We are pleased to announce the Third Annual BYU New Testament Commentary Conference, which will be held on Friday, July 31, 2015, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in the Hinckley Alumni Center at BYU. This conference is free and open to the public. The next e-book to appear in the BYU New Testament Commentary series will be Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, by Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes, due out just before the conference. The theme of the conference is “Love Never Fails: The Latter-day Saint Affinity towards 1 Corinthians.” First Corinthians has long held a prominent place in LDS thought, culture, and practice. It is the source of the Relief Society motto, Charity Never Faileth; and Paul’s discourse on the gifts of the spirit stands behind Article of Faith 7.
Featured speakers this year include Craig Blomberg, Kevin Barney, and Julie M. Smith. Craig Blomberg is Distinguished Professor of New Testament at the Denver Seminary and co-author of How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation. Kevin Barney practices public finance law in Chicago and is a scholar of Mormon history and scripture. Julie Smith holds a master’s degree in biblical studies from the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley and is the author of several published works.
Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes will lead a panel discussion about their commentary on 1 Corinthians as well as respond to questions from the audience.
We are happy to announce that the first printed volume of the New Testament Commentary is now available. The Testimony of Luke, by S. Kent Brown, hard cover, is available for $29.95 plus shipping by ordering on the BYU Studies website. It will soon be available through LDS bookstores and Amazon. For more on this book, including sample pages, see this page. The book appeared as an ebook in 2014 and is available here. Several posts on this website by Dr. Brown are excerpted from this book; find them by searching “S. Kent Brown.” Dr. Brown’s love for and knowledge of the scriptures shines through every one of the 1,200 pages.
Giving praise about The Testimony of Luke, Camille Fronk Olson of BYU writes, “S. Kent Brown combines a lifetime of dedicated study of the ancient world with his reverence for the Bible and insights from restoration scripture to create a readable, relevant, and thought-provoking commentary of the Gospel according to Luke. Beautifully written with a unique sensitivity toward Jesus’ focus on family relationships, the sanctity of the home, and the dangers of materialism, this book invites a fresh view of the Savior’s ministry for a modern world.” Richard Neitzel Holzapfel writes, “S. Kent Brown has produced the most important LDS commentary on Luke’s Gospel to date. This is his magnum opus, and a reader will be transported to the world of the New Testament to hear Jesus Christ’s voice as he ministered among the people.”
Good Friday is observed with great solemnity in some Christian traditions. While not marked as a holiday as such in the LDS community, Good Friday can be a tender and reflective time for individuals and families to pause and consider how Jesus, as our great high priest, offered himself as a sacrifice for us: “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12). Understanding how and why he died makes the miracle of his resurrection on Easter morning all the more glorious and joyous.
Customarily, the day Jesus died on the cross is called “Good Friday” in English, either because it is a “holy” Friday, or, more likely, because in English “good” is often an archaic expression for “God.” For instance, “goodbye” means “go with God.” Accordingly, the Friday before Easter is “God’s Friday” because this day saw the
Garden Tomb stone
culmination of God’s efforts to reconcile the world to himself through the death of his Son. The apostle Paul described it this way:
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. (Romans 5:8–12). Continue reading →
By Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes. This is the seventh in a series of articles extracted and edited from The Revelation of John the Apostle, volume fourteen in the Brigham Young University New Testament Commentary Series.
The real horror of the last days is not the locusts with their vicious scorpion tails or the horseman and their deadly mounts so vividly described in Revelation chapter 9. It is that there will be men and women who will live through the evil day and not be humbled, who will continue to cling to their gold and silver as though these lifeless and powerless things were gods. Thus, these people practice the most blatant form of idolatry—knowing the impotence of the works of their hands coupled with a refusal to admit their error and turn to the truth (Rev. 9:20-21).
And all this will “be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ” (D&C 77:13). The Second Coming does not usher in the millennial era. The woes pronounced by the trumpets in Revelation chapter 8 and 9 do. Let us emphasize, Christ will not appear in glory as the millennial day dawns. Instead, Satan’s inferno-created sadistic hoards and their murderous horses will (v. 18).
