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Baptismal Covenant vs Endowment Covenants


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I didn't know where to ask this question but it says here, that "when you were baptized, you entered into a covenant with God.  You promised to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end."

In the endowment we enter into five covenants as described here.  

Aren't the 5 covenants made in the endowment encompassed in our baptismal covenant and if not why not?

Why is it necessary to subdivide the baptismal covenant?

Edited by jerryp48
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37 minutes ago, jerryp48 said:

I didn't know where to ask this question but it says here, that "when you were baptized, you entered into a covenant with God.  You promised to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end."

In the endowment we enter into five covenants as described here.  

Aren't the 5 covenants made in the endowment encompassed in our baptismal covenant and if not why not?

Why is it necessary to subdivide the baptismal covenant?

The ordinance of baptism is the gate from the path of faith and repentance which leads to the ordinances of confirmation and the sacrament (the path of the Gift of the Holy Spirit); this leads to the temple ordinances of priesthood conferral and endowment (the path to advance and build the kingdom), which lead to the ordinance of marriage sealing (the path of exaltation or the continuation of the seeds). Covenants attend each ordinance, a step of progressive endurance to the end.

The covenants advance from joining the kingdom (taking His name upon us and witnessing of Him) to actively building it and continuing it in the next life (taking His work upon us and becoming like Him).

Edited by CV75
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17 minutes ago, CV75 said:

The ordinance of baptism is the gate from the path of faith and repentance which leads to the ordinances of confirmation and the sacrament (the path of the Gift of the Holy Spirit); this leads to the temple ordinances of priesthood conferral and endowment (the path to advance and build the kingdom), which lead to the ordinance of marriage sealing (the path of exaltation or the continuation of the seeds). Covenants attend each ordinance, a step of progressive endurance to the end.

The covenants advance from joining the kingdom (taking His name upon us and witnessing of Him) to actively building it and continuing it in the next life (taking His work upon us and becoming like Him).

So you're saying the covenants are building blocks but it seems that the law of Chasity would fall under the broader rubric of the baptismal covenant which includes keeping the commandments.  I think I follow what you're saying that covenants attend ordinances.

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There are few real differences between a baptismal interview and a temple recommend interview. I think it would be a bad idea to teach it this way, but I view baptism basically as a 'trial membership'. After we have tried committed discipleship for long enough to know that we really love it, we get an opportunity to remake that original commitment in a more informed, more detailed way.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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6 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

There are few real differences between a baptismal interview and a temple recommend interview. I think it would be a bad idea to teach it this way, but I view baptism basically as a 'trial membership'. After we have tried committed discipleship for long enough to know that we really love it, we get an opportunity to remake that original commitment in a more informed, more detailed way.

So the baptismal covenant is the schoolmaster leading us to the more detailed endowment covenants.  Yeah I can see how an 8-year old is only capable of agreeing in principle to be a disciple of Christ and the endowment is where the rubber meets the road.

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27 minutes ago, jerryp48 said:

So the baptismal covenant is the schoolmaster leading us to the more detailed endowment covenants. 

That's my personal understanding.

Quote

Yeah I can see how an 8-year old is only capable of agreeing in principle to be a disciple of Christ and the endowment is where the rubber meets the road.

Same for converts. Getting baptised is an act of almost pure faith. No one knows anything until s/he has had an opportunity to actually live it.

I've known my current housemates since they were first baptised (in 2010 and 2014, respectively). One struggled to live his covenants post-baptism, and one didn't, but in both cases, as they honoured the covenants they had made, they both grew to crave the endowment as part of their spiritual progression.

Edited by Hamba Tuhan
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1 hour ago, jerryp48 said:

I didn't know where to ask this question but it says here, that "when you were baptized, you entered into a covenant with God.  You promised to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end."

In the endowment we enter into five covenants as described here.  

Aren't the 5 covenants made in the endowment encompassed in our baptismal covenant and if not why not?

Why is it necessary to subdivide the baptismal covenant?

This is what is said on your link, which the church printed

Remember of course these VERY simple descriptions are themselves 

  1.  

    Quote

     

    1. Greater knowledge of the Lord’s purposes and teachings.

    2. Power to do all that God wants us to do.

    3. Divine guidance and protection as we serve the Lord, our families, and others.

    4. Increased hope, comfort, and peace.

    5. Promised blessings now and forever.

     

     

It seems clear to me that "following the commandments" is really insufficient to describe what is taught in the temple, concerning for example, the details of the law of chastity, which would of course be meaningless to an 8 year old.

"Greater knowledge" includes specific information about the requirements of exaltation.  Not in baptism!

"Power to do all that God wants us to do" includes the word POWER- nothing about that in Baptism.  Power includes permission and the authorizations necessary for callings and knowledge which allow us to have leadership callings in the church which of course includes "All that God wants us to do.

Divine guidance and protection for service in family and communities is not included in Baptismal covenants.  There are specific instructions which promise physical and spiritual protection from certain covenants.

Baptism does not assure us of being shielded and protected physically and spiritually as we honor covenants.

These blessings of course as one would expect, lead us to feel protected which provides comfort and increased peace

And clearly exaltation is all about blessings for now and forever.

Like all things in life, we mature as we physically grow up and acquire worldly experience beyond the simple needs of an 8 year old, we also will have the opportunity to be sealed to our spouses forever.

Obviously all this goes far beyond baptism 

Edited by mfbukowski
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58 minutes ago, jerryp48 said:

So you're saying the covenants are building blocks but it seems that the law of Chasity would fall under the broader rubric of the baptismal covenant which includes keeping the commandments.  I think I follow what you're saying that covenants attend ordinances.

No it doesn't.   Listen carefully next time you are there.

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I understand the covenants are ultimately all part of one priesthood covenant, the Abrahamic Everlasting Covenant/the New and Everlasting Covenant. Baptism was the first step in the initiation ritual in the ancient Royal Priesthood. The rituals are laid out in pre-Christian texts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Testament of Levi,

Testament of Levi 8
2 I saw seven men in white clothing, who were saying to me, ‘Arise, put on the vestments of the priesthood, the crown of righteousness, the oracle of understanding, the robe of truth, the breastplate of faith/truth, the miter for the head, and the apron for prophetic power,”
3 “Each carried one of these and put them on me and said, ‘From now on be a priest, you and all your posterity.”
8:4 “The first anointed me with holy oil and gave me a staff.”
8:5 “The second washed me with pure water, fed me by hand with bread and holy wine, and put on me a holy and glorious vestment.”
8:6 “The third put on me something made of linen, like an ephod.”
[And he was] 8:14 “granted a new name" 
 
The objective is the adoption by the Lord into a new son of God. You emerge from the waters of the womb, you breathe/quickened by the spirit, clothed with flesh and named a new name. The "Born Again" metaphor. The objective for the rites is to obtain theosis, newborn angel/divine-children capable of entering God's presence, be it a theophany on earth, in temple service, or getting inside the heavenly temple in vision or death. As Letter to the Hebrews says it, following Christ through the temple veil and drawing nigh unto God.
 
Baptism is a purification rite. Ancients seemed to think sin and holiness is a contagion. Baptism purifies the outside, abstainment from wine and unclean food cleaned the inside, so it's... Less dangerous/blasphemous to be contaminated with holiness by holy oils on the outside and holy bread on the inside. By then you are not merely clean but also holy.
 
