Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What I have been reading, part 1

On my recent trip to Robin’s house, I took 4 books with me. Her boys go to bed early and so I spent some time reading each evening, giving Robin and Dennison some quiet time alone.
I read The Book of Mormon every day for at least 15 minutes, so that was one of the books. The others are, Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman, A Grief Observed by CS Lewis, and The Problem of Pain, also by CS Lewis. A day or so before I came home I bought The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, which I  started on my way home.
Since I love to get recommendations for books, movies, recipes, etc, I will share my impressions and opinions about these books in case you are interested.
Misquoting Jesus; the Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why was the first one I read. It’s author, Bard Ehrman, is a well renowned biblical scholar, and an accomplished expert on early Christianity. In the introduction he tells his own story in a very honest and open way, including his journey as a Christian and the reasons why he has become an agnostic. He clearly reveals his conclusions and opinions, some of which I disagree with, and the evidence and reasoning behind them. I found this book very interesting and read it quickly. Here is a summary of his main points taken from the last pages of the book:
* We do not have the original manuscripts of any of the books of the New Testament, but  only copies--over 5000 copies, just in the Greek language in which these books were originally written.
* Most of these copies are centuries removed from the originals.
* All of these copies contain mistakes both great and small, as scribes either inadvertently or intentionally altered the text.
* The vast majority of these changes are insignificant, immaterial, and of no importance for the meaning of the passages in which they are found.
* Others, however, are quite significant. Sometimes the meaning of a verse, a passage, or an entire book depends on which textual variants the scholar decides are ‘original’.
* These decisions are sometimes relatively simple to make; but in other instances they are exceedingly difficult, even for scholars who have spent years working on the problem
 * As a result, there are many passages of the New Testament where scholars continue to debate the original wording. And there are some in which we will probably never know what the authors originally wrote.   p 260-261
Here is another telling paragraph, taken from page 216:
...the more I studied, the more I saw that reading a text necessarily involves interpreting a text. I suppose when I started my studies I had a rather unsophisticated view of reading; that the point of reading a text is simply to let the text “speak for itself,” to uncover the meaning inherent in its words. The reality, I came to see, is that meaning is not inherent and texts do not speak for themselves. If texts could speak for themselves, then everyone honestly and openly reading a text would agree on what the text says. But interpretations of texts abound, and people in fact do not agree on what the texts mean. This is obviously true of the texts of scripture; simply look at the hundreds, or even thousands, of ways people interpret the book of Revelation, or consider all the different Christian denominations, filled with intelligent and well-meaning people who base their views of how the church should be organized and function on the Bible, yet all of them coming to radically different conclusions (Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Appalachian snake-handlers, Greek Orthodox, and on and on).

After reading this book, I am even more grateful that God speaks to man in our day, that we have a living prophet who receives revelation from Him for us.
Mr. Ehrman reaches an interesting, but I feel erroneous, conclusion regarding the corruption of the manuscripts of the Bible which he became aware of in his years of study. He decides that since God did not prevent men from changing the text of scripture down through the ages, then He must not have inspired its writing in the first place.
But God knew that the inspired and sacred writings of his prophets would be tampered with, and He provided the solution. He prepared other books of scripture to reinforce and restore the truth; records that were kept and preserved so we could have the truths originally included in the manuscripts of the books of the Bible. That is the role of the Book of Mormon. This record was prepared and then ‘hidden up unto the Lord’, kept in it’s purity because it was not in circulation among men, and then brought forth in one step of translation in our time. It is a marvelous second witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ which bears witness to it’s readers the plain and precious truths taken from the Bible.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


What a month it has been. We got ready for Christmas early this year so I could spend some time with Robin, Dennison, Carter, Jude and their new baby girl.
The first week or so of December was filled with 3 concerts at BYU, our BYU ward Christmas dinner, visiting teaching, the 1st Presidency Devotional, baking goodies, wrapping gifts and sending packages. Then I was off to Washington on the 10th.
It was so nice to be in Robin and Dennison’s home, to see them and their boys and new baby girl. I kept pretty busy just keeping up with the boys, they are so much fun. We read lots of stories, played hide-and-seek, put puzzles together, and took lots of pictures. I even stayed for Robin’s birthday; we had Raspberry Ribbon Cheesecake ~ Robin’s favorite, and I watched the latest Twilight movie with them, the only one I’ve seen.
I am so pleased and proud of my sweet daughter and the mom and wife she has become. I am so glad she decided to marry Dennison, he brings out the best in her and they are a great team. They have created a wonderful atmosphere in which to raise their family; a home filled with patience, love, laughter, and joy. It was a privilege to be there, I loved every minute.
It was also nice to get back home; I arrived in SLC at about 9 pm and Dave was waiting at the airport. We woke up the next morning, when I had an 8 o'clock appointment, to 15" of new snow. My Idaho family and friends won't think that is a big deal, but without a snow blower and snow tires it is a bigger deal than we care to deal with very often. After trying to get out of the neighborhood and getting stuck more than once, we just came home and went back to sleep.

Dave on the deck, up to his knees in snow
the yardstick tells the story
The whole week was fun and festive, finishing last minute Christmas projects, delivering goodies, etc. Christmas day was wonderful ~ but quieter than I would choose. We breakfasted with Steve, Krista and Cache, then had dinner with my family that evening.  Dave and I are looking forward to spending this next week together with a few gatherings thrown in; then welcoming the new year with all the new experiences, friends, and opportunities it will bring.