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David Bokovoy

Concerning The Divine Council

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Wow, I had no idea that Kevin had expressed such interest in my article. I missed at least one thread on the topic that Mr. Graham posted here on the FAIR board.

Kevin Graham has raised questions concerning my most recent FARMS Review essay. Iâ??m really happy to address any questions and/or concerns, however, as usual, Kevinâ??s criticisms are severally misplaced. While I make no pretense to follow all of Kevinâ??s postings, here on a few replies to Mr. Graham.

In response to my statement, â??few topics prove more intriguing to Latter-day Saints than the biblical view of the divine council,â? Kevin made the following comment:

I would say it is more accurately put that LDS apologists find this intriguing. My sense is that most Latter-day Saints generally wouldnâ??t have a clue what you were talking about if you asked them about a divine council.

Kevinâ??s comment is based soley upon his â??sense,â? which of course is simply another way of stating that his correction derives solely from the personal experiences that produced his opinion.

I can state that â??my senseâ? leads me to stand by my opening statement. This impression is based upon presenting a variety of firesides, 7 years of working as a professional religious educator for the LDS Church (at Harvard, MIT, and Boston University), teaching annually at BYU Education Week, and regularly presenting at the once held "Know Your Religion" series.

I can state that based upon my experiences, which of course are limited, that indeed, few topics prove more intriguing to Latter-day Saints than the biblical view of the divine council. In fact, again, based upon my experiences, I would place only the topics of temples, and Latter-day prophecies concerning the end of times above the divine council of deities in terms of eliciting major LDS interest, which is precisely why I prefaced the assertion with the expression â??few topics.â?

In response to my statement, â??toward the end of his ministry, the Prophet Joseph Smith devoted considerable attention to this controversial subject,â? Kevin suggested:

This is a dubious claim given the consistent dearth of evidence provided in Bokovoyâ??s divine council articles. The number of instances in which a divine council was referenced by Joseph Smith, either implicitly or explicitly, can be counted on one hand. This begins with a discourse given at Nauvoo in 1839. Joseph Smith taught of a divine council by which Adam was its head: â??The Father called all spirits before him at the creation of Man & organized them. He (Adam) is the head, was told to multiply.â?

Of course the fact that Kevin can only list the number of implicit and explicit references to a divine council in the Prophetâ??s teaching/ revelations on a single hand does not mean that Joseph did not devote considerable attention to this subject.

Granted, I suppose that to some extent that â??considerable attentionâ? is in the eye of the beholder, however, in addition to the small handful of explicit examples that I provided, several others could be added, including of course the implicit reference to a divine council drama in both the books of Moses and Abraham.

Though these revelations do not provide an explicit reference to the divine council of deities, the accounts do provide a council drama that perfectly reflects the standard literary details featured in Near Eastern stories of the heavenly assembly, which include 1) A crisis, 2) various proposals, and 3) a commissioned savior/messenger.

In response to my comment, â??yet biblical scholars, however unwittingly, have in recent years followed the Prophet's lead in devoting substantial consideration to the role of the divine council in the Hebrew Bible,â? Kevin writes:

Now this is just inexcusable nonsense. It is absurd for Bokovoy to try recreating history and our current reality to paint a picture that has scholarship following Joseph Smithâ??s lead! It should suffice to say that the majority of Hebrew scholars discussing this subject, assuming they know who he is in the first place, are not even aware of Joseph Smithâ??s view.

My comment is only non-sensical in as much as it is misread. Suffice it to say that Kevinâ??s response misses the important clause â??however unwittingly.â? I certainly would not suggest that the majority of the biblical scholars who discuss the subject are at all aware of what Joseph Smith taught concerning the divine council. Thatâ??s why I included the clause â??however unwittingly.â? True enough, most Biblicists have no idea what Joseph Smithâ??s teachings/revelations contain concerning this doctrine.

Kevin continues:

Even more frustrating for the LDS believer is that Joseph Smithâ??s newer understanding of the Genesis account, which translates elohim as â??gods throughoutâ? (Abr 4:1-4), doesnâ??t explain why his 1830 â??inspired translationâ? of the same text, excluded any of the plurality he learned in his 1836 Hebrew lessons.

Of course Kevinâ??s efforts to create frustrations do not represent the actual frustrations or even the real-life concerns of the LDS believer. Since when have Latter-day Saints ever claimed that the Prophetâ??s inspired revision of Genesis 1 should reflect the plurality of gods witnessed in the creation drama presented in the Book of Abraham?!

Like most of the issues Kevin raises, this is but a silly argument. The books of Moses and Abraham are two entirely different texts.

