Insights: An Ancient Window
The Newsletter of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies
Five Years and Countless Hours Produce Two FARMS Bibliographies on the Book of Mormon
The Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies is pleased to announce the publication of two new FARMS bibliographies. A Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography is designed primarily for working scholars and university libraries. A shorter version, A Guide to Publications on the Book of Mormon, is designed primarily for students of the scriptures who are not professional scholars.
Both bibliographies came out of the same project. Donald W. Parry, assistant professor of Hebrew Language and Literature at BYU, headed a team of 36 annotators who examined more than 6300 pieces of literature all the published items on the Book of Mormon that could be found examining the holdings of sixteen major libraries in the United States and England that have collections of Mormon materials. Most of the annotators were volunteers. Parry was assisted in the process of compiling and editing the results by Jeanette W. Miller and Sandra A. Thorne.
The entries in both bibliographies are listed by author. Both contain an extensive subject index and an appendix listing Book of Mormon translations. Items that have been annotated include
The annotations are designed to state the contents simply, not to provide a critical review.
One of the goals of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies has always been to guide interested scholars and students of the scriptures to solid information about the Book of Mormon. In 1982 and 1987 FARMS published bibliographies on the Book of Mormon compiled by John W. Welch, Gary Gillum, and DeeAnn Hofer. Every year since 1989, the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon (now the FARMS Review of Books) has published reviews guiding readers to significant books on the Book of Mormon and has printed an annual bibliography.
The Comprehensive Annotated Book of Mormon Bibliography gives researchers a marvelous tool that will improve their research, help prevent the duplication of research, and guide them to neglected topics related to the Book of Mormon. Printed on high-quality paper and hardbound with a library-quality sewn binding, it will last through years of heavy use. It is 650 pages long and sells for $99.95 and includes an electronic version of the material on diskette.
A Guide to Publications on the Book of Mormon contains the same useful bibliographic information as the comprehensive version, but for a smaller number of items the 3200+ items of most use to students of the scriptures. The chief categories that are not included in this selected bibliography are anti-Mormon literature, materials outdated by more recent studies, and less-substantive materials, such as pamphlets and news articles.
The selection process focused A Guide to Publications on the Book of Mormon a for students of the scriptures, making it more affordable and easier to use. To further reduce the cost of this selected bibliography, FARMS has published it in a high-quality soft binding sturdy enough to withstand frequent use and to lie flat when opened without coming apart. It sells for $19.95.
On March 23, some 700 - 800 people from Utah and other parts of the country turned out to hear presentations about the ancient scrolls and how they contribute to LDS understanding of gospel teachings, the Bible, and other aspects of biblical life. The symposium was sponsored by BYU Religious Education and FARMS.
The day began with a keynote address by Florentino Garcia Martínez, an internationally known scroll scholar from the Qumran-Institut at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (The Netherlands). In his address, entitled "Messianic Texts and Ideas," Martínez discussed three questions: What are the Dead Sea Scrolls? Why are they so important? and How did the people at Qumran interpret their Bible?
Martínez pointed out that scholars know very little about the scrolls, because we don't have all the scrolls and because most of what we have are fragments. However, we are learning more all the time, with collaborative efforts and with the help of modern technology, such as that being provided by FARMS. The people at Qumran were a group of self-isolated Jews who lived in the Judean desert from about the second century B.C. to A.D. 68; they devoted themselves to studying and interpreting Judaic law and waiting for the coming of the Savior.
The real value of the scrolls, said Martínez, is that since they are more than one thousand years older than the oldest medieval biblical texts we have, they contain prealtered, precanonized biblical material that allows scholars to look beyond the fixed biblical texts and see how Christianity and other sects grew out of Judaism around the time of Christ.
In addition to biblical texts, the scrolls also contain noncanonical writings and records of daily community life, prayers, hymns, interpretations of texts, and so forth, giving us clues about life in a Jewish community during that time.
