How do Mormons teach the Old Testament?

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Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher's Manual-35570000A week from Sunday, the LDS adult curriculum will cycle back to the Old Testament, one of four scripture topics that rotate on a four-year track. I love it that we Mormons spend an entire year on the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, and that we take it seriously as scripture that should be meaningful for our lives.

But of course there are ways that we could teach it more effectively and honestly. In the newest Mormon Matters podcast, I joined with USU professor Phil Barlow (author of Mormons and the Bible, a modern classic recently reissued by Oxford University Press) and Carrie Miles (a scholar of business and organizational psychology whose international development work has involved teaching the Bible in various cultures) to discuss the coming year and teaching from the Gospel Doctrine manual. As Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon put it:

We have a dual challenge: (1) to try to be as faithful as possible to the scriptural text and the context in which it was written and the people who lived in those places and times, while (2) still honoring in some way the Christian and LDS overlays that have become deeply ingrained in ours and others’ faith journeys and worldviews—framings and understandings that can only generally handle grafting in a few new pieces at a time.

Some of the questions we address include:

  • How can teachers open up discussion beyond literalist readings of the Old Testament without damaging their students’ faith?
  • How do we present passages like Ezekiel 37, which have specifically Mormon interpretations (the stick of Judah, etc.) but also an older, richer history within the context of Israel’s story of exile and redemption? Is it possible to be faithful to multiple understandings of a prophecy or text?
  • What outside sources (commentaries, interpretive works, biblical translations) would be helpful for GD teachers to consult as they prepare their lessons and learn more about the OT?
  • How can we honor women such as Deborah who do not get their due in the GD manual?
  • How can we move beyond the Mormon tendency to assume that religion in the OT was a prototype of our own religious practice today — including the ideas that Solomon’s temple was “just like” LDS temples today or that a biblical prophet was “just like” a modern one?

That last question arose from an experience I had many years ago, before I had even converted to Mormonism, and a missionary exclaimed to me that the Washington, D.C. temple was exactly like Solomon’s temple. I didn’t respond to her, because she seemed a very sweet person, but I wanted to say, “Really? You guys are sacrificing animals in that temple? What ELSE are you doing in there?” But it certainly caused me to think about appropriate ways to help Latter-day Saints understand more about the Old Testament without simply appropriating it for our own uses.

I hope you’ll give the podcast a listen. As Dan sums it up, the overall questions we’re trying to explore here is, “What riches does the Old Testament possess that would be wonderful to convey even if they might complicate current LDS assumptions?”

  • Dean Bender

    Jana, that is a long pod cast. I will comment on it after I listen. Now I want to answer the last question you asked. During the last year I downloaded the 13 articles Hugh Nibley published in the Ensign in the 1970’s entitled, A Strange Thing in the Land: The Return of the Book of Enoch. I combined them and sent them to Amazon to get it in book form for my Kindle.
    What a read! After some reading, I copied down from the internet a couple of versions of the Book of Enoch (not church sponsored) and ran some searches.
    Brother Nibley points out the near impossibility of The Prophet Joseph Smith having access to a translated version (or untranslated for that matter) at the time the Book of Abraham was published. He also pointed out and broadly mentioned that several concepts that did not exist in Christianity were in the Book of Enoch and the Book of Abraham. Therefore, my conclusion is that the Book of Abraham and the Book of Enoch came from the same knowledge base. Both Abraham and Enoch knew of those points of doctrine that were subsequentially lost until the Book of Abraham was published.
    For serious students of the Pearl of Great Price / Old Testament, this is worth the effort.

  • Infinite power and YET still wanting more

    I am amazed at the thoughts… you come up with…and how it expands my view of the world.

    I find many things you REVEAL to be stimulating and inspiring…
    And even though I often totallllllly disagree…
    I am looking forward to the day when all people are talking, expressing and considering other viewpoints in an open reasonable manner.

