Old Testament

Week 3: The Creation

Genesis 1–2; Moses 2–3; Abraham 3–4

Week 2 | OT home | Week 4

23 September 2021

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Notes and lesson materials will be posted after the class has been held.

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Lesson 3 notes

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Lesson 3 handout: Parallel creation accounts

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Lesson 3 slideshow (on‑screen version)

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Lesson 3 slideshow (printable version)

Additional reading

  • Benjamin Spackman, “Misunderstanding the Bible,” LDS Perspectives Podcast #45 (19 July 2017). In this enlightening interview, Spackman, a Latter-day Saint Ph.D. student at Claremont University, explains the concept of genre and how it’s important to understanding the Book of Genesis. In “Genesis 1,” LDS Perspectives Podcast #71 (20 December 2017), Spackman discusses what many scholars believe the priestly scribes were writing about in the book of Genesis.

  • John Gee, William J. Hamblin, and Daniel C. Peterson, “‘And I Saw the Stars’: The Book of Abraham and Ancient Geocentric Astronomy,” Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant, eds. John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2005), 1–16. Gee, Hamblin, and Peterson demonstrate how the astronomy described in Abraham chapter 3 lines up exactly with other Ancient Near Eastern geocentric cosmological models.

  • Kevin L. Barney, “Examining Six Key Concepts in Joseph Smith’s Understanding of Genesis 1:1,” BYU Studies 39, no. 3 (2000): 107–24. In the spring of 1844, Joseph Smith preached two sermons in Nauvoo about the first verse in the Old Testament. In this article, Latter-day Saint scholar Kevin Barney discusses Joseph’s understanding of the Hebrew of Genesis 1:1.

  • Duane E. Jeffrey, “Seers, Savants, and Evolution: The Uncomfortable Interface,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 8, no. 3–4 (Fall/Winter 1973): 41–75. Dr. Jeffrey, emeritus Professor of Integrative Biology at BYU, reviews the beliefs about evolution held by Church leaders and absence of an official Church statement on the subject.

  • Richard Sherlock, “‘We Can See No Advantage to a Continuation of the Discussion’: The Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 13, no. 3 (Fall 1980): 63–78; Jeffrey R. Keller, “Discussion Continued: The Sequel to the Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15, no. 1 (Spring 1982): 79–98. In the 1920s and early 1930s, there was an intense debate among several leading general authorities about the age of the earth and death before the Fall. These articles tell the story of that discussion and how it ended without a resolution.

The Book of Abraham is an excellent example of an ancient geocentric cosmology: The celestial bodies “standeth above the earth…one planet above another, until thou come nigh unto [the star] Kolob…[which] is set nigh unto the throne of God” (Abraham 3:5, 9). This image models the cosmology of Abraham 3:1–18:

Videos

“Truth, Scripture, and Interpretation: Some Precursors to Reading Genesis,” a presentation by Latter-day Saint scholar Ben Spackman at the August 2017 FairMormon Conference in Provo, Utah.

The late BYU professor Bill Hamblin explored the meaning of the word firmament in the Genesis creation account. (This video is part of his “Biblical explorations” series on Genesis 1.)