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Don Bradley'S Fair Presentation: What Are The Ashera And Nehushtan Parallels?

Nephite Temple Sacred Relics Brass Plates

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#41 Cobalt-70

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 02:33 AM

So, you want us to believe that these fictional Methodist-wanna-be's, under the internal logic of the book, built an empty building meant for nothing more than to look pretty? Let me know when you want be taken seriously here.

No, I'm sure that Joseph Smith intended the Nephite temples to be for sacrifices (Mosiah 2:3), although it's not clear who could have performed those sacrifices. The priesthood described in the Book of Mormon has little resemblance to anything Hebrew, especially that could be dated pre-600 BC. The Nephite priesthood followed a Christian model, rather than a Hebrew model. Nephite priesthood was not even hereditary--nor could it have been, given there were no Zadokites or Levites. It was a priesthood of the "called" like any modern Protestant denomination and like the earliest Mormonism.

Although there is one mention of sacrifices performed there, the Nephite temples seem to have been primarily places for teaching and important announcements (Jacob 1:17, 2:2, 2:11; Mos. 1:18; Mos. 7:17; Alma 16:13; Alma 26:29).
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#42 urroner

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 04:17 AM

No, I'm sure that Joseph Smith intended the Nephite temples to be for sacrifices (Mosiah 2:3), although it's not clear who could have performed those sacrifices. The priesthood described in the Book of Mormon has little resemblance to anything Hebrew, especially that could be dated pre-600 BC. The Nephite priesthood followed a Christian model, rather than a Hebrew model. Nephite priesthood was not even hereditary--nor could it have been, given there were no Zadokites or Levites. It was a priesthood of the "called" like any modern Protestant denomination and like the earliest Mormonism.

Although there is one mention of sacrifices performed there, the Nephite temples seem to have been primarily places for teaching and important announcements (Jacob 1:17, 2:2, 2:11; Mos. 1:18; Mos. 7:17; Alma 16:13; Alma 26:29).


Not that I know that much, but, from what I have heard several non-Mormon scholars say, there were two different priesthoods back in ancient Israel, one of which was a Melchizedek priesthood which non-Levites could hold. Maybe I'm wrong, but.....
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#43 ANACO

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 09:09 PM

No, I'm sure that Joseph Smith intended the Nephite temples to be for sacrifices (Mosiah 2:3), although it's not clear who could have performed those sacrifices. The priesthood described in the Book of Mormon has little resemblance to anything Hebrew, especially that could be dated pre-600 BC. The Nephite priesthood followed a Christian model, rather than a Hebrew model. Nephite priesthood was not even hereditary--nor could it have been, given there were no Zadokites or Levites. It was a priesthood of the "called" like any modern Protestant denomination and like the earliest Mormonism.

Although there is one mention of sacrifices performed there, the Nephite temples seem to have been primarily places for teaching and important announcements (Jacob 1:17, 2:2, 2:11; Mos. 1:18; Mos. 7:17; Alma 16:13; Alma 26:29).


Don't be so certain.

Mosiah 13:27

And now ye have said that salvation cometh by the law of Moses. I say unto you that it is expedient that ye should keep the law of Moses as yet; but I say unto you, that the time shall come when it shall no more be expedient to keep the law of Moses.

3 Nephi 9:19

19 And ye shall offer up unto me ano more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.


But this in no ways supports any Asherah nonsense promulgated by FAIRLDS and DCP (I refer to his desnews article nonsense) and their disciples, et al. Notice how they fall in line tripping over themselves to discover Asherah as some righteous worshipfulness in the scriptures (similar to their attempts to find Others to support their Meso-Am. LGT.) So we have this mentioned at some FAIRLDS Conference, a counterfeit non-mainstream sideshow, and it's taken as LDS Doctrine.

This FAIRLDS silliness reminds me of "At the Circus" by the Marx Brothers - as they sing praises to their Asherah!
Just replace Lydia with Asherah as they praise her name!

"Asherah, Asherah, the Wonderful Asherah, Asherah the Tattooed Lady!"
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#44 Cobalt-70

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 09:48 PM

Don't be so certain.

