Posts Tagged ‘ Old Testament; Sunday School ’

6 Interpretations of Isaiah that Should Not be Perpetuated

September 23, 2010
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6 Interpretations of Isaiah that Should Not be Perpetuated

OT SS Lesson #36 LDS Sunday School students will soon take a quick leap through 66 chapters of Isaiah in five forty-minute lessons. All too often, some uniquely Mormon interpretations are given to these chapters which merit a critical analysis. In this post I present six Mormonisms often used with the first few chapters of Isaiah which I believe hinder a deeper and more accurate understanding of these prophetic writings.  Let us know if any of these interpretations show up in your Sunday School class!

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Yom Kippur and the Symbolism of Jonah’s Spiritual Journey

August 26, 2010
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Yom Kippur and the Symbolism of Jonah’s Spiritual Journey

OT SS Lesson #33 If your ward happens to be just a little bit behind on the Sunday School lessons, you might experience the synchronicity of having the Book of Jonah read on Yom Kippur.  This year, the Jewish holiday falls on September 18 (close enough to Sunday the 19th!) and Jonah is traditionally read as part of the celebration. Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is the holiest and most widely observed day on the Jewish calendar.  It is a day of fasting, lengthy confession of sins, prayer, and repentance.  Jonah’s prophecy is included in the liturgy for that…

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Adversity: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

August 19, 2010
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Adversity: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

OT SS Lesson #32 After the Satan figure is given permission to afflict Job as a test of his faithfulness, three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, come to visit him, sitting with him in silence for seven days. On the seventh day, Job speaks, beginning a conversation in which each of the four men shares thoughts on Job’s afflictions and adversity in general in profound poetic statements.  This is a lengthy dialogue between characters who alter their moods, question their motives, change their minds, and undercut each other with sarcasm and innuendo. Although Job comes closest to doing…

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Sophia of the Proverbs and the Feminine Divine

August 14, 2010
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Sophia of the Proverbs and the Feminine Divine

OT SS Lesson #31 Feminist readers of the scriptures are well aware of the passages in Proverbs 8 which personify Wisdom (GK Sophia, HEB Hokhmah). These passages affirm that Sophia was there when God made the earth and acted as a partner with God in the creation. This idea fits in well with my conceptualization of the male/female duality of the Divine. The passages can be interpreted as instructions to the earnest seeker to discover and follow the promptings of a Heavenly Mother:

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Passing the Mantle

July 29, 2010
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Passing the Mantle

OT SS Lesson #29 The prophet Elisha is introduced for the first time in 1 Kings 19.  Elijah has recently had his encounter with the 400 prophets of Baal and the still small voice of God on Mt. Horeb.  On his way from the mountain to the wilderness of Damascus Elijah finds Elisha plowing in a field.  He passes by him and throws his mantle over Elisha.  And scripture says that Elisha arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.  Elisha doesn’t receive another mention until the end of Elijah’s ministry — when Elijah’s mantle falls from him as he is translated and…

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The Divided Kingdom Today

July 15, 2010
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The Divided Kingdom Today

OT SS Lesson #27 “Take an old piece of clothing,” our SS lesson advises, “or a piece of paper that is cut in the shape of a piece of clothing and tear it into 12 pieces. Explain that toward the end of Solomon’s life, the prophet Ahijah prophesied that Jeroboam, one of Solomon’s 12 superintendents over taxes and labor, would take over much of the Israelite nation. To illustrate this, Ahijah seized the garment from the back of Jeroboam, tore it into 12 pieces, and gave 10 of the pieces to Jeroboam.”  The lesson teaches that the influence of wicked…

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The Question Solomon Couldn’t Answer

July 10, 2010
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The Question Solomon Couldn’t Answer

OT SS Lesson #26 Our Sunday School lesson this week attempts to deal with the conundrum with which we are faced when considering that Israel’s King Solomon, who was a paragon of wisdom having received this gift from the Lord, could make the decidedly unwise decision of marrying foreign wives and following them into idolatry.  

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King David and the Doctrine of Blood Atonement

June 24, 2010
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King David and the Doctrine of Blood Atonement

OT SS Lesson #24 The following statement was made by the LDS Church last Wednesday in conjunction with the execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner by firing squad in Utah.  I see this as a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation of what was taught in the past regarding the doctrine.

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Official Doctrine vs. Personal Speculation

June 21, 2010
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Mormonism, in its very short history, has a rich tradition of theological speculation.  The foundations of the Church were based on burning desires to know concrete answers about the great mysteries.  The existing answers in the early 19th century felt stale or unsatisfying as the world was changing and new frontiers opened up.  Formerly settled religious questions were thrown back into the ring for debate.  This happened within a frontier tradition attempting to interpret and combine ideas from the newly forming materialistic sciences with the long-established magical world view held in western culture.

