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Margaret Barker And Mormonism


David Waltz

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Recent threads here on MADB (one started by yours truly), and continuing readings on my part, have prompted me to start a new series on Margaret Barker in my blog. The link to the first installment is here:

http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2007/11/...ret-barker.html

I welcome all comments and criticisms (especially from our resident Barker scholar, Kevin Christensen).

Grace and peace,

David

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Hi Chris,

Thanks for responding; you wrote:

>>think you missed a major reason Mormons love Barker: the continuity-- even identity-- between Old Testament religion and New.>>

Me: I think most Christians would affirm the above (Calvinists and Catholics for sure). My new series is exploring certain â??difficultiesâ?? that I perceive to exist between the worldview that Margaret paints, and that of â??traditionalâ?? Mormonism.

More to follow, the Lord willing.

Grace and peace,

David

P.S. Any â??luckâ?? on those documents I requested?

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I have had the opportunity to read "The Great Angel" plus a couple online articles by Barker. She is definantly one of the most fascinating authors and one of the most difficult. When I read her I sometimes get the feeling I have bitten of more than I can chew, she certainly is ambitious. I hope to see more scholars following her lead and helping her sift through the massive amounts of material she presents.

I enjoyed your blog, but I am not in a position to engage in a great discussion. I look forward to reading other's remarks.

Sargon

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David, I enjoyed reading your article. Like you, I am no expert in her arena, but I am even less of an expert than you are.

While Margaret Barker does say many things that ring true to us LDSers, she also says things that don't ring so true, but that is something I would expect. I fully expect that what God taught to Adam, to Moses, to pre-exilic Israel,, post-exilic Israel, at the time of Christ, and in our days to be different. God takes what is available and works with it. The principles were the same, but the policies and the different emphasize on them would be different.

I believe that God will take a culture and work to improve that culture. During the early Israelite era, they fought lots of battles and wars and occasionally killed whole cities, but that isn't done today. Today's world wouldn't be so accepting of that type of action, but all in all, I believe that God is just trying to get His children to a certain point, but since we are human, it takes time, but He has patience since He knows us only too well.

So, if there are differences between what Margaret says the early Israelites believed and what the CofJCofLDS teaches, that is no big deal to me since I believe that God has revealed and will reveal many great and marvelous things in this last dispensation that haven't been revealed before to mankind.

I also find it interesting how the creation played a very important role in the First Temple and in the writings of Moses, and how important the Creation is in the temples today and how the Creation also plays a very important role in the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham in the PofGP.

I also find it very interesting what she said about how the early Israelites and possibly the early Christians defined "righteousness," "atonement," and "justice" and how these definitions differ from how Christians today define them and also how they viewed their relationship with the environment.

I also find it interesting how she has said that Adam wasn't really a specific person which goes against what is taught in the Church, but I can accept that without falling away.

BTW, I hope to make it out to Washington next summer with my little boys and Kerry Shirts has mentioned that he might like to tag along. I hope to be able to swing by your place and see you. We wanted to do that this last summer, but my ex had a family reunion in the middle of summer which stopped me from taking any long trips with the boys.

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I also find it interesting how she has said that Adam wasn't really a specific person which goes against what is taught in the Church, but I can accept that without falling away.

Why would anyone?

Moses 1: 34

34 And the first man of all men have I called Adam, which is many.

Another lucky hit for the Prophet Joseph?

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Hi Chris,

Thanks for responding; you wrote:

>>think you missed a major reason Mormons love Barker: the continuity-- even identity-- between Old Testament religion and New.>>

Me: I think most Christians would affirm the above (Calvinists and Catholics for sure). My new series is exploring certain â??difficultiesâ?? that I perceive to exist between the worldview that Margaret paints, and that of â??traditionalâ?? Mormonism.

More to follow, the Lord willing.

Grace and peace,

David

P.S. Any â??luckâ?? on those documents I requested?

I had forgotten about the documents. I'll see what I can do. As for the continuity issue, I was referring to what some here have called "pre-Christian Christianity". I think most Catholics and Calvinists would see the continuity more in terms of development than Barker and the Mormons do.

