An Ancient Window
The Newsletter of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies
Several BYU professors and FARMS staff and board members recently returned from a successful conference in Jerusalem. On April 30, BYU and FARMS cosponsored the Judaean Desert Scrolls Conference at the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. The primary purpose of the conference was to present the first working version of the Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Database, the latest technology using computer images and text search features to aid research on the Dead Sea Scrolls (described in recent issues of Insights).
The conference also featured some of the world’s most prominent Dead Sea Scrolls scholars, including Florentino García Martínez, Torleif Elgvin, Emanuel Tov, and Eugene Ulrich, who presented the results of their scroll research. The papers presented at the conference will be collected in a volume to be published by E. J. Brill, the venerable Dutch firm that publishes many important books related to biblical materials. It will be made available in a future issue of Insights.
The paper by Donald W. Parry of BYU examined the divine names LORD (Hebrew Yahweh, Jehovah) and God (Hebrew Elohim) as recorded in Samuel both in the Old Testament and in the earlier manuscript found in the scrolls. Parry concluded that in more than a dozen instances an early scribe changed Jehovah to Elohim in the Old Testament, possibly for theological reasons.
Martínez showed that there is more material concerning the Messiah in the scrolls than previously known. He has found evidence of belief in two Messiahs among the Qumran community. His analysis and that of other conference presenters will be of great interest to Latter-day Saints
“The conference has generated intense interest in the various Dead Sea Scroll projects at BYU among biblical scholars,” says Noel Reynolds, president of FARMS and professor of Political Science at BYU. People at the conference were particularly interested in the database, according to Steven Booras, the database project manager for FARMS, “because scholars have realized how beneficial an electronic version of the Dead Sea Scrolls can be to their work.”
Reynolds expects the database to be finished within a year; then it will be made available to select scholars for trial use. It will allow those scholars to answer questions about the texts and conduct word comparisons and searches almost instantly. Such tasks can take weeks or months to complete without a computer database.
Scott Woodward of the BYU Department of Microbiology also presented his ground-breaking DNA research on the scrolls, which has been funded in part by FARMS. Woodward has shown that by testing the DNA of unidentified scroll fragments, it may now be possible to connect those fragments with each other. Other BYU faculty presenting their Dead Sea Scrolls research were David Rolph Seely and Dana Pike, both of the BYU Ancient Scripture Department.
FARMS and BYU plan to hold an international conference at BYU in the spring of 1997 that will feature an even wider range of BYU contributions to Dead Sea Scroll studies. In the meantime, the project has received media attention within Utah from KSL-TV, which ran a four-part segment on the database.
While in Jerusalem, Reynolds also met with Israeli antiquities officials and arranged opportunities for FARMS to conduct a survey of the area surrounding the Dead Sea looking for caves that could be additional scroll repositories, using BYU’s new ground-penetrating radar. The system has the potential to locate underground structures and cavities as deep as 30 feet below the surface.
In the latest Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, editor Daniel Peterson selects the books he would most recommend to his readers from among those published in 1994. The book by Warren and Michaela Aston is the most highly recommended in this issue: In the Footsteps of Lehi: New Evidence for Lehi’s Journey across Arabia to Bountiful (reviewed by Ara Norwood). Peterson recommends the book enthusiastically for its “brief and rather personal summary of the authors’ extremely important research into the Arabian geography” that might correspond to 1 Nephi.
Four other books recommended by Peterson in this issue are Explorers of Pre-Columbian America? by Eugene Fingerhut, which gives a non-Latter-day Saint account of the ongoing debate about contacts between the old and new worlds before Columbus (reviewed by William Hamblin); Legend and Lore of the Americas before 1492 by Ronald Fritze, a collection of entries on theories and legends of transoceanic colonization that Peterson says is “fun for browsing” for the more advanced student of the subject (reviewed by William Hamblin); The Book of Mormon: Helaman through 3 Nephi 8 edited by Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., another solid contribution in the series from the BYU Religious Studies Center (reviewed by Mack C. Stirling), and The Legacy of the Brass Plates of Laban by H. Clay Gorton, which examines all the Isaiah texts in the Book of Mormon and proposes explanations for their variations from the King James Version (reviewed by Garold N. Davis and Mark J. Johnson). Peterson promises to continue appending such a list of his “picks” to his introduction in each issue.
