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The Old Vs. The New Testament


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Deut 4:13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

Therefore, Ex 20:2-17 is, properly speaking, the old testament, or covenant.

The ten commandments, along with the rest of the Law of Moses, were to be executed literally, as they are written (Alma 37:20), and without any binding interpretive tradition, such as the Talmud (Deut 4:2, 12:32).  Each individual was to understand and execute the law, without intermediary, and not for another; or, not trusting another (re: Mark 9:44, JST).

God, as it is written, changes not (3 Nephi 24:6).

Questions:

  1. If the ten commandments are the old testament, or covenant, then what is the new testament, or covenant?
  2. Is the new testament, or covenant, like the old testament, or covenant, to be executed as it is written, that is to say, taken literally, without binding interpretive traditions?  Why, or why not?
  3. What, generally speaking, is the function of teachers?
  4. How may teachers sent from God accomplish that function without creating any binding interpretive tradition?
  5. Whence rabbis?
  6. Whence binding interpretive traditions?
Edited by Jared Livesey
clarifying usage of uncapitalized "testament" as covenant, not books of Bible
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3 hours ago, Jared Livesey said:

Deut 4:13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

Therefore, Ex 20:2-17 is, properly speaking, the old testament.

The ten commandments, along with the rest of the Law of Moses, were to be executed literally, as they are written (Alma 37:20), and without any binding interpretive tradition, such as the Talmud (Deut 4:2, 12:32).  Each individual was to understand and execute the law, without intermediary, and not for another; or, not trusting another (re: Mark 9:44, JST).

God, as it is written, changes not (3 Nephi 24:6).

Questions:

  1. If the ten commandments are the old testament, then what is the new testament?
  2. Is the new testament, like the old testament, to be executed as it is written, that is to say, taken literally, without binding interpretive traditions?  Why, or why not?
  3. What, generally speaking, is the function of teachers?
  4. How may teachers sent from God accomplish that function without creating any binding interpretive tradition?
  5. Whence rabbis?
  6. Whence binding interpretive traditions?

The terms "Old" and "New Testament" are human created terms in English.  For early Christians there was only one Bible, with varying contents.  It was the Hebrew Bible, but it was also available in Greek and Aramaic for Jews who did not know Hebrew.  Even today, Jews do not refer to the Hebrew Bible as the "Old Testament,"  and they do not think of it as such.  The biblical notion of a "new covenant" (= new testament) was applied by Christians to the additional canon of Scripture which they themselves had written and gathered long after the time of Jesus (Jer 31:31–34, Heb 8:6-13).   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Covenant    

There are many binding interpretations of Scripture.  There is the rabbinic interpretation in the talmud, there is the Roman Catholic magisterium, and there are many Protestant traditions.  However, Scripture may most correctly be interpreted by the Holy Spirit which gave it.  That is an individual matter of personal testimony and conscience.  But it is also a collective responsibility of God's priests and prophets -- those formally authorized to speak on behalf of God.  For what they bind on earth is bound in heaven, and what they loose on earth is loosed in heaven.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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My lack of capitalization on "the old testament" and "the new testament" is to indicate that I am using "testament" as "covenant," and speaking of the old covenant and the new covenant, rather than books of the Bible.  

Sorry for any confusion.

Edited by Jared Livesey
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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The terms "Old" and "New Testament" are human created terms in English.  For early Christians there was only one Bible, with varying contents.  It was the Hebrew Bible, but it was also available in Greek and Aramaic for Jews who did not know Hebrew.  Even today, Jews do not refer to the Hebrew Bible as the "Old Testament,"  and they do not think of it as such.  The biblical notion of a "new covenant" (= new testament) was applied by Christians to the additional canon of Scripture which they themselves had written and gathered long after the time of Jesus (Jer 31:31–34, Heb 8:6-13).   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Covenant    

There are many binding interpretations of Scripture.  There is the rabbinic interpretation in the talmud, there is the Roman Catholic magisterium, and there are many Protestant traditions.  However, Scripture may most correctly be interpreted by the Holy Spirit which gave it.  That is an individual matter of personal testimony and conscience.  But it is also a collective responsibility of God's priests and prophets -- those formally authorized to speak on behalf of God.  For what they bind on earth is bound in heaven, and what they loose on earth is loosed in heaven.

Thanks Bob, as always right on!

