The LDS Inverse Old Testament, Part 1: Pearl of Great Price to Leviticus

The LDS Inverse Old Testament, Part 1: Pearl of Great Price to Leviticus

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What is the LDS Inverse Old Testament?

I am assuming that most Sunday School teachers are both lazy and fearful of doing things wrong. For this reason, even though the manual itself suggests that teachers use it merely as a guide and not as the lesson itself, most teachers are just going to use the lessons as written. I am assuming that when the manual says "read Moses 4" referring to an entire chapter that this directive is usually not going to be followed. It takes a long time to read a full chapter and it'd be easier to just summarize it, which introduces our own biases and assumptions far more easily. Scriptures that are more likely to be read are the smaller snippets the manual lists in the catechism-like questions to be read and discussed. From these assumptions it is easy to create a list of scriptures that are likely to be read and discussed by any typical LDS Sunday School class. And from this list of scriptures it is easy to create the inverse of such a list and produce a list of scriptures that are not likely to be read and discussed by any typical LDS Sunday School class. And, assuming that most Latter-day Saints do not read the Old Testament voluntarily or closely as they do the Book of Mormon or the New Testament, it is likely that this inverse list contains chapters and verses that the average member of the Church is likely to never read or discuss.

So I've begun to do just that. I've gone through the lesson manual, highlighted the suggested scriptures, and then inverted the highlighting. I've only spent about two hours on the project so far and have gotten to the Book of Numbers. I'll keep posting more as I get further along.

You can click here to see the actual list of scriptures in the Inverse Old Testament.

My Thoughts So Far

There is a ton of time spent in the Pearl of Great Price and Genesis compared to the rest of the Bible.

All of Abraham's astronomy is skipped except where it's useful. A few verses about pre-existent intelligences are read from within the midst of conversation about Kokoabeum and how the sun and moon gets their light. And the polytheistic renderings of the creation account in Abraham might as well as not exist since they receive no attention whatsoever in comparison to Moses/Genesis.

The genealogies are skipped (okay, that's actually not very noteworthy, I'd do the same). Also skipped are the lists of instructions on how to build the Tabernacle in Exodus.

There are a number of stories that are skipped, probably because they are either 1) weird, 2) racist, or 3) show someone held up as a moral figure in a bad light.

Some of the verses that are skipped are ones that seem to stretch credulity in regards to these ancient stories by being too physical and real, such as the land that arises out of the ocean that the evil people opposed to Enoch's people retreat to, giants seeking the life of Noah, the angel wrestling with Jacob, or Moses's face shining so brightly that he has to put a veil over his face.

Moses 7:22 is such an obvious omission that I find it laughable. Seriously, the reading of the verses before and after is meant to be a very close reading in class, but the verse itself is 100% absent from the readings suggested by the materials.

While it is recommended to "teach and discuss" the entirety of Moses 4 (the temptation of Eve by the snake) I find it notable that the scriptures listed to read are all about the results of the fall. There is nothing recommended to read in class, unless it's the entirety of chapter 4, that covers the actual mechanics of the snake tempting Eve. My personal speculation is that it is more than a little disturbing that the "Inspired Version" still presents this temptation as occurring through a snake even after introducing Satan as the force of evil trying to thwart the Creation. This flies in the face of the LDS Temple drama where there is no snake and Satan himself does the temptation directly. I think they don't want people to begin messing with the thorny questions of which of these two chapters, both revealed by the Prophet Joseph Smith, is the "more real" and "less symbolic" account of things.

I am surprised that the story of Judah and Tamar is meant to be discussed and even possibly read, but it is, along with the rape of Dinah (though, oddly enough, the following retaliatory murders by the sons of Jacob aren't really the focus of the story as presented in the manuals).

The attention paid to the Ten Commandments is somewhat sad when you consider that these commandments begin a series of several chapters of additional commandments, including such gems as "Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon" and "Ye shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the sabbath day". The entire Book of Leviticus is also apparently useless for any attention by any given Sunday School.

Some Stories and Pericopes contained in the Inverse Scriptures So Far

Moses

  • Lamech, the son of the infamous Cain, is betrayed by his wives (Moses 5:53-54)
  • The baptism of Adam (Moses 6:64-68)
  • The retreat of Enoch's enemies to a land that arises out of the sea where they fight with giants (Moses 7:14-16)
  • The seed of Cain is black (Moses 7:22 all by its lonesome)
  • Enoch sees all things long before the Brother of Jared (Moses 7:67)

Abraham

Genesis

  • God commanding Noah not to eat blood or murder (Genesis 9:1-7)
  • Noah getting drunk and cursing Ham's son Canaan (Genesis 9:18-29)
  • Abraham, not told by God to do so, tells a king that his wife is his sister (Genesis 12:11-20)
  • Abraham performs sacrifices and sees a smoking furnace pass between the pieces (Genesis 15:7-17)
  • Hagar runs away from Sarah's abuse and is told by an angel to go back (Genesis 16:4-9)
  • Abraham is commanded to circumcise his household (Genesis 17:10-14, 23-27)
  • Three very physical and hungry men arrive to say Sarah will have a son (Genesis 18:1-15)
  • Lot and his family are physically carried out of Sodom by the messengers (Genesis 19:16)
  • Lot has unconscious, incestuous sex with his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38)
  • Abraham tells another king that his wife is his sister (Genesis 20)
  • Isaac is born (Genesis 21:1-8)
  • Sarah kicks our Hagar and her young son (Genesis 21:9-21)
  • Abraham buys a grave for his dead wife (Genesis 22)
  • Abraham marries again, doesn't give anything to his concubines' sons, and dies (Genesis 25:1-10)
  • Isaac tells a king that his wife is his sister (Genesis 26:6-17)
  • Jacob has kids with his two wives and with their two servants (Genesis 29:29-35, 30:1-24)
  • Laban tries to cheat Jacob, instead Jacob cheats Laban with bad biology (Genesis 30:25-43, 31:1-16)
  • Rachel steals her brother's household gods and hides them by sitting on them and claiming she's having her period (Genesis 31:17-35)
  • Jacob meets the angels of God (Genesis 32:1-2)
  • Jacob wrestles all night with God demanding a blessing (Genesis 32:24-32, except for verse 28 which is read)
  • Rachel dies (Genesis 35:16-20)
  • Everything after Jacob arrives in Egypt to see his long-lost son Joseph (Genesis 47-50)

Exodus

  • Moses's wife circumcises her son to save Moses's life from an angry God (Exodus 4:24-26)
  • God declares that he will always have war with the people of Amulek (Exodus 17:14-16)

Leviticus

  • The entire book
Tom Doggett

Tom Doggett

I'm a programmer, Ancient Greek reader, feminist, spouse and partner, and a dad.

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