I’m here, live at the FAIR conference in Sandy, UT. I’ve shaken hands with a few of the top brass here within FAIR. I’ve had 2 absolutely amazing experiences so far, that I will share with you:

  • As soon as I arrived, Lou Midgley came up to me and we sat down for 45 minutes and had a marvelous chat. Regardless of your opinions about Dr. Midgley, 2 things are undeniable (to me): 1) He sincerely believes in the LDS faith, and has thought deeply about it, and 2) His connections and experiences within Mormon Studies over the past 45 years make him a veritable treasure trove of information and stories and issues over this debate.
  • Secondly, I just sat through an hour-long presentation by David Stewart–MD–in a speech regarding DNA and the Book of Mormon. I must say that this was one of the most incredible human achievements I’ve ever personally witnessed. He stood there in front of the audience and recited his EXTREMEMLY complex paper BY MEMORY for the entire hour–never missing a beat. Truly astounding…both in his dedication to the topic, his apparent expertise on the issues, and most importantly, his memory and stamina. You MUST get the text or audio version of this talk, and try to contemplate reciting it by memory. It was absolutely stunning to me. I don’t have an opinion as to whether he was “right” or “wrong”. I’m not a DNA expert. I do know that he was stunningly impressive.

Anyway, more later. This has been really fun so far.


  1. Ben August 4, 2006 at 11:03 am

    Hey, from across the room :)

  2. John Dehlin August 4, 2006 at 11:26 am

    Ben! Doesn’t wireless rock! Let’s get together for sure.

  3. Guy Murray August 4, 2006 at 11:45 am

    John, are you going to do any live blogging from the conference? I hope, or at least some reports and updates between papers.

  4. Guy Murray August 4, 2006 at 11:46 am

    Also, thanks for posting your comments on Bro. Midgley. From what I know of him, and read about him, and what he has authored, I agree.

  5. John Dehlin August 4, 2006 at 11:52 am


    If you or any other FAIR folks attending want to post reviews of speeches, I’m totally willing to support. Let me know.

  6. Tom August 4, 2006 at 5:41 pm


    Any chit chat about Blake Ostler padding his sources? Love to hear more about the DNA paper.


  7. Quinn August 4, 2006 at 10:44 pm

    What does this mean-spirited gossip have to do with the FAIR conference? It’s also appears to be an unsubstantialed insult against scholar.

    This has to be one of FAIR’s best conferences. Each speaker offered meaty content on interesting topics. I like how speakers don’t always come to the same conclusions – – offering different perspectives for us to consider and decide for ourselves.

  8. Mike Parker August 5, 2006 at 12:12 am

    It was great to meet you, John. I’m glad you were able to come. Sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk beyond “hi.”

    There were some excellent presentations this year. I was particularly touched by Marcus Martins’ talk on being a Black Mormon. He shared some very personal insights, and he had what I thought was the best line of the conference: “The [priesthood] ban itself was not racist, but, unfortuntately, it gave cover to people who were.”

  9. Chris Rusch August 5, 2006 at 7:25 am

    Marcus Martins was a professor and mentor of mine at BYU-Hawaii.
    In my opinion he was the most unique Religion professor that I ever had. I would highly recommend his presentation entitled False Images of Christ. You can find it at his BYU-Hawaii webpage.

  10. mayan elephant August 5, 2006 at 9:16 am

    This link was sent to me this week. This was delivered while i was missioning and i had never read or heard it before.

    i am curious to know what folks that present at and attend the fair conference think of oaks’ comments.


    From oaks: “For the same reason, the Church does approve or disapprove those publications that are to be published or used in the official activities of the Church, general or local. For example, we have procedures to ensure approved content for materials published in the name of the Church or used for instruction in its classes. These procedures can be somewhat slow and cumbersome, but they have an important benefit. They provide a spiritual quality control that allows members to rely on the truth of what is said. Members who listen to the voice of the Church need not be on guard against being misled. They have no such assurance for what they hear from alternate voices.”

    doesnt it sorta contradict the suggestions made in other threads about material in the manuals versus material found in “alternate sources?”

    John, if this is better suited for the other threads, please edit/delete/move it as you see fit.

  11. Mike Parker August 5, 2006 at 11:43 am

    It’s not widely known, but Elder Oaks’ comments actually contained a cleverly-hidden acrostic:

    Members who listen to the voice of the Church need not be on guard against being misled. They have no such assurance for what they hear from alternate voices.

    Okay, little joke there. But it IS widely known who Elder Oaks was referring to.

