Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lehi's 600 Year Prophecy: Some Notes on a Question of Book of Mormon Chronology

After recounting his tree of life dream, Lehi continues to prophesy, recounting the forthcoming destruction of Jerusalem, and then the subsequent return of the Jews (see 1 Nephi 10:3). Lehi then gives a rather precise prophecy—that the Messiah would come 600 years after the time he had left Jerusalem (see 1 Nephi 10:4; cf. 1 Nephi 19:8; 2 Nephi 25:19).[1] This prophecy runs into some chronological problems, a point critics have by no means been shy to make. King Zedekiah’s reign did not begin until the year 597 BC.[2] The problem is more than three years, however, because Herod the Great—who plays a prominent role in the nativity narrative—very likely died in 4 BC, pushing the birth date of Christ to most likely between 6 and 4 BC.[3] This would allow, at most, 593 years between Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem and the birth of Christ (assuming Lehi left within a year of Zedekiah’s ascendancy to the throne and his own prophetic call). This is more than a matter of rounding off to the nearest hundred, because the Book of Mormon carefully chronicles the years, counting precisely 600 between the time Lehi leaves and the sign of Christ’s birth.[4]

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Excommunication and Intellectual Freedom: Some Thoughts

It has recently been announced that Kate Kelly, the leader of the Ordain Women movement, and John Dehlin, a long-time member-in-name-only who has been publicly criticizing the Church for years, have recently been called in for disciplinary councils, along with Alan Rock Waterman, a blogger who has a essentially stated that the Church has been in a collective state of apostasy since the days of Brigham Young. The announcement has evoked the predictable reaction within the bloggeratti, with assistance from the mainstream media, of how the Church is “punishing” these “intellectuals” for not conforming to expected modes of thought.