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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian, Christian restorationist church that is considered by its members to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ. Wikipedia

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Founded: April 6, 1830, Fayette, NY

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  • Resources from Egyptologists for Studying the Book of Abraham: Authenticity, Translation, Facsimiles, and More
    by BMC Team on July 15, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Post contributed by BMC TeamJuly 15, 2020Pinterest Tweet Widget Facebook Like Share on Facebook Google Plus One This post is a modified version of the introductory page to Pearl of Great Price Central’s Book of Abraham Insights series. The Book of Abraham is believed by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be “an inspired translation of the writings of Abraham” that the Prophet Joseph Smith “began . . . in 1835 after obtaining some Egyptian papyri” (The Pearl of Great Price, Introduction). Canonized by the Church in 1880, the Book of Abraham uniquely teaches several important doctrinal truths about the Abrahamic covenant and the Plan of Salvation. It also narrates an account of the patriarch Abraham’s near-sacrifice at the hands of his idolatrous kinsmen in Ur of the Chaldees, his journey into Canaan, the covenant he made with God, and his vision of the pre-mortal world and of the Creation. Controversy has surrounded the Book of Abraham ever since it was first published by the Church in 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois. Joseph Smith’s interpretations of three facsimiles that accompany the text have come under the scrutiny of Egyptologists, and in 1967 some fragments of the papyri once possessed by Joseph Smith were recovered and published. Those papyri fragments were translated and found not to contain the Book of Abraham but Egyptian funerary texts known as the Book of Breathings and the Book of the Dead. The relationship between these papyri fragments and the Book of Abraham is a matter of ongoing study and debate. This is not to say, however, that the Book of Abraham does not have any academic research in its favor. Since at least the 1960s, Latter-day Saint scholars have rigorously explored the text of the Book of Abraham to see how it might be situated in plausible ancient settings. The pioneering scholar behind this effort was Hugh Nibley (1910–2005), who wrote extensively on the Book of Abraham during his career as a professor at Brigham Young University. In addition to making compelling arguments for the historicity of the Book of Abraham, Nibley and other scholars have also argued that elements of Joseph Smith’s interpretation of the facsimiles find plausible legitimacy as knowledge of ancient Egypt and other ancient cultures has advanced. To aid readers in better understanding the Book of Abraham and answering questions about its origin, historicity, and teachings, in August 2019 Book of Mormon Central began publishing a series of short essays about the Book of Abraham as part of its Pearl of Great Price Central research initiative. Drawing on pioneering and cutting-edge research from both Latter-day Saint as well as non-Latter-day Saint academic resources and scholarship, this series highlighted some of the more noteworthy convergences between the Book of Abraham and the ancient world, explored how Joseph Smith’s interpretations of the facsimiles harmonize with modern scholarship, and provided an overview on what is known about the coming forth and translation of the text. Book of Abraham Evidence Video By January 31, 2020, Pearl of Great Price Central published forty Insight articles on the Book of Abraham and one video on the historicity of the text (with two more videos on the facsimiles and translation of the Book of Abraham currently in production). These various lines of evidence are not meant to “prove” the Book of Abraham is true, but they are intended to help readers situate the text in a plausible ancient environment, provide context for its teachings and narrative, and positively impact Joseph Smith’s claims to prophetic inspiration. This is ultimately the goal of the project: to pursue academic venues of inquiry to better understand the text and its ancient context; thereby raising appreciation for it as sacred scripture and strengthening faith in Joseph Smith’s calling as a seer and revelator.   Insights: Short Essays on Key Book of Abraham Topics The team behind the Book of Abraham Insights was comprised of members of Book of Mormon Central’s resident research and writing staff and independent volunteer research consultants and peer reviewers, including three scholars with doctorates in Egyptology: John Gee (PhD, Yale), Kerry Muhlestein (PhD, UCLA), and John S. Thompson (PhD, University of Pennsylvania). In addition to academic knowledge of Egyptology and related fields, members of the research team also have training in Latter-day Saint history, including work on the Joseph Smith Papers Project. With their combined expertise and scholarly training, the research team behind the Insights were able to provide helpful summaries of past scholarship as well as fresh, groundbreaking perspectives and evidences. For an example of an Insight that documents new evidence for the text of the Book of Abraham, see Insight #16 (“Shinehah, The Sun”), which was published in October 2019. This Insight draws attention to the plausible attestation of the name Shinehah (Abraham 3:13) in ancient Egyptian texts from the time of Abraham. Book of Abraham Insight on Authenticity Shinehah, the Sun Book of Abraham Insight Approaching the Facsimiles From the outset of this project, the research team felt that reaching consensus was important before any material was published. Many of the issues surrounding the Book of Abraham and the Joseph Smith Papyri continue to be debated or remain disputed among scholars, and each member of the research team brought with them their own perspectives. During the writing and research process, each member of the team was free (and indeed encouraged) to voice disagreement with the content in any draft of any given Insight. The lively discussion and different points of view among the scholars involved in the project helped increase the overall quality and precision