Reading Nephi – 10:1-10

068-068-the-liahona-fullThe first lines go right along with the confusion and different worldview conspicuous in 9. Having just stated the Lord’s intention for Nephi to focus on the spiritual as opposed to the secular and his own confusion over this point, Nephi launches in to tell us about his journey, his reign, and his ministry. It’s all the same to him. It’s all the workings of God. And I Nephi through the first part of II Nephi is in fact about showing that God was behind Nephi’s reign.

I wonder what’s behind this notion of a “land of inheritance.” It’s a large theme in scripture. Here, Nephi’s keen on establishing a new land of promise, which becomes a land of inheritance for his people. This plays large later in the Book of Mormon as overzealous nationalists insist on retaking the land of Nephi, which results in disaster. I wonder if it is a part of Nephi’s and later prophets’ focus on being grafted back in to the House of Israel. The prophecies of Lehi concerning the exile and then return of the Jews must have played large in their minds as they themselves distinguished and made sense of their own journey. It wasn’t an exile, it was divine guidance to new promised lands; but the idea of multiple promised lands was brand new, and they were keenly aware of being “broken off” from their people. How would contemporary scholars or prophets have characterized the meaning of a land of inheritance?

Finally, I can’t help but notice the conspicuous nature of Nephi’s consistent addendums to Lehi’s prophecies of a Messiah. Note that for Lehi this is a prophet, similar to the other prophet (John) who will come before. A prophet, prophesied by others (e.g., Isaiah) who will play the role of Anointed One. But Nephi never lets it stay there. Each mention of this Messiah brings about Nephi’s clarifying that this Messiah will be “in other words, a Savior of the world,” “or this Redeemer of the world.” This parallels Grant Hardy’s note that every time Nephi talks about Lehi’s divine dreams he adds “or in other words vision” or the like—obviously aware of Jeremiah’s disparaging remarks about dreams and seeking to elevate the dreams to the status of vision. Here too, it seems clear that as Nephi goes back to his father’s account of things, he doesn’t feel like his father went far enough in spelling out what this Messiah would be—and so he has to clarify. Particularly given the context of exile and return to lands of inheritance, one can’t help but wonder if Lehi’s view of the Messiah was not more in line with his contemporaries—a new David. This corroborates with Lehi’s dream/vision in I Nephi 1. Nephi’s Messiah on the other hand seems more in line with our own sense of a cosmic redeemer.

It’s an accepted view by scholars and devotional readers alike that we get the same, New Testament-style Jesus all the way through the Book of Mormon. But I do not think that Lehi and Nephi had the same understanding of a Messiah. As our Baptist brothers and sisters would put it, they didn’t worship the same Jesus.

27 comments for “Reading Nephi – 10:1-10

  1. What do you mean by “kind of Jesus”? I’d say that the Nephites have at best only fragmentary information about Jesus – much of it crouched in symbolic and mythic terms. (Such as in Nephi’s vision)

    It does seem clear that Nephi expands the messiah to be not just Israel’s messiah but the world’s. There is that strong universalizing tendency which I find quite interesting. Especially in pre-exilic Israel. Although the theory that he comes from a trading family means that he likely encountered directly or indirectly many cultures and thought through those questions. Likewise it’s interesting looking at his and Jacob’s later exegesis of Isaiah. They read them along multiple layers. One is an universalizing layer. One is Israel proper (the traditional Jewish take). The other is the very interesting personal level where the same image of the Messiah is taken relative to the ethical soul of the individual.