Mosiah 13:27

And now ye have said that salvation cometh by the law of Moses. I say unto you that it is expedient that ye should keep the law of Moses as yet; but I say unto you, that the time shall come when it shall no more be expedient to keep the law of Moses.

3 Nephi 9:19

19 And ye shall offer up unto me ano more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings.


All that says is that the Nephites practiced sacrifices. Though they supposedly obeyed the law of Moses, that actually would have been quite impossible, without Levites or Zadokites. That's one of the unfortunate plot holes of the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith should have included a story in which Nephi went back to Jerusalem to kidnap the high priest.

But this in no ways supports any Asherah nonsense promulgated by FAIRLDS and DCP (I refer to his desnews article nonsense) and their disciples, et al. Notice how they fall in line tripping over themselves to discover Asherah as some righteous worshipfulness in the scriptures (similar to their attempts to find Others to support their Meso-Am. LGT.) So we have this mentioned at some FAIRLDS Conference, a counterfeit non-mainstream sideshow, and it's taken as LDS Doctrine.

I have nothing against reinventing Asherah as the Heavenly Mother, as long as we are honest that's what we are doing, rather than retconning the Mormon Heavenly Mother into ancient Hebrew religion, the way that Darth Vader was awkwardly rewritten to be Anakin Skywalker.
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#45 Bill Hamblin

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 11:06 PM

No, I'm sure that Joseph Smith intended the Nephite temples to be for sacrifices (Mosiah 2:3), although it's not clear who could have performed those sacrifices. The priesthood described in the Book of Mormon has little resemblance to anything Hebrew, especially that could be dated pre-600 BC. The Nephite priesthood followed a Christian model, rather than a Hebrew model. Nephite priesthood was not even hereditary--nor could it have been, given there were no Zadokites or Levites. It was a priesthood of the "called" like any modern Protestant denomination and like the earliest Mormonism.

Although there is one mention of sacrifices performed there, the Nephite temples seem to have been primarily places for teaching and important announcements (Jacob 1:17, 2:2, 2:11; Mos. 1:18; Mos. 7:17; Alma 16:13; Alma 26:29).


http://m.youtube.com...h?v=Ls4Pt5S25xk
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#46 DonBradley

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 11:55 PM

I have to question the methodology (as exhibited by Don Bradley as well) of assuming (as a matter of faith) that there had to have been parallels between Solomon's temple and the Nephite temples, and then going about trying to figure out what those parallels could have been.


Then you will be very happy to know that I did absolutely no such thing.

At the time I began seeing the parallels between the Ark of the Covenant relics and the Nephite sacred relics my faith, such as it was, was that there were no Nephites, that there was no God, and that there was no supernatural. That the Nephite relics parallel those of the Ark was not an assumption, but a perception. My view that the temples were parallel in function grew out of the parallels I saw between these relics.

Please don't confuse methodology with rhetorical framing in a conference presentation.

Cheers,

Don
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"I’ve known Don a long time and have critiqued his previous work and have to say that he does much better as a believer than a critic." - Dan Vogel, August 8, 2011

"This is it folks, the high point of apologetics for the year. The church pumps millions into FARMS and its PR dept for this." - "Heresy," on a nameless board, August 11, 2011 - after reading the Deseret News piece about my Kinderhook plates presentation

#47 DonBradley

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 12:06 AM

I would like to participate in discussion of the OP question, which I think is an excellent one.

However, I note that the thread is dominated with objections to the premises on which the question is based, rather than on actual attempts to answer the OP question. Does this not constitute thread-jacking? And if not, what would?

The OP question explicitly accepts the parallels between the Jewish temple relics and the Nephite sacred relics, also explicitly accepts the place of the Asherah and the brass serpent in the early Israelite temple, and implicitly accepts the use of exegesis to read out meanings not evident in the text.

Yet most of the thread has been taken up with the rejection of these things. If posters would like to argue against these premises, saying, for instance, that the Nephite breastplate attached interpreters are in no way parallel to the Jewish breastplate and attached Urim and Thummim, or that the ancient Israelite belief in a Mother goddess could not possibly have any connection to our modern Israelite belief in a Mother goddess, or that scholarly exegesis is bad and only eisegesis by those the poster considers authoritative is valid, could they please be asked to open their own threads to do so?