And so is this:

Quote

"There is actually no room in Mormonism for philosophy as distinct from theology."  Thomas F. O'Dea

I agree here with O'Dea and also your point

" However, Scripture may most correctly be interpreted by the Holy Spirit which gave it.  That is an individual matter of personal testimony and conscience.  But it is also a collective responsibility of God's priests and prophets..."

Sometimes a question is raised about Moroni 10:4-5 regarding whether or not a testimony of the Book of Mormon should also de facto count as a testimony of the church and leaders.  Though we should find our own testimonies about every aspect of the gospel, I think generally that it IS right to take a testimony of the BOM as a verification of church authority - since the doctrines which make the church unique in Christianity are included in the Book of Mormon.  Ultimately, I think that the D&C IS our "magisterium" and our "talmud", but what is unique for us is that those are canonized scripture for us.  D&C gives us the details about baptism, for example, while the BOM gives us the central doctrine about why we do not baptize infants or believe in original sin in Moroni 8, D&C 22 gives us details about how baptism is actually an everlasting covenant and therefore an ordinance.

So that is one of the "collective responsibility of God's priests and prophets" in action- and the fact that our interpretations, insofar as they have been canonized ARE themselves scripture.

But coming from a totally skeptical background AND yet having been "clobbered upside the head" ;) by personal revelations of the divinity of the church, there is always a little edge of skepticism left floating around in my mind, and I wonder about how we might know that a prophet is leading us astray.

And the answer of course is personal revelation, as the "prime directive" as they might say on Star Trek.

But there is also the question of defining "philosophy" and where one draws the line between scripture and philosophy.  O'Dea, in your quote above, does not really define where the line is between philosophy and theology and to me that presents a problem, which I suppose we get to figure out for ourselves.

Part of the question gets brilliantly taken off the table by the fact that much of the D&C  IS philosophy/theology, but by canonizing it, the distinction is obliterated. 

Once canonized, it IS scripture.  As mentioned earlier, D&C 22 is a great example because it presents a short argument/explanation which could be taken as philosophy, but apparently would be taken as "theology" by O'Dea

Excuse the extraneous footnotes which were links to footnotes in the original

Quote

 

1 Behold, I say unto you that all aold covenants have I caused to be done away in this thing; and this is a bnew and an everlasting ccovenant, even that which was from the beginning.

2 Wherefore, although a man should be baptized an hundred times it availeth him nothing, for you cannot enter in at the strait gate by the alaw of Moses, neither by your bdead works.

3 For it is because of your dead works that I have caused this last covenant and this church to be built up unto me, even as in days of old.

4 Wherefore, enter ye in at the agate, as I have commanded, and bseek not to counsel your God. Amen.

 

So the simple fact that we must be baptized, is here defined to be an "everlasting covenant" or ordinance AND implies that once one is baptized by the correct authority, it only needs to be done,  unless one is excommunicated, once.   But to make it an "everlasting covenant" as opposed to "dead works".  It is done by church authority, and is one of the reasons for the existence of the church, since it IS an ordinance and not just a symbolic spiritual washing.   It was a practice in the early church on occasion to be baptized as a form of absolution for individual sins or sinful periods- and this section also condemns that practice.

So here scripture IS theology.  If you don't want to call it "philosophy" at least we have another name to give it, to get past the somewhat artificial division.  Baptism IS an ordinance and is hereby so defined, and something about church policy is revealed.

So in our church there really is a division, taken as artificial or not, between "philosophy" and "scripture" and the definitions of each.  Definitions themselves, in my opinion ARE the ideas of men and automatically become "philosophy". 

AND since we have an open canon, further philosophy, or interpretations, CAN theoretically BECOME scripture if so needed.  This means the leadership really IS open to direct revelations from God in order to create new scripture if necessary

But here is the reason that this distinction, however blurry logically, is incredibly important as I now see it.

Automatically, any statements or interpretations which are NOT canonized scripture- a very well defined list of works- are taken to be either theology or philosophy NEED NOT be counted 

But what if we had a theology soley involved in the art/science of philosophical hermeneutics, defining how scripture is to be interpreted?

One of the axioms might be to avoid presentism in interpretation of scripture and to understand that all statements by prophets are made by men within a cultural context- for example.  Of course such "axioms" would have to be more clearly defined

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