    You see the interplay of those layers in Nephi’s vision. One thing that clear is that Nephi sees this as a repeated vision. That is he doesn’t see Lehi’s vision as separate from his own but a kind of common introduction to the mysteries anyone could in theory have. (Again the later concept of priesthood we find in say Alma 11-14 likely is tied to this heavenly ascent)

  2. If you read closely, I think it is pretty clear that Lehi’s teachings, at least as Nephi reported them, did not include the idea that Christ, the messiah, was God. It is only when Nephi sees the vision of the virgin mary and the angel asks if he knows the condescension of God that he begins to see that Christ is not just an anointed servant, but is actually God himself. And at least according to Moroni, in the title page, one of the main purposes of the Book of Mormon is to teach that Christ is God, so Nephi’s vision, which introduces that concept, is arguably the theological turning point of the entire Book of Mormon.

  3. The “Christology” of the Book of Mormon is a topic that has fascinated me for years. I agree with Clark Goble in # 2 about the Nephite fragmentary information about Jesus. If I could see one word from the plates, it would be the original word that Joseph translated into “Christ”. I like the way Brant Gardner in Second Witness uses the term “YHWH” instead of Christ. Just that change alone turns the Book of Mormon into the Old Testament/Apocalyptic work it really is. then the phrase that James uses that, “we get the same, New Testament-style Jesus all the way through the Book of Mormon” changes as well. This is were Kevin Christensen’s work (along with Margaret Barker’s) ties in with it. (See their entries in Glimpses of Lehi’s Jerusalem (2004) & The Worlds of Joseph Smith, respectively (2006).) For me, I try to figure out how Second Temple ideas get into the Book of Mormon when Lehi’s group left pre-Exile. They are First Temple (which we know less about) than Second. When Second Temple ideas creep in, are they really Second Temple, or just areas that the evidence pops up in the Second Temple period, but are really First Temple beliefs. Its a bit of a speculative area, which is where Barker takes some heat among more traditional scholars. There is a group of younger scholars, though, who are exploring this area: Morales, Fletcher-Louis and others.

    As for the sermon in Alma 11-14, I tend to agree with Clark (does that make me a Clark Gobleite?). There’s a fascinating book called “Melchizedek’s Alternative Priestly Order” by Joshua G. Mathews (Eisenbrauns, 2013) that ties in more directly with Alma’s understanding of Melchizedek. Its relatively cheap too.

  4. Terry, what do you think of the tension between the Deuteronomists and the opposition to the Deuteronomists I mentioned in the other thread? (Ignore the many errors and typos in my comment – I was writing fragments and didn’t get a chance to revise it before getting interrupted and accidentally posting it before I was finished) I tend to be sympathetic to Kevin Christiansen about Nephi/Lehi being anti-deuteronomist and taking Jeremiah as opposed to Josiah’s reforms. On the other hand Kevin also sees Deutoronomist tendencies in the Book of Mormon such as in Sherem.

    I think this relation needs unpacked and then the whole issue of the influence of the northern tribe tradition unpacked. There’s lots of different views that seem conflated somewhat in apologetic writings. It’d be nice to have the different arguments made more clearly.

    I keep checking out Mathews book ever since you first mentioned it. Alas no eBook yet.

    The big problem with higher criticism is that by and large we only have late writings yet try and decipher much older strata from them. I see that as inherently wrought with peril even if I am sympathetic to the basic DH. So little evidence and so many arguments.

    The issue of Christology has long puzzled me. Changing Christ to YHWH is an interesting endeavor in the Book of Mormon. Not just “Christ” proper but I’d love to see the underlying language for places like Alma 46:15 in particular. What word was there for Christians? It and a few others are where YHWH doesn’t work so well. I’d love to see 2 Ne 25:24 as well. I just don’t think YHWH works in those passages.

    My sense on the basis of the similarity of Lehi’s and Nephi’s vision and the apparent repetitive nature of it is a common Merkabah treatment of God. (Nephi sees John’s vision on Patmos as largely the same vision) Mosiah 15 is thus taking this Merkabah treatment to explain the condescension of God. In particular 3 Enoch parallels Nephi’s vision in many ways. (Fortunately Nephi doesn’t have the numerology nor name/letter play) Now in 3 Enoch it is Enoch who is deified and made the lesser YHWH (following Ex 23:21). There are elements of Hel 10 that parallel this part of 3 Enoch as well.

