Abstract of Christensen, Kevin. “The Temple, the Monarchy, and Wisdom: Lehi’s World and the Scholarship of Margaret Barker.”

Christensen, Kevin. “The Temple, the Monarchy, and Wisdom: Lehi’s World and the Scholarship of Margaret Barker.” In Glimpses of Lehi’s Jerusalem, edited by John W. Welch, David Rolph Seely, and Jo Ann H. Seely, 449-522. Provo, UT: FARMS, 2004. [Israel/Solomon/Theology/Mormon]

Over two decades Margaret Barker, a Methodist minister from the UK, has produced a large body of scholarship which is potentially a paradigm shift in the study of the origin of Christianity and the core of its fundamental doctrines which are associated with the Temple. She argues that king Josiah’s reforms in the period of 640-609 B.C. were a rejection of the doctrines, teachings, rituals, symbolism, and practices associated with the First Temple of Solomon. The “Deuteronomists” appear to have heavily influenced the writing of significant portions of the Old Testament, expunging, altering, and otherwise rejecting these and other things. They reject the plurality of Gods, the deification of man, seeing God, the rituals and symbolism of the Temple, and the overall centrality of the Temple. Thus Barker challenges the notion of the assumption of an unbroken continuity in the religion of Israel before and after the Exile. Christensen’s study looks at the early portion of the Book of Mormon to see what evidences those who came out of Jerusalem just after the reforms of Josiah may have left regarding those reforms.  He looks at three subjects specifically, the view of the temple, the monarchy and wisdom.  In this lengthy and interesting article, the author finds that the patterns noted by Barker are repeated in the Book of Mormon, though often not as explicitly as one may like, but often point for point as it is found in the First Temple traditions.  For one good example, all of the major sermons found in the Book of Mormon given at the Temple sites deal with the atonement, creation, and other important temple themes, especially Jewish Festivals associated with the Temple. He calls on considerable work by LDS scholars relating to the Book of Mormon and the Temple to make his points. His general conclusion is stated thus: “Barker’s work illustrates a complex pattern involving specific historical events, times, places, persons, and teachings. All of this comes in a timely manner and in the appropriate place to be relevant to the Book of Mormon.  In my opinion, this correspondence is not accidental but providential.”

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