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Twenty Years After Paradigms Regained, Part 1 at Interpreter


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1 hour ago, Kevin Christensen said:

My 10th Interpreter essay, 41st essay overall, has just dropped at Interpreter.

Twenty Years After “Paradigms Regained,” Part 1: The Ongoing, Plain, and Precious Significance of Margaret Barker’s Scholarship for Latter-day Saint Studies

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/twenty-years-after-paradigms-regained-part-1-the-ongoing-plain-and-precious-significance-of-margaret-barkers-scholarship-for-latter-day-saint-studies/

There is also a pdf version with footnotes, rather than the endnotes of the html version.

https://cdn.interpreterfoundation.org/jnlpdf/christensen-v54-2022-pp1-64-PDF.pdf?src=art

Part 2, responding to critics, will be out at the end of January.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Will peruse in detail later today.

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6 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

My 10th Interpreter essay, 41st essay overall, has just dropped at Interpreter.

Twenty Years After “Paradigms Regained,” Part 1: The Ongoing, Plain, and Precious Significance of Margaret Barker’s Scholarship for Latter-day Saint Studies

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/twenty-years-after-paradigms-regained-part-1-the-ongoing-plain-and-precious-significance-of-margaret-barkers-scholarship-for-latter-day-saint-studies/

There is also a pdf version with footnotes, rather than the endnotes of the html version.

https://cdn.interpreterfoundation.org/jnlpdf/christensen-v54-2022-pp1-64-PDF.pdf?src=art

Part 2, responding to critics, will be out at the end of January.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

I highly endorse it; hope that doesn't harm anything ;)

 

 

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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

I highly endorse it; hope that doesn't harm anything ;)

Absolute kiss of death, right there! :blink: :shok: 

;) :D 

:rofl: :D :rofl: 

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37 minutes ago, Kenngo1969 said:

Absolute kiss of death, right there! :blink: :shok: 

;) :D 

:rofl: :D :rofl: 

👹

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Quote

Not only do notable publications and accolades keep coming, but she becomes a person whose knowledge and reputation is such that she was invited to participate on a committee that looked into a potentially important archeological discovery, the Jordan Lead books.

Quite the feather in her cap to be associated with such scholarly royalty as David Elkington, Dr. Robert Feather, and the noted epigrapher Dr. Samuel Zinner. And what are the odds that the Jordan lead codices would turn out, on closer examination, to validate Barker's own theories about "temple theology"? A providential find, no doubt.

</sarcasm>

Actually, that was a nice writeup. Whatever one may think of her as a scholar, she clearly does not lack friends and admirers. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that casual dismissal of her work is unjustified, there is no question that she is an original and stimulating thinker who does indeed see things that no one else sees. I expect that is why many of her fellow theologians find her work so congenial.

Edited by Nevo
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22 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

My 10th Interpreter essay, 41st essay overall, has just dropped at Interpreter.

Twenty Years After “Paradigms Regained,” Part 1: The Ongoing, Plain, and Precious Significance of Margaret Barker’s Scholarship for Latter-day Saint Studies

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/twenty-years-after-paradigms-regained-part-1-the-ongoing-plain-and-precious-significance-of-margaret-barkers-scholarship-for-latter-day-saint-studies/

There is also a pdf version with footnotes, rather than the endnotes of the html version.

https://cdn.interpreterfoundation.org/jnlpdf/christensen-v54-2022-pp1-64-PDF.pdf?src=art

Part 2, responding to critics, will be out at the end of January.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

I wish we would add some of her thinking to the "covenant path." It adds much deeper meaning to something that has felt rather random to me. I was reading her books as they came out. She had a lot of critics then, but that is what happens in scholarship...although it's usually with younger scholars trying to find their footing by establishing new thinking,  by discarding some of the old. I appreciated CGU's approach of including believers, her statement about Biblical studies discarding the only people who use the Bible quite telling. 

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13 hours ago, Nevo said:

Quite the feather in her cap to be associated with such scholarly royalty as David Elkington, Dr. Robert Feather, and the noted epigrapher Dr. Samuel Zinner. And what are the odds that the Jordan lead codices would turn out, on closer examination, to validate Barker's own theories about "temple theology"? A providential find, no doubt.

</sarcasm>

Actually, that was a nice writeup. Whatever one may think of her as a scholar, she clearly does not lack friends and admirers. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that casual dismissal of her work is unjustified, there is no question that she is an original and stimulating thinker who does indeed see things that no one else sees. I expect that is why many of her fellow theologians find her work so congenial.