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David,

I have not read a lot of Barker's works, just one book. I could be in error here. I read this on your blog:

Though Barker clearly asserts that the â??First Temple religionâ? was not monotheistic, the type of worship she believes was being exercised by the monarchy, priests, and lay people has little common ground with the who and how LDS folk exercise their worship. According to Barker, â??First Templeâ? Israelites worshipped Israelâ??s earthly king as an incarnation of Yahweh[1],

Despite the quote from "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" that you provide as support (which of course says exactly what you say it does), I seem to recall her teaching in "The Great Angel" that to the Israelites the King was a representative of Yahweh, not Yahweh himself. She drew the parallel of the King of Tyre (I believe), who represented some other deity. She also mentions how the King of Babylon represents another diety, and describes Isa. 14 as a poem directly related to that issue. In this case these kings are the representatives of their national God, not the national God himself.

I don't own the book so unfortunately I can be of little help.

Sargon

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Hi David. Interesting article and perspectives. I'll get round to responding in detail when I get the time. Till then, on the plus side of my own LDS affection for Barker, while the first thing I noticed had to do with doctrinal issues (Yahweh as the son of El Elyon), what impresses me most as I read the books myself has to do with the specifics of time and placed involved in raising those issues. First temple Judaism takes us directly to Jerusalem in 600 BCE. I've shown at length how the pictures match up astonishingly well down to specifics that are tied to that time and place. It's not just parallel ideas, but parallel history, reconstructed in two very different ways. Joseph one way, and Margaret another.

Regarding the idea of changes to the Bible scriptures, again, its not just the idea, but Barker's demonstration that those changes are tied to two specific times, places and issues that converge nicely the Book of Mormon. That is, she highlights issues and evidences pointing to the reforms of Josiah and the Deuteronomists that I find reflected in 1 Nephi 1, Jacob 4 and 7, and she highlights later changes after the deaths of the apostles that fit very nicely with the prophesies of loss and restoriation in 1 Nephi 13. Indeed, I have argued that 1 Nephi 13:39-42 is specific to her work.

Regarding her mentions of child sacrifice, such as by Ahaz and the use of stories by early Christians in which Abraham actually did sacrifice Issac, I don't see her as really advocating such, nor even if she did, that we would or ought to be bound to it anyway. It's easy enough for LDS to reject some of Brigham's ideas on a few topics, let alone Margaret's now and then. She's just noticing what is there in the Bible and other writings, and asking "why?" She doesn't always even propose answers, but highlights the relevance of the questions. As I recall, her essay on The Meaning of the Atonement does not bring in any mention of child sacrifice stories, but rather focuses on the High Priest. That essay fits very nicely with LDS thought, I think. So to me, the child sacrifice accounts are peripheral to her case and argument. A detail calling for explanation in historical context, whether pro or con. Not a doctrinal prescription for today.

Regarding the images of unity, particularly those quotes with a gnostic flavor--it all starts with the Menorah I think, as an image of unity and diversity. And that image to consider when reading the intercessory prayer in John, and the discourse on the vine and the branches. And from the LDS side, the light/unity passages in D&C 88. The gnostics got off track, but what they discuss shows both what influenced them (anti-Semitism, Neo-platonic mysticism) and what temple traditions were behind the ideas they carried to excesses. The cariacature does help us identify the original subject.

If you want, you can put this on your board as well.

Best,

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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Hi Lynn,

Thanks much for your kind comments.

As for next summer, I am looking forward to your (and hopefully Lord Kerryâ??s) visit. Weather wise, August would probably be the best, but anytime in the summer should work for me. Keep me up-datedâ?¦

The Beachbum

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Hello Sargon,

You wrote:

>>Despite the quote from "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" that you provide as support (which of course says exactly what you say it does), I seem to recall her teaching in "The Great Angel" that to the Israelites the King was a representative of Yahweh, not Yahweh himself. She drew the parallel of the King of Tyre (I believe), who represented some other deity. She also mentions how the King of Babylon represents another diety, and describes Isa. 14 as a poem directly related to that issue. In this case these kings are the representatives of their national God, not the national God himself.>>

Me: Two elements of Barkerâ??s theology need to kept in mind when addressing the above issue: adoptionism and apotheosis. The kings of Israel â??becameâ? the visible presence of Yahweh on earth via the coronation process (Barkerâ??s cites Psalms 2:7 and 110 numerous times in her works to support this). They (and the high priests) are types of a future Messiah king/priestâ??whom Christians recognize, of course, as Jesus Christ. Barkerâ??s teaches that at Jesus baptism, he became the visible presence of Yahweh. This visible presence of Yahweh while certainly â??representativeâ?, is also much more than that.