In addition to such positive recommendations, this issue also has some reviews that will interest those who prefer the more combative side of the Review. John Gee responds to critic Edward H. Ashment in an exhaustively researched and footnoted essay about Egyptian papyri and the book of Abraham. Louis Midgley reviews George D. Smith’s Religion, Feminism, and Freedom of Conscience: A Mormon/ Humanist Dialogue. Alan Goff takes Mormon revisionist historians to task for denying they are positivists while clinging to their positivist epistemological claims. And Bill Hamblin documents the inconsistencies of Paul Toscano’s recent writings.
The latest Review also tackles the issue and problems of updating the language of the Book of Mormon in reviews of simplified versions of the Book of Mormon.
Also new in this issue—look for the first comprehensive index to the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon. This index covers the reviews published in all previous issues, from 1989 through 1994. It is divided into listings by author, title, reviewer, and subject to give readers the best possible chance of finding the information they need. An annual index will be printed in the first number of the Review each year.
While scholars are uncertain about the precise nature of the ammud1 (see August Insights), it is clear that it was something other than a pillar. Roland deVaux imagines the king “standing on a pedestal” where presumably he worshiped God.2 Gerhard von Rad, commenting on the pillars in 2 Kings, sees them as some kind of high, narrow platform:
The king would have had to be visible to the crowd which had gathered for the solemnities, so that one may probably think of some sort of pillar-like platform.3
The biblical Hebrew literally says that the king or priestly leader stood on a “standing thing.” Only later did the Greek LXX translation promote the specific idea that the ammud was precisely a pillar (stylos). Thus, once again King Benjamin’s text is consistent with the broader Hebrew term, which can easily refer to any kind of platform or, indeed, to a tower.
Moreover, scholars are uncertain about the purpose of the ammud. Kraus speculates that the king was lifted onto the platform in order to receive “the homage of the congregation.”4 But a careful reexamination of the Bible finds that the ammud always stood in or by the temple as the king or leader officiated at times of coronation, lawgiving, covenant renewal, or temple dedication. Thus Geo Widengren has insightfully concluded:
At least towards the end of the pre-exilic period, but possibly from the beginning of that period, the king when reading to his people on a solemn occasion from the book of the law and acting as the mediator of the covenant making between Yahweh and the people had his place on a platform or a dais.5
Accordingly, the use of the tower by King Benjamin was especially pertinent, inasmuch as his speech involved so many of these elements of an ancient Israelite solemn assembly: a coronation proclamation (Mosiah 2:30), a stipulation of covenant between the new king and the people (Mosiah 2:31), a renewal of the basic covenant between God and the people (Mosiah 5:5), and the consecration of the king and appointment of priests (Mosiah 6:3). Thus again, the biblical texts give a picture whose focus is sharpened by the Book of Mormon text.
Reflection on Benjamin’s tower draws another possible connection to mind. The word ammud is used in other Old Testament texts to describe the pillar of light (or fire) and the pillar of cloud that stood before the Tabernacle, signaling God’s presence at that holy sanctuary. Is it possible that Benjamin’s tower, standing beside the temple of Zarahemla, in turn signified the pillar of God’s presence? If so, does this explain why Benjamin was so careful at the beginning of his speech to disclaim any implication that he was “more than a mortal man” (Mosiah 2:10; cf. 2:26)?
The tower built by Benjamin was evidently more than just a way to communicate to the people. It was a rich symbolic part of ancient Israelite tradition in which the king stood on a platform at the temple to officiate between God and his people.
5. Geo Widengren, “King and Covenant,” Journal of Semitic Studies 2 (1957): 10; it should also be noted that in modern Judaism the torah is to be read from a raised platform called a bimah which is to be placed in the center of the synagogue. Some have connected this structure with the platforms in the temples. See “Bimah,” in Encyclopaedia Judaica 4, (Jerusalem: Keter, 1973): 1002-1006.
Based on research by John W. Welch, Terry L. Szink, and others.
