11 October 2014

Temple on Mount Zion (TMZ II) Conference in two weeks!

As a reminder, on 25 October the second Temple on Mount Zion Conference will be held. Jeff will be giving a presentation entitled "What Did Joseph Smith Know about the LDS Endowment by 1836?" at 9:00am.

251 TNRB (Tanner Building)
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT
This conference will be from 8:45am to 5:30pm, and is free and open to the public. For more information about the second Temple on Mount Zion Conference, go here.

19 August 2014

Temas del templo en el juramento y el convenio del sacerdocio

We're excited to announce that the Spanish edition of Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood, titled Temas del templo en el juramento y el convenio del sacerdocio, is ready for publication!

Daniel Plata, a member of the Church from Buenos Aires, Argentina, kindly volunteered to do a Spanish translation of the book, and did a masterful job – correcting some errors in the English edition and even updating the citations to refer to Spanish equivalents of English publications when available. He stated his hope that: "With the blessing of Heaven this book will be a great inspiration for all Spanish readers." Eduardo Aragon and Ronald Ross assisted with reviews of some parts of the translation.

Daniel Plata

16 August 2014

Reminder: BYU Education Week is THIS week!

Don't forget to register for Education Week! Jeff will be giving an afternoon class from Tuesday through Friday:

"The Creation, the Fall, and the Lives of Adam and Eve"
Date: 19-22 August 2014, 12:30 PM-1:25 PM
Place: 206 Martin Building (MARB) (map)
Advance Registration Required
  • Tuesday: The Vision of Moses as a Heavenly Ascent
  • Wednesday: Creation and Eden as Models of Temple Architecture
  • Thursday: The Fall: God's Wisdom Prevails Over Satan's Deception
  • Friday: Adam, Eve, and the New and Everlasting Covenant
  • Feel free to contact Jeff if you have any questions/insights as to the material that will be (or, after you attend, has) been covered!

    17 July 2014

    Eborn Books Author Presentation

    One of Jeff's presentations has been bumped up to early August, so update your calendars:

    Eborn Books Author Presentation

    Title: "What Did Joseph Smith Know about the LDS Temple Endowment by 1836?"
    Date: 8 August 2014, 7:00 PM
    Place: 254 S. Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84101 (map)

    16 July 2014

    BYU Education Week and more!

    Jeff will be back next month for BYU's Education Week! Be sure to register now to take advantage of the early registration prices. "The Creation, the Fall, and the Lives of Adam and Eve"

    Date: 19-22 August 2014, 12:30 PM-1:25 PM
    Place: 206 Martin Building (MARB) (map)
    Advance Registration Required
  • Tuesday: The Vision of Moses as a Heavenly Ascent
  • Wednesday: Creation and Eden as Models of Temple Architecture
  • Thursday: The Fall: God's Wisdom Prevails Over Satan's Deception
  • Friday: Adam, Eve, and the New and Everlasting Covenant
  • For more information on BYU Campus Education Week, visit the official page by clicking here. The full event schedule can be found here.

    Also, note the following dates on your calendar:

    Eborn Books Author Presentation

    Title: "What Did Joseph Smith Know about the LDS Temple Endowment by 1836?"
    Date: TBD
    Place: 254 S. Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84101 (map)

    Temple Symposium

    Title: "Was the LDS Temple Endowment a Late Development of the Nauvoo Period?"
    Date: 25 October 2014
    Place: BYU (details forthcoming)

    26 June 2014

    New editions!

    Jeff Bradshaw has released updated editions of three of his books:
    • In God's Image and Likeness 1 (2014 edition)
      The 2014 edition contains corrections and updates throughout. The black and white figures in the pdf version have been replaced by color. The four-volume 8x10 inch softcover edition has been replaced by a two-volume full-size 8 1/2 x 11 softcover edition.
    • Temple Themes in the Book of Moses (2014 edition)
      The 2014 edition has been expanded from 198 to 220 pages, with corrections and updates throughout and the addition of two appendices: 1) Paul on Women's Veiling of the Face in Prayer, and 2) Covenants vs. Contracts.
    • Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood (2014 edition)
      The 2014 edition has been expanded from 380 to 423 pages, with corrections and updates throughout. The appendix "Questions about Genesis and the Book of Moses" has additional material relating to questions about the documentary hypothesis, the historicity of the Old Testament, whether or not the Book of Moses can be appropriately characterized as "inspired pseudepigrapha," and whether or not it can be safely concluded that Moses chapters 1, 6, and 7 have no basis in antiquity.
    Those that purchased the PDFs of previous editions are eligible to download the updated PDF(s); just download using the link you received at the time of the original purchase, or contact Jeff directly if you can't find it or have any troubles downloading. Clarification: For those wondering, both the print editions and PDFs of the above books have been updated.