David Rolph Seely, BYU assistant professor of Ancient Scripture, discussed the beliefs and practices of the Qumran community in "Praise, Prayer, and Worship in the Dead Sea Scrolls." Many texts contain prayers, prayer rituals, and hymns praising God. Also, ordinances and rituals are outlined in the scrolls, such as rituals for repentance and purification.
Stephen D. Ricks, professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages at BYU, spoke on "The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Book of Mormon," comparing the Dead Sea Scroll peoples to the Book of Mormon peoples. Among the similarities Ricks pointed out were that both groups left Jerusalem because it was wicked and would be destroyed, both fled to the desert, both kept the law of Moses, and both looked forward to the coming of Messianic figures.
Ricks also compared some of the scrolls themes with those of the Book of Mormon. He stressed teachings about being a covenant people, the observance of law and festivals, emphasis on priesthood and temples, the fight against evil, strong Messianic expectations, and belief in inspired interpretation of scripture.
Is the Plan of Salvation Attested in the Dead Sea Scrolls? asked Dana M. Pike, assistant professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU. Although the phrase is not found in the scrolls, Pike insisted that hints of the concept of salvation, or what he called corrupted echoes of true doctrine, can be detected. For instance, the writers of the scrolls seemed to believe in three phases of life: premortal, mortal, and postmortal. While the Dead Sea Scrolls do not teach us anything definitive about the plan of salvation that has not already been revealed, Pike concluded, they can teach us about the thinking and beliefs of the Qumran community and other Jewish communities of the day.
Donald W. Parry, BYU assistant professor of Hebrew Language and Literature, followed with a paper entitled "The Contribution of the Dead Sea Scrolls to Biblical Understanding." Using slides of the scroll fragments, Parry pointed out corrections, spelling errors and variations, changes in ink and writing surfaces, changes in scribal language, possible transmission contamination, and idiosyncratic differences from the Old Testament (such as name preferences and gender biases). Parry pointed out that the Dead Sea Scrolls complement rather than supplant the Bible.
Scott R. Woodward, associate professor of Microbiology at BYU, gave a presentation entitled "DNA Analysis of Dead Sea Scroll Fragments." Woodward explained the process he and his team are using to identify the animal skins from which the parchment for individual scrolls was made. The main goal, Woodward said, is to attempt to reassemble some of the fragmented scrolls, a task he described as rather like putting a jigsaw puzzle together without a picture or interlocking pieces.
To conclude the conference, Donald W. Parry and FARMS Electronic Projects Specialist Steven W. Booras demonstrated the Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Reference Library. The CD-ROM database is in the final phases of development, and many Dead Sea Scrolls scholars are excited about the prospects of having its searching capabilities to aid their study of the scrolls.
Ninth Annual FARMS Book of Mormon Symposium
"Benjamin's Speech" was the topic of the Ninth Annual FARMS Symposium, held on April 13. More than 1600 people filled the auditorium of the Joseph Smith Building at BYU and flooded into overflow rooms to hear keynote speaker Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, talk on "King Benjamin's Sermon: A Manual for Discipleship." Elder Maxwell taught that admiration for the Lord leads to emulation of the Lord, and King Benjamin was the perfect example of this type of discipleship. Elder Maxwell also taught that we must count and weigh all of our blessings, as did King Benjamin; we need Benjamin's sense of proportion about the big and little blessings, about God's immediate goodness and his infinite goodness.
How do you know the Master if you are a stranger to him? asked Elder Maxwell. We all serve someone, said Maxwell. If we are not willing to be led by the Lord, we will be driven by our appetites.
Benjamin emphasizes our total dependence on the Lord for physical and spiritual well-being. Because of this dependence, we must dedicate our lives to service of others, doing all things in wisdom and order.
The greater the soul, the greater the desire to bring souls to Christ, and Benjamin's soul was among the greatest, said Elder Maxwell. We can hear him now if we read his words reverently, because Benjamin's testimony is personal, immediate, and relevant to each of us.
