Should the Old Testament be treated like the Apocrapha?


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I started reading the Old Testament at about the beginning of the year, and had to stop for a while about a month ago half way through Leviticus because I hadn't felt the spirit with anything I was reading for weeks. I just picked it back up again and feel the same way.

I have read several Apocraphal books or parts of books, some of which I feel the spirit strongly about and some that I either don't feel anything at all or a bad feeling that the text has been manipulated or inspired by false spirits. The sad thing is that I don't feel any different about many of the parts of the Old Testament than I do about the apocrapha. Some parts feel right, some wrong, and some I feel nothing on which makes me feel like I'm wasting my time reading them.

“Speaking of the Apocrypha the Lord says: ‘There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly; There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men. Verily, I say unto you, that it is not needful that the Apocrypha should be translated. Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth; And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom; And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited. Therefore it is not needful that it should be translated.’ (D. & C. 91.) . . .

I basically feel the same way about many parts of the Old Testament.

Am I off base? Reading the OT makes me question if I even know/understand God at all, because he's so vastly different in the OT than in the New Testament, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. I have several different ways of rationalizing God treating people differently in parts of the OT than he does now, but I don't know if that's a correct way to look at it, or if its more correct to say that much of what's contained in the the OT (cultural practices, punishments, incredibally detailed rituals, etc...) is the philosophies of men mingled with divine inspiration.

Some books are full of inspiration and wisdom, and some seem to be filled with almost the opposite. I really hate feeling that way about some of the books and I'm just trying to get some insights into what I'm missing.

Thoughts?

As soon as it is determined that the Old Testament has lost its doctrinal value regarding the Atonement of Christ, then yes, we should let it go. Until then, nothing of value within its pages will be correctly discarded as useless.

Everyone has difficulty with some part of the scriptures in one way or another. One such common examples is the war chapters in the Book of Mormon. Whatever our scriptures contain, God has had them put there for a reason.

Our duty ought to be learning everything we can from what God has revealed to us, not attempting to edit what he has given us and throw away what we don't understand. If we seek to discard the light and truth we don't understand, how can we expect to recieve more from his hand?

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I must say this thread has been very interesting to read and I am impressed by how Mikbone and Selek were able to have a discussion and not what I would term an argument.

By what I have read here and what I understand it would seem that the only reason Jesus came to earth was to accomplish the atonement and the resurrection and to serve us and other than that He gained nothing by being mortal. With what limited logic and understanding I have I would like to think Jesus got something out of it beyond that but perhaps that is what adds to all he did for us. He didn't have to do it to be a god. He did it for us. He did do it to get his body.

As for the old testament. I've read it more than once and find many portions of it difficult to understand, however I would not consider it should be like the apocrypha. The apocrypha is not scripture for a reason just like the old testament is scripture for a reason. The old testament is correct enough to be considered scripture and the apocrypha is not.

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For what it is worth. The Hinckley response that you quoted is of questionable value.

I want to explore this just a bit, especially in light of the marginally subtle crack about Latter-day Saints who would "disregard Joseph's last conference talk".

As stated, we do not disregard the talk, we simply acknowledge the limitations and questions surrounding the surviving record.

Yet here you are explicitly questioning, if not flatly rejecting, the acknowledged and accurately recorded words of a Prophet of God.

Other than that you don't agree with them as they apply to the KFD, upon what basis do you find President Hinckley's statement "questionable"?

Are they inaccurately recorded?

Were they altered or redacted to give a false impression or an erroneous conclusion?

Was President Hinckley drunk at the time he spoke them?

It is- and has been- the position of the Church that the KFD contains a number of truths, but is also of questionable provenance.

As such it is neither taught within the Church, nor considered doctrine.

President Hinckley's answer and his extended commentary (both of which you cited) are perfectly in keeping with that position.

So upon what basis then, do you presume to reject his words as "of questionable value"?

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Other than that you don't agree with them as they apply to the KFD, upon what basis do you find President Hinckley's statement "questionable"?

Are they inaccurately recorded?

Were they altered or redacted to give a false impression or an erroneous conclusion?

Was President Hinckley drunk at the time he spoke them?