    The point of his talk was not that we shouldn’t read things not published by the Church, but that we should exercise caution in accepting what we hear from “alternate voices.” This is true at both Sunstone and FAIR conferences.

  12. Ben August 5, 2006 at 12:15 pm

    There was an excellent discussion about Elder Oaks talk and Armaund Mauss’ response, which Elder Oaks personally liked.


  13. Mike Parker August 5, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    That was — and remains — a great work by Mauss. I particularly like this part:

    Even as listeners we are responsible for the evaluation of what we hear. Intelligent evaluation, especially in spiritual matters, is not possible without a considerable personal investment in studying, both widely and deeply, in prayer and in meditation. The hearer (or reader) of “alternative voices” who is not willing to do all this is only a dabbler and is far better off sticking with the Standard Works and the correlated lesson manuals.

  14. Louis Midgley August 5, 2006 at 1:28 pm

    I enjoyed the papers delivered at the recent FAIR conference, and I also fully enjoyed conversations with John Dehlin at that conference. The second of these extended conversations took place at lunch. It lasted far longer than I had anticipated. What John and I discussed is, of course, confidential. However, one thing he told me pleased me about one of my BYU colleagues, but I cannot go into details. John and I also had a very interesting and depressing conversation with a waiter in an eating place. I ended up, as usual, recommending something for this fellow to read. Academics live with the illusion that they can cure the world with an article or book. This is probably something a bit like the illusion I notice on the nacle where I notice the same folks trying to justify themselves by expressing their indignation. Be that as it may, it pleased me that this obviously suffering fellow is still holding tightly to what, at the end of the day, matters the most. I came away from that conversation, as I am confident John did as well, knowing that what his fellow really needs, instead advice on a book to read, is a loving relationship with others who share his convictions.

    The second thing I want to mention is that David Stewart’s paper was simply stunning. I have seen others who could “read” a paper and never look down at it except to turn the pages. Massimo Introvigne is such a one and I have known others. But David Stewart had no written text before him.

    For those still interested in the question of DNA and the Book of Mormon, and hence in David Stewart’s take on this matter, I suggest that you have a look at his essay in the next issue of the FARMS Review 18/1 (2006), forthcoming in a few weeks. And also see John M. Butler, “Addressing Questions surrounding the Book of Mormon and DNA Research” in the same issue of the Review.

    Tom Kimball, the Signature Books publicist who appears to be monitoring this thread, since he posted a sarcastic remark above directed at Blake Ostler, needs to take note, since those two essays, and my comments in the editor’s introduction, respond to Southerton’s latest apologia. I wonder if we can anticipate still another response from Ron Priddis or one of those who are advancing the ideology being pushed Signature Books in two of the books that Tom Kimball tries hard to market.

  15. Daniel Peterson August 5, 2006 at 3:17 pm

    So that irrelevant, out of the blue, gratuitous swipe at Blake Ostler — who hadn’t been mentioned in the thread and who wasn’t at the FAIR conference — was from Tom Kimball?


  16. Blake August 10, 2006 at 12:32 am

    Gee, now I can join Dan and Lou as the recipient of gratuitous swipes. At least I’m in good company.I didn’t know I was important enough for such things.

    I will submit a paper shortly on Israelite and Jewish intermarriage and the relation of intermarriage to breach of the covenant that I believe will show that Priddis’s “response” seriously misrepesents the evidence, mistastes what I actually said and say and avoids the key facts altogether in an attempt to make it appear that the case of intermarriage in the book of Mormon is weak.

    I was surprised, to say the least, that Tom Kimball would charge me with padding my sources when Priddis himself notes that the sources I cited discuss the very issues I noted. Moreover, Priddis makes a huge deal that the two German sources I cited don’t assert that racial intermarriage was issue, but rather interfaith marriage was the concern because it would lead to unbelief and breach of covenant. But that is what I said — and he simply twists it to try to make a point as far as I can see. Moreover, I cite the two German articles only to show that the crime at issue in both Malachi 2 and Ezra 8-10 is an “abomination” — a particular category of breach of covenant (see Lev. 18:29) So he asserts that I am trying to prove something by these sources that I don’t cite them to support and ignroes the fact that they support precisely what I cite them to show. Is it really worth a long response to clean up Priddis’s mess?

    I was very disappointed that Priddis set up a straw man (which is ironic since that is what he accuses me of doing) by asserting that I base the claim that the intermarriage always constituted a breach of covenant without exception. I was even more disappointed because I stated very clearly in an e-mail to him before his article was published that I cite these two articles only to support the view that the crime at issue constitues an “abomination”. What’s the big deal?

