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In 2013 the list of Scripture Mastery scriptures for LDS youth to memorize was finally changed.  As part of exploring the Scripture Mastery of the Hebrew Bible (commonly called by most Christians the "Old Testament") I figured it would be fun and interesting to look over scriptures that were *removed* from the lists before I embarked on the new standard list for the Hebrew Bible in my Context series.

Isaiah 55:8-9


כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבֹותַי מַחְשְׁבֹותֵיכֶם וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְּרָכָי נְאֻם יְהוָה כִּי־גָבְהוְּ שָׁמַיִם מֵאָרֶץ כֵּן גָּבְהוְּ דְרָכַי מִדַּרְכֵיכֶם וְּמַחְשְׁבֹתַי מִמַּחְשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם

NJPSV: 8 For My plans are not your plans, Nor are My ways your ways —declares [Yahweh]. 9 But as the heavens are high above the earth, so are My ways high above your ways and my plans above your plans.

KJV: 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith [Yahweh]. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Why Was This Verse Removed?

I really do not know why this one was removed. In a scientific world where evidence and logic are so important to people, perhaps the Church Education System felt that emphasizing a scripture that, in effect, denies the supremacy of human thought and discovery in the face of what Yahweh says was a poor choice. Isaiah's intent, however, was to show the power and majesty of his god, and to respond to his opponents who perhaps argued that Isaiah's prophecies of the destruction of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah were without merit. However, this is all just my own thoughts on the matter. Let me know what you think.

Jeremiah 16:16


הִנְנִי שֹׁלֵחַ לְדַוֳּגִים רַבִּים נְאֻמ־יְהוָה וְדִיגוְּם וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵן אֶשְׁלַח לְרַבִּים צַיָּדִים וְצָדוְּם מֵעַל כָּל־הַר וְּמֵעַל כָּל־גִּבְעָה וְּמִנְּקִיקֵי הַסְּלָעִים

NJPSV: Lo, I am sending for many fishermen—declares [Yahweh]—and they shall haul them out; and after that I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them out of every mountain and out of every hill and out of the clefts of the rocks.

KJV: Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith [Yahweh], and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.

Why Was This Verse Removed?

This one is easy. This verse was removed because it is obviously, horribly, and laughably incorrect and torn from its context.

This one seems to have gained its last bit of popularity from the support of Elder LeGrand Richards, where it is mentioned in his popular book A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. Wonder was so popular that for over two decades it was included as part of the Missionary Gospel Study Library, a collection of books that missionaries throughout the world were allowed and encouraged to read and study from. Wonder is full of colorful anecdotes, allegories, and scriptural explorations that attempt to show not only the truthfulness of the LDS Church. The Church, unfortunately, has moved on both culturally and doctrinally since its publication and I sadly see this book disappearing from the collective attention of Mormons over the next few years. An exploration of A Marvelous Work and a Wonder is necessary if anyone wants to understand the energetic and excited viewpoint of late 1980s Mormonism before the rise of the New Mormon History and the Internet.

LeGrand Richards argues that this verse from Jeremiah, which is in the middle of a rather negative chapter about the upcoming destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, represents the mercy of God as he will eventually send missionaries that will recover scattered Israel again.

However, when read in context it's obvious that the “hunters” and “fishers” Yahweh is sending represent soldiers and warriors that will find anyone who attempts to hide from the coming destruction. Yahweh has decreed total destruction upon Israel and they're not going to escape. The transformation of Babylonian soldiers intent on death and destruction into an army of modern, clean-cut young women and men intent on happily knocking doors across the world is one that is simply too sudden and jarring to be acceptable.


It turns out that while this verse has been removed as a Scripture Mastery verse for the youth, it is still part of the focus of one of the Sunday School lessons for the Old Testament being studied in 2014, completely with the horribly incorrect comparison of the hunters and fishers to LDS missionaries. Wow!