    26 March 2014

    Book Signings Next Week!

    Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen, co-authors of In God's Image and Likeness 2: Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel, will be doing book signings in Provo (4 April) and Salt Lake (5 and 7 April)! Below are the locations and times:
    April 4 - 1PM-3PM - BYU Bookstore

    Wilkinson Student Center (WSC)
    Brigham Young University
    University Hill,
    Provo, Utah 84602
    Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen will be available.
    April 5 - 4PM-5PM - Eborn Books

    254 S. Main Street
    Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
    Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen will be available.
    April 7 - Noon-1PM - Benchmark Books

    3269 S. Main Street
    Suite 250
    Salt Lake City, Utah 84115
    Jeffrey M. Bradshaw will be available.
    Both Jeff and David would love to see you and discuss their insights with you, as well as sign your books.

    15 March 2014

    In God's Image and Likeness 1: Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve

    A new two-volume softcover printing of IGIL 1 is now available on Amazon, with a slightly different title: In God's Image and Likeness 1: Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. This edition can be purchased here. The content has been updated in several places and the formatting has been refined, while keeping the page numbers consistent with the hardcover edition. Unlike the previous four-volume softcover edition, the page numbering is continuous from vol. 1 to vol. 2. It is also full size (8.5" x 11") rather than reduced size (8" x 10"). The retail price for the two-volume set is $59.95.

    While the softcover editions are black and white only due to publishing constraints, the IGIL 1 PDF has been updated to the latest content, along with a full color interior. Those that purchased the previous edition are eligible for this updated PDF; just download using the link you received at the time of the original purchase, or contact Jeff directly if you can't find it or have any troubles downloading.

    01 March 2014

    In God's Image and Likeness 2 Now Available!

    The first edition of Jeff Bradshaw and David Larsen's book, In God's Image and Likeness 2: Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel, is now available! The beautiful hardcover book wraps up the final chapters and stories of the Book of Moses and continues through the end of Genesis 11. Read more about the book here, or head straight over to the excerpts page to see a chapter on the Tower of Babel and more.

    Visit either of the following stores to order your copy now: A digital version of the book in PDF, for use on computers and tablets, is also available for those that have purchased the hardcover book. It is formatted identically to the paper version of the book and includes bookmarks and live hyperlink cross-references throughout. The PDF can be purchased here using PayPal (please include the date and purchase of your hardcover book in the Special Instructions section).

    28 February 2014

    Tower of Babel: What did it really mean to “Confound Their Language”?

    The figure above is by the famous Dutch engraver, M. C. Escher. “Although Escher dismissed his works before 1935 as of little or no value as they were ‘for the most part merely practice exercises,’ some of them, including the Tower of Babel, chart the development of his interest in perspective and unusual viewpoints that would become the hallmarks of his later, more famous, work. In contrast to many other depictions of the biblical story, … Escher depicts the tower as a geometrical structure and places the viewpoint above the tower. This allows him to exercise his skill with perspective, but he also chose to center the picture around the top of the tower as the focus for the climax of the action.” Escher later commented on the drawing as follows: “Some of the builders are white and others black. The work is at a standstill … Seeing as the climax of the drama takes place at the summit of the tower which is under construction, the building has been shown from above as though from a bird’s eye view.”

    This article will discuss four questions relating to the Lord’s statement of intention for the Babylonian builders: “Let us … confound their language”:

    • Does the Jaredite Record Give Us Independent Confirmation for the Babel Story?
    • Does Historical Linguistics Support the Splitting of an Original Language at Babel?
    • Was God More Concerned about the Confounding of Language or the Confounding of Peoples?
    • Could There Have Been a “Confounding” of Language at Babel?
    Does the Jaredite Record Give Us Independent Confirmation for the Babel Story?

    The answer to this question is “no.”

    The first chapter of the book of Ether describes the origins of the Jaredites at the time of “the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people and swore in his wrath that they should be scattered upon all the face of the earth; and according to the word of the Lord the people were scattered.” This and related references have encouraged LDS scholars seeking independent evidence from the Book of Mormon for the biblical story. However, in his lucid commentary on the Book of Mormon, Brant Gardner cautions that things are not so simple as they seem.

