74: Mormons and the Bible

In this episode, Heather, Alyssa, and Jonee discuss how Mormons perceive and use the Bible. They then discuss whether the Mormon view of the Bible matches up with what scholars know about the history of the Bible and early Christianity. This episode is a prelude to an upcoming series about the historical relationship between women and the priesthood in both early Christianity and Mormonism.

Play

References
Allen, Charlotte – The Search for a No Frills Jesus
Anderson, Jared – Mormon Stories Podcast: An Academic Introduction to the New Testament
Barlow, Philip – Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion
Ehrman, Bart – Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
Friedman, Richard – Who Wrote The Bible?
PBS Frontline – From Jesus to Christ
PBS Nova – The Bible’s Buried Secrets

18 Comments

  1. Jay

    This was one of the most intellectually stimulating and well researched discussions on this topic I have ever heard. It is ironic that shortly after listening to the podcast I was reading the comments on a deseret news article (see below). It agrees so well with how ignorant the LDS community (as a norm) is when it comes to manuscript history. You ladies could educate the lot of us. You certainly enlightened me.

    ‘Wright Words: Former priest, pastor share their journey to Mormon faith’

    I noticed that people who love to “quote” scripture in their defense against Mormonism use, not the King James version that is most universally used, but some other version. In the above example, the New “Inspired” Version, (NIV). Just one question, Who was this inspired person who changed the wording? Is it a Prophet of God? Who told him/her to change it? Why do we have so many different “versions” of the scriptures. I don’t think any of these people claim to be Prophets or Apostles.

    Amos 3:7 Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the Prophets”. I think the scriptures do indeed represent his secrets, for in them we find the truth.

    Reply Jul 09, 2014 @ 16:34:10
    • ChrisWir

      The birth-canal of the King James Version very complex (the children’s game “telephone” comes to mind): http://www.swapmeetdave.com/Bible/Bible-Growth-750×950.gif
      Since it is one of the earlier versions it does not take into account what we have learned the last 400 years – is not based on current scholarly knowledge.

      Other versions have a less complex birth-canal and are translated more directly, from earlier sources using more resent findings, by modern day scholars.

      Many Christians do not have English as their primary language, hence they use neither KJV or the better-selling NIV and NLT.

      If you want “the Prophet’s” version you find it here: http://www.centerplace.org/hs/iv/default.htm

      Reply Jul 10, 2014 @ 03:58:46
  2. ChrisWir

    This episode made me realize that I DO believe in the “Book of Mormon”… as long as it is translated correctly. ;-)

    Reply Jul 10, 2014 @ 03:04:53
  3. darth_bill

    “Mormons liked the first two so much they started writing fan fiction…..”

    That made the listen well worth it, you know, other than all the other great stuff.

    Reply Jul 10, 2014 @ 12:41:25
  4. susan.mowers

    I have to say, this is one of the best podcasts in the realm of Mormon/Religious critiques I’ve listened to! Well done ladies! As one who is currently undergoing a faith crisis, I’m reading and listening to everything and anything on the histories and theologies of Mormonism, Christianity and religion in general, and I find that this podcast is one of the most well-informed. Can’t wait for the next one in the series!

    Reply Jul 10, 2014 @ 16:49:20
  5. William Law

    expoistor

    Hey girls, I was gob-smacked by your Mormon Bible Expose –– what a wealth of comment and criticism. With this contribution to the Mormon Expositor one can easily see why the gender split is absurdist, arcane and unproductive for everyone, priesthood included.

    Divisive management of Human Rights as regards to sex roles has been completely vaporized by your rational, studied podcast.

    The malleability of truth rises from the primordial slime to smear us with the un-justice of Mormon-ness.
    Seems the authority of Mormanity is slithering down the drain.
    Thank you for you concerted efforts to breath fresh air into a stifling room filled with oppressive influences by the clueless.

    Looking forward to your next installment.
    Thanks much

    Reply Jul 11, 2014 @ 09:03:54
  6. John Spencer

    This was a wonderful podcast. I left the LDS tradition: BIC, mission, marriage in temple, etc. I read the bible three times cover to cover as an LDS person and I love scripture. What fascinated me upon leaving the church and entering into another tradition (Epsicopal) is that my general knowledge of the text of the bible is in many cases superior to the average pew person, but my interpretation is highly Mormonized and out of context.

    This podcast was one of the best I have listened to: it was well researched and had quite the competent panel. You not only whetted my appetite for future podcasts, but I could have listened to hours more!

    Reply Jul 11, 2014 @ 15:07:47
  7. the Queen

    Really great podcast – I am going to listen all over again. Eagerly awaiting the follow up.