So upon what basis then, do you presume to reject his words as "of questionable value"?

The question posed by the gentile was concerning the Lorenzo Snow couplet not the KFD.

I do believe that the words that President Hinckley responded were accurately recorded. But that does not mean that President Hinckley's response to the gentile can be taken at face value. If President Hinckley had been asked to recite the temple narrative during the PBS news hour, I am sure that he could have - but that he would not have. I believe that President Hinckley's response was a resonable answer based on the setting. No doubt If you or I had the opportunity to ask that same question in the Celestial Room the response would have been different. I would say that President Hinckley's respone was a wise commentary in light of scriptures such as (Matthew 7:6).

I'll re-post the commentary that President Hinckley gave in general conference.

“The media have been kind and generous to us. This past year of pioneer celebrations has resulted in very extensive, favorable press coverage. There have been a few things we wish might have been different. I personally have been much quoted, and in a few instances misquoted and misunderstood. I think that’s to be expected. None of you need worry because you read something that was incompletely reported. You need not worry that I do not understand some matters of doctrine. I think I understand them thoroughly, and it is unfortunate that the reporting may not make this clear. I hope you will never look to the public press as the authority on the doctrines of the Church.”

I believe that President Hinckley is a very special witness of Christ. I believe that our Prophet knew details about the Plan of Salvation that few others are allowed to witness. I believe that President Hinckley understands the Lorenzo Snow couplet as well as the KFD thoroughly.

I also found it interesting that the Prophet asked us not to look to the public press for issues concerning doctrine. Yet this public press commentary is repeated as if it were doctrine in many circles.

I don't mean to single you out. Many others have done the same thing.

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I want to explore this just a bit, especially in light of the marginally subtle crack about Latter-day Saints who would "disregard Joseph's last conference talk".

As stated, we do not disregard the talk, we simply acknowledge the limitations and questions surrounding the surviving record.

It is- and has been- the position of the Church that the KFD contains a number of truths, but is also of questionable provenance.

As such it is neither taught within the Church, nor considered doctrine.

Portions of the KFD have been taught within the Chruch many times. For example

Publication History

Before the end of 1844, the King Follett Discourse had been published

at least three times, attesting to the impact it had on the Saints. It first

appeared in the Times and Seasons of 15 August 1844. During the fall of 1844,

it came out in print in the Millennial Star and in a publication by John

Taylor called the Voice of Truth. The sermon was published at least five

more times before 1900, appearing in the Zion’s Watchman, the Deseret

(Weekly) News, the Journal of Discourses, in a revised form in the Millennial

Star in 1861, and in an 1883 Contributor, the official publication of

the MIA.

Interestingly, the King Follett Discourse has been published more times

in this century than in the previous one. Since 1900 it has appeared in at

least eleven different publications: the Improvement Era in 1909, in a pamphlet

published privately by Magazine Printing Company in 1913 and later

editions, in two privately printed editions with no specific dates, in Teachings

of the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1938, in a German translation printed in

Switzerland in 1943, in the Liahona in 1945, in the Discourses of the

Prophet Joseph Smith, Messages of the First Presidency, and the LDS Reference

Encyclopedia (all printed in 1965), and most recently in the Ensign,

April and May 1971.

https://byustudies.byu.edu/PDFLibrary/18.2CannonKingFollett-8e1d9165-52f1-4e4a-9950-d55c4d2f701b.pdf

About the actual recording:

Official Recorders

As Joseph Smith spoke, three men made official notes: Thomas Bullock,

William Clayton, and Willard Richards. Wilford Woodruff also took notes

for his journal. These men, experienced in note-taking, often recorded

sermons given by Church authorities. While all of them recorded the King

Follett Discourse, their notes and methods of note-taking differed greatly.

Thomas Bullock, perhaps the least known in our day of the four recorders,

served with distinction in his native England as a law clerk, a position for

which he had received formal training. He also served as an officer of excise

(clerk of customs) under Queen Victoria. Recognizing the clerical talents

of the newly-arrived English Saint, Joseph appointed Bullock as his personal

clerk in October of 1843. Other clerical duties he filled during his residence

in Nauvoo included clerk of conferences of the Church, secretary of

the courts-martial for the Nauvoo Legion, clerk assigned to write brief synopses

of sermons given by the Prophet, and clerk for the “Maid of Iowa”, an

LDS-owned vessel on the Mississippi. His official conference minutes were

by far the most nearly complete made on the King Follett Discourse.