Edited by Pyreaux
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57 minutes ago, Pyreaux said:

I understand the covenants are ultimately all part of one priesthood covenant, the Abrahamic Everlasting Covenant/the New and Everlasting Covenant. Baptism was the first step in the initiation ritual in the ancient Royal Priesthood. The rituals are laid out in pre-Christian texts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Testament of Levi,

Testament of Levi 8
2 I saw seven men in white clothing, who were saying to me, ‘Arise, put on the vestments of the priesthood, the crown of righteousness, the oracle of understanding, the robe of truth, the breastplate of faith/truth, the miter for the head, and the apron for prophetic power,”
3 “Each carried one of these and put them on me and said, ‘From now on be a priest, you and all your posterity.”
8:4 “The first anointed me with holy oil and gave me a staff.”
8:5 “The second washed me with pure water, fed me by hand with bread and holy wine, and put on me a holy and glorious vestment.”
8:6 “The third put on me something made of linen, like an ephod.”
[And he was] 8:14 “granted a new name" 
 
The objective is the adoption by the Lord into a new son of God. You emerge from the waters of the womb, you breathe/quickened by the spirit, clothed with flesh and named a new name. The "Born Again" metaphor. The objective for the rites is to obtain theosis, newborn angel/divine-children capable of entering God's presence, be it a theophany on earth, in temple service, or getting inside the heavenly temple in vision or death. As Letter to the Hebrews says it, following Christ through the temple veil and drawing nigh unto God.
 
Baptism is a purification rite. Ancients seemed to think sin and holiness is a contagion. Baptism purifies the outside, abstainment from wine and unclean food cleaned the inside, so it's... Less dangerous/blasphemous to be contaminated with holiness by holy oils on the outside and holy bread on the inside. By then you are not merely clean but also holy.
 

Interesting, I hadn't heard of the Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs before. 

24 And the first portion shall be great; yea, greater than it shall none be.

25 The second shall be in the priesthood.

26 And the third shall be called by a new name, because a king shall arise in Judah, and shall establish a new priesthood, after the fashion of the Gentiles.

My first reaction upon reading a bit of it is it looks like Christians either wrote it or heavily interpolated it as a way to retroject Jesus back into pre-Christian Judaism. And that does seem to be what a lot of scholars think, although at first glance I'm not seeing a ton of work on the subject. Kind of like how Christians interpolated Antiquities of the Jews to support their beliefs about Jesus being the son of God and messiah. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testaments_of_the_Twelve_Patriarchs

Edited by Eschaton
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1 hour ago, Eschaton said:

Interesting, I hadn't heard of the Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs before. 

24 And the first portion shall be great; yea, greater than it shall none be.

25 The second shall be in the priesthood.

26 And the third shall be called by a new name, because a king shall arise in Judah, and shall establish a new priesthood, after the fashion of the Gentiles.

My first reaction upon reading a bit of it is it looks like Christians either wrote it or heavily interpolated it as a way to retroject Jesus back into pre-Christian Judaism. And that does seem to be what a lot of scholars think, although at first glance I'm not seeing a ton of work on the subject. Kind of like how Christians interpolated Antiquities of the Jews to support their beliefs about Jesus being the son of God and messiah. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Testaments_of_the_Twelve_Patriarchs

That is because conservative scholarship thinks Christianity is a new innovation, so any pro-Christian statement presumes tampering, but the Dead Sea Scrolls shows us it was the Jews tampering with the ancient texts to whitewash Christan origins. Their anti-Christian books are the basis of a thousand years of dominant German protestant scholarship built on the premise that every book in the Bible is older than any book left out of it. The Testament of Levi was among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the collection of the oldest books we have dating at least 200 BC, it's a pre-Christian text. It shows us Christian initiation rites come from the Patriarchal priest's initiation rites. You need to read the more radical scholars like Dr Margaret Barker, who study the origin of Christianity in the Royal Cult in the light of these new discoveries and taking a second hard look at these so called pseudepigraphal texts. We don't reject them because they are false, we call them false because what they say is unacceptable. 

P.S. "the first" is prophethood, "the second" is priesthood, "the third" is kingship. The three Patriarchal priestly offices were at one time united until the last true Patriarch Moses delegating his priestly responsibilities, and then Samuel relinquished his vice-regent responsibilities to David.

Edited by Pyreaux
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11 hours ago, jerryp48 said:

So you're saying the covenants are building blocks but it seems that the law of Chasity would fall under the broader rubric of the baptismal covenant which includes keeping the commandments.  I think I follow what you're saying that covenants attend ordinances.

The "temple covenant law" of Chastity is very different from Exodus 20:14 or Jesus' "higher law" in 3 Nephi 12:28. It is very specific to life in the kingdom and is co-essential with the other temple covenants and promises.

ETA: I think another way to see it in terms of advancing the Lord's work for the earth from the dispensation of Moses (the old covenant) to the dispensation of the meridian of time (baptism and the new covenant) into the dispensation of the fulness of times (temple covenants), far exceeding the blessings of the previous dispensations in preparation for the Lord's second coming and beyond.

Edited by CV75
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12 hours ago, Pyreaux said:

That is because conservative scholarship thinks Christianity is a new innovation, so any pro-Christian statement presumes tampering, but the Dead Sea Scrolls shows us it was the Jews tampering with the ancient texts to whitewash Christan origins. Their anti-Christian books are the basis of a thousand years of dominant German protestant scholarship built on the premise that every book in the Bible is older than any book left out of it.

My understanding is that the earliest attestation of these books comes from the second century CE. They do apparently show signs of interpolation - the explicitly Christian content reads quite differently from the rest of it apparently. But apparently it's also hard to determine what material was in the originals, if you take out the interpolations. 

Normally people would use the term "conservative scholarship" to refer to something like evangelical scholars whose work is hedged in by theological commitments, like the inerrancy of the Bible. People who are borderline apologists, in other words. Do you mean instead to say critical/liberal scholarship?  Academic Biblical scholarship isn't thousands of years old, though. It's roots are in the 19th century. 

 

12 hours ago, Pyreaux said:

The Testament of Levi was among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the collection of the oldest books we have dating at least 200 BC, it's a pre-Christian text.

You're referring to the Aramaic Levi Document (which does date to the second or third century BCE)? We only have a fragments of that, and I understand it's not really the same thing as the Testament of Levi. The Testament of Levi seems influenced by it, though. I'm still looking for a text version of the Aramaic Levi Document to compare with the Testament. 

http://apocryphalstone.com/uploads/bibliography/296_359_359- Aramaic Levi Document.pdf

12 hours ago, Pyreaux said:

 

It shows us Christian initiation rites come from the Patriarchal priest's initiation rites. You need to read the more radical scholars like Dr Margaret Barker, who study the origin of Christianity in the Royal Cult in the light of these new discoveries and taking a second hard look at these so called pseudepigraphal texts. We don't reject them because they are false, we call them false because what they say is unacceptable. 

Margaret Barker is very much out in left field. She doesn't represent any significant school of thought in Biblical scholarship. Not that she's a kook per se, but she's "out there."  I don't think it's a good idea to shop around for fringe scholars who can confirm one's biases. That doesn't work out well in any field of study (that's how people get into fringe healthcare ideas that can have disastrous medical consequences).

In any case, it's a fascinating topic, I'll have to do more research. Thanks for bringing it up.

 

Edited by Eschaton
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17 hours ago, jerryp48 said:

I didn't know where to ask this question but it says here, that "when you were baptized, you entered into a covenant with God.  You promised to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ, keep His commandments, and serve Him to the end."

This omits "always remember Him."  See here:

Quote

When we are baptized, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments. We also promise “to serve him to the end” (D&C 20:37; see also Mosiah 18:8–10).
...
The ordinances of baptism and confirmation are the gate through which all who seek eternal life must enter (see 
John 3:3–5). Honoring our baptismal covenants leads to and is an important part of making the covenants associated with all of the other saving ordinances on the path to eternal life (see 2 Nephi 31:17–21).