  5. Fascinating comments all.

    Clark, by “different Jesus” I was trying to be facetious in pointing out that Lehi and Nephi have different ways of referring to and describing the Messiah, which I believe hints at different understandings of the Messiah. Nephi minimizes this difference, reconciling their views. Perhaps he was perfectly justified in doing so. Perhaps Lehi’s later understanding was much more in line with Nephi’s than it was when he originally recorded the vision Nephi cites. I think it quite possible that Nephi doesn’t consciously consider that there are differences — much as we often don’t consider differences between our own understanding of the Messiah and Nephi’s. But perhaps not.

    On this end, I’ve often attempted exercises similar to Terry’s in order to try and disrupt my own New Testament/contemporary-Mormon-culture-laden reading. As Clark points out, however, there are places where inserting other understandings simply doesn’t seem to fit.

    One can always insert Joseph Smith’s understanding into the sticky spots, but this is of course unsatisfactorily ad hoc. On the one hand, I think we have to see Joseph’s hand/understanding at work in the text. On the other, I think it’s usually a stretch to claim evidence for any particular passage to be Joseph.

    The same can be said for the influence of (e.g., resistance to) the Deuteronimists. I find reading and considering such possibilities immensely enriching — so long as I remember to resist hanging my hat on any of the hooks. This is easier to do when I don’t lose sight of why I’m reading the scripture.

  6. I’m rarely getting into the nuance of the text so I just have my two volume Charlesworth pseudepigrapha. Sadly no Kindle version although there is a Logos version.

    I do agree that reading speculation without a ton of evidence to be enriching but one should always read skeptically when doing so.

  7. James, My best recommendation for a version of 3 Enoch is in the first volume of James H. Charlesworth’s two Old Testament Pseudepigrapha volumes. Since they first came out in 1983 and 1985 respectively, and are not in the Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library. The 3 Enoch is by P. Alexander in the first volume. In addition, I have to give credit to Brant Gardner for the YHWH usage, but I agree with Clark that it doesn’t always apply. I do think that we should always remember that this is a translation, first and foremost, especially when viewing the Christology. I’m going to revisit this in light of Clark’s comment.

    Clark. Just spring for the Mathews. I don’t think there will be an ebook. Eisenbrauns doesn’t do that often and its in the low 30s. I think HBLL now has one, but I’m not sure. As for the Deuteronomist vs. opposition, I believe that the dynamic is most illustrated not in the difference between Lehi and Nephi, but in Laman and Lemuel. Their biggest complaint against Lehi was he was a “visionary” man. Deuteronomists didn’t like visions. Sherem is a bit of a Deuteronomist (“no man can atone for the sins of another”) and the Priests of Noah also are Deuteronomists (it is also worth exploring that thread for its impact on the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin of Jesus’ time). The dynamic between Lehi is Nephi that we’ve discussed before is like the interpreting angel motif. Lehi sees the vision directly, Nephi’s is explained to him by a heavenly being. Having said the above about the Deuteronomists, there IS quite a bit of Deuteronomy in the Book of Mormon as well, particularly in the laws. Back in the day, I wrote a paper “Deuteronomistic Economic Influences in the Book of Mormon”. I recently found it after 35+ years and am working (slowly) to update it. I asked David Seely (who is finishing the second Deuteronomy volume for the Anchor Bible since the passing of Moshe Weinfeld) at a conference a few years back. He said that there are elements of that, but he wouldn’t go so far as to say the Deuteronomists were quite as bad as Margaret Barker portrays them. I distinctly remember him saying that Jesus loved Deuteronomy and that there was probably a middle ground between Barker and totally going with the changes the Deuteronomists made in the scriptures. There are certainly elements of the entire Pentateuch in the Book of Mormon, including Deuteronomy. My feeling is that the political upheavals and interpretations during Josiah’s reign were not clear-cut, but had many schisms and that Lehi’s family in particularly had at least two views on them (and perhaps three).

