Preview: “The Sermon on the Mount in the Light of the Temple,” by John Welch

Detail from Sacrament, by Minerva Teichert (ca. 1935).  On display in the JSB at BYU.

Detail from Sacrament, by Minerva Teichert (ca. 1935). On display in the JSB at BYU.

Last night at the Third Nephi conference held at BYU, Professor John W. Welch gave the keynote address.  His topic was “New Insights Into the Temple Setting of the Sermon on the Mount in Reference to the Sermon at the Temple.”  It was an excellent address, after which Paul Y. Hoskisson, the director of the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies, remarked that he was overwhelmed by what he just heard.  You can read my notes on the conference last night here.

One of the things Professor Welch did was give a free handout to all those who were in attendance to outline some of the things he was going to cover, and topics he has written about in an upcoming book.  I have included this handout embedded at the end of this post.  Professor Welch has been studying this topic since about 1988 when he first wrote a FARMS Update article entitled “The Sermon at the Temple,” in which he wrote of 3 Nephi 11-18 as a text which “offers clues to connect the [Sermon on the Mount] with the making of covenants at the temple”1

Professor John W. Welch

Professor John W. Welch

In this article he gave six key points which link the sermon to the temple:

  1. Jesus gave the address “to the Nephites at their temple (3 Ne. 11:1).”
  2. The sermon was given “in a covenant-making context.”
  3. The stipulations in the sermon were “by way of commandment.”
  4. The purpose of the sermon was to “show the disciple how to be exalted at the final judgment.”
  5. Looking at the sermon in this way “dramatically enhances its meaning.”
  6. The commandments given by the Savior here “could hardly be a more succinct preparation for the making of temple covenants.”

Professor Welch has published a book on this subject geared toward an LDS audience entitled Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple and Sermon on the Mount (Provo: FARMS, 1999).  This book can also be read online at the Maxwell Institute’s website here.  This book is at the top of my list to read next.

Last night he announced another book which will be published in 2009 on the same subject which will be more generally addressed to New Testament scholars entitled The Sermon on the Mount in the Light of the Temple (London: Ashgate, forthcoming 2009).  Professor Welch gave us a preview of what will be coming in that book in the handout:

  • Selected Temple Elements in the Sermon on the Mount – Taken from chart 1 in Welch’s upcoming book.  In this document Welch compares elements, including phrases, words, topics, themes, and patterns in the Sermon on the Mount to other temple texts in the Bible such as Psalms, Exodus, and Isaiah.
  • The Stages of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 – This document is based on the table of contents of Welch’s upcoming book, outlining the 25 stages he has found in the Sermon on the Mount which establish the temple covenant pattern.

The last page in the handout is entitled “Temple Studies: Selected Recent Bibliography.”  This is a list of some of the major publications, many non-LDS, published since 2000 which have been on the topic of temple studies.  It is a great list of literature, which should serve as an excellent guide for anyone curious in studying and learning more about the temple.

See the embedded handout below.  Note that you can maximize it to full screen by clicking the icon on the right of the toolbar.

Update (9/29/08): Because of copyright restrictions, I have excluded pages 2 and 3 from the embedded handout below. We may be able to include them in the future.

  1. FARMS Update, March 1988. []


  1. Jack Welch
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for drawing this conference to people’s attention.

  2. Posted September 27, 2008 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

    You’re welcome, Professor Welch. Thank you for the excellent address, and for sharing your research on the temple in the Book of Mormon.

  3. anita
    Posted September 27, 2008 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    I have enjoyed seeing your postings and enjoyed the 3 Nephi conference as well.

  4. Jeff Waldvogel
    Posted September 28, 2008 at 3:56 am | Permalink


    Thank you for sharing this information and notes. Perhaps you allready knew that in 1990 (if my memory serves me correctly) that John Welch substituted for Hugh Nibley for 5 class periods while Hugh Nibley was in Egypt. It was for his “Teachings of the Book of Mormon” class. John Welch gave 5 lectures pertaining to the Sermon at the Temple and Sermon on the Mount. See Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 4, lectures 97-101, p119-163. Keep up the great work.


  5. Posted September 29, 2008 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Thanks Jeff and Anita. I did not know about the substitution during Nibley’s classes. I will look up the lectures. Thanks for the tip!

  6. Russell Anderson
    Posted October 26, 2008 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    I am curious why pages 2 and 3 of the handout are not included for copyright reasons when Welch’s whole book can be read online at the Maxwell Institute.

    I am also curious why you have the numbers 1 to 4 on the handout, but they don’t correspond with the First, Second, Third and Forth items of the handout.

  7. Posted October 26, 2008 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    Really enjoy your postings. Perhaps you might be interested in the writings of Lyle Brown, a patriarch of the church from west virginia. He was a curator of the university library, I believe at Marshall, he had a website called the Bookman. He has written various articles about the temple and Christ’s parables from the perspective of a believer. I had the privilege of receiving some of them from Thomas Cottle and Richard Ware. Look up “The Parable of the Wounded Man”
    Very enlightening and testimony building. Would also recommend Tom’s three books to you. As a former temple presidents councilor his insights to the House of the Lord are very powerful and positive as well.

  8. Posted October 26, 2008 at 9:22 am | Permalink


    Pages 2 and 3 are from Welch’s book that will be published in 2009, not from the book already published in 1999.

    I also included more points in my post from Welch’s handout than he chose to highlight in his presentation at the conference, or explicitly call out in the handout itself.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *


Olark Livehelp