You have turned the backhanded compliment into an art form. Thanks, I hate it.

Edited by OGHoosier
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17 hours ago, Nevo said:

Quite the feather in her cap to be associated with such scholarly royalty as David Elkington, Dr. Robert Feather, and the noted epigrapher Dr. Samuel Zinner. And what are the odds that the Jordan lead codices would turn out, on closer examination, to validate Barker's own theories about "temple theology"? A providential find, no doubt.

</sarcasm>

Actually, that was a nice writeup. Whatever one may think of her as a scholar, she clearly does not lack friends and admirers. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that casual dismissal of her work is unjustified, there is no question that she is an original and stimulating thinker who does indeed see things that no one else sees. I expect that is why many of her fellow theologians find her work so congenial.

Regarding Elkington and supposed association with Barker, The Centre for the Study of the Jordan Lead Books lists those officially associated with the Centre, and has a side bar with this statement about Elkington:

Quote

Mr David Elkington has no association with the Centre for the Study of the Jordanian Lead Books.

His claims on www.facebook.com/Jordan-Codices-155086001239157 after the setting up of the Centre , to be “The official Jordan Codices site” and that “This Facebook page is moderated by an Anglo-Jordanian team, which has been working on the historical, linguistic and forensic analysis of the codices since the discovery was first brought to public attention” are incorrect.

The Facebook page is moderated, as far as we know, only by the Elkingtons. We are unaware of any scholars being involved in it. In addition, the lead books story was not first announced, as Mr Elkington reports, on the BBC Today programme on 29 April 2011. but in the 3 March 2011 edition of The Jewish Chronicle. And while Jennifer Elkington was briefly linked to Centre, she resigned in 2015. The video of her at the Centre’s launch ceremony posted on the Elkingtons' Facebook page gives an inaccurate impression. Because Mr Elkington owns photographs of some Jordanian lead books, some of the Centre scholars have publicly worked with him previously, but we do so no longer. He currently has no connection to the Centre.

Mr Elkington has never been a spokesman for the Centre nor does he now speak for any scholars of Hebrew associated with the Centre. The Centre has never given him permission to use our translations or other research results from the Hebrew scholars. This international team of Hebrew scholars is associated solely with the Centre for the Study of the Jordanian Lead Books, whose official website is www.leadbookcentre.com. It is the only site containing material from the Centre about the Jordan Lead Books.

Barker's own association with the lead books came as direct, personal invitation from Dr. Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury.

Behind my own case that "casual dismissal of of Barker's work is unjustified" is a great deal of reading and serious study for over 20 years.  But I learned long ago, on the playgrounds of Adelaide Elementary school, that anyone can dismiss anything I say or do with a simple, casual, effortless, "So what?"  And that is why I was so enlightened by comment in Betty Edwards's Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, an art book that "most of us tend to see the parts of a form hierarchically. The parts that are important (that is, provide a lot of information), or the parts we decide are larger, or the parts we think should be larger, we see as larger larger than they actually are. Conversely, parts that are unimportant, or that we decide are smaller, or that we think should be smaller, we see as being smaller than they actually are."  (Edwards. 134).

I find that endlessly relevant to discussions of politics and religion as well as art and many other aspects of life.  But it raises the question of how to check our own perceptions, to remove the beams from our own eyes that we might see clearly, as Jesus puts it.  If "truth is knowledge of things as they were, as they are, and as they are to come," how do we acquire a greater knowledge of that?  It turns out that in 3 Nephi, Jesus asks people to offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, that is, to offer up what they think is important, and what they desire to be important, so that they can see things as they actually are.  It's why Joseph Campbell observed that Buddhist temples have guardians that represent Fear (what we think is so) and Desire (what we want to be so).  To enter the real, we have to be willing to offer up what we think and what we want.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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2 hours ago, juliann said:

I wish we would add some of her thinking to the "covenant path." It adds much deeper meaning to something that has felt rather random to me. I was reading her books as they came out. She had a lot of critics then, but that is what happens in scholarship...although it's usually with younger scholars trying to find their footing by establishing new thinking,  by discarding some of the old. I appreciated CGU's approach of including believers, her statement about Biblical studies discarding the only people who use the Bible quite telling. 

