Site talk:SS lessons/DC lesson 25
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Pray in secret and vocally
I hadn't really noticed this verse before. I'd be interested in analyzing this verse in relation to the "tension" (your favorite expression, Joe!) in the Sermon on the Mount (and 3 Ne) between the praying in secret and not doing alms before men vs. letting your light so shine.... --RobertC 19:56, 20 Sep 2006 (UTC)
31-35: Priesthood is Primarily a Convenant Relationship
OK, I don't know where I've been all these years, but somehow a light just turned on with all our recent discussion about "what is priesthood". In my mind, I just foregrounded the oath and covenant of the priesthood. In the past, I've seen priesthood as the authority to act in the name of God. I think I saw the oath and covenant as the small print. Right now, I'm looking at priesthood as primarily a covenant relationship, with authority to act in God's name as an important part, but only in so far as it allows us to fulfill and sustain that covenant. While the Aaronic priesthood functions without oaths and covenants as a preparatory priesthood, there are numerous priesthood oaths and covenants administered and entered into by what we've come to call Melchizedek and Patriarchal priesthood offices and ordinances. Maybe its just me, but this is new for me to think of priesthood as primarily a relationship, rather than as a legal authorization.--Rob Fergus 12:31, 15 Nov 2006 (UTC)
36-40: Relationship and orders
Again, I like the direction you are going, Rob. To think of the priesthood as a relationship with God is an interesting way to go about this, and I think then one can think of the three orders of the priesthood as three relationships: the Aaronic as the order of the servant (the relationship being one of servant-Master), the Melchizedek as the order of the son (the relationship being one of son-Father), and the Patriarchal as the order of the father (the relationship being one of mutual patriarchy, of mutual relation to children). Now, even as I say "three orders," let me be careful to point out that the Melchizedek priesthood apparently embraces both the orders of the son and of the father (as Abel/Seth are both sons of Adam?). But at any rate, I think this is a good start to thinking about priesthood. It certainly seems to accord with D&C 128's language much better: a binding or a sealing power. --18.104.22.168 15:54, 15 Nov 2006 (UTC)
Two Priesthoods and "Classification"
So, here's the problem with studying library science: I'm thinking more and more about the word "classifying" that you used here, Matt. To what extent does this verse lay out a kind of taxonomy of priesthood? Is such a reading something we all too easily impose on it (not that I know how else to read it!)? It is especially interesting that this first verse would seem to reduce priesthood to the number "two," and yet it lists precisely three: Melchizedek, Aaronic, and Levitical. And this, of course, overlooks what this very revelation will go on to lay out as a third order: the Patriarchal (which is to begin to pave the way towards, but to stop significantly short of, Joseph's comments on the three priesthoods in his Nauvoo discourses). How should this best be approached?
And then this phrase, all too easy to miss: "in the Church." To what extent does that phrase relativize the taxonomy being laid out? That is, does it obscure the existence of a patriarchal priesthood precisely because this last is not a part of the Church (rather of the Kingdom)? But then, what of the Levitical? There is, obviously, a great deal more to think about here. --Joe Spencer 22:49, 14 December 2007 (CET)
Levitical vs. Aaronic Priests
I was thinking about this very possibility just this morning, in an entirely different register, before reading these questions, Matt. Interesting.
Some sort of sense needs to be made out of the high/Melchizedek priesthood business, primarily in terms of how these terms map onto the situation presented in the Old Testament. The Old Testament, on one reading, provides a kind of fourfold (or, perhaps, a threefold-plus-one) structure of the priesthood: Levites, Priests, High Priests, and those of the order of Melchizedek. What is interesting about this structure is that while the first three are all genealogically inherited priesthoods, the fourth is emphatically not (a point that probably deserves more careful attention in interpreting Joseph's statements about the prophets of the OT holding the Melchizedek Priesthood). The three inheritable priesthoods, of course, all have very specific places in the ritual complex of the OT temple: the Levites do the most outward work (of the courtyard), the Priests the next most outward work (of the Holy Place), and the High Priests of the inward work (of the Holy of Holies). Because these three "offices" would seem to exhaust the entire field of ritual work, is there any place left for those after the order of Melchizedek? Or is this exhaustion precisely the reason that those after Melchizedek's order are so tirelessly transgressing that field?
