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  1. Thank you very much. That was great! This has gotten me excited to study the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible in Gospel Doctrine next year.

    I have a question for Bro. Bokovoy. How do you understand the revelations concerning Adam/Micheal in the Doctrine and Covenants in light of all this information?

    1. I suppose that there are two basic ways a believing Latter-day Saint could attempt to reconcile historical criticism with modern revelation:

      1. Assume that figures who hold prominent roles in LDS theology and scripture were historical figures whose stories, as told in the Hebrew Bible, reflect early Israelite/Near Eastern oral tradition incorporated into the documentary sources.

      2. Assume that some of the figures who hold prominent roles in LDS theology and scripture whose stories are told in the Hebrew Bible were not historical figures, yet allow for the possibility that rather than teach historical reality, when it comes to these revelations, deity uses the ideas, assumptions, mythology, and even scripture that make up his children’s world view in order to teach inspired theological constructs. We find hints towards this perspective in the preface to the D&C: “these [revelations] are of me and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding” (D&C 1:24).

      Best,

      –DB

      1. David,

        I am re-listening to this for the third time, but this time with my wife. Can you give me a link to the Jewish Study Bible of which you reference in the podcast?

  2. Sorry, I have not done the 4.5h yet… Do these episodes bring up the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible? (Differ mostly from traditional KJV in the book of Genisis.)

  3. Outstanding. I usually listen while working out, but this time the podcast was so rich I took notes into my study workbook. A different but also excellent format. Both panelists were excellent and complemented each other.

  4. As always, a very interesting discussion and very enlightening. I can see why “source criticism” is a popular, attractive field of study. The novel lines of inquiry and speculation allows one to be truly open to any new theory or speculative turn of mind, thus helping to balance out biblical interpretation. On one side you have those who treat the Bible as innocent until proven guilty and on the other side you have historical criticism which treats the Bible as guilty until proven innocent.

    Maybe this could be a topic for a future discussion but I would like to hear more about the flaws in the historical critic method. In other words, it seems to be that a redactor could be introduced into an analysis at any point where the analysis breaks down. And maybe this was dealt with and I missed it, but this method comes across as arguing in a circle. In other words, there is material that has four distinctive traits and so they must come from four distinct sources which must exist because the material has four distinctive traits. Anyway, just some thoughts.

    Thanks again for these podcasts!

    1. The circle is broken when you allow for the possibility of the Bible being on par with other writings for which their is direct evidence for distinctive traits deriving from independent redactors.  Then it becomes a historical argument from precedents – as opposed to the theological argument based on a priory dogma.  And then, for the historian, there is no proof entailed.  A responsible scholar would steer clear of giving such a conclusion “must” status, as you say.  Doing so, it seems to me, would pinch off their reasoning into a closed circle.  No, it’s a matter of mundane probability – a difficult status to manage if you are *certain* it *must* have been one way or the other and feel the need to commit.

      1. Thank you so much for your response. Your words helped to greatly relieve some of my concern. As long as any scholar allows the evidence to drive the theory rather than the theory driving the evidence, a hint of scientific respectability can be maintained. I hope in the next podcasts that any evidence for distinctive traits derived from independent redactors in other concurrent ancient documents would be addressed in order to help shore up the pillars of the methodology. Maybe also some extra-biblical evidence as to the existence of the J,E,D, and P documents and their redactors would be interesting as well. In addition, any discussion of counter-evidence, external or internal to the Bible, and why it is not potent would be helpful, too. I think a discussion of the evidence would be much more fascinating that a further rewriting of the text.

        Anyway…just again some thoughts.

        Thanks!

    2. Hello Jeremiah, Thanks for the question. As an expression, “Historical Criticism” is the label that we often use today for what might be called “mainline” biblical scholarship, at
      least for the past two centuries or so. This expression refers to an approach to biblical interpretation that seeks to read the text “historically,” meaning in accordance with its original historic setting, and “critically,” meaning independent from any contemporary theological perspective or agenda. Hence, the only “flaw” that this approach may have are the mistakes of men. 😉

      I believe what you are really asking about is source criticism. Source criticism is an important part of historical criticism. Virtually all biblical scholars today recognize that the Pentateuch is composed of separate literary sources. It’s in the details that scholarly debate occurs.

      In terms of flaws in the process of identifying individual sources within the Pentateuch in accordance with the traditional model of the Documentary Hypothesis, some critics 
wishing to preserve a more traditional model for understanding the Bible’s first five books have
 argued that the DH is circular
      in its reasoning, that this approach to the
 Bible commits the logical fallacy of simply assuming
 what it is trying to prove.