William Clayton, another recorder, also served as a private secretary

to Joseph Smith. According to one biographer, Clayton “received a good

common-school education” and was “a clear writer” with a “love for order.”

The popularity and versatility of his missionary and pioneer journals bear

witness of his ability as a recorder of historical events.

The third clerk, Willard Richards, served the Prophet Joseph Smith as

“private secretary” and historian. In that position, he kept Joseph Smith’s

daily journal for the years 1842–44, and recorded his summary of the King

Follett Discourse in that journal. Of Richards’ abilities as a scribe, Orson

Spencer wrote that he “was eminently gifted. He chronicled events, dates,

circumstances, and incidents with rare accuracy of judgment and rare

tenacity of memory.”

Wilford Woodruff, by far the best-known of the four recorders today,

had received no formal stenographic training, but had a strong desire to

write a history of the Church. Consequently, he recorded not only his own

activities, but also the sermons, teachings, and prophecies of Joseph Smith

and other Church leaders. He chose to record most of this material in his

personal journal, which has been characterized as “careful and painstaking.”

Woodruff developed a unique note-taking method which one writer

described in this manner:

He had a gift from God. It was this, that when he did not have pencil or

paper with him, he could, after hearing the Prophet Joseph Smith preach a

sermon, go home and write it word for word and sentence for sentence, but

after completing the writing . . . the sermon would pass from his mind, as

though he had never heard it.

Apparently on the day of the King Follett Discourse, Brother Woodruff

had “pencil and paper”, for he said that he wrote the sermon on the crown

of his hat, while standing in the congregation. At any rate, one realizes

that Wilford Woodruff, working either from memory or from brief notes,

habitually made a summary in his journal of the discourses he heard.

Other people attending the conference kept brief notes on the sermon, but

the current published version of the King Follett Discourse was constructed

from the notes of Woodruff, Richards, Clayton, and Bullock.

https://byustudies.byu.edu/PDFLibrary/18.2CannonKingFollett-8e1d9165-52f1-4e4a-9950-d55c4d2f701b.pdf

Samuel W. Richards and George Laub also made records of the KFD but these records appear to be recollections, months to years after the event.

There are a couple of reasons why I like to study the KFD

1) We are to study and understand the character and nature of God. Take for example Lecture Three from the Lectures on Faith. I know that this document is not doctrine but it speaks for itself.

Let us here observe that three things are necessary for any rational and intelligent being to exercise faith in God unto life and salvation. First, the idea that he actually exists; Secondly, a correct idea of his character, perfections, and attributes; Thirdly, an actual knowledge that the course of life which one is pursuing is according to His will. For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive. But with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

2) Although the KFD records / recordings were neither recorded word for word nor corrected and approved by Joseph. The 6 versions of the account agree for the most part. If one is to look at the recordings as found in: April 7, 1844 One might see a similarity between this format and that which is found within LDS Bible Dictionary Gospels, Harmony of section. The beauty of this type of study is that one can recognize that separate individuals who listened to the same talk were able to make very similar recordings and commentary. The record that we have is a testimony of 6 individuals. If we only had a single man's version of the account one could easily dismiss the recording. If the different talks had little to do with each other we could also dismiss the accounts as a whole. But with so many different accounts relating the same doctrine it becomes easier to see the intent of Joseph Smith's s sermon.

3) Finally, the material presented within the KFD is profound. Joseph Smith (in my mind at least) is a very important individual. It is probable that Joseph Smith was an Arch-Angel during our pre-mortal existence. Joseph Smith is the leader of this dispensation. Joseph Smith spoke with God and many angels on many, many occasions and I suspect that there were more accounts wherein Joseph Smith had sacred revelations given to him that we are not privy to.