Of course, the massive question to be asked is this: how do these four or three-plus-one offices connect up with the restorative work of the revelations in the D&C? In the end, this is probably a question of nomination: when do what names match up with what structures? This is something that deserves much closer attention. Needless to say, I've not at all as yet begun to unfold it myself. --Joe Spencer 20:31, 15 December 2007 (CET)
Yeah, Robert, that's actually the way I've seen it for some time. More than anything, I'm trying to loosen up some possibilities I'm wondering if I've overlooked before. Much more thinking to be done... --Joe Spencer 23:38, 16 December 2007 (CET)
Those were the precise issues I was identifying as I questioned the use of the descriptive phrases modifying priesthood. I'm glad I haven't been totally off-base. The paradox of assigning the number two to the list of three seems like it has plenty to offer, but perhaps as I read the remaining verses of this first passage closely, some of that will come together? I had also thought about the Patriarchal as being not mentioned here, which poses its own questions.
Where the generational/lineal priesthood is concerned (patriarch, and to a limited extent--at least in this section--[presiding?] bishop) perhaps the "in the Church" phrase can help frame the scope. Although, again, I wonder whether the purpose of describing priesthood in "Melchizidek," "Aaronic," "Levitical," or "Patriarchal" terms might be more a way of describing uses of priesthood rather than categories... But it could be that these uses naturally open the way for a natural "classification" of priesthood...
So much to think about. --Morrisonmj 15:19, 17 December 2007 (CET)
Joe, your post sparked me to look up brk ("bless") in my TLOT. There's a lengthy entry there which I'll have to read when I have more time, but a couple things jumped out at me whilst skimming it, which lead to another couple thoughts:
(1) Keller, in noting the difficulty in determining a relationship between the connotations of "knee" and "pond," notes that the Akkadian word birku means "knee," "durability, might," and "lap," "euphemistically for the genitals, but also in the context of adoption rites. Of course this strikes me as interesting b/c of the "touching of the thigh" we read about in Genesis (and in the temple). Also, I've wondered about the connection between water and blood b/c they seem to be our most important ritual symbols (viz. baptism and sacrament), and I wonder if this isn't how we should think about the connection between the "knee"(/loins) and "pond" connotations: both are symbols of God's life force. Interestingly, the first occurrence of brk in Genesis is in the context of being fruitful (Gen 1:22; cf. Gen 1:28).
(2) In Gen 33:11, brkh is used to mean "gift." This caught my recent fascination with Abraham's covenant(s?) and Milbank's (and Marion's) thinking on gifts. My first inclination is to think about priesthood in terms of the ability to give blessings/gifts, and that this is separate from gifts/blessings themselves. This separation(/distance) is intriguing to think about....
(3) Interesting that brk seems to be used as in greetings and fare-wells (esp. death-bed types of blessings). It seems these occasions also traditionally call for gift exchange.
(4) I think this link between blessings and the remnant is important to think about more. Ishmael was promised to be "exceedingly" fruitful (e.g., Gen 17:20), so what was unique about the covenant through Isaac? that his seed would survive until Adam-Ondi-Ahman? that the Gentiles would be blessed through his seed? Hmmm....
--RobertC 03:10, 6 January 2008 (CET)
D&C 121:37; Heavens withdraw themselves
On the Talk:Judg 14:16-20 page, Matthew suggested particular interpretations of the Samson story may contradict the doctrine being taught in this D&C passage. I think this is a very interesting question. Although there are many ways to approach it, here I'm interested in exploring what this D&C passage may and may not mean.
Example: If I have certain talents that are God-given and I use those talents unrighteously, one might interpret this D&C passage as suggesting that the heavens would withdraw themselves and I would lose that talent.
Empirical evidence suggests this is not what happens. What is wrong with interpreting this passage this way? Braintsorm: perhaps this passage is just talking about a special kind of authority and is not applicable to all God-given talents; perhaps there is an intertemporal issue going on here (e.g. God has already given the talents, so he will not revoke the talents, but he will not give any new talents). --RobertC 09:39, 3 Jun 2006 (UTC)
D&C 121:41: No power or influence
The question I posted--it is a real question for me. I don't really think I understand verse 41. Part of the answer I am sure has to do with the rest of the verse and the next few verses. I understand that the bishop and others have love, should be kind, etc. My experience is that Bishops are very concerned about the people in the ward, that they do show love and kindness etc. But it sort of seems that part of the influence and power they have in the ward, they have by virtue of their office in the priesthood. --Matthew Faulconer 10:31, 10 Apr 2005 (CEST)
D&C 121:41, 45: Virtue
I've usually read this in verse 41 with definition 9 in mind: "efficacy; power." I've actually never really thought that carefully about the significance of this term being used in both verses 41 and 45 (where I think the moral goodness or purity sense fits fairly well). This suggests to me a way that the power of the priesthood is being linked to the charity and confidence in verse 45 (and I think the possible meanings of virtue are indeed very interesting b/c the word is sandwiched between "charity" and "confidence").
