Talk:Alma 13:1-12

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Large revision[edit]

See a proposed large revision at: User:Matthewfaulconer/Sandbox Alma 13:1-5

And some discussion at: User talk:Matthewfaulconer/Sandbox Alma 13:1-5

I would appreciate any feedback on this large revision before I implement it. --Matthew Faulconer 16:36, 5 Jan 2006 (UTC)

I went ahead and made the revision. Your updates/feedback on this large revision is appreciated. --Matthew Faulconer 09:05, 7 Jan 2006 (UTC)


I added some exegesis on verse 2. I feel like there is some connection between God's foreknowledge, the fact that he calls priests based on that foreknowledge and that the people were able to take advantage of the atonement even before it happened based on God's foreknowledge. I have tried to write up something coherent along these lines as exegesis of these verses but I havne't been able to get it to work. Any suggestions? --Matthew Faulconer 05:03, 25 Apr 2005 (CEST)

I just checked James Duke's article for something on this. I didn't find anything. He does say "a close connection exists between the ordinances of the priesthood and the redemptive sacrifice of the Savior." However, he offers no explanation, that I found, of what that connection is or how it works. Let me know if you have any ideas. --Matthew Faulconer 08:28, 25 Apr 2005 (CEST)

I thought about this more and understood better what James Duke meant. I think this ties into the end of the second question--posted by Rob on this topic. I think that makes a lot of sense. But I also think this has to do with God's foreknowledge of what the priests would do and that this was a type or example of the foreknowledge God had for what Christ would do. And, because of God's foreknowledge and the example he gave unto them in the way he called and ordained priests, the people could look forward to Christ for redemption. Hopefully I'll be able to put this together in a way that will work on the commentary page. If anyone can get this started, I'd love to see it.--Matthew Faulconer 12:00, 29 Apr 2005 (CEST)

Preparatory redemption[edit]

I'm not really sure what preparatory redemption means, but I found the discussion of this in James Duke's article to be helpful. I may try to move some of those concepts directly into the exegesis if I have time. --Matthew Faulconer 08:25, 25 Apr 2005 (CEST)

Discussion of large changes[edit]

I reorganized the questions quite a bit. I still want take a little bit of information that is bundled up in the questions but I think belongs in the exegesis and move it there. Let me know if you like the new subheaders or you think they take away more than they add. --Matthew Faulconer 15:52, 13 May 2005 (CEST)

I just moved the context section up and I made some significant modifications. After reading it over I strongly prefer the explanations of Alma's discussion of the priesthood as being an integral part of his larger sermon on repentance--so much so that I was thinking of deleting the other explanations. But then I thought I'd see what others thought first. (Though of course, if I do delete it and someone else thought it should be added back in, they could do so.) Do others think that either or both of the last two bullets under context make sense? If so do others agree, that sort of on a principle of charity, we should talk about those explanations instead of the first two bullets? --Matthew Faulconer 07:52, 14 May 2005 (CEST)

Looking at restructuring?[edit]

As suggested by Matthew, this page might be a good place to begin rethinking some of the organizational structure of the site. A couple of points might get the discussion started:

The major question that 1 Ne 1:1-5 has raised is how to make any given page of commentary the most approachable for those visiting the site (I think I mean by "visiting" here the "casual" or "occasional" visitor rather than the regular visitor; regular visitors--regular editors/posters--would be less likely, I think, to be overwhelmed at such length, though some organization would of course be helpful). We have (right now, at least) four sections on any given page of commentary to work with, each of which has been only marginally defined (better: has been only marginally maintained within that definition). I think this implies some elasticity in what these four sections might be used for, or for what they might accomplish. Where do they stand now? Two readings:

  • As they stand, the four sections on each page right now seem to open up answers to four questions: first, why study this passage or verse at all? (the "Questions" section); second, what presuppositions are buried in the text that need to be made explicit before any conclusive study? (the "Lexical Notes" section); third, how might this passaage be interpreted? (the "Exegesis" section); and fourth, what directions remain open after all this? (the "Links" section).
  • Another way of reading these four sections: first, what questions might be raised about this passage that are not answered in the exegesis? ("Questions"); second, what presuppositions are buried in the text that have not yet been thought through in the exegesis? ("Lexical Notes"); third, what does this passage mean (in the fullest sense)? ("Exegesis"); and fourth, where might I go to read more about the (foundations of; meaning of; theological implications of; doctrinal weight of, etc.) exegesis worked out above? ("Links").

I like both of these ways of reading the fourfold structure already in place, meaning that I think both are wonderful projects and show the incredible potential bound up in this site (I don't think there needs to be a radical revision of the structure, though the categories might be more carefully defined). However, these two readings differ a great deal. In the first interpretation, any given page of commentary provides four very different approaches to a given passage (the exegesis is only one of several approaches, might embrace several exegetical approaches within itself even), making this site a sort of meeting point for four different approaches to the text. In the second interpretation, any given page of commentary funnels all of its commentary into the exegesis section (the exegesis is the only approach), making this site an on-going project of "definitive" interpretation. (I use "definitive" with reluctance here: I don't think that we can get to a definitive interpretation, but I think that we should aim at one in order to get work on these passages underway).

