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Is the Sunday School Manual Off Base Here?


consiglieri

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Lesson 10 of the Old Testament teacher's manual has the following segment which I am not sure about:

1. Abraham emphasizes the importance of marriage in the covenant (eternal marriage).

Teach and discuss Genesis 24. As you discuss the importance of eternal marriage, be sensitive to the feelings of class members who have not been married in the temple or whose parents have not been married in the temple.

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Yep. Prophets and Apostles (ancient and modern) do, and have done it, all the time

I agree it is a common practice (pesherim?), like when Nephi "misuses" Isaiah in applying it to the Nephites, or when the NT writers "misuse" OT passages as "prophecies" about Jesus. (Here "misuse" means to interpret a passage differently than what it was originally intended to convey.)

But do you think it is better to say up front that you know this isn't what it meant originally, and even so this is how we are going to apply it to our lives?

Otherwise, after you have given it as the "true" interpretation, what do you do when the challenge comes that that interpretation is certainly not what it meant originally, and you know in your heart the challenger is right?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Lesson 10 of the Old Testament teacher's manual has the following segment which I am not sure about:

The Old Testament presents Abraham as sui generis of his faith ...."

You may think the Old Testament presents him that way, but that notion contradicts what is in the Pearl of Great Price, namely in Abraham 1:2-3, which makes clear that Abraham was an adherent to the "faith" and the priesthood that had been on the earth since Adam. The fact that Abraham sought and received a blessing from Melchizedek, and paid to him tithes of all he possessed, indicates Abraham did not originate the faith.

The above point was, in fact, made a couple of weeks ago in the lesson on the Abrahamic covenant.

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The fact that Abraham sought and received a blessing from Melchizedek, and paid to him tithes of all he possessed, indicates Abraham did not originate the faith.

Melchizedek continues to be an enigmatic figure, without father or mother or beginning of days so far as the Old Testament account is concerned.

If what you say is correct, Abraham could have saved his servant a long trip and just married Isaac to one of Melchizedek's daughters in Salem.

If the whole point is to "marry in the covenant."

And if Melchizedek were a descendant of Shem and not Canaan, which appears to be the real point of the long trip back to Mesopatamia where the S(h)emites dwelt.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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The Old Testament presents Abraham as sui generis of his faith; there seems no reason to believe that women of his kindred back in Mesopotamia would be "of his own faith," and ample reason to think otherwise.

The Book of Abraham makes it clear that as Abraham sought the fulness of the higher priesthood, this was something had by his fathers. As a result of his leaving Chaldea ISO further instruction and these blessings, he has his mountaintop experience - parting the veil, seeing God, having his seed sealed to him, etc. Someone (Shem, Melchizedek, whoever) still had authority to perform the highest ordinances, else who was Abraham seeking out to claim his right of the firstborn?

I guess where I'm going is... why do you presume Abraham was THE patriarch or beginning of this covenant/faith/etc? If he went (per Abraham 1) ISO the patriarchal order, someone else must have been preserving the covenants and priesthood and that(or those) person(s) probably had families, daughters, etc.

edit: well, while I was stumbling around trying to type a response, Scott Lloyd went ahead and answered concisely and coherently. Time to get some caffeine in me ...

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I guess where I'm going is... why do you presume Abraham was THE patriarch or beginning of this covenant/faith/etc? If he went (per Abraham 1) ISO the patriarchal order, someone else must have been preserving the covenants and priesthood and that(or those) person(s) probably had families, daughters, etc.

I think Genesis, as well as Abraham 1:2, present Abraham as restoring the priesthood line which had been cut off at some point along the line of his fathers.

In this way, Abraham stands at the head of a new order of patriarchs, even as Adam did, and in the same way as Adam, suffered numerous setbacks to getting the first heir to receive the priesthood and create a new line.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Melchizedek continues to be an enigmatic figure,

There is far more information about him in the scriptures that have come forth through latter-day revelation than in the Bible (see JST Genesis 14:17-40; JST Hebrews 7:1-3; Alma 13:14-19; D&C 84:14; D&C 107:1-4). Are you relying exclusively on the Old Testament?

without father or mother or beginning of days so far as the Old Testament account is concerned.

I'll have to ask for chapter and verse on that. I understood that the phrase "without beginning of days or end of years" referred to the priesthood itself. (Again, I don't rely exclusively on the Old Testament for my understanding, nor do I think that I should.)

If what you say is correct, Abraham could have saved his servant a long trip and just married Isaac to one of Melchizedek's daughters in Salem.

If the whole point is to "marry in the covenant."

