Insights: An Ancient Window
The Newsletter of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies
Noel B. Reynolds has become the president of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies. He brings a wealth of scholarly experience and administrative talent to his task. He is a Professor of Political Science and former Associate Academic Vice-President at BYU, with a Ph.D. from Harvard. He served on the editorial board of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism and has been a member of the F.A.R.M.S. board of directors for 10 years. He has also given considerable service in the Church, having served as a bishop, scoutmaster, Gospel Doctrine teacher, and in other callings. He and his wife Sydney are the parents of eleven children.
His interest in the Book of Mormon is evidenced by his publications and activities, which include "The Political Dimensions in Nephi’s Small Plates," and "The Brass Plates Version of Genesis," as well as editing Book of Mormon Authorship, organizing the Brown Bag Seminar on the Book of Mormon, and heading the creation of a Book of Mormon data base.
Reynolds succeeds Stephen D. Ricks, whose three-year term (1988-1991) ended this September, and John W. Welch, founding president (1979-1988). Both continue to serve on the Board of directors and as co-conveners of the working group on Jacob 5. Ricks has become the chairman of the board of directors and will be the editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (to be first published in the Fall of 1992); Welch is the editor of the Ancient Texts and Mormon Studies series announced in this issue (see page 4).
The president of F.A.R.M.S. serves without compensation. It is voluntary service, requiring great dedication, well exemplified by the former presidents (see page 3). The president supervises the research, publications, and office services of the Foundation.
F.A.R.M.S. is a nonprofit research organization. It has grown rapidly and consistently from its beginnings over a decade ago. It now serves students and teachers of the scriptures in all 50 states and in over 25 other nations. F.A.R.M.S. coordinates and facilitates dozens of research projects each year and makes the results of that research available as widely as possible.
The publication of Macmillan’s Encyclopedia of Mormonism is now scheduled for this November. A multi-volume work produced at BYU, this reference source contains 1,300 original articles signed by over 750 authors, 500 illustrations, and 50 maps and charts. Its topics range from Aaronic Priesthood to Zion’s Camp. The fifth volume contains the texts of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. The set will retail for over $340.00.
The main 4 volumes (without the scripture volume) are now available for $249.00. F.A.R.M.S. is pleased to be able to extend this offer to you as a service to our friends and to the BYU Bookstore.
The publication of this encyclopedia has been eagerly awaited for over three years. F.A.R.M.S. directors Noel B. Reynolds and John W. Welch have served as editors of the encyclopedia. Each entry in the encyclopedia deals with a significant topic, person, or event, and gives a bibliography of important sources on each subject to be consulted for further information. It will serve as a valuable research tool for scholars and families for years to come.
Several studies have demonstrated that building (or renovating) and maintaining a temple was an integral part of the legal formation and ongoing legitimation of ancient Near Eastern states and societies. (See John M. Lundquist, "Temple, Covenant, and Law in the Ancient Near East and in the Old Testament," in Israel’s Apostasy and Restoration (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1988)).
Becoming a king, issuing laws or judgments, and performing many other acts of legal consequence in the ancient world were virtually unthinkable without a temple in which such acts could be solemnized in the presence of deity. A new king would announce interim legislation establishing himself as a king of justice (as in 2 Nephi 5:10), but as soon as possible in the first decade of his rule, "the king builds, renovates, or rededicates the main temple of his city, at which time a fuller version of the laws is decreed and elaborated into a stele by royal scribes" (Lundquist, p. 296).
Temples were similarly prominent in the royal and legal landscapes of Nephite civilization, inviting the observation that Nephi’s construction of a temple in the city of Nephi directly paved the way for him, two verses later, to become king (2 Nephi 5:16-18). See also Mosiah II’s temple-coronation in the city of Zarahemla (Mosiah 1-6), and Jesus’ giving of the new law at the temple in Bountiful (3 Nephi 11-18).
On such occasions in antiquity new kings would typically cite their divine calling, issue new laws, ordain officers, erect monuments, and enter into a new legal order by way of covenant with a ritually prepared community (Lundquist, 296-302). Similar elements are present in Nephi’s account of the inception of his reign:
1. Nephi established his legitimacy as ruler and teacher by citing the earlier promise given to him by the Lord that God had chosen him to be a ruler (2 Nephi 5:19; quoting 1 Nephi 2:22).
2. A new law was then issued that no Nephite should intermarry with the Lamanites; anyone who might break this law was afflicted with a curse (2 Nephi 5:23). This New World prohibition is comparable in content and political function to the law given to the Israelites forbidding them from intermarrying with the Canaanites at the time of their conquest in the Old World (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).