of these Insights. All viewpoints were listened to, and the discussions greatly helped inform the scholarship undergirding the Insights. Book of Abraham Bibliography for Deeper Study In addition to the forty Insights, a robust bibliography on the Book of Abraham has been assembled to provide readers with easy access to historical and current scholarly resources on the text and to give a sense of the scope of research Latter-day Saints have devoted to the Book of Abraham. Some of the items in the bibliography were digitized and collated for the first time on the Book of Mormon Central archive, such as Hugh Nibley’s series “A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price,” which originally ran serially in the Improvement Era from 1968–1970. Pearl of Great Price Central Book of Abraham Bibliography   From the BMC Archive A New Look at the Pearl of Great Price: Part 1: Challenge and Response Free, Book of Abraham Study Edition Finally, a newly reformatted study edition of the Book of Abraham has been prepared to help facilitate a close, engaged reading of the text. There is still much that we do not know when it comes to how exactly Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham, including the exact relationship between the text and the Egyptian papyri. There are also remaining questions surrounding Joseph Smith’s interpretations of the facsimiles and the ancient world of Abraham. (For starters, although some scholars have taken initial steps in this direction, a full, robust methodology for studying the facsimiles has yet to be articulated.) This project does not presume to answer all the questions people may have about the Book of Abraham, its coming forth, and its contents. Rather, it hopes to equip seekers and honest questioners with the best, most reliable scholarly resources available and provide answers or insights where possible.  Pearl of Great Price Central Book of Abraham Study Edition For readers wanting more coverage on these and related topics, two good places to start are the Church’s Gospel Topics essay “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham” and the book An Introduction to the Book of Abraham by John Gee. High resolution images of Joseph Smith’s surviving Egyptian papyri fragments, the Book of Abraham manuscripts, and related documents can be viewed online at the Joseph Smith Papers Project website. An Egyptologist’s Thoughts on Studying the Book of Abraham To add to your understanding and enjoyment of Pearl of Great Price Central’s material on the Book of Abraham, Kerry Muhlestein, a member of the research team behind this exciting effort, has offered some of his thoughts on how to rigorously and thoughtfully study the Book of Abraham. Kerry Muhlestein, PhD. As I approach studies in the Book of Abraham, including my role in creating the articles for Pearl of Great Price Central, I have been guided by the following principles. 1) I want, above all things, to apply my training and skills in better understanding the Book of Abraham’s text and its various contexts. Exploring and researching are aimed at this goal. 2) Believing that we have nothing to fear and nothing to hide, I have been unafraid to explore any aspect of the Book of Abraham, and feel it is important to be fully transparent and forthcoming with the evidence. No evidence is to be hidden or omitted. When mistakes are made or further research proves old publications to be outdated, we should admit this publicly and in publications. I have adhered to this. 3) I believe we must be judicious with the sources. This includes recognizing what ancient and modern sources and modern scholarship is capable of telling us, and what it is not. 4) I believe that rigorous academic standards must be employed. Methodologies must be thoroughly examined and adhered to. Further, evidence brought to bear on the subject should have the weight of sound academic practice lying behind it. If I try to bring my own Egyptological research to bear on the subject of the Book of Abraham, it must first have gone through an Egyptological peer review and publication process. Having been through that process, it can then be applied to the Book of Abraham, which involves yet another academic peer review process. If I am using the scholarship of another Egyptologist, whether a Latter-day Saint or not, I believe we should only use scholarship that is academically sound and then have its application to the Book of Abraham be peer reviewed. Thus, any Egyptological matters that are brought to bear on the Book of Abraham have been through an unusual amount of peer review and academic rigor, which is as it should be for such an important topic. Mistakes will still be made, and progress is inevitably our path, but such progress is only possible when this kind of academic rigor is adhered to. 5) I believe we should be cognizant of and transparent about assumptions. Too much of what has been said about the Book of Abraham has rested on unnoticed and untested assumptions. These assumptions must be recognized and brought to light, where they can become hypotheses, and be tested. Thus, assumptions need to be openly acknowledged and discussed. 6) As a subset of this, I believe that regarding the Book of Abraham there are no unbiased researchers. Everyone starts with an initial assumption. They either believe that Joseph Smith could possibly receive divine aid to translate ancient documents or he could not. This original assumption will color how every other piece of evidence is interpreted. Responsible scholarship will recognize that there is a beginning, foundational assumption, and be transparent about it. Anyone who does not recognize their starting point is being intellectually dishonest, both with themselves and their audience. They also misunderstand scholarship. Anyone who pretends that scholarship is not affected by these kinds of views also fails to understand the scholarly process. 7) I believe we should attempt to accurately portray the arguments of others, and that it is academically irresponsible and intellectually dishonest to misrepresent their statements or arguments. Subscribe Get the latest updates on Book of Mormon topics and research for free     Daily Book of Mormon KnoWhysWeekly KnoWhy Summaries     We respect your email privacy     DONATE TagsBook of AbrahamPearl of Great PriceEvidenceEvidencesEgyptologyEgyptian