    He reminds us that Mosiah only summarized, but did not actually translate the “first part” of the record of the Jaredites that spoke of “the creation of the world, and also of Adam, and an account from that time even to the great tower.” Thus, it is unlikely that the passing references to that early history we have in the Book of Mormon are based on the Jaredite record. Rather, it is more probable that they have been carried over by Moroni into the book of Ether from what he had learned previously in his study of the brass plates. Specifically, he argues that “the material being translated and Mosiah’s understanding of the [biblical story of the Tower of Babel] had enough resemblances that Mosiah shaped the Jaredites’ original story to match the brass plates’ story at a crucial point” — namely the description of how the language of the builders was confounded. Continuing, he explains:


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    Tower of Babel: The Scattering at Babel and Gathering of the Last Days

    This lonely scene comes from Old Al ‘Ula, an abandoned town in Saudi Arabia. The stairs of the castle from which this photograph was taken go back 2600 years. The town once consisted of more than 800 two-story houses with lanes passing in front of them. The first story of the house was for guests and storage; the second story was for the living area. The attachment of each house to the others provided fortification against enemies. Gates that opened in the morning and closed at night protected the two narrow lanes (less than two meters wide) that penetrated the town’s interior.

    Closer to home, Detroit, Michigan has seen a significant outmigration of its inhabitants. “A city of 1.8 million in 1950, it is now home to 700,000 people, as well as to tens of thousands of abandoned buildings, vacant lots and unlit streets .… About 40 percent of the city’s streetlights do not work … More than half of Detroit’s parks have closed since 2008.” The causes for the city’s decline are many and varied and the subject of heated debate. However some see the trend in Detroit as a portent of the future for other cities in America.

    There are regions within the developed world that expect to witness a dramatic population decline in the coming decades as a result of low fertility rates. In one of the most striking examples, “the Japanese Health Ministry estimates the nation’s total population will fall by 25% from 127.8 million in 2005, to 95.2 million by 2050.” Complicating the situation, low mortality rates are expected to lead to a significantly greater proportion of older citizens: “Japan’s elderly population, aged 65 or older, comprised 20% of the nation’s population in June 2006, a percentage that is forecast to increase to 38% by 2055.”

    Neither the Bible nor the Book of Mormon attributes the scattering of the people to the confusion of tongues. In Genesis, no explicit cause and effect is described — we are told only that “from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” Likewise, as Nibley describes:
    After the brother of Jared had been assured that he and his people and their language would not be confounded, the question of whether they would be driven out of the land still remained to be answered: That was another issue, and it is obvious that the language they spoke had as little to do with driving them out of the land as it did with determining their destination.

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    27 February 2014

    Tower of Babel Part 3: “Let Us Make Us a Name”

    No one in history has wanted to make a name for himself more than Ferdinand Cheval.

    Cheval was a postman who lived in Hauterives, France. He began the building shown above in April 1879, claiming “that he had tripped on a stone and was inspired by its shape. He returned to the same spot the next day and started collecting stones. For the next thirty-three years, Cheval picked up stones during his daily mail round and carried them home to build the Palais Idéal … He often worked at night, by the light of an oil lamp.” Wrote Cheval: “There was no notion of time anymore when the mail delivery was completed. I could have devoted my free time to hunting, fishing, billiards, or cards — there were plenty of pastimes possible. But I preferred above all the achievement of my Dream. It cost me 4,000 bags of lime and cement and my Monument represents 1,000 cubic meters of stonework — that is to say, 6,000 francs. But because of this, people tell me that my name will go down in history — that’s quite flattering!”

    The inscription at top left reads: “Work of one lone man.” Similar inscriptions, along with extracts from poetry and literature, surround the palace: “1879-1912: 10,000 days, 93,000 hours, 33 years of trials—may those more stubborn than me get to work,” ‘This marvel of which the author is proud will be unique in the universe,” “Work is my only glory; honor my only happiness,” “In creating this rock, I wanted to prove what will power could do,” “All that you see here is the work of a rustic.”

    Through his work on the palace, Cheval made himself a name. By the end of his life, it had been visited by thousands of people, including art-world luminaries like André Breton and Pablo Picasso. After Cheval’s death, a government report declared: “the whole monument is absolutely hideous. It is a pathetic pack of insanities muddled in a boor’s brain.” However in 1969, the French Ministry of Culture declared the palace a cultural landmark. In 1986, Cheval’s image was put on a French postage stamp. The bust of Cheval at top right was commissioned by the people of his town for the fiftieth anniversary of his death. It stands outside the post office — which now, ironically, has been shuttered.