  17. Tom Kimball August 14, 2006 at 4:20 pm


    All very interesting. I would have thought there would have been some chit chat at the FAIR conference about the issue of you padding your sources.

    I have a question. The German scholar that Priddis’s mentioned as well as others that I’ve spoken with have pointed out that neither of your German sources (Locher and Schreiner) support your statements. Locher disagrees with Schriener but not specifically concerning the same issues you address. I guess the biggest sin with regards to your articles is padded your sources thus my question is, do you read German? And did you read these articles prior to publication? Did you get Schreiner and Locher from secondary sources? Did you talk to Schreiner? He’s still alive you know. (we haven’t tracked down Locher yet) And why were there so many typo’s in your footnotes for these articles? Our guess is that you haven’t read these articles or can’t because you keep misrepresenting them, even in your above post.

    You also claim “Mixing seed” or “zera’ba’mi” as you say in your Sunstone article is a Hebrew idiom. This isn’t backed up by any of your sources. Did you make this up or is there a source for this that you didn’t list?

    I have a thousand other questions but a serious answer to any of these questions (not fancy footwork like your above post) would really help me understand where you are coming from.


  18. Blake August 14, 2006 at 6:44 pm

    Tom: First, i don’t believe that your questions are serious. Let me answer this way: of course I read the two articles. I cited them to support a particular point — look at the article carefully and read closely so that you won’t make the mistake that Priddis made of asserting that I cite them to establish that racial intermarriage is forbidden in Malachi. This was the statement I cited them to support (see p. 64 note 3): “The penalty for breach is to be cut off from the Lord’s presence.” I don’t cite them to support anything else! Regardless of your baselss accusation, it is is black and white. Moreover, they both clearly support that view. (see pp. 221-222 of the Schreiner article if you read German).

  19. Blake August 14, 2006 at 7:31 pm

    Tom: Re the phrase in Ezra 9:2 — “they intermingled their holy seed.” The phrase and how it is related to breach of holiness and covenant by marrying with non-covenants peoples is discussed in A. Phillip Brown, “The Mixed Marriage Crisis in Ezra,” Bibliotheca Sacra 162 (Oct-Dec 2005), found here: https://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=2577

    zera’ ba’mi means the “seed of the peoples” and refers to intermixing seed of the people already in the land (as in the Book of Mormon). That is the translation and the text is taken from Ezra 9:2 as I cite it clearly in my article — except there should be an elipses between the words. “Mixing seed” or intermingling seed is used in opposition to separating seed. The following scriptures are instructive:

    Daniel 2:41 And as to that which you saw: the feet and toes, part of potters’ clay and part of iron; the kingdom shall be divided. But there shall be in it the strength of the iron, because you saw the iron mixed with miry clay.
    Daniel 2:43 And as you saw iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mix themselves with the seed of men. But they shall not cling to one another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. (TAs you can see, the phrase “mixing themselves with the seed of men” is also used here and refers to intermixing or mixing peoples thru interbreeding)

    Hosea 7:8 Ephraim mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake not turned.

    Ezra 9:1 Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.

    Ezra 9:2 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons: so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.

    Ezra 10:3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.

    Nehemiah 9:1 Now in the twenty and fourth day of this month the children of Israel were assembled with fasting, and with sackcloth, and earth upon them.

    Nehemiah 9:2 And the seed of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers.

    Nehemiah 9:3 And they stood up in their place, and read in the book of the law of Jehovah their God a fourth part of the day; and another fourth part they confessed, and worshipped Jehovah their God.

    Nehemiah 10:28 And the rest of the people, the priests, the Levites, the porters, the singers, the Nethinims, and all they that had separated themselves from the people of the lands unto the law of God, their wives, their sons, and their daughters, every one having knowledge, and having understanding;

    Nehemiah 13:1 On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God forever;

    Nehemiah 13:3 Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.

    Deuteronomy 7:1 When Jehovah thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and shall cast out many nations before thee, the Hittite, and the Girgashite, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;

    Deuteronomy 7:2 and when Jehovah thy God shall deliver them up before thee, and thou shalt smite them; then thou shalt utterly destroy them: thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them;

    Deuteronomy 7:3 neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.

