Sunday, December 29, 2013

Welcome, Cascade Fourth!

It's Sunday night, December 29th.  A week from today I'll teach Gospel Doctrine for the first time, so I'm posting this as an inauguration of sorts, a mile marker.  Posts prior to this one were put up when the blog served different purposes.  Posts after this one are intended for Gospel Doctrine class members (2014 subject: Old Testament).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Thou Shalt Go Before

Zacharias again tells us the role of the Elias priest, a role his son will fulfill.  The Elias priest goes before the Lord to prepare the way, gives knowledge of (announces) salvation, which is the imminent dawn, which will give to those in the valley of the shadow of death.  Finally, Elias will set the feet of those people in the path of "peace."  In this description, Zacharias quotes from Worship of the Shalems texts: Isaiah 9 and Isaiah 40.

Luke, like Matthew, is a temple man and a follower of Isaiah.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Soul Doth Magnify the Lord

The Threshingfloor Marriage continues with a hymn.  The "blessed" status of the "handmaid" is noted again, as is the power "might" of the Lord, and the manifestation of blessing in "seed."  Notice the Sermon on the Mount Ordinance motifs: the Lord shows his arm, fills the hungry, exalts the low, and grants mercy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

And Blessed Is the Fruit

The repetition of the phrase "blessed art thou among women" strengthens the impression that we have here to do with ritual language, words that are repeated and answered.  "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb" appears to be the response.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Behold the Handmaid of the Lord

Mary submits by identifying herself as the Lord's handmaid.  Similarly, Ruth identifies herself as Boaz's handmaid.  So does Hannah, before she conceives Samuel.  Psalm 116 identifies the servant in the courts of the Lord's house as the son of the Lord's handmaid.

Looking at these passages together, "handmaid" reads like a temple-priestly title.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Power of the Highest

The Melchizedek priest acts with power.  This same language occurs in a similar context, and appears to refer to a sacred marriage ordinance, in Matthew's story of the woman who marries seven brothers.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Lord Is with Thee

This greeting from Gabriel sounds liturgical; in other words, if there is a Threshingfloor Marriage, this sounds like it might be language taken from the performance of it.

Also, if Gabriel is alone, this language suggests that he is the Lord, El Gibbor.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

His Wife Elizabeth Conceived

Elizabeth is childless and barren, a state Philo (not a Christian, as we understand the term) associates with symbolic virginity.  John the Baptist's conception is therefore also a sort of virgin birth, and arises from a temple appearance of the Melchizedek priest.

Friday, March 8, 2013

I Am Gabriel

The angel who brings the news to Zacharias is the Melchizedek priest -- he has come from the presence of God and he bears the name Gabriel = El Gibbor, the mighty God.

Was the giving of curses as signs a special power of the Melchizedek priest?  I am reminded of Abinadi and Alma.  Maybe this is how we should read Isaiah 10-14, as a curse/sign from the rightful and righteous Melchizedek priest.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

On the Right Side of the Altar

Zacharias has a vision, explicitly in the temple.  The angel (angelos, messenger) of the Lord appears to one side of the incense altar.  This is a telling detail that speaks to the angel's message: the angel is the angel / messenger of the hekal.  In the Worship of the Shalems, that makes the angel the Elias priest.  Is Zacharias' reaction the reaction of the worshippers to the coming of Elias?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

They Were Both Righteous

Elisabeth and Zacharias are identified as being righteous "before God," a phrase generally taken to imply presence in the temple, where God dwells.  They are both of priestly descent, and their righteousness is exemplified in the way they "walk."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Most Excellent Theophilus

A debated question is the identity of this Theophilus, identified as the recipient of Luke's testimony.  If we take Theophilus seriously as a real person (as opposed to a literary fiction), we need to reckon with what Luke says in his introduction.  Luke writes about witnesses from the beginning, the helpers of the Melchizedek priest, the Word.  Luke's is going to be a temple testimony, and he tells us that Theophilus -- whoever that might be -- already has some instruction in the matter.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ministers of the Word

Luke's gospel starts like John's: with the Word (logos), and his ministers (helpers, assistants) who were witnesses from the beginning (arche).