In the FARMS brown bag lecture series during the last two months Hugh Nibley spoke about figure 6 from Facsimile 2 of the book of Abraham (a transcript is available; see the accompanying article on this page), Steve Booras and Don Parry demonstrated the Dead Sea Scroll Electronic Database that we have reported on in previous issues of Insights, Gene Clark reported on his preliminary research on metals near the probable site of Old World Bountiful (see the article on page 5), Noel Reynolds explored the ways that 1 Nephi gives political support to Nephi’s prophetic role, and Doug Chabries (new member of the FARMS board; see the article on page 5) brought participants up to date on high tech support for archaeological research.
Reynolds’s discussion focused on Nephi’s response to the claims of Laman and Lemuel that Nephi had robbed them of the right to govern. In 1 Nephi, in particular chapters 17 and 18, Nephi makes it clear that Laman and Lemuel deny God’s role in their lives and thus forfeit the right to leadership that might otherwise have come to them as the elder sons; in contrast, Nephi righteously accepts and obeys the Lord’s commands and consequently derives his authority from God.
Most of the discussion led by Doug Chabries focused on the potential applications of synthetic aperture radar (SAR) for surveying potential archaeological sites prior to excavation. SAR can penetrate the ground, especially dry sand, and let researchers effectively see what is under the surface as far as 30 feet. One potential application, for example, would be surveying the areas around the Dead Sea with SAR from a low flying aircraft to determine if there are any undiscovered caves capable of holding scrolls. Arrangements have been made with Israel to begin that project.
Another technique discussed by Chabries was multiple spectral imaging. Different inks fluoresce at different frequencies of light. If researchers can find the right frequency, they can get an improved image of the writing on an old or damaged manuscript, such as the Book of Mormon manuscript, because the ink fluoresces but the material on which the manuscript is written does not.
On 15 March Hugh W. Nibley, professor emeritus of Ancient Scripture at BYU, presented a lecture in the FARMS Brown Bag series entitled “Figure 6 of Facsimile 2.” The lecture, held in the Joseph Smith Building’s conference room, was well attended—indeed, it was “standing room only.” Professors, students, and other friends of FARMS gathered to hear Brother Nibley’s insights on the meanings of Egyptian symbols in the facsimiles purchased by Joseph Smith and included in the Pearl of Great Price. Brother Nibley discussed the Lord’s comment that explanations of the facsimiles “will be given in the own due time of the Lord” (see the explanation opposite Facsimile 2 in the Pearl of Great Price) and said that we are just now receiving some of the clues, or puzzle pieces, for the meanings of some of these Egyptian symbols.
Nibley explained how the interpretations of Egyptian theology contained in hypocephali have been influenced by studies of Bible literature and mythology, studies that only began in the 1960s. The cycle of creation is a major theme of Egyptian theology, and Brother Nibley explained how “the (Egyptian) public life was a constant celebration of these new beginnings and rebirths. . . . This is found in all ancient civilizations, but nowhere as passionately as in Egypt, and nowhere better expressed than in our Facsimile 2.” Nibley talked about how this cycle affects our lives, how life is a process of degeneration, of entropy. “We’re moving in the direction of our weaknesses,” said Nibley, but as in the legend of the phoenix, there is a resurrection, a rising from the ashes.
Among other interesting themes, Nibley also touched on the apparent portrayal in Facsimile 2 and other ancient Egyptian texts of individuals participating in initiatory and other rituals similar to those performed in LDS temples.
You may order a transcript of Brother Nibley’s lecture using the order form enclosed. Transcripts of other lectures by this insightful LDS scholar are available through FARMS as well.
The efforts begun by Warren and Michaela Aston to identify important sites along the Lehi trail eventually evolved into a FARMS project and exploration to Southern Oman’s Dhofar region in 1992. The remote area of Wadi Sayq in that region has been identified as a location that appears to meet all of the criteria one can infer from the text of the Book of Mormon for the coastal site named Bountiful by Lehi and his family, where they lived while building a ship for their ocean crossing.
The text also states that while they lived at Bountiful, the Lord showed Nephi where to go to locate ore with which to make tools for their boat-building project. While it is known that greater Oman was a famous source of abundant and high-quality copper during Lehi’s time, commercial mining near Wadi Sayq is not documented. The ancient copper mines of Oman are hundreds of miles farther north and unlikely candidates for Nephi’s ore.