I would find it pointless to even attempt to discuss the OP question in the midst of all the "discussion" here that simply aims to tell the thread opener how dumb his question is.

Don
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"I’ve known Don a long time and have critiqued his previous work and have to say that he does much better as a believer than a critic." - Dan Vogel, August 8, 2011

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#48 DonBradley

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 12:22 AM

The only reason Mormon intellectuals fall victim to this stuff is that they want to find something that might have evidence for a Mother in Heaven. I hate to break it to you, but you are not likely to find truth by looking into hell.


I'll engage this one mistaken quote before hoping that the conversation moves on.

First, Asherah has not been found in hell, but beneath the surface in the Bible.

Second, we believe the Bible to have been corruptly redacted, so beneath the surface truth is precisely what we should expect.

Third...

Brother Taylor said, the other day, that it was right to gather truth from every source. If the Devil has got truth, then it is right to secure it. [President Brigham Young: “What truth he has he has stolen.”]
- Elder Orson Hyde, the Tabernacle, March 25, 1860


And...

"One the grand fundamental principles of Mormonism is to receive truth let it come from where it may."
- Joseph Smith, July 23, 1844


If, as you hold, we should seek our understanding of scripture and doctrine from General Authorities, then here we have a clear statement from the founder of this dispensation that it is our doctrine, one of our very defining principles, to receive truth from any and all sources. The sort of tunnel vision in our search for truth that you propound is, on Joseph Smith's standard, anti-Mormon.

Cheers,

Don
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"I’ve known Don a long time and have critiqued his previous work and have to say that he does much better as a believer than a critic." - Dan Vogel, August 8, 2011

"This is it folks, the high point of apologetics for the year. The church pumps millions into FARMS and its PR dept for this." - "Heresy," on a nameless board, August 11, 2011 - after reading the Deseret News piece about my Kinderhook plates presentation

#49 Cobalt-70

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 03:44 AM

Then you will be very happy to know that I did absolutely no such thing.

At the time I began seeing the parallels between the Ark of the Covenant relics and the Nephite sacred relics my faith, such as it was, was that there were no Nephites, that there was no God, and that there was no supernatural. That the Nephite relics parallel those of the Ark was not an assumption, but a perception. My view that the temples were parallel in function grew out of the parallels I saw between these relics.

Please don't confuse methodology with rhetorical framing in a conference presentation.

My apologies. Maybe your presentation as it relates to the temple connection would have been more convincing if the way you presented it reflected your actual methodology. (By the way, let me just say on the record that I have no quarrel with most of your presentation.)

Still, I respectfully don't think your argument as it relates to the Nephite temple is at all convincing. I do think that there might be at least weak parallels between the brass plates and ten commandments, and between Laban and Goliath, and obviously between the Interpreters/breasplate and Urim and Thummim/breasplate (this last one was is a strong parallel of which Smith was undoubtedly conscious). But to the extent these parallels can be made, they have nothing necessarily to do with the temple of Nephi.

I also do think that there might be a weak parallel between Moroni's stone box and the ark of the covenant. But Moroni's box has nothing necessarily to do with the temple. It was just a magic box into which Moroni's plates and other artifacts were sealed, which, like the ark, could magically shock you if you weren't worthy to touch it.

But where is the connection between Moroni's box, or the artifacts, and the temple of Nephi? There is none, other than free speculation. In fact, there is textual evidence ot the contrary. The Book of Mormon says that the sword of Laban was actually used in war, well after Nephi built his temple. The brass plates were actually supposedly read so that the language could be preserved, and were handed down from father to son--apparently not cloistered up as the object of adoration in a temple sanctuary accessible only by a high priest. I think the parallel between the liahona and Aaron's rod and the pot of manna is a strained one. If anything, the Liahona was like the could the Israelites followed in the wilderness, not like the manna, and not like the magic rod of Aaron. The Liahona was a relic denoting God's pointing the right way (Alma 37), not denoting God's providence. And regardless of the nature of the parallel, there is as far as I know nothing connecting the Liahoha to the temple of Nephi or any other Nephite temples.

Edited by Cobalt-70, 28 September 2012 - 03:50 AM.