Another important ingredient to the â??mixâ?? is found in the following quote:

The unity within the holy of holies meant that all the angels were derived from the One. The lesser were each a part of the greater and the greater were part of the even greater. Collectively they were the Fullness of God, because all the angels were aspects of God. (Temple Theology â?? An Introduction, p.25.)

Even the â??Great Angelâ?, the â??Angel of His Presenceâ?, â??Metatronâ?, the â??Second Godâ? is an â??aspect of Godâ?. It is via the process of incarnation that the â??aspects of Godâ? become â??personsâ? in the sense that Mormons and many other Christians (including myself) understand the term â??personâ?.

Grace and peace,

David

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Hi Kevin,

Thanks much for responding. As always, your comments are informative, and appreciated. Looking forward to more when you get the time (either here, and/or on the blog is fine).

Grace and peace,

David

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Hello Sargon,

You wrote:

>>Despite the quote from "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" that you provide as support (which of course says exactly what you say it does), I seem to recall her teaching in "The Great Angel" that to the Israelites the King was a representative of Yahweh, not Yahweh himself. She drew the parallel of the King of Tyre (I believe), who represented some other deity. She also mentions how the King of Babylon represents another diety, and describes Isa. 14 as a poem directly related to that issue. In this case these kings are the representatives of their national God, not the national God himself.>>

Me: Two elements of Barkerâ??s theology need to kept in mind when addressing the above issue: adoptionism and apotheosis. The kings of Israel â??becameâ? the visible presence of Yahweh on earth via the coronation process (Barkerâ??s cites Psalms 2:7 and 110 numerous times in her works to support this). They (and the high priests) are types of a future Messiah king/priestâ??whom Christians recognize, of course, as Jesus Christ. Barkerâ??s teaches that at Jesus baptism, he became the visible presence of Yahweh. This visible presence of Yahweh while certainly â??representativeâ?, is also much more than that.

Another important ingredient to the â??mixâ?? is found in the following quote:

Even the â??Great Angelâ?, the â??Angel of His Presenceâ?, â??Metatronâ?, the â??Second Godâ? is an â??aspect of Godâ?. It is via the process of incarnation that the â??aspects of Godâ? become â??personsâ? in the sense that Mormons and many other Christians (including myself) understand the term â??personâ?.

Grace and peace,

David

I am quite awed by Margaret Barker's insights. I was also struck by the representationalist aspect of the temple and ritual in general. From Kevin's articles about Margaret I came across something which tied into a discussion I was engaged in on the need for baptism in another thread , not just as an outward sign of faith , but as a ritual by which the initiate actually participates in Christ's atonement and resurrection. I have this from Kevin's article :

Any ritual whatever ... unfolds not only in a consecrated space ... but also in a "sacred time," "once upon a time" (in illo tempore, ab origine), that is, when the ritual was performed for the first time by a god, an ancestor, or a hero. Every ritual has a divine model, an archetype ... Not only do rituals have their mythical model but any human act whatever acquires effectiveness to the extent to which it exactly repeats an act performed at the beginning of time by a god, a hero, or an ancestor ... Insofar as he repeats the archetypal sacrifice, the sacrificer, in full ceremonial action, abandons the profane world of mortals and introduces himself into the divine world of the immortals. (Mircea Eliade, Cosmos and History: The Myth of the Eternal Return (New York: Harper & Row, 1959), 21-22, 36.)

Kevin continues :

By repeating the actions of a divine archetype, Mary then becomes a representative of that archetype, of Wisdom, the Mother of God, just as temple-going Latter-day Saints â??becomeâ? in a sense the characters in our temple drama. I think that this kind of becoming may have had an effect on the translation of the Book of Mormon. When we read passages in the Book of Mormon about Mary, we ought to imagine how such verses may have been expressed to be meaningful to the original audience. http://www.ldsmag.com/ideas/051229plain.html#_ftn25

This gives a deeper meaning to Christ's directive , " Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."Mat 16:24

As Christ denied Himself , did the Father's will , took up the cross and did as He had seen the Father do so Christ directs us to immitate His actions through self-denial , submission to His will and , though we cannot literally immitate His own atonement and resurrection , yet through ritual each of us follow Him by representationally doing as we have seen Him do. In so doing , though mortals , each of us through ritual , " abandons the profane world of mortals and introduces himself into the divine world of the immortals.".