After the keynote address, Stephen D. Ricks, professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages at BYU, spoke on "Kingship, Coronation, and Covenant." Ricks discussed three features of the coronation ceremony of Benjamin's son Mosiah that show how faithfully the Book of Mormon account reflects the traditions and practices of ancient Israelite culture. These three features are the significance of the office of the king, the details of the coronation ceremony itself, and the way that the order of events reflects the treaty-covenant pattern well known in ancient Israel and the ancient Near East.
The next speaker, M. Catherine Thomas, assistant professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, spoke on "Benjamin's Speech and the Mysteries of God." The mysteries are truths about the world and the heavens that are revealed only as God chooses to reveal them, taught Thomas. She explained that the Lord uses one of great faith, such as King Benjamin, to strengthen those of lesser faith, thereby assisting whole communities to come unto Christ, because the Lord is interested in both individuals and communities. As the spiritual leader of his people, Benjamin also waged war against Satan by protecting his people against the Lamanites, by withstanding false prophets, and by working against the sinfulness and contentions of his people.
Hugh W. Nibley, emeritus professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, spoke next. Brother Nibley explained how, despite the many similarities, Mosiah's coronation ceremony differed slightly from ancient Israelite customs: the king refused gifts, and the people's united cries showed their love and respect for their king and their willingness to obey God. Benjamin taught that as mere mortals, we must not seek for wealth or power, but must only seek to dwell with God, who has all power.
In "Israelite Festivals and Benjamin's Speech," Terrence L. Szink, instructor of Ancient Scripture at BYU and a doctoral candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA, summarized much research about the Nephites' observance of ritual feasts prescribed by the law of Moses. Szink discussed features of the three main Israelite festivals: the Day of Blowing Trumpets (Rash Ha-Shanah), the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles.
John W. Welch, professor of law at BYU, concluded with Benjamin's Speech: A Masterpiece of Sacred Literature. Benjamin's speech contains some remarkable literary elements, such as a dramatic setting, verbal elegance, and timeless themes, explained Welch. He discussed the bold, sincere manner in which Benjamin spoke his instructions to his people. But Benjamin, like any great orator, also compelled his listeners to act on his words by addressing their hopes and fears and by juxtaposing their choices with consequences.
By special invitation, the annual FARMS symposium on Benjamin's Speech was repeated in Oakland, California, on the following Saturday (April 20) before a crowd of more than 600. Thomas, Nibley, Szink, and Welch attended to make their presentations, and Elder Maxwell's address was given via videotape. Excellent music was provided by the Valparaiso Singers, accompanied by James Welch. Our thanks to the Saratoga Stake for inviting us to present the symposium and for coordinating this event.
Number 106.Two Notes on the Lord's Prayer
Four versions of the Lord's Prayer are found in scripture, in Matthew 6, JST Matthew 6, Luke 11, and 3 Nephi 13. Recent research enhances our appreciation of the words that Jesus chose to use.
Lead us not. . . . An article by James H. Charlesworth argues that although the New Testament was written originally in Greek, one must consider the Aramaic substratum of the gospels and the Semitic milieu in which earliest Christianity came to life.1 As an example, Charlesworth explains that the Greek phraseology in the line "lead us not into temptation" (Luke 11:4) "looks suspiciously like an erroneous rendering" of the Semitic expression found in the Syriac manuscripts of this passage. That expression uses the Aphíel form of the Semitic verb, which may have two meanings: (1) a causative meaning, "lead us not into temptation," or (2) a permissive sense, "do not permit (or allow) us to enter into temptation."2 both are possible understandings of the semitic construction, but charlesworth favors the permissive sense (compare James 1:13).
Charlesworth's analysis is compatible with jst matthew 6:14: "and suffer us not to be ledinto temptation." As the footnote to Matthew 6:13 in the LDS Edition of the scriptures indeed notes, the Syriac version reads "do not let us enter into temptation."