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#50 volgadon

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 08:18 AM

But where is the connection between Moroni's box, or the artifacts, and the temple of Nephi? There is none, other than free speculation. In fact, there is textual evidence ot the contrary. The Book of Mormon says that the sword of Laban was actually used in war, well after Nephi built his temple.


So was the sword of Goliath.
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#51 USU78

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:36 AM

So was the sword of Goliath.


Yup: 1 Sam 21:9 . . . David receives Goliath's sword from Ahimelech the Cohen, which had been kept in the Sanctuary [then residing in Nod] behind the ephod.
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#52 Bill Hamblin

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 04:17 PM

Yup: 1 Sam 21:9 . . . David receives Goliath's sword from Ahimelech the Cohen, which had been kept in the Sanctuary [then residing in Nod] behind the ephod.


And Ahimelech the Cohen means "the [High?] Priest, the brother of the king," an interesting parallel to Jacob's status.
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#53 Bill Hamblin

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 04:36 PM


As has already repeatedly been pointed out, there are a number of studies which establish the temple context of the Book of Mormon, almost all available for free online. The critics have obviously not bothered to read them, let alone respond to them. A fatuous wave of the hand is apparently considered sufficient response in some circles.

John W. Welch, Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1999) http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=113&chapid=

Welch, Third Nephi as Holy of Holies

http://maxwellinstit...19&num=1&id=508


Welch, Benjamin’s Speech

http://maxwellinstit...d=31&chapid=119


John Tvedtnes, "King Benjamin and the Feast of Tabernacles,"

http://maxwellinstit...109&chapid=1259


Christensen, BOM and Barker

http://maxwellinstit...kid=2&chapid=35


David Bokovoy, "Temple Imagery in the Book of Mormon," 4-part BYU Education Week lectures, Aug 16 - 19, 2011.


David Bokovoy, "Divine Council Imagery in the Book of Mormon," BYU Education Week lecture, Aug 17, 2012.


David Bokovoy, "'Thou Knowest That I Believe': Invoking the Spirit of the Lord as Council Witness in 1 Nephi 11," Interpreter, 1/1 (2012), 1-23, online at http://www.mormonint...that-i-believe/ .


David John Butler, Plain and Precious Things: The Temple Religion of the Book of Mormon, eBook (Amazon Digital Services, 2012).

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/147816736X/


Joseph Spencer, An Other Testament: On Typology (Salem, OR: Salt Press, 2012), 42-57.

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/0983963622/


William Hamblin, “Jacob and the Day of Atonement”



David Bokovoy – “Holiness to the Lord: Biblical Temple Imagery in the Sermons of Jacob the Priest”


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#54 ANACO

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 02:32 PM

Let us all worship Asherah, in- the-pleasant-groves,
Out in Utah in the forest with, our-camping-stoves.
And after carving her figure, on-the-trees,
FAIRLDS members bow to her, on-their-knees!

Yes, during the Summer 2012 Annual FAIRLDS Conference, all in attendance sang the “Songs of Solomon” to Asherah!

Asherah! The most glorious creature in the world!
Cause-we-make-money-and-fame-writing-articles-about-her!!
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#55 JeremyOrbe-Smith

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 07:45 PM

I'm probably the most vocal proponent for recognizing a place in our religion for Asherah/Lady Wisdom on this board, and I have yet to make a single penny off my writing. (Besides, I've never been to Utah, let alone a FAIR conference.) I wish you well in your attempt to shut down discussion through ridicule rather than reasoned discourse.

For anyone who's interested in an actual evidence-based conversation about the possibility that Asherah is a legitimate aspect of our worship which could easily -- easily! -- be incorporated into our Church (which already believes in a Prophet who prayed for Wisdom in a Sacred Grove, received scriptures with a heavy emphasis on the Tree of Life/Spirit of Wisdom being excluded from the Great and Spacious Building of the Temple at exactly the same time period that numerous scholars have recognized as pivotal for the Reforms, and restored the use of multiple Temples in which the Hieros Gamos is enacted in accordance with the good pattern made by a Father-God married to a Mother-Goddess), I recommend such interesting perspectives as:

