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  1. I really enjoyed the first 3 segments but the 4th one seems to be just like many born-again Christians. When David begins talking about how the concept of Jesus changed, he is basically talking about the book, “How Jesus Became God”, by Bart Ehrman. When he talks implying that the Bible is an accurate history, then I am not interested. He says he is a Christian, but had he been born and raised in Arabia with Muslim culture, would he now be a Christian or Muslim? And since we have no original New Testament manuscripts (No OT either.), how can he know whether Jesus’ purported words are what he said? With no original writing how can anyone be sure that the Bible in the inerrant word or god or even be inerrant without god? I would recommend that he read the works of Dr. Ehrman and of Professor Francesca Stavrakopolu. He sounds like he still yearns to be part of a Christian community of believers, though not necessarily part of any church.

    I will probably purchase his book, because of my interest in the Bible because of its influence on Western civilizations. I became an atheist about a year after I determined that the Mormon church was not true, after having gone through the studies of Messianics, Karrites, and Jews.
    but, although I have not attended in several years, I am still interested in the Church. I often check LDS church growth blogspot, Meridian Magazine, and secular news articles on the Church. It truly is difficult to divorce oneself from a tribe that has been a part of your life for more than half of that life.

    I hope, John, that in a few years we can learn if David holds to his convictions regarding Christianity or if he becomes an atheist. As an atheist I feel that I must do all I can to relieve suffering in the world, just as David does now.

    1. HAPPY IN OREGON,

      I am assuming that you have done a lot of investigation if you have left the LDS Church. Based on the stories of so many others I have watched or listened to, I understand there is a tremendous amount of pain and emotional turmoil that surrounds leaving the LDS Church. I’m sorry you have had those experiences. I’m sure it was very difficult.

      If you haven’t seen this video by Jim Wallace, I think you will find it of interest. Jim is a former atheist who worked as a cold case detective. The combination gives him an interesting perspective on the Bible. Even if you don’t agree with him, I think you will find his approach entertaining just from the perspective of learning how a cold case detective thinks. If there are any active LDS members considering viewing this video, there are some brief negative comments about Mormonism in the video.

    2. Happy in Oregon,

      Why should an atheist be compelled to relieve all suffering in the world? Where is that urge coming from?

      If all we are is nothing but a bunch of atoms mixed together, then our thoughts are nothing more than random products of the atoms that make us up. They have no real meaning. Whatever meaning we perceive is just an illusion. As you have previously claimed, there is no such thing as universal truth. “Truth” is nothing more than an illusion created by the atoms of our brains.

      So why be compelled to act on the world’s suffering when not doing anything about it is just as meaningless? If our thoughts are mere illusions, then actions have no moral dimension, just as wearing a red shirt or blue on a Tuesday has no moral dimension to it. It’s all a matter of one’s taste or preference. One can be indifferent to suffering as a matter of taste. And in atheism, this should not be a problem.

      Richard Dawkins said it best: “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”

      So why have this urge to act on the world’s suffering when the proper atheist action is pitiless indifference?

      1. You are refuting yourself when you talk about “proper” atheist action after saying it is meaningless. It may very well be the case that meaningless atoms can produce a collection of them that thinks it has meaning even if it doesn’t. The laws of the universe may even be that we believe what we believe. Pity is just what people do and if you rearrange their atoms, then they don’t feel pity. That doesn’t mean their is anything proper about feeling or not feeling pity.

  2. Really interesting to hear David’s critical input on scripture, clearly a scholar and learned man….however statements in the last segment of how ” I still love Joseph Smith and the church” seemed confused and mystifying to me. Having just established that the Bof M can’t be what it was purported to be…this is a man who must have perpetrated a massive hoax if you believe the B of M can’t be true ( he even tried to sell the copyright, big clue there! )….he sent men away to other lands and took their wives…selfishly controlled the lives of very young women in pseudo marriages whilst he continuing to play the field….had convenient revelation from God in answer to Emmas resistance to polygamy ” I will destroy you” , nice God eh, don’t think so!…suspected of ordering the failed hit of Gov Boggs….threatened William Law and had the Expositor free press burned to the ground cos they exposed truths about him that he didn’t want publicly known…made serious enemies literally wherever he went, who eventually murdered him… I could go on !
    JS seems to have been at best delusional in believing his own story, and at worst a deceitful person, which the church kept going and has been guilty of it’s own collective deceit along the way. How do you “still love JS and the church” with this knowledge ?