3. Nephi consecrated Jacob and Joseph to be priests and teachers (2 Nephi 5:26). An essential part of the accession of each new ruler was the installation (or reappointment) of priests and administrators to rule under the new king (see also Mosiah 6:3).
4. God next instructed Nephi to make a new set of plates (2 Nephi 5:30). The sequence of events here suggests that the small plates of Nephi were made in connection with the coronation of Nephi. Accordingly, they served as the "tablets of the law" or the pillar or stele that were traditionally set up as a monument to the creation of the new king’s order. Nephi wrote on these plates things "which are good in (God’s) sight, for the profit of (his) people" (2 Nephi 5:30). In addition to their primary religious purposes, the resulting constitutional and political functions served by these plates has been discussed by Noel Reynolds ("The Political Dimension in Nephi’s Small Plates," BYU Studies 27 (Fall 1987): 15-37).
5. Finally, the new legal order was traditionally submitted by way of covenant to a "ritually prepared community" (Lundquist, p. 300). Significantly, Jacob’s ensuing speech is a covenant speech: "I have read these things that ye might know concerning the covenants of the Lord" (2 Nephi 9:1). Jacob’s purpose was to purify the peole, to shake his garments of all iniquities and have his people turn away from sin (2 Nephi 9:44-45), to motivate them to act for themselves—"to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of everlasting life" (2 Nephi 10:23). His words compare with the covenant text of Joshua 24, where the Israelites were given the same choice as they established their new religious and social order under Joshua.
As Lundquist asserts, covenant ceremonies at temples were essential to the successful creation of ancient states, for the mere accession to the kingship of a charismatic figure did not assure or perpetuate the state. Without such inward commitments and outward symbols, Nephi’s little community was merely a splinter group, lacking legitimation. With these observances, however, they laid an enduring foundation for the reign of Nephite kings for over four hundred years to come.
Based on research by John M. Lundquist and John W. Welch
September 1991 brought Stephen D. Ricks’s three-year term as President of F.A.R.M.S. to a close. Without compensation, Professor Ricks has given hundreds of hours to the direction of the organization. Under his vigorous leadership and with increased levels of volunteer support, F.A.R.M.S. has grown and greatly increased its output over those three years.
During Ricks’s tenure, both the range and the pace of publication have increased. In collaboration with his wife Shirley he has made it possible for F.A.R.M.S. to use desktop publishing to bring out the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon and the recently announced Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. He has been directly involved in the continuing production of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley; By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh Nibley; and Warfare in the Book of Mormon. Under his leadership, the Foundation has published bibliographies with Mellen Press (A Bibliography on Temples of the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean World and A Biblical Law Bibliography), scholarly works through our own Research Press (Pre-Columbian Contacts with the Americas across the Oceans: An Annotated Bibliography and Volume 1 of The New World Figurine Project), and books aimed at a more popular audience through Deseret Book (Rediscovering the Book of Mormon and The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount).
Professor Ricks has now accepted the office of chairman of the F.A.R.M.S. board of directors, which was left vacant earlier this year by the retirement of John L. Sorenson. In this position he can continue his support for high standards of research and documentation and the building of bridges to BYU departments and other outside organizations.
We are also pleased to welcome three new members of our board of directors, Brent Hall, William J. Hamblin, and Daniel C. Peterson. They have contributed significantly to F.A.R.M.S. over the past few years and we look forward to their further involvement (we will print profiles in an upcoming issue).
In accepting the office of president of F.A.R.M.S., I am personally quite grateful to Stephen Ricks for the excellent precedent he has set and for the professional staff he has assembled to manage the publications, research, and operations of the organization. To continue its pattern of dynamic growth, F.A.R.M.S. will need to involve the creativity and productive effort of many additional people who are dedicated to building the base of serious and faithful scholarship related to the Book of Mormon. We renew our invitation at this time to all who can support this work with time, talents, or financial contributions. You will find it both exciting and rewarding to be part of the F.A.R.M.S. team.
Noel B. Reynolds
More than 180 people attended the second annual F.A.R.M.S. banquet on September 27. We enjoyed the opportunity to see many of the people that make the work of the Foundation possible.
Stephen Ricks reviewed the activities of the Foundation over the past year and presented awards to Lois Richardson, Michael Lyon, and John Gee for outstanding service to F.A.R.M.S. Jack Welch discussed where the Foundation is headed in the next year, and Elder Neal A. Maxwell commended the people involved with F.A.R.M.S and presented a thought-provoking message that challenged us not to keep back any part as we seek to consecrate ourselves to the Lord and His Kingdom.
S. Kent Brown, Professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, is currently preparing a major study on the Exodus pattern in the Book of Mormon, following up on an initial brief essay on this theme recently published in BYU Studies.