Graciously responding to a FARMS request, Eugene Clark, former geologist for ESSO in Oman, has prepared a preliminary report of geological possibilities of mineral deposits in the Dhofar region, where Wadi Sayq is located.
The report identifies a number of geological possibilities for copper or iron ore accessible to Wadi Sayq, based on published geological studies and surveys. An on-site survey is projected for later this year to explore the possibilities documented in this report.
Most promising among the published studies are reports of specular hematite found in small, random deposits on the Mirbat plain east of Salalah. Specular hematite is the most readily available form of high-quality iron and would have been most attractive as a low-tech smelting source for Nephi’s tools. The report also notes that Dhofar irons would usually occur in mixtures with manganese and carbon, yielding higher-quality steel that would be superior for tools.
This preliminary report documents the plausibility of the Nephite account of ore being smelted for shipbuilding tools. It also defines a range of possible ore sources in the Dhofar area that can be verified through on-site exploration.
Douglas M. Chabries, professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology at BYU, has accepted an invitation to become a member of the board of directors of FARMS. He brings to the board some new research perspectives and a wealth of university administrative experience.
Dean Chabries received his M.S. from the California Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. from Brown University. He has taught at BYU in the College of Engineering since 1978. Before that he led research on underwater signal processing for the U.S. Navy. From 1983 to 1990 he served as Chairman of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and from 1990 to January of 1995 as Assistant Academic Vice President responsible for computing services. In January of 1995 he was named Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology.
In addition to his computer expertise, Chabries is particularly interested in ways in which new technologies can be used in support of archaeological and historical research. He outlined some of these technologies at the most recent FARMS brown bag seminar (see the article on page 4).
Karen and Alan Ashton of Orem, Utah, have established a significant FARMS endowment to support the timely implementation of new projects. Their generous gift will ensure that important new research opportunities are not missed while waiting for funding to become available—the endowment will support scholars in pursuing these research opportunities until normal sources of funding are established. This new funding and the increased amount of research it will support both necessitate and make possible the creation of a new position of Director of Research to help in the development of new projects and the supervision of ongoing projects (see the article below).
Brother Ashton is president of the BYU 14th Stake and is recently retired as chairman of the board of WordPerfect Corporation. Sister Ashton serves on the general board of the Primary and is the principal founder of the Orem Story-Telling Festival. They are the parents of eleven children.
Brother and Sister Ashton have long been enthusiastic supporters of scholarly research on the Book of Mormon. This new gift combined with gifts from other FARMS donors raises support for such efforts in the LDS community to an exciting new level.
FARMS is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. M. Gerald Bradford to the FARMS staff as Director of Research, a new position for FARMS. Brother Bradford will provide supervision and support for all FARMS research and related activities.
He will supervise the evaluation of all incoming project proposals. He will also work with others on the staff and the board to develop new research projects and involve new scholars who have not before worked with FARMS. His responsibilities for overseeing research projects, after they have been approved, will include working closely with project directors, coordinating efforts to raise funds for individual projects, and evaluating the results of projects. In a related area, he will help to evaluate manuscripts submitted to FARMS.
Brother Bradford will also assist in a number of outreach efforts. He will organize and conduct the FARMS brown bag seminar, give support to FARMS working groups, and provide direction for the annual lecture and symposium series as well as other FARMS public lectures and firesides.
Brother Bradford is a longtime subscriber and friend of FARMS. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Barbara, in Religious Studies. His areas of interest include the history of religious thought and comparative religion. He has taught at BYU, UC Santa Barbara, Bowdoin College, and UC Irvine. Since 1992 he has been a book review editor for BYU Studies. Publications of interest to FARMS readers include articles in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism on doctrine and orthodoxy.
For the past eight years, Brother Bradford has been Executive Associate with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, directing the operations of the Western Center of the Academy, located at UC Irvine. In this position, he was responsible for developing and managing a number of study projects and conferences.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sidney B. Sperry, one of the foremost LDS scholars of this century. In honor of that occasion, the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies will devote its next issue to Sperry’s writings on the Book of Mormon.
