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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Mormon Scholarship, is it lacking? » Mormon Scholarship, is it lacking?

Mormon Scholarship, is it lacking?

Don - March 11, 2005

Is it me, or am I just not looking in the right places?

The Old Testament is one of my favorite scriptures. I’m teaching a PofGP class and slowly going through Moses / Genesis right now. I’ve found from the reading I’m doing that there isn’t the in depth verse by verse commentary of the O.T. by any competent (or incompetent – for that matter) L.D.S. scholars. I’m not talking about the “normal” stuff found in the BYU Religon syllabus. What I mean is the more in depth, interesting connections etc. found in other christian writer’s works.

A couple of examples: Lucifier the meaning of his name and what he was doing in the garden. LDS scholars fail to cross referrence Ezek. 28:9-11 which helps clarify.

Or that the meaning of the names in the genealogy to Noah specifically spell out what we could call the plan of salvation.

Or the significance of Abraham’s servant’s name, it what he does.

Or where was Isaac when Abraham came off the mountain and went home, and why is he left out of the record?

I find more interesting tid bits from non-LDS sources than from within the writtings by church scholars. My conclusion: I’m too familiar with the LDS sources and what they try to teach us, or the things I learn from non-LDS are of little consequence or value so they aren’t included in LDS sources, or the non-LDS sources are wrong – speculative – unfounded, or we lack some of the in depth knowledge our Christian friends have. Which and why is that?

1 Comment »

  1. I have had similar experiences. I think there are scholars who are doing good work, but they are limited in scope, usually focusing on the Book of Mormon. The Old Testament is just waiting for better LDS scholarship. I am always using more non-LDS sources in studying biblical passages. Maybe this should be a sign that we need to fill the void.
    Dallas Robbins | Email | Homepage | 03.11.05 – 4:15 pm | #

    A verse-by-verse Old Testament commentary of the sort that you seem to be proposing is a huge undertaking and, until recently, there haven’t been very many LDS OT scholars. Even Nibley isn’t really an OT scholar (he’s a classicist (this isn’t to say that he adds nothing to the discussion, but rather that he isn’t trained in the field)).
    That said, there have been rumblings about the creation of an OT commentary once (or if) the church’s NT commentary is produced. There are now quite a few OT scholars in the church (more than 6) and they are producing what they can, but the emphasis at BYU is on teaching, not research. There just isn’t enough time to write an extensive when you are teaching 5 Book of Mormon classes each semester.
    John C. | Email | Homepage | 03.11.05 – 4:27 pm | #

    I think the reason why you don’t find much LDS stuff in-depth is that most of those who are qualified to provide don’t feel the need to duplicate the all-ready existing scholarship on the OT, which we would have no problems with, largely speaking.

    FARMS has a suggested OT reading list.…dinglist/ ot.php
    Ben S. | Email | Homepage | 03.13.05 – 2:44 pm | #

    I say much of the non-LDS scholars work is perfectly valid and is fine to use. Surprisingly enough, my religion teacher gave my class a suggested list of commentary books that were half-gentile. Seems to work.
    I imagine that if and when an LDS scholar does one, he’ll be doing a lot of copying from non-LDS scholars anyway.
    Bret | Email | Homepage | 03.13.05 – 4:27 pm | #

    I also think this post illustrates one of the problems. (Forgive me if I’m assuming too much here.)

    Many LDS seem to assume that if it doesn’t come from Deseret Book, it’s not good gospel scholarship. They’re reluctant to reach outside.

    That’s doubly ironic since there is tons of good non-LDS material out there, and Deseret Book (and other LDS publishers) put out precious little that could qualify as “scholarship.”
    Ben S. | Email | Homepage | 03.14.05 – 9:45 am | #

    ” Deseret Book (and other LDS publishers) put out precious little that could qualify as “scholarship.”"

    Amen, amen, and amen!
    Nate Oman | Email | Homepage | 03.14.05 – 3:30 pm | #

    It seems that the trend right now in LDS scholoarship is to squeeze every drop of protestant thought out of Mormonism in the hopes of being called “Christian”. Much attention has been given to the New Testament, most especially Paul. Much of what is uniquely LDS is drawn from the Old Testament. So heaven forbid we do anything that will draw attention to traditional Mormonism.
    Kierkecraig | Email | Homepage | 03.14.05 – 5:43 pm | #

    I’ve posted a follow-up at…15/ p472#more472
    Ben S. | Email | Homepage | 03.15.05 – 10:29 am | #

    I found Ludlow’s commentary was lacking.

    I think the most comprehensive publication to date is the OT Institute manual. Knowing Brian Garner who worked in CES curriculum for seven years (his father worked on the committee who published the manual) he recommends it as the current, most comprehensive material available.

    The resource that the OT committee used was Keil-Delitsch (looks like it’s available for a reasonable price – link here)

    Brian also recommended Ellis T. Rasmussen’s commentary. I looked it over. It seemed thin on quotes from the brethren and long on personal commentary.

    James R. Clark (JReuben’s son and editor of Messages of the First Presidency) wrote a commentary on the Pearl of Great Price that is outstanding. The Story of the Pearl of Great Price.

    Monte S. Nyman’s Great are the Words of Isaiah is Cal Stevens’ (Ogden/Weber institute) favorite. I want to purchase that one myself.

    Good luck! I have been searching for an outstanding OT commentary but haven’t found it yet myself. Let me know what you come across.

    Virtual Theology
    Mark | Email | Homepage | 03.16.05 – 1:01 am | #

    Keil and Delitsch is out of date and qute conservative, but otherwise pretty good. It and some other good resources are available to download for FREE at
    Ben S. | Email | Homepage | 03.16.05 – 12:41 pm | #

    I like conservative! :’-)
    Mark | Email | Homepage | 03.16.05 – 8:08 pm | #

    Oh, I ought to have said thank you to Ben. I appreciate the link to the free downloads.
    Mark | Email | Homepage | 03.16.05 – 8:13 pm | #



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