which I don’t have a good answer to, can anyone help?

    Jesus dies on the cross on Friday, rises on Sunday…..one and a half days later. What happen to 3 days?

  5. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Three days.

    I was surprised in the mission field to find that Mexicans call a week “eight days.” My guess is that their thinking differs from ours because of our Cartesian approach to space and time: for us time is a line that is infinitely divisible and so three days has for us a linear numerical value, namely, 72 hours, whereas for them three days means three experiences or three events (the event of death being the day before the Sabbath, the event of the Sabbath itself, and the event of resurreciton being the day after the Sabbath: three days).

    A thought, anyway.

  6. dan seefelt said

    Robert,
    thanks for your response on my original question. I did find this answer in Bryan Richards’ Gospeldoctrine.com site. I guess three days is Friday , Saturday and Sunday..it doesn’t have to mean 72 hours, huh?

    “While the time span does not equal three full days, we may be safe in assuming that Christ was crucified about 3:00 pm on Friday, for ‘that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on’ (Luke 23:54). And he was resurrected early on a Sunday, ‘the first day of the week.’ Hence, the time spent in spirit paradise would have been little more than a day and a half.”

  7. BrianJ said

    Just a little nitpick: the Greek may be vague here, but most English translations say, “the third day,” not “in threedays.” This only strengthens the conclusion that Fri+Sat+Sun=3.

  8. BobW said

    I would like to see how others would respond to a situation which arose in my Sunday School class.

    I have been teaching gospel doctrine for 3 1/2 years in this ward and generally have a good rapport with the class which means that most weeks we have a good exchange with on point comments from the class which lead to a spiritually focused conclusion in line with the manual’s goals for the lesson. We have a sister (Sister Jones for this discussion) in the class who likes to go off topic on points she has studied in advance. Sort of “I know we are talking about tithing today but I would like to share my insight on chastity.”

    In New Testament lesson 30 on Peter’s vision of unclean beasts, Barnabus, and taking the gospel to the gentiles I focused in “circumcision” as a metaphor for the ways in which we each try to live the gospel and how we ought not to insist that others adhere to non-core gospel living in the same way we do. I.e., our definition of the Word or Wisdom or our definition of proper sabbath observance. Sister Jones had a related comment which she followed with “oh, and I have a comment on Simon the Tanner.” We weren’t talking about the personalities of the people in the scriptures or their vocations or their residences, all of which were well within the expected scope of her comment given the history of comments in the class. I could see this as derailing a discussion which was right on track and which ended up right where it was intended.

    How would you have responded to this proposed comment which was, functionally, “here let me hijack your lesson for a few minutes?”

  9. brianj said

    BobW, see here.

  10. JakeW said

    [I moved JakeW’s question about “agents unto themselves” per D&C 29:34-35 to this post. —Robert C.]

  11. AngieD said

    [I moved AngieD’s question, and the subsequent discussion, about the number of Christians in the first century to the following page: Number of church members in the first century?. —Robert C.]

  12. JakeW said

    [I moved JakeW’s question about taking the sacrament unworthily, per 1 Cor 11:24-29, to Jim F.’s Sunday school thread here. —Robert C.]

  13. JakeW said

    Moses Ch. 5 verse 11: And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

    Does this verse mean that Adam and Eve were physically incapable of having children in the Garden of Eden before the fall?

  14. JakeW said

    Moses chapter 7, verses 50-52: And it came to pass that Enoch continued his cry unto the Lord, saying: I ask thee, O Lord, in the name of thine Only Begotten, even Jesus Christ, that thou wil have mercy upon Noah and his seed, that the earth might never more be covered by the floods. And the Lord could not withhold; and he covenanted with Enoch, and sware unto him with an oath, that he would stay the floods; that he would call upon the children of Noah; And he sent forth an unalterable decree, that a remnant of his seed should always be found among all nations, while the earth should stand;

    Is the unalterable decree regarding remnant of seed talking about Noah’s seed? If so, why the word remnant? Didn’t Noah and his posterity constitute the entire earth’s population after the flood? It seems like a useless decree to send forth if it’s simply saying that Noah’s seed will always be found among Noah’s seed. Or is “his seed,” referring to Enoch?

  15. JakeW said

    Moses chapter 4, verse 32: (And these are the words which I spake unto my servant Moses, and they are true even as I will; and I have spoken them unto you. See thou show them unto no man, until I command you, except to them that believe. Amen.)

    Curious to note that this is all parenthetical, and seems to be directed directly to Joseph Smith while translating. Another verse very similar to this appears at the end of chapter one, where the LORD tells Joseph that the prededing dialogue was spoken “unto Moses in the mount, the name of which shall not be known among the children of men.” However, in the verse immediately following, it says “And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Moses…” once again telling the reader that Moses was once told by God the story of the creation and fall. But at the beginning of chapter five, this is not brought up again. It simply reads “And it came to pass that after I, the Lord God…” almost as if God is continuing his parenthetical aside to Joseph. Why are there parentheses in the first place? Were they added in, or in the original manuscript? Anyway, it seems the Lord never did speak to Moses anything written from chapters 5 to 8 (although the entire book is still labeled the Book of Moses). So my question is, did Moses receive the whole of the revelations contained in the Book of Moses, or did he simply hear the Creation story and Fall story from chapters 2-5? If he only heard that, why would that be all the Lord told Moses? The rest of the book continues until the flood, which is an interesting place to end a narrative. It’s a very definite ending, in any case. Also, are the chapters written the way they are because of how Joseph received them? Or were they broken up later on?

  16. Robert C. said

    JakeW, regarding Moses 5:11, although I think most members take this to mean that Adam and Eve couldn’t have had seed in the Garden, I think we could also read this as saying that Adam and Even wouldn’t have had seed in the Garden. I think it’s quite interesting that having seed is the first thing Eve mentions….

    Regarding Moses 7:50-52, I’m not sure if it’s referring to Enoch or Noah, but I’m not sure it really matters since Noah and the flood came after Enoch. I think this is a rather curious phrase and that it suggests the flood may not have included everybody on the earth. Also, perhaps we might think of this in terms of spiritual seed, referring to something like seed that will be sealed to Enoch or Noah.

    Regarding Moses 4:32, I have nothing helpful to say or add, sorry (you get what you pay for!). Maybe someone more knowledgeable will come along and say something more helpful. Good questions….

  17. JakeW said

    Does anybody know of any good books on the historicity and interpretation of scripture?

  18. JakeW said

    any scripture at all, whether it’s strictly the bible, or Mormon canon, or anything.

  19. cherylem said

    Raymond E Brown’s An Introduction to the New Testament gives historical background (including what I think can be meant by historicity) and interpretation of each NT book. His scholarship is vast and can be trusted, I think.

    Bart Ehrman’s scholarship is also solid. His recent book Misquoting Jesus may be offputting to some LDS people, but I recommend his The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings – this is used as a text in many college courses.

    Since we are doing the New Testament this year, these are two books that come to mind.

  20. JakeW said

    Thank you.

  21. Joe Spencer said

    I was happy with Ehrman’s work until he jumped too quickly into the Gospel of Judas business. That made me wonder….

    I think the most helpful thing published so far about the historicity of LDS scripture is Jim’s paper, “Scripture as Incarnation,” published in Historicity and LDS Scripture, edited by Paul Hoskisson. It raises the philosophical issues that most historians do not, including especially historians of the biblical periods.