Yes.   My footnote for the source of that Barker comment ("This implies that there is a need for university departments to make biblical studies relevant to all these latest trends in academe, and therefore, by implication, give it some sort of respectability, but no need to make it relevant to those who are the major users of the texts.") also includes a pointer to this statement from Spencer Fluhman at the Maxwell Institute in the 2016 post-Daniel Peterson version:

Quote

A couple of years ago, Maxwell Institute leaders asked me to advise them on the future of the Mormon Studies Review. They were interested in engaging more fully with the rising academic field of the same name, but wondered if the journal should even continue given the already crowded periodical field. My response was brief—well, brief for me—and would not have impressed any capitalists in the room. Don’t worry about the LDS audience, I said. Other journals have that covered. Speak instead to scholars, period....

 The Review’s advisory board cured any lingering conflicted feelings. Drop any hybridity goals, they urged, and tilt unreservedly towards the academy. 

 https://mi.byu.edu/intro-msr-v4/

So it goes.

FWYW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

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7 hours ago, Kevin Christensen said:

Behind my own case that "casual dismissal of Barker's work is unjustified" is a great deal of reading and serious study for over 20 years.  But I learned long ago, on the playgrounds of Adelaide Elementary school, that anyone can dismiss anything I say or do with a simple, casual, effortless, "So what?"

The problem I have with Barker, based on my own reading and study, is that I can't trust anything that she says.

Here are some examples from Temple Theology: An Introduction:

  • "Many other writings from the era of the second temple regarded it as the impure centre of an apostate priesthood. . . . The earliest of these voices is heard towards the end of Isaiah, when the prophet complains of watchmen who are blind and without knowledge (Isa. 56:10). This is temple talk. The watchmen were the priests, the angel guardians of the temple, and they had rejected Wisdom who gave them knowledge" (p. 3). But Isaiah 56:10 doesn't say anything about an apostate priesthood, the temple, or rejecting Wisdom. 

  • "Isaiah condemned the restored (second) temple as a harlot on a hilltop (Isa. 57:7), who excluded the ancient worshippers of the LORD (Isa. 56:1–8)" (p. 3). Again, this is a bizarre reading of these passages. Isaiah 57:7 has no obvious connection to the Jerusalem temple and Isaiah 56 refers to the temple in glowing terms (see v. 3 and v. 7).

  • "Jewish tradition remembered and recorded (as late as the fourth century CE in the Jerusalem Talmud Ta´anit 4.5) that many priests of the original temple had fled to Arabia after the time of Josiah’s purge. They must have taken with them the faith of the older temple. Paul also spent time in ‘Arabia’ (Gal. 1:17—one wonders why) before returning and arguing that the roots of Christianity lay in the faith of Abraham" (pp. 7–8). A more careful scholar might question the historical accuracy of an oral tradition describing events taking place several hundred years earlier. Not Barker. If Rabbi Johanan was remembered saying that "80,000 young priests (broke through) [fled to] Nebuchadnezzar’s armies and went to the Ishmaelites," you can take that to the bank. Never mind that he also apparently said "80,000 young priests fled into the hollows of the Temple, and all of them were burned." That alternative ending doesn't fit Barker's thesis, so it is ignored. And although R. Johanan didn't say anything about the priests' views, Barker is certain that they opposed Josiah's reforms. And speculates that Paul met with this group in the mid-30s CE and wonders if they also helped build the Kaaba in Mecca (since its dimensions are similar to those of the holy of holies). 

  • "The Isaiah scroll here differs from the Masoretic Hebrew by one letter, and reads: ‘Ask a sign from the Mother of the LORD your God’, and, when Ahaz refuses, Isaiah says: ‘Then the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel’ (Isa. 7:14, my translation). This would make very good sense if Jerusalem had had a Great Lady who had been the heavenly Virgin Mother of the earthly king, a king who was himself the sign of God with his people, Immanuel" (pp. 80–81). Big if true. But Barker appears to be the only scholar in the world who reads DSS Isa. 7:11 as "Ask a sign from the Mother of the LORD your God." No DSS scholars support this reading, and Donald Parry's recent study of Isaiah variants, Exploring the Isaiah Scrolls and Their Textual Variants (Leiden: Brill, 2020), doesn't mention it either. (Also, Asherah is generally thought to have been YHWH's consort, not his mother.)

 

Edited by Nevo
Deleted snide remark
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On 11/18/2022 at 9:08 PM, Kevin Christensen said:

My 10th Interpreter essay, 41st essay overall, has just dropped at Interpreter.