  • Plagues, Pestilences, Pests and Pandemics in These Latter Days
    by Richard Draper on July 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Post contributed by Richard DraperJuly 9, 2020Pinterest Tweet Widget Facebook Like Share on Facebook Google Plus One This is a guest post by Richard Draper, which may also be read at the BYU New Testament Commentary website. Approximate reading time: 12 minutes. Basically, I am (and have always been) an insecure person seeking for security. At an important point in my life and career, I was introduced to the wonder of scriptural prophecy. It was in an eleventh grade Seminary class where the teacher introduced us to the Revelation of St. John the Divine. He piqued my interest. That interest led me on a journey that eventually took me not only through the wonderful maze of John’s writings and other biblical prophecies but also prophetic statements in the scriptures of the Restoration.   I continue to be intrigued that God not only knows but cares about and shares with his children important information about events that will happen in the future. Working with Michael Rhodes and others on the multi-volume BYU New Testament Commentary, especially immersing myself again in the Book of Revelation, helped to focus and refine my understanding of what God has revealed about the last days. Out of all this study came an even greater appreciation of the importance of prophecy not only for humankind but also for God himself. In fact, foreseeing and foretelling are two of the ways God proves He is God.  In his admonition to the Israelites to believe, trust, and follow him, He declares that He has revealed the future to them. Those prophesied events, He points out, have since come to pass. Their reality is proof, He insists, that He is the one and only God (see Isaiah 43:11–13; 48:3–6). Given the importance of this ability and power to him, it is little wonder that God is very jealous (in the good sense) of its use. Thus, He forbade Israel from following the practices of those nations who tried to imitate his power (see Deuteronomy 18:9–13, the main passage in the Hebrew Bible that defines the nature of and lists the punishment for those to practice of false prophecy). The Book of Mormon denigrates those who promulgate false prophecy and those who follow them (see, for example, Words of Mormon, 1:15–16; Helaman 13:25–28; 3 Nephi 14:15; 4 Nephi 1:34). It also highlights authentic predictions given by the prophets Nephi, Zenos, Abinadi, Nephi (the son of Helaman), and Samuel the Lamanite that were precisely fulfilled at the birth and death of Jesus Christ and beyond. In this regard, one important way in which the Book of Mormon teams up with the Bible and also with the Doctrine and Covenants is in forecasting that various catastrophes, plagues, pestilences and pests are to be expected as signs, especially of the very last of times. Some of these are natural phenomena that God may or may not choose to interfere with. Others are consequences that God may be causing, directly or indirectly. But in all cases, He no doubt can make things less extreme or severe than they otherwise might be. In biblical times, famines were common and caused widespread suffering, starvation, and death, but God warned people to save during years of plenty in order to survive the years of pests, crop failures, and famine. By that means they could survive until the windows of heaven would be open again. The Book of Mormon speaks not only of then present famines and afflictions (for example, in Helaman 11:1-18), but most especially about events that lie still in the future. For example, in 2 Nephi 6:15–18, the prophet Jacob speaks of the latter-day gathering of Israel and promises that God will protect those who believe. But of those who do not, He states that they “shall be destroyed, both by fire, and by tempest, and by earthquakes, and by bloodsheds, and by pestilence, and by famine. And they shall know that the Lord is God, the Holy One of Israel.” The famine in the book of Helaman. “El Señor hiere la tierra a causa de la iniquidad” by Maria Vargas, submitted to the 2020 Book of Mormon Central Art Contest. And Doctrine and Covenants 84:96-98 puts it this way: “For I, the Almighty, have laid my hands upon the nations, to scourge them for their wickedness. And plagues shall go forth, and they shall not be taken from the earth until I have completed my work, which shall be cut short in righteousness—Until all shall know me, who remain, even from the least unto the greatest.” To appreciate how the Lord uses prophetic and apocalyptic revelations, we must put them into perspective, first by understanding their nature, and second by understanding their purposes. First, concerning their nature, they can be divided into two distinct types: One type consists of events that will transpire unconditionally, that is, nothing can stop them from happening. Many of these are positive parts of God’s plan for the salvation of his children. For example, the latter-day restoration of the gospel, its spread throughout the world, the consequent gathering of Israel, and the Second Coming of the Lord and His millennial reign.   