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Margaret Barker in her paper said this about Adam and Eve:

Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden are where our thinking about the creation begins. There is the story of the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil, and the talking snake who tempted Eve to take the forbidden fruit. Since the Old Testament was written in a prephilosophical culture, its insights are expressed in pictures, symbols and stories. These pictures and stories are embedded in Christian culture, and can be found in our art, our literature, and, most of all, in our assumptions. These stories and symbols must be understood on their own terms, and not read literally. The truth of the Bible is not found by reading the texts with 20th century eyes, but in trying to glimpse what the original writers were saying. The story of Adam and Eve and the creation is not simply history - the story of how the world began. It is a parable that explains the current state of the world. Adam means every human being. Adamâ??s disobedience is the story of every human being. There was a saying in the time of Jesus: â??Each person has been the Adam of his own soul.â??

The bolding is mine.

This makes a lot of sense and this is why I love Margaret Barker, she isn't out to destroy somebody's faith, rather she is here to tell us about the faith of those who came before the Early Christians

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Urroner, that bolded part is paralleled by certain phrasing in the temple ceremony. When we participate in the temple, we are not just watching a story ABOUT Adam and Eve so much as participating and BECOMING them.

This matches Barker's explanation of the pre-philosophical world, and shows that, just like the ancients (as I said in the lesson I gave to the HP group just last Sunday...), the Mormons HAVE no theology, we just tell stories...

Beowulf

PS. Did you mean Washington State (not D.C?). If so, please drop by as I am in the neighborhood (in Portland OR). Maybe we could arrange a day to all meet, with David Waltz and anyone else close by...

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Hey seeing Beowulf comment here reminds me, have you all seen the movie "BEOWULF" yet? Fant-luvin-tastic...... and now you all know why I haven't been around here lately, I'm off and partying at the movies - wheeeeeeeeeeeee! (GRIN!) O.K., just kidding man. I miss you all here. I shall return as I can. Work is a kickin me lil derrier........ oh and my study of Chess again. Yep the dang Chess bug has bitten and boring a hole in mine soul and I can't find a way to quit. LOL! Perhaps it's because I have a tournament in April I am priming myself for since I do't wanna go to lose, ya know what I mean jeely beans?

Sorry to derail the thread, now lets getback on topic.

Best,

Kerry

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David,

I have not read a lot of Barker's works, just one book. I could be in error here. I read this on your blog:

Despite the quote from "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" that you provide as support (which of course says exactly what you say it does), I seem to recall her teaching in "The Great Angel" that to the Israelites the King was a representative of Yahweh, not Yahweh himself. She drew the parallel of the King of Tyre (I believe), who represented some other deity. She also mentions how the King of Babylon represents another diety, and describes Isa. 14 as a poem directly related to that issue. In this case these kings are the representatives of their national God, not the national God himself.

I don't own the book so unfortunately I can be of little help.

Sargon

I just ordered "The Great Angel" and should be getting it in a few days. I'm looking forward to reading it.

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Hate to hijack the thread, but yes, OF COURSE I saw the movie. (And I go to movies about once a year on average...)

My namesake's a pretty cool dude, don't you think? :P

While the movie diverged in fundamental ways from the original story (Grendel's mother is actually supposed to be a hag, not Angelina Jolie... heh), it was actually closer in spirit and gritty details than any version I have ever seen before (and I try to catch them all...). It actually looked like Denmark in the 6th century. (And no previous version has ever followed poor Beowulf to the end of his life and denouement with the dragon, for example...)

Beowulf

ed2276, you will be impressed...

I keep The Great Angel on my coffee table, as a conversation starter for visitors... It never fails.

Beowulf

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Lord Kerry!!!

So good to see you drop by. After you win the Chess tourney, make sure that you connect with Lynn and get out here to visit the Beachbum! Rory is has already called me, and made me promise to keep him in the loopâ?¦

We shall have a mini Chess tourney, bench press competition <grin>, free beach tours, and hours of fun in the largest theological library on the Long Beach peninsula.

Grace and peace,

David

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