Looking Beyond the Mark

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<ul><li><p>7/31/2019 Looking Beyond the Mark</p><p> 1/12</p><p>Looking beyond the Mark: Insights from</p><p>the JST into First-Century Judaism</p><p>Printed from The Religious Studies Center(http://rsc.byu/edu)Selected:</p><p>Normal article</p><p>Robert L. Millet, Looking beyond the Mark: Insights from the JST into First-Century</p><p>Judaism,in The Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious</p><p>Truths, ed. Monte S. Nyman and Robert L. Millet (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center,</p><p>Brigham Young University, 1985), 20114.</p><p>Looking beyond the Mark: Insights from the JST into First-Century Judaism</p><p>Robert L. Millet</p><p>Robert L. Millet was an assistant professor of ancient scripture at BYU when this was</p><p>published.</p><p>In speaking of Joseph Smith the Prophet, President Wilford Woodruff observed:</p><p>His mind was opened by the visions of the Almighty, and the Lord taught him</p><p>many things by vision and revelation that were never taught publicly in his days;</p><p>for the people could not bear the flood of intelligence which God poured into his</p><p>mind.[1]</p><p>Latter-day Saints, however, should be filled with gratitude for what God didsee fit to</p><p>make known to the restored church through that choice seer, the man who in moderntimes beheld things which were not visible to the natural eye (Moses 6:36). </p><p>Through his work of inspired revision of the King James Bible (JST), the</p><p>Prophet Joseph restored to the world many plain and precious truths concerning Jesus</p><p>Christhis parables, miracles, his personality and power. In addition, invaluable</p><p>insights concerning his ministry among the Jews are now available. This paper will deal</p><p>specifically with the state of Judaism at the time of Jesus, as such things are elucidated</p><p>in the JST.</p><p>Introduction</p>http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn1http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn1http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn1http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn1</li><li><p>7/31/2019 Looking Beyond the Mark</p><p> 2/12</p><p>Seven hundred years before Jesus walked the roads of his beloved Palestinian</p><p>homelands, Isaiah the prophet spoke of the coming Messiah as one who would mature</p><p>as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground (Isaiah 53:2). Indeed, he would</p><p>grow up as a choice and favored plant whose strength and achievement did not come</p><p>because of the arid social culture in which he dwelt; it was not poured into him by the</p><p>erudition of Rabbinic teachers; but it came from the divine source from whence hesprang.[2]This root-stock or stem of Jesse would grow to godhood in a sterile and</p><p>barren religious soil, in the midst of great learning but gross darkness. The social and</p><p>religious backdrop of the life of Christthe setting of first-century Judaism in</p><p>Palestineprovides the supreme element of contrast in the unfolding drama of the</p><p>mortal ministry of the Son of God: the Anointed One was the Light which shone; a</p><p>benighted generation bound by traditions and customs was the darkness which refused</p><p>to comprehend the light.</p><p>After ages of bondage, the Jews of the first century had riveted themselves upon</p><p>the hope of deliverance. Anticipation was great and expectations were legion, for the</p><p>Jews taught that the kingdom of God should immediately appear (JST Luke 19:11).And yet, the Jews were looking for a redeemer quite different from the Christ. It was a</p><p>temporal salvation that they desired. It was an earthly kingdom for which they longed. It</p><p>was not faith, repentance, and baptism for which they sought, but national vindication,</p><p>the destruction of gentile oppressors, and the establishment of a kingdom of peace and</p><p>justice.[3]With such limited vision and perspective, it is not difficult to see how a</p><p>people could discern the face of the sky but not discern the signs of the times</p><p>(Matthew 16:3). Jesus the Christ was the ultimate sign, the fulfillment of the Mosaic</p><p>ordinances and utterances, and, ironically, the great endto all of Judaisms myriad</p><p>means. Nevertheless, a stiffnecked generation refused to focus upon the Mark, and</p><p>chose instead to look for a Messiah of their own making.</p><p>Jesus, the Jews, and the Law</p><p>In the purest sense, Jesus was an observant Jew. He Loved and honored the law</p><p>of Moses, and sought to keep the statutes and ordinances associated therewith. His</p><p>divine perspective allowed him to view the law in the spirit in which it was given, as a</p><p>schoolmaster (literally pedagogue, tutor, or attendant) for a wayward people in</p><p>need of structure and direction. Christ Himself, taught Joseph Smith, fulfilled all</p><p>righteousness in becoming obedient to the law which he had given to Moses on themount, and thereby magnified it and made it honorable, instead of destroying it.[4]</p><p>Until the time of the infinite atonement was past, the Master taught that the law was to</p><p>be observed and kept. Heaven and earth must pass away, he emphatically declared,</p><p>but one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled.