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Isaiah 101


Mortal Man

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My Gospel Doctrine class has a hard enough time understanding the fundamental principles of the gospel to go nearly as deep as you have Mortal Man. I would certainly love to attend/teach a lesson in the way you've outlined it. I think perhaps it might be better suited for an Institute setting rather than Gospel Doctrine, but that's just me. A few weeks ago I was tempted to explain the differences between Proto and Deutero-Isaiah. On the counsel of my wife who co-teaches the class with me, we opted not to. The text was already encompassing enough. My experience is, the more simplified and precise you can be without appearing long-winded, the better.

For the past few years I'd been sorely tempted to just start attending High Priests group, just because the previous classes were mundane for me. Once I got married I figured that my Elders Quorum was going at a good pace, enough to keep me occupied at least.

I've tried to incorporate good material into our lessons, not unlike your own suggestions Mortal Man. We went over Asherah earlier in the year, and we'll touch on it again when we cover Josiah's reform. I tried to be careful in addressing the issue, especially after a few eyebrows and dissenting opinions were thrown my way. The biblically illiterate do not like to be told what they don't want to know...even if it ends up building faith, not destroying it. After reading Margaret Barker's Temple Theology: An Introduction I feel the class could definitely benefit from what recent scholarship has found, particularly as it pertains to Lehi's Jerusalem.

I can honestly say, this year's Old Testament class has (for me at least) been one of the most faith-promoting and spiritually cleansing years of my life. I've come to love the Old Testament and my own temple experience in a way I never thought possible.

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How does Isaiah chapter 1 manage to capture in an intricate literary and spiritual template, the wounds of our oppression and addiction-soaked modern age? How does this chapter manage to place the reader in a first-person journey through the depths of addiction and abuse (giving and receiving) and then continue the journey into an at first gradual, and then an ecstatic conclusion/culmination of redemption, embrace, rescue and release from such prisons?

How does Isaiah chapter 49:16 manage, in about 10 words, to completely breathe the entire 3-D, 12-D religion of Christ and life and love and temple and the meaning of everything?

How does Isaiah chapter 9:6 manage to remind us that our God, our government, is--when all is said and done--in the birth of a son or a child, and that the grandest music and chant is in the words as we know our babies born to us "Wonderful!"

How does Isaiah chapter 54 manage to be the "secret" description of celestial life and gift that we are all searching for, as we wonder and speculate how the celestial condition really is constituted?

Did I mention I love Isaiah? :P

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What is the purpose of Sunday School again?

Oh, that's right....

Apparently it is not meant to draw people unto Christ but to try and figure out historical issues of the scriptures.

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I've tried to incorporate good material into our lessons, not unlike your own suggestions Mortal Man. We went over Asherah earlier in the year, and we'll touch on it again when we cover Josiah's reform. I tried to be careful in addressing the issue, especially after a few eyebrows and dissenting opinions were thrown my way.

Your class sounds interesting. I hope the "eyebrows" don't take over.

What is the purpose of Sunday School again?

To service the miscomprehension of class members? Starve them for historical facts? Feed them placebos? I dunno, you tell me.

How does Isaiah chapter 1 manage to capture in an intricate literary and spiritual template, the wounds of our oppression and addiction-soaked modern age?

...

How does Isaiah chapter 54 manage to be the "secret" description of celestial life and gift that we are all searching for, as we wonder and speculate how the celestial condition really is constituted?

Did I mention I love Isaiah? :P

Thanks for your comments Maidservant. Like beauty, much of the meaning of Isaiah is clearly in the eye of the beholder.

What are your thoughts concerning the different historical contexts of First, Second and Third Isaiah?

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Thanks for the very interesting essay. Is Barker proposing that Isaiah 53 was written circa 700 BC or that Second Isaiah was likening Hezekiah's plague-illness to their current situation?

But that aside, I also have come to think of the small plates as a redacted, expanded, retro-set and reinterpreted sacral history version of original autobiographical post-exilic Nephi Prime writings by a post-Christian Nephite, perhaps Nephi son of Helaman :P

Interesting thread. Your approach seems similar to Kevin Barney's J-red theory for the BoA. I'll ask you the same thing I asked him. If a Nephite redactor circa 150 BC can make up a new history, then why can't Joseph Smith? What purpose does the middle-man serve? Also, 150 BC is still to early to cover the "name of Christ" anachronism.

How do you account for the fact that, except for the combination of a few choppy sentences (which demonstrates the direction of dependence), the extra verses in JST Isaiah 29 exactly match those in 2 Nephi 27?

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It would sit much better with me if they didn't proceed to go ahead and ruin some of the meanings of the texts with her own assumptions, rather than at least just stick with the manual. I also don't mind efforts by the teachers to put some additional info in if there's some credibility to the addition. But throughout this year the additional information seems to be assumptions rather than anything substantive.

There are plenty of assumptions in the manual as well.

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How can you co-opt something you possessed long before there were any Christians?

There was no Rabbinic Judaism until well after Christianity hit the scene, and I don't think you will find that particular reading anywhere in any Jewish texts prior to the Rabbis.

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Apparently it is not meant to draw people unto Christ but to try and figure out historical issues of the scriptures.

That's just it, the New Testament authors reoriented Isaiah's writings in an effort to 'draw people unto Christ'. They were not much concerned with 'historical issues of the scriptures.'

I'd be interested in your answers to the questions in the OP, if you'd care to take a stab at them.

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That's just it, the New Testament authors reoriented Isaiah's writings in an effort to 'draw people unto Christ'. They were not much concerned with 'historical issues of the scriptures.'

No one was. Even historical authors back then recognized that history was malleable for rhetorical purposes. You're retrojecting an Enlightenment era view of history onto NT writers. You should know better than that.

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How can you co-opt something you possessed long before there were any Christians?

Do feel free to show that they possesed that interpretation long before there were any Christians. Alongside it, and drawing on older sources, existed a messianic interpretation. It is far more likely that early Christians applied pre-existing traditions to Christ rather than create them out of wholecloth. The servant as Israel became popular in response to Christian polemic.

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That's just it, the New Testament authors reoriented Isaiah's writings in an effort to 'draw people unto Christ'. They were not much concerned with 'historical issues of the scriptures.'

I'd be interested in your answers to the questions in the OP, if you'd care to take a stab at them.

Why would I have the answers to them? I am but an ameture.

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I don't believe the JST to have anything to do with restoring original text, but had much more to do with 'updating' and expanding the Bible to be more practically relevant and in line with the doctrinal understanding of the Restoration era saints - and to facilitate and embody new revelation at the same time.

Its a small step to viewing the BOM the same way. So many problems, like the ones outlined in the OP, disappear when one views the BOM this way.

Even historical authors back then recognized that history was malleable for rhetorical purposes. You're retrojecting an Enlightenment era view of history onto NT writers. You should know better than that.

JS recognized that history was malleable for purposes of bringing people to Christ. Now when we apply an Enlightenment era view of history to his work, it raises all kinds of problems. Of course, it would help immensely if the Church would stop pushing an Enlightenment era view of history in its manuals. Oh well.

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