    Many spend years or decades and never wonder… or consider anything…

    This is currently …..OUR… greatest dilemma…

  • I can’t wait to hear the podcast. I have lived Mormonism all my life. I have taught LDS seminary to awake and engaged teens. This allowed me to study deeper. At the same time these students were attending school with a large population of Evangelical teens. Every day we discussed topics in the bible from both LDS and Evangelical points of view. Since the end of those seminary years I find myself unable to sit through Gospel Doctrine, it just makes me cry. I love this post, and it’s idea’s. I hope some one on the curriculum board listens to the podcast and is inspired by it. This year, as I have for the past few years, I will study the Old Testament in my car during Sunday School time. Thanks.

  • Sharman Wilson

    I’m no techie–is there a way for me to get the Kindle book of Nibley articles you compiled, or do I have to print out all the articles from (lots of paper!)?

  • Dean Bender

    Sure. I never printed a page.
    I copied the articles to a single Microsoft word document and emailed the document to amazon via the email address they assigned to the kindle I wanted to read it on. Bingo, I have a book.
    At I went to Ensign, other issues, hunted down the articles, called each on up, clicked on print, which gave me the article in a text like mode. Finally, I copied that to the Word document.
    If this is not what you want, please reply.

  • Dean Bender

    I thoroughly enjoyed the podcast! Some of the thoughts were very engaging and spot on. And for years I wanted the Gospel Doctrine class to meet my intellectual needs.
    However, I now turn into a Grinch. In 1976, three years after adult baptism, I took a speech class and boldly identified myself as a Latter-day Saint. On the last night of class, an also 20 something told me she was raised a Roman Catholic and never once was able to apply what is in the Bible to her life. That hit me very hard and I had no clue how to respond. After that and serving 20 of the last 40 years in Priesthood Leadership callings I have one thing to say: Gospel Doctrine for the well studied Saint is an opportunity to serve and to lift others by helping them apply the words of the scriptures to their own lives to change their behavior, build their testimonies and help them meet life’s challenges.
    Meet with each other online, in homes, special firesides, call each other on the phone on Saturday night and discuss all the deep and cool stuff. As a Bishop, I could have cared less about my members understanding that Ezekiel 37 had a completely different meaning to Israel than it does to us. I wanted the members of our ward to know how and be confident in pouring over the scriptures to find the answers to their challenges in life. I wanted the members to have personal application of the scriptures to their own family, e.g. “As for me and my house…”
    P.S. when I was Elders Quorum President, we had eight firesides on Isaiah – that was cool. Starting this January, a nerd friend and I are going to talk on the phone each Saturday night to the discuss the items that won’t be and shouldn’t be in S.S. I did the later before but got out of the habit.

  • Dean Bender

    Sharman, I finally found my Docx file! I buried it well. How do I get it to you. My email is

  • Dean- What topics do you think are important to discuss but, as you say, will not and should not be taught in the SS class? Just trying to get information, not start a fight of any kind. There are some things that I think would make great lessons but I know they will never be taught. I am not sure if I think they *should* be taught, however.

  • Carrie- What makes you want to “cry” in the class? I have always felt like Gospel Doctrine classes gave us a very “surface” analysis of the text. I feel that is the case even more now that I am seeking a Masters degree in Religion.

  • Dean Bender

    Good question, John.
    Three cycles back (12 years ago) we had a Gospel Doctrine teacher who spent 1/2 of the time or more explaining the historical context surrounding the section of the Bible we were reading. Many students liked his lessons but he repeatedly failed to take opportunity to increase testimony, inspire students to change their behavior or fill in gaps in their gospel knowledge. In the close he would half heartedly refer to how we should respond to the teachings but those closes, many times, felt like non-sequiturs.

  • Dave

    I would say, first off, that all religions have their mythology and Mormonism is no exception. While it is true, for example, that modern temples are the house of God in a way that is more holy and special than church buildings – and some even have a Holy of Holies – we have the Melchizedek priesthood so they are not the same thing. They don’t even look the same. These and other myths should be dispelled in GD class, not spread. The multiple nature of topics in the scriptures should be explained, rather than just pointing out how awesome it is to live in the latter days. But the bottom line I’ve found to be true in all this is that people will teach and learn on the level they are on. Truth than can’t be accepted because milk before meat is just as problematic.