Some of the materials to be published are papers and lectures that have not previously been published. Others will be reprinted from Our Book of Mormon, which has long been out of print. This issue of the Journal will also contain other items of interest to students of the Book of Mormon and fans of Sperry: a summary of his important work on the Book of Mormon published in his Book of Mormon Compendium, which is still available in print; a bibliography of Sperry’s writings, and an essay that evaluates his place as an LDS scholar.
– August 21-25. Education Week at BYU. We welcome our friends and subscribers who will attend this year’s Education Week to stop in the office while in Provo. We are always happy to see you. Don’t miss the FARMS display in the BYU bookstore or the lectures that will be given at Education Week by John W. Welch and M. Gerald Bradford (see the Education Week program for details).
The American Biblical Manuscript Center in Claremont, California, and the University of Judaism in West Los Angeles invited Royal Skousen, professor of English at BYU, to present a lecture in March on the Book of Mormon Critical Text Project. Skousen’s lecture, entitled “Fragments from the American Dead Sea: Reconstructing the Original Text of the Book of Mormon,” addressed recent findings from the Wilford Wood fragments of the original Book of Mormon manuscript, non-English Hebraisms in the English language Book of Mormon text, and implications for New Testament textual criticism based on these and other recent findings.
Skousen’s lecture was one of a six-part lecture series on “Text Discoveries That Have Changed Religious History.” Skousen believes this is the first time the Book of Mormon has been included in a scholarly series not sponsored by an organization connected with the Church. The invitation is encouraging because non-LDS scholars are recognizing the scholarly work being done with the Book of Mormon.
Approximately 600 students of the scriptures from throughout Utah and from other parts of the western states gathered in Provo on May 20 for the Eighth Annual FARMS Symposium. This year’s theme, “Isaiah in the Book of Mormon,” inspired presentations in areas as diverse as textual analysis, doctrinal exposition, manuscript transmission, imagery and poetics, word-print studies, and intellectual history.
The day began with a keynote address by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve. Emphasizing Isaiah’s witness of Christ’s ministry, he discussed the Messianic prophet’s prophecies of Christ’s birth, ministry, and atonement. Elder Holland stressed Christ’s roles—as merciful Judge, King of kings, Prince of Peace, Father, and Almighty God—and His continued care for Zion, ancient and modern. Elder Holland also answered questions from the audience about our part in facilitating the Second Coming, how speaking with “the tongue of angels” is linked to redemptive power, and how the mortal Messiah progressed “from grace to grace.”
One of the topics that received considerable attention through the day was how we can better understand the portions of Isaiah that are included in the Book of Mormon. Donald W. Parry, assistant professor of Hebrew at BYU, spoke on “Nephi’s Keys to Understanding Isaiah.” Of the five keys given, Parry felt that having the spirit of prophecy is the most important because, as Joseph Smith said, “salvation cannot come without revelation.”
John W. Welch, professor of Law at BYU, addressed “Getting through Isaiah with the Help of the Nephite Prophetic View.” Welch maintained that understanding how the Nephites perceived the future can help us to better understand why Isaiah’s prophecies were so precious to them. Welch observed that the Nephites wrote about four sections of history, and remembering the sequence of those sections helps us to orient the Isaiah quotations, giving the analogy that the Isaiah quotations are like puzzle pieces and this method of identification is like the picture on the puzzle box.
Other lectures provided understanding of Isaiah by comparing his writings to those of other prophets.
In a video presentation Ann Madsen, senior lecturer in Ancient Scripture at BYU, focused on the connections between “Joseph Smith and Isaiah: Prophets of God.” Madsen pointed out that Isaiah’s words have instructed prophets throughout time; for instance, both Christ and Moroni quoted Isaiah to Joseph Smith as part of the prophet’s instruction.
Stephen D. Ricks, professor of Hebrew at BYU, drew out connections between “Heavenly Visions in Isaiah and the Revelation of John.” With slides of early Christian works of art, Ricks showed similarities between the themes of Isaiah and those of the New Testament prophet, such as hope for the righteous, the promise of Israel’s return, and prophecy of Babylon’s judgment. Andrew C. Skinner, assistant professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, taught “Nephi’s Lessons to His People: The Messiah and the Land” from the perspective that Nephi was relating his situation with that of Isaiah’s. Nephi’s prophecies about a mighty nation of Gentiles to arise in the land are only slightly different from Isaiah’s.