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Now the God of Peace

The God of Hebrews is the God of "peace."

The author had previously identified Christ as Melchizedek; now he also identified Christ as the "great shepherd of the sheep."

Friday, March 1, 2013

Divers and Strange Doctrines

The "strange doctrines" appear to be the animal sacrifices of the Jews.  Hebrews knows an altar meal participation in which requires authority, and from which the official priesthood of his day is excluded.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Whose Faith Follow

The author of Hebrews urges his readers to follow their leaders' "faith" ("faith" is also described as being the motive power in Ether and Moroni, in clear temple contexts).  They are to do this "considering" (anatheorountes, looking up at) the "end" (ekbasin, walking out or exit) of their "conversations" (anastrophes, turning upward).

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Honourable in All

The visionary men have a positive view of marriage and "the bed."  This is not surprising; remember that Nephi's own covenant-initiatory experience consists of the Lord making promises about his "seed," and Lehi can't really leave Jerusalem until he's secured wives for his sons.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The City of the Living God

Hebrews makes explicit that he is exhorting a temple community, and inviting them to come forward and persevere.  They are not in "the mount that might be touched" because the Jerusalem hierarchy controls the physical temple of Solomon.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Make Straight Paths

The call to "make straight paths" is another sign that the author of Hebrews imagines his audience as standing in the hekal.  References to "peace" and seeing the Lord are consistent.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

If Ye Endure Chastening

"Chastening" and "chastisement" are translations of paideia, a Greek word meaning instruction or training.  The Worship of the Shalems is the process of being trained to be God's children.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Despise Not Thou the Chastening

It's interesting that in the context of exhorting us to move forward towards Christ on his throne, Hebrews quotes Proverbs 3, a famous poem about moving forward along paths of peace towards the tree of life and wisdom, who gives happiness and has filled hands (a sign of priesthood and also a possible allusion to sacred gestures).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Author and Finisher

"Author" is archegos, captain, the one having arche, or dominion.  Having arche marks Jesus as a Melchizedek priest.

"Finisher" is teleiotes, the one who makes perfect.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Let Us Run

A cloud, witnesses, and running a gauntlet looking forward to Jesus, who has sat upon the throne of God, all go together in the hekal, in the moment when the shalems resolve to move forward to the veil.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Offered Up His Only Begotten

Isaac is a priestly figure.  He is the "seed," he is offered as a sacrifice, and he is raised from the dead.  He is a "figure" (in Greek a parabole, a parable).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Through Faith Also Sara

"In faith" Sara receives "seed" (a subject on which Nephi obsesses) and gives birth to the father of a race of angel-priests.

Friday, February 15, 2013

A More Excellent Sacrifice

We begin to "witness" the "elders" and we see that their stories have temple dimensions.  Abel's sacrifice is of the firstlings -- it's the same as God's own sacrifice, which is laid on the table for consumption in the Worship of the Shalems.  Enoch ascends to heaven and overcomes death, which Alma shows us is God's gift to the shalems.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

He That Cometh to God

Faith is the motive power by which one approaches God, "seeks" him, and asks for a reward.  This is the same thing we are told by the Brother of Jared and also by Matthew.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Faith Is the Substance

"Substance" is a mechanical rendering of the underlying Greek word, which is hypostasis.  "Understanding" would have been a similarly mechanical rendering, and similarly uninformative.  Hypostasis is a word that refers to a shared substance or reality; it has been adopted by Christian theologians to refer to each/any member of the Trinity.  Christ, the Logos, or Aramaic Memra are said to be (or not be, in some case) a hypostasis, an appearance of divinity sharing divinity's substance.