    1. I would only add that in creating a shadow government (The Council of the Fifty) and having himself ordained “King”, he may well have committed treason, which is why he told the keeper of the records of that organization to destroy or bury them.

  3. David, thank you for sharing your story here. First off, amazing Podcast. One of my favorites on Mormon stories to date.

    As will be evident, I am not a scholar, and I am biased and perhaps cognitively blind to good arguments for Deutero Isaiah theories because i am a believer but the way I see it, the only reason Deutero Isaiah has so much scholarship behind it is that it is the only way to reject God and study the Bible. All the of skeptics drink it up because it is the only option they have. Isaiah predicts things in too much detail, as if he lived in the future for a time, to be rationalized away if Isaiah actually is the author which as far as I see it, is the only real basis for rejecting his authorship.

    When you studied it you say Isaiah all of the sudden made sense. I suspect it would have even without buying into that theory if you had simply realized that Isaiah is speaking first to Israel not to the Latter Day Saints. I think assuming the later is the real reason Isaiah feels so difficult to understand for church members.

    Becauseh the Deutero Isaiah theory is the only game in town, all of the smartest people with a skeptic worldview flock to it and work around the clock to back it up making it look impressive even though it may be baseless. Because of the mountains of scholarship it then looks impressive even to many believers. The problem is, if you look at the actual claims they are weak despite the volume of fluff and smart sounding writing put behind them.

    If there is any evidence other than that Isaiah knows too much of the future to be the author without supernatural forknowledge, and that knowing the future he writes to a future captive Israel audience that he suspects will find meaning in what he has to say, please let me know. I am aware that he changes tone and prose from time to time throughout the work but I don’t see how that in any way would convince an unbiased person to suppose there are more authors. We don’t ever think it odd to see someone like Johnny Cash change their mood, perspective, vocabulary or prose from song to song. We especially don’t think it is odd when a poet changes their tone if they have a different audience in mind than they did for a previous poem. Poetry is an art and authors of poetry love to paint with different brushes when conveying a different idea. It shows their skill. Likewise, when warning a loved one about future problems you speak to them differently than you do once they are suffering in those problems. If Isaiah sees the future he would naturally want I to warn his contemporaries harshly when they are still able to avoid the problems, and then comfort them in their future state of stress. It is not in the least bit uncommon for song writers and poets to compose works that vary drastically from other pieces they have created. But for some reason atheist Isaiah scholars all think it is impossible for Isaiah to write about God’s wrath in one place and then write about his mercy in another using vocabulary in one poem not used in another poem.

    If one is open to the possibility of a God that can and does on occasion reveal the future I see no reason to suppose that there are multiple authors. The Book of Mormon’s inclusion of Isaiah then is important because it offers a second witness that Isaiah’s work, that in our day is so slandered, is in fact authentic.

    Again, I am a believer and I understand how cognitive dissonance works to blind one from seeing evidence but I have never heard a compelling argument for Deutero Isaiah and I have tried to be opened to it. To me it is among the weaker reasons to reject the BoM but I may be missing something because I hear smart and well read people like you accepting it.

  4. This segment from the podcast was really powerful. Thank you for this insight. I have an 11 year old who feels like your 15 year old did. I can’t think of a better way to deal with it

    “My religion is love, My religion is service, my religion is the development of the mind, my religion is learning to care for others as much as we care for ourselves. My religion is learning to care for the environment. Mormonism provides the community and a faith group to practice my religion but that’s not my religion. My religion are these other things and if Mormonism isn’t working for you I am not going to make you go to church but we will have to find for you other ways to let you practice our religion.” (This is from the later half of segment 3).

  5. It is disrespectful to publicly shame children by posting about their behaviors and what you are doing to manage them on Facebook. It is even more alarming that you’d make a public example of a child in a podcast that might be listened to over 100,000 times. The way you raise and discipline your children should not include publicity about them.

    Mormon men seem to believe they have the right to publicly shame women and children over whom they have a “stewardship” or, if not a stewardship, over whom they have power.

    This is a blind spot for Bokovoy.

  6. I am coming to the conclusion of Part 4. This series has taken me on a ride… highs, and now, some lows.

    Unlike David, I was not seriously raised in any one faith, but I was surrounded by close family of various Christian denominations including Mormonism. In my 30’s I converted to Reform Judaism because of a desire to be part of a social justice oriented community, whose values I appreciated (including arguing with and questioning authority, and the focus on our responsibility to repair the world). And, since I didn’t believe that Jesus was god, Judaism was a better fit. I was a confirmed atheist by age 13, converted to Judaism as an atheist, and I remain an atheist today. While I can appreciate that others find satisfaction in their beliefs, I cannot find satisfaction in believing in things that are not true.