    Reply Jul 11, 2014 @ 20:44:46
  8. Adrie de Jong

    You might as well read this book:

    The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, written by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Bible_Unearthed

    Based on archaeology research they came to the conclusion that the bible is not from before 700 bc. It is written to bring together the different groups of people living in the Israel area, by making up the story they are children from one family so they should live in peace together.

    It’s very actual, maybe the arabs, jews, palestine and others living in Israel should make up such a story again, so they would start taking care of each other instead of killing and ruining each others life. It would be the solution for the Middle East conflict.:o)

    I read the book and was very happy to know what to think of the bible: not an historical reallity, but a good book to learn from, grow mental insights and learn to see how patriarchy rather kills and ruins others lives, because of different gods, than to live in peace together. Those who worshipped The Mother were completely wiped away from the face of the earth ! You notice here Israel nowadays still act as their ancestors. It immediatly makes me doubt if the solution for the Middel East would work. :o(

    Do you know Joseph has visited Israel ? According to me it must have given him insight in how to interpret the bible and have influenced his attitude toward it.

    I loved the podcast ! I could add some new insights to my ideas. I leave in the middle wether it’s true or not. I like to explore new ideas and see them in different frames. Rather learning attitude lessons than historical ones. Faith gotta be believed and his-story contains ‘facts’ so we have excuses to make war.

    I’m looking forward for your next podcast and hope to learn lessons of Wisdom when you talk about women and the priesthood, for Wisdom is the name of our Heavenly Mother in the Old Testament. How sweet it will be if Her Wisdom will be spread in our minds again these days.

    Peace,
    Adrie de Jong

    Reply Jul 12, 2014 @ 15:57:28
  9. Kerri

    So July 9 was my birthday, thank you for this present! Really looking forward to the next instalment!

    Reply Jul 15, 2014 @ 10:59:36
  10. DuzTruthMatter

    I have to echo the comments above of how nice it is to listen to three intelligent, articulate women speak and present well-researched ideas. The mormon church hardly ever gives women such leeway. Very good podcast ladies! Been waiting for the next episode, hopefully soon. P.S. Heather, I really miss your style of interviewing and the effortless way you did it on the ME Voices. Whatever happened in the breakup, John L. really lost a fantastic asset to his cause. The two ladies doing it now are cringeworthy to listen to. If it is not stepping on toes, maybe you should do Mormon Expositor Voices. Just a thought, I know this takes a lot of your time, but I love listening to you. All the best.

    Reply Jul 18, 2014 @ 07:39:17
  11. Scripture Perspectives | Reflections

    […] recent Synchronicity I have been experiencing has been on the topic of scripture. Mormon Expositor had an excellent podcast discussing how Mormons perceive the Bible and how it differs than other […]

    Reply Jul 27, 2014 @ 19:31:46
  12. Susan

    Such a great podcast, I love textual criticism of the New Testament and anything Bart Ehrman. It’s a major eye-opener for how billions of Christians have been misled for centuries (and equally so, Mormons). Learning the rich, complex, and very flawed history of the scriptures has made me more interested in learning about them as well. I can’t wait for the next installment!

    Reply Aug 01, 2014 @ 13:48:40
  13. Abe

    This was a very interesting episode. Thank you for doing it. I heard a couple of things toward the beginning that really surprised me. There was the comment about there was no mention of multiple accounts of certain Genesis stories a particular religion course at BYU. I took an Old Testament course there in 2004 and the professor stated explicitly that in the case of the Creation, the first account could be read as a spiritual creation and the second as the physical creation, and in the case of the Flood it was likely a question of early editors not wanting to exclude the more correct version. The second comment was about the Church progressively deemphasizing the Great Apostasy since the 1970. My experience in the early 2000s was very much the opposite. New instructions came down that the first discussion we were to have was about dispensations and the apostasies that end them. We were supposed to make it very clear that we needed Joseph Smith because the Church “fell away” shortly after the Resurrection. That said, I think you’re spot on in pointing out how the Church is continually working to chocolate- coat the Mormon pill.

    Reply Sep 05, 2014 @ 08:27:50
  14. 87: Mormon Priestesshood Part 1 – As Far As It Is Translated Correctly

    […] Preface Episode of Mormon Expositor: 74: Mormons and the Bible […]

    Reply Dec 31, 2014 @ 02:00:22
  15. Michael McAlpine

    I have been listening to episodes of your podcast while painting the house this last week. I left the LDS in 2012 and now attend the Anglican (Episcopal) church here in Dunedin New Zealand where I now live. I am doing a theology degree at the university where I work. I appreciate your efforts to prepare for your podcast but unfortunately, you have made a number of comments that are inaccurate and poorly informed with respect to the Bible, the origins of the KJV among others. Relying on Bart Ehrman, while a very interesting author and academic, means you are relying on someone outside I would say of the middle of the road scholarship. You should spend some time with James Dunn and Richard Bauckham in which you will find a more balanced source of information.

