Talk:3 Ne 15:6-10
Comparison with gospels
Fascinating stuff, as usual, Joe. I'm anxious to see where you go with this. I have roughly two speculative theories in mind, though I expect your careful reading and analysis to come up with something quite different (or perhaps both of these views are too extra-textually speculative for your taste?): (1) We only have a partial account in Matthew. Although I'm disinclined toward this view, I think it might be interesting to think about certain teachings that were not given to the masses, though perhaps "behind closed doors" more elaboration was made, possibly analogous to the way the more-Matthean-like version is given in 3 Ne 12 and a "greater" version is given here. Another version of this is that this was changed by scribes or something later. (2) This more nuanced version of the incomplete fulfillment of the prophets was not given in the Old World b/c of the "stiffneckedness and unbelief (v. 18) in the Old World. Regardless, again I think your pointing out this contrast with Matthew and the 3 Ne 12 passages (esp.) is fascinating and will have interesting implications for reading the rest of the 3 Ne too. --RobertC 01:59, 11 Jan 2007 (UTC)
- You're right to think that I see a very different answer emerging in all of this. I'm trying to work through all of the grounding details before I launch the fireworks, though (fireworks for me: I imagine many would say something like "oh. so what?"). At the same time, I think these two suggestions are important explanations to keep in mind. That is, both of them follow the spirit of interpretation the Book of Mormon sustains at times. So I certainly don't want to disregard them at all. I'll be thinking about them as I work through these ten verses. --Joe Spencer 18:07, 11 Jan 2007 (UTC)
Prophets and the temporal gathering of Israel
Joe, given the discussion later in this chapter on "other sheep" and the gathering of Israel, I think the gathering of Israel is one very important promise of the prophets (cf. 1 Ne 19:6 and 2 Ne 9:2) that has not been fulfilled by Christ yet. This opens up many possibilities that you've hinted at in the exegesis you just posted for verse 5. In particular, I'm thinking about things like the dual temporal-spiritual role of the Messiah (something that seems to have been more muddled in the Old World, again related to why the Jews did not recognize Christ as the Messiah). I think this is also related in interesting ways to Atonement more generally and to the opening of ourselves to history when we read the scriptures, in the way you've discussed in Alma 36. Actually, I may be suggesting a different direction than what you were pointing to in verse 5: rather than the temporal law pointing to a temporal peace or justice (as I think Levinas argues), I am arguing more that the purpose of the temporal law is to point to things spiritual (an obvious theme in the pre-Christ segment of the BOM), and that by fulfilling the spiritual aspect of his Messianic role, Christ has fulfilled the law. But the prophets, in contrast to the law, have talked about the spiritual and temporal role of the Messiah, and it is the temporal (i.e. eschatological) role that Christ has not yet fulfilled. (This may be what you've already been pointing toward, sorry, I need to reread what you've posted....) --RobertC 17:58, 15 Jan 2007 (UTC)
- This is, indeed, what I've already been pointing to, though not consciously. You've drawn out of my thinking several implications I had not myself seen. I'm glad that you mention Levinas, too, because though Levinas was obviously speaking to me at points in my work on verse 5, he has not been a conscious participant in my thinking here (all of what I've done here has been an attempt to think the uniquely Book of Mormon position). Let me see if I can cast my point in your own terms: because the Law was given as a deferred gift, its very structure is spiritual (I'm understanding spiritual here to mean "of or pertaining to engagement, encounter, etc., hence to be a question of communion or community: that the Law dirempts its givenness into two parts suggests a sort of community within the Law itself, a communion between the gift of the Law and the fulfillment of the Law). The Law is spiritual in and of itself if and only if it points forward to a fulfillment of that Law. This is why I see the Nephites as taking the Law spiritually rather than temporally: they recognize in the Law, from the very beginning, the implicit promise of fulfillment (and precisely for this reason they worship Christ in and through the Law). For the Nephites, the Law is the spiritual word that binds the community together, and binds the community to the Lord.
- Now, as for the prophets and the temporal. I'm not sure how much I regard the prophets as speaking in temporal terms. I'm inclined to say that the temporal/spiritual distinction is not a distinction to be made on the side of the author so much as on the side of the reader (any given text--the Law, the Prophets, included--can be read temporally or spiritually. Ultimately, I'm suggesting that the Nephites read the Law spiritually, because they read in the very gift of the Law a deferral of its fulfillment. At times and in places, "those who are at Jerusalem" did the same (the Rabbinical tradition is a perfect example of this, Levinas and other Jewish thinkers of the same cast are a perfect modern example). In the end, then, I think the Prophets can be read either way, and I think the Nephites read them spiritually, as did many of the Jews (I'm not very sold on the idea that the Jews rejected the Messiah-ship of Jesus, unless "the Jews" is read in a Johannine way, to mean the politically empowered quasi-Jews; somewhere between Margaret Barker and Jeffrey Chadwick I became convinced that Christianity was rather widely believed among the Jews, but not by those "in power").
