<< "How can you say, 'We are wise, we have the law of the LORD', when scribes with their lying pens have falsified it?" (Jeremiah 8:8 NEB)
I looked up the commentary on this in my NIV Study Bible, and they interpret this to mean that the scribes had falsely interpreted the scriptures. However, I looked up "scribes" in both _Harper's Encyclopedia of Bible Life_ and _The Oxford Companion to the Bible_, and found out that before the Exile, scribes had principally been professional copyists. Only after the Exile did they become interpreters of the Law. Show this to your friends when they want to talk about "what the Bible says about itself"! >>
I just began looking through a very good book...it is actually more about canonization than scribes but it has some very good information. It does not appear we can make generalized statements about scribes. It would be specific to the area, city size, century, etc. In reading this, I get a much better idea as to why the scribes have such a prominent place next to the "pharisees" in the NT. Their influence would have been monumental as they would control the libraries. And it would seem to me that they would be pretty protected since a class with that kind of important education cannot be easily replaced. Here are some quotes:
"Scribes thus accumulated and codified knowledge for their masters and perpetuated their own craft through education; but they also wrote on their own account, creating the kinds of texts that would typically comprise the contents of a library. It is hardly surprising that an urban elite should develop its own culture, distinct form the rural culture of the peasants and, importantly, distinct from the ruling class that it served. Its stories, its values, and its skills will have differed from those of village, but also in some respects from temple and court as well, because its economic interests and its intellectual horizons were different. (p 18)
"Moreover, intellectual traditions without institutional support (recording, copying ,editing, archiving) are unable to canonize. Traditions do not float in the air." (p 76)
"Heaton is probably right to assume that canons emerge from the interests of an intellectual elite, and, indeed, to assume that in a small monarchic state this elite consists of the scribal class." (p. 77)
Philip R. Davies, Scribes and Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998)
As for what the "brethren" think...Dallin Oaks could not have set that in better perspective than in his Ensign article of Jan '95 ("Scripture Reading and Revelation, p 9):
"Commentaries are not a substitute for the scriptures any more than a good cookbook is a substitute for food. (When I refer to "commentaries," I refer to everything that interprets scripture, from the comprehensive book-length commentary to the brief interpretation embodied in a lesson or an article, such as this one.) . . .
If we depend only upon our own reasoning or the scholarship or commentaries of others, we will never obtain the understanding that can come only by revelation. Persons in that circumstance will be left forever with what Alma calls "the lesser portion of the word" (Alma 12:11)."
In other words, WE are responsible for discovering the scriptures for ourselves and we are to stop depending on what the brethren "think" about issues that are not clearly defined. Even McConkie said in Mormon Doctrine that being called to an administrative position gives no one greater theological insight or knowledge.
We only get in trouble when we start *teaching* anything that the prophet has not put forth first. "It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him." (Alma 12:9).
As for being deceived...even prophets have been deceived by those they entrusted (cf numerous examples in the Old Testament -- editor). How else can the followers of Christ be separated out except by being given the freedom to expose themselves?
In light of certain discussions on this list as well as in other circles, I would like to offer, for your reading pleasure, a quote that I think may prove useful in our apologetic efforts. George Q. Cannon, in his book, "Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet," states:
"In 1842 or 1843, a Methodist preacher by the name of Prior visited Nauvoo and on the Sabbath day attended religious services for the purpose of hearing a sermon by the Prophet. He published the following description of Joseph's appearance and words:
'I will not attempt to describe the various feelings of my bosom as I took my seat in a conspicuous place in the congregation, who were waiting in breathless silence for his appearance. While he tarried, I had plenty of time to revolve in my mind the character and common report of that truly singular personage. I fancied that I should behold a countenance sad and sorrowful, yet containing the fiery marks of rage and exasperation. I supposed that I should be enabled to discover in him some of those thoughtful and reserved features, those mystic and sarcastic glances, which I had fancied the ancient sages to possess. I expected to see that fearful, faltering look of conscious shame which, from what I had heard of him, he might be expected to evince. He appeared at last; but how was I disappointed when instead of the heads and horns of the beast and false prophet, I beheld only the appearance of a common man, of tolerably large proportions. I was sadly disappointed, and thought that, although his appearance could not be wrested to indicate anything against him, yet he would manifest all I had heard of him when he began to preach.
