Monday, January 28, 2008

Jewish & Mormon Dialogue Group

There will an initial meeting of an LDS-Jewish dialogue group in Los Angeles. I suspect that people interested in the topics of would also be interested in these meetings. Here is the information:

DATE: Sunday, February 10th. 2008
TIME: 7:00 PM
PLACE: Sinai Temple
ADDRESS: 10400 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024
WEB SITE: Sinai Temple

Rabbi John Borak, of the Amud Ha-Shachar Foundation
President Robert Keeler. of the Santa Monica Stake

Thanks to Bro. Mark Paredes for the information.

See you there!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Farewell President Hinckley

Our beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley has passed away from this life, and into the next.

He will be greatly missed.

Here is the churches office link: LINK

Friday, January 25, 2008

Temple Study - New Site!

There is a new site on the web that deals with many of the same topics we discuss. I listed them in the Recommended Blogs a few days back, but I wanted to make sure you did not miss it.

The site is owned by Bryce Haymond. I like this guy, he is doing a good job. Leave some comment so he knows you are there.

Here is the link: Temple Study.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Nail and The Tree

The Tree of Life imagery began in Eden and has become a universal symbol. This symbol has become highly adjustable to convey certain truths.

In Eden, and the Book of Revelation, it represented the healing and resurrection of mankind. In Alma 32 it was a seed planted in the heart of the faithful that would bring forth the fruit of Eternal Life.

The prophet Zenos adjusted the Tree of Life imagery into, or applied its symbolism to an Olive Tree, which can represent an individual, family, tribe, or nation, as in the case of the parable of the Olive Tree found in Jacob 5 & 6.

In the Book of Creation (Sefer Yetzirah) Abraham described the Tree of Life as having ten emanations (fruit) known as Sephiroth. Jewish Mysticism teaches that some of the Sephiroth are on one side of the tree (branches), and some are on the other, and they are in fact opposing forces (for example, Justice and Mercy). That between them on the trunk of the tree are certain sephiroth that reconcile the opposing forces.

The center and primary reconciling sefira is “Tiferet” which is Hebrew for “Beauty.“ But it means more than beauty, it means reconciliation, atonement, balance, and peace. Tiferet is the stalk or the trunk of the tree. It is the symbol Christ.

In Hebrew the letter “vav” is thought of as a nail that ties things together (it is shaped like a nail). Tiferet is symbolized by the letter vav. It is the nail in the tree, that is associated with Christ, that reconciles things, to bring about salvation and exaltation.

With this learning of the Jews in mind, what must have went on in the minds of the Disciples when Jesus said He was the True Vine? He was saying that He was Tiferet.

If it is an Olive Tree, a Vine, a Sycamore, or a Cross, because they are all the same thing, Jesus the Messiah can today show you the token of the Vav in His hands.

We will get to the Tetragrammaton another day.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Notaricon, Gemetria, and Temurah

My last post was on Hebrew Literary Form in the Book of Mormon, centered primarily on chiasmus, but there are a number of these ancient Hebrew literary forms that existed (see the linked material in the prior post).

The precision, neatness, and simplicity of these literary forms are proof of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, it is an elegant work.

How chiasmus was found in the Book of Mormon was that the young John Welch learned of chiasmus in the bible as a missionary, and began searching for the same patterns in the Book of Mormon, and there they were.

There are three tools in Jewish mysticism that orthodox LDS scholars may steer clear of, because the mere mention of them could create a perceived link between the author and the dreaded and feared Cabala (Kabbalah).

Within Cabalistic teaching there are three tools (among other tools) that are employed; Notaricon, Gemetria (Gematria), and Temurah. To the degree they are properly used, and where the excesses start, I will leave that to the reader to decide. My purpose here is only to demonstrate that beneath the surface of the scriptures, there is a lot going on. (Explanation of Notaricon, Gemetria, and Temurah)

These tools work in Hebrew, but not in English, and the Book of Mormon was written in Reformed Egyptian. So there are some major complexities, but I think someone qualified should study these Hebrew Literary Forms to see if any of these forms ever existed, and if they survived, in the Book of Mormon.

This study could also argue for or against the legitimacy of the study of Notaricon, Gemetria, and Temurah in the bible.

And, if these forms are found in the Book of Mormon, what insights could they convey? This could be a gold mine, or an empty cave, but we will never know until we take a look.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Chiasmus - Hebrew Literary Forms in the Book of Mormon

I’m really excited about this years course of study in Sunday School, the Book of Mormon.