The other type of prophecies consists of events that will come about only if certain human conditions are met. Interestingly, every frightening prophecy falls into this category. What that means is that these calamities need not come to pass provided conditions that would otherwise trigger them do not happen. A dire prophecy in the Book of Mormon seems to illustrate this point. Three times (in 3 Nephi 16:8–10; 20:15–18; 21:11–16), Jesus warns that if the “if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive, after they have scattered my people” then shall “a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them” like a young lion among a flock of sheep that “both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.” Though it is possible that this prophecy could yet be fulfilled, it seems more likely that the necessary conditions were never met. Even though the early LDS Church was persecuted and driven, enough “gentiles” responded to the gospel to nullify the conditions that would have otherwise triggered the fulfillment of the prophecy. Unfortunately, it would appear that most of the other dire prophecies will not have such a positive ending, and thus the world may yet see plenty of plagues, pestilences, and pests. And why? One of the most frightening insights in answer to this question is found in the book of Revelation. In chapters 8 and 9, using the power of apocalyptic symbolism, John records the vast devastations that will take place preceding the Second Coming. These fall into two categories: the first is the collapse of the natural order, bringing with it huge destructions; and the second is the ensuing wars. After describing the slaughter these wars will bring, the revelation of the Apostle John states that, “the rest of humankind, who had not been killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands so that they would not worship the demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, that cannot see, hear, or walk. And they did not repent of their murders, drug use, immorality or stealing” (Revelation 9:20–21; that’s my translation, as rendered in the BYU New Testament Commentary). It is that hard heartedness, that total recalcitrance, and that desperate clinging to an immoral lifestyle even in the face of its consequences that brings about the devouring of the nations by plague, pestilence, and pests. As an aside, the English word “pestilence” comes from the Latin pestis which denotes “a deadly contagious disease” usually initiated by insects or vermin. However, Joseph Smith seems to have understood the word differently. Doctrine and Covenants 63:24 states that “this is the will of the Lord your God concerning his saints, that they should assemble themselves together unto the land of Zion, not in haste, lest there should be confusion, which bringeth pestilence.” Haste does not usually bring infectious disease, but it does bring calamity and destruction, which the Saints indeed did experience. This also seems to be the word’s intent in 2 Nephi 10:6, which, concerning the Jews, states “because of their iniquities, destructions, famines, pestilences, and bloodshed shall come upon them; and they who shall not be destroyed shall be scattered among all nations.” Again, the usual definition of “pestilence” does not seem to apply in this verse, but the idea of some type of far reaching devastation certainly does. When Nephi, the son of Helaman, smote the earth in his area with “pestilence” (Helaman 10:6), it manifested itself as a very deep, long lasting famine. Thus, it would seem that the word “pestilence,” in Joseph Smith’s usage, described cataclysms that are both pernicious and far reaching in nature and brought about due to deep wickedness. They could be brought about by natural phenomena, climate change, insects, pests, or other means, but in the Book of Mormon pestilence was allowed to spread when the Nephites refused to hear their prophets and began to fight among themselves. This comports with John’s conclusion, in Revelation, that pestilence comes when a large segment of society falls away from God and his teachings. We recall likewise the statement by Paul, found in 2 Timothy 3:1–5, that “in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” The real shame and sorrow of the danger and ruin that follows such lifestyles is that the prophesied horror need not happen if members of society as a whole would just repent. And thus, we can understand the nature of these plagues and cataclysms. The Four Horsement of the Apocalypse by Albrecht Durer. Image via Met Museum. The second way of appreciating how the Lord uses prophetic and apocalyptic revelations is by understanding their purposes. That purpose is actually twofold: God’s first purpose in giving these prophecies is to keep His Saints and faithful followers aware of the pace and direction of current events so that they may know how to prepare. These warnings are often called “the signs of the times.” According to Doctrine and Covenants 45:39: “It shall come to pass that he that feareth me shall be looking forth for the great day of the Lord to come, even for the signs of the coming of the Son of Man.” Further, Doctrine and Covenants 68:11 states, “Unto you it shall be given to know the signs of the times, and the signs of the coming of the Son of Man.” And finally, Doctrine and Covenants 106:4–5 states that “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and it overtaketh the world as a thief in the night—Therefore, gird up your loins, that you may be the children of light, and that day shall not overtake you as a thief” (compare also 1 Thessalonians 5:2–5).   