Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What to write about?

Sitting at the stake center thinking as I am waiting for a temple recommend interview. That last series of posts took a bit of time and thought. I am looking into options of things I can write about that will be meaningful and a bit shorter. I was asked to teach Sunday School last week and the week after conference. I prepared a lesson on Joel and Amos. I thoroughly enjoy teaching and had a great time. I am thinking I would like to write up a post on each. I am also thinks it would be great to think up some topics to explore from General Conference.

I am finding getting a group of readers for my blog is going to take a while. I figure I will give it some time then decide if there is a point of publishing to the Internet or if I should go back to just keeping a journal for my family, who have to read my stuff :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Putting The Creation Stories Together

So now covering the basics of the two great creation stories I would like to write one more post on the subject examining how they fit together.

Jehovah Creates the Earth by Walter Rane
The stories in some ways are complete opposites, yet there are some unifying themes. In both stories Deity forms creation from existing materials. There is no concept of true nothingness even though the concept of uncreation is alternately sea and desert. Both stories place man at a special status markedly different than animal creation. Both stories place emphasis on proper naming of things, even though they portray the names as being given by different entities.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The J Story

In this post I will examine the second creation story that begins in verse 2:4 and continues to the end of Chapter 3.

The first thing to note about this story that differentiates it from the E story is that the name of Deity has changed from the simple Elohim to the compound Yahweh Elohim. Yahweh of course is the Tetragrammaton, or four letters, that make up the sacred name of God, יהוה in Hebrew and is the source of the name Jehovah. Thus, I am calling this the J story. This story is the first usage of this divine name In the Bible. Throughout this story the name Elohim never appears alone as it did in the first story, but all actions here are performed by the compound Jehovah Elohim or LORD God as KJV translates it.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The E creation story (cont.)

In this post I will continue the discussion of the first creation account or the E creation story.

Six Days of Creation and Shabbat by Bracha Lavee

Saturday, September 13, 2014

In The Beginning...

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ
With these dramatic words opens the scriptural cannon. In themselves they are profound and have inspired volumes of philosophy and debate. Joseph Smith would famously see hints of the divine council in its opening words. Others would see a structured cosmology mirroring that of other Middle Eastern cultures. Some would find reflections of pagan myths of the subduing of chaos in the form of the sea. These opening chapters would be the sharpest contention in the confrontation of Science and Religion.

Grand Architect of the Universe
William Blake's Ancient of Days depicts
God as the Architect holding the Compasses
Modern commentators sometimes too easily dismiss the story as symbolic rather than literal without ever answering the all important question: "Symbolic of what?" What are we to learn from these stories? Why are they so central? Their themes recur repeatedly through the scriptures that follow in every volume of the Standard Works. Joseph Smith would reveal three more major accounts of the stories in these chapters, two in written documents and a third only taught orally in his lifetime in sacred ordinance settings.

In this entry I will take a closer examination of the Genesis account and specifically point out some things that are lost on the casual reader.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Call Me Gilgamesh

Welcome to Scriptural Alchemy. This is a site that will delve into deep and narrowly focused discussions on topics I find particularly compelling. Most importantly this site is for me, but I invite you to join me on my journey. I have a deep love for the sacred writings of mankind. This includes the scriptures that form the standard works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the histories and journals of the members of that faith, the sacred writings of other faith traditions both ancient and modern, the ponderings of mankind as we grapple with the terrible questions, and the profound beauty that fills the human experience. Alchemy is a great word to describe how I feel about studying these things. It is looking for the purity and gold in the thoughts of mortal men. It is finding the eternal wrapped in the earthly. It is deep symbolism and a search for lost knowledge. It is a science infused with mysticism and magic.

You may call me Gilgamesh. After pondering the pros and cons I have decided it best to use a code name. This is not any serious attempt to hide my identity as it can certainly be learned with a little effort. It is merely to deflect any unwanted publicity to myself and my family. The use of code names has a fine tradition. Joseph Smith used code names in many of his revelations where he was known as Enoch. I have chosen Gilgamesh as he is the central character in what can rightly be called the oldest literature of mankind. Gilgamesh is a hero king who in the course of his adventures looses his best friend Enkidu to sickness and must grapple with his own mortality. Searching for answers he seeks out the wisdom of the ancient Utnapishtim who had gained the favor of the gods. From Utnapishtim he learns methods of attaining eternal life only to be ultimately foiled by his own weakness or a cunning serpent. In the end he must find peace in the joys of this life. Friends, spouse, children, the workmanship of his hands, these are his lot until death. Gilgamesh is the ancient man taking the same journey we all take. All of us are a Gilgamesh, looking for meaning and answers and trying to understand our own mortality.

So come with me on this journey. To Latter-day Saints I hope you will find my analysis of scriptural topics and topics from Church history compelling and useful. To those of other faiths I hope you find my discussion respectful and illuminating. My writings speak for no opinion but my own and I reserve the right to outgrow anything I might write. I welcome civil and uplifting discussion and appreciate a diversity of voices.