A Mother There: A Survey Of Historical Teachings About Mother In Heaven by David L. Paulsen and Martin Pulido
Nephi And His Asherah by Daniel C. Peterson
Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? by Margaret Barker
What Did King Josiah Reform? by Margaret Barker (presented at BYU)
The Images Of Mary In The Litany Of Loreto by Margaret Barker
Nephite Feminism Revisited by Shauna and Kevin Christensen
Kevin Christensen On The Scholarship Of Margaret Barker
Does God Have A Wife? by Alyson Skabelund Von Feldt
The Assyrian Tree Of Life: Tracing The Origins Of Jewish Monotheism And Greek Philosophy by Simo Parpola
Shadday As A Goddess Epithet [For Asherah] by Harriet Lutzky
How To Worship Our Mother In Heaven (Without Getting Excommunicated) by Kevin L. Barney
Asherah, The Tree Of Life, And The Menorah: Continuity Of A Goddess Symbol In Judaism? by Asphodel P. Long
The Deseret Connection by Hugh W. Nibley (plus a whole bunch of stuff from his last -- amazing -- book One Eternal Round)
The Sacred Tree Of The Ancient Maya by Allen J. Christensen
Did God Have A Wife? by William G. Dever
The Hebrew Goddess by Raphael Patai

It's also good to recall the scriptures which teach that:

Lady Wisdom is a Tree of Life to them that lay hold upon Her; in the Book of Revelation, in the midst of the street, and on either side of the river, was there the Tree of Life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded Her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

As W. W. Phelps wrote to William Smith on December 25, 1844:

"O Mormonism! Thy Father is God, thy Mother is the Queen of Heaven, and so thy whole history, from eternity to eternity, is the laws, ordinances and truth of the Gods-- embracing the simple plan of salvation, sanctification, death, resurrection, glorification and exaltation of man, from infancy to age, from age to eternity, from simplicity to sublimity: from faith, repentance, baptism, reception of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, to washing, anointing, presence of angels, the general assembly and church of the first born; to the unspeakable glory of seeing God and the Lamb, and to spirits of just men, made perfect, and to be ordained unto eternal life!"


Truth is reason; truth eternal tells me I've a Mother there, and we are, after all, supposed to honor our Father and Mother.

When I leave this frail existence,
When I lay this mortal by,
Father, Mother, may I meet you
In your royal courts on high?

Then, at length, when I’ve completed
All you sent me forth to do,
With your mutual approbation
Let me come and dwell with you.


(There's also the other Queen of Heaven hymn, which is less often referred to -- Phelps' A Voice From The Prophet: Come To Me: "Here’s the myst’ry that man hath not seen; here’s our Father in heaven, and Mother, the Queen; here are worlds that have been, and the worlds yet to be; here’s eternity, endless, amen: Come to me.")

Honestly, I don't understand why we get so embarrassed so often and try hide the Light of the Queen of Heaven (symbolized by the Menorah?) under a bushel. As a convert, I can say that the Great Mother is a feature of Mormonism, not a bug, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much.

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Edited by JeremyOrbe-Smith, 29 September 2012 - 07:50 PM.

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#56 Nathair/|\

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:02 PM

I'm probably the most vocal proponent for recognizing a place in our religion for Asherah/Lady Wisdom on this board, and I have yet to make a single penny off my writing. I wish you well in your attempt to shut down discussion through ridicule rather than reasoned discourse.

For anyone who's interested in an actual evidence-based conversation about the possibility that Asherah is a legitimate aspect of our worship which could easily -- easily! -- be incorporated into our Church (which already believes in a Prophet who prayed for Wisdom in a Sacred Grove, received scriptures with a heavy emphasis on the Tree of Life/Spirit of Wisdom being excluded from the Great and Spacious Building of the Temple at exactly the same time period that numerous scholars have recognized as pivotal for the Reforms, and restored the use of multiple Temples in which the Hieros Gamos is enacted in accordance with the good pattern made by a Father-God married to a Mother-Goddess), I recommend such interesting perspectives as:

