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Radio Free Mormon: 199: The David Bokovoy Interview, part 1

In this wide-ranging interview, Dr. David Bokovoy talks about his experience trying to build a bridge between contemporary Bible scholarship and the Religious Education Department at BYU.  *SPOILER ALERT*  BYU wasn’t interested.

Closing music by The Dead Cowboys!


14 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 199: The David Bokovoy Interview, part 1”

  1. WOW! Excellent podcast!

    One of the most interesting areas David got into involved the interview process he went through for the job at BYU. Just after that, when he was called in for the class on “Sex and the Bible”, he was warned against exposing his students to possible Bible Scholarship.

    Can you believe that?….I find myself shocked over and over again the extent the LDS church will go to shut down critical thinking in members minds. This church that proclaims itself as the bastion of truth and “fullness” requires its members to be mind controlled followers.

    I’m with Neal above—“Bring on Part 2!!!”

  2. This is absolutely fascinating! Thanks! Not just for the insider’s view of the CES, but for how the Documentary Hypothesis has become a kind of sacred scripture for scholars. We all agree that the Book of Abraham is transparently false, and I hate to find myself on the same side as Dr Gee on anything, but in just this one narrow topic he seems to be right: by any objective measure, in the DH is even weaker than the B o A.

    Dr Bokovoy mentioned how the DH explains contradictions. But he did not mention how these contradictions always disappear when he have access to earlier sources. E.g. the two creations theory (Genesis 1 and 2), the two genealogies theory (Genesis 4 and 5), the J and E accounts in Genesis 6, and so on. In each case the DH made predictions about the original sources, then many decades later, something close to the original sources was discovered. And in every single case the DH was proven one hundred percent wrong.

    Watching the scholars react to the discoveries is like watching BYU professors explain the latest science: each will admit the facts in their narrow specialism, while assuming that other than that, their faith remains solid. This isn’t the place for a detailed argument about why, but if you want the details, let me know.

    When a theory makes predictions, and the predictions are always proven wrong, that theory is often embraced all the more fervently. It is fascinating to see the effect in Mormonism, and even more fascinating to see it in academia. I hope you will return to the DH in future podcasts. Keep up the good work!

  3. I’m enjoying the interview immensely (as I did David’s Mormon Stories interview). Only about half way through, but I have to mention that I, too, read pretty much all night when I discovered “The Art of Biblical Narrative”. For a Mormon, it’s just natural to think “wow, what if I could see some of these narrative structures in the BOM?” And then once you start looking it’s like “Holy Smokes, it’s true after all!” Of course, you later realize you may be imposing your own will on the text (so to speak), but it’s exhilarating to say the least. That was the first Robert Alter I had read, but I think I’ve read about everything he’s published. I love his translations, especially of the wisdom books and Samuel. In this regard, the irony of Mark Petersen saying that LDS know more about the Old Testament that all other scholars is almost too much to take. I suppose such ironies are an inevitable part of being God’s chosen folks.

  4. I am curious about the fascination with Joseph Smith’s ability to borrow from other’s ideas. The BOM and BOA are boring and Smith didn’t invent either. We can count on 3 fingers of the women original to the BOM. That makes for fascinating reading? Men just don’t seem to see how women are only allowed to the party so men can have eternal sex in Mormon doctrine. I discovered documentary hypothesis on my own. I had never heard of it. I decided after leaving Mormonism to read the bible without a Mormon filter. How blind we are as Mormons. I noticed first the apostle Paul says no male no female then later says women be silent. Much much more. No bond no free then he says servants obey. Paul has 3 different personalities in the epistles and a 4th when you add Acts. The OT is even easier to see the absolute ridiculousness of its lack of continuity. Mormons who only study from approved material will forever be lost.
    Another curiosity? David says he loves the church but hates its exclusionary policies. The policies are the church. Doctrine is down played or removed or not discussed but the policies are what is being practiced.

  5. Bokovoy is that cool dude that everyone wishes was his neighbor.

    RFM is that entertaining dude that everyone wishes was their home teacher.

  6. @ 1 hr, 31 min

    David’s “Letter to a CES (S & N) ‘Counsel of Ministers’ ” (my description) … fantastic.

    And a wonderful interview, wonderful life story … so far! Looking forward the rest of this segment and the next two.

    Thank you DB and RFM!


  7. Very very fascinated with this episode. I completed. Part 1, 2, and 3 of Mormon Stories and found these episodes. Thanks so much RFM and David for sharing your story!

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