    On interpretation… I think the writings of Hans Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur are helpful for thinking about what is at work and at stake in interpretation. About how to do it… actually, I think Andre LaCocque and Paul Ricoeur’s Thinking Biblically is very helpful: it thinks critically about the theory of how to interpret by undertaking the task of interpreting a few passages together. It is a simply marvelous book. If you are looking for an overarching introduction to how interpretation can or has been done, I suggest the series… I don’t recall the name, but if you look for Phyllis Trible’s Rhetorical Criticism and the Book of Jonah, which is one of the series, you can find the title of the series. It is a series of books on the history and the how-to of the several strands of interpretive theory.

    A good overview also is Brueggeman’s Texts Under Negotiation. And I might, humbly, suggest you reread my manuscript, Jacob. :) I think it is a helpful introduction to the “how” of interpretation and a more sophisticated foray into the question of historicity. I think…

  22. Robert C. said

    I’m working through the beginning chapters of Walter Brueggemann’s Old Testament Theology, and I think it does the best job I’ve seen in terms of situating the project of Biblical interpretation in the larger societal/philosophical milieu. If only more Bible scholars would read and think about issues like this. I think something like this should be read by anyone who wants to think about interpreting scripture in any serious way.

  23. JakeW said

    This has all been very helpful, Joe, Robert, Cheryl. Thanks a lot! I was wondering if I could just make an informal suggestion for the blog… like perhaps setting up a reference guide for various topics of study. I don’t know if this would deviate from the blog’s overall intent, but I do happen to know that Joe alone could fill pages and pages with all sorts of interesting books to be read. I would appreciate that sort of thing a lot.

  24. nhilton said

    JakeW, I like your suggestion. In the past I’ve picked the blog brains on similar topics. I, too, would like a “reference desk” on this blog. I’ve happened across some of them in the past (can’t remember where I found them now & would have to hunt to re-find them) but I think they need to be on the blog page to the right or left as a link.

  25. nhilton said

    New Questions: I have a convert friend from Brazil who is reading Nietch (did I spell that right?) and is of the opinon that God favors some of his children over others. I belive this belief of his is partly based on his view that God is witholding from him a particular blessing that he has been seeking for some time. Not just now, but in the past too, has not blessed him when he felt he was deserving. I am not familiar with Nietch philosophy and worry for my friends’ spiritual well-being. He sends his wife to GD who has asked me some questions he has sent her with, like “why does God bless some people abundantly and not others,” “if the scriptures say that if you pray for something God will grant it, why don’t I get what I’ve been fervently and chronically praying for?” If any of you have read Neitch–& help me here if I have the name grossly wrong!–please let me know what my friend has been ingesting and how I might help him/her. Thanks!

  26. nhilton said

    Joe, where is that article by Jim you referenced. I couldn’t bring it up at any book source, including BYU Studies. Help.

    Additionally, in looking at Ricoeur’s published works, along with the dually authored book you recommend, I’m wondering if one were to read just ONE Ricoeur, which would you recommend? I know you’ve probably read several & I won’t, so I’m wondering where to invest my time. Similarly, if one were to read ONE Neitch, which would it be? On Brueggeman’s writing, again, which ONE would be best?

    Lastly, Joe, WHERE is your manuscript you referenced in #21?

  27. Jim F. said

    nhilton: I don’t think that knowing more about Nietzsche (you came pretty close!) is going to be all that helpful. Your friend has a “superstitous” faith. He believes that faith is a matter of exchange with God: I offer my faith, he gives me something in return. Nietzsche argued that there is no such God–and I agree. However, it doesn’t follow that there is no God at all. Rather, what follows is that trusting in God (having faith) isn’t a matter of making an economic exchange. The best essay I know on that topic is by Paul Ricoeur: “The Religious Significance of Atheism,” in a book by the same name. Ricoeur’s argument is that we must be atheists with regard to the god of superstition in order to have true faith.

    The article that Joe mentioned is in a book edited by Paul Hoskisson and published by the BYU Religious Studies Center: Historicity and LDS Scripture. I am not sure where one would find it; it was hardly a best seller.

    What one article by Ricoeur? Probably the one I mentioned above, though I also like his essays in Thinking Biblically, interpretive essays of biblical passages. By Brueggeman? Perhaps his book Texts Under Negotiation. For a good sample of his Bible interpretation, perhaps Power, Providence, and Personality: Biblical Insight Into Life and Ministry. Both are reasonably short.

    I like Nietzsche’s writing> It is thoughtful as well as beautiful. In addition, I have a lot of sympathy for his philosophical views though, of course, in the end I don’t accept his atheism. However, unless you have someone to help guide you through reading Nietzsche’s work, to help you see that he is often ironic as well as provocative, I don’t think there is anything I would recommend.

  28. Robert C. said

    JakeW #23, I think that’s a great idea whether we do it on this blog, the lds-herm blog, or on the wiki, I think that’s a good direction to take, though I probably won’t be able to begin thinking about or working on it much for a while—a lot on my plate right now. I think the wiki format would be better b/c it’s easier to work on and update as a group, then maybe we’d just post a link somewhere in a rather visible place here on the blog, and/or have another open thread page like this for non-wiki-savvy users to make comments and/or their own suggestions.

  29. cherylem said

    Somewhere on this blog there was a comment regarding the armies of Helaman being a cautionary tale. Does anyone remember making this comment? Or can anyone find it? I’ve tried but my search is coming up empty.

    Thanks!

  30. Robert C. said

    cheryl, try this comment by robf, and subsequent discussion. (He may also mention this in a book review he wrote, I think for Dialogue, and I think it was cited somewhere in that same rather long thread.)

  31. cherylem said

    Thanks Robert. That was it exactly.

  32. cherylem said

    Does anyone have any insight on the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5? I have read this story for some time as a hidden violence – i.e., someone enforced the communal rules of the new community violently (even zealously) against Ananias and Sapphira and then gave the glory to God for the violent act (I am speaking ironically) – but I’ve found nothing to substantiate this private reading.

    anyone else have any opinions?

  33. BrianJ said

    cheryl—I’m going on memory here, but I think there is a contrast between Ananias/Sapphira making a show of giving all when in fact they were not versus Barnabas (I hope I have that name right) who actually did give all willingly. I don’t think it ever says that complete consecration was mandated for anyone. So, to put it crudely, Barnabas chose to give all and was praised for it; Ananias and Sapphira wanted the praise without the sacrifice.

  34. NathanG said

    I was reading Genesis 22 because of recent conversations on the blog and noticed something I’ve never noticed, nor can I recall ever hearing anyone discuss. Abraham carried the knife and the fire. What is the fire about (in general more so than in Isaac’s case)?
    Animal sacrifices were often (if not always, can’t quite remember) burnt offerings. I’ve studied and heard of several parallels betweeen the offerings and Christ, but never anything about the fact that the offerings were “burnt”. What is the symbolism of the fire and the sacrifice being “burnt”?

  35. brianj said

    Nathan: It’ll take me some time to answer (if someone doesn’t beat me to it). But for now: “burnt offerings” were a special class of offerings. So while, for example, the passover lamb was cooked, it was not a burnt offering (because it was not consumed by the fire). Likewise for offerings of dedication (as when a son was dedicated to the Lord). Burnt offerings were for sin, not thanksgiving or dedication.

  36. NathanG said

    Brian,
    I’ve known about the burnt and cooked offerings. I’m more interested in any symbolism in the use of fire at all. Is this some sort of sanctification process of the sacrifice that allows us to consume the sacrifice? Is there something about the sweet savor the Lord refers to (since that wouldn’t come until fire was applied). With the different times to use a burnt offering and a cooked meal, is there significance as to how the fire is used? I eagerly await your answer.