    I appreciate that David applied himself to the serious study of religions, ancient texts, languages, etc. — the many skills that allow one to have a more sophisticated understanding of our human nature and our willingness to create stories to communicate shared cultural narratives. Serious scholarship tends to shine light in places you don’t expect, and has a way of challenging “blind faith”. I appreciate the very mature ability to accept the truth (the reality) of religious texts, religious leaders, religious organizations, and then, to make a decision as to how to participate… or not.

    I also resonate with David’s appreciation of the very best aspects of religion. After all, religions ARE created (and modified over time) by human beings, who, at some level, are inspired by a desire to elevate the human condition. I don’t think I’ve encountered a religion that doesn’t have some creed that I cannot agree with.

    What remains a stumbling block for me, however, is participating in an organization that continues to teach bad doctrine, and continues to reward BAD behavior … an organization that will continue to indoctrinate children with beliefs and emotions that will be with them throughout their entire lives. It’s wonderful that so many TBM’s, and the faithful of many religions, have thrown off bad doctrines and unnecessary guilt, but think of the many years wasted. Think of the lives stunted and ruined.

    There is no “good”, or “moral”, or “righteous” act done by a religious person that could not be done by a non-religious person. So, why not just have all the good bits without all the mythology, the condemnation, the lies? It seems to me that the progressives, the moderates, the liberal members of all congregations, are complicit in keeping these institutions alive and prospering… and just modern enough to welcome new people into their fold.

    So… will we continue to be happy when we send off another Mormon missionary… or welcome another home after s/he has taught others things that are not true?

    1. Debbie,

      You wrote the following sentence. ” There is no “good”, or “moral”, or “righteous” act done by a religious person that could not be done by a non-religious person.” I think there are some things I can do as a mainstream Christian that are good, moral and righteous that a non-religious person cannot do. I can love and praise the Lord. I can sing to the Lord or lift my hands in worship. I can walk through the woods and thank God as I enjoy His creation.

      The atheist view you are taking has logical philosophical implications. As I understand the atheist position, we are all composed of matter from exploding stars. Cosmic debris is the term I think best applies to that matter. As humans we are intellectually advanced, biologically encapsulated, coalesced cosmic debris on an insignificant planet in a vast universe. Even though an atheist can temporarily assign meaning to him or herself or to others, the meaning assigned is itself meaningless because cosmic debris is meaningless and purposeless. From an atheist perspective, we all end up as fertilizer in the end anyway.

      If I am misunderstanding the atheist position and you are deriving value and meaning from some higher source, I would appreciate knowing what higher source it is that gives you value or meaning other than what you yourself have assigned or what someone has temporarily assigned to you for an infinitesimally small slice of cosmic time. If there is something of higher value to an atheist other than what she or he or someone else assigns, I am not aware of what that might be.

      As a Christian, I have a perspective that is very different than what I understand the atheist perspective to be. From my perspective, you have great value and worth because of your relationship to God. From a Christian perspective, we are all children of God. That means we all have tremendous intrinsic value, worth and meaning. It is why, even though I strongly disagree with your atheist position, I still think of you as an extremely valuable person who is leading a life that is filled with transcendent meaning value and purpose.

      If you want to move from the philosophical to the practical, please read my comments and watch the linked videos on the Frank Turek and Mike Licona Podcast. There is a lot more detail in that discussion about why I think it is reasonable to have a belief that we humans have been intelligently designed by an intelligent designer … God.

  7. Thanks for coming on the podcast David and John for seeking out such terrific individuals to interview.

    You have a wonderful life and I love how you seek out your own peace. As a former LDS bishop I am trying to do the same.

    My best regards and much success wished for you. Wished I had your barbecueing skills.

    Love from KY

  8. Thanks John and David for this wonderful Interview. I`m fascinated by your way David, to your present state. In many parts I found myself experiencing similar thoughts, more intuitive than learned as you. To answer a not to me directed question, my „ Prophet“, is Friedrich Weinreb, who wrote a book, ( Roots of the Bible: >> An Ancient View for a New Outlook < Canaani trader, businessman trader promised land inner word of the bible <, as Friedrich Weinreb < discusses it. Thank you once again for the thoughts you shared with us. I have learned a lot and certainly shifted some paradigms. Maybe you know this book already. I`d be curios, to know you opinion of it, if it is possible for you to drop a line.