Daniel 2:44-45


44 וְּבְיֹומֵיהֹון דִּי מַלְכַיָּא אִנּוְּן יְקִים אֱלָהּ שְׁמַיָּא מַלְכוְּ דִּי לְעָלְמִין לָא תִתְחַבַּל וְּמַלְכוְּתָה לְעַם אָחֳרָן לָא תִשְׁתְּבִק תַּדִּק וְתָסֵיף כָּל־אִלֵּין מַלְכְוָתָא וְהִיא תְּקוְּם לְעָלְמַיָּא 45 כָּל־קֳבֵל דִּי־חֲזַיְתָ דִּי מִטּוְּרָא אִתְגְּזֶרֶת אֶבֶן דִּי־לָא בִידַיִן וְהַדֶּקֶת פַּרְזְלָא נְחָשָׁא חַסְפָּא כַּסְפָּא וְדַהֲבָא אֱלָהּ רַב הֹודַע לְמַלְכָּא מָה דִּי לֶהֱוֵא אַחֲרֵי דְנָה וְיַצִּיב חֶלְמָא וְּמְהֵימַן פִּשְׁרֵהּ

NJPSV: 44 And in the time of those kings, the God of Heaven will establish a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, a kingdom that shall not be transferred to another people. It will crush and wipe out all these kingdoms, but shall itself last forever— 45 just as you saw how a stone was hewn from the mountain, not by hands, and crushed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great [Elóah] has made known to the king what will happen in the future. The dream is sure and its interpretation reliable.

KJV: 44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great [Elóah] hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.

I'm sad to see this one go, but it also makes sense to me that it's gone. Like Jeremiah 16:16, this scripture has already seen its day in the sun come and go and its popularity has waned considerably.

It used to be that references to the LDS Church as the “stone cut out of the mountain without hands” could be easily found within the Church in common discussions, in writings, and even in official Church media (I remember a video produced for LDS Visitor's Centers at historical sites that was centered on this image as the Church as the rock, complete with horrible early computer animation, growing to eventually fill the world). As the membership of the Church ballooned during the second half of the twentieth century it was common to assume that this growth would continue until the LDS Church became one of the great world religions. Extrapolations of growth rates led many members to extrapolate numbers in the hundreds of millions before the middle of the twenty-first century. Quotations of Joseph Smith's prophecy that this Church will “grow to fill North and South America; it will grow to fill the whole world” often accompanied this scripture.

However, the growth rate, while still positive, is decelerating. Recent surveys have illustrated just how important the distinction is between members “of record” and members who self-identify as Mormons. For example, while US membership has increased between 2000 and 2010, the number of people who would identify themselves as Mormon in the United States has remained constant during the same period.

Instead, though, it is far more common nowadays to talk about how small the Church will be in the last days in terms of numbers. The rock going forth to crush the kingdoms of the earth is not the LDS Church but rather is the kingdom of God which will establish itself after the Second Coming. Until then, the wheat and the tares will grow up together, the leaven will leaven the bread, and the numerical size of the LDS Church will remain small. Se why would we want to focus on this scripture which has been historically used for the purpose of celebrating growth and potential?

From a translation and higher criticism point of view, I'm sad that this scripture isn't covered anymore. You'll notice that the original language behind this scripture is Aramaic and not Hebrew. The Book of Daniel (and other similar books like Ezra and Nehemiah) are extremely interesting windows into a period of time when they were written, which was long after the events depicted within them occurred. A time during or possibly even after the Greek occupation of Israel/Judah. But we'll not be covering that in detail for now and we'll have to set it aside for another time.

Why Was This Verse Removed?

Because it's a relic of the previous few decades celebration of membership growth, but membership growth, while still growing, is quickly slowing down. The message has changed from one celebrating quantity to one celebrating quality.

#Mormon #ScriptureMasteryOT #AcademicBiblical #HebrewBible


In 2013 the list of Scripture Mastery scriptures for LDS youth to memorize was finally changed.  As part of exploring the Scripture Mastery of the Hebrew Bible (commonly called by most Christians the "Old Testament") I figured it would be fun and interesting to look over scriptures that were *removed* from the lists before I embarked on the new standard list for the Hebrew Bible in my Context series.

Deuteronomy 7:3-4


וְלֹא תִתְחַתֵּן בָּם בִּתְּךָ לֹא־תִתֵּן לִבְנֹו וְּבִתֹּו לֹא־תִקַּח לִבְנֶךָ כִּי־יָסִיר אֶת־בִּנְךָ מֵאַחֲרַי וְעָבְדוְּ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וְחָרָה אַפ־יְהוָה בָּכֶם וְהִשְׁמִידְךָ מַהֵר

NJPSV: 3 You shall not intermarry with them: do not give your daughter to their sons or take their daughters for your sons. 4 For they will turn your children away from Me to worship other gods, and [Yahweh’s] anger will blaze forth against you and He will promptly wipe you out.