Did Melchizedek have marriagable daughters at the time? Where do you get that understanding?

(Edited to correct and add references to Melchizedek.)

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I think Genesis, as well as Abraham 1:2, present Abraham as restoring the priesthood line which had been cut off at some point along the line of his fathers.

In this way, Abraham stands at the head of a new order of patriarchs, even as Adam did, and in the same way as Adam, suffered numerous setbacks to getting the first heir to receive the priesthood and create a new line.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

Aren't there 10 generations between Shem and Abraham? Why presume the wickedness set in right after Shem? This verse from Abr 1 makes it sound like the apostasy occurred much later (to me anyway):

27 Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry;
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I've kind of wondered this too. Was Rebecca of the same faith as Abraham? I would guess no--at least not before she married Isaac. It doesn't even appear that Abraham had stayed in touch with his brother Nahor and his sister in law Milcah over the years as he heard news of the names of all of their children when he returned to Beershba after not sacrificing Isaac. Nahor had remained in Mesopotamia. We also know that Rebecca's brother Laban was an idol worshipper. I don't think it says anywhere that Abraham sought a bride for his son of his own faith. He wanted someone from his own kin--likely who would be receptive to his faith (IMO). The covenant that God made with Abraham was not lateral--it was vertical--through his descendants. I imagine that he put his faith in God that a kinswoman would accept his belief system.

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The Old Testament presents Abraham as sui generis of his faith;

Does it?

And how do you reconcile this verse?

Abr. 1:2 And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.

Who gave Abraham the priesthood? Did this person (and his family) have the "faith"?

Never mind, who am I to question your approach.

. . . there seems no reason to believe that women of his kindred back in Mesopotamia would be "of his own faith,"

Other than the fact that that faithful woman was found of his kindred, right?

. . . and ample reason to think otherwise.

Right, excluding other obvious facts.

Nor is there any reason to think that marrying Isaac to someone of his own kindred would somehow equate to marrying "in the covenant."

Right, what did Abraham know about any of this. It isn't like he had the spirit of prophesy or anything like that. Obviously Abraham knew less about the situation than you do, right?

Is the bolded portion from the manual a correct sentiment to derive from Genesis 24?

I am sure that OBVIOUS FACTS were NOT considered when this portion of the manual was written.

If this sentiment is different from the scriptures, should a conscientious teacher follow the manual or the scriptures?

You should ALWAYS teach your own personal interpretation and NEVER take the manual (or the rest of the scriptures) or FACTS into account when preparing your lesson. We all know that you are more inspired that any one else.

Is it permissible to misuse a Bible story to teach a true doctrine?

Of course not! But you can disregard anything you want to disregard, because you know best.

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I've kind of wondered this too. Was Rebecca of the same faith as Abraham? I would guess no--at least not before she married Isaac.

I don't find that assumption compelling.

It doesn't even appear that Abraham had stayed in touch with his brother Nahor and his sister in law Milcah over the years as he heard news of the names of all of their children when he returned to Beershba after not sacrificing Isaac. Nahor had remained in Mesopotamia. We also know that Rebecca's brother Laban was an idol worshipper. I don't think it says anywhere that Abraham sought a bride for his son of his own faith. He wanted someone from his own kin--likely who would be receptive to his faith (IMO). The covenant that God made with Abraham was not lateral--it was vertical--through his descendants. I imagine that he put his faith in God that a kinswoman would accept his belief system.

All of the above seems to assume that the priesthood had been lost from the earth prior to Abraham. I don't believe it was.

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Aren't there 10 generations between Shem and Abraham? Why presume the wickedness set in right after Shem? This verse from Abr 1 makes it sound like the apostasy occurred much later (to me anyway):

If you look at the numbers provided in Genesis, you will see that Shem out lived Abraham by 30 years. Shem was alive when a wife for Isaac was sought.

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I don't find that assumption compelling.

All of the above seems to assume that the priesthood had been lost from the earth prior to Abraham. I don't believe it was.

How does my assumption speak to the priesthood either way? The fact that Rebecca's brother Laban was an idol worshipper doesn't mean there was no priesthood on the earth so why would my opinion that Rebecca probably was in her early life? The fact that these events occurred in the days of Melchizedek shows that the priesthood was on the earth.

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Perhaps Abraham is an Adam figure. Or shall we say, Adam is an Abraham figure.

One of the things that makes this analysis interesting is what happens with the "heirs" who do not get chosen, and how the lineage of the "unchosen heir" replicates or resembles the lineage of the "chosen heir."