  37. Joe Spencer said

    Wow, I need to look at this thread more often.

    Nanette! I’m sorry I missed your questions directly addressed to me before! Jim has nicely answered most of them. I would agree on Texts Under Negotiation, though I think his Old Testament Theology (not Theology of the Old Testament, two different books) is also a good collection of short essays that show how he reads. As far as Ricoeur goes, I do highly recommend Thinking Biblically as a marvelous example of how to read, but I suppose I would also recommend Figuring the Sacred instead: it not only has good examples of how to read, but it also has very helpful papers on the theory behind reading. It also has a nice introductory essay about Ricoeur’s thought in general.

    I too love Nietzsche’s work. I myself most enjoy, of all his texts, Birth of Tragedy, and at times I wonder at whether or not it is actually the most accessible to the newcomer to Nietzsche, primarily because it is (1) short, (2) not overtly atheistic, (3) grounded in semi-familiar history, (4) tied to musical theory, and (5) of major significance historically (for those interested in Wagner and his place in German history and politics, at least).

    As for the manuscript… I had reference to the manuscript I’ve written and am in the process of getting published. If you’re really interested, I can send you a copy. Of course, it comes with all the death threats, etc., that must come with something I hope soon to publish, and perhaps with a warning that you had better buy an actual copy when (if?) it is published, etc.

  38. Joe Spencer said

    Nathan,

    Sorry I’m just catching this question. I actually do discuss the fire and knife thing a bit in my podcast on Genesis 22 http://teachyediligently.mypodcast.com (mostly we just point out that Abraham carries the two tools of destruction while Isaac carries the once living tree… perhaps a tree of life?). But there are some interesting discussions of burnt sacrifices. Derrida discusses the theme in a number of places, but always in his rather difficult way. But I don’t know of any attempts to read an overt typological reference in burnt sacrifices. (As interested as I am in typology, I tend not to be too vigilant in looking carefully for typological possibilities in the Law of Moses, because so much of that has been done already, and I think that the very idea of typology deserves more attention for now than the work of digging up typological possibilities… especially because thinking typologically seems to me to be so much richer than identifying types. But that opens onto a theoretical discussion of some length.)

    Anyone else know of any discussions of a broader “significance” for burnt sacrifices?

  39. NathanG said

    Joe,
    I wondered if it was mentioned on the podcast. I listened to the first few minutes (which led me to read Genesis 22 in the first place), but I rarely have a good hour to sit down and listen.

    My train of thought that led to the fire was first noticing that Abraham carried both the knife and the fire. I then thought about how the situation was a type of Christ. If Isaac was a type of Christ, what did Abraham represent? Was God’s task as trying as Abraham’s (was he in some was as intimately involved as Abraham was expected to be)? Then I wondered what was the purpose of the fire if the the knife kills the sacrifice, why is it then burned (or cooked, depending on which sacrifice is actually performed)?

    Another prominent mention of fire in the scriptures is baptism by fire. Is there any relationship between what the Spirit does and what the sacrifical fire does? For instance, we are sanctified by the baptism of fire (I don’t pretend to have more than a slight grasp on that concept). Is there some sanctification of Christ’s sacrifice that happened before we could consume it (or perhaps the Spirit sanctifies us for the reception of the sacrifice, which is harder to symbolize)? There is sealing by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Was the atonement sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise in the same way as any other covenant is?

    Regarding looking for new types, I think I agree with you, this one just happened to fall into my lap, and I wondered.

  40. Joe Spencer said

    I really, really, really like the idea of looking more carefully at the parallel between the baptism of fire and the fire in the burnt offering. That deserves a good deal of thought. Where to begin? What text?

  41. mjberkey said

    Ooh ooh! 2 Nephi 31!!

    … (sitting down now)

  42. Andrew Hall said

    I am looking for suggestions for books for preparing Book of Mormon lessons. Givens is great, but I do not see using him much in Gospel Doctrine. Is there anything comporable to the Holzapfel/Wayent books on the New Testament that have come out in recent years? I am not near a LDS bookstore, so I can’t browse easily.
    Is the Studies in the Scripture series the best there is?
    The Kent Brown collection of essays, “From Jerusalem to Zarahemla” looked good from a review.

  43. Robert C. said

    Andrew, I think I speak for many others who’ve seen your message but not responded: I simply don’t know any books on the Book of Mormon that I would give an enthusiastic endorsement of. Brant Gardner’s work, available here, is about as good as anything I’ve seen (I think Kofford will be publishing his work, but I haven’t seen any projected release dates or anything…). I’ve also found some good nuggets in Nibley’s class notes on the Book of Mormon, though it’s not exactly the most organized or consistency of quality that one might hope for.

  44. NathanG said

    We had a returned missionary speak in Sacrament Meeting today. He talked about the Sacrament and the symbolism he learned where he served (and how we do it differently in the USA). The sacrament was symbolic of the Plan of Salvation. Three priesthood holders always blessed the sacrament and they were symbolic of the Godhead. They always covered the sacrament with three different cloths (I think he said one of them was clear plastic or something). These represented the telestial, terrestrial, and celestial. I think he mentioned something about how the table was set up, but my kids were not the most reverent people, and I missed some of it.

    Anyone heard of this before? Have I been missing out on understanding the sacrament my whole life? Thoughts?

  45. Clark said

    I think this is evidence of looking a bit beyond the mark. Or, as some criticize Freudean analysis: there’s always less to thing than meets the eye. Reminds me of back in Seminary a teacher who was into this kind of symbolism. (So yes, I have heard it) It was easy to find patterns that made her all excited. But I don’t think most of them mean anything.

  46. Robert C. said

    With Clark, I would also be hesitant to put too much emphasis on this kind of speculative symbolism. On the other hand, I do think it’s useful and even important to think about symbolic interpretations of the world we live in, church practices esp. We live in such a prosaic, literal world, that I think it’s oftentimes very difficult for us to understand the symbolism in the scriptures (apocalyptic writing esp.), so I think that thinking symbolically is a very helpful exercise to that end. It’s like a talk I heard growing up comparing the Godhead to the Grant, Middle, and South Teton (near where I grew up): I don’t think these mountains were created or named with this comparison in mind (esp. if you buy the French etymology naming of the Tetons, though there’s are similar connotations in Hebrew, and I’ve read some interesting stuff about the references to mountains being veiled references to a female deity figure, which again raises the question of how far to take symbolic connections…), but I thought the talk was very interesting and insightful in terms of understanding the Godhead, and the world we live in, better.

  47. Joe Spencer said

    Andrew, I’ll second Robert’s opinions on the matter. The situation in Book of Mormon study is, quite straightforwardly, pathetic.

    About the sacrament… I want to put a little different inflection on this question. The difference between “good” and “bad” symbolic interpretation can be rather subtle (I’ll be giving a fireside this coming Sunday on “symbols of Christmas” that I’m going to twist into an extended discussion on the nature of symbolism and what that has to do with the temple, which I’ll be posting to http://teachyediligently.mypodcast.com, so keep an eye out). But in short, I think it comes down to this: symbols are generated by an event and call for an event, are generated by a real encounter and call for a real encounter. I don’t know how laying the three degrees of glory over the sacrament ties, on either end, to an event.

