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” ((FARMS Update, March 1988.)).
In this article he gave six key points which link the sermon to the temple:
- Jesus gave the address “to the Nephites at their temple (3 Ne. 11:1).”
- The sermon was given “in a covenant-making context.”
- The stipulations in the sermon were “by way of commandment.”
- The purpose of the sermon was to “show the disciple how to be exalted at the final judgment.”
- Looking at the sermon in this way “dramatically enhances its meaning.”
- 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.