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Homosociality and the Friendship Between David and Jonathan

June 17, 2010
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Homosociality and the Friendship Between David and Jonathan

OT SS Lesson #23 The story of David and Jonathan is one of the most inspiring examples of true friendship anywhere.  Our LDS SS manual firmly places this lesson within the mainstream view of Biblical exegesis, presenting the two as strong personal and platonic friends.  As I studied the covenant made between these young men in 1 Samuel 18, I was touched by the loyalty shown by the young Jonathan, because he “loved [David] as his own soul.”  Because of this love, Jonathan relinquishes his hopes for his father’s throne in deference to God’s choice.  In a symbolic and ceremonial gesture,…

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You Can’t Ride Two Donkeys With One Ass: Saul and Spiritual Rebirth

June 10, 2010
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You Can’t Ride Two Donkeys With One Ass: Saul and Spiritual Rebirth

OT SS Lesson #22 Ever since I was introduced to the word “liminal,” I have claimed it as my own. This word describes a threshold or a transitional position — a balancing point between two states of being. For many years I have felt poised on the threshold between two totally different ways of viewing the world. One is scientific and rational. The other is a place where angels materialize and shake your hand, where dreams have meaning, where God’s words come out of men’s mouths when they lay their hands on your head.

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Patriarchal Hierarchy and the Kingship Model

June 3, 2010
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Patriarchal Hierarchy and the Kingship Model

OT SS Lesson #21 When we lived in Saudi Arabia a few years ago, I obtained a faculty position in the fairly newly-formed department of Health and P.E. at a university which was strictly segregated by gender.  The women’s side of the university operated independently, with our own female custodians, technical staff, professors and administration,  and very little oversight from the male president.  Our department consisted of five women, and we made all decisions collectively, with no titular head.  After the first semester I was there, one of our staff meetings was dedicated to the question of whether we should…

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A Closer Look at that Virtuous Woman

May 27, 2010
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A Closer Look at that Virtuous Woman

OT SS Lesson #20 Sometimes I wonder how women in the Judeo-Christian tradition got stuck with the gender role identifications they have. The Old Testament doesn’t include many detailed descriptions of women, but when they do appear, they are not what you’d think. To prove my point, I’m going to investigate two women featured in this week’s Sunday School lesson, plus Deborah the judge/prophetess, and the ubiquitous “virtuous woman” of Proverbs 37.

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Feminist Musings on the story of Jephthah

May 20, 2010
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Feminist Musings on the story of Jephthah

OT SS Lesson #19 You are going to talk about the Biblical Judges in this week’s Sunday School class, and the lesson’s got it pretty well covered (including a discussion of the Judge/Prophetess/Mother in Israel Deborah, yay!) You’ll have to let me know how your respective teachers covered her.  But some of the Judges are peripheral and didn’t make it into the lesson materials.  As is my wont to do, I’d like to investigate the marginal; the story that isn’t mentioned in the manual — that of Jephthah. Whenever I come across an odd story in the Old Testament, I…

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Circumcision Rock & Roll

May 13, 2010
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Circumcision Rock & Roll

OT SS Lesson #18 The advantage of blogging the SS lessons instead of teaching them is that I get to cover the chapters that are totally skipped by correlation. (This one [Joshua 5] probably for good reason, but it deserves a mention SOMEWHERE.) Everyone knows that good Jews are circumcised. God instituted the covenant with Abraham, and faithful Jews have been performing this ordinance on their 8-day-old males ever since, right? WRONG!

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The Angel and the Ass

May 6, 2010
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The Angel and the Ass

OT SS Lesson #16 The story of Balak and Balaam is a study in the marvelous complexity and richness of Biblical literature.  The pericope includes five narrative sections, four poetic prophecies, and a fable (the tale of the angel and the ass).  It also includes commentaries found elsewhere in the scriptures.

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Limiting Revelation: The LDS Concept of Stewardship

April 28, 2010
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Limiting Revelation: The LDS Concept of Stewardship

OT SS Lesson #15 A scripture in the Doctrine & Covenants encourages us to “be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of [our] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.”  But I’ve noticed that there is a concept that is widespread in the LDS Church which tends to limit our engagement in good causes and even, on occasion, the righteous seeking of revelation.  This is the idea of stewardship.

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The God of the OT vs. the Golden Calf

April 8, 2010
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The God of the OT vs. the Golden Calf

OT SS Lesson #14 Sometimes I have a hard time with the Jehovah of the Old Testament. I’m not always sure how much of the anger, retribution, and striking people dead for their sins came from Him, or from the interpretation of His will by the designated prophet.

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The Seder, Social Justice, and Leroy Jessop

April 1, 2010
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The Seder, Social Justice, and Leroy Jessop

OT SS Lesson #13 At a Passover Seder this week, President Barack Obama’s message to American Jews focused on social justice. Obama said that the message of the Exodus teaches of oppression to be fought and freedom to be won, and that we all have a responsibility to fight against suffering and discrimination wherever we find it. Some Jewish journalists discussing the remarks saw them as a veiled reprimand against Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. Others heartily agreed that Jews should be particularly sensitive to oppression. The American Prospect’s Adam Serwer enthused: “I’ve viewed Passover as an opportunity not just…

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What Dreams May Come

March 24, 2010
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What Dreams May Come

OT SS Lesson #12 Whether dreams come from the unconscious mind or directly from God, they are valuable sources of revelation. Dreams can tell us important things about ourselves and our relationships that may remain veiled deep in the psyche if we are unskilled at interpreting the symbolic language from which they present. The great attainment of Joseph of Egypt and the message this scriptural character brings to readers of the Old Testament is the importance of developing an ability to decode symbolic dream messages and using them to integrate our conscious and subconscious knowledge.

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