Portions of 2 Nephi 31:17-21 merit particular attention here:

Quote

17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
...
19 
And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

I think "press forward" here is sometimes construed as exhorting continued obedience.  And that is correct.  Just as receiving baptism was an entry through "the gate" onto "the "strait and narrow path," and also an expression of obedience, so too is receiving further ordinances.

17 hours ago, jerryp48 said:

In the endowment we enter into five covenants as described here.  

Also worth stating:

Quote

During the endowment ordinance, you will be invited to make certain covenants with God. These covenants include:

  • Law of Obedience, which includes striving to keep God’s commandments.

  • Law of Sacrifice, which means doing all we can to support the Lord’s work and repenting with a broken heart and contrite spirit.

  • Law of the Gospel, which is the higher law that He taught while He was on the earth.

  • Law of Chastity, which means that we have sexual relations only with the person to whom we are legally and lawfully wedded according to God’s law.

  • Law of Consecration, which means dedicating our time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed us to building up Jesus Christ’s Church on the earth.

When you keep your covenants, your relationship with the Savior becomes closer and more powerful. God promises that those who keep their covenants will receive blessings in this life and the opportunity to return to live with Him forever.

Is the "Law of Obedience" here synonymous with the baptismal covenant to "keep His commandments?"  I think so.  However, the substantive overlap seems to end there.  The other components of the baptismal covenant ("tak{ing} upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ" and "always remember{ing} Him") are presumed in the Endowment, rather than expressly duplicated.

17 hours ago, jerryp48 said:

Aren't the 5 covenants made in the endowment encompassed in our baptismal covenant and if not why not?

In the broadest sense, yes.  The covenant of obedience could be construed as all-encompassing.

I think there is much value in repetition (note that the baptismal covenant is duplicated not just in the Endowment, but also in the Sacrament), and also in clarified application (the temple covenants).

17 hours ago, jerryp48 said:

Why is it necessary to subdivide the baptismal covenant?

I think the Endowment does not "subdivide the baptismal covenant," but rather builds and expands on it.  Eternal progression is, after all, an incremental thing.  If we pull really far back, we can see the broader strokes:

1) Premortal Existence: We existed as "intelligences"  and/or as premortal children of God.  See here:

Quote

The word "intelligences" (plural) occurs frequently in LDS literature, having reference to the period of the premortal existence of mankind. The term has received two interpretations by writers within the Church: as the literal spirit children of Heavenly Parents and as individual entities existing prior to their spirit birth. Because latter-day revelation has not clarified the meaning of the term, a more precise interpretation is not possible at present.

2) Acceptance of Plan of Salvation: In the premortal existence, we used our agency to choose to accept the Plan of Salvation, which involved coming to earth to receive a physical body, to be tested, etc.  See here:

Quote

Prior to mortal birth individuals existed as men and women in a spirit state and thus coexisted with both the Father and the Son. That period of life is also referred to as the first estate or pre-existence.
...

In a Council in Heaven to preview earth life, the Lord called before him his spirit children and presented the Plan of Salvation by which they would come to this earth, partake of mortal life with physical bodies, pass through a probation in mortality, and progress to a higher exaltation. The matter was discussed as to how, and upon what principle, the salvation, exaltation, and eternal glory of God's sons and daughters would be brought about (cf. DS 1:58). The Firstborn of God volunteered to implement the Plan of Salvation (Abr. 3:27). Lucifer, who was also a son of the Father, came forward with a counterproposal: "Behold, send me, I will be thy Son, and I will redeem all mankind, that not one soul shall be lost and surely I will do it; wherefore, give me thine honor" (Moses 4:1). Already of exalted status, Lucifer sought to aggrandize himself without regard to the rights and agency of others, seeking to destroy the agency of man (JC, p. 7-8). The Father said, "I will send the first" (Abr. 3:27).

This decision led the hosts of heaven to take sides, and a third part rose in rebellion and, with Lucifer, were cast out of heaven. "They were denied the privilege of being born into this world and receiving mortal bodies. The Lord cast them out into the earth, where they became the tempters of mankind" (DS 1:65; cf. Jude 1:6).

3) Mortal Birth / Commence Mortal Probation: We were born, received physical bodies, and began this mortal probation.  See here:

Quote

Although mortality is a temporary stage of life, it is essential for an individual's eternal progression for two reasons. First, it is necessary to receive a physical body. God the Father, in his perfected state, has a body of flesh and bone, as does the Son (Luke 24:36-39; D&C 130:22). Mortal men and women, as the spirit offspring of God, also gain physical bodies in mortality that are indispensable to their progress, and will rise in the resurrection and be perfected (Job 19:25-26; Luke 24:39). Without a physical body one cannot have a fulness of joy.

Second, this life is a period of development and probation, a time to overcome temptation or inclinations toward sin and corruption (Mosiah 3:19; see Natural Man). Such inclinations can be given up through repentance, the Atonement, and agency (Mosiah 5:2). Mortals experience opposites-good and evil, happiness and bitterness, joy and misery-and have the opportunity to live true to the commandments and teachings of God. Opposition is a fundamental feature of mortality, where human actions and choices are made within the possibility of doing wrong, where acceptance of the commandments and teachings of God is done in the face of opposition and temptation. While Latter-day Saints do not believe that perfection is possible in this life, they believe in working toward it in response to the injunction of Jesus Christ to "Be ye therefore perfect" (Matt. 5:48; cf. 3 Ne. 12:48). Through repentance and obedience they try to resist the temptations that beset them.

4) Ordinances of Baptism and Confirmation (and Sacrament): As we grow in life, we gradually increase our capacity to choose, and we encounter more opportunities to utilize that capacity.  All of us will, sooner or later, be given the opportunity to hear and accept the central component of the Plan of Salvation, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In accepting the Gospel, the first volitional step in mortality is to receive the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, by which we A) take upon ourselves the name of Christ, B) promise to always remember Him, C) promise to keep His commandments, and D) join His Church.  Thereafter, we regularly renew and remind ourselves of these things by receiving the ordinance of the Sacrament.

5) Further Ordinances (Priesthood, Initiatory, Endowment, Sealing): As we continue to grow in life, and after having entered onto "strait and narrow path" via baptism, we have the opportunity to receive further ordinances.  See here:

Quote

“In the Church, an ordinance is a sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood. Some ordinances are essential to our exaltation. These ordinances are called saving ordinances. They include baptism, confirmation, ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men), the temple endowment, and the marriage sealing” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 109).

The vast majority of us will not receive all of these ordinances in this life, hence the need for temple work.

6) More than Ordinances is Required: The ordinances in Steps 4 and 5 are required for exaltation, but not for salvation.  See, e.g., here:

Quote

The first thing to understand is that though we often use salvation and exaltation interchangeably, there is a difference between the two. LDS.org gives six definitions to the word salvation, but we’re just going to focus in on one important concept. I’d be willing to bet (conjecture alert) that when someone who is not LDS refers to ‘being saved‘ they’re referring to being saved from death and an eternal Hell. By implication, they’re referring to hopefully finding a place in Heaven for eternity.

 

In this sense of the word, are saving ordinances essential to salvation according to LDS theology? No. Christ’s resurrection serves as a free gift to every human being that comes to earth, ensuring that everyone will be resurrected and receive salvation from physical death.

Likewise, most everyone that ever exists is sure to receive a degree of glory, or heaven. Only a very select few will not. In that sense, salvation (from death and the traditional Hell) comes completely through the grace of God.
...