So "incarnation" is a word that could translate hypostasis, and shed more light.  Faith is the incarnation of things hoped for, the "coming to light" of deeds not seen.  "In faith" (not by faith) the elders have "been witnessed" (not obtained a good report).

This is ordinance language.  In faith, Hebrews  has seen incarnated and brought to light that which is ordinarily behind the veil, and also the elders.  In this same context, "we" understand God's creation of the earth.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Let Us Draw Near

Christ has opened the road into the Holy of Holies.  Hebrews invites us to enter, which we do by drawing near, having faith, being washed, approaching in a community, and grasping something.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Through the Veil

The temple veil is the flesh of Jesus.  Since Jesus has opened the way through his sacrifice, the author of Hebrews invites his readers into the Holy of Holies.

Matthew knows the same symbolism.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Boldness to Enter

"Holiest" is again a bad translation here.  Hebrews says ten eisodon ton hagion, which is better rendered "the saints' [holy ones, angels] road leading in."

Hebrews connects the Day of Atonement and the Worship of the Shalems repeatedly.  The authors sees the Worship of the Shalems, identification as "perfection" or the "road of the holy ones," made efficacious or possible or meaningful by the one-time sacrifice of Christ, foretold in the yearly Day of Atonement rite.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Blood of Bulls and of Goats

A bull and two goats are some of the Day of Atonement sacrifices recorded in Leviticus.  Hebrews then quotes several verses from Psalm 40, suggesting that the context for that Psalm is the Day of Atonement.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

There Is a Remembrance

The Day of Atonement is a remembrance.  This is key, and a plain statement, because other passages connect the ideas of remembrance, the dressing of the high priest, and the incarnation of the Lord.  See, for instance: Leviticus, Luke, Exodus, and Matthew.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A Shadow of Good Things to Come

The "law" (of Moses) can't make anyone perfect.  That's because it lacks the "image" of things to come, and contains only the "shadow" of that that image.

Hebrews is telling us that before its apostasy, the First Temple contained the image of things to come and perfected its worshippers.  This precedes a discussion of the Day of Atonement, which Hebrews understands as -- in its original, uncorrupted form -- teaching of the coming of Christ.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Patterns of Things in the Heavens

The Day of Atonement rite pre-enacted Christ's once-for-all self-sacrifice.  The temple is heaven on earth, containing the presence of God.

Men die and face their judgment: this is the dressing and judgment at the veil within the temple.

Having made his sacrifice, Christ will now come spotless with salvation: this is the high priest-the Lord emerging from the temple on the Day of Atonement.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

He Is the Mediator

Christ is the mesites, the one who stands between.  Those who are "called" grasp (labosin) the promise of eternal inheritance.

One can only inherit something when the one who possesses it has died.  This makes sense because Christ is the Lord-Yahweh-the King.  Having died, he can now meet shalems at the veil and acknowledge them individually, if worthy, as his children and heirs.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Neither by the Blood of Goats and Calves

Christ comes as the high priest and also the sacrifice of the Day of Atonement.  His coming is an element common to the Day of Atonement and the Worship of the Shalems, and it is that coming that gives both ordinances their power -- until then, they are just forms and figures, parables.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Meats and Drinks, and Divers Washings

The apostate services, though they include meat, drink, and washing, are unable, without the mission and presence of Christ, to make the worshippers "perfect" (teleiosai) (compare with Matthew 5:48).

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Holy Ghost This Signifying

These verses are tough.  Hebrews seems to know a change between a first tabernacle, in which multiple priests entered the temple, and a second, in which only the high priest did.  Might this change represent the fault in the "first covenant" he alludes to?

Verse 8 is translated strangely.  "The way into the holiest of all" should be read "the road of the holy ones [saints, angels]."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Of Which We Cannot Now Speak

Hebrews describes the furniture of the Debir and the Hekal, and then balks at saying more.  It's not clear whether it's specifically about the Cherubim that he won't add detail, or about all the furniture -- the pronouns could mean other.  In either case, it's a curious thing to write.  What more would he have said, particularly?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wherein Was the Golden Pot

Hebrews knows that the manna was kept inside the ark (there are rabbinical sources that agree).  It also says (in the KJV) that the "shewbread" was in the second room, the Hekal, which seems to imply that the two kinds of bread were different... or else there is a contradiction.