Schocken: 3 And you are not to marry (with) them: your daughter you are not to give to their son, their daughter you are not to take for your son— 4 for they would turn-aside your son from (following) after me and they would serve other gods, and the anger of [Yahweh] would flare up against you, and he would destroy you quickly.

KJV: 3 Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. 4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of [Yahweh] be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly.

HOLY COW! (And that's not an ironic statement because we're dealing with the supposed writings of Moses.) I imagine that most people nowadays can understand, even if only a little bit, why this might be a problematic scripture to elevate to the level of memorization for LDS youth.

The context is the entire book of Deuteronomy, which is a retelling of the commandments of Moses from the perspective of the Jerusalem Temple. (For this reason many, though of course not all, scholars consider this to be a much later composition than the rest of the Torah, which some even speculating that it is the book “discovered”, or perhaps even written, by the priests during the reforms of king Josiah)

Throughout the Deuteronomistic History (a fancy, long word for the edited version of Israelite history preserved in 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings based on the ideas of Deuteronomy meant with recontextualizing the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE with the promises of Yahweh to the nation of Israel, which itself was heavily rewritten and edited into 1-2 Chronicles) the problems of the Israelites tend to arise from their leaving the worship of Yahweh to begin worshipping other gods common among their neighbors. Even Solomon the wise is described in as turning the worship of others gods because of some of his foreign wives. From the historical context of a battered people rediscovering (or possibly discovering for the first time) their monotheism in the midst of a polytheistic world, this sort of distrust of foreign people and foreign religions makes some sense.

However, when placed into the context of twentieth century LDS youth in what is likely an American High School system, how are we supposed to take these verses? Are they telling young, missionary-minded young women and men to not associate with their peers unless it's to try and convert them?

From official original materials for this scripture, the main doctrinal teaching of this scripture mastery is to teach young LDS kids that “marriage to people not of the covenant is not approved by the Lord. It can lead to a loss of faith and testimony,” and “marrying in the covenant is the Lord's appointed way.”

In today's modern world where only 20% of Latter-day Saints hold Temple recommends and the lowest activity rates are among young adults just in college, perhaps we should not be surprised that this scriptural admonition is being removed from the spotlight. Also, we have the uncomfortable fact that this scripture was often used during the 1950s and before by opponents to interracial marriage to imply that the idea of segregation was divinely inspired (including even among a number of LDS Church leaders of the 1950s). Of course, that association does not actually make the scripture itself somehow wrong, but it is certainly a troubling aspect of the history of these verses that the modern LDS Church certainly wishes were simply forgotten.

Finally, I can imagine that if the advice is to never enter a mixed-faith marriage, this verse could easily be extended to construe that the advice could also be to never continue within what has become a mixed-faith marriage. In other words, if the advice is to never marry a non-Mormon, it's not very far to go from there to never stay married to an ex-Mormon.

Why Was This Verse Removed?

I would posit that it was removed because it was pragmatically difficult to encourage all LDS youth to only marry other active LDS youth in the face of increasing statistics against such a likelihood. As well, the extremely troubling use of this scripture by previous Church leaders in racist ways also led to a need to de-emphasize its importance among LDS youth, most of whom have modern views that are extremely different from those of forty or fifty years ago.

Joshua 1:8


לֹא־יָמוְּשׁ סֵפֶר הַתֹּורָה הַזֶּה מִפִּיךָ וְהָגִיתָ בֹּו יֹומָם וָלַיְלָה לְמַעַן תִּשְׁמֹר לַעֲשֹׂות כְּכָל־הַכָּתוְּב בֹּו כִּי־אָז תַּצְלִיחַ אֶת־דְּרָכֶךָ וְאָז תַּשְׂכִּיל

NJPSV: Let not this Book of the Teaching cease from your lips, but recite it day and night, so that you may observe faithfully all that is written in it. Only then will you prosper in your undertakings and only then will you be successful.

KJV: This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

The context for this verse is Yahweh speaking to Joshua after Moses has died, commanding him to lead the Israelites to conquer the land he has promised them. Yahweh in verse 8 here implores Joshua to hold fast to what Moses has written (the Torah) for only by following those writings will Joshua have success. Joshua then tells the people that it's time for them to go, and all of the people agree to also keep the laws Yahweh gave to them through Moses and that they will kill anyone who does not keep these laws. They then commence preparing for the conquest of their promised land.