The ambiguity that Charlesworth points out may have been welcomed by Jesus, who may have wanted his disciples to understand both senses of this verb. He may have wanted them to pray, in effect, "do not lead us into temptation, but lead us some other way," and at the same time to pray "do not permit us to enter into temptation." Thus both English translations capture part of the richness of what the Savior may have intended.
For thine is the kingdom. . . . On several occasions Jesus taught people how to pray. Nothing demands that he said precisely the same thing each time. In fact, his counsel against vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7) might suggest that he did not use the same words each time he prayed or spoke about prayer, which would explain in part why the texts of the Lord's Prayer differ.3
The differences in audiences may shed light on these variations. For example, generally speaking, the more sacred the setting, the more profound the ending of the prayer. Prayers in the temple at Jerusalem did not end simply with "Amen" but with "Praised be the name of his glorious kingdom forever and eternally."4 thus, in 3 nephi 13, when jesus spoke at the temple in bountiful, he concluded his prayer with more than "amen."
On other occasions, Jesus spoke more informally. In Luke 11:1, one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. In this intimate setting, probably in the wilderness where he often went to pray, Jesus reviewed the basic steps of prayer (Luke 11:2, 4). But he cut short that instruction to talk about two related subjects: asking god and being generous (Luke 11:5,13). In that instructional setting he did not need to give his words on prayer a formal conclusion and simply ended with "amen."
The longest ending for the lord's prayer is found in JST Matthew 6:15: "forever and ever, amen." Here Jesus speaks to his apostles as he sends them into the mission field to testify of eternal truths (JST Matthew 5:3-4; 6:25-27; 7:1). In this priesthood setting, the ending emphasizes the everlasting nature of the kingdom of God.
Thus, variations between the four scriptural versions of the Lord's prayer are understandable. Rather than being problematic, the differences each bespeak authenticity through the authority of actual experiences.
Latest Brown Bag Lectures
On March 27 Carl Johannessen, emeritus professor of Geography from the University of Oregon, spoke about evidences found in the ancient Old World of crops normally considered indigenous to the New World, particularly maize. His discussion, entitled "Diffusion of Cultural Traits across the Oceans in Pre-Columbian Times," included a slide presentation showing ancient architecture that depicts what he argues is maize. If his evidence is confirmed by additional research, it will help establish the existence of contacts between the Old and New Worlds before Columbus, thus helping to establish the plausibility of the Book of Mormon account.
On April 25 Richard L. Bushman, professor of History at Columbia University, presented his idea for a book entitled "The Age of Joseph Smith: Reconstructing the Jacksonian Era" that will help Latter-day Saints "understand and appreciate their own prophet." Bushman has rejected the psychoanalytic approach to such a biography because it inevitably reduces the subject to a patient or a victim. Bushman intends to write a cultural biography placing the Prophet within his own environment without trying to explain Joseph as merely the product of that environment.
Bushman hopes to shed light on the life of Joseph Smith, but he does not expect his book to be the final work on the Prophet, because he believes that aspects of Joseph's experiences "will always remain elusive." Bushman received considerable feedback on the ideas he presented as possible topics for the book.
Bushman also discussed his desire to organize and teach a university-level course about how revelation affects culture. Rather than examining the history of religion, the course would study the history of religious questions, as well as such issues as What happens in society when religious authority is disrupted? Where and how does human experience reach its peak? and How does one find the divine?
On May 21, Daniel C. Peterson, assistant professor of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young University, read a paper he was preparing to present at a Mormon History Association symposium. Peterson's paper is a response to a new book by Stan Larson on the work of amateur archaeologist Thomas Stuart Ferguson, who spent his life trying to find evidences for the Book of Mormon but eventually lost sight of his goal and, perhaps, some of his faith.
While Larson touts Ferguson's work as a heroic spiritual quest and as a model of archaeological research, Peterson pointed out a number of naive assumptions and faulty reasonings inherent in Ferguson's (and Larson's) work and contrasted their work with that of professional LDS archaeologists and scholars who have done solid research and have remained faithful.