    But that is not to say that there isn’t something to be seen symbolically in what goes on in the sacrament. For example, we lay Christ out on a table/altar in our midst as we sing and shout praises. The priests unveil Him precisely as we sing to His name. But they proceed to break Him, to kill Him, and while we sing. This is, in a sense, precisely what is at work in Isaiah 53: we sing about the Servant suffering in our midst, precisely as we turn our faces from Him (looking at the hymn book, trying to shush the kids, etc.). After He has been broken, He is scattered to the four corners of the earth. Then the wine is poured (or once was, until the flu swept through Utah) into one cup, and the scattered fragments of the Christ are regathered. The wine points thus to the gathering at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, as D&C 27 makes quite clear. The bread, also, might be understood as pointing back to the Fall: we eat this bread by the sweat of our face. The sacrament thus enacts all of history, drawing us in a few minutes from the beginning at the Fall through to the fullness of the Atonement at Adam-Ondi-Ahman, when all the keys have been gathered together again. We celebrate the whole thing by not-forgetting the Christ, by recognizing our own complicit part in His death and by confessing our sins there, and so on.

    The difficulty of the symbolic, I hope it becomes clear in the above, is that without the event, the symbol means nothing (everything becomes the play of signs). There must be some real, some encounter, that undergirds the whole thing. (I haven’t really even gotten into the fun stuff: the connection between the sacrament and the Day of Atonement, between the sacrament and Isaiah 6, between the sacrament and the flood, between the sacrament and the Book of Revelation, etc.)

    Does that help at all? My issue with the kind of symbolism this returning missionary apparently mentioned is that it does nothing, calls for nothing, says nothing. Actually, to speak more strictly, my problem with it is that it does, calls for, and says, precisely, something, something already evident, something that couldn’t surprise the youngest member of the congregation: there are, you mean, three degrees of glory? What must be summoned in a symbol—and this is, as I understand it, the very purpose of symbolism—is the nothing, the not-there, the not-yet or already-past, the thing that registers for people as nothing. We have got to point to the void in the present state of things, to what we have made invisible in our normalizing interpretations. And, perhaps, we should do this militantly. :)

  48. Robert C. said

    Joe, I like how you put this in terms of an event—interesting to think about.

    But I still think there’s a good (or at least not completely bad) way of referring the 3 degrees symbolism (that was apparently thought about in relation to the three sacrament cloths) in terms of the Godhead, which I think can be thought in terms of representing something like our progressive march back to God’s presence, a three-fold reversal of the fall, or something—following, roughly, the three-fold progression of faith, hope and charity that you’ve mentioned several times before….

  49. NathanG said

    Joe,
    Thanks for your thoughts, you’ve given me something to chew on.
    As for what the missionary was reporting, I felt it was forcing symbolism (and it may be that he just started off wrong). They had to have three people blessing the Sacrament, but I haven’t been in a ward where three people consistently bless the sacrament. It’s not in D&C 20. I had my dad read what the handbook said on the subject. Nothing about numbers, just attitude. The recommendation is to stay away from rigid ceremony (e.g. deacons don’t have to assume a certain position). Everything should focus on Christ and our covenant. Nothing should detract from this message.
    I’m glad I posted it though because now I get to think about the symbolism that has always been there (the sacrament tokens).

  50. NathanG said

    Whoops. We usually only have two priests blessing the sacrament in my ward.

  51. JakeW said

    Is the Job mentioned in Ezek. 14:14 understood to be the same Job of the book of Job? If the book of Job grounded in historical events, why is it grouped among the wisdom writings of the Old Testament?

  52. Joe Spencer said

    Jacob, cf. just about any commentary on the Book of Job for a good overview of that subject. I highly recommend J. Gerald Jantzen’s commentary simply titled Job (it is part of the Interpretation series). I will of course be dealing with these questions when we get to Job in my early morning seminary class, so keep listening.

  53. Robert C. said

    Jake, Leslie Allen in his Word Biblical Commentary on Ezekiel indeed takes this to be a reference to the Job of the Book of Job.

    Regarding your question about the Book of Job being included in the Wisdom writings, in How to Read the Bible, Marc Zvi Brettler has an interesting little chapter on the formation of the Jewish Bible. He seems to favor the idea that the Torah and the Prophets evolved historically as the least controversial books, with the Writings being somewhat more controversial and therefor appearing later and in a group. He also explains that the formation of the Hebrew Bible is something we know very little about and that it is a hotly debated topic among scholars.

    Note, also, that in the Jewish Bible, “wisdom books” isn’t actually a division—rather, the Writings (Ketuvim) are subdivided into:

    1. The Poetic Books (Psalms, Proverbs, and Job—Job, after all, is written in poetic style)

    2. The Five Scrolls (Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther—note that Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes are Wisdom writings in Christian bibles)

    3. Other Historical Books (Daniel, Ezra, which includes Nehemia, and Chronicles)

    I’m not sure sure why Job is grouped with the Wisdom books in Christian bibles, but I’m guessing that it’s because it takes up similar theological themes. Also, I don’t think the historicity of Job as a “real” person was ever really a question for ancient near easter society when these books were being written and collected, and even when the Bible canon was becoming more formalized, I don’t think questions of historicity were even in play.

  54. JakeW said

    I was involved in a discussion yesterday (rather helter-skelter overall, but quite enjoyable), and at one point the concept of repentance was brought up. A guy named Joe was there, and he said that repentance was moving from being “in sin,” to being “in grace,” and there was relatively nothing beyond those two states of being (states of heart?). He said this in opposition to the idea that some saints have of repentance being some sort of cataloguing of sin, followed by God crossing each individual one out once we’ve felt sorry enough for them (or something close to that sort of model. Essentially he was vouching for a repentance by grace over a repentance by works). And so my question is, what is meant in verses such as D&C 42: 77, where it states “…they shall repent of all their sins or ye shall not receive them.” This seems to imply that people can repent of some of their sins rather than all of them. I’m not saying that this at all goes against what Joe said last night, I’m just wondering why that wording is used, “repent of all their sins,” when as far as my understanding of repentance goes, it’s already an all-or-nothing sort of deal.

  55. JakeW said

    heh, I messed up on where I made the bolded text. It was supposed to go back to normal after the first nine words.

  56. mjberkey said

    Nibley makes a big deal out of Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” to say that it is the Devil who pays wages while the Lord gives grace. But what about John 4:36? “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

  57. Robert C. said

    Jake, I take “all their sins” to emphasize the sense in which we must turn to God with all our heart—I don’t think you could do this without turning away from all previous sins. Also, although I think that God will not remember our sins anymore after we repent, I think our physical bodies (incl. our minds) do remember previous sins, and I wonder if recognizing (and hence confessing, to God, ourselves, and perhaps an ecclesiastical authority) each of our sins helps us in working through this physical kind of memory….

  58. Joe Spencer said

    I’ll echo Robert on this, though I’m not sure I want to condone anything said by this shady-sounding “Joe” character. I would submit, at the risk of supporting such a self-promoting would-be preacher of righteousness, that the only way to repent of all of your sins is to give in to grace; crossing out sins one by one is a never-ending process that never results in forgiveness…

  59. Rick said

    I would like to read the sections of the D&C as they occur in context in Rough Stone Rolling. Does anyone have a list of what pages of RSR provide context to the specific sections of the D&C? I only have a partial list.

  60. Robert C. said

    Sorry I can’t help you Rick. I’d be interested in the partial list you have (and any additions you make to it!). If you email me I’ll post this on the blog (and/or wiki) for others’ benefit: feastZZZblog@gmail.com (without the ZZZ’s).