The question, it seems to me, comes down to these two alternatives (although this is only a first, rather simplistic, look at the situation): is the site a meeting-place for several ways a text might be read, or is it a project of interpretation? It seems to me that the very concept of a wiki comes down to this very question between these same two alternatives: is a community project a place to bring several ideas together, or is a community project a collective working out of a "universal" idea?

I don't know, actually, that it is a choice between these two. The more I am thinking of this, the more I see a possibility of working the two as one project. Perhaps the first set of questions should be addressed first, and after they have generated some very good thought, the second set of questions should be taken up. Some thoughts, at least.

A final thought. Perhaps those most interested in the question are ultimately wishing they could all agree on one passage of great interest to dedicate some community work to. Perhaps the very difficulty of 1 Ne 1:1-5 is that it is fundamentally Joe's project, and that is why it is so overwhelming. If a group of dedicated posters/editors took turns deciding on a passage to explore for a week or two (one that might be posted on the home page for newcomers to come and join, etc.) at a time, some of these questions would be waylaid. Perhaps this is going on and I haven't known anything of it? It seems to be one thing to check on recent changes and see if there is anything striking and another thing to decide together to focus on a given passage with all our critical attention.

Responses? --Joe Spencer 20:48, 16 May 2006 (UTC)

Joe, I think you've framed the main issue of breadth vs. depth well. I've obviously been doing lots of breadth b/c I teach Sunday school lessons. Building on Wikipedia's success, I think this site can function as a valuable reference tool to get a broad overview of various ways a passage might be considered. However, as you point out, that underutilizes the communal aspect of the site which can help us work together in coming to come to a clearer and deeper understanding of the scriptures. Ultimatley, I think we can have our cake and eat it too if we are willing, when there are several different ways to read a passage, to give an overview of the different readings on the main page, and then move more in-depth discussion to subpages. I think this is effectively what good bible commentaries do: they give an overview of the main issues and then cite journal articles and books chapters which study particular issues in more depth. And since subpage edits go through the same recent changes process, I don't see moving discussion to subpages as a problem (though I do think the logistics might be problematic; when and how do we decide to move passages to subpages?).
Of your two descriptions above, I tend to favor the second, but I'm not sure we need to flesh out all the nuances of difference between the two. We should, however, come to working definition for each section and, in particular, a distinction between lexical notes and exegesis.
I think of lexical notes should be relatively brief notes about particular words and phrases in a verse (with cross-references), including perhaps a hint or sketch of possible interpretive implications. In contrast, I tend to think of exegesis as a place to try to make sense of the whole—that is, a place to make a synthesizing interpretation of the various words and phrases. From this perspective, I think structural analysis probably fits best in the exegesis section, since it is looking at more than just individual words and phrases. --RobertC 02:26, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
I should add that I think this approach I'm advocating seems a step away from the original intention. That is, Lexical notes to me has more of a connotation toward translation and grammar issues, rather than comments on word choice. What I'm advocating above would probably be better labeled just Notes (see the Exegesis vs. lexical notes discussion here for my comments on how this maps into the structure of some commentary books). It might make more sense to just keep the lexical notes section focused primarily on translation issues for the Bible, and occassional definition and grammar insights in LDS scriptures (since they're English based). --RobertC 02:40, 17 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm trying to figure out how to explain this.... I don't think that depth vs. breadth is really the issue here. My two readings above, I think (one might well note my many hedges), are not depth on the one hand and breadth on the other. Nor are they, I think, on the one hand an interpretation of this site in terms of individualism and on the on the other hand an interpretation of this site in terms of community. So let me add a few notes here that might better explain what I meant, or what, at least, I think I meant....
Concerning depth: I take for granted that this site should be entirely devoted to depth and not to breadth. I recognize that a step on the way to depth is often breadth, and that breadth is therefore an entirely necessary and wonderful thing. But I do not think that it is self-sustaining. Breadth is, I believe, a means. All too often--and note that this is not written as a universal--breadth becomes an excuse for not thinking, for not working to any real conclusion, for not being creative or patient enough to see a way out of the basic work to be done. Most "broad" commentary (I'm thinking of books published in the LDS community here, by the way, not of anything on this site, the contents of which I know far too little of to make any statement so sweeping) seems to me to be a sort of replacement for what should be the first five or ten minutes of any sustained study of a given passage. Now, I realize that this is a rather narrow reading of "breadth," but I read it narrowly to make a point. I think that sustained discussion of three or four verses is worth more than a broad commentary on the whole Standard Works, though it must be based on just such a broad reading. In other words, breadth on this site can--must--be only a step on the way to depth, if it is to draw any sustained attention, if it is to be a helpful resource for the general LDS public. Depth, it seems to me, is the only way of being for this site, though breadth might be what gets things started first....