In all of these examples, the point is that neither the Second Coming nor the events leading up to it are to take the Saints unprepared. The second of the twofold purpose of these prophecies is to warn the nations. The Lord states in Doctrine and Covenants 43:25 that He has called upon the nations “by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, and by the great sound of a trump, and by the voice of judgment, and by the voice of mercy all the day long, and by the voice of glory and honor and the riches of eternal life, and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not!” This scripture lists the many ways and means through which God has reached out repeatedly to his children. It shows that He has used both the carrot and the stick. Unfortunately, as noted above, unrepentant wickedness will demand the use of the stick. Therefore, the Lord states in Doctrine and Covenants 43:26, “Behold, the day has come, when the cup of the wrath of mine indignation is full.” A very graphic description of those dire consequences can be in found in Doctrine and Covenants 29:14–20. There the Lord speaks of both heavenly and earthly signs, including the falling of stars, a great hail storm, and then notes that, because people will not repent, “I the Lord God will send forth flies upon the face of the earth, which shall take hold of the inhabitants thereof, and shall eat their flesh, and shall cause maggots to come in upon them; And their tongues shall be stayed that they shall not utter against me; and their flesh shall fall from off their bones, and their eyes from their sockets; And it shall come to pass that the beasts of the forest and the fowls of the air shall devour them up.” Here we see pestilence at its very worst, as a plague brought on through vermin and insects, with these very nasty “flies” and maggots, whatever they may be, doing their assigned work. The Lord has revealed all this for a purpose: as a warning to the world and also to his Church. To us, He has stated very clearly in Doctrine and Covenants 97:25–26, “Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsoever I have commanded her. But if she observe not to do whatsoever I have commanded her, I will visit her according to all her works, with sore affliction, with pestilence, with plague, with sword, with vengeance, with devouring fire.” Given the attitude, counsel, and instructions from leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today, it appears the Church has successfully dodged that bullet so far. Our leaders exude optimism and encouragement. Reflecting this is a statement made by President Dallin H. Oaks on March 14, 2020. He stated, concerning our present distress, that “This is not the end of the world but merely a test. A trial run for the Second Coming if you will—physically and spiritually. If you’ve been following the counsel from the prophet about ministering, emergency preparedness, and at-home Church, you have no need to fear, you passed the test.” His statement does not mean that people don’t need to be careful and diligent. Indeed, they must do all they can to be both prepared and protected. As Joseph Smith explained “concerning the coming of the Son of Man, [that] it is a false idea that the Saints will escape all the judgments, whilst the wicked suffer; for all flesh is subject to suffer, and ‘the righteous shall hardly escape;’ still many of the Saints will escape, for the just shall live by faith; yet many of the righteous shall fall a prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the Kingdom of God. So that it is an unhallowed principle to say that such and such have transgressed because they have been preyed upon by disease or death, for all flesh is subject to death.” (History of the Church 4:11). The persistent point is that the Saints are to be wise and should protect themselves by being independent of all adverse influences and by following sound procedures of spiritual and temporal preparation. The work of the team of scholars who are preparing the BYU New Testament Commentary volumes has made us very aware that there is no doubt that we all are in for a rough time, but the righteous will be spared from the worst of it. My hope and very optimistic outlook rests fundamentally on three scriptures. The first is Amos 3:7, which states God will do nothing but He reveals His intent to His servants the prophets. The second is the encouragement found in Doctrine and Covenants 106:4–5, “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and it overtaketh the world as a thief in the night—Therefore, gird up your loins, that you may be the children of light, and that day shall not overtake you as a thief.” And, finally, the third comes from Doctrine and Covenants 38:30, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” Through prophesy, a merciful and generous Heavenly Father has shown His Saints and all His children here on this earth who have ears inclined to hear, how He can and will thus protect them in the last days from the plagues, pestilences, and pests that certainly will appear. John W. Welch, “Destruction in Jerusalem,” in Charting the New Testament, chart 3-11. The new English rendition of the Greek of the Book of Revelation is available FREE: Order the full BYU New Testament Commentary on Revelation here:… Subscribe Get the latest updates on Book of Mormon topics and research for free     Daily Book of Mormon KnoWhysWeekly KnoWhy Summaries     We respect your email privacy     DONATE TagsPandemicNew Testament