In a list of only twenty-five scriptures, it makes sense to wonder why each scripture was chosen. What is the point, the usefulness, the utility of the decision? In this case, the point of this scripture probably wasn't the contextual point. It probably wasn't important for students to remember how Yahweh commanded Joshua to keep the teachings contained within the Five Books of Moses. How would that apply to twentieth century students? Mormons don't care about the idea of the first five books of the hebrew Bible being somehow more important than other parts (indeed, most Mormons would probably agree with most evangelicals that the most important book of the Hebrew Bible is the book of Isaiah).

So, outside of it's direct context, this scripture was probably used (and in my recollection, this was indeed the point) to remind students to constantly remember the scriptural lessons and doctrines they've learned.

Why Was This Verse Removed?

My guess is that the utility of a verse from the scriptures meant to implore youth to read their scriptures was pretty low. It seems redundant. If a student is not reading their scriptures, how will a scripture convince them otherwise? Also, the Hebrew Bible is a very foreign book when explored without a trained CES employee or CES manual to act as a micro-managing guide. Asking students to pay attention to the Hebrew Bible may have been leading to more problems than it was worth.

Job 19:25-26


וַאֲנִי יָדַעְתִּי גֹּאֲלִי חָי וְאַחֲרֹון עַל־עָפָר יָקוְּם וְאַחַר עֹורִי נִקְּפוְּ־זֹאת וְּמִבְּשָׂרִי אֶחֱזֶה אֱלֹוהַּ

NJPSV: 25 But I know that my Vindicator lives; in the end He will testify on earth— 26 This, after my skin will have been peeled off. But I would behold [Elóah] while still in my flesh,

KJV: 25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see [Elóah]:

I wish this one hadn't been taken out. Not because it's useful, but because I could write a ton on this selection. Much has been written about this elsewhere, so let me just summarize a few main points about the context of this verse.

This verse is stated by Job as a defense to the arguments of his friends. Job, a man afflicted with countless catastrophes, is responding to the assertion that his misfortune occurred because of his sins. Job is responding that he knows he has not sinned. Furthermore, he knows that God, or a god, (using a generic term, אלוה, elóah which is the root behind the plural word for “gods”, Elohim) lives and will redeem him from his present situation (which happens near the very end of the book). This is the meaning of the word used in the King James Version, “Redeemer”. Job is testifying that Yahweh will rescue him from the illnesses and sadnesses that have befallen him. Job is not testifying of how Yahweh has (or is) a Redeemer who will save him from hell, death, or sin.

Secondly, the words “in my flesh I shall see Elóah” are very difficult Hebrew and the preposition “in” could just as easily be translated as “apart from,” rendering the statement “apart from my flesh I shall see Elóah”. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of the idea of a physical resurrection!

Why Was This Verse Removed?

I believe it was removed because the doctrines that it has historically been used to promote are unfounded, namely that the Hebrew Bible clearly teaches a physical resurrection of the body (it doesn't, and these verses are too shaky to be used as a strong source) and that belief in the “Redeemer” can be found in the Hebrew Bible (many early Christians saw references to Jesus throughout the Hebrew Bible, but many of their Jewish contemporaries obviously read the same scriptures and didn't see it). I think this scripture was removed so that students wouldn't discover just how unstable a foundation it is on which to build a testimony of Mormon doctrine in the Hebrew Bible.

#Mormon #ScriptureMasteryOT #AcademicBiblical #HebrewBible


In 2013 the list of Scripture Mastery scriptures for LDS youth to memorize was finally changed.  As part of exploring the Scripture Mastery of the Hebrew Bible (commonly called by most Christians the "Old Testament") I figured it would be fun and interesting to look over scriptures that were *removed* from the lists before I embarked on the new standard list for the Hebrew Bible in my Context series.

Exodus 33:11


יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה פָּנִים אֶל־פָּנִים כַּאֲשֶׁר יְדַבֵּר אִישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵהוְּ וְשָׁב אֶל־הַמַּחֲנֶה וְּמְשָׁרְתֹו יְהֹושֻׁעַ בִּנ־נוְּן נַעַר לֹא יָמִישׁ מִתֹּוךְ הָאֹהֶל וְדִבֶּר

NJPSV: [Yahweh] would speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another. And he would then return to the camp; but his attendant, Joshua son of Nun, a youth, would not stir out of the Tent.