  • Gale

    As a former Jew (OK, I guess once a Jew always a Jew) but longtime convert to Mormonism, who lived in Israel 8 years, who speaks Hebrew, and who has researched the OT and Judaism for many years, I do a lot to enhance the teaching of the OT in both gospel doctrine classes and CES adult OT classes. I find that bringing the culture alive, giving historical context, and especially presenting an historical overview of the intertestamental period really help. But most needed is revising the Christian cultural view that the Law of Moses was a law of retribution, and that Jesus did away with that vengeful law and gave us a law of love. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus was the lawgiver, and the Law of Moses is a law of repentance and sacrifice, and at its very core a law of restitution, not retribution. Would that all GD teachers fully understood that.

  • E B

    Amen to that Dean, and thanks for listing out some points to ponder, Jana. Last cycle I lived in a ward with religion students (PhDs) among others prone to philosophizing so we’ve actually gone through those very questions, and on a regular basis. What came about was a combination of Dean’s experience (lack of edifying discussion) and the ideal, all depending on the teacher of the week and whether or not the class would allow themselves to be reigned in enough to consider how the historical stuff can be applied and enrich their own lives personally.
    What is really wonderful as teachers is that we have the right to seek inspiration for our own classes and discussions, and as long as we keep the Spirit present in both preparations and class then we’re doing well and learning and growing.

  • E B

    Yes, thank you!

  • Ken Dahl

    Frankly, I have trouble at the very beginning of the Bible when I ponder the supposed beginning of mankind; Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden in Missouri as we’re shown in the temple endowment ceremony, and thereafter creating many offspring over 800 years. I imagine this young family launched out into the wilderness of earth. As Cain, Seth and many others grow up I’m dumbfounded with the realization that Adam and Eve became grandparents in a very non-traditional family way. I then put down the Bible and don’t pick it up again.

  • TomW

    Dean, I really appreciated your comments. Often we approach classes from the perspective of “what can I get out of it for myself” and become bored when it seems a rehash of the same things we studied four years ago, and four years before that, etc. Many non-Latter-day Saints would be surprised to learn that the LDS Sunday School curriculum follows a regular four-year cycle of Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, and Church History, meaning that literally half of the curriculum is focused on the Bible, while only a quarter of it is focused on the Book of Mormon. (Which might help explain why LDS tend to do very well on those Bible knowledge surveys, much to the chagrin of critics who claim we don’t study it.)

    The fact of the matter is that the church has more living converts than those who were born into the church, and it has always been so. As a result, the classes which many of us find repetitive and not particularly full of depth are often just perfect for relatively new members of the church. Which leads to a couple of possibilities: 1) Create yet another adult Sunday School class geared to in-depth study, or 2) treat it like Dean suggested in his above post by using it as “an opportunity to serve and to lift others by helping them apply the words of the scriptures to their own lives to change their behavior, build their testimonies and help them meet life’s challenges.”

    The latter dovetails nicely into Moroni 6:5, which speaks of how the church did “meet together oft, to fast and to pray, and to speak one with another concerning the welfare of their souls.”

    I can see the pros and cons of both methods. The fact of the matter is, however, that no one is prohibited from engaging in their own personal in-depth study, or from gathering with friends to do so collectively. Perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing to deal with fundamentals in a Sunday School setting, and encourage people to go deeper in their outside studies.

  • Douglas R

    I love the Old Testament, and I see now that the Bible is littered with numerous cultural clues which I have long overlooked. Few of us are fortunate to have a ward member or friend with your background. Can you recommend anything to read on ancient Jewish culture? I’ve found a few fascinating books (all by non members) that discuss the New Testament in light of ancient culture which I quite enjoy. But I’d be interested in reading anything you might suggest.

    As for Jana’s general question of how to teach a GD class at church, I think the best teachers ask open, thought-provoking questions that cause interested members to ponder life. When such questions are raised about basic gospel (i.e., life changing) principles, I think members at different spiritual levels can grow together.