A Mother There: A Survey Of Historical Teachings About Mother In Heaven by David L. Paulsen and Martin Pulido
Nephi And His Asherah by Daniel C. Peterson
Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? by Margaret Barker
What Did King Josiah Reform? by Margaret Barker (presented at BYU)
The Images Of Mary In The Litany Of Loreto by Margaret Barker
Nephite Feminism Revisited by Shauna and Kevin Christensen
Kevin Christensen On The Scholarship Of Margaret Barker
Does God Have A Wife? by Alyson Skabelund Von Feldt
The Assyrian Tree Of Life: Tracing The Origins Of Jewish Monotheism And Greek Philosophy by Simo Parpola
Shadday As A Goddess Epithet [For Asherah] by Harriet Lutzky
How To Worship Our Mother In Heaven (Without Getting Excommunicated) by Kevin L. Barney
Asherah, The Tree Of Life, And The Menorah: Continuity Of A Goddess Symbol In Judaism? by Asphodel P. Long
The Deseret Connection by Hugh W. Nibley (plus a whole bunch of stuff from his last -- amazing -- book One Eternal Round)
The Sacred Tree Of The Ancient Maya by Allen J. Christensen
Did God Have A Wife? by William G. Dever
The Hebrew Goddess by Raphael Patai

It's also good to recall the scriptures which teach that:

Lady Wisdom is a Tree of Life to them that lay hold upon Her; in the Book of Revelation, in the midst of the street, and on either side of the river, was there the Tree of Life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded Her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

As W. W. Phelps wrote to William Smith on December 25, 1844:



Truth is reason; truth eternal tells me I've a Mother there, and we are, after all, supposed to honor our Father and Mother.



(There's also the other Queen of Heaven hymn, which is less often referred to -- Phelps' A Voice From The Prophet: Come To Me: "Here’s the myst’ry that man hath not seen; here’s our Father in heaven, and Mother, the Queen; here are worlds that have been, and the worlds yet to be; here’s eternity, endless, amen: Come to me.")

Honestly, I don't understand why we get so embarrassed so often and try hide the Light of the Queen of Heaven (symbolized by the Menorah?) under a bushel. As a convert, I can say that the Great Mother is a feature of Mormonism, not a bug, and I never hear of a man being damned for believing too much.

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I, for one would love to hear more discussion of HM/Asherah/Queen of Heaven. As far as I can tell, the only reason we don't is that the Saints aren't ready for it. (Of course, as a Druid-in-training, I'd also like to see more discussion of the goddess in Moses 7:48. And more trees.)

Yours under the sacred oaks,
Nathair /|\
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#57 Bill Hamblin

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:52 PM

Margaret Barker has a new book coming out in the next month or two related to the topic.

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/0567528154/
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#58 Bill Hamblin

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 09:47 PM

I think there are some important things to remember.

1- There is simply no doubt that many ancient Israelites worshipped Asherah, or some other form of Mother goddess ("Queen of Heaven") as a consort of YHWH (not as a foreign pagan deity, but as an Israelite goddess). (On the other hand, Asherah was also worshipped by the Canaanites.) This is confirmed by both archaeology, inscriptions, and the Bible itself.

2- There was an ongoing sectarian debate within Israelite religion about the legitimacy of this veneration, but throughout most of Israelite history most Israelite kings and people worshipped a mother goddess. Goddess worship was the majority view of most Israelite. position. This worship began at least with Solomon (1 Kgs. 11:1-8, esp. 5), and continued into the exilic period (Jer. 44:17-19).

3- As far as I can tell, none of the prophets ever approved of goddess worship; the editors of the final version of the Bible clearly were of the YHWH-alone sect of Israelite religion, which became the majority view only after the return from exile. On the other hand, Israelite syncretism continued in various ways into the first century AD. (e.g. Philo's syncretism of YHWH with the philosophical monism of Plato.)

4- There is no compelling reason to equate the Israelite Asherah/Mother with the LDS concept of Mother in Heaven. On the other hand, such an equation is not necessarily impossible either. It should be remembered, in this regard, that it appears that the Israelite cult of Asherah involved cultic prostitution.

