Latest Occasional Papers Highlights Biblical Scholar
A new publication from the Institute highlights the biblical research of a prominent British scholar. Kevin Christensen's "Paradigms Regained: A Survey of Margaret Barker's Scholarship and Its Significance for Mormon Studies," the second issue of the FARMS Occasional Papers, compares the works of Margaret Barker with the writings of many Latter-day Saint researchers, including Hugh W. Nibley, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch.
Christensen begins with a short biography of Barker, a Cambridge-educated math and religion teacher, Methodist preacher, and member (and recent past president) of the Society for Old Testament Study. Barker has published seven books and several journal articles, all of which are gaining increasing attention among LDS scholars because of the author's prodigious scholarship, profound insight, and, to use Christensen's words, "overall paradigm [that] burst[s] with information and insight of peculiar interest to Mormons."
Christensen goes on to examine the main themes of Barker's works. One theme that resonates with LDS readers is her idea of an "older testament"a theory that before about 600 B.C. the Israelite religion had elements that were later lost or removed from the Old Testament. Many of those early elements align with ideas and theologies in the Book of Mormon concerning divine visions, the prominent role of temples, and characteristics of the Messiah.
Throughout the paper, Christensen compares Barker's works with the writings of LDS scholars. He devotes an entire chapter to showing how the Savior's visit to the Nephites in 3 Nephi 8Ð28 fits perfectly with the ancient Israelite beliefs about the roles of the high priest, as well as with the Israelites' Messianic expectations.
Christensen ends his paper with a challenge to researchers to examine Barker's works. He suggests topics that could be rich sources of insight into the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon. To fully appreciate the scriptures, Christensen argues, a reader must challenge his or her own assumptions and be willing to accept new ideas, such as those found in the works of Margaret Barker.
To obtain a copy of FARMS Occasional Papers 2, see the enclosed order form or visit the catalog section of the FARMS Web site.