Abraham and God, Isaac and Christ
Because I'm going to take up this passage in my paper for the Abraham Seminar, I'd like to work through these verses at some length here on the wiki. I don't intend to copy anything directly over from here to the paper, so I'd like everyone to feel quite free to edit and change what I write, etc. In fact, I would love to have any help I can in thinking through these verses, so if anyone else is interested in contributing, I would greatly appreciate it. Questions, lexical notes, and links do as much as exegesis in helping along these lines. Feel free, of course, to critique (and harshly!) what I do write. Thanks. --Joe Spencer 20:01, 22 June 2007 (CEST)
- Joe, I'm trying to read all of this here. Some interesting ideas, I think, but you're just begging for some editing! Hopefully I can get to it later this weekend.--Rob Fergus 23:49, 22 June 2007 (CEST)
Yeah, I know. I thought about scrapping it all, now that writing has helped me to work through a bit of it, and starting over. I may still do that. We'll see. --Joe Spencer 01:39, 23 June 2007 (CEST)
- Joe, I'm just barely getting around to looking at what you wrote here, at least with any care. I find this work you've been doing amazing. With my head spinning and thoughts scrambling a bit, can you answer a very simple question: are you saying, basically, that we should read a progression of ideas here from 2 Ne 10:3 to 2 Ne 31-32 to Jacob 4, that is, presume that Nephi himself learned about the name Christ from Jacob's revelation recounted in 2 Ne 10:3? I guess I'm a little puzzled, or at least not very confident, about how to read 2 Ne 31:1. Is this saying that 2 Ne 31 are some of the 'words of . . . Jacob," or simply that some of Jacob's words are what Nephi has included in 2 Nephi (this is how I've typically read this...)? Or more of a middle path, that Nephi has included the words of Jacob in the foregoing, but also saying that the words he is about to write (in the rest of 2 Ne 31) is an engagement with what Jacob has talked about? I guess it's this influence of Jacob on Nephi that I haven't taken seriously enough before, which is why I think I'm a bit disoriented/astonished at what you wrote--that is, I can't believe I hadn't thought about this before, because there it is in plain view in the text, so I'm surprised I've been so blind.
- I'm also wondering about how radically different Abinadi's words really are. Nephi refers to Christ as the "Lamb of God" and the Son and talks in terms of the Father and the Son (and the Holy Ghost) as being one God, so what's the radical departure that Abinadi takes? I'm guessing you're thinking primarily of Mosiah 15:3 where Abinadi makes such a direct reference to the Son as the Father (and "God" in Mosiah 15:1), no? That whereas Nephi mentions the Father and Son being one sort in passing, Abinadi makes this a sort of focal point? Since this doesn't seem all that radical, I think I'm missing something in what you're saying. --RobertC 00:07, 29 June 2007 (CEST)
Progression, yes. I am entirely convinced that "Christ" was new to Nephi when Jacob revealed it in 2 Ne 10:3, and I think this nicely articulates a curious relationship between Nephi and Jacob. Nephi's interests seem to have been primarily apocalyptic in nature, but Jacob's seem to have been primarily theological (notice that Nephi inherits Lehi's apocalypticism in the transfer from 1 Ne 8 and 10 to 1 Ne 11-14, while Jacob inherits Lehi's theological focus in the transfer that is 2 Ne 2). The way Nephi arranges his three witnesses (bringing further light and knowledge in the third act of an essentially three-act play: creation, fall, atonement) is then quite significant: Jacob, then Isaiah, and then Nephi. Jacob offers up a remarkably theological reading of Isaiah (50-51), and Nephi offers up a remarkably apocalyptic reading of Isaiah (29), and Isaiah himself, "uninterpreted," obtains between them (2-14). But by having Jacob situated first, Nephi allows his own writings to draw on the theological, a point I think he is making explicitly in 2 Ne 31:1, as you mention. He then articulates at length in 2 Ne 31-33 how Jacob's theology essentially leads beyond and yet to his apocalypticism. There is a great deal to work out here. In chapters 2 and 3 of my book, I've worked out some of the preliminaries to taking up this question, but I hope to be writing about these questions often and at length.