    The older I get, the more convinced I become that God’s word is infused with multiple levels of meaning. Were it not so, reading the scriptures would become a rote and meaningless activity. Sometimes we get these amazing insights that have been right there in front of our noses the whole time but we previously missed because we read the scriptures with mental filters. I believe the best teacher is the Holy Ghost, and the best learning environment is an honest heart and open mind. However, as we try to relate our experiences to the scriptures we must take care not to distort them by applying modern assumptions the ancients did not share.

  • John,
    The crying comes from the lack of depth. Our classes are surface and even less, they are regurgitation and cliche. A question is asked, a standard response given, and move on.

    In seminary one of the kids realized that Pharoah of Egypt had the dream about the upcoming famine. Not Joseph, though he did interpret it, nor his father, Isaac The Prophet,. My student was confused that God chose not to tell his Prophet about the famine, but instead the Egyptian unbeliever. It was a good question, our lesson manual has no answer for it, we just keep on reading about Joseph and his brothers. There is no answer in Mormonism for that Biblical conundrum. Since we have no answer, we just don’t discuss it. –

    Those gaps make me cry. I think they are instructive. The life of Jacob/Israel himself is such a fantastic look at humans who are prophets, we don’t spend much time on it.

    Last of all, when I read Moroni 10:3 – I see it as an invitation to read scripture and observe “How Merciful the Lord hath been unto the Children of Men.” To see the Lord’s mercy, we must see our and acknowledge our humanism. A candid look at the Old Testament affords us this.

    John – I’ve rambled and ranted here, thank you for your inquiry, I uncorked a bit, I hope I have not been to brash.

  • Gale,
    I am not Jewish, but this past week I picked up some Harold Kushner books at the library. One of them is called To Life. A celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking. I am desirous to learn more about the Jewish religion and it’s practices. If you can email more information or reading suggestions I would love it, as well as suggestions for adding it to class discussions.


  • TomW

    You know, Carrie, that absent your making specific mention of the situation with Pharaoh receiving the dream, it would never have occurred to me that anyone would ever have a question about it.

    It seems to me that God gave Pharaoh an undecipherable dream in order to enable Joseph to gain favor with him which eventually resulted in the saving of Joseph’s family. If Pharaoh had not received the dream, and some prisoner named Joseph would have attempted to get word to the Pharaoh to warn him of the impending famine, who is to say that it would have even been elevated to Pharaoh’s attention at all rather than getting caught up in lower levels of government? In my view, the entire situation played out exactly as it needed to, and that the Lord guided the entire process.

    I fail to see the slightest source of controversy or avoidance. I think, simply, that it doesn’t come up because it wasn’t seen as a problem to begin with. I’d hate to be responsible for developing curriculum which would be held to a standard of pre-conceiving all possible questions that anyone in the world might have, and preemptively providing satisfying answers to each.

  • Carrie- You certainly have not been to harsh. I find the classes unfulfilling in the same way you do. That said, especially with the OT, there are things that a lot of students just wouldn’t want to hear. And to be honest, depending on where they are in their faith journey, possibly shouldn’t hear. Like God allowing (the) satan to destroy Job’s life because of a bet. Or the real, underlying reason for the commandment against adultery/chastity. But I just don’t really worry about it, I go sit in the Gospel Essentials class with the missionaries and take in the information.

  • Rob

    As a former seminary teacher and gospel doctrine teacher for many years, I believe you are missing out. I learn more during class discussion than I ever do in studying by myself. Sometimes the discussions are superficial, but sometimes members of the class raise questions that no one can answer, but trying to do so helps us all learn, I believe. I can see the question you posed being asked in my class. In fact I believe it would be a good question for me to ask in my class.

    I encourage you to go to class. You might be surprised that other people in the class might teach you something. Besides, by going to class you might learn that Jacob, not Isaac, was Joseph’s father.

  • I think a good area of study, actually the most important area of study, is the Gospel.

    Paul the Apostle claimed to preach the Gospel of Christ, and that if anyone preached any other gospel, that person would be condemned. Joseph Smith said the gospel was lost from the earth and he was called to restore it.

    Was the Gospel really lost from the earth? It is important to investigate this. If it wasn’t, then Mormons are following a different gospel…one that does not save from judgement.