  8. PS: There’s now a third volume of Pseudepigrapha, with a fourth on the way. Its called Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: More Noncanonical Scriptures. Its edited by Richard Bauckham, James R. Davila and Alexander Panayotov, (Eerdmans, 2013). No word on the next volume, but I anticipate sometime in the next year or so. Its also unfortunate that the new Jewish Publication Society set called Outside the Bible (3.vols.) edited by Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel and Lawrence H. Schiffman, (JPS, 2013) doesn’t include 2 or 3 Enoch. On the plus side, it does have 1 Enoch and the Apocalypse of Abraham, along with many others, including the Qumran book of Melchizedek. An exceprt is here:,675751.aspx. Clark, no ebook for either, but Logos DOES include the Bauckham, Davila, Panayotov book.

  9. Terry, out of curiosity, do you view that passage in Jer 8:8 as referring to the lost book of Law the Deuteronomists found or something else?

    I know you didn’t mean it (just referring to what was in a particular package) but Charlesworth is available separately from Logos. It’s very overpriced IMO though. (Paperback on Amazon is only $40 something)

    One thing worth considering is that the brass plates contained the records of all these factious groups before they were edited together. That might explain Nephi’s comment about them being large. We know there were texts in it that never made it into the Bible post-exile.

  10. Okay, Clark, Terry, Mirror et al, give us “mere mortals” a reading list. I’ve heard of the documentary hypothesis but know very little about the implications of various sections being written by the various writers. I don’t know the difference between first temple and second temple. Etc. What do you suggest?

  11. David, I started with Friedman’s Who Wrote the Bible?. It has problems — he’s far to confident and self-congratulatory; and it really is just an introduction — but it’s a very accessible volume that lays out the problems and why dochyp is so compelling (particularly in the absence of another theory covering all the variables).

  12. David, While I love giving reading lists, I heartily recommend Ben S. right here on T & S. His Book of Mormon list from a week or so ago contains links to his N.T. and O.T. lists. As for the documentary hypothesis from an LDS beginner’s perspective, I think David Bokovoy’s recent effort from Kofford Books, Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis -Deuteronomy, is excellent.

    I would balance that with Jeff Bradshaw’s Interpreter Review at . Much basic information can just be found on Google like First Temple (Solomon); Second Temple (Ezra-Nehemiah) Herod (Expansion of Second Temple). I gave a fireside once and used the terms “exilic and pre-exilic” and was asked about it after. The Exile is the Babylonian Captivity (587 B.C.) Pre- of course means before and post-exilic is after.

    I view the Book of Mormon as pre-exilic. There are elements that some critics challenge as “anachronistic” and I think there’s less of a split between them then many think. Its a kind of question in the scholarship as to why certain books (like the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) and other literature of that period doesn’t focus on Moses as much. There are post-exilic elements or motifs in the Book of Mormon (like Nephi’s interpreting angel and another interpreting angel to King Benjamin). Kevin Christensen’s article in Glimpses of Lehi’s Jerusalem and the Maxwell Institute website as a good place to begin searching. Like the best articles, his work led me to many more.

    I’ve gotten in the habit of looking at the bibliography and notes of an article or book first to see what I’ve already read (or have) and then seeing what it says about it. For my Book of Mormon studies, l’ve also benefitted greatly from the Jewish Study Bible from Oxford. I don’t know if I’d recommend it on the Kindle. It looks a bit unwieldy to me. Clark Goble (who’s big on e-books) probably has a more useful take on that.

    I’m a bit of a dinosaur since I’d rather have the print in front of me than the e-version (at least for more technical books). Thrillers and novels are great electronically. Its also surprising how much free material is really out there, even without access to a good research library.

    Clark: Pondering your question.