  61. Tammy said

    Hey everyone,
    This is a great blog. I enjoyed reading everyone’s questions and seeing the responses people have thought about and written.

    I have something else for people to think about. I’m writing to tell you about a little project I’m working on with Chris Heimerdinger. He’s the author of the “Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites” books. He also has a new movie out you may be interested in blogging about…

    After a solid run throughout the state of Utah, Chris Heimerdinger’s first feature film, Passage to Zarahemla, opens outside of Utah starting this Friday. He will be coming to an area near you very soon.

    Chris is available for interview and would love to discuss with you his incredible journey from best-selling novelist to award-winning filmmaker. Many people do not realize Chris was a filmmaker first and received the Sundance Film Institute’s Most Promising Filmmaker award, and others awards as well.

    Feel free to contact me at tams8275@yahoo.com to set up an interview with Chris. You can also contact his PR manager Bettyanne Bruin at bruinpr@yahoo.com.

    I appreciate your consideration of this e-mail and look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

    Tammy

  62. Dennis said

    I am looking for a talk/article from the Ensign by Pres. Monson in the past 10-15 years directed to the spouses of inactive/nonmember husbands/wives. Pres. Monson counsels these spouses to treat their companions with respect and even as if they are active/members, inviting them with love to participate in FHE and to go to church, etc. Pres. Monson promises that if the spouse does this he/she will see their inactive/nonmember companion join the Church. Can anyone help me find this talk/article?

    Dennis
    Laredo, TX

  63. JakeW said

    Matthew 11:28-30

    Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

    I confess I don’t know what this means. I was listening to a talk yesterday, and the speaker interpreted it to mean that putting our burden on Christ is what we do when we have trials. We simply place our trial on the Lord, and He’ll take care of it. But I just don’t see it. ‘Take my yoke upon you’. What is the yoke of Christ? Is he referring to the Atonement? His complete submission to the will of the Father? If so, how are either of those things easy or light, and also, what does it mean to take Christ’s yoke upon us? In fact, what’s striking is that somehow people manage to read this and think we’re giving something to Christ, but it seems to be saying the exact opposite! And is there any notable difference between the terms burden and yoke, or are they to be used interchangeably? Can anybody fill me in on the imagery at work here?

  64. nhilton said

    Jake, the imagery is quite simple here:

    A yoke is used to carry a burden. It is used because without it the burden would be too “burdensome.” See here for a picture and further definition: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoke

    Note that a yoke works with two “pullers.” In other words, alone we can’t carry our heavy burden but Christ is offering to be yoked with us to work as a team. This is surely an instance of Christ offering to lower himself in our behalf.

    It’s important to also note the difference between a cow and an ox. The only difference is that a cow has been taught, thus capable of being yoked with another cow and working as a team to pull a load, plow a field, etc. So, when Christ offers us his yoke, he’s also offering to teach us (thus the “and learn of me”).

    It’s also interesting that it appears that the burden not only is lighter when we’re yoked with Christ, but also that the burden IS A DIFFERENT burden: “my burden is light.” I think the point here is that we worry about the wrong things, not just that what we’re worrying about is a difficult matter. When we turn to Christ he not only helps us pull our burden but also helps us decide WHICH burden is going to be pulled.

    FWTW, I hope this helped you.

  65. brianj said

    cow v. ox—an additional difference exists: An ox is a bull (i.e., male) that has been castrated, a cow is a female of the same species.

  66. JakeW said

    nhilton, thanks. What do you mean when you say Christ is obviously lowering Himself in our behalf?

  67. Jim F. said

    Is the yoke of which Christ speaks, the yoke used for oxen, or is it the yoke used by a person to carry two buckets of water? I’ve always picture it as the latter, but I’m not sure (and I’m at work, so I don’t have the resources to do any research on the question right now).

    By the way, oxen may or may not be castrated, though they it is probably more common that they are. They may nor may not be male, though most probably are. Oxen are merely cattle that have been trained to pull loads.

  68. nhilton said

    Jake #66, I meant that by yoking himself with us, mere humans, he lowers himself or evidences his meekness & lowliness.

    Brianj & JimF, I should have said “cattle” instead of cow, but Jim is right on. Perhaps you, Brianj, were thinking of a “steer” instead of an “ox.” Oxen are cattle that have been trained to work.

    Jim, on the question of the kind of yoke, I myself have considered the other kinds of yokes possible and have determined it must be the kind of yoke used with oxen due to the implication of being “yoked with Christ” and “learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart” implying there is a kind of teaching that will occur when we take the yoke and that Christ’s meekness and lowliness is relevant, per what I mentioned in the first line to Jake.

  69. brianj said

    jim, nannette: yes, that’s correct.

  70. Jim F. said

    nhilton: Is “yoked with Christ” a scriptural phrase? I don’t think it is. I think we sometimes use that phrase because we assume that the yoke referred to is an ox yoke.

  71. Jim F. said

    nhilton: I pressed “submit” before I was finished.

    I don’t see why Christ’s implication that he will teach us if we will take his yoke on ourselves suggests that that the yoke is like that of oxen. Indeed, it seems presumptuous of me to assume that I can be yoked with Christ because that implies equality in the work.

    The yoke for carrying water would usually be the yoke of a master, someone who could teach us.

  72. nhilton said

    Jim, I see your point. However, I’ve always viewed it as a team pull operation.

    I suspect Elder Russell M. Nelson saw it the same way when he said,

    “‘Come unto me,’ the Savior said, ‘all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matt. 11:28). So you come unto Christ to be yoked with Him and with His power, so that you’re not pulling life’s load alone. You’re pulling life’s load yoked with the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and suddenly your problems, no matter how serious they are, become lighter. That’s what we mean by coming unto Christ, being yoked to Him.” –Ensign,2005,June, “The Mission and Ministry of the Savior: A Discussion with Elder Russell M. Nelson.”

    Additionally, the idea of being yoked with someone is referenced in 2 Cor. 6:14: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” So I see being yoked with a believer, most especially Christ, in our efforts to pull life’s load as the goal.

  73. Jim F. said

    Yes, Elder Nelson read it your way, but I don’t think that the verse from 2 Corinthians is relevant. That an oxen yoke is referred to in a scripture about marriage doesn’t mean that it was being referred to in a scripture about Christ’s burden. Indeed, the reference to a burden may suggest carrying something rather than pulling something. I’ll have to check the Greek when I get home. I don’t have it at work.

  74. Why does Isaiah make such an argument years after the Ten Commandments were given to Moses?

  75. joespencer said

    Such an argument? Help us with some context, Stephanie.

  76. I’m not sure if this is working as I have tried to submit this a couple of times, but I teach gospel doctrine in the state penitentiary. Here is a document / handout I am giving to the men tomorrow. You are welcome to use it if you want. It is my steps to being chaste and honoring and serving your wife.

    It is here:

    http://www.thecorporatepitchman.com/LDS/StepsToPurityAndLovingYourWife.doc

    Let me know if you do use it, if you would. You are welcome to share. You can email me at Davidrenjenkins(remove this part)@gmail.com

    David

    Here is the document, if you can’t download it:

    Brother Jenkins’ Recommendations for Chaste Living, and a Happy Marriage (The Pure Life)

    1) Realize the power sexual impurity and the dishonor of women can have on your life. Realize that Satan is a master tempter and that he has ‘got your number’. If there is a way to tempt you (slowly or quickly) he WILL use it and drag you down to Hell. This is a real war and no global conflict is more real to the destruction of your soul than this. Battle lines are set. His generals and minions are ready (and remember, they know you!), and you are personally in their crosshairs and plans.