Another theme frequently explored by presenters at the symposium was the idea of covenants. John Thompson, a seminary teacher from Orem, discussed “Isaiah and the Covenant Speech of Jacob,” focusing on the covenant pattern found in Jacob’s speech delivered at the temple presumably at the time of Nephi’s coronation as king of the Nephites. This pattern has recently been pointed out by scholars such as John Welch.
Both Cynthia L. Hallen and Victor L. Ludlow examined the covenant teachings found in Isaiah 54. Sister Hallen, assistant professor of English at BYU, focused on “The Lord’s Covenant of Kindness.” She portrayed Isaiah 54 as a love letter from Jehovah to a barren woman, pointing out allusions to courtship and marital duty. Christ promises the woman posterity after a trial of her faithfulness, a subject “almost too beautiful to talk about,” said Hallen. She concluded her presentation by breaking into song, a token to the Lord.
Brother Ludlow took a slightly different tack in his lecture, entitled “The Savior’s Covenant Teachings Encompassing Isaiah 54.” He discussed three covenant sermons from 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon, pointing out the common themes in these covenants with Israel, which are presented in a familial context with Christ as a protective parent.
Another common thread running through some of the lectures was the nature and selection of the texts of Isaiah found in the Book of Mormon. Royal Skousen, professor of English at BYU, laid the foundation for the day’s presentations by examining “Textual Variants in the Isaiah Quotations in the Book of Mormon.” He drew upon his work on the critical text of the Book of Mormon, which is providing a clearer understanding of the nature of the original English text and of the nature of changes introduced at various stages of the text’s transmissions to our day.
John Gee, who is pursuing his Ph.D. at Yale studying Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, also shared thoughts on “The Selection of the Isaiah Sections in the Book of Mormon.” He showed that Nephi chose to quote certain sections of Isaiah that dealt with Christ’s condescension because the Book of Mormon prophet knew the prophecies had not yet been fulfilled; he was reminding people of the signs of Christ’s advent given to King Ahaz.
The nature of the text was also the focus of the presentation by John L. Hilton, adjunct professor of Statistics at BYU. He gave the audience an “Update of Wordprinting on the English Isaiah Texts and the Book of Mormon.” Using graphs and 3-D diagrams, he showed how wordprinting helps scientists and mathematicians map an author’s freeflow writing. He discussed some of the problems with wordprinting poetic styles and complex works, such as Isaiah.
Other lectures centered around the imagery and symbolism in the Isaiah passages. Dana M. Pike, assistant professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, and Robert A. Cloward, an institute instructor in Cedar City, Utah, focused on particular usages in Isaiah. In his lecture “How Beautiful upon the Mountains: The Imagery of Isaiah 52:7-10 in the Book of Mormon,” Pike discussed the symbolism of the watchmen sounding the arrival of a messenger, or a herald, with “beautiful feet”—that is, he brings good tidings—to Zion. Several prophets use this same imagery, and Pike indicates its meaning for us: everyone who proclaims of Christ is a messenger with “beautiful feet,” as is Christ himself.
Robert Cloward spoke on “Isaiah 29 in the Book of Mormon.” The audience followed along as he discussed particular words, such as Ariel, dust, and familiar spirit, from the first few verses of Isaiah 29 and explained that the images were of the destruction of Jerusalem. The prophecies of Isaiah will be fulfilled in the last days with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, he said.
There were several other approaches taken to understanding Isaiah in the symposium presentations. David Rolph Seely found warnings against “Theme of Pride” in 2 Nephi. He taught that pride leads to worshipping the works of your own hands, or idolatry, which separates the idolater from the Messiah; thus, rooting out pride is crucial to salvation.
As Robert Cloward said, “Speak of the devil and John (A.) Tvedtnes shows up!” Tvedtnes, a senior researcher from Salt Lake City, lectured on “Lucifer, Son of the Morning.” He taught about Isaiah’s reference to the “lightbearer’s” attempt to become higher than God, which caused Lucifer’s fall, and he became the devil. Tvedtnes also discussed fallen mortals mentioned in the Bible whom Lucifer encouraged with similar notions.
