Entries Tagged 'Book Notes' ↓

Book: Beyond Death–Theological and Philosophical Reflections on Life after Death

My latest read was a collection of essays in a book Beyond Death: Theological and Philosophical Perspectivesentitled “Beyond Death–Theological and Philosophical Reflections on Life after Death.”I selected the book simply because the title caught my eye as I was skimming through the stacks one day in the library.   I really enjoyed the format of the book and commend the editors for the quality of writers they were able to attract.  The book consisted of a collection of essays of very diverse voices reflecting on the issue of life after death.  The essays included a wide range of perspectives:  Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Athiest/Humanist, Orthodox, Evangelical, and objective scientific researchers.  The writers were extremely articulate, thoughtful, and sincere in their reporting.  The greatness of the book is the all-encompassing picture that is painted; having the full spectrum in one place.  I regret that I no longer have the book in front of me to quote certain essays, however the power of the book truly lies in the panorama.  I found the discussion about the scientific study of near-death experiences particularly interesting, it really is a subject most scientists won’t touch with a ten foot pole yet it is very much a measurable phenomenon that can be examined and scrutinized.  I felt this book was an honest exploration of that ultimate question of life. 

Book: Did God have a Wife?–Mormon commentary

I previously reviewed Did God have a Wife?  by William Dever.  I finished with the statement that I would add some commentary specific to an LDS perspective, so here goes:

The concept of God having a wife:
Devers writes with a sense that revealing that God had a wife is an enormous blow to traditional Christianity (and perhaps accurately so if that means the definition of God set forth by the Creeds).  Of course the proposition that God has a wife is not at all threatening to a Mormon.  If you told a Mormon about this “new finding” the response would be something akin to “oh yeah–I already knew that.”

This understanding comes from statements made by the Prophet Joseph Smith to Eliza R. Snow who later Continue reading →

Book: Did God Have a Wife? Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel

My latest read was a book published in 2005 authored by William Dever entitled Did God Have a Wife? Archeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel. A fascinating read that I would recommend in a heartbeat. I will say that the author seems a bit obsessed with Asherah so that every slight hint of a woman deity is attributed to her, but at the same time perhaps his exuberance is needed to wake up a religious community that seems unwilling to face up to the questions raised by this accumulation of research.

The quick summary: Dever tries to paint the picture of how religion was practiced in Ancient Israel based on the archeological remains of typical communities. In many instances this picture is quite different (or provides a more complete picture) than the traditional interpretation or picture painted by Christianity or Judiasm based on their reading of the Old Testament. His primary focus throughout is the evidence of a female counterpart to El (or Elohim) and Yahweh (the Hebrew words most often translated as God or Lord in the King James Bible) named Asherah.

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Book: Mystery Religions of Ancient World–quotes of interest to Mormons

These are all quotes from my recent read, Mystery Religions of the Ancient World.  They might seem random and nonsensical to some of my readers but others will find them particularly interesting.  In no particular order:

“Certain information was also given at Eleusis by word of mouth, including the ‘password to the Paradise of Demeter’ to be used after death.  … So the Lesser Mysteries give the initiates theoretical knowledge which chnages their whole view of man and the cosmos, and stands them in better stead when they have to leave this world for the unknown.  The Greater Mysteries, or higher grades of initiation, were conducted individually rather than collectively… But the primary object of these initiations was to take the candidate through the gates of death.”

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Book: Mystery Religions of the Ancient World

As I said in my about page, I am particularly interested in the Ancient World and in Early Christianity which explains why, as I was perusing the stacks the other day, I ended up checking out this book: Mystery Religions in the Ancient World by Joscelyn Godwin.  The book is intended as an introduction to a general audience and in that it serves its purpose.  (If this whole topic is new to you, you might want to read the wikipedia entry for Mystery Religions as a basic introduction. Basically the mystery religions were belief systems from classical antiquity that included secret rites and teaching into which religious followers were initiated.)

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The word “cult” and Mormons’ claims of Sacred vs. Secret

For the next couple posts I want to discuss this book I just read, Mystery Religions in the Ancient World by Joscelyn Godwin which will call for the use of words like mysteries, cult, and occult.  Considering I am a Mormon and that word “cult”  is sometimes associated with my religion I want to be clear on definitions before we begin.  

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Books on “what is the best thing we could be doing?”

Some books I’ve read that have inspired me in the “What is the best thing I could be doing?” question:

Three Cups of Tea  by Greg Mortenson

How to Change the World by David Bornstein

Four Essays on Love by Truman Madsen

The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis

Working toward Zion by Lucas and Woodworth

Approaching Zion by Nibley

Way to Be   by Gordon B. Hinckley

Book: Lost Scriptures

A recent read that I have found interesting, that poses more questions than answers, is Bart D. Ehrman‘s Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make it into the New Testament. I choose this book as opposed to his other popular book, Lost Christianities, because Lost Scriptures is simply a collection of the translated texts as opposed to commentary. The Christian texts in the book range from the 1st to 4th centuries, most of which have only been discovered in the last 60 years. It also looks at texts that no longer exist, our only knowledge coming from instances when the text was cited or quoted by someone else. Extremely interesting read. Here are a couple take-aways from the book: Continue reading →