I am not familiar with any authoritative figure ever stating that the KFD was of questionable provenance. No doubt without proper study and interpretation one could come to conclusions that are incorrect. But if one is to read and study the material with understanding enlightened by the spirit benefit may be obtained. It is from this stand point that I recommend that the KFD be studied.

And ultimately, the material was able to answer MANY personal questions that I had concerning our ultimate destiny and relationship to God. When I read the material in a small town in southern Chile many years ago, it opened my mind to understanding that I had searched for and not encountered previously. I have tested the concepts over the years and they still hold true.

Edited by mikbone
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During mortality Jesus Christ was subject to the same conditions as we were. He learned wisdom while in mortality, like we do. He experienced mortality like all experience the general conditions of mortality.

"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man" (Luke 2:52).

Regards,

Finrock

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We tend to think of the creation as the seven days discussed in Genesis. I believe that God dealt with man in the ages leading up to Christ's ministry differently than after because he was still in the active phase of the creation. We known from the flood that he decided the work needed a complete "reset" at least once (perhaps in part because of the nephilim, there was a danger that a fair number of people walking the earth wouldn't even be human). In any event the OT describes those ages when God was very active in shaping, controlling and managing his creation in a very direct way through prophets, miracles and the rare direct intervention (sodom, moses etc).

With the earthly ministry of Christ the creation phase ended, and this world became truly ours, to fully exercise both the agency and dominion of man.

I don't believe that God was different in the OT days, I believe that his work was different and his purpose was directed to making an ordered world, rather than in these latter days when he moves to restore the gospel to mankind. Thus the OT is important to us as a record of how god shaped us to be righteous, while the Book of Mormon and the NT express and shape our present relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

When our children are infants we manage their world to keep them safe and discipline is based on "because I said so". When our children our older we teach by example and discourse.

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There have been some really great comments on here and I appreciate the insights.

I don't believe that God is a changing God, or that any of Christ's attitudes or intentions have changed over time. I believe that he was perfect, lived perfect, and is now perfect. I also believe that he is no respecter of persons.

I don't question that the Old Testament is scripture. It definitely is. What I question is how much of the ideas of man, and the culture of man was written into the OT, both during the time it was being written and in later times when it very easily could have been corrupted by those with an agenda to distort the truth.

The situation was certainly different during the Old Testament times. Using Moses as an example: His people saw miracle after miracle and couldn't be obedient. I believe that there is greater condemnation to those that have seen signs and turned away from them, which might be justification for the actions of what seems to be a more "vengeful" God in the OT. We could apply the same philosophy to people during other times as well, but in the end it's just philosophy.

Another thought is whether the spirits that were born in that area at that time needed different tests and a different life experience than the spirits that are living today. Maybe those spirits only responded well when God became angry with them.

You'd have a much easier time convincing me that the people, or spirits were different, than to convince me that God was different during that time.

Although my original question asks if the OT should be regarded the way we regard the Apocrypha, the root of my question is this:

Why does it seem like God was less loving and more vengeful in the Old Testament? Were the people just different in the Old Testament times, or are some of the things that are written in the Old Testament just the philosophies of men and Jewish cultural norms mingled with scripture?

I certainly believe that the OT is scripture. I just wonder if it's all correct, or if we need to use the spirit to discern between the ideas of man and what was really given by God. Or was it all truly given by God as most Christians believe. I'd like to believe that, but there are parts of the OT that make that fairly difficult. :)

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Brother, another thing you may wish to consider is this - many of the stories in the OT are there to tell us what NOT to do, not what to do. David was made King through the intervention of God, this does not mean that coveting another man's wife (and getting him killed in action to have a shot at the widow) is living trhe gospel, it is the opposite. God's mercy is shown in his ultimate forgiveness and David's redemption. Even the chosen of God fail, give in to temptation and need redemption in Christ.

An old saw says history is written by the victor, in ancient times we might say it is written by the survivor. Much of what we view as harsh and cruel in God in the OT is what was written by those who suffered his chastisement. Through those two lenses the nature of God, even in the OT, is very different. Like the stories in the Book of Mormon, God dealt with mankind in joy and blessings when they were righteous and with correction when they failed.

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