- But, in the end, then, am I not reading temporal and spiritual differently from you? If I'm following your language well, you mean by the two something like "of or pertaining to the immortal" and "of or pertaining to the mortal." I think my reading of the terms amounts to the same thing, or at least takes up the same "concepts" in a more literal way. I think. --Joe Spencer 14:33, 16 Jan 2007 (UTC)
Interesting about the Jews widely believing in Christ. In addition to John, Jacob 4:14ff seems to talk about the Jews in the same way.
Thanks for teaching me the word dirempt, I thought it was a typo at first.
Yes, you're right in my meaning of temporal and spiritual, and based on your Alma 36 paper, I should've been more careful in reading your use of temporal in your 3 Ne 15:5 commentary. I think it'll take a while for this idea of law-as-commun/ion/ity to sink in for me, I think it's very interesting. I'm now even more interested to see how you work out the rest of this chapter. --RobertC 17:10, 16 Jan 2007 (UTC)
I'm moving this from the commentary page until I know what to do with it. Same old.
- "Christ refers to himself frequently in various forms such as the light, the life, the way, etc. In verse 9, He also refers to himself as the law as well. It is important to remember that Christ not only lived the law to its fullest extent by never sinning, He is what we need to look to in order to follow the law. As the law, Christ 'sets' the requirements for us to gain exaltation through him. However, Christ, in the same sentence in which He refers to himself as the law, again emphasizes that He is the light as well. Christ does not expect us to follow His commandments in the dark. He sets the path that we need to follow and He lights the way as well. From this, it is apparent that enduring to the end through the Savior's help is very possible. Without utilizing his help and guidance, we would be hopelessly lost."
3 Nephi vs. Matthew
I was reading a bit about Matthew for Sunday school and a discussion about Matthew, in relation to the other gospels, focussing on Christ as a continuation of the law rather than replacing the law (contra the other gospels, at least as I read the implication) caught my eye (this comment was in the Oxford Bible Commentary and I can look it up if anyone's interested). This is somewhat of a new idea to me (I'm ashamed to admit...), but it got me thinking about what Joe has been writing here. I'm not sure what the implications are here, but I think our reading here might be very different if we view Matthew's text as misquoting Jesus' words vs. quoting Jesus 100% accurately vs. an appropriated quoting that focuses on the continuation of Jewish tradition (as viewed by Matthew's contemporaries). Ultimately, I think my thoughts here just give a renewed motivation for understanding better the larger contexts of these passages in Matthew and 3 Nephi (e.g. who is being addressed, what is their presuppostions with respect to the law and the prophets, etc.).
I see now this is probably precisely what Joe had in mind when he wrote the following:
- Whether or not one believes that Matthew 5-7 records the precise words spoken by Jesus at a certain place and at a certain time, it is clear that the text of the Sermon on the Mount intertwines itself with the broader textual concerns of the Book of Matthew. (There might be, by the way, two different interpretations of this fact: on the one hand, one might assume that Matthew doctored or even created the Sermon's content so that it worked well with his broader textual scheme; on the other hand, one might assume that Matthew worked out the textual themes of his entire book according to the unquestioned text of the Sermon on the Mount, that the Sermon itself--as it now reads--provided him with the basic theology that defines his gospel.)
What's more intriguing to me now, after reading this blurb about Matthew, is a little more detail about what Matthew's "broader textual scheme" actually is, viz. to show that Christ was a continuation of the law and the prophets. What Joe's commentary has piqued my curiosity about is if and how covenant themese appear in Matthew. This will definitely be something I keep a look out for while reading Matthew for Sunday school.
(I also got to thinking about Joe's comment about Christ giving himself in giving the law. I think the eye-for-an-eye type of justice associated with the Law of Moses is interesting as it relates to discussions of atonement. I think there may be a new sense of justice being established with the law of Moses, a sense of justice which requires Christ's life and sacrifice as a ransom for mankind's sins. I'm not (necessarily) saying that Christ's life and sacrifice wouldn't have been required if the Law of Moses hadn't been given, but that our understanding (esp. via scriptural explanations) of the atonement might be very different if the Law of Moses was never given. At any rate, I think it's interesting that in verse 8 Christ specifies "the law that was given unto Moses" (esp. since no such specification is given in, e.g., 2 Ne 2:5ff which seems to be discussing the Fall more generally where I take "the law" to mean the commandment not to partake of the forbidden fruit, albeit a typological commandment/law...).
--RobertC 21:33, 23 Jan 2007 (UTC)