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Aids to Your Old Testament Study

The Newsletter of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies

1990, Vol. 1

Aids to Your Old Testament Study

To help both the student and instructor of the Old Testament, F.A.R.M.S. will make available for a limited time the following works that contain information on biblical history, symbols, narrative, religious festivals and holy days, social institutions, and other related biblical themes.

F.A.R.M.S. does not unequivocally endorse these books. They are not without faults, nor can they take the place of a careful study of the scriptures. Yet these books contain interesting and useful information. Read thoughtfully and with the help of the Spirit,they can be helpful in understanding the Old Testament. As the Lord speaks of learning from the Apocrypha: “Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth; and whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom” (D&C 91:4-5).

You may order each book separately, or order all nine books and receive a 10% discount.

Ancient Israel, Vol. 1, by Roland de Vaux. McGraw-Hill. This volume describes all the main social institutions of ancient Israel—daily life, nomadic customs, tribal organization, family, and civil and military institutions. Paper, $6.95.

The Art of Biblical Narrative, by Robert Alter. Basic Books. A literary critic looks at the role of scriptural narrative and its usefulness as a way of communicating biblical history and beliefs. Paper, $10.95.

Before Abraham Was, by Isaac M. Kikawada and Arthur Quinn. Abingdon. The authors argue against the view that there were a multiplicity of authors or sources for Genesis. They examine Genesis 1-11 against the background of other histories from the ancient Near East. Paper, $11.95.

The Biblical and Historical Background of the Jewish Holy Days, by Abraham Bloch. KTAV. This volume treats the background and development of each of the Israelite festivals and holy days—including Passover, Weeks (Pentecost), Rosh ha-Shanah (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Tabernacles, and Purim—as well as such post-biblical celebrations as Chanukkah. It discusses their importance anciently and in modern Jewish life. For example, Bloch discusses (p. 114) how the Hebrew word etzem (“this day”) was not merely a literary flourish, but had special use in connection with certain festivals when the substance of the day itself had religious significance—a point that can well be compared with the presence of “this day” in the text of Benjamin’s great ceremonial speech, in Mosiah 2:9, 14, 15, and 30 and 5:7. Paper, $14.95.

The Book of Isaiah: A New Translation, by Avraham Gileadi. Deseret Book. The author presents a new translation of Isaiah, along with an essay containing helpful interpretive keys toward understanding Isaiah. Paper, $7.95.

A Guide to Scriptural Symbols, by Joseph Fielding McConkie and Donald W. Parry. Bookcraft. This reference guide contains interpretations of hundreds of symbolic words, phrases, and names, arranged in alphabetical order. For example, green trees, which are “planted by the rivers of water” (Psalm 1:3) and whose fruits are good, represent righteous men. Dry trees, which “bring forth evil fruit” (3 Nephi 14:17-18), represent wicked men (see Luke 23:31). A separate section discusses the meaning of over 200 symbols, names, and titles for Deity. Hardcover, $10.95.

New Bible Dictionary, J. D. Douglas, Ed. Tyndale. This dictionary contains over 2,100 entries written about biblical geography, history, customs, and cultures. It includes maps, charts, and diagrams that clarify the text of the Bible. Regular price $27.95, sale $19.95.

New Testament Development of Old Testament Themes, by F. F. Bruce. Eerdmans. This eminent British evangelical scholar traces several important themes of the Old Testament—including “the sovereignty of God” and “the Servant Messiah”—which play a role theologically in the New Testament and in the early Christian community. Bruce shows, for example, how the protrayal of the ideal king as a shepherd is a prominent theme that can be traced from the ancient Near East andthe Old Testament (“The Lord is my shepherd”) well into the New Testament (“I am the good shepherd”). This can shed light on the early use of similar language in 1 Nephi 22:24-25. This is an important work for understanding the impact of ancient Israel on the New Israel. Paper, $7.95.

A Popular Survey of the Old Testament, by Norman L. Geisler. Baker. This book shows how Christ is the key to understanding the Old Testament. One comparison (pp. 60-61) finds parallels between Jesus and each part of Moses’ Tabernacle (for instance, the shewbread and Jesus as the bread of life), thus giving an idea of what Jesus may have meant when he said that there are things in all the scriptures concerning himself (see Luke 24:27). Paper, $9.95.

Friends of F.A.R.M.S.

F.A.R.M.S. is currently organizing the Friends of F.A.R.M.S., a group of serious fund-raisers who will help us increase an endowment for the Foundation. The participants will make a commitment of what they will do each year to help the Foundation, such as raising a specific dollar amount or contacting a certain number of potential donors. F.A.R.M.S. will supply selected materials published each year to the participants to promote the Foundation and to keep for their own use.

