Saturday, July 12, 2014

An Important Book

I recently finished an excellent and important book:

Lois M. Farag, ed. The Coptic Christian Heritage: History, Faith, and Culture. London: Routledge, 2014. (It is available here and here.)

There are many books on Coptic Christianity but what makes this one interesting and important is that it was written by Coptic Christians about their own faith. Their insider perspective is missing from most works about Coptic Christianity. I, like most outsiders, might write differently about their faith than they do; and they certainly write differently than most outsiders do, and that is the point. That is what makes this book so special and important. It is an insider's account. They emphasize the sorts of things that are important to them, not the things that are important to outsiders. Although I am familiar with the Coptic faith, I learned a great deal from this book. Their account is to be preferred to the accounts of outsiders. If one is interested in Coptic Christianity, this is a good place to start.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Church on the Book of Abraham

The Church has released a statement on the Book of Abraham. I, of course, did not write it. I do like it. It seems to be cautious and careful general statement of the issue. People who want to say what the Church's position on the Book of Abraham should take it as a starting point.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Born of Wealthy Parents?

Yesterday someone presented me with a novel reading of 1 Nephi 1:1. They told me that they were told that in Joseph Smith's day goodly meant wealthy. Therefore,
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father (1 Nephi 1:1)
would mean that Nephi was able to be educated because his father was rich. This is, of course, intriguing. We know that Lehi was wealthy (1 Nephi 3:22-25), but in pre-exilic Israel education was largely a family affair. Hiring tutors is better known in the later Greco-Roman world.

Unfortunately, the premise of the argument is flawed. According to the 1828 Webster's dictionary, goodly meant:
GOOD´LY, adj. ‎1. Being of a handsome form; beautiful; graceful; as, a goodly person; goodly raiment; goodly houses. – Shak.
‎2. Pleasant; agreeable; desirable; as, goodly days. – Shak.
‎3. Bulky; swelling; affectedly turgid. [Obs.] – Dryden.
The Oxford English Dictionary lists the following usage from Joseph Smith's day:
1. Of good appearance; good-looking, well-favoured or proportioned; comely, fair, handsome.
2. Notable or considerable in respect of size, quantity, or number (freq. with mixture of sense 1).
3. Of good quality, admirable, splendid, excellent. Also, well suited for some purpose, proper, convenient (often with implication of sense 1).
So, in Joseph Smith's day, goodly did not mean wealthy. Yes, Lehi was wealthy but Nephi does not seem to be addressing that issue in his first verse, at least not based on English usage.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Friday the Thirteenth

I am not a triskaidekaphobe by any means, nevertheless, a friend of mine had a very bad Friday the thirteenth. This is for my friend:
  1. Oh, what songs of the heart
    We shall sing all the day,
    When again we assemble at home,
    When we meet ne'er to part
    With the blest o'er the way,
    There no more from our loved ones to roam!
    When we meet ne'er to part,
    Oh, what songs of the heart
    We shall sing in our beautiful home.
     
  2. Tho our rapture and bliss
    There's no song can express,
    We will shout, we will sing o'er and o'er,
    As we greet with a kiss,
    And with joy we caress
    All our loved ones that passed on before;
    As we greet with a kiss,
    In our rapture and bliss,
    All our loved ones that passed on before.
     
  3. Oh, the visions we'll see
    In that home of the blest,
    There's no word, there's no thought can impart,
    But our rapture will be
    All the soul can attest,
    In the heavenly songs of the heart;
    But our rapture will be
    In the vision we'll see
    Best expressed in the songs of the heart.
     
  4. Oh, what songs we'll employ!
    Oh, what welcome we'll hear!
    While our transports of love are complete,
    As the heart swells with joy
    In embraces most dear
    When our heavenly parents we meet!
    As the heart swells with joy,
    Oh, what songs we'll employ,
    When our heavenly parents we meet!
 A beautiful arrangement of this can be found here (unfortunately the audio is not the best).

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Downgraded by Moody's

A couple of weeks ago I reported that BYU, or at least its law school was ranked 24th in placement of its graduates. Apparently Moody's has its own version of that list and BYU places 27th. Not quite as good, but still not bad.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

We're Twenty-Fourth!

At least the BYU law school is ranked 24th in the United States. Similar criteria could be applied to other programs.