Categories
Ancient history New Testament

Were the Pharisees Bad People?

The Pharisees are often portrayed as bad people that serve as foils for the New Testament Jesus. Indeed, the Gospels depict them in an especially bad light. But history suggests that common narratives may be flawed—and that religious stereotypes are unfair to contemporary Jews. In this interview, Jewish scholar Amy-Jill Levine discusses why many historians think that the Pharisees are misunderstood.

Categories
Bible

What Does It Mean to Be Anointed in the Bible?

Prophets, priests, and kings were anointed in the Old Testament. And the title Christ in the New Testament literally translates as “anointed one.” But what does that mean? This post draws from the comments of Tim Mackie and John Collins in a seven-part series by the Bible Project explaining that anointing is a ritual in which people and places are set apart as portals between heaven and earth. The story starts in the Garden of Eden and ends with contemporary Christian disciples.

Categories
Ancient history Book excerpts Old Testament

How Did the Urim and Thummim in the Bible Work?

When the Urim and Thummim are identified [in the Old Testament] with the gems of the breastpiece, light is often associated with them. 4QpIsa i 4–6 can be interpreted in this way. Josephus clearly links a miraculous light with the divine revelation. The oracular shining or dimming of a stone on the breastpiece is also found in subsequent Jewish and Samaritan tradition.

Categories
Bible

Reading the Bible Through the Septuagint

Here is a question. If you are trying to do any kind of serious research into ancient documents, why would you ever prefer to use a translation, rather than the original texts themselves? In the case of the Bible, however, there is one translation that it really pays to know. Often, when we read Scriptures, we might debate exactly how they were read and understood in very early times. In the case of the Septuagint, we have a reliable snapshot of just how Jewish people did just that at a particular moment in time, and the resulting picture is often startling.

Categories
Ancient history Book excerpts Old Testament

Who Is Melchizedek in the Dead Sea Scrolls?

Melchizedek is a fragmentary exegetical work from the Dead Sea Scrolls collection (11QMelch) that may be classified as a thematic pesher.1 The author quotes or alludes to biblical passages2 and reveals their true hidden meaning in connection with his main theme: the eschatological victory of good over evil.

Categories
Bible

A King James Vocabulary Lesson

In 2011, the Christian world celebrated the four-hundredth anniversary of the publication of the King James translation of the English Bible. The King James Version (KJV) has survived well and continues to stand as one of the more literal English translations. But as with all translations, any modern rendition of biblical language is accurate and fully dependable only “as far as it is translated correctly” (A of F 1:8).

Categories
Ancient history Old Testament

Did the Jerusalem Temple Really Have Treasures?

The Jerusalem Temple treasures are rumored to have been hidden or stolen in association with conflicts like the First Jewish Revolt—if they existed at all. Interestingly, archaeological evidence such as the Arch of Titus suggests that Romans absconded with riches like a menorah. A Hebrew text called Massekhet Kelim also leaves tantalizing clues—and is (mis)used as a treasure map by modern enthusiasts. In this interview, biblical scholar Elena Dugan explains more.

Categories
Bible Theology

How Do Latter-day Saints Approach Biblical Theology?

Biblical theology is both ancient and new as an academic field. In recent years, there has been a blossoming of theological work among the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including the Old Testament, New Testament, and Restoration scripture. This interview with Joseph M. Spencer discusses the relationship between church members and biblical theology.

Categories
Come Follow Me Cornerstone New Testament

Come Follow Me 2023: New Testament Resources

The Come, Follow Me 2023 lessons are drawn from the New Testament. The Sunday School curriculum complements the Book of Mormon as a witness of Jesus Christ, and the title is taken from the Savior’s invitation in Matthew and Luke: “Come, follow me.” This article contains scriptural insights from Latter-day Saints and notable secular scholars, along with the Come, Follow Me 2023 schedule.

Categories
Bible

Why Do Latter-day Saints Use the King James Version?

The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible has been used by English-speaking Latter-day Saints since the time of Joseph Smith. However, our commitment to the 400-year-old translation places us in a minority within the United States—and even differs from how the Church translates the Bible in other languages. In this interview, New Testament scholar Thomas Wayment explains why U.S. Latter-day Saints use the King James Version and what might be involved in publishing a new translation.