One of the observations that we should make as we read the Book of Mormon is the chiasmus (or chiasms) word structures that exist in the text. Chiasmus is one of many ancient Hebrew literary forms that were not known to Joseph Smith or local scholars of his time, yet they are interweaved throughout the Book of Mormon. If we fail to see these layers that exist, we are not reading the Book of Mormon for all it’s worth.

For a good, short introduction to this topic, I suggest the work of the late Elder Hugh Pinnock, Finding Biblical Hebrew and Other Ancient Literary Forms in the Book of Mormon, available online at the Maxwell Institute. Here is the link: HTML LINK

"It is these kinds [chiasmus] of textual studies that are proving to be the most effective defense of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.” (Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, Chapter 7, Noel B. Reynolds, Deseret Book)

Also see my link to "The Onion."

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Keter - The Crown

In Jewish Mysticism there is an idea that is symbolized by the word “Keter” or crown. Cabalistic Tree of Life imagery includes ten stations (Sephiroth) in ascending order, like rungs on a ladder. The top rung on the ladder is Keter, or exaltation.

However, we see in ancient Jewish literature that at each stage of sanctification the initiate receives a crown for that stage, meaning that he receives all the rights, responsibilities, privileges, and powers belonging or corresponding to that stage or rung. The top rung means you have received all the Father has. Keter is the crown over all.

When we receive a crown over a kingdom, or a rung, we are from then on associated with whoever else wears that same crown (Glory).

“[At the resurrection of the dead] …they shall come forth—yea, even the dead which died in me, to receive a crown of righteousness, and to be clothed upon, even as I am, to be with me, that we may be one.” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:13)

Hugh Nibley wrote:

“…[T]he crown of sanctification… is added (the round linen cap was to act as a cushion for a metal crown during a long ceremony). Later the cap alone would suffice, since it showed that the owner was qualified to wear the ‘crown of justification.’” (Hugh Nibley, Don E. Norton, Temple and Cosmos, Deseret Book, Pg#55)

Here are a few more:

James 1:12 1 Peter 5:4 Rev 3:11 D&C 20:14 D&C 66:12 D&C 78:15 D&C 81:6 D&C 88:19

Friday, January 4, 2008

Shaatnez (Mixing Wool and Linen)

Within Judaism there is a law and a teaching regarding combining wool and linen. This law is known as Shaatnez (Wiki Link).

Scholars have argued endlessly regarding the purpose of this law. I am afraid that my Jewish brethren as a whole never seem to learn the lessons taught in either Shaatnez, or the Kosher laws. They often keep the form, but they missed the lesson.

The lesson is that there is opposition in all things, or there are opposing forces in our existence, holy and profane, good and bad, light and dark, and life and death. We exist at the point where these oppositions intersect. How these opposing forces are ultimately reconciled is the lesson.

Messiah is the lesson of Shaatnez, Kosher, the Law of Moses, and Book of Mormon chiasmas’.

After a discourse on Messiah being the intercessor for all men, Lehi taught Jacob that things exist by opposition, and that things are reconciled by Messiah.

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.

And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” (LINK)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Book of Mormon (This Years Study in SS)

This Sunday in the LDS Church, we begin studying the Book of Mormon in Sunday School. There are two topics that I fear are usually overlooked, that can greatly enhance our understanding of the Book of Mormon.

The first is the significance of the teaching of “opposition in all things.” This principle is often glossed over as some tangential teaching that is really not that important. Nothing could be further from the truth. Opposition in all things and how forces are resolved is the core of the gospel, and until we get this, we are sipping milk. Without understanding this “opposition in all things” there is no purpose in a “chiasmas." The point of a chiasmas is to demonstrate the opposition and the resolution of a thing. The purpose of much of the Law of Moses was for the same reason. (Mormon Mysticism on Opposition)

Second, the Tree of Life can also be under appreciated. The scriptures are laced with Tree of Life teachings. Understanding that the Tree of Life, the Temple, The Love of God, and Christ are all the same thing can give so much depth to our understanding (Link).

If we could somehow read the Book of Mormon for all it’s worth, most of us could not stand it. There are levels of meaning in the Book of Mormon, like an onion, and most of us only just nibble the dry skin on the outside.

In the student guide, it asks about the four positions people find themselves in, in relation to the Tree of Life. This is critical to understanding the gospel. Here are some clues: (Rev., Temple, Water, Ezk., Seed, Bread).

This is going to be a good year!