Concerning community: I think that both of my readings above are actually different ways of reading the communal nature of the site (of wikis in general). Given my comments immediately above concerning depth, I see these two readings as two ways of interpreting the meaning of the depth that can be brought together by a community. In other words, there are two sorts of depth a community can provide. Hence, I think that the community project might be on the one hand a collective working out of several different approaches to the given text, here specifically four: first, approaching the text from other texts or through questions raised elsewhere in scripture, etc. (why read the text at all? the Questions section); second, approaching the text structurally, historico-critically, etc. (what presuppositions are there? the Lexical Notes section); third, approaching the text hermeneutically (how might the passage be variously interpreted? the Exegesis section); fourth, approaching the text in terms of the implications it has for other passages, through questions it raises for other parts of the scriptures (where does one go from here? the Links section). The purpose of gathering the community together for such a project is not to set side-by-side a collection of conflicting interpretations or individualistic readings, but rather to allow those who approach the text from one of these perspectives with better insight, etc., to contribute his or her share, which in turn would allow those who approach the text better from one of the other perspectives to shape his or her own approach better. Each page of commentary would therefore be a sort of on-going working out of the four (already defined?) approaches. On the other hand, the site might be read as funnelling all of its efforts into the Exegesis section. In this case, any first contributor would presumably post some exegetical comments (apparently without the fourfold distinction worked out in the other reading, or, in other words, simply writing commentary from any perspective). After some commentary is posted, those who read it would, I suppose, if he or she did not have any immediate changes to make to the commentary itself, add questions, lexical notes, and links as prompted by the posted commentary or that calls the posted commentary into question. These would be a sort of series of working notes that those (plural!) writing the commentary would use to broaden, to make more comprehensive, to re-write, etc., the commentary already posted. As specific postings in the other three sections become obselete, they would be removed. On this reading, the purpose of the community would be to do critical work on the commentary already posted.
Now, where do I fall with all of this. Well, in my thinking these issues out in greater detail (thanks to Robert's comments), I think that I like the first reading, and I think that I would prefer that sort of a project. I submit, then, for now the following suggestion for the site (let comments come as fiery darts!): the four sections should probably be interpreted as four approaches to the text (perhaps to be renamed if necessary). Four sections then:
  1. Approaching the text from other scriptural texts (what do other scriptures seem to presuppose for any reading of this text?)
  2. Approaching the text structurally (what possible structural readings have important implications for this text?)
  3. Approaching the text interpretively (what meaning(s) does this text have?)
  4. Approaching the text as an approach to other text (where does this text send us and with what presuppositions?)
A thought, at least... --Joe Spencer 22:32, 19 May 2006 (UTC)
Joe, sorry for misreading your original comments (I usually work on this site in the mornings when I'm watching our 10-month old baby boy, so I it's easy to get my own thinking muddled with what you actually wrote). I think I understand better your two different approaches. I like the first approach that you favor, but I think it's a step away from the way the site is currently structured and would either take some relabelling/restructuring of the site, or it would require some fairly non-intuitive instructions to work. I also think it's a step away from the approach most published comprehensive/collective commentaries are usually written.
I think the second approach fits more naturally into the current structure of the site. Moreover, I think that it is natural, as believers (as opposed to academics or secular readers) to think of interpretation as the ultimate goal of reading the scriptures (though I don't think interpretations will necessarily converge to a single interpretation, so I think at times the side-by-side juxtaposition of the different readings will be unavoidable, but I think this is a side issue for now). I think I could be persuaded by the first approach, but I have a hard believing we could take that approach without renaming the different sections and making a fairly dramatic change in the way things have been done so far. --RobertC 13:54, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
Robert, I think I echo your sentiments exactly. I think the first reading is a departure from the nature of the site to some degree (perhaps to a radical degree). I think that it would be a wonderful project were we to undertake it, but it would be, like you said, non-intuitive. It is a departure, then, not just from this site but from published commentaries in general (perhaps from published material in general!). The second is certainly more feasible, perhaps the direction the site is already headed (in which case I think my collective comments here are little more than a call to thinking communally--an invitation to consider the idea of having a page of commentary that a group works on together for a few weeks at a time).
A further note on the "side-by-side juxtaposition of the different readings." I don't at all think that we can avoid the necessity of posting several readings. I think we can avoid posting them side-by-side, juxtaposing what might be read as several "competing" interpretations. Rather, I think that those discussing and interpreting can work their comments into one workable, broad interpretive statement. In other words, rather than two paragraphs, each presenting an "opposing" interpretation of a given passage, being placed one after another, it would be better (more responsible, certainly stronger, and ultimately of greater significance) to write one paragraph discussing the two possible readings and how they might bear on each other (even alter each other, strengthen each other, perhaps suggest a third reading that unites them?). For an example of what I think I have in mind, see the first three comments posted under Nephi's second having: 1 Ne 1:1-5.
This much said--and given we are in agreement--what is to be done with Alma 13:1-5? --Joe Spencer 15:41, 20 May 2006 (UTC)
About focussing on a passage, I think that's a great idea. It's been tried in the past in various forms, formally (Alma 13:1-5 before I was here, clicko on the history page to get a sense) and informally (see Heb 6-7, initiated by Nathan Oman, and Moro 7, initiated by Matthew Faulconer, not to mention your work on 1 Ne 1 which we haven't done a very good job of helping you with...). I think we can and should do more of this. I'm heading out of town next week for a week and a half, maybe we can discuss a new project after that.
About revising this commentary page, I'd like to flesh out a few more details before digging into serious changes. I think there are a couple different ways we could take your second approach. I'll explain later when I have time. --RobertC 16:53, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