How long after the millennium begins will it take for the Lord to come? At the present time, “the hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes” (D&C 49:7), but it will likely be sometime after the seventh seal is opened. During these last days, the faithful of God are to watch and wait, taking the time to fully prepare for what is to come. Continue reading →
Somewhere near the Gentile town of Caesarea Philippi, close to the base of Mount Hermon, Jesus speaks words to Peter, his chief apostle, that find no correspondence in ancient scripture: “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19). (Outside of scripture, Michael the Archangel appears as keyholder; see 3 Baruch 11:2 and 4 Baruch 9:5). The question arises, What is Jesus promising to Peter? What are these keys? Latter-day Saints usually think of keys as the divinely bestowed, authorizing powers that allow a priesthood holder to exercise priesthood authority when performing an ordinance such as a setting apart, or a baptism, or a sealing in a temple. Resting beside this LDS understanding of such priesthood and temple keys are patterns that illuminate how people in the New Testament world may have understood the nature of Peter’s keys. It will become clear that the promised keys bear links to “the gates of hell,” to the next world, and to a greater knowledge of God.
To begin, we first turn to Isaiah’s record that offers the one instance of an Old Testament person receiving keys. A man named Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, is called by the Lord through Isaiah his prophet to serve as the royal treasurer. In intriguing language, the Lord hands the duty to Eliakim with the words, “the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open” (Isaiah 22:22). It appears that, among his duties, this man is to hold the key to the main door of the palace, part of his responsibility “over the [royal] house” (Isaiah 22:15). Continue reading →
Save the date for Friday, July 31, 2015, for the next BYU New Testament Commentary conference. The conference will be held on the BYU campus in Provo, Utah. The topic of this year’s conference is 1 Corinthians. The commentary on that book has been written by Michael Rhodes and Richard Draper and is under review by the committee. The conference will include a variety of presentations and discussions about this forthcoming volume in the commentary series and about Corinth, Paul, and LDS biblical studies in general. Anyone interested in New Testament studies will find this conference very helpful. The conference is free and open to the public. The schedule of speakers will be announced soon. Note: this date is a change from the previously announced date of May 13, 2015.
Only Luke tells the story of the widow of Nain, whose son Jesus revived even as his body was being taken to its burial (Luke 7:11–17). Placed after the healing of the centurion’s son and before the calming of the storm, this story may have been the first instance of Jesus’ raising someone from the dead (see “List of the Miracles of Jesus” in the Appendix). According to the Lucan account, Jesus approached the city of Nain in Galilee, accompanied by a large following of disciples and others. The site of ancient Nain, is now occupied by the Arab village of Na`in some four miles southeast of Nazareth. The town has a beautiful view of the Jezreel Valley, which might have given it its name, meaning “lovely” or “charming.” At the gate of this town Jesus met the funeral procession of the young man, described as “the only son (Greek, monogenēs huios) of his mother, and she was a widow” (Luke 7:12, emphasis added). Moved with compassion, Jesus told the bereft mother not to weep, reached out and touched the funeral bier, and called upon the young man, saying, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise (Greek, egerthēti)” (Luke 7:14, emphasis added). Immediately the young man sat up alive and began to speak. Continue reading →
In a culture and time period that were so male-centric, the attention that Jesus paid to women was noteworthy. All four of the gospels, and especially Luke, contain stories of Jesus healing women, teaching them, including them in his parables, and even allowing them to become part of his ministry. In addition to three individual stories about Jesus healing women, Luke also includes a summary that notes how Jesus was accompanied in his Galilean ministry by a group of women “which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities,” including Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, “and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance” (Luke 8:2–3). All this is particularly striking in the cultural context of the gospels, in which Jewish men would be wary of interaction and especially any kind of physical contact with women to whom they were not related. The fact that none of these women are directly named allows them to serve as types of all women whom Jesus invites to come to him and be healed. Continue reading →