Not sure if this is really related, but since Joe's got me wondering about how much Hebrews affected Joseph Smith, this got me wondering about the word "boldly" in Heb 4:16, which I was trying to argue also had the connotation of "openly" in light of the verse 13 which talks about things being opened before the eyes of God, which seems to parallel the "without hypocricy and without guile" here in verse 41.... --RobertC 04:55, 14 February 2007 (CET)
I'm increasingly convinced that "virtue" here should refer to something more akin to the NT Greek arete. If so, it suggests a very different reading of this verse. Rather than merely focusing on pure and chaste thoughts, as we commonly suppose, perhaps we are being urged to focus on noble and empowering sentiments that would lead our confidence to wax strong in the presence of God--the most noble and fully-realized Being of all.--Rob Fergus 04:41, 15 February 2007 (CET)
D&C 121:41-45: Virtues
As a people we have been richly blessed temporally, spiritually, and intellectually. Having seen a number of Latter-day Saint communities at universities both public and private, it is apparent that these rich blessings put us in a position to aquire the things of the world and be in high positions. Perhaps this is why Brigham Young said, “The worst fear … I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church. … My greater fear … is that they cannot stand wealth.” (Quoted in Bryant S. Hinckley, The Faith of Our Pioneer Fathers (1956), 13) I think it must depend upon the mindset of the individual. We are commanded to let our light so shine that men may see our works and glorify God. This seems to be key, pointing men to glorify God and not drawing attention to ourselves to be glorified. This section of the Doctrine and Covenants offers great insight into the virtues, that if cultivated, will help us point men to the Lord.
D&C 121:45: Thy confidence shall wax strong in the presence of God
Hi Visorstuff, I enjoyed reading your comments. I thought more about this verse than I had before. As I thought about it the phrase "in the presence of God" seemed particularly significant. It seems to me that it isn't hard to have self-confidence when surrounded by people. I think we see plenty of times when someone isn't acting as they should but they act with a lot of self-confidence. It is hard to judge whether someone else's thoughts aren't being garnished by virtue, but I think it is fair to assume that there are plenty of people whose thoughts aren't garnished with virtue but who have plenty of (misguided) self-confidence. I think the scripture is telling us that only a person who thinks pure thoughts will feel confident when standing in the presence of God.
This scripture give us the "if-then" condition but does not give us here the reversal "only if" condition. In my view the scripture really is talking about both sides--"if and only if." What do you think? Anyway, even if we don't pull it from here, I think we can pull the reversal condition out of other scriptures which is why I went to Alma 12:15.
--Matthew Faulconer 09:15, 6 Apr 2005 (CEST) PS as always, please re-edit as you like.
I keep mulling over this phrase "thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God" and thinking about what it really means. I had been reading it with an emphasis on "thy" and then interpreting confidence as self-confidence. Is that right? Can anyone help out on the meaning of "confidence" in the scriptures generally or at the time Joseph Smith was writing? It seems like there could be some good material here for a lexical note.
Anyway, if we consider that confidence may not mean self-confidence than we may ask "confidence in what?" So I was thinking there is a phrase in this sentence that starts with in. Maybe it answers the question "in what." In that case this would mean "confidence in the presence of God"? If presence of God means his presence we feel through the Holy Ghost maybe this means that our confidence in the Holy Ghost waxes strong. That totally squares with my own experience that as we have virtuous thoughts and are charitable toward others we can be confident when we feel the Holy Ghost that what we feel is the Holy Ghost. When we aren't as used to feeling the Holy ghost then I have a harder time being confident in it when I do feel it. I was thinking of this because President Samuelson said in his recent address Women in Math, Science and Engineering
So far so good. But then . . . I seached "presence of God" on the the scriptures and the results suggested that presence of God is never used in the scriptures to indicate the Holy Ghost. From what I read it refers to being where God is physically present. And I figure if you are actually standing physically next to God whether or not you have done right you will know that it is god you are standing next to.
So this line of thinking seemed a dead-end. So, I added nothing to the exegesis section. But, I still feel like I was going in a good direction. So maybe someone else can take my wrong-turn and turn it into a nice insight. Any help?
--Matthew Faulconer 22:46, 16 Apr 2005 (CEST)
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