    For “mixing seed” as an idiom in Ezra, Christine Hayes examines the views on intermarriage found in the Bible and rabbinic literature (“Intermarriage and Impurity in Ancient Jewish Sources,” Harvard Theological Review 92/1 [January 1999]: 3-34). Hayes looks at the rabbinic prohibitions against Jews marrying Gentiles, focusing on “holy seed,” purity/impurity, holy/profane terminology in Second Temple texts and how this informs later intertestamental and rabbinic prohibitions against intermarriage with Gentiles. You might also want to look at Shaye J. D. Cohen, “Intermarriage in the Bible and the Talmud,” in The Beginnings of Jewishness: Boundaries, Varieties, Uncertainties (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), who examines laws against intermarriage in the Pentateuch. Cohen shows that Josephus and Philo based their proscriptions against intermarriage on Deuteronomy 7:3-4 and Leviticus 18 as Ezra and cohorts had (Ezra 9:1-2; 242-245). But Hasmonean Jews did not. For the author of Jubilees, intermarriage resulted in defilement, impurity, and must be absolutely banned. A man who gave his daughter to a non-Jew would be killed (Jubilees 30:11-16).

    If I really wanted to “pad my sources” as you suggest, I had plenty more to cite (about 35 pages worth).

  20. Daniel Peterson August 14, 2006 at 11:32 pm

    Welcome, Blake, to the Society of the Villains. Normal rules of civil discourse were not intended to protect such as we are.

    The irony that Tom Kimball’s unprovoked and irrelevant accusations occur on a blog ostensibly dedicated to “building bridges” is both rich and revealing.

  21. Tom Kimball August 15, 2006 at 9:25 am


    I had hopped you would have just said. Yes I read German. Instead I got “fancy foot work.” I’m still asking.


    Go back to torturing kittens.


  22. Blake August 15, 2006 at 10:44 am

    Tom: Just what do you think I meant when I said: “of course I read the two articles.” If that’s fancy foot work then I’m Fred Astaire. I don’t consider myself fluent in German, but I can read it with passing grades. You asked also whether there was any basis for the assertion that “mixing seed” was a Hebrew idiom that related to intermarriage — so I identified articles that discuss the issue and at least 5 different citations to the OT that strongly suggest that it is. So why do you get so peeved when I graciously respond where I have no obligation to do so?

    I appreciate the fact that Priddis admitted that he attributed to me a position I didn’t state and that his criticisms to that extent were not accurate. Now I would expect a responsible publisher to go back and change the article to make sure it is accurate — but that would make the article mighty short I suspect.

  23. John Dehlin August 15, 2006 at 10:46 am

    Dr. Peterson,

    I share your concern that at times we get more heat than light from our dialogue.

    I’m totally open/willing to work together with you though, to help create a forum where this won’t happen. As we discussed at FAIR, I’d love to see the day when we can all get together and work things out, and not let things get nasty (kinda like Sunstone used to be before the denunciation–where you yourself and Dr. Nibley sometimes spoke). In the mean time, I am encouraged (at least) that the Signature folks and Ostler are having public dialogue (though asynchronous). I do consider this to be a bridge, though admittedly an imperfect one.

    Let me know if you want to work together to find an even better way. I do appreciate your concern.

  24. Tom Kimball August 15, 2006 at 3:24 pm

    Blake: I don’t consider myself fluent in German, but I can read it with passing grades.

    Tom: Thanks that’s helpful. I missed the 5 articles about “Mixing seed.” Would you kindly restate them please.


  25. john f. August 15, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    I think he said 5 different citations from the OT.

  26. Tom Kimball August 15, 2006 at 4:06 pm

    John f.

    Right. Thanks. 5 different citations from the OT about “Mixing seed” being a Hebrew idiom.


  27. Blake August 15, 2006 at 4:41 pm

    Daniel 2:43 (‘arab); Hosea 7:8 (balal); Ezra 9:2 (‘arab); Nehemiah 13:3 (‘ereb); Deuteronomy 7:3.The Hebrew adjective is ‘ereb and Daniel 2:41-43 and Ezra use Aramaic ‘arab. and Hos. 7:8 is balal. See also, Ex. 12:38 where the verb ‘ereb is used; Ps. 106:35 (‘arab); Jer. 25:24 where the “mixed” or “mingled” (‘ereb) people are called people of Arabia and Ez. 30:5 where ‘ereb refers to the “mingled peoples” as the people of Ethiopa, Lybia, Lydia, and Chub.

  28. Daniel Peterson August 15, 2006 at 5:41 pm

    Tom Kimball: “Go back to torturing kittens.”

    Unfortunately, we’ve run out in my neighborhood. That’s why I go on line.

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