  • Rob

    As a former seminary teacher of the Old Testament, I learned that the Law of Moses was a law of love through CES materials, and of course, studying the Old Testament.

  • laverl09

    Carrie, Joseph’s father was Jacob whose name had been changed to Israel. Isaac was Joseph’s dead grandfather. In any case, what reason would Pharoah have had to listen to a shepherd prophet from another country about a famine in Egypt?
    The dreams Joseph had before he was sold into Egypt showed his father and brothers bowing down to him. This was all planned in advance to show the transition of the role of Joseph as the birthright son and next “prophet” after Israel.

  • laverl09

    Inda Mormonism, the word Gospel has two meanings. (1) faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism by immersion and receiving the Holy Ghost.–as emphasized in the Book of Mormon (2) the Church organization as set up by Jesus while on the earth (apostles and prophets with Christ as the chief cornerstone – see Ephesians) along with past and present revelations including those of Paul.
    Because the apostles and prophets were all killed shortly after Jesus was crucified, the Church became devoid of authority to baptize and give the gift of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, it was necessary to restore both the leadership authority as well as the original structure in preparation for the second coming of the Lord (see Acts 3:19)

  • I have enjoyed the comments to this column. As a GD teacher of many years, I have cycled through the class material several times. For thirteen of those years I was also teaching Institute, (different part of the four year rotation), and was Stake Supervisor for CES, so I had to be familiar with the teaching materials for Seminary. I was also a Seminary teacher a few times.

    I wonder, Janna, was the Missionary who told you our modern Temples were just like Solomon’s temple really showing his ignorance, or were you taking his comments too literally? And is Gospel Doctrine really boring, or are we using the lesson manual for our classes ineffectively? The Scriptures themselves
    are to be used as the manual, with the suggestions for teaching found in the GD Teachers Manual used as a help when needed. The Teacher is the Holy Ghost.
    How important it is for our classes to be filled with students and teachers who have this Gift. How sad when we don’t bear one another’s burdens by abandoning others to a “boring” class.

    This is one example of teaching with the Spirit, to those who are trying to learn by that same Spirit…I teach with nothing but the scriptures at hand. No notes bigger than the margin of my scriptures. Many times someone will ask a question. There will be discussion, (my purpose in the class is to direct the discussion), sometimes the answer comes from a class member whose life experience answers the question, and sometimes I feel the prompting of the Holy Ghost as I recall a verse that answers the question, or I feel directed to glance down at the open scriptures in my hand and see the verse that answers the question there on the open page of the scriptures. That this happens so often to me and to so many other unpaid volunteer teachers like we have in our Church is a testimony of the truthfulness of what we teach. We don’t go to school to learn to teach. We are most usually called into a room, or have a meeting in the hall with a member of the Bishopric and “called” to teach a class. Then someone hands us a book and the next Sunday we hear our name being read by someone in the Bishopric. We meet with a few other frightened folk and get “set apart”, and then we are on duty, the very next Sunday.

    I earned my Church “teacher” chops the hard way…in Primary, my first teaching calling. I taught 13 of the most disrespectful unruly six year olds there ever were. For the first few weeks I hated it. I would prepare and get all the visual aids ready only to find myself flummoxed the first time my eyes left theirs and went to my manual. From that moment on, thirteen six year olds had a ball, while I cowered behind my manual. I realized that the manual was the problem. I was allowing it to be my crutch. I called all the parents and the Primary President to explain that my class might not let out on time the next few weeks. Then I went to work. I memorized the lesson, using the backs of my visual aids for a few notes. The next week I looked deeply into the children’s eyes and waited until they quieted down. Then I told them I had really worked hard on the lesson and I was not talking if they were. I told them I had talked to their parents and explained that I was not letting them out of class until the whole lesson was over. I began. They began. I stopped. We repeated this several times. Then the Stake President’s daughter, the ring leader of disruption said, “Be quiet! She means it!” No more six year old trouble…and inasmuch as the same techniques that work at six work at sixty…no more trouble.