  • The Wish of My Heart
    by Steve Mortensen on July 2, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Post contributed by Steve MortensenJuly 2, 2020Pinterest Tweet Widget Facebook Like Share on Facebook Google Plus One This is a guest post by Steve Mortensen. Does God really give us that which we earnestly desire? Alma 29:4 .. God .. granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life … he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. About 77 B.C., Book of Mormon prophet Alma the younger was reunited with close friends that had served long, difficult, and highly successful missions among the Lamanites.  During that time, Alma had served as High Priest of the church in Nephite lands, preaching the gospel and seeking to reclaim those who had fallen away from the faith.  Alma later recorded his personal feelings about preaching the gospel. Alma 29:1–3 1.  O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! 2.  Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth. 3.  But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me. Alma had been instrumental in ministering to the Nephites and helping many people turn or return to Jesus Christ.  He withdrew from being the political leader of the Nephites so he could devote the rest of his days to serving God by ministering to his people.  Alma was diligent and had demonstrated his earnest desire to serve God for many years through great difficulties and deep sorrows.  However, Alma felt that his desire to have more of an impact in the Lord’s service was sinful.  Perhaps in some ways his righteous desires were flawed by mortal weakness, which is often true of all who seek to follow Christ.  Which leads to the question, does God grant righteous desires that are framed in mortal imperfection? Several years ago I was visiting the Los Angeles Temple.  Atop the temple is a statue of the angel Moroni, holding a trumpet to his lips with one hand, and holding the Book of Mormon record in the other.  As I observed these details, I reflected on the words of Alma’s journal entry.  An angel proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ as with a trump to all the world.  A divinely inspired ancient record brought forth from the dust in modern times that clearly teaches repentance and the plan of redemption.  A record that contains much of what Alma preached, including his personal feelings about ministering.  For me, that statue beautifully symbolizes God’s respect for the fervent wishes of Alma’s heart, regardless of any mortal imperfection that accompanied them.  The Lord granted Alma’s wish in a tender, practical, and far-reaching way.  His testimony and teachings about repentance and the plan of redemption have touched millions of hearts around the world, and continue to do so. Alma’s experience also demonstrates that a loving Father understands what is in our heart, regardless of our mortal imperfections, and is willing to grant our righteous desires in His own way and time.  I am grateful that the prophet/historian Mormon was inspired to include Alma’s journal entry in his record, which parallels a divine promise recorded by Mormon near the end of his life. Mormon 9:21  … whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, whatsoever he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this promise is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth. Subscribe Get the latest updates on Book of Mormon topics and research for free     Daily Book of Mormon KnoWhysWeekly KnoWhy Summaries     We respect your email privacy     DONATE TagsAngel MoroniAlma the Younger