We encourage any who wish to participate in the Friends of F.A.R.M.S. to contact Mel Thorne at (801) 378-2698 or through the F.A.R.M.S. office.

Hugh Nibley Tapes

In 1954, Hugh Nibley gave a series of KSL radio lectures titled “Time Vindicates the Prophets.” Nibley shows consistencies between the LDS Church and the early Christian Church and documents the process whereby early Christianity changed into an institution teaching the learning of men. This set of sixteen hours of taped lectures, which retail at $49.95, is available for a limited time for $29.95.

Also newly available are tapes of Nibley’s “Criticizing the Authorities,” highlighted in our last issue. Even if you purchased a printed copy of this talk, you may want to hear it in Nibley’s voice. The tapes sell for $3.50.

You may order these tapes online.

To Serve You Better . . .

We are working to fill your orders more quickly. The overwhelming response to Approaching Zion made it difficult to keep up with orders. However, innovative changes at the F.A.R.M.S. office, made by our new Office Coordinator, Lois Richardson, are helping us fill your orders faster.

Some readers have wondered if we are still selling books from Deseret Book, Bookcraft, and Doubleday at a discount. The answer is Yes! This offer is good indefinitely. You may order any titles from these publishers related to scriptural research through us for 15% or 20% off the retail price, depending on the level of dues you have paid. We will regularly feature some of these books on our order form, but you are not restricted to those listed.

We have a limited number of catalogs from Deseret Book and Bookcraft that we will mail on request to those who do not have access to them locally.

We have received orders for Understanding the Scriptures, by Lowell Benion (Deseret Book), Great Are the Words of Isaiah, by Monte Nyman (Bookcraft), Believing Heart: Four Essays on Faith, by Bruce Hafen (Bookcraft), Reflections on Mormonism (Religious Studies Center), and The Temple in Antiquity (Religious Studies Center). Unfortunately, these items are out of print. The publishers have no plans to reprint.

80 x ? = An 80th Birthday Celebration for Hugh Nibley!

Please help us solve this equation. We invite you to donate $80 to honor Hugh Nibley on his 80th birthday, March 27, 1990. Are there 800 people who would like to do so? That is, you might say, a $64,000 question.


Each contribution of any amount will provide a gift in Nibley’s honor and help complete the publication of his collected works. The nature of the gift will be determined in consultation with Brother Nibley—it might be a set of research volumes donated in his name to the BYU library, a contribution to a shelter for the homeless, or some other charitable gift.

Birthday Card

Your name will also be placed on a special birthday card that will be given to Brother Nibley.

Free Books

In addition, all who contribute $80 or more to honor Nibley will receive free the two-volume collection of essays that have been written in his honor by fifty of his colleagues and distinguished scholars, soon to be published by F.A.R.M.S. and Deseret Book. This unique set of books is a $43.95 retail value, available to us now at a substantial prepublication discount.

Add your name and support to make Nibley’s 80th birthday a fitting celebration of his life and work.


As a nonprofit foundation, we have always relied heavily on the efforts of many volunteers and friends. Even our employees generously contribute time and energy beyond the duties for which they are paid. Without such unselfish service, we could not accomplish much of what we do. At the risk of overlooking some faithful helpers, we want to thank the following individuals for their recent efforts:

Dan Masterson, for correcting problems in our computerized mailing list.

Danny Brand, Greg McMurdie, Dave Clare, and Tom Rhoton, for their assistance in obtaining and setting up the new F.A.R.M.S. computer program. Brenda Miles, for typing help on a multitude of projects.

Shirley Ricks, Don Norton, Fran Hafen, John Gee, Mike Lyon, Brent McNeely, Jim Tredway, Andy Hedges, Matt Roper, James Fleugel and Mary Hill for extraordinary editing help.

Lois Richardson, for her invaluable office innovations.

Camille Parry, for going the extra mile during the Christmas rush.

Ross Whitmore, our mail room clerk, for his enthusiasm in getting the orders to you as quickly as possible.

Jack Lyon, of Deseret Book, for help in expeditiously preparing the two volumes in honor of Nibley’s 80th birthday.

IRS Regulations

The Internal Revenue Service requires that we declare which part of the contributions you make to the Foundation is for services you receive and which part is a charitable donation. This new regulation was in part responsible for the restructuring of our policy on dues last year. We will try to make clear to you what part of each amount you contribute is a charitable donation, as we did when we announced the dues and as we have done in this issue of the Newsletter concerning contributions to honor Hugh Nibley’s 80th birthday.

If you are ever in doubt about this matter, please contact us for clarification. We appreciate your support—we could not fulfill our purposes without it. We will work with you to make your contributions to the Foundation as easy and as beneficial to you as possible.