    I still memorize my lessons. I maintain eye contact. When people sleep or are bored, I change it up and go in another direction. But most importantly, I work to have the Spirit with me, and pray He is with my students. And that is all I or any untrained teacher of the Gospel can do. It really does not matter if we have new material or not, because then it is up to the Spirit to teach. And He does.

  • HI Everyone,

    I meant to write Israel not Isaac as Joseph’s father. Thanks for catching it. I also agree that I can learn from others. I think my problem is patience, I want everyone to get as interested as I get. Not everyone will.

    As for sitting in other classes, I know I am not mature enough to sit through Gospel Essentials right now. Maybe a Family History class I could pull off if we had one.

    Thanks for catching my oops. Enjoy your year. It sounds like you all contribute well.

  • Rockgod28

    The Old Testament is far from boring. It deals with the creation of the Earth, the Fall and the people of God. The world was perfect in order, form and innocence. Then transgression entered by choosing love. Adam loved Eve and man fell so that we would come to this world in a fallen state. The history, generations and mankind itself over and over in the Old Testament is illustrated as devilish, carnal and very very foolish.

    How can a people who witnessed the miracles performed by Moses and not know there was a God that delivered them from bondage? Yet empty their belly, experience any physical discomfort and suddenly they were longing for a return to slavery. It was crazy.

    It was no wonder multiple times God was nearly done with them. Yet what was the point of the many, many failings recorded in the Old Testament?

    Hope, love, redemption and the chance that we are not too late to be saved. All we have to do is look. Open our eyes, hear with our ears and most important turn our hearts to God. All who did were blessed even in the face of death, despair and ruin.

    History and the world would forever be altered if first Israel rejected kings. They were a free people, the freest in recorded history, yet they desired a king. Those kings had a chance to secure their kingdoms multiple times by God, yet failed repeatedly.

    Many people forget King Saul was the first king of Israel. Overshadowed by David. Yet while Saul made mistakes and blinded by jealousy, David was worse. David was a good king, yet when his challenges came he not only failed, his fall was greater than Saul. Solomon asked for wisdom as a gift from God, yet forsook it later in his life which ended up destroying the kingdom of Israel.

    Compatibility Pharaohs, foreign kings and military men in the Old Testament are proven repeatedly to be more righteous than God’s choosen people. Jesus pointed out that Leapers like Naman were healed or other mighty miracles were done for other nations. Not Israel or God’s choosen.

    The king of Babylon saw a vision of what was to be in the latter days. Our day. His vision is clearer than most prophecies of the last days. Five periods of time with major influence that would shape the world. Not Israel ir God’s choosen.

    Gold, silver, bronze, iron and iron mixed with clay. All these periods and major influences of our society that has shaped the modern world are now gone. Shattered never to be reformed. Only stone is left. A stone unchecked that will fill the Earth from a rock, to a mountain and then a world.

    What is that stone? Are we part of it or in its way?

    The Old Testament teaches we have a chance to not only study ancient Israel, but to recognize the good in all people. The Babylonians, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and various peoples everywhere are all God’s people. Israel failed repeatedly in their mission to teach of God and his love for all his children.

    Even in failure the plan and purposes of God were fulfilled despite the weakness of the human race.

    So what does the Old Testament teach us? We are only human and he is God. Even with all our failures, weaknesses and faults he still loves us.

  • S B

    Carrie, I love your student’s question! I think the answer that God gave Pharaoh the indecipherable dream for political reasons is a good one, but I would go even further.

    Judges 7:9-15 tells us that God used a dream to reveal the future to an unnamed man among the Midianites, who were pagan. There’s no evidence that the man held an important position, but God still loved him and communicated directly with him. This reminds me of Alma 28:8, “For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true.”

    If we really believe that all people are beloved children of God, we won’t be surprised to learn that yoga includes some good exercises or that some modern medicines are based on Native American herbal remedies, or that ancient Romans were good engineers. We won’t think it’s strange that the Hindus invented our number system and the Chinese developed paper.

    We’ll see God’s influence in every human culture, and we’ll be grateful for His loving care of all His children.

  • S B – Thank you for your insights. I love your view point and approach. I too love Gods Universalism. I need to be more forgiving of my earthly counter parts. I need to grow up and stop letting my place in development be affected by others. If my Sunday School class doesn’t fill me, I can take care of that need.