  13. Forgot one excellent article in Dialogue by Kevin Barney about the DH. (Don’t have the reference at the moment). There’s a more technical restatement of it in a recent Anchor Yale Bible Reference Companion on the DH by Joel Baden called “The Composition of the Pentateuch: Renewing the Documentary Hypothesis” (2012). The thing I like most about Barney, Bokovoy and Bradshaw (hmmm) is their application to the LDS reader.

  14. Thank you Terry and James. I’m pleased to report that about 75% of the suggestions (including all suggestions from Ben S.) are already in my “stuff I need to buy/download and read” pile (and 10% are things I’ve already read). I was stumped the first time I read a comment about post-exilic but after 60 seconds of thought I figured out what you explain, i.e. it means the Babylonian exile.

  15. Terry, I much prefer Apple iBooks for reading. In particular the Kindle app on OS X allows only one window at a time and has poor note taking. I find the iBook app on iOS superior as well. Unfortunately few technical presses publish to iBooks. (Including sadly far too few LDS presses) So I end up with most of my technical books on Kindle except for a few like Rough Stone Rolling.

    The Jewish Study Bible us on Kindle for only around $30. But in a rarity it’s also only around $30 on Logos. I’d definitely go Logos if you can. Although to be fair the version in the Logos doesn’t come with the TANAKH Bible translation which must be purchased separately.

    Of course a lot depends upon how you are reading.

  16. Clark, I’d never really thought much about Jer. 8:8 in that context [Deuteronomy], so it took me awhile to respond. I don’t think its exactly Deuteronomy. That passage is where Jeremiah is chastising the scribes, who have control of putting together the law. There are naturally different schools of thought. Lundbom identifies several of them in the first volume of his AB Jeremiah (p. 512) but it doesn’t really give us an indication other than to say it appears it was a written record, but he says that it is not likely Deuteronomy He says, “What then was this written law? We simply do not know.” He goes on to talk about the criticisms of the “lying pen” for Baal and then says, “we may well imagine some written law, no longer extant, which honored Baal and was finally judged heretical. [citations omitted]”. That goes along with Moshe Weinfeld’s statements about it in his Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic School (1972, rep. 1992). He says that the scribal function including writing the wisdom literature as well as the Torah and that the scribes combined them. Weinfeld says, “The prophet in our verse [8:8} is not denouncing Deuteronomy but condemning the [Hebrew–I presume scribes] for not observing the teaching that they themselves had committed to writing: . . .” (p. 160). I’m working my way through Weinfeld, but his theory makes the most sense to me.

    It also depends on the translation. My JSB has it as “the Instruction of the Lord” as opposed to the Law of the Lord, which is in most translations. The note states that the phrase is used 11 times, more than in any other prophetic book. My views on the Deuteronomists are evolving from Barker (who has opened the door for my investigations on these issues). I frankly, should revisit Jeremiah more deeply. I’m sure my thoughts have matured since the last time I read him closely.

    This illustrates what was going on at the time of Lehi and Nephi. The Law itself was in flux and various parties (the priests and the scribes) were putting it together according to their views and interpretations. The Deuteronomists were only one of these factions (although their record has become the most dominant since the Exile and has affected both Judaism and Christianity. That’s another reason I enjoy the explorations of Margaret Barker and others in trying to find what the alternatives were. I DO agree with her reasoning that its those alternatives that were an important factor in the people of Jesus’ time recognizing him as the Messiah. I think that’s an area where the Book of Mormon can give us insight.

  17. Yeah, I just ask because there are so many views on the passage and I know at least some take it as indicative of a bigger split between Josiah and Jeremiah than others portray. But I do think it does indicate the concern for records that we see in Nephi. Not just his concern with getting the brass plates but also in the vision where this idea of corrupt scripture seems a big focus.