Kevin would have actually raised a better attack if he had compared Joseph Smithâ??s inspired revision of Genesis 1 presented in the book of Moses with the Prophetâ??s King Follett sermon in which Joseph states that Genesis 1:1 read first, "The head one of the Gods brought forth the Gods. That is the true meaning of the words... Thus, the head God brought forth the Gods in the grand council."

Had Kevin used this comparison, he would have actually raised a challenge worth considering. In my opinion, this observation simply sustains the fact that the JST is not primarily a restoration of an original text, but rather an inspired revision that served as an inspired workbook facilitating the Prophetâ??s revelatory experiences.

In short, as a believing Latter-day Saint, Iâ??m not at all frustrated by these issues, in fact, I find them rather exciting.

Still, I have a lot going on these days and sadly, donâ??t have much time to address Kevinâ??s concerns. I havenâ??t given up Akkadian, writing, surfing, and am currently in the process of attempting to record an album of original songs, not to mention the fact that this of course is football season.

Happiness to all,

--DB

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David,

Do you see Daniel 7:18, 22 using the term "holy ones" (in other texts denoting members of the divine council) to describe the suffering of the Israelites as a possible bridge between the divine members of the council and those that would become mortal? It has been the contention of many that the divine council texts do not refer at all to a pre-existent body of spirits but a pantheon of deities. From Daniel then, are we to understand that Israelites are somehow divine?

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David,

Do you see Daniel 7:18, 22 using the term "holy ones" (in other texts denoting members of the divine council) to describe the suffering of the Israelites as a possible bridge between the divine members of the council and those that would become mortal? It has been the contention of many that the divine council texts do not refer at all to a pre-existent body of spirits but a pantheon of deities. From Daniel then, are we to understand that Israelites are somehow divine?

Greetings Structurecop,

A nice observation. The book of Daniel certainly links humanity with the council. As the article in question illustrates, the same perspective exists in a variety of biblical texts. While a few references to pre-existent souls do appear in the Hebrew Bible, none of these texts explicitly identify those spirits as members of the divine council.

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Readers of Mr. Grahamâ??s threads would do well to recognize that like many Anti-Mormons, Mr. Grahamâ??s criticisms derive primarily from a misreading of sources. This includes both primary and secondary writings. Oftentimes in a haste to raise objections against LDS apologists and/or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, such critics are prone to misunderstanding.

I draw attention to this fact because I have neither the time nor the patience to entertain all of Mr. Grahamâ??s efforts. Life is simply far too short and as suggested in my opening post, there exists a lot more worthwhile pursuits.

Iâ??m simply going to provide the following examples of misreading on the part of Mr. Graham on the topic of the divine council of deities in an effort to assist interested readers recognize the types of errors featured in Mr. Grahamâ??s efforts.

On one occasion, Mr. Graham attempted to raise objections against the Prophet Joseph Smith by suggesting that the revelation Joseph received in 1839 suggests that Joseph did not know at that time whether there was one God or many deities.

Said Kevin:

â??God shall give unto you knowledge by his Holy Spirit, yea, by the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now; Which our forefathers have awaited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fulness of their glory; A time to come in the which nothing shall be withheld, whether there be one God or many gods, they shall be manifest. All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.â? (D&C 121:26-29)

Notice that this revelation doesnâ??t answer the question of a plurality of gods, but rather raises the question and speaks to a future occasion when an answer will be revealed by the â??Holy Spirit.â? This revelation was given many years after the Book of Abraham was purportedly completed in the fall of 1835. This presents a huge hurdle for apologists like John Gee.

Kevinâ??s criticism, however, derives from a misreading of D&C 121, for the revelation itself presents the latter-day period of restoration as a time â??which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other gods before this world wasâ? (v. 32).

Had Mr. Graham read on to verse thirty-two, he would not have raised this criticism. Please be aware that after I pointed out Mr. Grahamâ??s error, he subsequently added the observation into his discussion.

More recently, in his efforts to raise criticism, Mr. Graham misread the following quote from one of my articles:

"Though Josephâ??s views concerning a divine council of deities shocked many contemporary 19th century Christians, today, biblical scholars recognize that the council of Gods provides â??a fundamental symbol for the Old Testament understanding of how the government of human society by the divine world is carried outâ?; Patrick D. Miller, â??Cosmology and World Order in the Old Testament,â? Israelite Religion and Biblical Theology (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 432.

Concerning this point, Kevin stated:

It seems the idea here is to suppose Joseph Smithâ??s view was so out of the ordinary, that it is best explained as information via revelation. But did he really â??shockâ? anyone with his comments on the divine council?

