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volgadon

Doctrinal NT Commentary and Eternal Marriage

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As this year is the New Testament in Gospel Doctrine class I thought I would share a recent blogpost of mine. Calba Savua's Orchard: Did Saadia Gaon & Maimonides Believe in Eternal Marriage?

I'm sure many are familiar with the following quote from Bruce R. McConkie's Doctrinal Commentary of the New Testmant.

Indeed, almost the whole Jewish nation believed that marriage was eternal, and that parents would beget children in the resurrection. Those few who did not believe that marriage continued after death and among such were the Sadducees, who could not so believe because they denied the resurrection itself—were nonetheless fully aware that such was the prevailing religious view of the people generally. Without doubt Jesus, the apostles, the seventies, and the disciples generally had discussed this doctrine.

The Sadducean effort here is based on the assumption that Jesus and the Jews generally believe in marriage in heaven. They are using this commonly accepted concept to ridicule and belittle the fact of the resurrection itself. They are saying: 'How absurd to believe in a resurrection (and therefore in the fact that there is marriage in heaven) when everybody knows that a woman who has had seven husbands could not have them all at once in the life to come.'

A most instructive passage showing that the Jews believed there should be marriage in heaven is found in Dummelow. "There was some division of opinion among the rabbis as to whether resurrection would be to a natural or to a supernatural (spiritual) life," he says. "A few took the spiritual view, e.g. Rabbi Raf is reported to have often said, 'In the world to come they shall neither eat, nor drink, nor beget children, nor trade. There is neither envy nor strife, but the just shall sit with crowns on their heads, and shall enjoy the splendor of the Divine Majesty.' But the majority inclined to a materialistic view of the resurrection. The pre-Christian book of Enoch says that the righteous after the resurrection shall live so long that they shall beget thousands. The received doctrine is laid down by Rabbi Saadia, who says, 'As the son of the widow of Sarepton, and the son of the Shunamite, ate and drank, and doubtless married wives, so shall it be in the resurrection'; and by Maimonides, who says, 'Men after the resurrection will use meat and drink, and will beget children, because since the Wise Architect makes nothing in vain, it follows of necessity that the members of the body are not useless, but fulfill their functions.' The point raised by the Sadducees was often debated by the Jewish doctors, who decided that 'a woman who married two husbands in this world is restored to the first in the next.'" (Dummelow, p. 698.)

There are some ancient Jewish sources indicating a belief in eternal marriage, unfortunately, they weren't used by Elder McConkie.

All the sources in Dummelow are taken out of context and distorted.

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It would appear to me that in the entire landscape of religious thought that sources are more often quoted out of context rather than in context. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were first published and given commentary I began to study but was at the mercy of scholars. At first I had no doubt to disagree until I began to notice patterns that were more dependent on religious preference than on background and textual context.

I began to realize that there were, for lack of better term, families within the scholarly circles. BTW we also see the same trend in politics. That is that one picks up on the talking point of the other and in quoting each other it becomes almost impossible to determine where certain ideas and interpretations really came from. Often I have criticized those that criticize with the notion that to learn mathematics it is best to learn from mathematicians. But in truth critics have a place but that place is limited. The place of a critic is to uncover trends both among critics and apologists. Thus the overlap of agreement become a guiding light if you will and the points of extreme disagreement also become defining - but the vast majority of wasteful thought I believe is in the middle of extremes and therefore the most difficult to see trends.

The second problem I see to a scholarly approach is that the opinions of other scholars are valued according to prevailing ideas. This in my mind muddies the water more than it clears it. Anciently the authority was the inspired man of G-d and were identified by their fruits - or as Jesus said - their fruits reflect their doctrine or are the example by which the doctrine is understood. This one factor is most removed from the scholar that bases his authority completely on personally earned accolades. We still see this somewhat with LDS member and perhaps other faiths as well but I am not familiar with other faiths as I am with my LDS brethren. Often we assume something is more valid coming from our general authorities (that know nothing of us as individuals) than from our bishops and home teachers that know us as persons. Because we seem to think a calling as general authority is such an earned accolade when in truth the greatest accolade within the LDS faith is that of father and mother.

So now I am at the full circle in interest in your post and the contextual understanding and inspiration of loyal and obedient fathers and mothers - which is sometimes secondary for those serving in “high” positions.

The Traveler

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So now I am at the full circle in interest in your post and the contextual understanding and inspiration of loyal and obedient fathers and mothers - which is sometimes secondary for those serving in “high” positions.

The Traveler

Is there anything at all about my post that you would like to address? If there was, then I must have missed it.

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Good post, Volgadon. This should be an example to members to cautiously use the quotations of General Authorities when they attempt to quote other sources. And this is especially true with books written 1/2 century ago, when there was less review than there is today.