    You make a really good point about factions. The one unfortunate aspect of the Documentary Hypothesis is that it tends to incentivize a kind of reductionism to four traditions. (I recognize most scholars are more sophisticated in that in arguments) There’s almost certainly much more going on. For one the DH is made out of a real paucity of texts. Especially the lack of pre-exilic texts. That is effectively one is using literary criticism to make historical claims of what went on centuries earlier. Lots can go wrong in that – and of course there are tons of disagreements. Almost certainly traditions that were significant in pre-exilic times were lost during the exile. Likewise traditions in the pre-exile likely became significantly transfigured through the trauma of the exile.

  18. David Day, don’t lump me in with Clark and Terry—they’re at a level of scholarship far beyond mine. :) But here’s my two cents. I find commentaries and other books to be useful, but I believe they need to be coupled with a personal in-depth study of the texts. To me, more important than knowing what scholars believe is knowing why they believe it, and doing so requires a pretty deep familiarity with the text itself, particularly the Hebrew Bible. It also requires going beyond general survey texts, since those often tell what the theories are, but not how they were arrived at.

    If you do start with survey texts, I would recommend reading one from a Catholic, one from a Protestant, one from an atheist, and one from a Latter-day Saint view. By looking at the curriculum vitae of the primary author of a text, you should be able to find out her or his leanings pretty easily, if it not apparent from the text itself (which, from a good scholar, it often isn’t). If the author is still teaching somewhere, their CV will usually be on their university’s website. If not, it can usually be found with a little help from Google. I also generally recommend works from scholarly presses, like Princeton, Harvard, Oxford, University of Chicago, etc., and not religious ones like Deseret Book or its affiliates. Religious presses do occasionally put out really good work, but they also put out a lot more of questionable quality, which can be hard to sift through.

    It is interesting to see where each of the different approaches agree and where they depart from each other. Personally I usually find myself most sympathetic to the ideas of Catholic scholars, and least sympathetic to mainline Protestant work, but you may well have a very different experience.

    And finally, I would encourage you to read texts from more than just one generation of scholarship. Historical scholarship tends to generally divide itself into different eras of thought, and I think there is great value to be gleaned from familiarity with all of them. With Christianity, it is probably not feasible to sample ALL the eras, but I would at least get things from a couple of different centuries (2000s, 1900s, 1800s, etc.), as well as several different decades for more recent scholarship (2010s, 1980s, etc.). That will help you see the evolution of various theories, as well as to see how established different ones are.

    But most importantly, realize that all of these opinions are just that: opinions. A lot of dedication goes into creating them, but that doesn’t mean they’re right, and different theories tend to wax and wane in favor over time. Your own opinions will be less-researched than theirs, but that does not mean they are automatically wrong. And above all, I would say, follow the Spirit. The greatest theologian in history was a lower-class carpenter (or possibly stonemason or general handyman) from Galilee. It is true Joseph Smith tried to gain all the secular knowledge of scripture that he could, but he never let that become a substitute for personal revelation. When done properly, I think study of scholarship and the Spirit work together, helping direct you to what you need to know about.

    But like I said, I would go with Clark or Terry or Ben or James over myself—they’re the pros.

  19. I know you’re using “pro” loosely, but still.

    From Jim Faulconer ( LINK)

    we do not realize that each of us has the ability to be a scholar of the scriptures. It is important to remember that the word scholar means “a person of leisure”—someone who has the time. Given today’s society, most of us have the time, if we want to, to spend reading the scriptures carefully…. This is something that any member of the Church can do. You do not have to have a PhD to do it; you just have to take the time. If you have that time you can be a scholar, but it does mean reading a lot and think carefully about what you read. It means studying, but you do not have to have formal training. Of course, that is not to say that I do not appreciate what those with formal training can do. We need more people in the Church with formal training in Hebrew and Greek and in biblical scholarship, church history, and so on. I just don’t want to cede all thinking and discussion to them.

    re: Jeremiah 8:8, “It is important first to separate the literary question from the historical question of the attitude of the prophet Jeremiah to the reform of Josiah. The historical question has received diametrically opposed answers, both earlier in the twentieth century and currently: some scholars claim that Jeremiah supported the reform, while others claim that he opposed it.” – Holladay, William L. “Elusive Deuteronomists, Jeremiah, and Proto-Deuteronomy.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 66 (2004): 58-59.

