Lectures on Faith: Section 2, Part 1

October 13, 2018

Episodes

Lectures on Faith: Section 2, Part 1

The only thing more entertaining than a rehashing of the creation story is to read genealogies.

Drink count – 6

 

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4 Comments on “Lectures on Faith: Section 2, Part 1”

  1. Gottfried The Hirsute Says:

    Bryce, you’re thinking of James Ussher, Archbishop of the Church of Ireland from 1625-56 (of course!) 😉 By working backwards through the genealogies in the Old Testament, Ussher concluded that the world was created in 4004 B.C. – in October – on the 22nd – at 6:00PM! 😀 😀 😀

    Ussher’s chronology is chock full of assumptions used to fill the gaps and reconcile the conflicts in the O.T. genealogies. Assumptions notwithstanding, Ussher’s chronology was an early exercise in Biblical Literalism, which would become more and more of an issue as the Enlightenment developed.

    At first glance, the Second Lecture on Faith may seem pointless, or at the very least serve only as a means for Rigdon’s grandstanding (I mean, really, does anyone actually think that Joseph Smith had the patience to spend hours and hours doing the math?) However, when one considers Rigdon’s Campbellite background, and knowing that Campbellite theology relied not only on Biblical Literalism but also Biblical Inerrancy, this Lecture can be seen as a ‘proof’ of Biblical truth (albeit a logically flawed and fallacious one). The numbers add up – hence, it’s true. 😛

    You can see Rigdon wrestling with the ‘difficulty’ when he refers to two different ages for Terah at the birth of Abraham. The 60-year discrepancy arises when comparing the age of Terah at Abraham’s birth with the age of Abraham when he leaves Haran – how can both be accurate when there are no mistakes in the Bible? (The solution will be codified in 1842 as Article of Faith #8:” We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly…”)

    The “variety of scriptures which are not to our purpose at present to quote” to which Rigdon refers is in all likelihood the Babylonian Talmud – the main text of Rabbinic Judaism. Also, he could be referring to the Midrashim – the Book of Jasher, as we know it – which also has dates and ages that conflict with the Genesis account.

    But these present us with a problem: The Lectures on Faith were composed in 1834-35. The Book of Jasher wasn’t published in English until 1840. The Talmud wasn’t published in English until 1891! Joshua Seixas didn’t come to teach Hebrew at Kirtland until January 1836? So where did Rigdon get this information? I’ve got some more digging to do…

    Ussher’s Chronology coupled with 2 Peter 3:8 “…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” is the backbone of the “Earth is 6000-years-old” argument because the Earth’s existence is said to mirror its Creation: six ‘days’ (6000 years) followed by a ‘day of rest’ or ‘Sabbath’ (1000 years i.e. The Millenium). Neat! 😉

    In the late 1970s, my family had a book “Royal Ancestors of Some LDS Families” which consisted of hundreds of ‘pedigree charts’ (i.e. four-generation family tree diagrams that can be linked together) tracing the lineages of some early members. The compiler, Michael L. Call, used European royal pedigrees combined with Biblical genealogies and Ussher’s Chronology to create a family tree starting with Adam and Eve – “created 4004 B.C.” 😀

    Precocious 12-year-old that I was, and not content to flip back and forth between pages, I found two rolls of last year’s Christmas wrapping paper, turned them over, and proceeded to diagram my ancestry all the way back to Adam in one continuous 20+ foot long scroll! (Marie, are you in any way surprised by this? 😉 ) It was purely an exercise for my own edification, but somehow (probably via our Home Teachers) word got out and ‘up the chain’ and I was asked to display it at the next Stake Conference. What an honor! So I dutifully sent it to the Stake Center prior to the upcoming meetings.

    When I arrived that Sunday morning, I found the following statement attached to my work:
    “Twelve-year-old [Gottfried the Hirsute] of [undisclosed location] has traced his genealogy all the way back to Adam and Eve. What have you done lately?”

    I was horrified! I was (and still am) disgusted that my project, only created for my own enjoyment, was being used to guilt, shame and bully others. Even at that young age, I felt misused and misled by the Church and its leaders. In all probability, this may have been the very first item to go on my ‘shelf.’ 😦

    Reply

  2. Gottfried The Hirsute Says:

    Oh, and if you apply the ‘1 day = 1000 years’ principle to Genesis 2:17 regarding partaking of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” and note that Adam dies at age 930 (and 930<1000), then Adam dies on the same 'day' as he partook of the fruit – therefore God is not a Liar! Also neat! 😉

    Reply

  3. johanges Says:

    Not only Ussher dabbled in speculations on the date of creation. So did Kepler, Newton, and others. Perhaps Rigdon had access to one of the secondary sources?
    ——

    “Ussher wasn’t the only 17th-century scholar to date Creation. Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), who formulated the laws of planetary motion, placed it in 3992 BC. Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727), perhaps the greatest scientist of all time, placed Creation in 4000 BC.”
    —The man who dated Creation at Oct. 23, 4004 BC
    https://goo.gl/2X2PYQ

    Reply

    • Gottfried The Hirsute Says:

      Oh yes, most probably so. I didn’t mention the others for sake of brevity (of which I am still lacking.) However, it strikes me that Rigdon wouldn’t have referred to those works as ‘scripture.’ My line of thinking is that even though the Midrashim hadn’t been published in English translation yet, there were enough theologians in the United States who could read Hebrew that there would have been English-language commentaries. But I need to do research to confirm or disprove that hypothesis.

      Reply

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