Two FARMS board members, David Rolph Seely (assistant professor of Ancient Scripture) and William J. Hamblin (associate professor of History), were invited to travel to Italy the first week in May to give lectures at a three-day long CES annual conference in Assisi (about two hours from Rome).
The director of the Church Educational System in Italy, Felice Lottito, contacted FARMS with an invitation to send presenters to participate. Both Hamblin and Seely served missions in Italy, and their knowledge of the language and culture, as well as their historical research, made them ideal candidates for the conference.
Approximately 290 Italian college-age students gathered at the conference to hear eight presenters from around the world give two-hour sessions each day. In his sessions, Hamblin informed listeners about recent archaeological, historical, and textual discoveries related to LDS scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price. Seely concentrated on recent discoveries dealing with the Dead Sea Scrolls, Herod's temple, and some literary features of Isaiah.
In addition to the regular sessions, Hamblin and Seely conducted question-and-answer sessions on two of the days. During these sessions, they answered questions about FARMS material and projects, as well as about other recent Book of Mormon research.
We often receive questions from Insights readers about one aspect or another of the research that FARMS sponsors. We plan to address some of these questions, and the larger concepts that lie behind them, periodically in this column on "FARMS research notes." In this issue we consider some financial aspects of research support. In future issues we will address such topics as what counts as evidence, how to (and not to) draw conclusions from evidence, what is the nature of "peer review," and what is the purpose and meaning of scholarly "weasel words." We invite your comments and suggestions.
On occasion it comes to our attention that some people think that FARMS hires scholars to direct research projects or write books. Since this is generally not the case, we thought it might be helpful to explain our policy on this point.
The conclusions reached by a researcher who is paid to conduct the research may be tainted by assumptions or accusations that the researcher is merely a "hired gun" paid to produce results to order. It is standard in most of the research areas of interest to FARMS that principal investigators are not paid by the organization sponsoring or publishing the research.
FARMS usually supports research in other ways. It provides a forum in which scholars may share ideas and receive peer review of their work. It may provide conceptual help to scholars in refining research proposals and evaluating their research methodologies. While research grants and other assistance may on occasion be made available to support research projects, such support typically covers research-related expenses such as the purchase of books or equipment, travel, or the hiring of research assistants. Virtually all of the work done by the scholars in charge of research projects is performed gratis. As a general rule, authors and editors of FARMS books and other publications are paid no royalties but may receive a modest honorarium for work submitted and approved for publication.
FARMS does employ a few full-time and part-time research staff members. They help manage projects and otherwise assist scholars in their research and the organization of material. However, they are not paid to write books or articles under their own names. Such individuals may, of course, prepare and submit material to be considered for publication by FARMS, but such work is done on their own time and not at FARMS' expense. FARMS research grants are not available to staff members, though other assistance, such as access to research material, may be provided.
In a new video discussion on the ancient prophet Abinadi, Todd Parker, associate professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, presents an informal discussion on the trial of Abinadi before wicked King Noah's court of priests. Parker's wide-ranging and eclectic presentation summarizes information on Abinadi's trial for blasphemy and false prophecy, the courageous way he delivered God's message of repentance to the wicked Nephite priests, and the masterful way he taught the priests the correct interpretation of the law of Moses. The law of Moses prescribes daily activities from which the people learn principlesmain.htm the law of Christ teaches correct principles from which people learn righteous acts.
In part two of his lecture on Abinadi, Parker teaches that all things testify of Christ, including all the prophets who live and have ever lived. The ancient prophets were types of Christ because they represented and symbolized Christ, says Parker. He shows how Abinadi's "trial" before King Noah's court became a lesson about Christ's roles as Father and Son and about the order of the resurrection. Abinadi, the teacher of this lesson, warned the wicked priests that they "ought to tremble" for their unrepentant souls because the Lord "cannot deny justice when it has its claim." Parker emphasizes that redemption comes only through Christ our Lord.