I'm posting my own probably biased view/summary of this discussion at: Help talk:Commentary pages. I think that's a more appropriate page to continue this discussion. I expect we'll continue discussing here how to implement the general guidelines for Alma 13:1-5. --RobertC 21:09, 21 May 2006 (UTC)

cite forward[edit]

Joe, I summarized what I understood (misunderstood?) of your comment on the commentary page and am including the rest here with my questions interspersed.

On the other hand, the difficulty might be forgone entirely if the weight of the phrase is shifted from the directional "forward to" back to the verb Alma uses: "cite". Grammatically, "forward" falls under the influence of the verb "cite" far more than under the influence of the "time when the Lord God gave these commandments." In other words, the "forward" clarifies the citing and not the place to which the hearers (and readers) are cited.

I don't see how in this interpretation "forward" clarifies anything. I (mis?-)summarized your point as saying that the word is superfluous. Your suggestion here that forward clarifies the citing is what I'm not getting though--suggesting I have misread you. In my reading of what you are saying the phrase "cite ... to" would have the exact meaning you are saying is implied here.

(Perhaps even placing a comma between "forward" and "to" would clarify what seems to be the simplest sense here.)

I tried putting a comma in there and re-reading. Maybe I am biased as I have read this verse so many times in one way that it is difficult for me to read it in another. In any case, when I did add the comma I didn't see how that diminished the significance of the word "forward"--the last word before the pause suggested by the added comma.

This is all the more significant since the verb "to cite" had in Joseph Smith's day the connotation of a legal summons: Alma calls or summons his hearers to come forward for, as it were, judgment. How significant, then, that the site (the "cite"?) of the tribunal is the "time" or scene "when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children." Alma invites his hearers to come to the very place of divine communication, to the place of ordaining, or to the place--the very "time"!--of "look[ing] forward to his Son for redemption" (v. 2).

I am not seeing how this last part lends weight to the argument that forward in verse 1 is not meant to imply directionality. If anything, I would think that the fact that in the very next verse the same word forward is used where it clearly indicates directionality would suggest (if anything) that its use in verse 1 also implies directionality.

Maybe I am concentrating on the details though and missing the more general point. Is there a more general point that supports the non-directional interpretation of forward based on the fact that the word cite connotes a legal summons? Also, can you refer to a source for the claim that in Joseph Smith's day cite carried with it the connotation of a legal summons. I don't doubt it. We use the word in similar ways today. Just curious what the source is. Thanks, --Matthew Faulconer 05:36, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

I'm glad you asked for clarification, because I apparently said this far from clearly! I did not at all mean to suggest that "forward" should be taken non-directionally. In fact, the great majority of your comment argued for a directional reading of the word in the very manner I would. I am trying to say that the directionality of "forward" modifies/clarifies/qualifies "cite" and not "to". In other words, Alma is "citing forward" the minds of those he addresses, summoning them to come forward to the tribunal, as it were. They are asked to come forward, to address something head on, to come to a scene or a site (of judgment). My point is not to write off the directionality but to solidify it: moving through time within the mind is not a true directionality, but (as the Hebrew idiom makes clear) a total abstraction. Coming forward, being cited forward, is a true directionality: come forward, hearers, and stand as a witness to/at this scene.
Hence, the reason for the comma would be that it separates the "forward" from the "to". The directionality of "forward" explains the movement of citation, not the movement of "to". In other words, the "forward" does not locate the "site" to which one is cited, but the directionality (the bearings, the aim, the intentionality) of the "cited". Those called are cited forward, asked to move forward, to take up a real directionality or aim at ("to") the time (and place) when (and where) those commandments were given. It would be interesting (if this helps) to read this is a line in a temple drama: "Now, if you would step forward again to stand witness to the scene where these commandments are being given to Adam and Eve...".
In short, I think that the reading of "forward" in terms of the Hebrew conception of time is rather problematic. My reasons (if these help also): first, the use of "forward" in verse 2 certainly becomes problematic (as I think your own argument points out); second, while the past is before (or more literally, "to one's face") one in Hebrew, it is not before one in so absolutely spatial a sense that one might be sent forward to time (rather, the Hebrew might be seen as standing relatively still while things/events swarm from behind him--Messianicity?--to stand in front of him; the Hebrew is "relatively" inert); third, while the past/future might broadly be said to be before/behind one in Hebrew, this is probably too much of a simplification of the perfect/imperfect tenses, which don't exactly correspond to past/future so much as complete/incomplete, realized/unrealized, even dead/alive (the concept of conversion as shwb in Hebrew, as "turning around", has to be, therefore, very carefully thought).
Finally, the 1828 Webster's is the source. I didn't cite (uh-oh! that word!) it yet because I didn't have time the other day to research exactly how to link it (I'm not a link guy), and I was planning to do it this morning. For now, I will leave it unlinked until you respond to all the explanation above. (If you do a quick search for "websters 1828" you will find a searchable copy online). --Joe Spencer 17:57, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