He is also finishing the examining and cataloguing of each of the ostraca held in the Coptic Museum in Cairo for the General Catalogue of that museum. Under the direction of Professor Brown, an index of early Christian manuscripts that have been microfilmed at monasteries and museums in Cairo and Jerusalem is now nearing completion. The languages of these studies include Arabic, Armenian, Coptic, Garshuni, Greek, Latin, and Syriac.
This microfilming project (funded through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mormon Archaeology and Research Foundation) has been a monumental, multi-year undertaking, which has produced one of the most extensive microfilm collections of early Christian manuscripts from the Middle East in the world. Copies of these microfilms are housed at the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University.
Stephen Thompson recently completed his doctorate in Egyptology at Brown University. He is, to our knowledge, the first Latter-day Saint to complete a Ph.D. in this field. His dissertation topic was "A Lexicographic and Iconographic Analysis of Anointing in Ancient Egypt."
Dr. Thompson has also been involved in other research on Egyptological topics, including a paper on "The Anointing of Officials in Ancient Egypt" and an article on "The Origin of the Pyramid Texts Found on Middle Kingdom Saqqara Coffins." He assisted in the completion of volumes four and five of A Dictionary of Late Egyptian, edited by Leonard and Barbara Lesko. During the summer he taught courses in Religious Education at BYU.
In addition to the new Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, announced in our last Newsletter, F.A.R.M.S. now announces a second new series of scholarly studies entitled Ancient Texts and Mormon Studies. Its long-term purpose will be to publish texts, translations, introductions, and new analyses of all main religious documents from antiquity that are of theological or textual interest to Latter-day Saints.
The new series, edited by John W. Welch and Melvin J. Thorne, will feature introductions, notes, and commentaries on each ancient text, with reference to the best scholarly literature as well as to all relevant LDS scriptures and doctrines.
Each monograph will first be published individually, and subsequently they will be compiled into a series of bound volumes. Coverage will include canonical and noncanonical works, Egyptian texts, Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi library, and early Jewish and Christian writings of particular significance to Latter-day Saints.
This project will be coordinated through F.A.R.M.S. and has been made possible by a special donation by Alan and Karen Ashton of Orem, Utah. Research grants to participating scholars have also been made available through the Religious Studies Center of Brigham Young University.
Work now underway includes projects by Douglas Clark on the Genesis Apocryphon, John Gee on the Secret Gospel of Mark and several other early Christian texts, Don Parry on ten temple-related Psalms, James Faulconer on the epistle to the Romans, and Brent Anderson on the Didache. The first are expected to appear in 1992.
All interested participants are invited to contact John W. Welch, care of the F.A.R.M.S. office, for further information.
The weekly broadcast of Hugh Nibley’s Book of Mormon class on KBYU-TV begins Sunday, January 5, at 5:00 p.m. with the showing of The Faith of an Observer. Each week thereafter, KBYU will show one session of the class, which was filmed in the KBYU studio during the 1988-89 and 1989-90 school years.
Continuation of the broadcast, and keeping the prime 5:00 time slot, depend on viewer response. We encourage you to tell your friends about this opportunity. And we encourage you to let KBYU know that you enjoy the broadcast and urge them to continue it.
Our appreciation is extended to an individual (who prefers anonymity) for the donation of scores of rare LDS books. The books, which have been catalogued and placed in the F.A.R.M.S. library, will be used by researchers and visiting scholars.
Many more books, including LDS books and scholarly books pertaining to the ancient Near East and Mesoamerican studies, could be used in the F.A.R.M.S. library. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation of books on these subjects, please contact Brent Hall at the F.A.R.M.S. office.
The Sons of Horus, who appear in figures 5-8 of Facsimile 1 and figure 6 of Facsimile 2 in the Book of Abraham, are the subject of a new study by John Gee: "Notes on the Sons of Horus." This illustrated study focuses on the history of these gods in Egypt, their role in Egyptian religion and burial practices, their connection with sacrifice, and their exportation from Egypt.
Students of the Book of Abraham will find this study useful in understanding the historical and cultural background of the facsimiles. The paper is available on the online catalog.
In the Fall 1989 Insights we mentioned that a review of claims of the finding of early inscriptions in the New World written in Ogham, a language from medieval Ireland, would be published soon in the Review of Archaeology by David Kelley. That article has now been published (Spring 1990, pp. 1-10), and even though it is a rather technical discussion, you may want to examine it.
Briefly, Professor Kelley concludes that "some of the inscriptions which have been reported are genuine Celtic ogham," and he discusses these in detail. While he criticizes some of the methods used by Barry Fell, who has publicized these inscriptions, he acknowledges that without Fell’s work, "there would be no ogham problem to perplex us."