President Russell M. Nelson defines exaltation as “the highest state of happiness and glory in the celestial realm.” Those who receive exaltation will have the opportunity to live with Heavenly Father for eternity, and to become like Him. It’s true that exaltation implies salvation, but salvation does not necessarily imply exaltation. So, are saving ordinances necessary for exaltation? Yes.

LDS.org clearly states that “Some ordinances are essential to our exaltation,” and that “These ordinances are called saving ordinances.” But in the context of the definitions outlined above, we might do well to think of ‘saving ordinances’ more as ‘exalting ordinances’ for the sake of clarity.

And here:

Quote

 Elder Boyd K. Packer observed that the root word for ordinance is order. He notes that in the Oxford English Dictionary, the first definition of order is, "arrangement in ranks or rows,"and the second definition is, "arrangement in sequence or proper relative position." He then concludes that an ordinance is a "ceremony by which things are put in proper order."(15) It follows, then, that all the ordinances of both the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood place in proper sequence what God's children must do in order to come into a proper relationship with God and obtain the fullness of God's Kingdom including godhood.

The following diagram(16) illustrates the role ordinances play in helping man achieve exaltation within the celestial kingdom. The circle represents the celestial glory. The Lord stated: "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees" (D&C 131:1). We are not told the names of the first two degrees, however, the highest degree is called exaltation or eternal life. It is only in this degree that the children of God can obtain godhood (D&C 131:1-4 and 132:7-17, 29, 37). The ordinances, or the strait and narrow path, may be compared to the rungs of a ladder. By entering into each ordinance, one progresses up the ladder towards the goal of exaltation.

ladder.gif

That said, although these ordinances are essential for exaltation, they are not, in and of themselves, sufficient.  From the above link (emphasis added):

Quote

But it requires more than just entrance into the ordinances. One must live up to the covenants made within each ordinance before the blessings promised can be obtained. Marion G. Romney observed:

        "Pondering upon the subject of temples and the means therein provided to enable us to ascend into heaven brings to mind the lesson of Jacob's dream. You will recall that in the twenty-eight chapter of Genesis there is an account of his return to the land of his father to seek a wife from among his own people. When Jacob traveled from Beersheba toward Haran, he had a dream in which he saw himself on earth at the foot of a ladder that reached to heaven where the Lord stood above it. He beheld angels ascending and descending thereon, and Jacob realized that the covenants he made with the Lord there were the rungs on the ladder that he himself would have to climb in order to obtain the promised blessings--blessings that would entitle him to enter heaven and associate with the Lord.
        "Because he had met the Lord and entered into covenants with him there, Jacob considered the site so sacred the he named the place Bethel, a contraction of Beth-Elohim, which means literally 'the House of the Lord.' He said of it: '. . . this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.' (Gen. 28:17.)
        Jacob not only passed through the gate of heaven, but by living up to every covenant he also went all the way in. Of him and his forebears Abraham and Isaac, the Lord has said: '. . . because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.' (D&C 132:37.)
        "Temples are to us all what Bethel was to Jacob."(17)

And again, from 2 Nephi 31:19:

Quote

And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

And here:

Quote

So why are exalting ordinances so important?

Exalting, or saving ordinances, are much more than items on a list we have to check off in order to unlock an eternal reward. By making and living up to the covenants associated with each ordinance, we’re already starting the process of becoming like our Heavenly Father. We become “partakers of the divine nature,” as the scriptures teach.

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

If you didn’t read that scripture closely, read it again.

OK, so we become like God through ordinances. But how does that happen? What does that look like? Read on, dear friend.

Power through ordinances

For this section I defer to an excerpt from the book, Why are ordinances important in my life? by Dr. Anthony Sweat:

One of the special blessings of my life is that I have full access to all my wife’s gifts and abilities and resources—her knowledge, wisdom, talents, strength, goodness, and just down-right cute-ness. Why am I so fortunate to have all of Cindy Sweat’s resources at my fingertips? Well, because I married her. I gave my life to her, she gave her life to me, and we became one—The SWEATS (Man, what a name. Love ya, forefathers). It’s the marriage ordinance that connects me to her and her to me and gives us full access to what each other can offer the other.

Now, why am I telling you this about marriage? Let me explain with a verse from the Doctrine and Covenants: ‘Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.’ In other words, gospel ordinances give us access to God’s power in our lives and help us become more like Him. Just like how a person gains full access to their spouse’s gifts, abilities, and powers through the ordinance of matrimony, we gain access to God’s gifts, abilities, and powers through the ordinances of the gospel.

Dr. Sweat then outlines some examples of specific attributes, gifts, abilities, and powers associated with the exalting ordinances listed at the beginning of this article:

Staying on “the covenant path”

It’s a phrase we’ve heard from President Russel M. Nelson a lot lately. “Keep on the covenant path.” It was something he emphasized in his first formal statement as the 17th president of the Church and continues to focus on now. But considering the importance of saving ordinances (and associated covenants) as taught by Dr. Sweat, what exactly is the covenant path we’re supposed to stay on?

Because the power of godliness is made manifest in the ordinances (and associated covenants) of the gospel, one could say that the covenant path is representative of the path to godliness as we know it in this mortal life. And inversely,

without the ordinances thereof … the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh.

Of course, we stay on the path by keeping our end of the deal in reference to our covenants, but to what end? Exaltation. To live with and ultimately become like God. And again, that godly transformation starts now, inasmuch as is possible in our mortal circumstances. We start the process now, and,

Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

Those scriptures only mention knowledge and intelligence, but I think the same principle applies to the gifts, attributes, powers, skills, and abilities we receive through ordinances and covenants.

Good thoughts, these.

7) Comment Re: Still Further Ordinances: I think the foregoing pretty much sums up what know at present (I am certainly open to correction if I have omitted anything significant).  In closing, I will note that there is some possibility of still further "exalting ordinances" to be had.  See, e.g., here:

Quote
Resurrection - An Ordinance of the Priesthood
 
Brigham Young
It is supposed by this people that we have all the ordinances in our possession for life and salvation, and exaltation, and that we are administering in these ordinances. This is not the case. We are in possession of all the ordinances that can be administered in the flesh; but there are other ordinances and administrations that must be administered beyond this world. I know you would ask what they are. I will mention one. We have not, neither can we receive here, the ordinance and the keys of the resurrection. They will be given to those who have passed off this stage of action and have received their bodies again, as many have already done and many more will. They will be ordained, by those who hold the keys of the resurrection, to go forth and resurrect the Saints just as we receive the ordinance of baptism, then the keys of authority to baptize others for the remission of their sins. This is one of the ordinances we cannot receive here, and there are many more. We hold the authority to dispose of, alter and change the elements; but we have not received authority to organize native element, to even make a spear of grass grow. (Discourses of Brigham Young, pp.397-398;  see also Spencer W. Kimball, "Our Great Potential," in Ensign May 1977, p. 49)

 

Ordinance of Resurrection Performed by Previously Resurrected Being

Brigham Young

Some person holding the keys of the resurrection, having previously passed through that ordeal, will be delegated to resurrect our bodies, and our spirits will be there and prepared to enter into their bodies. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.373)  

"We have not, neither can we receive here, the ordinance and the keys of the resurrection. They will be given to those who have passed off this stage of action and have received their bodies again, as many have already done and many more will. They will be ordained, by those who hold the keys of the resurrection, to go forth and resurrect the Saints..."

"{The ordinance of resurrection} is one of the ordinances we cannot receive here, and there are many more {ordinances}."