      These critics suppose that those
 who espouse the hypothesis simply assign distinct fragments to a particular source based upon
 their thematic and structural features. 
In other
      words, they believe that since J prefers to use the divine name
 Jehovah/Yahweh, source critics simply identify a literary section where the name
 Jehovah appears as J; or since the Priestly source likes to emphasize the 
importance of Aaron’s role in the Exodus, scholars identify every positive
 mention of Aaron to P; or every depiction we encounter of Moses as a prophet to
 E, etc.

      

If this approach was 
the method by which scholars identified the separate strands in the Pentateuch,
 then the critics of the theory would be justified in challenging the scholarly
 consensus that there are separate sources in each of the Bible’s first five books. The Documentary
 Hypothesis would be a circular analysis: J likes origin stories, therefore an
 origin story is J; P likes genealogy lists, therefore a genealogy list is
 P. The truth is, however, that the
 identification of these unique literary themes within the various sources 
constitutes a secondary, rather than a primary feature of the analysis. 



      The literary and
 religious themes (such as J uses Yahweh, P uses Elohim, etc.) are not the most 
compelling identifying feature of a documentary source. Instead, these themes appear only after the document has been indentified as a
 literary unit based upon plots, doublets, and inconsistencies. To identify a specific source, scholars 
look for the document’s story and the way in which its plot is told through a
 narrative continuity. In other 
words, one of the basic criteria used to identify a particular source text is
 simply its readability. Does the story
 make sense?

      This readability factor 
provides one of the most compelling arguments for the existence of the
 documentary sources in the Pentateuch. “When the sources are separated from one another,” writes 
biblical scholar Richard Elliot Friedman,
      “we can read each source as a
 flowing, sensible text; that is, the story continues without a break.” Richard Elliot Friedman, The Bible With its Sources Revealed (New
York: HarperOne, 2005), 13.

      1. Thank you very much for the explanation. I felt much better learning from you that the assignment of text to a document is a secondary feature, rather than the primary feature, of the analysis of the Bible. Sometimes watching the History Channel, Discovery Channel, or hearing Bart Ehrman at the Philadelphia Public Library, I got the sense that biblical scholarship is based more on speculation and immutable presuppositions than the evidence. Like the claim that Jesus was not born in Bethlehem because the “scholar” did not think a pregnant woman would want to make the journey from Nazareth. Did she provide evidence that Mary did not make the journey? No. Did she have evidence that pregnant women never made the journey? No. Did she offer evidence that a pregnant woman was incapable of making the journey? No.

        Anyway, as long as the reading of the text is done in accordance with the original historic setting and based on the intention of the authors, i.e. a literal reading, while taking into account that we are approx. 3,400 years away from the events the original authors recorded, then I believe we will be less prone to error.

        Thank you again for taking the time to explain!

        1. Thanks Jeremiah and David for your question and response.

          Jeremiah, I have recently started listening to a podcast by Dr. Mark Goodacre, a Professor of New Testament in the Department of Religion at Duke University. It is available through iTunes U and the supporting website is http://podacre.blogspot.com/. It is called “NT Pod.”

          Goodacre does a very nice job illustrating form and redaction criticism as it is applied to the New Testament. I find his lecture style engaging, interesting, and easy to follow. Perhaps you’ll enjoy these.

          I started with the six “The NT Pod Extended” episodes that begin with three covering the “Synoptic Problem.” These are edited recordings of his Introduction to NT course.

          Cheers

          JT

  5. Considering that the bible narrative originates in Mesopotamia, has ties to the Epic of Gilgamesh, etc., how do you account for Joseph’s ideas about Adam-ondi-ahman?

    Many thanks to you Dan, Tom, and David for a terrific discussion!

  6. Great discusion! I wish they would have explained the nakedness and clothing thing just a bit more. I see it more along the lines that the clothing was made because they were getting kicked out and needed protection against the elements. Also that God would have walked in the garden naked along with man and woman. This is why it never occured to them to make clothing because they did not see an example of it given by God.

    I look forward to more in the future.

  7. Thanks for your very interesting and informative discussion, both as an example of historical critical analysis of the Hebrew Bible and of the way believing Christians might sustain its use as scripture – to make it “work” for them. The 4 hours breezed by.