    Leon Kass writes the following about the human impulse to make a name for oneself that motivated the project at Babel:


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    A Tower Model of the Babel Story

    Mario Larrinaga produced a commanding view of ancient Babylon. The subject of the painting is not the ziggurat temple tower of the city (silhouetted in the background) but rather the “Hanging Gardens of Babylon,” listed by classic Greek authors as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

    In the nine verses that make up the account of the Tower of Babel, we have “a short but brilliant example of Hebrew story telling.” To begin with, we marvel with J. P. Fokkelman at how little room the narrator had to do his job, yet he managed to keep “within the square meter. He who has something to say and must, speaking in terms of sound and time, do so in 121 words or two minutes, or, in terms of writing and space, within half a page of thirteen lines, is forced to confine himself.” Yet within this highly constrained setting, the author has created a literary masterpiece. Ingenious word and sound parallels between verses, “ironic linkages between sections and ideas,” and a beautiful economy of style are readily apparent to readers of Hebrew. In its original tongue “the prose turns language itself into a game of mirrors.” Addressing the meaning of this densely packed scripture gem, Everett Fox writes of how its general message of measure-for-measure allotment of divine action in direct response to human hubris “is transmitted by means of form”:
    The divine “Come-now!” of v. 7 clearly stands as an answer to humankind’s identical cry in vv. 3 and 4. In addition humans, who congregated in order to establish a “name” and to avoid being “scattered over the face of all the earth” (v. 4), are contravened by the action of God, resulting in the ironic name “Babble” and a subsequent “scattering” of humanity (v. 9). The text is thus another brilliant example of biblical justice, a statement about a worldview in which the laws of justice and morality are as neatly balanced as we like to think the laws of nature are.
    Many scholars have noted the obvious chiastic features of the story. For example, Ellen van Wolde explains her tower model of the Tower story that visually demonstrates how city of Babel is incrementally built up by men and taken down by God. A scriptural word-picture of this image is provided by Proverbs 11:11: “A city is built up (literally raised up) by the blessing of the upright, but it is torn down by the speech of the wicked.”


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    26 February 2014

    Building The Tower of Babel on a Mesopotamian Foundation

    With its intriguing imagery of a tower reaching to heaven and the fantastic tale of the confusion of languages, the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9 has fired the imaginations of readers, authors, and artists for thousands of years. One of the most famous depictions of the Tower of Babel is the one by Pieter Bruegel the Elder shown above. While it is not accurate from what we know of ancient archaeology, it is a beautiful example of how each generation of people has mapped the concerns and issues of its time onto the biblical story:
    Bruegel’s depiction of the architecture of the tower, with its numerous arches and other examples of Roman engineering, is deliberately reminiscent of the Roman Colosseum, which Christians of the time saw as both a symbol of hubris and persecution … The parallel of Rome and Babylon had a particular significance for Bruegel’s contemporaries: Rome was the Eternal City, intended by the Caesars to last for ever, and its decay and ruin were taken to symbolize the vanity and transience of earthly efforts. The Tower was also symbolic of the turmoil between the Catholic church (which at the time did services only in Latin) and the polyglot Lutheran Protestant religion of the Netherlands.”
    In addition to its universal lesson for humanity, the story mocks the power of the kingdom of Babylon, the modern name for the biblical Babel. “By portraying an unfinished tower, by dispersing the builders, and by in essence making fun of the mighty name of Babylon, the text functions effectively to repudiate the culture from which the people of Israel sprang (Abram’s ‘Ur’ of [Genesis] 11:28 was probably the great Mesopotamian metropolis).”

    While the account of Babel is valuable in its own right, we should not forget its important role as the final flourish in a prologue to the rest of Genesis and, indeed, to the primary history of the Old Testament. After the destruction of Babel, “God will abandon efforts to educate all of humankind all at once; instead, He will choose to advance His plan for human beings by working first with only one nation. After Babel, the Bible will turn directly to its main subject, the formation of the nation of Israel.” However, in God’s turning of attention to Israel the other nations will not be abandoned. Through Abraham, Israel will be commissioned to be the instrument through which God will bless all the nations of the earth. Working toward ultimate fulfillment of a glorious vision that dwarfs the self-serving pretensions of Babel, God will continue to carry out His objective to make of the whole earth “a temple-city filled with people who have a holy or priestly status.”


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    07 January 2014

    Science and the Book of Genesis Part 5

    Lesson Five: There Is More in These Chapters Than Meets the Eye

    The more I study the scriptures, the more I have learned to trust them. When I come to a puzzling verse, I do not automatically assume the passage is wrong, because there have been many times that further study has shown me that I was wrong in my initial assumptions or conclusions.

    I ran into such a problem when David Larsen and I were studying the call of Enoch in the book of Moses, a topic that had been explored insightfully by Stephen Ricks.