Though I think we are not obligated to accept these comments as binding or scriptural (see D&C 68:4), they make sense to me.  They fill gaps in my understanding.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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25 minutes ago, smac97 said:

This omits "always remember Him."  See here:

Portions of 2 Nephi 31:17-21 merit particular attention here:

I think "press forward" here is sometimes construed as exhorting continued obedience.  And that is correct.  Just as receiving baptism was an entry through "the gate" onto "the "strait and narrow path," and also an expression of obedience, so too is receiving further ordinances.

Also worth stating:

Is the "Law of Obedience" here synonymous with the baptismal covenant to "keep His commandments?"  I think so.  However, the substantive overlap seems to end there.  The other components of the baptismal covenant ("tak{ing} upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ" and "always remember{ing} Him") are presumed in the Endowment, rather than expressly duplicated.

In the broadest sense, yes.  The covenant of obedience could be construed as all-encompassing.

I think there is much value in repetition (note that the baptismal covenant is duplicated not just in the Endowment, but also in the Sacrament), and clarified application (the temple covenants).

I think the Endowment does not "subdivide the baptismal covenant," but rather builds and expands on it.  Eternal progression is, after all, an incremental thing.  If we pull really far back, we can see the broader strokes:

1) Premortal Existence: We existed as "intelligences"  and/or as premortal children of God.  See here:

2) Acceptance of Plan of Salvation: In the premortal existence, we used our agency to choose to accept the Plan of Salvation, which involved coming to earth to receive a physical body, to be tested, etc.  See here:

3) Mortal Birth / Commence Mortal Probation: We were born, received physical bodies, and began this mortal probation.  See here:

4) Ordinances of Baptism and Confirmation (and Sacrament): As we grow in life, we gradually increase our capacity to choose, and we encounter more opportunities to utilize that capacity.  All of us will, sooner or later, be given the opportunity to hear and accept the central component of the Plan of Salvation, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In accepting the Gospel, the first volitional step in mortality is to receive the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, by which we A) take upon ourselves the name of Christ, B) promise to always remember Him, C) promise to keep His commandments, and D) join His Church.  Thereafter, we regularly renew and remind ourselves of these things by receiving the ordinance of the Sacrament.

5) Further Ordinances (Priesthood, Initiatory, Endowment, Sealing): As we continue to grow in life, and after having entered onto "strait and narrow path" via baptism, we have the opportunity to receive further ordinances.  See here:

The vast majority of us will not receive all of these ordinances in this life, hence the need for temple work.

6) More than Ordinances is Required: The ordinances in Steps 4 and 5 are required for exaltation, but not for salvation.  See, e.g., here:

And here:

That said although these ordinances are essential for exaltation, they are not, in and of themselves, sufficient.  From the above link (emphasis added):

And again, from 2 Nephi 31:19:

And here:

Good thoughts, these.

7) Comment Re: Still Further Ordinances: I think the foregoing pretty much sums up what know at present (I am certainly open to correction if I have omitted anything significant).  In closing, I will note that there is some possibility of still further "exalting ordinances" to be had.  See, e.g., here:

"We have not, neither can we receive here, the ordinance and the keys of the resurrection. They will be given to those who have passed off this stage of action and have received their bodies again, as many have already done and many more will. They will be ordained, by those who hold the keys of the resurrection, to go forth and resurrect the Saints..."

"{The ordinance of resurrection} is one of the ordinances we cannot receive here, and there are many more {ordinances}."

Though I think we are not obligated to accept these comments as binding or scriptural (see D&C 68:4), they make sense to me.  They fill gaps in my understanding.

Thanks,

-Smac

Thank you putting so much detail into your response.

My wife and I are researching different aspects of the temple and I chose to research covenants.  I started by writing down a number of questions about covenants and this was one of them.  I've been endowed for over 30 years and still feel like I've barely scratched to surface of understanding the ordinances.  I hope a deeper understanding will increase my desire to serve in the temple.

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I think that one way of looking at it is that with Baptism we are basically saying that we will submit to and acknowledge the divine governance of our Savior. We became citizens of Christ's Kingdom.
With the Endowment covenants, we move beyond just being a citizen but active co-participants with Christ in the governance and works of Christ's Kingdom (kings and priests, queens and priestesses). It encompasses being a citizen and all the obligations that involves, but includes more.

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14 hours ago, Eschaton said:

My understanding is that the earliest attestation of these books comes from the second century CE.... You're referring to the Aramaic Levi Document (which does date to the second or third century BCE)?

Not the Aramaic Levi Document from the Cairo Geniza, but from 1Q Aramaic Levi Document which may not be published yet, and it is also quoted and referenced in the Damascus Document which are both from the 200 BC pre-Christian Dead Sea Scrolls, containing numerous manuscripts that fall in the category of "pseudepigraphic" writings; The Book of Tobit, Sirach, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Book of Enoch, the Book of Noah, the Testament of Amram, the Samuel Apocryphon, the second Ezekiel, the Book of Jubilees, pseudo-Moses, and the Testament of Levi.

The Christians compiled the T12P and added Levi and is thought to have expanded Chapter 16 because it contained a messianic prophecy that is too detailed. The Dead Sea Scrolls also shows the Masoretic Jews have been erasing Biblical messianic prophecies and burning pre-Christian books like Enoch. The DSS vindicated the Christian's copy of the Greek Old Testament as a legit and faithful translation and the Masoretic text as the tampered propaganda.

Edited by Pyreaux
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8 hours ago, Pyreaux said:

Not the Aramaic Levi Document from the Cairo Geniza, but from 1Q Aramaic Levi Document which may not be published yet, and it is also quoted and referenced in the Damascus Document which are both from the 200 BC pre-Christian Dead Sea Scrolls, containing numerous manuscripts that fall in the category of "pseudepigraphic" writings; The Book of Tobit, Sirach, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Book of Enoch, the Book of Noah, the Testament of Amram, the Samuel Apocryphon, the second Ezekiel, the Book of Jubilees, pseudo-Moses, and the Testament of Levi.

If the 1Q Aramaic Levi Document has not been published yet, how do you know what's in it? 

 

8 hours ago, Pyreaux said:

The Christians compiled the T12P and added Levi and is thought to have expanded Chapter 16 because it contained a messianic prophecy that is too detailed. The Dead Sea Scrolls also shows the Masoretic Jews have been erasing Biblical messianic prophecies and burning pre-Christian books like Enoch. The DSS vindicated the Christian's copy of the Greek Old Testament as a legit and faithful translation and the Masoretic text as the tampered propaganda.

The Dead Sea Scrolls actually preserve an important textual variation of Deuteronomy 32:8-9 that was edited out by scribes: :

http://jur.byu.edu/?p=3703

Quote

The Dead Sea Scrolls version reads: 8 When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the sons of God*. 9 For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. [J.A. Duncan, in Qumran Cave 4. IX: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Kings, ed. E. Ulrich and F.M. Cross, DJD XIV (Oxford: Clarendon, 1995), 90.]

By contrast, the version we have reads:

Quote

When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance.

The Septuagint rendered it like this:

Quote

8 When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God.

 

In both cases the attempt is to edit out the Canaanite-influenced polytheism of the original, in which there was one of the 70 sons of God ruling over each of the 70 nations.  