  • Hands and Arms as Trophies of Valor: Examples from Archaeology
    by BMC Team on June 23, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Post contributed by BMC TeamJune 23, 2020Pinterest Tweet Widget Facebook Like Share on Facebook Google Plus One In the Book of Mormon, Ammon cuts off the arms of his Lamanite attackers at the waters of Sebus, and his fellow servants take those severed arms and present them to king Lamoni as “a testimony of the things which they had done” (Alma 17:39). Taking the body parts of one’s defeated enemies as trophies of valor and as a witness of how many were killed is a well-known practice throughout the ancient world, both Old and New. Evidence for such practices has been well known for a long time. In the mid-1980s, researchers John M. Lundquist and John W. Welch first mentioned these practices in connection with Book of Mormon. They cited the murals on the Gates of Shalmaneser III, a 9th century BC king of Assyria, which depict soldiers bringing back the heads, hands, or feet of their defeated enemies, as well as scribes using these tokens of triumph to tally the number of enemy soldiers killed. Similarly, the Egyptian temple at Medinet Habu, from the time of Ramses III (12th century BC) contains a mural depicting a pile of hands collected for counting how many were killed in battle. Mural at the Egyptian temple at Medinet Habu. In 2011, renowned Austrian archaeologist and Egyptologist Manfred Bietak led an excavation at a Hyksos Palace in Egypt. Among the findings was “two pits with altogether 14 cut off right hands,” and another two pits with an additional hand in each.1 “One may think of a ‘gold of valour’ ceremony for successful soldiers in front of the palace,” Bietak noted, further explaining: It [the “gold of valour” ceremony] is known according to the tomb inscription of Ahmose, son of Ibana, from El-Qab from the late 17th/early 18th Dynasty onwards as a trophy for counting slain enemies and receiving the gold of valour from the crown as a distinction.2 Photo by Axel Krause. Bruce Yerman cited examples from the New World in an article published in 1999. Since Yerman’s article was written, the book The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians was published in 2007, edited by anthropologists Richard J. Chacon and David H. Dye. The editors note, “The removal of heads, scalps, eyes, ears, teeth, cheekbones, mandibles, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet … for use as trophies by Amerindians was an ancient and widespread practice in the New World.”3 In 2016, a pair of anthropologists commented on a Maya vase from the Classic period (ca. AD 250–AD 900), which depicts a basket filled with severed arms and other human remains. The basket is being presented to a deity as a representation of “triumphs over enemies.”4 Maya vase number K2010. Photograph by Justin Kerr. In both the Egyptian “gold of valor” ceremony and the ritual depicted on the Maya vase, the limbs of one’s enemies are presented as evidence of valor or triumph. This is similar to the account of Ammon in the Book of Mormon. While others showed fear, Ammon “went forth and stood to contend” with the king’s enemies. He slew 6 men with his sling, and then “smote off” the arms of his attackers “with his sword” (Alma 17:34–38). When the servants returned to the palace, they “went in unto the king, bearing the arms which had been smitten off by the sword of Ammon, of those who sought to slay him; and they were carried in unto the king for a testimony of the things which they had done” (Alma 17:39).  1. Manfred Bietak, Nicola Math, Vera Muller, and Claus Jurman, “Report on the Excavations of a Hyksos Palace at Tell El-Dab c A/Avaris (23rd August–15th November 2011),” Egypt and the Levant 22/23 (2012/2013), 31. 2. Bietak et al. “Report on the Excavations of a Hyksos Palace,” 32. For more on the “gold of valor” ceremony, see Manfred Bietak, “The Archaeology of the ‘Gold of Valour’,” Egyptian Archaeology 40 (2012): 42–43. 3. Richard J. Chacon and David H. Dye, ed., The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians (Springer, 2007), 7. 4. Ana Luisa Izquierdo y de la Cueva and Maria Elena Vega Villalobos, “The Ocellated Turkey in Maya Thought,” PARI Journal 16, no. 4 (2016): 19. Thanks to Mark A. Wright for bringing this publication to the attention of BMC staff. Subscribe Get the latest updates on Book of Mormon topics and research for free     Daily Book of Mormon KnoWhysWeekly KnoWhy Summaries     We respect your email privacy     DONATE TagsAmmonArchaeologyAncient Near EastMesoamericaMesopotamia