    This episode was also timely considering a comment Greg Prince made during the Q&A portion of his recent Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture. He said:

    “Let me make a comment about what we [Mormons] need to do in Biblical studies … I was talking to a professor of the Hebrew Bible at this [Wesley] seminary. I said, ‘Let me give you an analogy and you can tell me if it’s apt … Where we are in Biblical studies in the Mormon Church, generally, would be like a physician practicing medicine as was practice 150 years ago, without antibiotics or immunizations, or anesthesia or asepsis.’ And she said, ‘No, that’s not a good analogy, because Biblical studies have gone further in the last 150 years than medical science has gone.’ And that’s the challenge for us, If our sophistication and knowledge of the Bible represents late 19th century, and for many people it does, we’ve got some catching up to do. But if we do that catching up, there is an untold wealth that escapes us.”

    I bold comment, though I think his final assessment was a bit too optimistic. “Paradigm shifts” – as David alluded to – are rarely easy. The physicist Max Plank was referring to the cold, hard, testable physical sciences when he said:

    “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

    It can’t be any easier for a religious tradition. Or then again, maybe it can be given the nature of theological “research.” The grand diversity of forms of Christianity seems to support this.

    For what it’s worth, I prefer the direction you are nudging Mormonism. Good luck!

    JT

  8. Awesome Podcast. I’m just through the first hour, but loving it. I’d like to get a good list of modern bibles to use. Several were mentioned here but I was unable to write them down.

    1. Dan, As I’m listening and loving this podcast, I’d really like to get my hands on some good Bibles and some excellent books that would open me up to all of this. I’d like to have a link to the dissertation referenced as well as the upcoming book. Any help on this?

  9. Hello Michael,

    I suppose that there are two basic ways a believing Latter-day Saint could attempt to reconcile historical criticism with modern revelation:

    1. Assume that figures who hold prominent roles in LDS theology and scripture were historical figures whose stories, as told in the Hebrew Bible, reflect early Israelite/Near Eastern oral tradition incorporated into the documentary sources.

    2. Assume that some of the figures who hold prominent roles in LDS theology and scripture whose stories are told in the Hebrew Bible were not historical figures, yet allow for the possibility that rather than teach historical reality, when it comes to these revelations, deity uses the ideas, assumptions, mythology, and even scripture that make up his children’s world view in order to teach inspired theological constructs. We find hints towards this perspective in the preface to the D&C: “these [revelations] are of me and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding” (D&C 1:24).

    Best,

    –DB

  10. Dan, Dr. Roberts, and Dr. Bokovoy,

    I am confused regarding the P, the E texts and Genesis:

    I never got a clear sense of whether Genesis 1:1-2:1 was from the P or the E texts. At some points it was mentioned that the God in that Chapter was Elohim, and then there was mention of the Priestly text.

    Is there a publication, similar to the Red Label Bible, where it is highlighted which parts come from what texts?

    Secondly, I’m almost done with part 3, do you guys end up talking about any traditions that show that Adam was also approached by the snake?

    1. David and Tom can help you more than me, for sure! I remember clarifying with David on the podcast that both the P and the E writers use Eloheim when referring to God; also that the text range you are referring to is considered to be by the P writer. Tom jumped in, though, how there is a monority scholary positiion that refers to the P-E writer, thinking it’s the same person (group).

      We don’t specifically go into any other traditions that talk about Adam being approached by the snake first. Just my mention of that the LDS temple ceremony having that is a change from the Genesis account, and the guys agreeing with that point, but no one picked up the bait from there, but I didn’t pursue it either. Sorry! I want to know now, too!

      I know David mostly writes on weekends, so it may be a few days for a reply on the type of Bible you are wondering about, etc. Maybe we’ll get lucky before then, or perhaps someone else out there will know.

      Best!
      Dan

  11. Fantastic podcast can’t wait for more……I just want to say that following Tom’s comment about the funding of religious schools in America, just take a look at the University of Newcastle, Australia’s Theology courses and come on over, we would love to have you:

    http://www.newcastle.edu.au/course/#THEO

    These podcasts have really opened up the scriptures and given me spiritual food that I have been craving…is this what it was like in the early days with Joseph Smith, I feel excited about the scriptures and just want more!

    1. I also echo an appreciation here for any further thoughts on inspired theological constructs we can gain from the teachings of the location of Adam-ondi-ahman. I do love the story, but it has long proven to be a head-scratcher for me as to what it could mean if Joseph did not mean for us to take it literally.

  12. David, are you familiar with Harold Bloom and David Rosenberg’s recreation and translation of J – “The Book of J” is the name of Blooms book. It was my introduction to source criticism and had a profound influence on me as a recently returned missionary (16 years ago) Is Bloom and Rosenberg’s recreation of J reliable? Just wondering if you had any thoughts on it.