 

 

Edited by Eschaton
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8 hours ago, Pyreaux said:

Not the Aramaic Levi Document from the Cairo Geniza, but from 1Q Aramaic Levi Document which may not be published yet,

While there isn't any relationship between the Aramaic Levi Document (ALD) and the Testament of Levi (TLP), there are fragments of the ALD from the Cairo Genizah. Some of these fragments overlap with material found at Qumran. The Qumran texts that are part of the ALD are 1Q21, 4Q213, 4Q213a, 4Q213b, 4Q214, 4Q214a, and 4Q214b. The first publication of these fragments occurred in the DJD volumes 1, 22, and 37. But, the best edition (with as complete a translation as exists) would be this is the edition - I have a copy. But, as with anything published by Brill, its pricey.

The ALD was composed in Aramaic (it is not translated from a Hebrew original).

I think its worth mentioning that the Jewish mikvah is used for an entire range of practices - only one of which is priestly consecration. I think that we would need to be very careful to assert that any reference to ritual washing is related to the idea of priestly consecration as opposed to other, more common uses of ritual washing (ALD, for example, has most of a chapter devoted to discussing the various contexts in which a priest needed to wash his hands and feet while performing normal priestly duties).

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On 10/26/2022 at 11:03 AM, Eschaton said:

My understanding is that the earliest attestation of these books comes from the second century CE. They do apparently show signs of interpolation - the explicitly Christian content reads quite differently from the rest of it apparently. But apparently it's also hard to determine what material was in the originals, if you take out the interpolations. 

Normally people would use the term "conservative scholarship" to refer to something like evangelical scholars whose work is hedged in by theological commitments, like the inerrancy of the Bible. People who are borderline apologists, in other words. Do you mean instead to say critical/liberal scholarship?  Academic Biblical scholarship isn't thousands of years old, though. It's roots are in the 19th century. 

 

You're referring to the Aramaic Levi Document (which does date to the second or third century BCE)? We only have a fragments of that, and I understand it's not really the same thing as the Testament of Levi. The Testament of Levi seems influenced by it, though. I'm still looking for a text version of the Aramaic Levi Document to compare with the Testament. 

http://apocryphalstone.com/uploads/bibliography/296_359_359- Aramaic Levi Document.pdf

Margaret Barker is very much out in left field. She doesn't represent any significant school of thought in Biblical scholarship. Not that she's a kook per se, but she's "out there."  I don't think it's a good idea to shop around for fringe scholars who can confirm one's biases. That doesn't work out well in any field of study (that's how people get into fringe healthcare ideas that can have disastrous medical consequences).

In any case, it's a fascinating topic, I'll have to do more research. Thanks for bringing it up.

 

Regarding Margaret Barker, I have a long two-part essay coming from Interpreter  near future which looks at how she has been received amongst various streams of Biblical scholarship to the present as well as among the LDS in the twenty years since I published a little book called "Paradigms Regained: A Survey of Margaret Barker's Scholarship and Its Significance for Mormon Studies."  

If "out in left field" and not representing "any significant school of thought in Biblical scholarship" are accurate and reasonable judgements, then these kinds of things are more difficult to explain than to airily dismiss via labeling.

Quote

In the same year[2008], Barker also published Temple Themes in Christian Worship.  The jacket comment praising the book was written by Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. In the same year she was given a Lambeth Doctor of Divinity by the same Archbishop of Canterbury and Queen Elizabeth ‘in recognition of her work on the Jerusalem Temple and the origins of Christian Liturgy, which has made a significantly new contribution to our understanding of the New Testament and opened up important fields for research.’

And 

Quote

In 2009, Barker contributed an essay, “The High Priest and the Worship of Jesus” to a volume on The Jewish Roots of Christological Monotheism  and in 2010 published, Creation: A Biblical Vision for the Environment, with a forward written by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.  

And 

Quote

In 2012, she published The Mother of the Lord: Volume 1 The Lady in the Temple .  Again, Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote an appreciative note for the back cover. 
"Once again, Dr. Barker offers us a massively learned and creative re-reading of what the Bible has to tell us about the religion of ancient Israel, using her wide knowledge of material in Hebrew, Syriac and other Semitic languages, texts from Jewish, Gnostic and Christian sources. She reinforces the case she has made in earlier books that the Hebrew Scriptures represent a deeply conflicted set of traditions and excavates the lost cult of the divine 'Lady of the Temple', the personification of divine Wisdom and the bearer of the divine Son. Her contention that this alone makes sense not only of tensions within the text of the Hebrew Scriptures, but also of persistent and otherwise baffling themes in early Christianity is argued with vigour and comprehensiveness of scope. Controversial as it is, this is a very significant contribution to a fuller understanding of both Christian and Jewish origins." 

Back in 1998 John McDade published a broad survey of "Life of Jesus Research" in a Catholic Journal, noting the many different streams and approaches by a wide range of scholars, and in relation to all of that introduced Barker's The Risen Lord: The Jesus of History as the Christ of Faith this way:

Quote

A very original contribution to these questions of Jesus’ religious experience, its connection with experiential patterns in 1st century Jewish religion and the possible value of non-Gospel NT writings for Jesus research has come recently from Margaret Barker: her proposals about these three areas go against the grain of much New Testament scholarship and is therefore worth attention. 

Twenty years after McDade's essay, N.T. Wright, whom McDade had cited as one of the two most important believing scholars, was invited to give the Gifford Lectures, and in the published version commented “Margaret Barker has done remarkable work in alerting scholarly and popular circles to ‘Temple’-based theological understanding.”  See See N. T. Wright, History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology (Waco, TX: Baylor Univ. Press, 2019), 307, note 2. 

Regarding the metaphor comparing her work to "fringe healthcare ideas", that is one possible judgement, though as a reliable map to the territory, I don't see how it accounts for her endorsements by Rowan Williams or N.T. Wright, or many others I mention in my forthcoming essay, let alone the actual content of books and essays that I have been closely studying since 1999.  She's not mainstream, but neither are the LDS.   Neither was Jesus mainstream on the day he read from Isaiah 61 in a synagogue in Nazareth.  She's not isolated though, nor fringe, but has working relationships with a great many top scholars.  She was not elected as President of the Society for Old Testament Study in England in 1998 because she impressed the Hebrew literate membership as "fringe."  For instance, Andrei Orlov at Marquette uses her work in his classes.   And In 2015, scholar Crispin Fletcher-Lewis, in the introduction to the first volume of Jesus Monotheism refers to his influences as his Oxford teachers, mentioning N.T. Wright, Christopher Rowland, John Ashton, Rowan Williams, Kallistos Ware and others, and then mentions Margaret Barker as “a muse to many of us, albeit beyond the immediate confines of Oxford on the cosmology and religious experiences nurtured by Israel’s temple.” 

So when I see a label like "fringe" and a metaphor of "fringe healthcare ideas" I am reminded an insight from a useful book on postmodernism I have:

Quote

One of the ruling illusions of Western metaphysics is that reason can somehow grasp the world without close attention to language and arrive at a pure, self-authenticating truth or method. Derrida’s work draws attention to the ways in which language deflects the philosopher’s project. He does this by focusing on metaphors and other figurative devices in the texts of philosophy…

His method consists of showing how the privileged term is held in place by the force of the dominant metaphor, and not, as it might seem, by any conclusive logic. (Madad Sarup, Post-Structuralism and Post Modernism (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993), 51-52 

Barker has detractors, I know, but much of the criticism I have read comes from the position that "She is not us!" whomever that "us" happens to be.   It's best, I think to go forward on the basis of experimental results rather than labels and metaphors designed to suppress exploration and effort.  "Not us!" can be a simple in-group declaration.  "Why us?" requires checking one's own eye for beams, and then careful comparisons and the use of criteria that are not completely "us"-dependent.

