LDS Perspectives #54: Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation: Part 1 with Dr. Ken Alford

The JST in the D&C
with Dr. Ken Alford

LDS Perspectives Podcast is now one year old!

To celebrate, LDS Perspectives is holding a special first anniversary double episode on Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible.

In this first anniversary episode, Dr. Kenneth (Ken) Alford reviews the historical background of the Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation and important ways we see the Bible translation influence the Doctrine and Covenants.

Ken Alford studied the Joseph’s Bible translation extensively as an undergraduate at BYU in the 1970s. Ken now teaches at BYU in the Department of Church History and Doctrine. But for the intervening decades, Ken was a member of the United States Army, including assignments as Strategic Leadership department chair at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., associate professor of computer science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and serving on the Army Secretariat staff at the Pentagon. This varied background provides Ken context for the way Joseph’s evolving understanding of the Bible text matured.

Though the LDS Church did not retain Joseph’s Bible translation after the evacuation of Nauvoo, it is clear that the Bible translation was an active part of Joseph’s early theological development and instruction of Church members in what are now sections of the Doctrine and Covenants. New insights from recently discovered documents expand our appreciation of the interaction between the Bible and the Doctrine and Covenants. Ken cites Brigham Young’s 1844 comments, suggesting that had Joseph ever been able to publish the Bible translation, it would have evolved beyond what we have today.

Taunalyn Rutherford of LDS Perspectives not only interviews Dr Alford, but adds perspective from her experience with the Church in India.

Next week’s podcast will be the second anniversary episode, as Laura Harris Hales interviews Dr. Thomas Wayment about new research that sheds light on how Joseph went about translating the Bible.

LDS Perspectives #53: Tabernacle Camps with Daniel Smith

Tabernacle Camps
with Daniel Smith

Audio file: http://traffic.libsyn.com/ldsperspectives/LDSP_Daniel_Smith.mp3

Daniel Smith is creator of the YouTube channel “Messages of Christ.” Smith’s channel has been viewed over 1 million times.

Smith has a particular interest in ancient tabernacles and their artifacts, including building replicas of the tabernacles and making authentic tabernacle clothing.

Smith recounts how and why he creates tabernacle cloth (using a Lego machine) to create the tabernacle breastplate, what exactly happened in the tabernacle in biblical times, and why it’s important for members of the church to understand these things today.

Sometimes, Smith explains, the best way to understand something is to experience it.

Tabernacle camps are popping up — typically in Youth Conferences — in stakes all over the United States. There’s even one coming to BYU in the coming months, which will be used to teach students about the ancient biblical context of the tabernacles.

LDS Perspectives #52: The (Im)patient Job

The (Im)patient Job
with Michael Austin

Michael Austin overturns our Sunday School understanding of Job.

Job didn’t constantly praise God in the midst of his trials, and he certainly wasn’t always patient.

The satan mentioned in the story is not Lucifer but someone else entirely.

We may think it is evil to be impatient in the midst of trials. Yet when we consider with Austin the full text of Job, we find Job is much more than the often one-dimensional figure we make him out to be. And in learning that, we learn so many gospel truths that we otherwise miss.

Listen as Sarah Hatch of LDS Perspectives Podcast interviews Michael Austin about wisdom literature, a more complete understanding of the nature of Job and his relationship with God, and what we can learn from arguably the greatest ancient poem ever written.

LDS Perspectives #51: Joseph Smith’s Education in Sephardic Hebrew

Joseph’s Study of Hebrew and the Book of Abraham with Matthew J. Grey

In the winter of 1836, 100 church members enrolled in a seven-week, intensive Hebrew language course. Matthew Grey sees this study of Hebrew as a direct outgrowth of the larger translation project that Joseph had begun in the summer of 1835.

In July 1835, Joseph had purchased Egyptian scrolls and mummies from Michael Chandler. Shortly thereafter he translated what became known as Abraham 1 and Abraham 2 and began working on a “Grammer and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language” (GAEL). In the fall of 1835, Joseph started looking for a teacher of Hebrew for the Kirtland School. By January, the school committee had hired Joshua Seixas as a Hebrew teacher.

Joshua Seixas used his native Sephardic Hebrew in his transliterations, which varied substantially from the more common Ashkenazi Hebrew spellings. Because of the distinctive Hebrew transliterations in Seixas’s texts, we can trace Joseph’s use of his Hebrew training in succeeding years.

Traces of Sephardic Hebrew can be seen in revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Abraham, and recorded Nauvoo speeches. Joseph’s insights into Hebrew form a foundation for Nauvoo teachings regarding the nature of God, expansions on the plan of salvation, and verbiage in the temple ritual.

Laura Harris Hales talks with with Matthew Grey on the influence Joseph’s Hebrew study had on Joseph’s subsequent teachings and the role Sephardic Hebrew plays in unraveling the puzzle of the Book of Abraham translation puzzle.

Revisiting William Seely

Kate Vasicek Challis brings forward expanded information about William Seely (1816-1851?), first husband of Lucy Ann Decker, the first woman Brigham Young would covenant with as a plural wife. Meg Stout provides a brief response after Kate Challis’s comments.

A New Perspective on William Seely

Kate Vasicek Challis is a 30 year old wife and mother of 4 children living in Iowa, USA. She has a BA in French Teaching and a minor in TESOL K-12 (BYU ’09). She has been blogging at Czech Out Your Ancestors since 2013 and is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Although I enjoyed Meg Stout’s post of 31 March 2014 titled “Wives of Sorrow,” I feel the post had some erroneous and misleading information about William Seely (1816-1851?), the first husband of Lucy Ann Decker Seely Young (1822-1890).

Meg wrote: “Lucy Ann Decker Seeley, born in 1822, was abandoned by her first husband, William, a non-Mormon who was allegedly abusive and an alcoholic.”

He was (at least at one time) a Mormon, according to his own 1840 deposition about being kidnapped by the Missouri mob at the battle of Crooked River, as well as early LDS membership records here and here. Also, according to a biography of Brigham Young, Lucy was told that William was dead, inferring that that knowledge could have influenced her decision to marry Young.

Meg continued: “William left Lucy with the couple’s three tiny children, leaving her a widow for all intents and purposes.”

It is possible that he first abandoned her with their three children (she also had an unnamed stillborn child, according to the above source), but eventually Lucy would travel west with her two children (one of the three died) in the company of Brigham Young. Continue reading