    1. Sorry, somehow words got lost. The comment makes no sence tthis way. Hier the next try.
      Thanks John and David for this wonderful Interview. I`m fascinated by your way David, to your present state. In many parts I found myself experiencing similar thoughts, more intuitive than learned as you. To answer a not to me directed question, my „ Prophet“, is Friedrich Weinreb, who wrote a book, ( Roots of the Bible: >> An Ancient View for a New Outlook < Canaani trader promised land inner word of the bible <, as Friedrich Weinreb < discusses it. Thank you once again for the thoughts you shared with us. I have learned a lot and certainly shifted some paradigms. Maybe you know this book already. I`d be curios, to know you opinion of it, if it is possible for you to drop a line.

  9. I think David Bokovoy is great. His story is similar to mine in gaining love for research while on a mission. I started down the path of history of the American West rather than biblical studies but we wrestled with similar things. I too did paradigm shifts but after so much shifting I realized I was so far from the tradition there’s little reason to continue believing. I ended on the side of atheism at a younger age but our paths were similar. I too still have a love for Joseph Smith and do not feel angry towards Church leaders.

    I met him briefly when he presented at the FAIR conference about 10 to 14 years ago (somewhere between 2005 and 2008). If I recall correctly he talked about the second Isaiah and I think mentioned Deuteronomy not being authored by Moses. I do not remember much other than being impressed that he agreed with modern scholars on those issues. I briefly spoke with him after and asked if “Hebraisms” was a real word, I really thought it was a FARMS invention for Book of Mormon evidence. To my dismay at time he said it was. There were clips of forthcoming video about Book of Mormon from FAIR that featured Bokovoy and assumed he was a FAIR style apologist despite some of his views on Isaiah. I was shocked years later when his book was published along with blog that he was as not an apologist. I find his approach refreshing.

  10. I’m usually turned off by the “neoapologist” interviews. But, man, David is DIFFERENT! Maybe because he seems to have no idea that he is one(?) I want to get together and jam with this guy!

    Super interesting interview. I’m sad for him, the Church, and the BYU students who missed out on learning from this guy. But… happy that David is happy and finding his way.

    I’ve already memed this great and inspiring quote:
    “I don’t worry about those things. I worry much more about am I living a life of integrity? Am I speaking out for what I believe to be true? Am I trying to make the world a better place? Am I helping promote social justice? Am I’m doing that? Then, you know, ‘do what is right, let the consequences follow’. That’s how I live, that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing now.” – David Bokovoy

  11. Great interview, coincidentally on the heels of a discussion I recently had with a Mormon apologist who dismissed David Wright as a scholar and exalted Hugh Nibley. And on the day I started to re-reread “Who Wrote the Bible” by Richard Elliot Friedman in concert with his new Exodus book. And from WWtB, now I find that Sennacherib’s prism was inscribed with Akkadian and David Bokovoy could read and speak it. How great is that? : )

    BYU’s loss is a huge gain for us and for the prison system, but I sure hope that Bokovoy makes it back to academia where he clearly belongs. Maybe even in combination with his prison work. A great interview, and a great and good man, and good luck. If there’s a chance he reads these comments, I’d wonder how he views Friedman’s take on the Documentary Hypothesis which I know still has controversies. His book may well address just that, so I’ll have to get it, too, and now I’m looking forward.

    The Documentary Hypothesis for me was another revelation, and followed having already left Mormonism and Christianity years earlier for reasons unrelated to anything specifically Mormon. And I discovered it the same time I accidentally discovered Crossan and Ehrman, and the Jesus Seminar, and Marcus Borg and others. Bokovoy now adds what seems like almost a more close-up and personal touch. A funny thing is, once I left Mormonism and being a believer, suddenly the Bible becomes 10x more interesting.

    But it’s really sad what the Mormon church does to such good people. I totally cringe whenever I accidentally see the BYU “Professors of Ancient Scripture” on KBYU delivering their pablum on the Bible. Even they look bored out of their skulls. At some level they almost certainly know they’re serving up faithful, orthodox crap. At least Bokovoy didn’t get stuck with that latrine duty, so maybe there’s something else for him to be grateful for, too.

    I’m trying to remember now if Bokovoy and/or Patrick Mason was at the University of Utah a few years ago, maybe a Sunstone (?), the same evening that Dominic Crossan and Gina Colvin also both presented.