From my essay:

Quote

The New Testament includes several examples of how some people, on facing the message of Jesus, weighed the message by personal experiment, and how others turned to their favored authorities and traditions to deal with a new and challenging complexity. Where some said, 


Never man spake like this man. (John 7:46)


Others responded:
Have any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.  (John 7:48)


There is a discernable difference between those who are looking for further light and knowledge and who are willing to personally investigate “whether those things are so” (Acts 17:11), to judge by experiment whether new wine is better, and those who just want to know whether some notable wine connoisseur approves. 

I've been conducting experiments on Barker's work for a long time.  And they have been amazingly fruitful.    Given that fruitfulness and wide appreciation, her appearance in this video produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seems just as reasonable and well founded to me as her endorsements by an Archbishop of Canterbury or the head of the Orthodox Church or important scholars at Oxford.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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2 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

Regarding Margaret Barker, I have a long two-part essay coming from Interpreter  near future which looks at how she has been received amongst various streams of Biblical scholarship to the present as well as among the LDS in the twenty years since I published a little book called "Paradigms Regained: A Survey of Margaret Barker's Scholarship and Its Significance for Mormon Studies."  

If "out in left field" and not representing "any significant school of thought in Biblical scholarship" are accurate and reasonable judgements, then these kinds of things are more difficult to explain than to airily dismiss via labeling.

And 

And 

Back in 1998 John McDade published a broad survey of "Life of Jesus Research" in a Catholic Journal, noting the many different streams and approaches by a wide range of scholars, and in relation to all of that introduced Barker's The Risen Lord: The Jesus of History as the Christ of Faith this way:

Twenty years after McDade's essay, N.T. Wright, whom McDade had cited as one of the two most important believing scholars, was invited to give the Gifford Lectures, and in the published version commented “Margaret Barker has done remarkable work in alerting scholarly and popular circles to ‘Temple’-based theological understanding.”  See See N. T. Wright, History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology (Waco, TX: Baylor Univ. Press, 2019), 307, note 2. 

Regarding the metaphor comparing her work to "fringe healthcare ideas", that is one possible judgement, though as a reliable map to the territory, I don't see how it accounts for her endorsements by Rowan Williams or N.T. Wright, or many others I mention in my forthcoming essay, let alone the actual content of books and essays that I have been closely studying since 1999.  She's not mainstream, but neither are the LDS.   Neither was Jesus mainstream on the day he read from Isaiah 61 in a synagogue in Nazareth.  She's not isolated though, nor fringe, but has working relationships with a great many top scholars.  She was not elected as President of the Society for Old Testament Study in England in 1998 because she impressed the Hebrew literate membership as "fringe."  For instance, Andrei Orlov at Marquette uses her work in his classes.   And In 2015, scholar Crispin Fletcher-Lewis, in the introduction to the first volume of Jesus Monotheism refers to his influences as his Oxford teachers, mentioning N.T. Wright, Christopher Rowland, John Ashton, Rowan Williams, Kallistos Ware and others, and then mentions Margaret Barker as “a muse to many of us, albeit beyond the immediate confines of Oxford on the cosmology and religious experiences nurtured by Israel’s temple.” 

So when I see a label like "fringe" and a metaphor of "fringe healthcare ideas" I am reminded an insight from a useful book on postmodernism I have:

Barker has detractors, I know, but much of the criticism I have read comes from the position that "She is not us!" whomever that "us" happens to be.   It's best, I think to go forward on the basis of experimental results rather than labels and metaphors designed to suppress exploration and effort.  "Not us!" can be a simple in-group declaration.  "Why us?" requires checking one's own eye for beams, and then careful comparisons and the use of criteria that are not completely "us"-dependent.

From my essay:

I've been conducting experiments on Barker's work for a long time.  And they have been amazingly fruitful.    Given that fruitfulness and wide appreciation, her appearance in this video produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seems just as reasonable and well founded to me as her endorsements by an Archbishop of Canterbury or the head of the Orthodox Church or important scholars at Oxford.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

 

I didn't say she never managed to get published. Like I said, she's not a kook, but she is very fringe:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Barker#Reception

Quote

Margaret Barker's work has been received positively within the Mormon tradition.[11][12][13][14][15] However, it has been regarded as fanciful and unpersuasive to some New Testament scholars.[16][17][18] Specifically, some scholars believe Barker engages in parallelomania.[18] Barker's later work has been critiqued for primarily citing her own work, and failing to substantially engage with the broader scholarly literature covering the topics on which she writes. However the same critic also points to original elements of her work which deserve further study and appreciation.[18] Writes Peter Schäfer of Princeton: "For a Judaism scholar [Schäfer] focused on religious history, [Barker's] books are particularly hard to digest. They contain numerous surprising as well as brilliant insights, but all in all create a new syncretistic religion that avoids any and all chronological, geographic, and literary differentiations."[19] Notable supporters of Barker's work include Robert M. Price.[11]

https://www.sblcentral.org/home/bookDetails/6764

https://www.academia.edu/31504832

I can certainly see how Barker's views appeal to the theological presuppositions of LDS people, however. 

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3 hours ago, Eschaton said:

 

I didn't say she never managed to get published. Like I said, she's not a kook, but she is very fringe:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Barker#Reception

https://www.sblcentral.org/home/bookDetails/6764

https://www.academia.edu/31504832

I can certainly see how Barker's views appeal to the theological presuppositions of LDS people, however. 

Of course they are about a school of thought which benefits millions.

Theology is a relationary discipline, not an experimental one.  There is no such thing as an "objective fact" in theology, there are simply interpretations which clarify other interpretations.

I don't know what you expect.

Perhaps you could outline the meaning of how "truth" is established in theology.

Wikipedia?

Self published "Academia.edu" ?

SBL, written by a Catholic priest?

Perhaps he is a little pro-Catholic?

 

Edited by mfbukowski
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15 hours ago, mfbukowski said:

Of course they are about a school of thought which benefits millions.

Theology is a relationary discipline, not an experimental one.  There is no such thing as an "objective fact" in theology, there are simply interpretations which clarify other interpretations.

I don't know what you expect.

Perhaps you could outline the meaning of how "truth" is established in theology.

Wikipedia?

Self published "Academia.edu" ?

SBL, written by a Catholic priest?

Perhaps he is a little pro-Catholic?

 

I'm not talking about theology, but academic Biblical studies, which is predicated on historical and textual criticism. Theology is another discipline entirely. In the secular field of Academic Biblical Studies, Barker is very much out in left field. Her primary secular champion seems to be Robert Price, who is also very fringe. He is one of the scholars who thinks Jesus was never a historical person. I'm not sure why Catholicism would make a difference either way. Good scholarship isn't driven by theological bias, anyway. 

Barker is interesting for sure, but she hasn't managed to convince almost anyone in academia to adopt her viewpoints based on her arguments thus far. 

Edited by Eschaton
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Wikipedia?  Seriously?  On LDS topics?  That is demonstrably thin ice.  

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 According to Wikipedia,

The Wikipedia model allows anyone to edit, and relies on a large number of well-intentioned editors to overcome issues raised by a smaller number of problematic editors. It is inherent in Wikipedia’s editing model that misleading information can be added, but over time quality is anticipated to improve in a form of group learning as editors reach consensus, so that substandard edits will very rapidly be removed.5

In general, this philosophy tends to be effective as regards many Wikipedia articles. Errors that bring an article out of balance tend to be corrected given sufficient time, and the article progresses toward a stable and “neutral” state. However, articles dealing with highly controversial subjects, such as Joseph Smith’s first vision or polygamy, do not tend to stabilize themselves over time. These types of articles become magnets for editors who have an agenda to push. Wikipedia becomes an attractive way for such editors to “publish” their opinions with immediate worldwide visibility and considerable credibility.