    I have really liked this entire comment thread. It’s very energizing to me.

    Thanks for adding your comment. I really do like how you read scriptures.

  • Dean Bender

    I too, have thoroughly enjoyed this column and the many comments.
    I have just these last two days committed to generally keep my mouth shut in GD but share one insightful or very insightful thought each week that I think many others will not think of. e.g. in the first lesson in January, I will share that if I had had those experiences with deity, the devil and deity again – I would have zero fear when I went to confront pharaoh to “let my people go.” Heavenly Father would certainly not let anything happen to His servant, on His errand. Happy New Year to you all.

  • TomW

    Of course, there’s always Abinadi…

  • Dean Bender

    Tom, I am not certain just how “tongue-in-cheek” that comment is. Abinadi was protected until his work was complete (Mosiah 13: 3-7).
    I guess you try to get the long-term assignment (40 years in Moses case).

  • Joseph M

    A book that I think every one should read is
    Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by E. Randolph Richards and, Brandon J. O’Brien It provides a very good introduction to how to look passed the assumptions we make based on our current culture.

  • Douglas R

    I’ve had my eye on that book for some time. Your suggestion has convinced me to read it.

  • Wendy, you sound like a terrific teacher. Clone thyself! In my ward we are lucky to have a wonderful GD teacher who is energetic and knowledgeable and loving. I wish everyone had that, and it sounds like you do.

    Two things:
    1) No, I was not misinterpreting the missionary’s comments; this is what she sincerely believed was true about the temple in Solomon’s time. As I said, I did not have the heart to correct her.

    2) Did this post somehow give the impression that I think GD class is boring? I don’t recall even suggesting that, so your question puzzles me. I certainly don’t feel that way, though of course there are ways we can and should teach more effectively. I’m glad we have GD class at all.

  • Jana, no, you weren’t inferring the classes were boring, but others of your commenters were. You were nice not to correct your Missionary…I am afraid I would have done so, with questions that would allow her to realize her error on her own.

    I would love to clone what I have learned in the rough and tumble world of church teaching. I once had a seminary kid disagree with me by thowing his chair across the room and running out of class. Fun times.

    The one thing I would change about Gospel Doctrine would be teacher training. Currently where I live there is no such thing. Sad.

    Thanks for your columns. Since most LDS tend to be right of center, and some far right, your (in my opinion, which might be incorrect) left of center viewpoint sparks many discussions. Some of the comments tend on occasion to flare up and become rude. Sorry about that, but I have a feeling you know which columns will do that before you hit the send key to the website. As a teacher in a Church setting, I have to dance around those discussions. You do not. It is well!

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    The Book of Mormon specifically discusses vast sections of the Old Testament and emphasizes that the mission of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, was foreseen in great detail and, in some cases, understood as clearly as it is explained in the Book of Mormon. The New Testament similarly finds the message of Christ in many parts of the Old Testament. While Jews who care about religion tend to disagree about the Old Testament pointing to Jesus Christ, I don’t begrudge them that position; if they agreed with us, they would become Christians, as most of the Jews in the First Century apparently did. But I don’t think there is any reason for Paul, Peter, or Jesus, or Nephi or Jacob or Mormon to apologize for seeing much of the Old Testament as a promise fulfilled in Christ. Indeed, there are non-LDS Christian scholars like Margaret Barker who believe that the Judaism of the First Temple, before the reforms that occurred during and after the Babylonian Exile, was much more explicit than modern Judaism is about believing that God’s Son would become incarnated as the Messiah. While we owe the Jews a debt a gratitude for preserving the Old Testmanent, if you believe that Jesus was the Messiah, and if you believe that the Book of Mormon is a companion scripture, then there is no reason to apologize for seeing the Savior within the message of the Psalms and Isaiah, and in parables like the brazen serpent that Moses used to offer healing to Israel (an argument Jesus made). The Gospel doctrine class is not there to turn us into some variety of modern Jews, but to help us see the Old Testament as the Christ-centered narrative that prophets and apostles, from Nephi to Paul, saw.

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