    I am sure you are time starved like many but think that it would be worth your while to spend some more time with subjects you touch on here. I only wanted to mention this as those who are even less informed, including those who have commented above, appear to have given you much more credit than is likely due for your scholarship and may be influenced and possibly quote you to others.

    The most important thing that you reviewed in this episode is the idea of when the apostasy started and what this means to our appreciation of the reliability of the NT. This has been in my thoughts for some time and I discuss it with my Mormon friends (not all of them shunned me after leaving). This calls into question which if any parts of the New Testament we might consider as being reliable as you pointed out. You even correctly hit on the issue of the text of Jesus bleeding from every pore. Yes, scholarship points to this as being a later addition to the text. Joseph Smith didn’t pick this up and it is an actual fact for Mormons and necessary it seems to their idea of the atonement in the garden. Joseph Smith referenced the text in D&C 19:18 “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore.”

    I left the Mormon Church because of the Gospel Doctrine class, well not because of, but it was where a ball that was rolling picked up considerable speed. In 2011 we studied the New Testament. I spent up to 10 hours a week preparing for the lesson. I soon realised that the class is not about scholarship, but is a closely scripted and thematic approach to the text for which only one reading is possible. It was very unsatisfying for both myself and the teacher, who part way through asked to be released. It was through my study of the New Testament that I realised that Mormonism contained a great deal of “Mormon-made overhead” to the actual message we find in the NT. Ask yourself why Luther could write 1700 pages on Galatians and call it his bride, but the Mormon NT course of study gives it only a passing glance. Read Galatians and understand it, and Romans too, and you will meet Paul’s Gospel and then wonder what place Mormonism and its saving ordinances have. Read Colossians and you will come across an early anit-Mormon letter.

    I came to understand that in Mormonism, Jesus is a man, a contingent being made a human sacrifice, an innocent punished for the guilty many by a God whose prime purpose is the dispensing of Divine retributive justice. That this sacrifice is not infinite, but merely facilitates one’s reconciliation and unification with God, as the pinnacle of salvation is the Mormon temple ordinances available to any who will pay. What’s more, one is never sure that one is saved as those who repeat their sin must never have repented and so are never forgiven. Mormonism thrives on the eschatological anxiety of its members.

    Sorry for the long post, having the time while on holiday from work allowed me to type so much more.

    Again, thank-you for your perspectives.

    Michael

    Reply Jan 05, 2015 @ 15:59:52
  16. Spencer Morgan

    I loved the way episode 74 (Mormons and the Bible) started out because this is a huge unaddressed issue in Mormonism. The presumptive acceptance of the NT and OT narratives as historical and literal flies in the face of the best historical analysis and textual criticism. The “out” mormons have with the “as far as it is translated correctly” phrase falls short because the more scholars get to the original texts, the mor problems come up. Learning the scholarship was a huge factor in my change to atheism.

    However, there were quite a few historical falsehoods asserted as this podcast went on, which demand correcting:

    1) Jews were traditionally monotheists in the sense of identifying / worshipping one god, but their monotheism (at least until later western contexts) did NOT contend that other gods were nonexistent. They simply had nothing to do with them.

    2) The Jewish notion of the messiah was DEFINITELY NOT a notion that god himself would be the messiah. This was not only a christian invention, but an invention that came AFTER the first generations of christians (who did not see Jesus and Jehovah as the same being). Later Christians developed this theology of the messiah in the context of already believing he was god. This also makes the theology of the BOM anachronistic as no Jews believed this about the messiah.

    3) The best historical analysis explaining the available evidence (and there is much more of it than just Josephus’ account) is that a real human Jesus existed, and that he was an apocalyptic Jewish preacher who was executed by Pilate by crucifixion. There is a lot of detail and nuance behind why the vast majority of accredited NT scholars take this view, and why they don’t take the mythicist’s claims seriously. The best overview of the evidence, and debunking of the mythicist position is “Did Jesus Exist” by Bart Ehrman, who is a NT scholar and professor at UNC (he also, is an atheist).

    Sloppy claims and history should be avoided. When I see things that I know are false (due to my academic background and personal reading) it takes away the credibility for the claims you make that I am not personally knowledgeable about.

    Reply Apr 30, 2015 @ 08:31:10
  17. Jimbo

    Excellent podcast, I learned a lot. You guys/gals are great. Keep up the good work.

    Reply Feb 04, 2016 @ 13:09:28

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