On Robert's lexical note[edit]

Robert, I applaud your summary of cite (and thank you for your knowledge/patience of/with linking). I am struggling with your comment on forward though, as you suggest one might ("a little rough"). My problem is this: that the Hebrews used terms like "front" and "before" (this latter more literally, "to the face") to speak of past temporality (and other spatio-directional terms for other temporal concepts) does not so much imply a reversal of English temporal thinking, but a completely other way of thinking it entirely (more originary, perhaps... "before" in English literally means "rendered to the face"...). I don't think that Hebrews thought themselves to be in time in a different way from English speakers, but that they did not think themselves to be in time at all! Time as a substance (something to be in) is, I think, a very late idea, and one that totally obscures the meaning of passages like this. The point of my comments (still to be reworked and reposted) is this: Alma was not thinking temporally at all here (nor is he, I would suggest, in verse 2, when he speaks of looking forward to the Son of God). I'm not sure how to--if I should--rework your lexical comment without further discussion on the point, though I think I will make some adjustments to the exegesis on the point. --Joe Spencer 16:56, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

I have a very shallow understanding of Hebrew, so I just thought it was interesting that the two Hebrew words I found used spacial relationships and temporal relationships in a way that is opposite to the way we normally think of them in English. That is, we tend to think of the future in front of us and the past behind us, so the Hebrew word examples I picked were an attempt to illustrate connotations that seem backward to the English way of thinking. I think the word examples themselves might be sufficiently interesting and different from the exegesis to merit keeping, but my explanation could definitely use some improvement.
Where I got a bit stuck in my thinking was in trying to understand how we think of temporal relationships in English. On the one hand, we can think of the future lying before us, but we can also say that the past happened before the present. It's the English use of the word before here I don't understand very well (and is reflected in my muddled lexical note). --RobertC 19:48, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
Robert, I didn't notice your response on this until today (I apologize). I think your point about the English before is important. English "before" is actually about equivalent (for all intents and purposes) to the Hebrew lpny, "before." "Before" means that which is rendered to your face, to your "fore." lpny means literally "to the face." I think this strengthens my point concerning temporality: whatever is before us--even in English--is experienced bodily. If by the before we are speaking of the past, then I understand past events to be to my face, to be handleable, thinkable, etc. If by the before we are speaking of the future, then I understand future events to be to my face as well, as something I face, take up, head toward, etc. "Before" is just a marker of the relation between things (events here) and my body. I don't think it had originally any temporal bearing. Our temporalization of "before" is a metaphorization, not a clue to the nature of time. If we take "before" temporally, we are addding to the sense of the word, whether in Hebrew or in English. --Joe Spencer 17:35, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

Old Exegesis[edit]

Matthew, I rewrote the exegesis and post what was there here. Robert, I wonder if this obviates the lexical comment on "forward" entirely? At any rate, here is what was written: It may seem confusing to talk about citing our minds "forward" to a time in the past when God gave these commandments unto his children. Here are three possible explanations for cite ... forward

  • It could be that "cite ... forward to" means in essence the same thing as "cite ... to." In other words the significance of the phrase is not the direction "forward" but rather the verb "cite."
  • As is suggested in the lexical notes, it may be that the Nephites were using a concept of time where they saw the past in front of them and the future behind them. We can visualize this concept of time by imagining someone going backward through time with the past visible to them and the future hidden behind them. With such a concept of time it makes sense to talk about citing minds forward to a time in the past.
  • It may be that the point of reference for citing minds forward is not the time Alma is speaking but instead the time the Lord first gave commandments to the children of men in the Garden of Eden. Alma is taking them forward from that point. Alma talks about the time the Lord first gave commandments to the children of men in Alma 12:30-32. Also in those verses, Alma cites their minds forward from that time to the time after Adam and Eve's transgression to when the Lord again gave them commandments. Under this reading, Alma says "And again ... I would cite your minds forward" because this is the second time he is citing our minds forward from the time the Lord gave the first commandments to the time the Lord gave these second commandments.