As for Abinadi: there is a profound difference in theological approach between the two discourses simply in that Nephi is attacking the question of apotheosis, whereas Abinadi is attacking the problem of incarnation. The logic developed (from Jacob?) by Nephi opens up the possibility of apotheosis only within a sacramental economy, which depends on a oneness that is implicit in the sealing power of the Holy Ghost (a oneness, then, that depends on a very real separatedness of the three). That is, Nephi has a full-blown Mormon Godhead (though I think his working out of the theology is far richer and far more sophisticated than any approach yet written by a Latter-day Saint). Abinadi's logic is fundamentally different because, in attempting to open up the possibility of incarnation, he is trying to think the possibility of a difference within an undivided or perhaps even indivisible unity, which thus depends on a oneness of substance rather than a oneness imposed by a tertium quid (notice that the Holy Ghost is not at all mentioned in Abinadi's discourse). That is, Abinadi is not at all asking the question of the Mormon Godhead, but rather is approaching the question of how Jesus' Godhead (=Godhood) is fractured and yet maintained in the logic of incarnation. What is vital for Latter-day Saint theology in all of this is the fact that we are bound to the question of eternal family, of father-son structures generally, and thus that we find two very different ways of thinking about this here. But the two models are not at all contradictory; in fact, they might be nicely complementary: Nephi gives us a way of thinking the welding link between separate "substances" (generations), and Abinadi gives us a way of thinking the typological disruption that is effected within a single "substance" by the very logic of incarnation (birth). Together, these might begin to open up the two sides of a theology of families, etc.
Some ideas, anyway. --Joe Spencer
- Thanks Joe, this gives me a lot to think about. Thanks for sharing all your work on this.--RobertC 17:58, 29 June 2007 (CEST)
Verse 4:14: Deuteronomistic De-Christianizing
I found the article "The Deuteronomist De-Christianizing of the Old Testament" really fascinating. But, where it really matters (to me at least) is how this additional historical background helps me understand the scriptures better. With that in mind, I was interested in the interepretation he gives of Jacob 4:14. But here is where I ran into trouble.
If I gathered the view correctly from Christiansen's article it goes something like this: in Old Testament times there was some tension between one camp (call them the the Deuteronomists) who focused on obeying the law and the other (call them the pre-Deutoronomists) who focused on the Temple and the Melchizedek Priesthood. The pre-Deutoronomist position was the older one and it was right, but the Deuteronomist won out in the end and revised the old testament so that it better supported their view; nevertheless clues were left behind in the revised Old Testament (and in other documents). No these clues do not lead us to finding a huge burried treasure in an underground cavern--instead, they lead us to understanding the pre-Deutoronomist position. What we find out was that this pre-Deutoronomist position is, Christiansen argues, in harmony with the Book of Mormon. This means that many of the things people have interpretted as inconsistencies between the views of the Old Testament and that of the Book of Mormon turn out to be caused by the revisions to the old testament by the Deuteronomists.
This nicely makes sense of 1 Ne 13:26 (or does it?--see the exegesis there). So far so good, but when we get to interpreting Jacob 4:14, I need some help. Here the idea Christiansen presents (if I am reading his article correctly) is that Jacob is following the pre-Deutornomist against the Jews Jacob spoke of in Jerusalem--the Deutoronomists.
But as I read verse 14 it seems that whatever Jacob means by "looking beyond the mark" he means doing something that is the same type of error as "despising the words of plainness" and "seeking for things that that they could not understand." But it seems to me more natural for a law-focused group (the Deutoronomists) to accuse the temple-focused group (the pre-Deutoronomists) of despising plainness and seeking for things they cannot understand than the other way around.
Rob or others, am I missing something here?
--Matthew Faulconer 08:00, 30 May 2005 (CEST)
Matt, I wonder if you are projecting later conflicts back onto this one? As the Early Christian church was breaking apart, many made similar accusations against those who they considered Gnostics--those who made claim to hidden knowledge (gnosis) or mysteries and temple ceremonies. However, in ca. 600BC, maybe the lines were drawn differently. However, you do raise interesting questions pointing to our need to better understand how the Bible was written and compiled to reflect various historical movements, and how the restoration of the gospel fits in with the teachings of those past movements. Apparently the Book of Mormon authors didn't reject all of the Deuteronomistic history, but perhaps had a different take on all of it. We're still just trying to figure out how this all fits together.-- Rob Fergus 18:49, 31 May 2005 (CEST)