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Joseph Smith and Preexilic Israelite Religion

TitleJoseph Smith and Preexilic Israelite Religion
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsBarker, Margaret
JournalBYU Studies Quarterly
Keywords1 Nephi; Jerusalem; King Zedekiah; Old Testament; Preexilic

Terryl Givens has set Joseph Smith in the religious and cultural context of his time and raised many important issues. I should like to take a few of these issues and set them in another context, that of preexilic Jerusalem. I am not a scholar of Mormon texts and traditions. I am a biblical scholar specializing in the Old Testament, and until some Mormon scholars made contact with me a few years ago, I would never have considered using Mormon texts and traditions as part of my work. Since that initial contact I have had many good and fruitful exchanges and have begun to look at these texts very closely. I am still, however, very much an amateur in this area. What I offer can only be the reactions of an Old Testament scholar: are the revelations to Joseph Smith consistent with the situation in Jerusalem in about 600 BCE? Do the revelations to Joseph Smith fit in that context, the reign of King Zedekiah, who is mentioned at the beginning of the First Book of Nephi, which begins in the "first year of the reign of Zedekiah" (1 Nephi 1:4)? Zedekiah was installed as king of Jerusalem in 597 BCE.