Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mormonism and Margaret Barker - Part 5


Four of my earliest posts here at AF (11/07 thru 01/08) were part of a series titled: Mormonism and Margaret Barker. This post will be the fifth installment of this series.

Yesterday, I received in the mail volume 56.1 (2017) of the BYU Studies Quarterly journal (see this link for full content). This issue included, "a lightly edited transcript of a lecture delivered by Old Testament scholar Margaret Barker at Brigham Young University on November 9, 2016" (p. 75).

Barker's contribution was titled, "The Lord Is One", which is an interesting one, given the primary content of the lecture—deification/theosis in the Bible. This topic of deification/theosis in the Bible is a common theme in a number of Barker's articles, books, and lectures. In part 3 (link) of my aforementioned series, I contrast some of Barker's reflections on deification/theosis with those within the Mormon paradigm. I concluded that post with:

A careful analysis of Barker’s teachings on first Temple deification offers little (if any) resemblance to deification/exaltation in LDS theology. Not only does deification take place prior to ones death and entrance into heaven, deification has nothing to do with the resurrection of the physical body; which is a non-negotiable element of Latter-day Saint deification/exaltation.

The edited transcript of Barker's 11/09/16 lecture presents no new material that would give me cause to change any of my previous assessments contained in the first four installments of this series. Though Barker's contributions are always an interesting read (IMO), her unwavering commitment to a number of liberal presuppositions and theories advanced by critics and skeptics of the Bible makes it extremely difficult for me to embrace, and/or endorse, the general thrust of a number of the conclusions she has reached—e.g. Yahweh is not the one true God of Israel, the "Deuteronomists" changed and corrupted the original teachings of the "First Temple Theology", the king of Israel was "the Lord in human form", et al. (See Barker's website for a listing of all of her contributions; a good number of her published papers are available there for free.)

One glaring flaw contained in the edited transcript is her belief that the, "Deuteronomists also denied the ancient belief that the Lord was seen in human form, what the Christians would later call incarnation" (p. 82). She appeals to Deut. 4:12 to support this belief, stating:

The Deuteronomists, however, said that no divine form was seen, even when Moses received the Ten Commandments: “The Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice” (Deut. 4:12). (Page 82)

Barker is unable (unwilling?) to harmonize Deut. 4:12 with those numerous verses contained in the Bible which state that God was "seen". Why is it that she cannot accomplish what so many other scholars/theologians have done? I cannot help but think that her liberal presuppositions and theories are at play here.

Complicating Barker's assessment is her enlisting of a number of verses from the Gospel of John which she believes contradicts Deut. 4:12, and the so-called teaching of the Deuteronomists. And yet, it is from the writings of John that one finds the strongest statements that God has not been seen, nor can be seen! (See my previous thread for germane references.)

Anyway, I wanted to bring to the attention of my readers this latest contribution by Barker. I am confident that my future posts concerning the visio Dei or vision of God will expose certain weaknesses in Barker's assessments, and also demonstrate that the verses she finds so contradictory are in fact harmonious.


Grace and peace,

David

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