    Curiously, the closest biblical parallel to the wording of the opening verses of this passage is not to be found in the call of any Old Testament prophet but rather in the New Testament description of events following Jesus’ baptism. The detailed resemblances between Moses 6:26-27 and the accounts of the baptism of Jesus seemed an obvious case of borrowing from the Gospels by Joseph Smith. However, as I studied and prayed about the issue, as a result what I consider to be a process of inspiration, I came across an obscure article by Samuel Zinner. Zinner compares Hebrews 1:5-6 to passages relating to the father’s declaration of sonship at the baptism of Jesus in the Gospel of the Ebionites and the Gospel of the Hebrews. He also notes that the motifs of “rest” and “reigning” co-occur in these three texts as well as in the Coptic Gospel of Thomas. Finally, he argues for a “striking isomorphism” shared between 1 Enoch and the baptismal allusion in the Gospel of the Ebionites in a promise made by Enoch to the righteous: “and a bright light will shine upon you, and the voice of rest you will hear from heaven.”

    In light of these (and additional passages relating these themes to the personage of the “Son of Man”), Zinner argues that the ideas behind all these passages “arose in an Enochic matrix.” In other words, the words from Joseph Smith’s writings on Enoch that I thought had been derived from the New Testament were thought instead by Zinner to have originated in ancient Enoch traditions that eventually made their way into the New Testament. Hence, the unexpected parallel to Jesus’ baptism in the book of Moses account of the calling of Enoch — which in a cursory analysis might have been looked upon as an obvious anachronism — is a passage with plausible Enochic affinities and possible Enochic origins.

    More of a puzzle from a scientific perspective is the Tower of Babel story. On the one hand, the details of the Babylonian setting and construction techniques check out quite plausibly, even if the time frame for the story is difficult to pin down. On the other hand, in light of what is known about evolutionary linguistics the story of the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel seems patently ridiculous.


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    06 January 2014

    In God's Image and Likeness 2 Preorder Sale

    With estimated shipping in early February (next month), FairMormon is doing a discounted pre-sale on their site, linked here. The first edition of the book is hardcover and is anticipated to sell out quickly. You can see some excerpts of the new book here, and look over some of the advance reviews here. Visit either of the following stores to preorder your copy now: As always, feel free to contact Jeff with any insights or comments you might have!

    Science and the Book of Genesis Part 4

    Lesson Four: There Is a Deep Relationship Between Genesis 1-11 and the Liturgy and Layout of Temples

    The Latter-day Saints have four basic Creation stories. In contrast to versions of the Creation story that emphasize the planning process of the heavenly council or the work involved in setting the physical processes in motion, the companion accounts in Genesis and the book of Moses provide a structure and a vocabulary that seem deliberately designed to highlight temple themes.

    Louis Ginzberg’s reconstruction of ancient Jewish sources is consistent with this overall idea, as well as with the proposal that Genesis 1 may have been used as part of Israelite temple liturgy:
    God told the angels: On the first day of creation, I shall make the heavens and stretch them out; so will Israel raise up the tabernacle as the dwelling place of my Glory. On the second day I shall put a division between the terrestrial waters and the heavenly waters, so will [my servant Moses] hang up a veil in the tabernacle to divide the Holy Place and the Most Holy. On the third day I shall make the earth to put forth grass and herbs; so will he, in obedience to my commands, … prepare shewbread before me. On the fourth day I shall make the luminaries; so he will stretch out a golden candlestick [menorah] before me. On the fifth day I shall create the birds; so he will fashion the cherubim with outstretched wings. On the sixth day I shall create man; so will Israel set aside a man from the sons of Aaron as high priest for my service.
    Carrying this idea forward to a later epoch, Exodus 40:33 describes how Moses completed the Tabernacle. The Hebrew text exactly parallels the account of how God finished Creation. Genesis Rabbah comments: “It is as if, on that day [i.e., the day the Tabernacle was raised in the wilderness], I actually created the world.” A number of scholars have found parallels in the layout of the Garden of Eden and that of Israelite sanctuaries. For example, Brother Donald W. Parry describes the correspondence between Israelite temple ritual and Adam and Eve’s journey through the Garden of Eden as follows:
    Anciently, once a year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Adam’s eastward expulsion from the Garden was reversed when the high priest traveled west past the consuming fire of sacrifice and the purifying water of the laver, through the veil woven with images of cherubim. Thus, he returned to the original point of creation, where he poured out the atoning blood of the sacrifice, reestablishing the covenant relationship with God.
    In modern temples, the posterity of Adam and Eve likewise trace the footsteps of their first parents both away from Eden and also in their subsequent journey of return and reunion.


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