Do you not understand that contemporary scholarship at that time was already fully aware of the divine council? Given your statement above, I can only assume you do not. But as a modest corrective, there is no reason to think Joseph Smithâ??s divine council â??shockedâ? anyone who was familiar with contemporary biblical scholarship. The most popular commentaries in Joseph Smithâ??s day alluded to a council in heaven.

Of course Kevinâ??s objection once again derives from a misreading of the text. As pointed out in that thread, Josephâ??s views concerning â??a divine council of deitiesâ? shocked many contemporary 19th century Christians, just as they do many 21st century Christians today. Kevinâ??s criticism, once again, suggests a hasty reading on his part in an effort to simply raise concerns.

Readers can witness the same trend in Mr. Grahamâ??s efforts in the point already raised in this very thread where Kevin writes:

Now this is just inexcusable nonsense. It is absurd for Bokovoy to try recreating history and our current reality to paint a picture that has scholarship following Joseph Smithâ??s lead! It should suffice to say that the majority of Hebrew scholars discussing this subject, assuming they know who he is in the first place, are not even aware of Joseph Smithâ??s view.

Yet as suggested, my comment is only non-sensical in as much as it is misread. Kevinâ??s response misses the important clause â??however unwittingly.â?

Sadly, many, many more examples could be provided of this trend. For those interested in following Mr. Grahamâ??s posts, I simply suggest, readers be ware. In their ceaseless efforts to belittle others and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many critics are prone to this weakness.

From my perspective, dear readers, in view of this recognizable flaw, why bother?

Best.

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Was Kevin there? I don't remember seeing him there at the Divine Council. Maybe he lost his invitation. :P

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David, I understand that you wish to answer Kevin's comments...however, it really is not right to have Kevin brought up here when he can't respond. In the past, these threads follow the same road. Something Kevin said somewhere else is brought up here, he'll naturally wish to respond and since he's banned, he'll be forced to use a sockpuppet, which is against board guidelines, and then when someone figures out that it's him, he'll be banned once again.

I respectfully suggest that if the mods are going to allow this thread to remain open, they also allow Kevin to respond--as himself.

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David, I understand that you wish to answer Kevin's comments...however, it really is not right to have Kevin brought up here when he can't respond.

Hello Alter Idem,

Personally, I'm really not interested in answering all of Kevin's comments, nor in participating in any lengthy discussion with Mr. Graham on this or any other topic. For whatever reason, my observations on this and many other topics have attracted Kevin's interest to what I would perceive as an unhealthy obsession. Kevin's most recent threads are but a continuation of a long series of attempts on his part to counter my views on many topics.

Rather than assume incompetence on his part, I believe that the man's over zealous attempt to counter every point I ever make, no matter how cogent, serves as the root cause for Kevin's continual misreadings.

I really do have better things to do.

Since Kevin has recently started two threads here on the FAIR board addressing my observations on the divine council published in the most recent FARMS Review and has continued to pursue the issue on other sites, I wished only to share with interested readers some of the issues they might wish to consider if they choose to read Kevin's threads on this or any other board.

Best,

-DB

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Hi David, I understand if you have no interest in engaging in a discussion with him--I would not expect it would be productive, anyway. I just hate to see another KG flare-up on the board. Whenever his name is mentioned, he naturally takes note and so do his supporters.

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David, I understand that you wish to answer Kevin's comments...however, it really is not right to have Kevin brought up here when he can't respond. In the past, these threads follow the same road. Something Kevin said somewhere else is brought up here, he'll naturally wish to respond and since he's banned, he'll be forced to use a sockpuppet, which is against board guidelines, and then when someone figures out that it's him, he'll be banned once again.

I respectfully suggest that if the mods are going to allow this thread to remain open, they also allow Kevin to respond--as himself.

Why was he banned?

I would say it is more accurately put that LDS apologists find this intriguing. My sense is that most Latter-day Saints generally wouldnâ??t have a clue what you were talking about if you asked them about a divine council.

I think this is accurate about me! I don't know anything about the subject but I do know about fair play. The David person here seems to be Goliath and the Kevin person is the biblical David.

Can he be un-banned so he can respond?

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Edsel:

QUOTE

I would say it is more accurately put that LDS apologists find this intriguing. My sense is that most Latter-day Saints generally wouldnâ??t have a clue what you were talking about if you asked them about a divine council.

I think this is accurate about me! I don't know anything about the subject but I do know about fair play. The David person here seems to be Goliath and the Kevin person is the biblical David.