    2) Your second worst enemy is yourself–self deception that will allow you to flirt with temptation. Telling yourself, “It’s okay to brush against the line as long as I don’t walk it,” or, “it’s okay just to stay in sight of the line. It reminds me of how well I am doing.” You must realize that your own self-deception is one of Satan’s greatest advantages over you. In that subtle way you are actually fighting for him to take over your soul. Even the very elect need to always be on the lookout for how they are deceiving themselves and allowing themselves (in deed or in thought), in even the most subtle of ways, to flirt with temptation and ‘labor in sin’ (Jacob 2:5).

    3) You must desire purity, God, the Spirit, and spiritual things, more than the payoffs of sin. You must put off the natural man (Mosiah 3:19) until you truly only desire truth, honor, and that which God has for you. You need to hate not only the consequences of sin, but the payoffs also (pleasure in the moment, etc.) This is done by: a. Feasting on the scriptures and words of the living prophets. Do this in general daily or multiple times a day. Also study and become an expert on what the Lord has to say regarding the sins which so easily do beset you, personally. Arm yourself with the words of God regarding your particular weaknesses. b. Practice living pure daily. In other words take all you are learning into your life in every moment. In one moment, you may choose to avoid a room or situation where you may get some sort of temptation or hear some dirty conversation. In another moment, you may, for instance, have a chance to notice the ‘shape’ of a woman. Choose, in that moment, to completely look away, then rejoice at your triumph afterwards. It is a constant, moment to moment battle, and a way of life you are learning. You are dis-creating the old life–the old you–and being reborn to a spiritual purity that will bring happiness, peace, and exaltation. c. Pray constantly and have Heavenly Father teach you through divine connection of prayer. If you ask, the Lord will teach you and can change your heart to be like his, in how you think, see life, respond, and react. Come to ‘know Him’. d. Also, listen to good music often and go to the temple weekly if you can.

    4) Never let your guard down. Satan can sideswipe you in any moment, and he will (especially when you feel like you have your weaknesses handled). He will make elaborate plans to have you hear a bit of conversation, or see a picture. It may be in a moment that you feel strongest. If your guard is down for an instant, even after years of pure living, Satan will throw a wrench, in his perfect moment, into your well-oiled gears. You must always be ready!

    IF YOU ARE SINGLE 1) Live the pure life (see attached page). There is no reason to have any sexual thoughts whatsoever. Strengthen yourself daily. Be a stand for purity and the honor of women. Always be on the lookout for how Satan may be tempting you, or how you may be beginning to labor in sin whatsoever. 2) Only date women with your same high standards. 3) Never put yourself in a situation where you can be tempted. The situation of 2 people kissing alone, unrestrained, is Satan’s favorite battle ground to fight on. BE CAREFUL! He will choose this situation over any other, anytime, because he knows he can win, even with the most chaste of participants. Show her YOU stand for honor, and she is more important than that. Develop a friendship, and YOU set and keep solid boundaries. No matter how hard it may be, she will be grateful for your honoring of her. If you ever feel there is an inappropriate moment, flee! NEVER allow a moment to even begin to go too far. Remember, Rome fell in a day. You can fall in a single moment, if you don’t avoid it and are not ready with all the spiritual strength you can muster! 4) Double date as much as possible. Go on fun and spiritual dates. Always pray on food, and pray together, even asking the Lord to help you keep things appropriate. Maybe read scriptures together. Learn to know and love HER!

    Note: Many women have deep issues regarding sex and have learned it is but a sad tool to use to get guys to like them. Teach women it is the last thing you want to take from them, even in marriage. You love them, and care for them more than sex. In this, they will feel truly honored, and when in a loving marriage, they will desire to share this most spiritual gift (Celestial communication) with you when they feel like it.

    IF YOU ARE MARRIED 1) Seek for opportunities to show her she is more important to you than anything (including sex). Let her know, in no uncertain terms, that she is the most wonderful and special woman EVER. Learn to curb your desires, even in marriage to teach her this. I know of a couple that, before the wedding night he told her that they did not need to do anything on the wedding night if she did not want to. It turned out they did not do anything but snuggle that night, and it made all the difference in their marriage. She felt so honored, and she knew she was more important to him than anything. 2) She is now the only woman you can ever desire. Learn this, live this, and align yourself with this. There are no other women on the planet you can even notice. See past Satan’s lies, such as, “It doesn’t matter where you get your appetite as long as you come home for dinner.” Lock and purify your heart. 3) Be honest with her about any temptations or struggles you may have, (even in your very thoughts). This keeps you accountable and builds trust. Though it may be hard, she will be grateful. 4) Never control her in any way. It is but your job to serve her. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;” (Eph 5:25) All Christ did was to serve the church and the people. So we must also love and serve our wives, daily. Men would like to think you can do one special thing and it counts for a whole month. Women don’t work like that. You get one ‘point’ each day. Tomorrow, you need to get another point. Special notes, flowers and acts. Find what is most important to her. For one woman it may be flowers or notes, for another it may be telling her how wonderful it is, for another doing the dishes. Also, financial security and hard work of their husbands are very important to women. 5) You will be happy if you learn to make this your life’s purpose and goal: That at the end of your life, your wife knows she was loved. Your single goal should be to be the best husband ever, NO MATTER what she does. That is unconditional love. NEVER trade your love.

    Words she loves to hear: I love you! You are so incredible! How did I get so lucky? You’ve lost weight!

  77. Rick said

    Limited view of the plan of salvation in the Book of Mormon.
    Would you agree that the heaven/hell view of the Book of Mormon prophets is a more limited view than we currently enjoy? If so, would you also agree that the Book of Mormon prophets really understood our ultimate salvation to be limited to those two states? If not, where in our current diagram of the degrees of glory and outer darkness do you think the BOM prophets are drawing the line between heaven and hell?

  78. robf said

    Not sure if the BoM views are limited, or if we may be limited in how we read it.

  79. Rick said

    What way would you suggest we read it?

  80. joespencer said

    This is a question that has come up before on the blog (a year ago maybe?). But is it not as simple as this: heaven/hell roughly equals terrestrial/telestial? Of course, that is only if one must make something like a mapping of the one onto the other, which I don’t think is a necessary theological move: one can understand D&C 76 in its immediate context as a reading of (particuarly Johannine) New Testament theology, which may or may not be connected with Book of Mormon theology (which seems more Pauline).

    Of course, this is all to speak rather broadly, and hence, rather reductively. There is much more to say on the matter.

  81. robf said

    I’m not so sure about the heaven:hell::terrestrial:telestial mapping. For one, in Mormon Cosmology there is a temporal distinction between a pre-resurrection paradise(=heaven)/”spirit prison”(=hell) and the post-resurrection degrees of glory. There is also the distinction between kingdoms of glory (telestial, terrestrial, celestial–all of which constitute being resurrected and “saved” (D&C 76) for which baptism is a requirement/foreordination (?)(3 Ne 11:33) vs. “outer darkness” and the “unsaved” (D&C 76:44).

    One way to read hell in the BoM is as the condition of being in the bonds of Satan (Alma 12:11), either here in mortality or in any other state.

    As Joe said, there’s a lot more to consider here.