5- "Wisdom" (hākmāh) in scripture is not necessarily a hypostatic divine figure rather than an abstraction. There is no reason to see biblical Wisdom as necessarily a goddess because the noun is grammatically feminine. Christ in the NT is called the Wisdom of God, using a feminine Greek noun sophia (1 Cor. 1:24), the straightforward equivalent of the Hebrew hākmāh. (Hagia Sophia--Holy Wisdom, the great Byzantine church in Istanbul was dedicated to Christ.)
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#59 JeremyOrbe-Smith

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 12:07 AM

Margaret Barker has a new book coming out in the next month or two related to the topic.

http://www.amazon.co.../dp/0567528154/


Zomg. I wants it. I needs it. Thanks for the heads-up!

...

I also think it's extremely important to separate the perversion of a doctrine/practice from whether or not the original version had merit. That is, Jeremiah can be very much against the insincere Temple rituals and insincere baking of cakes to the Queen of Heaven, but this is actually strong evidence that he was very much in favor of true Temple practices and true worship of the Queen (I think Dever, for one, simply reads Jeremiah wrong). The Lafferty brothers can claim that God told them to go on their little killing spree, but that doesn't mean He really did; on the other hand, it's not an argument against the existence of a loving God to simply point to the fundamentalist extremists who will inevitably latch on to whatever story is at hand to try to justify their own sins. By the same token, pointing to sins committed in the name of Asherah is not evidence that Asherah-worship is inherently sinful.

It's important to keep the timeline in mind and remember that Asherah was El's consort before El was later conflated with Yahweh and Asherah was subsumed under Yahwistic worship until She was excised altogether -- she certainly wasn't a "foreign contamination" from Solomon's Phoenician wives or whatever as some have argued (Patai, for instance, if I am remembering correctly). But even that objection is somewhat beside the point; if all the world has had the gospel, then we should find more and commonalities and resemblances between religions the further back in time we go; we should find less and less distinction between tribes.


(Frankly, I think the entire issue of "paganism" -- a word not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible a single time -- is a misleading red-herring imported in from later concerns about Christian "uniqueness" after the Apostasy, when guys like Tertullian and Augustine started using Roman military imagery to describe the Army of God, etc., with paganus being the incompetent rural soldier. It's almost always used as a pejorative, and I think distracts from what I'd see as the legitimate issues. While the editors of the Bible had a negative view of the Canaanites, it doesn't mean that the Canaanites didn't have truth. There should be no shock-factor about noting that Asherah was held in common between the tribes; as Nibley noted in the Expanding Gospel, the Divine Council was downplayed in later theology.)

I think the later conflation of all aspects of Lady Wisdom to Christ was clearly a reaction to the tension between the attractiveness to fashionable philosophical monotheism and the underlying need to harmonize the inherently non-monotheistic Christian faith. I think the usual objection from 1 Corinthians is ambiguous; in much the same way that Ma'at was known for "fusing" with others as a representation of divine Order and Law, I think Wisdom/hokhmah/Sophia can be applied to others, specifically Christ.

That is, if Lady Wisdom is the Tree of Life, then to be Anointed with life-giving Olive Oil is to take upon the Vision She brings of the Son. The symbolism is all intertwined, but it's centered on Wisdom as a Priestly archetype. Nibley has a fantastic section on this in the Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri. (I would also hasten to note that continuing on, in 1 Corinthians 1:30, it states that "Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us Wisdom. [Emphasis added.] That is, Christ is made a representative of God the Father and Lady Wisdom to His followers. "He hath abounded toward us in all Wisdom and prudence," "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation," for "the Lord by Wisdom hath founded the earth.")


I think there's simply too much evidence that there was a feminine component to the entire thing. In the creation narratives, the Spirit broods over the waters; some people read Asherah's name itself as being 'She Who Treads On The Sea', which would be analogous to the Mediterranean Goddesses like Aphrodite (possibly from Aphros, the Foam). She was represented with a Bird-Face, a common Goddess motif echoed in the Dove of the Holy Spirit of Wisdom. Asherah was a stylized Tree, which of course brings to mind the Menorah bearing the Light of the Anointed One to be born into the world as the only light in the Tabernacle.