--Joe Spencer 17:21, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

I think the new exegesis that Joe posted addresses the first two points above, but doesn't sufficiently address the third point, which I think is sufficiently interesting and plausible to be be kept in the exegesis. Even if we all become convinced that the first or second interpretation is probably correct, I think we can't rule out the third possibility and should therefore preserve a discussion of it. --RobertC 19:48, 23 May 2006 (UTC)
One advantage of thinking of "forward" as attached to "to the time" rather than "summons" (i.e. cite) is that it is odd to summons a non-physical object spatially forward. (I assume by mind we mean something like the 5th definition in websters 1828 which isn't a physical object.) If the meaning here is something like "come physically forward" I would think it more natural for the writer to replace "your minds" with "you." On the other hand, if he means instead something like "pay attention" why not just drop the forward and end up with "cite your minds to the time ..."? That is why I'm still having trouble understanding forward in a spatial sense. Whereas if we interpret it in a temporal sense (which woulnd't be odd in early 19th century English) it makes sense to "summon a mind forward to the time when ..."--or doesn't it? That said, I'm not arguing for having the 3rd bullet above stand alone. I do think there is a need to explain something about interpretting forward differently based on a Hebrew concept of time (or lack thereof).
--Matthew Faulconer 06:06, 24 May 2006 (UTC)
PS Joe, I enjoyed the commentary on preparatory redemption. Thanks!
Robert, your point redrew my attention to the third bullet point, and I think I need to think that point more profoundly. I am just beginning to realize that I had misunderstood that point. I'll be dedicating the next little while to that issue, hopefully posting something regarding it today.
Matthew, I'm wrestling with this a good deal. I think that the clash between "forward's" in verses 1 and 2 suggests that there is some difficulty in taking "forward" in a temporal sense in either case. If it is strictly temporal, then each verse reads the word backwards from the other. It seems to me that some interpretive backflips would be necessary to work out how those two verses could both be using "forward" temporally. While it might be helpful to post a comment interpreting forward temporally, I think it must be countered within the comment itself by the difficulty raised by verse 2.
That said, I recognize your point, and I admit I was struggling with what to make of "mind" as I was posting my comment yesterday. Just now I've visited the Indo-European root behind "mind" again, and I was shocked at how broad the "concept" is! Is mind a physical object? Joseph seems to have used "mind," "spirit," and "intelligence" interchangeably at times (most conspicuously in the King Follett discourse), and Latter-day Saints have D&C 130 to deal with on whether spirits are physical. At times, to be honest, I think Mormonism transcends the distinction between the physical and the non-physical, between the real and the non-real.
But then why would Alma cite minds anyway? Why not just, as you said, cite or summon the hearers themselves? Might "mind" be understood more broadly as one's general disposition or situatedness in the world? Might Alma be petitioning not just to see an event, but to come to it more broadly, more fully still? Might Alma be asking his hearers to cross a sort of boundary into a whole other realm of existence (even ek-sistence)? If any Hebrew term might be read behind Alma's "mind" it would most likely be nphsh, which seems to mean something more like this existential (how I hesitate to use that word!) attitude or situatedness. That "mind" meant something non-physical only fifth on the list in 1828 is likewise suggestive...
Still wrestling... but I will add in a few minutes here something that tries to take account of the "Hebrew temporality" you suggest. --Joe Spencer 17:21, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Still wrestling[edit]

Hey Joe, I think we are making forward progress on the commentary page. One thing is for sure. It is a lot easier for me to stay on the discussion page making comments about "we should add this" or "maybe this isn't right" then it is to go to the commentary page and really rewrite it. I think your rewrite there is very good there

I didn't mean to suggest that you needed to add something in about Hebrew temporality beyond what you had before (an argument for why it wasn't important). Sorry that I wasn't clear at all on that point. But anyway, I like what you did. So as long as you think what is written there on Hebrew temporality is accurate, then I think it fits in nicely.

I still think I want to try rewriting this section again. I am having trouble with the resolution given to the two difficulties in the paragraph beginning "But this reading seems to ignore at least two difficulties." However I am not prepared to explain my concerns yet. I need to come back to it in a couple of days after re-reading the entire section and trying to understand again. And who knows, maybe in the process of doing that, I will end up agreeing with that paragraph.

Thanks for your help on this section. It is helpful to me to think through this with you and Robert. --Matthew Faulconer 15:07, 25 May 2006 (UTC)

Joe, I'm coming back here. It has been nice to let this one rest for a while but I can't resist coming back to this scripture that I find so interesting. Also, as you can see, I am continuing to experiment on how best to address the question that brought me back here before: how can we organize a lot of content around a few verses. I hope you (and Robert and others?) have time to take a look tell me what you think. (I hope--even though I know I haven't been helping much on other people's stuff lately!)

As I see it there are two competing explanations given for "cite your minds forward" in that section on the commentary page: a) the hearers are invited to think forward (as in think into the future) to the time the second commandments were given from the time the first commandments were given b) the hearers are invited to physically move forward to listen to the next part.

First a question: did I interpret b right? Or, are the hearers invited to symbolically physically join in but not actually physically move at all? Mabye there are actually 3 interpretations here?

OK. The main reason I came back to this page was because as I read it the current commentary favors the second interpretation and I'm just not understanding why that is. The main reason the commentary page gives for rejecting the first is that the hearers have already spent six verses talking about these second commandments so it seems odd to invite the hearers to think forward to them again. I do think this is a valid point but not a reason to reject the reading.