For example, Cain does not get chosen as Adam's heir due to his wickedness, but his lineage is presented in such a way as to replicate that of Seth, not only having the patriarchal line have the same names, or variants thereof, but also both having an "Enoch" who builds a city.

Similarly, Ishmael is not chosen as Abraham's heir, but his lineage is presented in such a way as to replicate that of Isaac, in that they both end up having twelve sons who constitute a nation, or nations.

Just some thoughts as I ponder the text, which lead me to think the author is trying to tell us something.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Aren't there 10 generations between Shem and Abraham? Why presume the wickedness set in right after Shem? This verse from Abr 1 makes it sound like the apostasy occurred much later (to me anyway):

I did not mean to imply I thought the wickedness set in right after Shem, but the story appears to indicate that at some point between Shem and Abraham, the priesthood line was broken such that Abraham could not get the priesthood from his father, Terah.

Also, I had not actually counted the generations between Shem and Abraham, but if you are correct that there are ten, this would be another similarity between the patriarchal lines of Adam and Abraham.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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How does my assumption speak to the priesthood either way? The fact that Rebecca's brother Laban was an idol worshipper doesn't mean there was no priesthood on the earth so why would my opinion that Rebecca probably was in her early life? The fact that these events occurred in the days of Melchizedek shows that the priesthood was on the earth.

I'm saying that if the gospel and the priesthood were still on the earth at the time the Lord made the covenant with Abraham, it was likely there were people of God -- not merely kinfolk -- living on the earth among whom a bride could be sought for Isaac.

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I've kind of wondered this too. Was Rebecca of the same faith as Abraham? I would guess no--at least not before she married Isaac. It doesn't even appear that Abraham had stayed in touch with his brother Nahor and his sister in law Milcah over the years as he heard news of the names of all of their children when he returned to Beershba after not sacrificing Isaac. Nahor had remained in Mesopotamia. We also know that Rebecca's brother Laban was an idol worshipper. I don't think it says anywhere that Abraham sought a bride for his son of his own faith. He wanted someone from his own kin--likely who would be receptive to his faith (IMO). The covenant that God made with Abraham was not lateral--it was vertical--through his descendants. I imagine that he put his faith in God that a kinswoman would accept his belief system.

This is along the lines that I was thinking when I mentioned evidence to believe otherwise, KTG. Laban was an idol worshipper, and we know that Rachel stole his idols from him when Jacob took his family and flocks and unceremoniously fled from Laban to Canaan.

In other words, Laban was a member of Abraham's family, and it certainly appears that he was not of Abraham's faith. Possibly so with Rebekah, though there may have been political motives in her theft of Laban's idols. (By the way, this would be another act by an OT character that I would not want to have to defend on 21st century Mormon moral grounds. . . or should we suppose God told Rachel to steal the idols?) At any rate, there is nothing in the OT to indicate that Abraham's faith would have matriculated back to his family members in the old country, and several textual clues to indicate otherwise.

The text of the OT provides a perfectly good reason for Abraham to send back to the old country for a wive for Isaac, that being Noah's prophecy and curse on Canaan, that he would be a slave to Shem. Abraham, being a S(h)emite, would find it detestable to have his Shemite son marry a Canaanite woman, and hence sent back to get another Shemite woman for his wife.

This seems to be more a matter of race and lineage than finding a woman with the same religion. At least according to the Old Testament.

Hence this thread.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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I'm saying that if the gospel and the priesthood were still on the earth at the time the Lord made the covenant with Abraham, it was likely there were people of God -- not merely kinfolk -- living on the earth among whom a bride could be sought for Isaac.

This seems to assume the conclusion that the purpose was to find a wife of the same faith.

The Old Testament presents the purpose as finding a wife of the same lineage.

Hence this thread.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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I'm saying that if the gospel and the priesthood were still on the earth at the time the Lord made the covenant with Abraham, it was likely there were people of God -- not merely kinfolk -- living on the earth among whom a bride could be sought for Isaac.

And yet Abraham specifically tells his servant to take a bride from among his kindred in the land of Mesopotamia. He wanted a blood relative.

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This seems to assume the conclusion that the purpose was to find a wife of the same faith.

The Old Testament presents the purpose as finding a wife of the same lineage.

Hence this thread.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

The sense I get is that he wanted a bride selected from the lineage, because, by and large, it was the righteous lineage. The wording in Abraham 1:2-5 promotes this understanding:

"I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers."

"It was conferred upon me from the fathers; it came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yea, even from the beginning or before the foundation of the dearth, down to the present time ...."

"I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed."

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