  82. Rick said

    So, Joe and Robf, would you contend that the BOM prophets viewed the Plan of Salvation as we do currently, and just did not expound the enhanced version? My personal opinion is that with the Law of Moses, God provided “everyone” with a limited version of the Plan of Salvation, including prophets. This is why there is minimal (or no) discussion of the pre-existence, the degrees of glory, or deification. Is there a reason not to believe this? If this has been hashed through previously, can you refer me to the discussion?

  83. Ryan said

    When are you going to review lesson 7?

  84. joespencer said

    Ryan,

    I’m sorry I’ve been behind on this! I was out of town for a week, and that put me behind on everything. I’ve just posted it.

  85. Jon said

    Hello:
    I was hoping you might help me understand the message and implications of Elder Dallin Oak’s contribution to the last general conference. He talked about there being more than one type of truth, specifically describing the differences between scientific and spiritual truth. I take this to mean, in part, that whereas conclusions derived from objective, observational data can be mistaken, spiritual truth – a conclusion derived from a combination of prayer and guidance either directly from a divine source or indirectly, through a prophet, cannot be mistaken. A given scientific conclusion may be true in so far as all the objective evidence supports it, but it is always be subject to revision if new evidence is obtained or new theories developed to explain various objective data. A spiritual truth is “true” even if the means of trying to express it, which can be less than perfect given the limitations of human language and expression, result in inconsistencies with observed, objective reality. As someone involved with studies in various scientific disciplines, I find great solace in this. I see it as a further extension of the acceptance that it is often a mistake to try to read scripture as factual objective history. Just as we can accept that Genesis can convey deep spiritual truths without having to be held to an absurd, materialistic and obviously inaccurate literal reading, so too can we begin to accept that the BOM does not need to be taken as a literal objective history in order to serve a role in leading one to great spiritual truths. The alternative requires either a suspension of intellectual integrity and curiosity or the acceptance or the impossible proposition that God created a false record in the observable material world. I can’t live with either, so I am much more comfortable with the idea that the manner of conveying spiritual truths through the faculties of telling inspired stories is not devalued or weakened by the fact that those stories may have elements which contradict observed, objective reality.
    One person could be visited by an angel, and experience that visitation as a real event, from which deep spiritual truths might be derived, while another person sitting a few feet away might be oblivious to the visitation. There might be no objective evidence of the visitation in terms of sounds or sights that could be recorded in order to “prove” the truth of the visitation. If the one who was oblivious to the visitation were to derive any benefit from what the other learned from the angel, he would have to open his heart to what the visited one tried to communicate about what the angel had conveyed, rather than wasting time looking for objective evidence of the visit. The one who was not included in the visitation would have to accept that the visited one might attempt to relay the import of the communication through the telling of a story that might necessarily bear the subjective traces of the visited one’s own capacities and weaknesses.

  86. Sandi said

    I am studying Helaman 13-16 for Lesson 35 and have been wondering, Nephi is the prophet as we learned earlier in Helaman. Then Samuel the Lamanite comes to Zarahemla and begins to preach (a missionary). He is not accepted so he turns to leave but the voice of the Lord came to him and told him to return. He climbs the wall and begins to prophesy to the people. We declare him a prophet, but Nephi is still present as we see in Helaman 16. In fact, it appears that Samuel is sending the believers to Nephi to be baptised. If according to Joseph Smith only one man is prophet on the earth at a time (and for good reason) why do we have two prophets here at Zarahemla.
    Thoughts

  87. BrianJ said

    Sandi, without the actual quote from Joseph Smith, I’m not sure I can give a proper answer. What did he mean by “prophet” in that quote? What do we mean when we say today that the 12 Apostles are prophets, seers and revelators? If Pres Monson is a prophet then how can Elder Oaks also be one?

    What you bring up in Helaman is a bit different than what we see today, because our quorum of prophets today are all part of the same group, whereas the prophets you identify (Nephi and Samuel) might not have even known each other. This isn’t, however, the first time we see this in the scriptures: many of the prophets in the Old Testament overlapped each other’s ministries. Sorry that I haven’t time to list numerous examples, but you’ll remember at least one: Lehi and Jeremiah. Interestingly, many of the prophets in the OT weren’t even priests—contrast that with today where prophecy and religious leadership are centralized.

  88. joespencer said

    I’m not familiar with any text where Joseph claims that there was only one prophet at a time. Are you thinking of D&C 132, where the Lord says that there is only one person authorized on earth to hold the keys over the sealing power? Nephi clearly held the sealing keys at the time, and so it would seem significant that Samuel—a prophet, but not claiming to hold all the keys, etc.—sends his converts to Nephi specifically.

    In some sense, a prophet is simply someone who exercises the spirit of prophecy. I doubt Samuel was in any sense set apart or ordained to his task; he simply came and spoke what was told him by the spirit of prophecy.

    Does that help?

  89. BrianJ said

    Joe, that’s an interesting side question: was Samuel ordained? Might he have been ordained by an angel? Not that it really matters—his message stands as truth either way—but it might be interesting to look for hints.

  90. Sandi said

    That does help. I think that I was getting this confussed in my mind. I know that we only have one authorized respresentative, the president of the church, who holds all of the keys. This was what I was thinking of. I read somewhere that Samuel is a visiting authority and the people go to their authorized priesthood leader for baptism. This would have been Nephi.
    Thanks everyone for your comments.

  91. Sandi said

    Brian J. said ……What did he mean by “prophet” in that quote? What do we mean when we say today that the 12 Apostles are prophets, seers and revelators? If Pres Monson is a prophet then how can Elder Oaks also be one?
    …………..I think that Joseph Smith meant one to hold all of the keys. Not sure wher that quote is but I will find it. This is making me think. I know we have apostles that we call prophets, seers and revelators. Does Samuel seem to you to take charge. I was thinking as I was reading the scripture that he was THE prophet but then Nephi who clearly has sealing power appears in Ch.16 and baptises the repentant. He comes out of no where and then leaves in Helaman 16.
    I think that is interesting that according to Nephi 23 that the Savior wanted to know where the recording of Samuel was in their records. Do you think the Nephites were embarassed to have a Lamanite teach them and call them to repentance.

  92. JakeW said

    My birthday’s coming up and I intend to ask for a complete Old Testament commentary. Yes, you may accuse me of being spoiled. But my question is, does anybody have any recommendations?

  93. Kim M. said

    Ask for the Anchor Bible Commentary. All of it. Let’s see how spoiled you REALLY are.

  94. joespencer said

    Nice, Kim. :)

    Unless you really are that spoiled (in which case I would look at some of the Logos software packages instead of the AB series, personally), you might take a look at SwordSearcher. It’s a computer program with a number of full commentaries on it. They are mostly older (nineteenth century or earlier) and often quite conservative, but it does have several really good commentaries on it. (Just Google it to find it.)

    What I’ve found helpful on it: John Calvin’s complete commentaries; Adam Smith’s complete commentary on the Bible; the whole of Keil and Delitzsch’s OT commentary; the 1828 Webster’s dictionary; etc.

  95. JakeW said

    You’re funny, Kim.

    Thanks, Joe.

  96. Nitsav said

    Anchor Bible in electronic format? Check.