Twenty Years After “Paradigms Regained,” Part 1: The Ongoing, Plain, and Precious Significance of Margaret Barker’s Scholarship for Latter-day Saint Studies

https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/twenty-years-after-paradigms-regained-part-1-the-ongoing-plain-and-precious-significance-of-margaret-barkers-scholarship-for-latter-day-saint-studies/

There is also a pdf version with footnotes, rather than the endnotes of the html version.

https://cdn.interpreterfoundation.org/jnlpdf/christensen-v54-2022-pp1-64-PDF.pdf?src=art

Part 2, responding to critics, will be out at the end of January.

FWIW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

A thoroughly interesting and enlightening read! 

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On 11/19/2022 at 10:05 PM, Nevo said:

The problem I have with Barker, based on my own reading and study, is that I can't trust anything that she says.

Here are some examples from Temple Theology: An Introduction:

  • "Many other writings from the era of the second temple regarded it as the impure centre of an apostate priesthood. . . . The earliest of these voices is heard towards the end of Isaiah, when the prophet complains of watchmen who are blind and without knowledge (Isa. 56:10). This is temple talk. The watchmen were the priests, the angel guardians of the temple, and they had rejected Wisdom who gave them knowledge" (p. 3). But Isaiah 56:10 doesn't say anything about an apostate priesthood, the temple, or rejecting Wisdom. 

  • "Isaiah condemned the restored (second) temple as a harlot on a hilltop (Isa. 57:7), who excluded the ancient worshippers of the LORD (Isa. 56:1–8)" (p. 3). Again, this is a bizarre reading of these passages. Isaiah 57:7 has no obvious connection to the Jerusalem temple and Isaiah 56 refers to the temple in glowing terms (see v. 3 and v. 7).

  • "Jewish tradition remembered and recorded (as late as the fourth century CE in the Jerusalem Talmud Ta´anit 4.5) that many priests of the original temple had fled to Arabia after the time of Josiah’s purge. They must have taken with them the faith of the older temple. Paul also spent time in ‘Arabia’ (Gal. 1:17—one wonders why) before returning and arguing that the roots of Christianity lay in the faith of Abraham" (pp. 7–8). A more careful scholar might question the historical accuracy of an oral tradition describing events taking place several hundred years earlier. Not Barker. If Rabbi Johanan was remembered saying that "80,000 young priests (broke through) [fled to] Nebuchadnezzar’s armies and went to the Ishmaelites," you can take that to the bank. Never mind that he also apparently said "80,000 young priests fled into the hollows of the Temple, and all of them were burned." That alternative ending doesn't fit Barker's thesis, so it is ignored. And although R. Johanan didn't say anything about the priests' views, Barker is certain that they opposed Josiah's reforms. And speculates that Paul met with this group in the mid-30s CE and wonders if they also helped build the Kaaba in Mecca (since its dimensions are similar to those of the holy of holies). 

  • "The Isaiah scroll here differs from the Masoretic Hebrew by one letter, and reads: ‘Ask a sign from the Mother of the LORD your God’, and, when Ahaz refuses, Isaiah says: ‘Then the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel’ (Isa. 7:14, my translation). This would make very good sense if Jerusalem had had a Great Lady who had been the heavenly Virgin Mother of the earthly king, a king who was himself the sign of God with his people, Immanuel" (pp. 80–81). Big if true. But Barker appears to be the only scholar in the world who reads DSS Isa. 7:11 as "Ask a sign from the Mother of the LORD your God." No DSS scholars support this reading, and Donald Parry's recent study of Isaiah variants, Exploring the Isaiah Scrolls and Their Textual Variants (Leiden: Brill, 2020), doesn't mention it either. (Also, Asherah is generally thought to have been YHWH's consort, not his mother.)

 

There is always difficulty in fitting new wine into old bottles, absorbing the observations developed under one paradigm with its own rules and assumptions, and background theories, and making sense of them using a different set of rules.  As N. R. Hanson famously put it, "All data are theory-laden."  In Part 2, I have this:

Quote

"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, also online at https://www.religion-online.org/book/myths-models-and-paradigms-a-comparative-study-in-science-and-religion/.

As Kuhn explains (Structure, 109):
In learning a paradigm the scientist acquires theory, methods, and standards together, usually in an inextricable mixture. Therefore, when paradigms change, there are usually significant shifts in the criteria for determining the legitimacy both of problems and of proposed solutions.  
 

For the technical background behind Barker's reading of Isaiah 56:10, I look to her far more detailed readings in The Older Testament in pages 205 to 216. For instance, she looks at differences between the Hebrew and the Septuagint, notes some interesting corruptions and word play and alternate readings in the text, and makes other thematic comparisons with 1 Enoch.  She reads 3 Isaiah (that is Isaiah 56 to 66) as describing a divided society, the returned exiles, addressed in Isaiah 61 in second person, and the prophets own people, addressed in third person. 