Here's how I would explain this reading in response to that concern. Starting in Alma 12:20-21...Here Alma is asked how it can be that we will all rise again when the God specifically made immortality impossible by blocking the way to the tree of life? Alma answers by explaining the first commandments, death, etc and then explaining what happened when the second commandments were given and how that changed the equation (Alma 12:31-35) by providing a probationary time. Then in the last 2 verses Alma appeals to the people to not harden their hearts and die spiritually but rather repent and enter into God's rest. Unlike in the previous verses, in those last 2 verses Alma does not specifically talk about what happens when God gave the second commandments to men. So now at the beginning of chapter 13 he wants to tell people something else that happened at that same time (the ordaining of high priests) so he takes the people one more time from the time of the first commandments (the point of reference in the question) to the time of the second commandments.

Finally I see two advantages the first reading has over the second. 1) We can use a natural reading of the word "mind" rather than guessing what the meaning might be for a word we don't have in a language we don't know. 2) We can read forward in a way that is consistent with the way "forward" is used in verse 2.

I'm not very confident in these thoughts so feel free to show me where I've gone wrong. I thought it best to try to vet this here first rather than change the commentary page at this point. --Matthew Faulconer 07:12, 2 Aug 2006 (UTC)

Wow. It certainly took me a while to get back here. In rereading things it suddently seemed obvious to me that the real point of departure wasn't from when God gave man the first commandments, as I had supposed earlier, but rather from the time indicated in Antionah's question. I did delete a lot . If anyone wants to work on this passage more, a good place to start would be looking at a diff to see some of the deleted text to see what should be reused from there. --Matthew Faulconer 08:34, 7 July 2008 (CEST)

Prepartory redemption (again)[edit]

I think there is more work to be done here in tying this phrase into the "probationary state" at the end of Alma 12 (notice "perpare" is used in Alma 12:24, 26, 30, and 37). Our boy is really fussy this morning (teething; I'm literally typing this one line at a time...), so I'm goint to outline some thoughts here as I have time.

First, I think there is a very interesting and significant (although perhaps subtle) departure in this sermon from other Christian theology in terms of how Mormons understand (or should understand) the plan of redemption. Although Paul seems to distinguish between the promise of salvation and the actuality of it, I think the emphasis on the probationary state that Alma is making suggests a slightly different view. I want to think about this more.

Second, is there a way to understand this in terms of Aaronic vs. Melchezidek priesthoods? Is the preparatory aspect completed when one's calling and election is sure, or is it only completed when one is resurrected (I'm currently leaning toward the latter)?

More later. --RobertC 14:47, 26 May 2006 (UTC)

An initial reaction... Robert, you have raised in your first point the question that plagues me constantly. Last night (before I saw your comment), in fact, my wife and I were having a discussion about this very point, as it is raised in 1 Cor 13:12. Does not the one speaking tongues already reside in the angelic choir, as Nephi suggests? How can we only know in part? And would I know God any better were He to stand "physically" before me? At times I wonder if the non-presence of God (in the metaphysical sense) allows us to come to know Him far better: we do not have the wall of flesh that seems to stop us so short. In this case, reading the plan of salvation in terms of immediacy or even outside the bounds of metaphysics (!!!), what would a preparatory redemption be? It remains, despite any adjective, a redemption. All that remains to be asked is how it is preparatory...
Your second point might open a possibility there, but I have to be honest: I don't know that I followed it. Rather, I don't see the connection between the two sentences you wrote. On the one hand, preparatory=Aaronic, redemption=priesthood, eventual redemption=Melchizedek priesthood; on the other hand, eventual redemption=calling & election made sure vs. eventual redemption=resurrection... I don't see the connection between these two hands. And what is resurrection? When is it actual? We act it out--make it actual?--in just about every ordinance we perform. Is the ordinance point toward something, or is it the reality itself? Is this beginning to sound like the battle between modernism and post-modernism?
For now, it seems to me that a preparatory redemption is a very real redemption, but one that opens toward another very real redemption. I don't know that I can escape the absence implicit in the presence of the redemption there. I think that I fear (is it a metaphysical fear?) that if I subsume all redemption under the preparatory redemption, then there may not be a literal resurrection.
Wow! That was philosophically charged.... Theology on the discussion pages... --Joe Spencer 18:02, 27 May 2006 (UTC)
Joe, I really liked this statement of yours: "At times I wonder if the non-presence of God (in the metaphysical sense) allows us to come to know Him far better: we do not have the wall of flesh that seems to stop us so short." This reminds me of some very powerful points made in a book called And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran (which I read in an elective philosophy class at BYU by Terry Warner). Lusseyran is blind and talks a lot about how physical sight so often seems to be a stumbling block toward truly understanding things. I highly recommend the book.
On the second point, I think I was just vaguely thinking about a parallel in terms of how we commonly refer to the Aaronic Priesthood as a prepartory priesthood. Doesn't the Aaronic Priesthood have the keys to the ministering of angels, while the Melchezidek Priesthood has keys to abiding God's presence? I need to reread the relevant D&C passages on this. Perhaps receiving the Melchezidek Priesthood is a kind of preparatory redemption. That is, in being found worthy to accept the Melchezidek Priesthood, we are being charged with proclaiming the gospel like the (high) priests Alma is talking about. In order to qualify for this calling, we need to be redeemed (that is, a forgiveness of sins needs to be purchased by the blood of Christ), but this redemption is different than what will occur at the final judgment (or when one's calling and election is made sure?). So I understand there to be a preparatory judgment going on when God calls others to proclaim the plan of redemption to others.
Also, I think a fruitful way to think about this is in terms of the temple drama enactments. I'll have to rethink this, but my understanding of the temple endowment is an annointing for blessings to come in the future. There are a couple phrases during the endowment in particular that lead me to believe that even after we have been given our endowment, we are still to look forward to a time that will come when we will be given all that is promised in the endowment. In this sense, receiving your temple endowment today may be viewed as a type of prepartory redemption.
(By the way, I still need to read the article Matthew linked to above. Also, regarding theological pontificating I'm reading volume 2 of Blake Ostler's Exploring Mormon Thought right now. It has a lot of very interesting theological implications which I'll probably be incorporating into my comments in the future. I should confess I haven't read that much of his first book, the second one seems to address topics that I find much more interesting and relevant to understanding the scriptures.) --RobertC 18:42, 29 May 2006 (UTC)
Only the briefest moment to write right now. Yes, the endowment is precisely what I have in mind in my comments on preparatory redemption. I assume that the endowment is what is in question there. And that the endowment is aimed at a sort of confirmation of itself (the "second anointing" or some such thing, at any rate). On angels/presence of God... that's my view: Aaronic priesthood has the keys to test and receive angels without deception (a la D&C 129); Melchizedek priesthood has the keys to unlock the veil, and hence, to enter into the presence of God. And what of other priesthoods? Always to be receiving messengers?
More later... --Joe Spencer 22:58, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Why talk about the Priesthood[edit]