  97. joespencer said

    Interesting, Nitsav. I didn’t realize they’d done that. I wish the price were a bit more accessible. :)

  98. Jon said

    Please help me out with some guidance from scripture. As I meet more LDS people, I seem to be coming across more and more who hold some disturbingly primitive theological views. For example, some of the people I have been talking to seem to believe that God has a definite physical body that exists in, and is limited to objective time and space in the same way that mine is. They seem to think that rather than manifesting the suggestion of an appearance in order to inspire or guide in ways that would be understandably different for every person, that God’s physical body will always look the same to everyone, including having a particular skin color – and they think he is Caucasian. To begin with, the idea that one’s relationship to God could be anything other than subjective, requiring the effort of faith for consummation and fulfillment seems pretty ludicrous. Secondly, even if there is some way to get to the idea of God having one simple concrete physicality, then if he guided our creation to make us in his image, his skin would surely be pretty black given the clear evidence that all of the first humans were dark skinned, light skin being a much later evolutionary adaptation to life in areas further away from the equator with less sunlight. Does the Book of Mormon have anything specific on these issues?

  99. NathanG said

    Jon,
    Here are some thoughts. Your post sounds like you are not Latter-day Saint, so I will answer with that assumption.

    The Doctrine & Covenants is a book of revelations that Joseph Smith received. In the 130th section we have this passage:
    22 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit.

    So, it is true we believe that God (the Father) has a definite physical body; however, I would not go on to assume that it is limited to objective time and space in the same way that yours is or mine. The experiences described in the New Testament as well as the Book of Mormon (see 3 Nephi chapters 11-27) of the resurrected Savior (the Son, whose body would be similar to the Father’s) gives some suggestions of how a resurrected body is not bound to space and time in the same way as us. Think of how the savior appears and disappers and ascends into heaven. I can’t make my body do that.

    I imagine God will appear the same, but I personally don’t get too excited about the color of skin issue. In Joseph Smith’s testimony at the beginning of the Book of Mormon he describes his experience with an angel, who had a resurrected body.

    “Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person.”

    I think the more striking feature than skin color will be the light that will appear to be emanating from the body.

  100. JakeW said

    D&C 132: 26-27.

    26 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if a man marry a wife according to my word, and they are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, according to mine appointment, and he or she shall commit any sin or transgression of the new and everlasting covenant whatever, and all manner of blasphemies, and if they commit no murder wherein they shed innocent blood, yet they shall come forth in the first resurrection, and enter into their exaltation; but they shall be destroyed in the flesh, and shall be delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption, saith the Lord God.
    27 The blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which shall not be forgiven in the world nor out of the world, is in that ye commit murder wherein ye shed innocent blood, and assent unto my death, after ye have received my new and everlasting covenant, saith the Lord God; and he that abideth not this law can in nowise enter into my glory, but shall be damned, saith the Lord.

    I want to be corrected on what I’m sure is an incorrect interpretation of these verses. Two things that really surprised me when I read this was that it sounds like when two people are married in the Temple and sealed together, they can do whatever they want excepting murder and enter into their exaltation (which I take to mean Celestial glory based on the context of the section and the word itself). Another thing that I found interesting is that what it means to deny the Holy Ghost is murder itself, although in Alma 43? Alma makes a distinction between these two. Any thoughts on these verses and what I’m getting out of them?

  101. NathanG said

    Regarding 26, I think an important phrase is being sealed by the holy spirit of promise. I have thought of two ways of looking at that phrase. It seems that if a marriage (or any gospel covenant) is being honored by all appropriate parties, that the Spirit will attend to that covenant and be a constant companion, and thus leave its seal that the covenant is valid. In this way, the covenant can be sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, so at any point if that person were to die, that person could feel the covenant was binding through eternity. To maintain that would require constant obedience to the covenant. This seems to draw towards a culminating event of one’s calling and election being made sure, and then that covenant is sealed by the holy spirit of promise in all conditions, except murder. This is stated more clearly in verse 19. The caveat is that if you do commit transgression, you will be destroyed in the flesh and delivered unto the buffetings of Satan unto the day of redemption. Doesn’t make sense to try.

    I read (I think on this blog, but I’m not sure) a thought about shedding innocent blood that I thought was poignant. It stated that there is only one who has innocent blood, and that is Christ. So rather than a passage about murder as Alma may have been referring to, this seems to be murder towards Christ with an attitude of assenting unto his death, particularly after receiving the new and everlasting covenant. Since Christ is immortal, that couldn’t be done literally, but the sin against the Holy Ghost of outright denial after having received it, can be performed. This could also relate to the shedding of Christ’s blood through the atonement because of his anguish for our sins.

  102. JakeW said

    Thanks, Nathan. I talked to my dad about these verses because we’re home teaching companions and had a discussion with one of our families (actually just an older couple) where the husband talked about how once you’re sealed all you gotta do is not murder to become a God. He looked up some things online and found a quote by Joseph F. Smith that said this was one of the most abused scriptures out of all our canon for that very reason. But I do understand how the Holy Spirit of Promise is a key phrase, the way you put it, although I’m not sure how one knows their calling and election is made sure. Is that when Christ appears personally to the couple and secures their blessings? And is it a necessary ordinance to obtain in this life for celestial glory?

  103. JakeW said

    The “he” I mentioned who looked up the Joseph F. Smith quote online was my dad, not the person we talked to. Just to clarify.

  104. NathanG said

    Your question of how do we know is precisely why I think of it the way I described. We can know when we have the Spirit in our lives, or in our marriage. If the Spirit is present in my marriage, I have to assume that if I were to die that day (as well as my wife) our marriage would continue, else why would the Spirit give some false sense of assurance that things were right?

    A more significant moment may or may not come when one (and I imagine a couple) has their calling and election made sure. How it happens, I wouldn’t know, but I don’t know that it is a required ordinance for this life.

  105. c miller said

    In preparing for a lesson, I was reviewing the plan of salvation and feel like I am missing something. In 2 Corinthians, Paul talks about a man he knows being caught up to the third heaven. If the judgment has not yet happened, then how could a man go to the third heaven? Does it exist if the judgment hasn’t happened? Is this simple answer that the third heaven is where God and Christ are so it does exist? If so, was this man translated? Is that the only way a mortal can be in the presence of God?

    And can someone refresh my understanding of the resurrection? When Christ rose, souls rose with him and that was the first resurrection. Those spirits went to prison/paradise right?

  106. joespencer said

    c miller,

    I would assume that Paul is speaking of a vision like D&C 76: someone was caught up to see the glory of the celestial. I’ll have to think a bit before I can come up with any helpful answers to the rest of your questions.

  107. robf said

    I’ve heard it taught that those who were resurrected at the time of Christ have entered their glory–that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are sitting on their thrones, etc. Of course, Alma seems to complicate it when he is teaching Corianton–he seems to be teaching that everyone who ever died before Christ will be resurrected before those who have died after Christ. Or maybe I’m just misreading it, but that’s what it seems like he’s teaching. If we take Moroni to be a resurrected being, that would mean…well, you can make your own inferences.

    Not sure any modern prophet has asked specifically about timing of the resurrection and judgment, though various statements abound.

  108. Kim M. said

    Here’s a question: What on earth (or not, as the case is more likely to be) is the “Spirit of Revelation”?

  109. Janet Lisonbee said

    Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3 clearly state that the Holy Ghost is the spirit of Revelation.

    I do have a question…I understand what it means to “ask and seek”. But what does it mean to “knock”? How do we knock to get things opened? Is it significant that “seek” was omitted from Doctrine and Covenants 4:7, 6:5, 11:5, 12:5, 14:5, 49:26, 66:9, 75:27, and 3rd Nephi 27:29?

  110. joespencer said

    Janet, I assume that when we come across the image of knocking, we are dealing with veil imagery.

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