In “Isaiah in Early America,” Andrew H. Hedges, a University of Illinois Ph.D. candidate in Early American History, described how the enlightenment gained from the Book of Mormon’s Isaiah text changed the way the Old Testament Isaiah was being taught in Joseph Smith’s day. The colonists identified with the Israelites’ cause, but ministers had not focused on Isaiah much because of its complexity. Unlike other religious leaders of the day, Joseph used revelation and faithful study to untangle and appreciate Isaiah. We wish to thank all who made this year’s symposium a success: organizers Donald W. Parry and John W. Welch, the presenters, the audience, and all of you whose subscriptions and donations make such scholarly activities possible and whose interest make it worthwhile.
All of the presentations made at this year’s symposium are now available on video or audiotape, and printed copies of the papers will be available perhaps as early as August, after the authors have had the opportunity to revise their papers in light of feedback from the symposium. All of the papers will be published in a volume that should be available early in 1996. And as they “galloped” through their presentations, a number of the presenters admonished listeners that they had “better buy the book” to have the complete, polished papers.
Also available are packets of reprinted published material relating to sections of Isaiah found in the Book of Mormon.
Four new lectures from the FARMS Book of Mormon Lecture Series are available in three formats: video, audiotape, and transcript.
In “The Savior’s Ministry to the Nephites: A Millennial Prototype,” E. Dale LeBaron, professor of Church History, discusses six parallels between the account in 3 Nephi of the Savior’s first visit to the American continent and the Doctrine and Covenants’ prophecies of the events that will surround the Second Coming. He relates the messages of the prophets, past and present, concerning the signs of the times that forecast destruction and the hope for those who are faithfully prepared. “The Doctrine and Covenants and the inspired leaders of this Church plead with us to strengthen our families, to share the gospel with them and with our friends, and to express love and concern for one another,” says LeBaron. Then he identifies five conditions we must attain for millennial preparedness. This lecture reminds us that Christ is our exemplar of love and strength and that he provides in the Book of Mormon a precious glimpse of millennial happiness.
Robert L. Millet gives an outstanding lecture on “The Destiny of the House of Israel.” What does it means when Mormon says, “Know ye that ye are of the House of Israel”? Concerned about Church members’ confusion about the House of Israel, Millet attempts to clarify some misunderstandings. He discusses the spiritual and temporal scattering and gathering of Israel, explaining the prophecies that will be fulfilled and the work that must be done. The Book of Mormon was revealed to aide the gathering of Israel, but Millet says, “If we (asked) any ten Latter-day Saints . . . what the major purpose of the Book of Mormon is, nine of them, at least, would say, ‘To convince Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ.’ That’s certainly a major purpose, but missed sometimes is this equally important principle: the Book of Mormon has been given to allow latter-day Israel to know that the Lord has not forgotten them.”
Rex C. Reeve, Jr., associate professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, examines several examples of teachings in the Book of Mormon that can be applied to us today, demonstrating that it is “A Book Written for Our Day.” He discusses truths that can be gleaned from Nephi’s obedience and commitment, Jacob’s sermon on prosperity, and Alma’s admonitions to his son Corianton. For example, from Alma’s admonition we learn that to avoid sin we should follow a righteous example, listen to and follow parents, don’t boast in our own strength, be in the right place at the right time, don’t make excuses, and don’t think that because many act sinfully, it is right to do so.
The last two lectures are shorter than the rest and have been combined on video, audiotape, and transcript. In “Experiment Upon My Word,” Daniel C. Peterson, associate professor of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at BYU, discusses faith and the formula for developing it given in Alma 32 with the parable of the sower. Alma’s formula for developing and increasing faith involves leaps of faith and trust, desire for understanding, trial, prayer, and actions, for truly “faith, if it hath not works, is dead” (James 2: 17). Those who follow the formula, says Peterson, “shall reap the rewards of their faith” (Alma 32:43) and shall “taste the fruits of their labors” as the seed of faith grows within them.
In “Temple Motifs in John 17,” BYU History professor William J. Hamblin discusses the original Greek and Hebrew version of this Bible text. He shows how some of these meanings were lost in the translation of these texts into English. We discover that Christ was endowed by his Father with the power of the priesthood and that he, in turn, endows his faithful followers with this same power. All of this is done in sacred faith designed to perfect those endowed.