  13. Some more thoughts:
    In “The Myth of the Goddess :Evolution of an Image”, Baring and Cashford argue that the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life are just one tree. They cite various Babylonian, , Mesopatamian and Assyrian myths that have tree motifs. But the most fascinating evidence comes from the text itself. Genesis 2:9 and Genesis 3:3 where the same position is used to describe both trees as being in the midst of the garden.

    What makes this more fascinating is in the light of David’s comments regarding the “knowledge” that is gained from eating the fruit as sexual and so the tree is the tree of life giving them the knowledge to create life.

    The other interesting thing by taking David’s hypothesis is the snake went from an erect to an impotent phallus as a curse for telling the woman about the fruit.

    Another thing worth noting is that Both the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden are forbidden trees. Are they the same tree or two trees?
    The we get the account in Nephi which is a different tree of life to the one in Eden that can’t be touched. This tree lies at the end of a righteous journey or holy pilgrimage or are we returning to Eden. (Sounds like Joseph Campbell hero’s journey – the return)

    Also on the topic of Adam dying the day he ate the fruit, if you take the scripture in
    2 Pet. 3: 8 – one day is with the Lord as a thousand years.
    Genesis 5:5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.
    What do you think Tom? He did not reach 1,000 years .

    Love these podcasts!

  14. This is one reason why I donate to Mormon Matters! One of my favorite episodes ever. I only became aware of the Documentary Hypothesis/Synoptic Problem/Historical Critical analysis about a year and a half ago, and have since spent some enlightening/difficult study sessions trying to think through the implications. Tom & David & Dan each contributed their perspectives articulately and beautifully. It was very helpful for me. Looking forward to more of these!

    Also, very excited to buy David’s book as soon as it becomes available.

  15. I just finished these podcasts. They were very good and I am looking forward to more. I have one question so far for both Tom and David: What do you think of Margaret Barker’s work? And if you feel it is valid, I would love to have her insights brought in to the next podcasts.

  16. Powerful podcast guys. This was mind and soul expanding.

    A thought struck me during this. We frequently talk about how Satan is a crafty one because he tells half-truths and point to his statements in the Garden as evidence, but doesn’t God do the same thing?

    Satan’s half-truths: Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Summary. Death is not a certainty (in fact, if they ate of the tree of life before God guards it, they wouldn’t have died physically). Your eyes will be opened and you will be as the Gods. Satan’s omissions: God forbids it, it tastes really good, and it is necessary for you to keep the commandments and start mankind.)

    God’s half-truths: of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. (Summary: Don’t eat it. Don’t eat or touch, lest ye die. God’s omissions: If you eat it, you will become as the Gods, you will have knowledge, it tastes really good, and it is necessary for you to keep the commandments and start mankind.)

    I’m not trying to play the Devil’s advocate, but in this lone exchange, both share only partial truths, but between the two, the serpent shares more truth than God.
    I suppose that raises another possible area of inquiry–is sharing too much truth, too soon, sometimes harmful?

  17. I had difficulty reconciling the idea that Dr. Bokovoy didn’t have a “testimony” of satan. I taught in CES a year back and I used the Book of Moses as an example of how satan talked his way out of the biblical account, showing that there are additional verses in the Book of Moses account treating satan as a real being. Now, I am no scholar, but I do enjoy scholarly pursuits such as this podcast and then seeking for my own answers. I do not have formal training in critical analysis of the bible and I am only beginning to use concordance for bible study (at the suggestion of Dr. Bokovoy in a CES mini-series on the OT a year or two ago). I know it is not as mainstream in LDS thinking to not have a testimony of satan, but how do you reconcile that he may not exist as a being with information in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Moses?

    I did read your answer to a couple of people (trying to see the text in light of D&C 1:24) and can assume that you may feel this way similarly to your view of satan. I am just trying to wrap my head around that one. Also, what about the pre-earth experience with the counsel? Does satan/lucifer not have a role in that realm?

  18. Love tis podcast –very interesting. a question: The curse stuff doesn’t make sense to me. I get that the curse for Adam — the earth has thistles, and producing food takes work and sweat –is a consequence of eating the fruit. But what does it mean to say that the flood took away the curse? The flood certainly didn’t eliminate the weeds, or the sweat involved in growing food. So, what did it remove, exactly?

  19. Excellent and enlightening. I’m trying to find the author you mention “Welhouse” but cant find anything on the world wide web. Do I have the wrong name?

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