In fact the apparent contradiction may only exist in the English translation.  The Greek of verse 2 doesn't say "the shewbread," but has he prothesis ton arton, which means "the putting forward of the loaves."  Hebrews 9:2, in other words, knows the Hekal as the room where the bread was put out (to be eaten?), but 9:4 may tell us that the same bread was kept with the throne.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ordinances of Divine Service

"[A]nd a worldly sanctuary" is a terrible translation.  The last words of the verse in Greek are to te hagion kosmikon, which is better read as "and a sacred cosmic thing" or maybe "and its sanctuary [was] cosmic."  The translation "worldly" makes it sound like Hebrews disparages the first temple, but the opposite is true -- Hebrews knows that the temple is the same thing as all of creation, the kosmos.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

I Unfold Unto You a Mystery

I read this with the kids this week.  Alma's doctrine of revelation clearly comes from or informs the Worship of the Shalems.  He's unfolding a "mystery," he twice describes resurrection in the language of dressing, and he identifies it as something that doesn't happen until Christ comes.  This corresponds to the action in the Hekal, when the Lord-Melchizedek descends (Christ arrives) and dresses the initiates.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

If that First Covenant Had Been Faultless

Hebrews is very clear.  The problem with the "first covenant" is not that it was incomplete, but that it wasn't kept.  The new covenant is the same as the original covenant, and Hebrews quotes Jeremiah about them both: the law will be written inside them, and they will all know the Lord.

Friday, January 25, 2013

A More Excellent Ministry

Christ's "ministry" is a leitourgia, a "ritual" or "ordinance."  The "promises" upon which it is established are epangelias, things born by angels.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

We Have Such an High Priest

Jesus is the heavenly high priest.  Also, Hebrews indicts the earthly temple priesthood (the New Testament's "hypocrites") in verse 5.  "Serve" is latreuousin, meaning "they worship."  The Jerusalem hierarchy has lost the true substance of its worship, and though it still retains the rooms and some of the temple's furnishings, their temple cultus is focused on the type and shadow rather than the reality.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Not Without an Oath

The "law" makes priests without an oath, by mere blood descent.  Jesus, a high priest after the order of Melchizedek, is installed in his priestly office by oath.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Abideth a Priest Continually

Hebrews tells us that Salem isn't to be understood as a place -- it means "peace," confirming our reading that Melchizedek is the shalem king (Alma says a similar thing).  Hebrews knows that Melchizedek isn't a mortal; he's a Son of God, a priesthood office.

Friday, January 18, 2013

By Two Immutable Things

In this course Hebrews describes, God and man swear mutual oaths.  This is because God wants to show man the unchangeability of his "counsel."  In Greek this is boule, which is the word used in Isaiah to translate the Hebrew etza, where it manifestly means the tree of the temple menorah (for instance, Isaiah 11:2 and 5:18-19).  See also Isaiah 9:6, where the Greek LXX provides as the sole title of the descending Melchizedek priest the "angel of great counsel."  The course ends with grasping something described as "hope" and entering within the veil, where one has been preceded by Jesus, the Melchizedek priest.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Shew the Same Diligence

Hebrews urges readers to persevere in a course that requires faith and hope, and results in inheriting the promises of Abraham.  This is the same course already described, which if one falls away from, one cannot repent.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

If They Shall Fall Away

Hebrews exhorts us to leave behind the world beneath the veil, and dwell in the Holy of Holies forever.    Part of that exhortation is a warning not to apostatize -- those who have seen the light, received the heavenly gift, received the Holy Ghost, tasted the "word" of God and the powers (remember that power, dynamis, is one of the markers of the Melchizedek priest), and "fall away" cannot repent, Hebrews says.