I'm not ready to take head-on the "cite your minds..." section yet. I worked a bit on the lexical notes and a bit on the "why talk about the priesthood." My main goal was to try to simplify the text. Others (especially Joe), let me know if you think I pulled something out that needs to be worked back in. --Matthew Faulconer 05:45, 29 May 2006 (UTC)

re: structure I restructured why talk about the priesthood section to make less of a distinction between reading this section as an interruption versus reading it as integral. Any comments from others on this general structure? If we are settled on the structure I may attempt to rewrite some of the points a bit and also propose some alternatives.

re: bulleted list of readings One more question on another note. I like the bulleted list of alternate readings in general but have come across a problem here that I have struggled with elsewhere--how to deal with a list that mixes mutually exclusive and non-mutually exclusive readings. For example in this list there are 3 readings suggested: A) this section is out of place--probably as a result of editing B) this section is meant to clarify "rest of God" C) this section is meant to explain Alma's authority. To me if we accept either B or C we should reject A due to the principle of charity, but B and C are not mutually exclusive. In this case, maybe the right answer is to kick A out since we have more charitable explanations at hand.

re: rejected ideas I wonder if on the discussion page we should have a list of noteworthy rejected items so that someone who comes later to the page who has a new idea can look at those first (and the reason they were rejected) before adding something back we already considered and rejected.

--Matthew Faulconer 14:09, 6 Jun 2006 (UTC)

Questions removed[edit]

Hi All, I went ahead and removed the questions that are answered (in some form or another) in the commentary. That is our policy. Should it be? I think this provides a good test case? If others think the questions should be added back, that sounds good. But then maybe we should revise our policy of not duplicating questions. Thoughts? --Matthew Faulconer 03:28, 5 Jun 2006 (UTC)

Gone and good riddance. --Joe Spencer 21:52, 5 Jun 2006 (UTC)

Hi, I had assumed that they referred to the "children of men" immediately preceding the phrase "that they also might enter into his rest." I think there are a lot of examples in the Book of Mormon where the article doesn't refer back to the subject as we might expect but instead back to the last person talked about. Maybe I'll try to dig some examples up. Still I could see that you might read it the other way too. But if you read this as referring to those ordained as high priests, I don't think the "also" makes as much sense. Feel free to further revise the question. --Matthew Faulconer 07:05, 21 Apr 2005 (CEST)

I guess my question is with the 'also'. Are those ordained as high priests already assumed to have entered into his rest? Then, when they teach the other children of men, they (the other children of men) can enter into his rest also? Perhaps the question is ultimately what it means to 'enter into his rest'? Is this synonymous with joining the church? If so, then it is a nice, poetic phrase, but it makes the whole question here a bit over-blown. (Ben)


I'm struck over and over again recently about how much the Book of Mormon adds to our understanding of the doctrine of grace. It seems that despite some LDS uncomfort with this doctrine due to percieved Evangelical excess, the whole purpose of the gospel is to help us become like Christ by growing from grace to grace--through our good works which bestow favor and loving kindness on others, which gains us favour in the sight of God, who then grants us increased ability to love and bless others (3 Ne 12:48). This section of scripture seems to show how the priesthood is a necessary part of this equation. Evidentally, you can't just be a free agent going around blessing others, this needs to be done "after the order of the Son". I'm struck by the implication that while many good people obtain a measure of grace and bless the lives of millions, the fullest manifestation of grace, and sanctification, seems to occur only through priesthood service.