    And now Gina Colvin may be on the Mormon chopping block also. That is so effed-up. Mormons can be such good people, and they sure deserve better leaders and leadership.

    Thanks for another great interview, and sincere best hopes and wishes for him. Hope that he someday finds a more complete joy and fulfillment, blue sky, fresh air and liberation that exists post-Mormon.

  12. Wow! We LOVE this humble, amazing man.
    Looking forward to Dead Cowboys in Park City.
    Brilliant man.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences!
    Incedible!
    Thank you!

  13. David, I thought your comments and perspective were interesting until you droped a bombshell and revealed yourself with comments like, (part 3)
    “Trump is one of the worst people on the face of the Earth:and ‘America’s Adolf Hitler”
    That such an Extreme position it calls into question your views on legitimate issues you raised.
    With radical views like that I suspect BYU had other issues with you and why they didn’t hire you.

  14. I’m looking forward to reading David’s book. A few years ago, I probably would have gone on a prolonged search through all the available sources on biblical historicity/origins, because I had reached a point where the scritpures’ internal fallacies and inconsistencies were setting off my “fallacy sensors” constantly,, and yet I was still turning to the scriptures for daily guidance. Lots of dissonance.

    Now, though, I’m curious to read what David presents in his book, but I really don’t care enough about the scriptures to spend a great deal of effort sorting out their reality. There are other books from which I derive more illumination and inspiration these days. After decades of earnest seeking for spiritual enlightenment and growth through activity in the Mormon Church, the scriptures are too redolent of the hopeless quest for “righteousness”. I just can’t read them anymore without being keenly aware of the knot of tension in my belly. Maybe someday.

    It is always good to understand as much as possible, how we got where we are. Why our ancestors chose certain ways and ideas over others. If we don’t try to understand how things came to be what they currently are, then we limit our choices in the present. I think we create a mindtrap for ourselves by excluding the scriptures from scrutiny in that way.

    One of the major factors in my loss of faith, was the realization (gradually) that faith, as it’s taught in the Church, is simply choosing to believe something, “the Book of Mormon is true” for instance, and then firmly shutting your perceptions against any evidence that doesn’t support belief. “Hold to the rod”, “…stay in the boat”, “doubt your doubts”, etc.. It dawned on me that I don’t need to try to believe in gravity, or my need to breathe, because experience supports these realities. If there is some supremely True thing, would it not be supported by experience so well that belief would follow, regardless of argument to the contrary? If the doctrines of the Church were “true”, why the need to constantly shore up and protect belief in them? I don’t need to protect myself against losing belief in the warmth of the sun. Why do I need to protect myself against losing belief in God? Or baptism? Or eternal families? The phrase, “methinks thou protest too much” describes my feeling about testimony bearing, missionary work, and the whole idea of avoiding exposure to critical thinking about the church. The strenuous efforts to reinforce belief point toward a fear that is worth looking into.

    One thing I haven’t heard any credible scholar talk about yet, is, why are so many of the Jesus stories, and Jesus sayings in the Bible, so similar to the stories and sayings of the Buddha? I’ve read a few theories about it, but nothing backed by evidence. Does anyone know of a work that addresses the similarities in a credible way? Just curious. I’ve read a lot of Jack Kornfield in recent years, and was startled to recognize much of Jesus in the ancient stories of Buddha that Jack relates. It made me less willing or able to think of Jesus as divine, or The Way. Some of what Buddha supposedly said is actually more clear and helpful than how Jesus is reported to have said the same thing. Religious Buddhism certainly has it’s dogma and issues as much as any Christian religion does, but if Jesus were truly the Creator of the World, then how come Buddha seems to understand the human mind better?

  15. In 1979 I went to a presentation at the SLC library where the speaker explained the correct translation of the Book of Abraham. In Nov 2018 I went to a Church sponsored presentation at Temple Square on the Book of Abraham. The speaker Robin Scott Jensen, from the Joseph Smith Papers project, said that Joseph Smith tried but failed to correctly translate the Egyptian manuscripts. He said if Joseph Smith failed to translate correctly the images that we have then there is no reason to expect he translated correctly from the papyrus that is missing. Jensen bore his testimony about the spiritual truths contained in the Book of Abraham.
    I would hope the Church could do the same with the Old Testament and say that parts are not literally true but spiritually true.
    I really enjoyed Authoring the Old Testament but was disappointed when Benchmark Books told me that Dave had delayed doing a sequel. Please do another book.

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