This volume gathers together eleven Hugh Nibley articles and talks that deal essentially with the Old Testament or topics related to it. The first four papers address several problems raised by opponents of the Bible. These are mainly claims of one kind or another against the historicity of the creation account and early narratives in Genesis. Answers are given to the skeptical views of existentialist theologians, textual critics, overconfident scientists and archaeologists, demythologizing historians, and evolutionists. Guiding principles are articulated through the eyes of faith, through the unifying threads of culture and ritual, and through the miraculous and insightful perspectives of revealed scripture found in the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham.
The next three papers are related to the study of the biblical creation account. First is a discussion of the roles of men and women in the world, followed by two papers on the composite picture of the creation of the world as seen from numerous apocryphal and pseudepigraphic texts, as well as passages from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi library, and early Christian materials. The assumption here, only thinly veiled, is that ritual threads connect this worldview with the meaning of the Latter-day Saint temple ceremony.
After the paper on Isaiah, which discusses the human qualities Isaiah finds most pleasing to God, the final three papers report discoveries relative to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Two articles are early announcements of the potential significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls for Book of Mormon studies—a theme explored further by Hugh Nibley in a series of articles in the Improvement Era that soon thereafter appeared in his book Since Cumorah, first published in 1967. The final article raises issues about possible connections between the Dead Sea Scrolls and certain later Arabic texts, showing an intriguing persistence and pervasiveness of the traditions known at Qumran.
As editors, we caution that this volume is neither exhaustive nor independent. Subsequent volumes in this collection will also contain materials relevant to Old Testament studies, for many other Hugh Nibley writings deal in one way or another with the Old Testament. There is, one will quickly find, a high degree of interrelatedness in much of what Hugh Nibley has written. This makes it somewhat artificial, if not impossible, to carve up the works of Hugh Nibley into distinct topical compartments. His works on Enoch and Abraham, for example, do not appear in this volume; they will be published in separate subsequent volumes. Those two figures belong as much to the Pearl of Great Price as to the Old Testament. Our main goal as editors has been to organize these materials along the lines of those gospel themes and scriptural connections that themselves have been the fixed beacons along Hugh Nibley's research paths. We hope that our design adds coherence and comprehension to this collection.