Schocken: And [Yahweh] would speak to Moshe face to face, as a man speaks to his neighbor. Now when he would return to the camp, his attendant, the lad Yehoshua, would not depart from within the Tent.

KJV: And [Yahweh] spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.

I do not speak or read much ancient Hebrew (if you do, please get in touch with me as I'd love to have some help here), so I am using some supplementary translations for help. These include the New Jewish Publication Society Version as well as Everett Fox's translation of the Torah, published by Schocken Books. I have also editorially inserted the most popular reconstruction of the Tetragrammon, Yahweh, into each of the texts as the use of the phrase “The Lord” obscures the fact that there is a real personal name for the Hebrew deity underlying this replacement. I plan on discussing my use of the personal name of Yahweh and my particular choice of this reconstruction in a future post.

The context for this scripture was that God has finished telling Moses to begin leading the Israelites out of the wilderness near Mount Horeb (where one of the sets of 10 Commandments had been given) and to the land Yahweh had promised to Abraham. The text then describes how Moses talks with Yahweh.

There is a tent set up outside of the camp. Whenever Moses goes into the tent, the pillar of cloud that followed the camp would move over to the tent while Yahweh talks with Moses. Everyone else would move away (except for Joshua), and Yahweh would talk with Moses. That's what is before this verse.

Most LDS seminary students were taught this scripture as an example of how God is an embodied person who has a face. They were also taught that the pattern for prophets is that they speak to God in a very literal sense. Allusions were made when I was a young man in Seminary between this scripture and the experience of Joseph Smith speaking directly to God (or Jesus, or an angel, depending on which account) as a young man in the woods near his home.

Ultimately, though, this scripture tended to be used as en example that God has a body. However, in context this interpretation becomes problematic, as the rest of the chapter afterwards describes how after Moses asks to see the glory of Yahweh he is told bluntly that nobody can see the face of Yahweh and live. But since Yahweh like Moses so much, he'll allow Moses to hide in the rocks as Yahweh passes by and Moses will be allowed to see his backside but not his face. In context, this applies an entirely different emphasis to the scripture mastery verse in question. Instead of being a scripture about how Moses and Yahweh speak “face to face”, the emphasis now becomes how they speak to each other: in a close manner as shared between friends and neighbors. Moses is almost on an equal level to Yahweh in their relationship. They are friends.

One wonder why, if the importance of this scripture was the physicality of Yahweh, CES didn't instead choose verse 23, where Yahweh says that he has a backside, which Moses will be allowed to see.

Why Was This Verse Removed?

The LDS Church doesn't face as much opposition from evangelical Protestants who are opposed to its doctrine of an embodied God. There are many other points of opposition now that are not based on what is increasingly becoming a non-essential doctrine for Mormonism. I think this scripture was dropped because 1) the defense it offers isn't really needed as much, and 2) because in context it might not actually be saying what it at first appears to be saying. For these two reasons, it makes sense to remove it from the list.

Leviticus 19:18


לֹא־תִקֹּם וְלֹא־תִטֹּר אֶת־בְּנֵי עַמֶּךָ וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמֹוךָ אֲנִי יְהוָה

NJPSV: You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself: I am [Yahweh].

Schocken: You are not to take-vengeance, you are not to retain-anger against the sons of your kinspeople—but be-loving to your neighbor (as one) like yourself, I am [Yahweh]!

KJV: Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am [Yahweh].

In context, this is one of a long number of rules given in Leviticus to the Israelites by Yahweh. While I am a little upset that they took it out as it provides a good example of the Priestly source, as described in the Documentary Hypothesis, in the end it is not really that noteworthy. The entire reason that it was selected in the first place, I believe, is merely because it is quoted by Jesus of Nazareth in the Christian New Testament as one of the great laws of Judaism. As such, it is one way to try and tie Jesus and his teachings back into the Hebrew Bible (no easy feat, even though it's been done by Christians for over a thousand years now).

Why Was This Verse Removed?

I believe that this scripture was removed because it is redundant for LDS students. The same scripture appears, in quotation, in the New Testament as a statement of Jesus. Including it in a study of the “Old Testament” merely helps to “Christianize” this ancient Hebrew work. Combined with the loss of Job 19:25-26, this appears to be part of a move to not read Jesus back into the Hebrew Bible (though Isaiah 53 remains as part of the Scripture Mastery list, but we'll look more closely at that one later).