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/mormonism-and-wikipedia-the-church-history-that-anyone-can-edit/

And plainly, your response to mfbukowski, not only ignores what I provided but adds in Robert M. Price as a supposedly relevant authority.  While Robert M. Price has favorably reviewed a couple of her books (The Older Testament and The Great Angel) almost thirty years ago, and published one of her essays in a journal he edited ("The Secret Tradition" in The Journal of Higher Criticism) decades ago, he is not the most interesting nor most contemporary, nor the most representative of the scholars who have promoted her work.  I should think that Dr. Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury, who provided jacket comments on two books (Temple Themes in Christian Worship and The Mother of the Lord vol. 1) and who awarded her the Lambeth Doctor of Divinity "in recognition of her work on the Jerusalem Temple and the origins of Christian Liturgy, which has made a significantly new contribution to our understanding of the New Testament and opened up important fields for research" should count.  But then, mentioning or acknowledging people who approve of Barker's work, like Rowan Williams, N.T. Wright, Samuel Zinner, Crispen Fletcher-Lewis, Hi All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholowmew, Andrei Orlov and such would tend to undercut the aptness of the rhetorically potent label of "fringe."   Whereas Price is most famous nowadays as an atheist, a lasped fundamentalist, the scholars I cited tend to be not only noted scholars but committed believers, as well as more recent champions of her work.  So, why ignore them in favor of Price, unless, of course, there is an ideological motivation for doing so?

Robert M. Price's turn to atheism and secular outlook and relative obscurity and, for Latter-day Saint readers in particular, his take on the Book of Mormon (in American Apocrypha in 2002) compared to hers (in BYU Studies in 2005) provides a particularly enlightening contrast.  (I published on this specific topic in "Notice and Value" in the 2019 Midgley Festschrift, Remembrance and Return.)  Where Price looked to the Deuteronomist Reform as paradigm of pious fraud to define his approach to Joseph Smith, Barker took the very same events as a historical context against which to test the contents of the Book of Mormon.  And though Price had read at least some of Barker's early books, it did not occur to him that her paradigm, indeed, the specific essay he published in The Journal of Higher Criticism,  provided a different way to interpret the specific evidence he brought forward in his approach to 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

Barker is deliberately offering up a new paradigm in Biblical studies.  The fact that others who are trained in and professionally and personally committed to older paradigms are not immediately swayed is expected, and not by itself, a substantial argument.  The question is not whether some people, trained in different approaches, disagree with her newer approach, but rather, which paradigm is better? 

"But new wine must be put into new bottles; and both are preserved. No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better." (Luke 5:38-39)

And a self-referential "Not us!" argument can be easily distinguished from a comparative and open "Why us?" inquiry.

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In N. R Hanson’s oft quoted words, ‘All Data are theory-laden.’ The procedures of measurement and the interpretation of the resulting measurement and interpretation of the resulting numerical values depend on implicit theoretical assumptions. Most of the time, scientists work within a framework of thought which they have inherited … But, says Feyerband, when the background theory itself is an issue, when the fundamental assumptions and basic concepts are under attack, then the dependence of measurement on theoretical assumptions is crucial. (Ian Barbour, Myths, Models, and Paradigms: A Comparative Study of Science and Religion, (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), 95

I've been carefully exploring Barker's work ever since I ran across a copy of The Great Angel in a Dallas Half Price Books in 1999, and have read all of her books, corresponded now and then for 23 years, met five times, and once collaborated in an essay published by Oxford University Press.  After her three years at Cambridge, she once wrote that "It has been my ambition to redraw the map of biblical studies."  She understands that this sort of thing does not happen instantly, that people trained in and committed to other approaches will not automatically, instantly, and universally accept a new approach, as though facts speak for themselves in one voice to all scholars who all hear the same voice, make the same interpretations, and have no motives or values or ideology other than following truth wherever it leads, as though the facts themselves anthropomorphically know exactly where they should be leading us.  Rather, as Jesus says, seeds sowed in different places and nurtured in different ways, will produce vastly different harvests.  "Know ye not his parable?  How then will ye know all parables?"  Barker understands that such changes to "maps of biblical study" are generational, not as sudden as a light switch, but gradual, as more and more people are attracted to the new paradigm over time.  That is what is demonstrably happening with her work.  More and more people are being attracted to, exploring, and drawing upon her work.   And many of them have demonstrably impressive credentials, and cannot by any stretch of the imagination be dismissed as "fringe."

But there are always those who cannot escape their training and traditions. Kuhn explains that “paradigms provide scientists not only with a map, but with some of the directions for map making.”  And there are always those who can say 

"Thou art his disciple: but we are Moses disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is." (John 9:28-29)

And I very much like the answer given by the formerly blind man to this kind of argument.

Why herein is a marvelous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, yet he hath opened my eyes. (John 9:30)

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
typo
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3 hours ago, Eschaton said:

I'm not talking about theology, but academic Biblical studies, which is predicated on historical and textual criticism. Theology is another discipline entirely. In the secular field of Academic Biblical Studies, Barker is very much out in left field. Her primary secular champion seems to be Robert Price, who is also very fringe. He is one of the scholars who thinks Jesus was never a historical person. I'm not sure why Catholicism would make a difference either way. Good scholarship isn't driven by theological bias, anyway. 

Barker is interesting for sure, but she hasn't managed to convince almost anyone in academia to adopt her viewpoints based on her arguments thus far. 

I want to add an "Amen" to this comment. I have studied both in a denominational seminary and in a graduate school of Religion and Biblical studies. There is a significant difference. Each is valuable in its own way. Those who have specialized in academic Biblical Studies and then get jobs in denominational seminaries often end up in trouble of one sort or another.

Of course, there is a sort of a parallel in Mormon Studies. I find myself in challenging waters sometimes because my interest in Mormon studies is historical, theological, and personal. I have made extensive studies of Pentecostalism, but it has never been personal.

I have learned that where I am now is a challenging place. I am not like Shipps, Turner, or Flake who have excelled in Mormon studies because it is a large part of their academic studies and because they are dispassionate about the faith itself (except for an enthusiasm in studying it). It is a professional endeavor. I understand that position, but have come to realize that for me it is personal.

I have many dear LDS friends. I have interacted on a personal level with hundreds of members of the church. I have wept at their funerals, laughed at their Newlywed games (my wife and I are banned from participation because we have won too many times), attended a couple of hundred sacrament services as inside outsiders, squirmed in the seat when listening about how we can't possibly have or be this or that without the unigenito (one-of-a-kind) priesthood, and observed many Mormon folks simply being folks.

I have grown, been challenged, appreciated, squirmed, been angered, made to feel less-than, been stereotyped more times than I can remember, and keep coming back for more. Because with every challenge - both good and bad comes growth. With every new friendship comes a challenge. New learnings come week by week. I often have to learn how to control my own emotions and reactions. I have to learn to receive without agreeing.

I am a better person for my associations with the LDS communities. I have sat next to general authorities and Sandra Tanner. I have been told I am really proficient in praying in Mormon and that I shouldn't be praying at all. I am welcome to share in the sacrament, but am only pretending when I do. I have been told my wife is a wonderfully Godly lady and that she can't possibly have the gift of the Holy Spirit - but its nothing personal! I have been introduced as a member of the ward, but not of the church! You oughta see the puzzled faces at that one.

There are lots of difficult places in the world that we must engage with if we want to learn and grow. I enjoyed seminary more and learned more in graduate school in religion. I wouldn't have missed either one!

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