  20. Mirror, thanks for the complement, but Ben is the one with the degree. I’m just an enthusiastic amateur who is widely read.

    I agree with your comment about commentaries and personal study of the texts. They’re worthless if you’re not considering the text, which is exactly what James has started here. I know I’ve benefitted from it (and the comments) and I’m sure I’m not alone. I agree in part about the survey texts. I forgot one book that I found helpful to a degree, its the Old Testament Commentary Survey (5th ed.) by Tremper Longman III and the New Testament Commentary Survey by D. A. Carson. Both are available electronically as well (for Clark Goble). I don’t exactly agree with the recommendations and filter out their evangelical bias, but the most important benefit is that they list the most notable and important commentaries and series. They mention where its helpful for pastors and scholars. Since I’m not a pastor in the sense they’re thinking of, some of them have more limited uses. There are a few omissions (like Dozeman on Exodus) but its a good place to see what you like and don’t like. Then you can check them (with electronic previews for some) or at a good library.

    There are three other publishers to watch that are quasi-religious and quasi-academic: Eerdmans, Baker (mostly paperback reprints) and Eisenbrauns. Zondervan is a bit like Deseret Book. An occasional good thing, but a lot more devotional that’s soft on academics. A good soft-cover publisher is Wipf & Stock (especially for paperback reprints). The top (and most technical scholarship) comes from Brill, Mohr-Siebeck and De Gruyter.

    Your comment about the Catholics is not surprising. Most of their scholarship is very close to that of ours. Scott Hahn in his Kinship and Covenant is extremely close and so is Brant Pitre with his latest books. Most traditional Protestant is more secular (especially the Lutheran and German). The evangelical scholarship is hit and miss. The younger ones seem to be better.They try to apply what they find to their faith rather than attempt to make everything more secular.

    I’m not sure your generational recommendation is as helpful. Much of the work in the 20th century is much more secular and since the 1980s, it has been surpassed by a group of much more faithful scholars. The scholarship for the 1800s isn’t all that helpful to me. Most of the most detailed commentaries also address interpretations through history, especially the rabbinical commentaries if they exist. For example, Milgrom on Leviticus provides a lot of Middle-Ages scholarship and interpretation.

    Amen to Mirror’s final comments, though.

  21. Ben S. Spot on (as usual) with the Faulconer comment. His Scripture Study got me on an important path even though I don’t read Hebrew or Greek. Thanks for the helpful reply on Jeremiah. I hadn’t looked at Holladay (can’t find my Hermeneia CD), but will check it when I get the chance.

  22. I read Hebrew, but as a dilettante. In tune with the other comments, though, I’m a big believer in dilettantism — that is, simply dedicating what time you have with passion. Mostly because I’m a backwater Wyoming hick, I get this little thrill every time I look at a bit of Hebrew writing and realize I can discern it. I will never read Hebrew well enough to enter into scholarly debates (neither time nor inclination), but the time I give to it is always immensely rewarding on a personal level. I think that part of this is because it forces me to read the scriptures very slowly — which is what this whole series is about.

  23. Thanks for the complement but I’m far from a pro. Also I’m more interested in the philosophical angles. The more I study the more I realize that especially with the Bible that it’s not quite as firm a foundation as one might think. Textually that is. So the key is to figure out what’s going on and read with a bit of a hermeneutics of suspicion. That is ask what else might be going on with the text. The surface layer often obscures a lot. That’s true with the Book of Mormon as well although there I trust the surface layer more. But there’s still tons of complexity to the text and lots of questions one can raise.

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