The story of David and Goliath is not the one I would have picked as analogous to the ongoing â??conflictâ? between Bokovoy and Graham.

Now, there are a couple movies that come to mind, like Play Misty for Me and Fatal Attraction â?¦

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Edsel:

I think this is accurate about me! I don't know anything about the subject but I do know about fair play. The David person here seems to be Goliath and the Kevin person is the biblical David.

The story of David and Goliath is not the one I would have picked as analogous to the ongoing â??conflictâ? between Bokovoy and Graham.

Now, there are a couple movies that come to mind, like Play Misty for Me and Fatal Attraction â?¦

I vote for Play Misty for Me! Or if you want another from Clint Eastwood, I might suggest The Beguiled as a strong possiblity.

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Edsel:

I think this is accurate about me! I don't know anything about the subject but I do know about fair play. The David person here seems to be Goliath and the Kevin person is the biblical David.

The story of David and Goliath is not the one I would have picked as analogous to the ongoing â??conflictâ? between Bokovoy and Graham.

Now, there are a couple movies that come to mind, like Play Misty for Me and Fatal Attraction â?¦

William

I admit I don't know their history. I do know the Clint Eastman and Michael Douglas movies. Actually Fatal Attraction scared the heck out of me. I don't know how this applies to these two. I am new but I just saw this post as calling someone "out" knowing that they can't respond. It just doesn't seem right to me. But not knowing the history, I am bowing out, hopefully gracefully.

Sincerely, Edsel

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Edsel:

I think this is accurate about me! I don't know anything about the subject but I do know about fair play. The David person here seems to be Goliath and the Kevin person is the biblical David.

The story of David and Goliath is not the one I would have picked as analogous to the ongoing â??conflictâ? between Bokovoy and Graham.

Now, there are a couple movies that come to mind, like Play Misty for Me and Fatal Attraction â?¦

How do you do those quotes within a quote?

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Why was he banned?

IMO, Kevin is not a good fit with other personalities on this board--many of whom he's had long acrimonious histories with. He's come back with sock-puppets to respond when his name is brought up or to confront apologists here and this has crystalized the mods position against him. What I saw is that he's too high maintenance-easier to ban him than have to deal with complaints from other posters and monitor his participation, etc.

That's just my observation.

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How do you do those quotes within a quote?

Let me try

ahhh!
hmmm

you do: [ quote ] [ quote ] ahhhh [ / quote ] hmmmmm [ / quote ]

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Kevin Graham, didn't he used to post here apologetically? I guess I'm thinking of Christiansen. Is he the guy that started the thread a week or so ago using a sock puppet?

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Kevin Graham, didn't he used to post here apologetically? I guess I'm thinking of Christiansen. Is he the guy that started the thread a week or so ago using a sock puppet?

Yes he did. Kevin posted two threads on this topic. Somehow I missed the first one.

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Kevin Graham, didn't he used to post here apologetically? I guess I'm thinking of Christiansen. Is he the guy that started the thread a week or so ago using a sock puppet?

I think you mean Kevin Christensen. Graham was once an aspiring apologist -- until Brent Metcalfe made him look silly in public. That was more than the one-time-apologist could tolerate, and it would seem that he is now well on his way to complete renunciation of his former faith. It's too bad, actually. Graham is, in my estimation, a very intelligent and articulate young man. I consider it unfortunate, to say the least, that he seems obsessed with denigrating both Dan Peterson and David Bokovoy (and even me, to a much lesser extent -- due to my essential insignificance in apologetic circles).

Would that he could find a way to recover his faith. Hopefully he will, in time, come to believe once again that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God.

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Oh please please please don't confuse Kevin Graham with Kevin Christensen. I like Christensen alot. :P

Metcalfe humiliated one of his own number and thereby was the catalyst for a road to apostacy? Isn't that something we ought to be lamenting? What was the context of the ordeal?

Sargon

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Metcalfe humiliated one of his own number and thereby was the catalyst for a road to apostacy? Isn't that something we ought to be lamenting? What was the context of the ordeal?

Kevin Graham used to be an LDS apologist.

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It seems strange to me that Mr. Bokovoy is providing an analysis of the views of Mr. Graham, and Mr. Graham is not allowed to respond. Something related to fairness seems to be missing here.

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Kevin Graham used to be an LDS apologist.

Sorry I just realized my mistake, Metcalfe is not one of us.

Sargon

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It seems strange to me that Mr. Bokovoy is providing an analysis of the views of Mr. Graham, and Mr. Graham is not allowed to respond. Something related to fairness seems to be missing here.

Why don't you speak in his behalf while we wait to see if Graham is allowed to respond?

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