Skip to main content

Posts

Brace Yourself: The Old Testament is Coming!

With the start of 2018, Mormon’s around the world braced themselves for another dreaded Old Testament year. “Here we go again,” you may have thought, “I’ve got to sludge through all this weird stuff in the Old Testament again, wondering what on earth it could all possibly mean and how it’s relevant to me.”
I get it: the Old Testament is odd and confusing for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being the fact that it was written over 2000 years ago, by a different people in a different time. It feels like so much hard work making sense of it, only to end in confusion and despair. But once you start to understand the Old Testament a little bit, it’s actually a pretty cool book. It does take a little effort to make some sense of it, but it really does not need to be as hard as it feels sometimes. Learning to use the right tools in scripture study—and the study of the Old Testament in particular—can make all the difference.
My friend Benjamin Spackman has already make some great rec…
Recent posts

Nephite History in Context 2c: Bethlehem Bulla

Editor’s Note:This is the third part of the second contribution to my new series Nephite History in Context: Artifacts, Inscriptions, and Texts Relevant to the Book of Mormon. Check out the really cool (and official, citable) PDF version here. To learn more about this series, read the introduction here. To find other posts in the series, see here.
Bethlehem Bulla
Background
Some of the most important and valuable inscriptions from ancient Israel and the surrounding region are the short inscriptions written on tiny seals, typically used for enclosing documents to ensure it is authentic and has not been tampered with. Such seals are usually made out of a semi-precious stone (though other materials were also used) and typically have the owners name inscribed on it, thus binding important documents with his or her “signature.” Nearly 3000 seals and clay seal impressions (called bulla; pl. bullae) have been found in Israel and the surrounding region, dating from the tenth–sixth centuries BC,…

Nephite History in Context 2b: Letters of ʿAbdu-Ḫeba of Jerusalem (EA 285–290)

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of the second contribution to my new series Nephite History in Context: Artifacts, Inscriptions, and Texts Relevant to the Book of Mormon. Check out the really cool (and official, citable) PDF version here. To learn more about this series, read the introduction here. To find other posts in the series, see here.
Letters of ʿAbdu-Ḫeba of Jerusalem (EA 285–290)
Background
The Amarna Letters make up the bulk of the 382 cuneiform tablets found at Amarna, Egypt in 1887. The letters date to the mid-fourteenth century BC (ca. 1365–1335 bc), with most of them coming from the reign of Akhenaten (ca. 1352–1336 bc), though some date to the reigns of Amenhotep III (ca. 1390–1352 bc) and perhaps Smenkhkara (ca. 1338–1336 bc) and Tutankhamun (ca. 1336–1327 bc). The collection includes international correspondence between Egypt and other nations, such as Assyria and Babylonia, but most of the letters are to and from vassal kings in the Syria-Palestine region, whic…

Nephite History in Context 2a: Apocryphon of Jeremiah

Editor’s Note: This is the first part of the second contribution to my new series Nephite History in Context: Artifacts, Inscriptions, and Texts Relevant to the Book of Mormon. Check out the really cool (and official, citable) PDF version here. To learn more about this series, read the introduction here. To find other posts in the series, see here
Apocryphon of Jeremiah (4Q385a)
Background
Between 1947 and 1956, a few well preserved scrolls and tens of thousands of broken fragments were found scattered across eleven different caves along the northwest shores of the Dead Sea near Qumran. Now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls, they are arguably the most significant discovery ever made for the study of the Bible and the origins of Judaism and Christianity. Among the writings found are the earliest copies of nearly every Old Testament book, many of the known apocryphal and pseudepigraphic works, and several other texts discovered for the first time at Qumran. Altogether, more than 900 differe…