Abinadi's message touched only one of the priests, but that man was Alma, whose prophetic and inspired teachings have influenced subsequent generations of the Lord's people, even down to the present day.
Volunteers Translate FARMS Papers
Volunteers from countries around the world are rapidly adding to the supply of foreign language translations of FARMS material. Several of the most-requested papers, dealing with subjects such as the Book of Mormon, the Apostasy, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and some of the most popular FARMS Book of Mormon Lecture Series lectures have been translated into Spanish, German, French, or all three languages.
The Fall 1996 FARMS Catalog contains a brief listing of some of the most popular foreign language material. Contact FARMS for more information on foreign language materials offered by the foundation.
Scroll Images from ABMC Scanned into Database
FARMS Electronic Projects Specialist Steven W. Booras is busy managing a team of six part-time FARMS employees and volunteers who are scanning the world's most complete photographic collection of the Dead Sea Scrolls. After a year-long negotiation, the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center (ABMC) in Claremont, California, agreed to provide the photos for the Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Reference Library. Booras is currently negotiating to bring selections from other photographic collections to this database as well.
The scanning portion of the project began in late January of this year. Booras received the second batch of images only a few weeks ago. "The scanning is ahead of schedule," assures Booras. He is confident that the electronic database will be available as scheduled.
Because the team is scanning the original negatives of these photos, special precautions are being taken to avoid damaging the negatives, including scanning with minimum handling in a lint-free environment.
Each image undergoes two scans, one at a high resolution and another at a low resolution. The low resolution scans are for use in the database. The high resolution scans are for archival purposes, forming probably the most complete electronic archive of the scrolls in existence.
There will be ten thousand total scans when the project is completed, and each scan occupies approximately 35 megabytes of electronic storage space. To complete this project, the teams are using cutting-edge technology that was not even developed until after FARMS undertook the project.
A demonstration version of the Electronic Reference Library will be given in July to the project's international advisory committee and to participants in the Annual International Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some forty world-renowned scrolls scholars will gather at this private conference, to be held this year at Brigham Young University.
The official release of the Electronic Reference Library is planned for July 1997 at the 1997 International Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls. That conference, to be held in Jerusalem, commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the scrolls' discovery.
Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, volume 5, number 1. Articles reflecting the latest research on the Book of Mormon. Available in July.
John L. Sorenson and Martin H. Raish, Pre-Columbian Contacts with the Americas across the Oceans: An Annotated Bibliography, second edition, revised. This new edition contains many new entries plus updated and expanded annotations. More than one-third of the work is new. Available in August.
Davis Bitton, Historical Dictionary of Mormonism, paperback reprint edition. Describes the religious precepts and practices of Mormonism, along with its social, economic, and cultural activities around the world, today and in the past. Includes a chronology and bibliography. Available in the fall.
James E. Faulconer, editor, Aid to Scriptural Word Studies. Available in the fall.
Emeritus Professor of Anthropology (BYU) John L. Sorenson's much-praised book, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, is now available in paperback. FARMS and Deseret Book have reprinted this popular book in paperback to make it more accessible and affordable.
Since the publication of the Book of Mormon, many people have speculated about settings for Book of Mormon and other ancient American events. Dr. Sorenson not only offers in his book a model for the ancient American geography of the Book of Mormon, but he also examines the lives of and details about the Mesoamerican people. His thorough, plausible, and clear explanations contribute much to an LDS viewpoint of the historical, geographical, and cultural happenings in the ancient Americas.
An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon contains helpful maps and photographs of plausible Book of Mormon event sites and a greatly improved index. The chapter titles are telling: "The Book of Mormon Mapped," "Getting Some Things Clear," "Culture and History in Book of Mormon Lands," "The Early Nephites in Their Setting," "Growing Pains," "A Setting for War," "Nephite Life," and "The End of the Nephites."
The product of a trend toward increasingly serious Book of Mormon scholarship, Dr. Sorenson's book is required reading for all people interested in the antiquity of the Book of Mormon.