Elder McConkie was a powerful speaker and writer, and he may have been considered one of the key scholars of his day, but we now have many who are much better scholars in regards to scripture and ancient things. And we should defer to them for such issues. When it comes to testimony of Christ, then we should defer to Elder McConkie's timeless and marvelous witness of the Savior.

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Is there anything at all about my post that you would like to address? If there was, then I must have missed it.

Sorry - It touched mostly on the aproach of scholars that are disconnected from (real life) and the aproach of doctrine defined by involved individuals - the follow me and do as I do method of teaching. I am convinced that the ancient concept of master <==> desciple is the method G-d uses as opposed to very smart expert (scholar) aproach to doctrine so popular today.

The Traveler

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To me, eternal marriage just seems like common sense. The Bible says whatsoever God binds let man not put asunder. If a marriage is ordained and bound by God how can death break what God binds? That would be saying death has power over God.

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And yet, for many LDS, Jesus the Christ is the work for studying the life and times of the Savior.

Sure it is. And that's because it was the main book on Christ for LDS for decades. Yet, there are mistakes in it. Elder Talmage got much of his information for the work from the book "Life of Christ" by Farrar, and then added an LDS twist to it. But both books are very dated.

For example, in Jesus the Christ, Elder Talmage states that D&C 20:1 tells us that Jesus was born April 6, 1BC. Well with the new study on the Joseph Smith Papers, we now know that verse 1 of D&C 20 was not part of the revelation, but was a heading by the scribe. So, perhaps we've spent a century thinking Christ was born on a specific date, only now to find out it was in error.

While it still is a good resource, there are much better ones available now. For this purpose it is time to replace Mormon Doctrine with newer books available by Church leaders and scholars. It has good stuff, but the older it gets the more out of touch with current doctrine and understanding it becomes.

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Sure it is. And that's because it was the main book on Christ for LDS for decades. Yet, there are mistakes in it. Elder Talmage got much of his information for the work from the book "Life of Christ" by Farrar, and then added an LDS twist to it. But both books are very dated.

For example, in Jesus the Christ, Elder Talmage states that D&C 20:1 tells us that Jesus was born April 6, 1BC. Well with the new study on the Joseph Smith Papers, we now know that verse 1 of D&C 20 was not part of the revelation, but was a heading by the scribe. So, perhaps we've spent a century thinking Christ was born on a specific date, only now to find out it was in error.

While it still is a good resource, there are much better ones available now. For this purpose it is time to replace Mormon Doctrine with newer books available by Church leaders and scholars. It has good stuff, but the older it gets the more out of touch with current doctrine and understanding it becomes.

I don't consider myself a scholar, just someone who loves to learn and study. What are some of the better LDS books out there that I should add to my personal library?

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Although he is dead now, I would recommend Elder Neal Maxwell's books on Christ, etc, as a beginning.

I would also recommend some of the scholarly books recently out by BYU professors and others on Christ.

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Sorry - It touched mostly on the aproach of scholars that are disconnected from (real life) and the aproach of doctrine defined by involved individuals - the follow me and do as I do method of teaching. I am convinced that the ancient concept of master <==> desciple is the method G-d uses as opposed to very smart expert (scholar) aproach to doctrine so popular today.

The Traveler

Whatever. I'm not going to derail my own thread by responding any further to your usual anti-scholarship rants.

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To me, eternal marriage just seems like common sense. The Bible says whatsoever God binds let man not put asunder. If a marriage is ordained and bound by God how can death break what God binds? That would be saying death has power over God.

The question would be for what duration did God bind it. A lot also has to do with what you consider the purpose of marriage. We LDS tend to approach it from the POV of temple sealings whereas the sources quoted approached it from the POV of sex and childbirth. If those things are superfluous in heaven then so is marriage.

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Sorry - It touched mostly on the aproach of scholars that are disconnected from (real life) and the aproach of doctrine defined by involved individuals - the follow me and do as I do method of teaching. I am convinced that the ancient concept of master <==> desciple is the method G-d uses as opposed to very smart expert (scholar) aproach to doctrine so popular today.

The Traveler

You are welcome to your opinion. That is one of many methods. Although, just be aware that it is not the only "ancient" method used. Anciently, the master WAS the scholar. Greeks had many schools of thought, based upon the master/disciple paradigm. So did the Jews. John the Baptist had follower disciples, for example. Many did not want to leave him to follow Christ. Of course, Paul was also raised in the master/disciple paradigm under Gamaliel. How did that work for him as he held the robes of those stoning Stephen, do you think?

Just because something is old, does not mean it is the best. They used horses and camels for transportation. Shall we abandon cars and jets, just so we can follow the ancient method?

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