She writes in The Older Testament, 205. “A relatively uncritical appraisal of the book gives a picture of the enemies whom the prophet attacked, but the picture is not one for which we have been prepared, I have not found any commentary which actually dwells upon the identify of these enemies, or draws the very obvious conclusion. They were those inspired by the ideals of the Deuteronomists.”  

She notes that one group was clearly dominant, and had the"power to exclude the other. Thus, [Isaiah] 56.3 says that foreigners were separated and enuchs despised. The prophets assured them of a place within the community, and a future within the walls of the Lord. They would have access to the holy mountain [that is, the temple], freedom to offer sacrifices, and a place at the great ingathering of Israel.  These must have been the aspirations of the prophet's peopld. Their enemies must have exluded forigners and eunichs, and denied that they had any place within the walls of Yahweh, or any right to stand upon the holy mountain. ...we may also deduce that the enemies put a great deal of emphasis on the Sabbath, upon separation, and upon their posterity who would inherit and perpetuate their name."  (Barker, 206)

"If my proposed reconstruction is correct, then the details of Isaiah 65 are very significant, for it is Deuteromony 23 which specifically excludes foreigners and eunichs from the assembly of the Lord. Neither of these two is condemned from approach to the heavenly hill, in e.g., Ps. 15. The prophet opted for these two because they represented the very lowest point of his enemies ideals.  The passage also mentions separation which was one of the key words for their self identity of the restored community, as can be seen from Ezra 9.1, which echoes Deuteronomy 7.1. The prophet returns to this taunt in Chapter59. Both the prophets and his opponents give an important place to Sabbath and covenant; these are not grounds for dispute. The differences arise when it comes to deciding what the two institutions entail. External rituals divorced from justice and righteousness, are perceived to be perverse interpretations (Isa. 656.1-8).   (Barker, 206)

Barker also comments later that Isaiah "65.1-7 is similar to 57.1-10. Neither is simply a description of Canaanite religious practices, but rather a bitter comment on the restored cult in Jerusalem." Barker, Older Testament, 215). 

I can sympathize with the problems of dealing with a different paradigm.  "All data is theory-laden."  New wine does not fit in old bottles.  I get that.  But from my side, I notice that a lot of very enlightening material clearly escapes any notice in the paradigm you offer, and that Barker does not ultimately take a narrow proof-texting approach, but rather, a wide-ranging contextualizing approach.  For that, investigators who say “May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore, what these things mean?” (Acts 17:19-20) will select and value very different things and make a discernably different kind of investigation than those who lean to deference to mainstream authorities, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?” and show a notable strain of “seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him” (Luke 11:54).   Given a single topic, observers taking one of these approaches rather than the other, tend to notice and value very different things, even when looking in the same direction.

Barker does not build her case on on the tradition "that many priests of the original temple had fled to Arabia" but rather, mentions that sort of thing in light over other materials she has assembled.  The Book of Mormon, for instance, has credit with some of her readers and could be seen as evidence that such things could happen.  During the Barker seminar, when she mentioned this tradition, along side a few other texts late texts, her comment was "Straws in the wind, but they are all blowing in the same direction."  That is, she does not make them the rock upon which she builds.  

Not being a Hebraist, I cannot argue much with those who dispute her reading of the DSS Isaiah scroll. I have seen her make the argument with good clear photographs, and after over 20 years and 17 books, I tend to give her readings serious favor.  But I have noticed that as much as I like Donald Perry's book showing Hebrew parallelism in the Book of Mormon, the experience of reading his 1999 Ensign article on Noah's flood does not demonstrate a capacity for championing or offering non-traditional readings or for incorporating information from outside his specialized field into his interpretations.  He strikes me, even in his Dead Sea Scrolls work, very much a conservative, traditional, safe voice.  As and far as "Asherah is generally thought to have been YHWH's consort, not his mother." thought by whom and why, is worth thinking about since there are still lots of people who struggle with Yahweh being seen anciently as the son of El Elyon God Most High which also means that there must be a mother goddess around, rather than the manifestion of a strict monotheism.  And Barker points out that the name Asherah shows signs of being polemic against a Hebrew Goddess originally named Ashratah, since Asherah was properly the name of a Cananite Goddess.  One suggested etimology for the Book of Mormon name Sariah is "Jehovah is my prince."  

FWIW

Edited by Kevin Christensen
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