#Mormon #ScriptureMasteryOT #AcademicBiblical #HebrewBible


The Church Education System of the LDS Church reworked the Scripture Mastery Lists in the middle of 2013, retiring many old scriptures and adding new ones to the list. The old Scripture Mastery lists had been in use for over two decades; they're remnants from a much different time and perspective for the LDS Church which has in the intervening years seen a number of distinct changes in attitude and situation since then. In the world, we've had 9/11 and the fall of America as the international ideal. The CHurch has continued to grow in number, reaching a record number of recorded membership of over 14 million, though active membership remains much, much lower, with the number of people in the United States who self-identify as Mormon remaining constant since the turn of the twenty-first century, and the rate of growth, while still positive, continues a deceleration begun since the mid-1990s. And the rise of the Internet has had a massive impact on world governments, culture, and business and the Church as well has been deeply impacted by the availability of information. A return of high-quality Church historical research has reminded many of the Camelot years of Church Historian Leonard Arrington, but this time around the historians have been a mix between member sod the Church and non-members both writing with a hope for an accurate reconstruction of the past without polemic intent. The 2012 US President Election saw the nomination for the Republican Party of Mitt Romney, previously the Governor of Massachusetts and also previously a Stake President for the Cambridge/Boston area with family ties to many famous Church leaders of the twentieth century. The attention given to Romney's religion brought a lot of favorable and not-so-favorable facts about the Church to the public's perspective and whether or not Romney's run for the White House was a net positive or a net negative for the LDS Church still remains to be seen.

At the beginning of 2013 I started a series where I looked at the Scripture Mastery lists from within their context in an attempt to strip away incorrect assumptions and interpretations and to see how well the scriptures meant to be memorized by LDS youth made us of the ancient materials from within their own contexts. The result was, somewhat unsurprisingly, a very mixed bag with some scriptures being used pretty much as their ancient authors would probably have wanted them to be read and others being used in a context that would have been extremely foreign and alien to a follower of Jesus in the first century.

So I was very pleased (and surprised) to see that a new list was made for all four years of Seminary scripture study. However, upon further review some of the decisions behind the new formulations made very little sense. Some of the new scriptures were just as problematic in their context as the old ones, and some of the old problematic scriptures had been left behind in the new lists.

The lookout for the new lists has changed subtly, though as I renew my explorations for the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) list we'll see that these scripture mastery lists are still primarily tools for LDS youth to use in a defensive, apologetic manner in discussions with others not of their faith and not as tools to overcome the emotional difficulties of young adulthood. All the same, I welcome this change and applaud the intentions of CES.

But the changes are still better than what we had, for the most part. To explore why, I'm also planning a shorter exploration of the dropped scriptures from the Hebrew Bible list and why, at least from my personal perspective, these scriptures were axed from the official lists. Some of them have been dropped to get rid of some laughably bad proof-texting (e.g., Jeremiah 16:16). Others appear to have been dropped because they were more effective against an older, evangelical opposition to the LDS Church that has largely been replaced by a more secular humanist opposition (e.g., Exodus 33:11). And finally, some appear to have been dropped because the doctrines and perspectives of the LDS Church itself have fundamentally shifted during the interim between the formulation of the previous list and the 2010s (this reason especially is what I believe lies behind the dropping of Daniel 2:44-45 and Deuteronomy 7:3-4).

So as I get ready for my study of the scriptures of the Hebrew Bible Scripture Mastery List, I'll spend a bit of time going over the dropped scriptures, along with my own reasoning as to why they were dropped. It won't be a single scripture per post, most of the time, as sometimes the reasons are probably going to be pretty small, but I plan to at least cover, even if only in a small mention, each of the soon-to-be forgotten scriptures than over an entire generation of LDS youth were taught were so important that they deserved memorization. For some, it is sad to me that they will quickly be dismissed back into the seldom-read pages of the Christian Bible, and for others I say good riddance.

I look forward to your own comments, rebuttals, and opinions on this, so please come on back over the next few days as we look at the following scriptures from the Hebrew Bible:

  • Exodus 33:11
  • Leviticus 19:18
  • Deuteronomy 7:3-4
  • Joshua 1:8
  • Job 19:25-26
  • Isaiah 55:8-9
  • Jeremiah 16:16
  • Daniel 2:44-45

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