This may or may not be rhetorical exaggeration, but notice that all the activities are actions in the Worship of the Shalems.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Let Us Go On Unto Perfection

This verse is hard to understand in English.  In Greek it's also tricky, but the imagery is clearer: a literal translation of the first clause would be "therefore letting go of the word (Word?) of the dominion of Christ let us be borne upon perfection (ten teleioteta)..."

And verse two should be read "of baptisms, of teaching..."  The appearance of the word "doctrine" in both verses 1 and 2 of the KJV makes it appear that both instances translate a single underlying word, but they don't.  And I think they're a wrong insertion both times.

The imagery, though, is an exhortation to progress forward from the moment of grasping the Lord at the veil and build upon the rock.  Baptism, teaching, laying on of hands, and even judgment are identified as things that do not exist within the veil.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Seeing Ye Are Dull of Hearing

The audience is dull of hearing, like those who will not understand the writings of Isaiah.  Milk is for those who don't understand the "word of righteousness," and "unskilful" here is the Greek apeiros, meaning "inexperienced."  Those who will get strong meat are those who "by reason of use have their senses exercised."  Like Nephi, Isaiah, and John, the author of Hebrews proposes that sensory experience of the temple is key to being able to receive and understand stronger doctrine.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Being Made Perfect in Greek teleiotheis, the same root as underlies Matthew 5:48.  Jesus, having been chosen from among men to be placed above men, has to make the ascent to the throne like anyone else... by becoming a shalem.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thou Art My Son

The quotations are from Psalms 2 and 110, royal-priestly psalms about the king being begotten of the Lord and becoming a priest of the order of Melchizedek.  The implication seems to be that the Gospel accounts of the voice from heaven identifying Jesus as God's (?) son should be understood as recounting the moment of his ordination as high priest (e.g. Matthew, Mark, Luke).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

No Man Taketh

The temple hierarchy at the end of the Second Temple are for the writers of the Gospels "actors," hypokriteis, for precisely this reason -- they take upon themselves offices and titles that can only be bestowed by God.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Every High Priest Taken From Among Men

This verse needs unpacking.  First, if he's taken from among men, that means he ceases to be a man -- he is now divine.  Second, the Greek says he's "ordained [appointed, placed] above men."  This is explicit temple imagery, the image of a man ascending to sit on God's throne in the Holy of Holies.  Third, from there he does two things: he brings gifts (the feast of bread and wine and the clothing of the Worship of the Shalems) and he makes sacrifice for sin (the Day of Atonement).

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

We Have a Great High Priest

In Greek, Hebrews doesn't say that Jesus has entered heaven, but that he has passed through the heavens.  The heavens here are the veil, so the reference could be either to Jesus entering the Holy of Holies, or to Jesus emerging from the same.

Monday, January 7, 2013

And in This Place Again

Hebrews identifies Genesis 2 and Psalms 95 both as texts being spoken in the same place.  This is yet another confirmation that the Genesis creation account is part of the script of the Worship of the Shalems.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

As Well as Unto Them

For the author of Hebrews, the Israelites of the Exodus received the same covenant offer as the first Christians and failed to accept it.

Verse 2 is hard to read and translated badly: the Logos (Word) by hearing didn't help the Israelites,  because the Israelites were not mixed together in faith with the ones who heard.  Is this a reference to the esoteric nature of temple worship -- that the Israelites broadly were unaware of the temple worshippers among them?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013

If Ye Will Hear His Voice

Hebrews now quotes another liturgical psalm.  This is a song of joy sung by people bowing to worship the Lord their "rock," planning to enter into his "presence" and his "rest."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Christ as a Son

Christ is also a temple figure, inside a house.  He is categorically different from Moses: Moses serves and witnesses, but Christ rules as the son.  The difference between Christ and other priest figures is a central theme of Hebrews.