I sat uneasily, and watched him closely. He commenced preaching, not from the Book of Mormon, however, but from the Bible; the first chapter of the first of Peter was his text. He commenced calmly, and continued dispassionately to pursue his subject, while I sat in breathless silence, waiting to hear that foul aspersion of the other sect, that diabolical disposition of revenge, and to hear rancorous denunciation of every individual but a Mormon; I waited in vain; I listened with surprise; I sat uneasy in my seat, and could hardly persuade myself but that he had been apprised of my presence, and so ordered his discourse on my account, that I might not be able to find fault with it; for instead of a jumbled jargon of half-connected sentences, and a volley of imprecations, and diabolical and malignant denunciations, heaped upon the heads of all who differed from him, and the dreadful twisting and wresting of the Scriptures to suit his own peculiar views, and attempt to weave a web of dark and mystic sophistry around the gospel truths, which I had anticipated, he glided along through a very interesting and elaborate discourse with all the care and happy facility of one who was well aware of his important station. and his duty to God and man.'"(pp. 353-354)
Hi Dedee! Here's a good one. In Acts 12, James has just been killed by the authorities, and Peter is thrown into prison. An angel frees him from prison, and then leaves Peter. Peter goes to his friends' house, and the following occurs:
"And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel." (Acts 12:13-15)
Now, obviously they thought Peter was dead, just like James, so they didn't believe Peter was at the door in the flesh. They thought "his angel" was there. Who was "his angel"? Clearly "his angel" was Peter's spirit! It couldn't have been another "angel", because this one had Peter's voice.
Let me also give you some examples from non-scriptural documents to show the Jewish and Jewish Christian background of this concept. Origen, a third-century Christian theologian, quoted a Jewish document called the "Prayer of Joseph" where Jacob is represented as having been a great angel in his premortal existence:
"Thus Jacob says: "I, Jacob, who speak to you, arid Israel, I am an angel of God, a ruling spirit, and Abraham and Isaac were created before every work of God; and I am Jacob, called Jacob by men, but my name is Israel, called Israel by God, a man seeing God, because I am the first-born of every creature which God caused to live." [Origen, "Commentary on John" 2:25, in _The Ante-Nicene Fathers_ 10:341.]
A Jewish Christian document called "2 Enoch" or "The Secrets of Enoch" has this to say about Adam:
"And I placed on the earth, a second angel, honorable, great and glorious, and I appointed him as ruler to rule on earth and to have my wisdom, and there was none like him of earth of all my existing creatures . . . . I called his name Adam." ["Secrets of Enoch" 30:12-13, in Platt, ed., _The Forgotten Books of Eden_, 92.]
According to The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia the heavenly beings, including Jehovah, who appeared to Abraham in Genesis 18 and 19 were originally referred to simply as "men."
"They appear in the guise of human beings and, probably for want of a better term, the story speaks of them as 'men.' In the continuation of the narrative they are twice called 'angels' (Gen. 19:1, 15), but the very fact that the story continues to speak of them also and more frequently as 'men' (Gen. 19:5, 8, 10, 12 and 16) indicates that the term 'angel' was undoubtedly substituted by a later age for the original term 'men.'" [The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, vol. 1, 304.]
On June 4, 1974, at Westminister Presbyterian Church in orange County California, Walter Martin was lecturing in a public sermon about Mormonism. A Mormon who was in the crowd at the time, Bruce Johnson, heard Martin misquote from a page in the J&D which did not exist. This is the amazing dialogue which took place:
Johnson: Lets go on with the documentation, then to the doctrine, so we know exactly where we're gettingto. One further example then of the fraud you present- you said tonight, Journal of Discourses, Volume four, page 300, let me make this accurate so I know, page 385. I have, and then you proceed to quote. I have with me Journal of Discourses, volume four, and I would defy anyone, would you please open and tell me page 385...
Martin: Now wait a minute. Before.....