(And of course, this brings in the cross-cultural evidence that the Goddess was connected to the eternal Fire, the Hearth, which might be cognate with Hestia/Vesta. It's also unfortunate that epithets so often get mistaken for proper names, as in the case of the The Mother/Da-Mater/Demeter.) If the feminine translation of Shadday is privileged ("One Of The Breast") then many passages in Genesis are considerably clarified. ("By the Almighty [ie, Shaddai], who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb." Abraham planting his little sacred groves, etc.)


In the New Testament, Wisdom is repeatedly said to be justified of Her Children. When Christ came to His own country to teach in the synagogue, the people were astonished and asked "whence hath this man this Wisdom?" John went with the power of the Spirit to turn the hearts of the disobedient to the Wisdom of the just. The Wisdom of God said "I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute." In Acts, it is said to "look ye out among you seven men [seven being a common sacred Goddess number, as in the Seven Hathors] of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and Wisdom"; also in Acts it is said that Moses was learned in all the Wisdom of the Egyptians -- ie, Ma'at.

Christ and the Apostles are constantly preaching in favor of the Wisdom of the World Above as opposed to the Strange Woman, the Wisdom of this world. "My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s Wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." Note the immediate juxtaposition of "man's Wisdom" with the true Spirit of Wisdom. "The Wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." This is itself a motif which figures very strongly in the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price, both of which contain a plethora of Tree/Goddess/Vision/Fire/Holy-Spirit-Of-Wisdom/Rebirth motifs. ("We speak the Wisdom of God in a Mystery [a Temple reference, a Mysterion for those who have been initiated?], even the hidden Wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory.")


Even the Word of Wisdom is plainly a reference to the Wisdom of the Proverbs, Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, Job, etc.; "To one is given by the Spirit the word of Wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit." In the Gospel to the Hebrews it is said that "Even so did my mother, the Holy Spirit, take me by one of my hairs and carry me away to the great mountain Tabor," which makes perfect sense for Christ to say, if Lady Wisdom/The Spirit of Wisdom was, in fact, a Mother Goddess, ie., a restatement of Asherah's relationship to Yahweh.

The point is, while a grammatical gender is certainly not definitive "proof" of a feminine deity, it certainly doesn't preclude it. And if we look at the entire complex of symbolism, then while parakletos and spiritus are grammatically masculine and pneuma is a neuter noun, the fact that ruach, the Hebrew 'Spirit', is feminine seems to point to the possibility that John was simply translated wrong in the Latin. Christ was offering a renewal of Wisdom's Light, a Restoration of the Tree which had been excised from the Great and Spacious Building of the Temple. "Walk in Wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time." "If any of you lack Wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Breath = Wind = Ruach (= Sensen = Book of Breathings, a passport to be reborn -- certainly a feminine office -- in a new world?)

...

On a tangential note, I'm reminded of the movie The Fountain, which all LDS folks ought to see. Along with the Tree of Life, of course.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOZuQ_r3ROY&feature=related

Edited by JeremyOrbe-Smith, 30 September 2012 - 12:08 AM.

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#60 Bob Crockett

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 10:22 AM

If, as you hold, we should seek our understanding of scripture and doctrine from General Authorities, then here we have a clear statement from the founder of this dispensation that it is our doctrine, one of our very defining principles, to receive truth from any and all sources. The sort of tunnel vision in our search for truth that you propound is, on Joseph Smith's standard, anti-Mormon


We should not twist the mandate to hold on to every good thing into a desire to spend our days doing little else but to hear or tell some new thing which contravenes the essence of the Restored Gospel and the teachings of the Brethren. In the main, and to an overwhelming degree, an acceptable new thing which directly contravenes the text of the Bible comes about through revelation, and not from the scholar who treats the unlearned as unworthy ("anti-Mormon") to endure modern Gnosticism.

You cite from many statements of the Brethren for the general proposition that knowledge is a good thing. However, generalia specialibus non derogat, meaning a specific proposition is not to be derogated by a general one. In the case of the proposition that the reforms of Jeremiah removed from the temple the detestable and sinful cult of Asherah, I have the statements of the Brethren and current statements of lds.org publications. There have been specific teachings.

Given further the Church's known hostility to worshipping the divine feminine, I would then remark that following Dever and Barker down into this particular hole is to no better than Toscano and Sonia Johnson.

Edited by Bob Crockett, 30 September 2012 - 10:27 AM.

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