  • Video Illustrates How Jesus Treated People of Different Classes, Races, and Backgrounds
    by Daniel Smith on June 20, 2020 at 6:00 am

    Post contributed by Daniel SmithJune 20, 2020Pinterest Tweet Widget Facebook Like Share on Facebook Google Plus One During this turbulent and contentious time, many are searching the scriptures and asking the oft-repeated question, “What Would Jesus Do?” Daniel Smith, the creator of the popular YouTube channel Messages of Christ explores this idea by looking at how the Jews labeled and divided people during the time of Jesus. His latest video uses three examples of how Christ treated those whom the Jews saw as different from them. By studying the historical background of life in Israel, we can find similarities to how some people are treated today. We also gain insights as to how Christ would have us treat our fellow brothers and sisters, not with labels and division but with unity and love.      Subscribe Get the latest updates on Book of Mormon topics and research for free     Daily Book of Mormon KnoWhysWeekly KnoWhy Summaries     We respect your email privacy     DONATE TagsMessages of ChristVideos

Mormon Tabernacle Choir

  • A Unique Time for a New Organ Tradition
    on July 10, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    What do you do if you’re the five Tabernacle and Temple Square organists and you find yourself confronted with daily organ performances being suspended on Temple Square? The century-long tradition of daily organ recitals—a beloved tradition for music lovers and visitors to Salt Lake City’s Temple Square—have been on hiatus due to COVID-19 since mid-March. 

  • Watch the Movie that Featured “When You Believe”
    on July 7, 2020 at 6:00 am

    The Choir’s hit CD, When You Believe: A Night at the Movies, takes its title from a hit song from The Prince of Egypt.  Watch the movie this Sunday, at 7 p.m. Mountain Time on BYUtv.  This epic adventure that captivated movie audiences the world over focuses on the familiar tale of two brothers—one born of royal blood, one an orphan with a secret past.  As one becomes the ruler of a powerful empire and the other the chosen leader of his people, tensions rise, and their final confrontation will forever change the world.  

  • Finding Your Favorite Patriotic Choir Music on YouTube
    on July 3, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    Everyone has a favorite patriotic song they love.  Since the birth of our country, schools across the nation have taught students music that speaks of love for country and those who serve. Children learn to sing, hum, clap, and even march with pride waving the nation’s flag in their hands as the music begins. 

  • Music For a Summer Evening: 90 Years of Broadcasting
    on June 26, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    This is your invitation to join The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square for their annual summer concert Music for a Summer Evening. This year’s concert will be the culminating celebration of 90 years of the Choir’s weekly broadcast of Music & the Spoken Word. The special pre-recorded program will air on Saturday, July 18, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. The 60-minute broadcast will feature specially selected performances by the Choir and Orchestra along with interviews and performances of renowned guest artists who have appeared with the Choir. This special celebrates the impact and influence on audiences around the world of Music & the Spoken Word weekly broadcasts, which span nearly the entire lifetime of radio. 

  • 2021 Heritage Tour: New Dates and Details
    on June 19, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square are excited to announce new dates and details for their 2021 Heritage Tour. Originally planned for 2020, the tour was postponed due to COVID-19 limitations throughout the world. 

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