</p><p>Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach</p><p>men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever</p><p>shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be</p><p>called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven. (JST Matthew 5:2021.)</p><p>It is not difficult to fathom how a people could become so enamored with the</p><p>extremities and extensions of the pure instruction of heaven that they might begineventually to ignore and overlook the core teachings, the weightier matters of the law.</p>http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn2http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn2http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn3http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn3http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn3http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn4http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn4http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn4http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn4http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn3http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn2</li><li><p>7/31/2019 Looking Beyond the Mark</p><p> 3/12</p><p>Those who become easily bored by the basics and who constantly seek to engage in the</p><p>peripheral and esoteric may come to trade plainness of blindness (see Jacob 4:14). Such</p><p>was obviously the state of things at the time of Christ. Had the Pharisees been more</p><p>intense in their study of the pure law (rather than the commentaries upon it) and more</p><p>eager to apply its teachings (rather than seeking for further things which they could not</p><p>understand), they might have distilled the central message of the Torah and therebyrecognized Jesus of Nazareth as the giver of the law and the promised Messiah. Such</p><p>was not, however, to be the case. Even though Judaism represented the closest</p><p>approximation to the ancient gospel (Salvation is of the Jews, Jesus explained to the</p><p>Samaritan womanJohn 4:22), the failure of individuals and congregations to accept</p><p>and receive the living oracles sealed their doom. One of the most interesting insertions</p><p>of the Prophet Joseph Smith into the King James Bible is found in chapter 9 of</p><p>Matthews Gospel. Note the relationship between rejecting (or ignoring) the law and</p><p>rejecting the Christ:</p><p>JST Matthew 9:1516</p><p>And Jesus said unto them, Can the</p><p>children of the bride-chamber mourn, as</p><p>long as the bridegroom is with them? but</p><p>the days will come when the bridegroom</p><p>shall be taken from the, and then shall they</p><p>fast.</p><p>No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto</p><p>an old garment, for that which is put in to</p><p>fill it up taketh from the garment, and therent is made worse.</p><p>JST Matthew 9:1622</p><p>And Jesus said unto them, Can the</p><p>children of the bridge-chamber mourn, as</p><p>long as the bridegroom is with them?</p><p>But the days will come, when the</p><p>bridegroom shall be taken from them, and</p><p>then shall they fast.</p><p>Then said the Pharisees unto him, why</p><p>will ye not receive us with our baptism,</p><p>seeing we keep the whole law?[5]</p><p>But Jesus said unto them, Ye keep not the</p><p>law. If ye had kept the law, ye would have</p><p>received me, for I am he who gave the law.</p><p>I receive not you with your baptism,</p><p>because it profiteth you nothing.</p><p>For when that which is new is come, the</p><p>old is ready to be put away.</p><p>Forno man putteth a piece of new cloth</p><p>on and old garment; for that which is put</p><p>in to fill it up, taketh from the garment,</p><p>and the rent is made worse.</p>http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn5http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn5http://rsc.byu.edu/print/book/export/html/1663#_edn5</li><li><p>7/31/2019 Looking Beyond the Mark</p><p> 4/12</p><p>Not only does the preceding addition provide a marvelous topical transition an establish</p><p>the social and doctrinal setting for the discussion of new cloth and new battles (Jesus</p><p>has rejected the baptism of the Phariseescf. D&amp;C 22); it also underscores the fact that</p><p>those who accept and follow divine direction come to recognize and accept the DivineDirector; those who set the law at naught and seek to become a law unto themselves are</p><p>condemned by the law and rejected by the Lawgiver. Another passage from Luke</p><p>teaches this same principle.</p><p>KJV Luke 14:3335</p><p>So likewise, whosoever he be of you thatforsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be</p><p>my disciple.</p><p>Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his</p><p>savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned?</p><p>It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the</p><p>dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath</p><p>ears to hear, let him hear.</p><p>JST Luke 14:3438</p><p>So likewise, whosoever of you forsakethnot all that he hath he cannot be my</p><p>disciple.</p><p>Then certain of them came to him,</p><p>saying, Good Master, we have Moses and</p><p>the prophets, and whosoever shall live by</p><p>them, shall he not have Life?</p><p>And Jesus answered, saying, Ye know not</p><p>Moses, neither the prophets; for if ye had</p><p>known them, ye would have believed on</p><p>me; for to this intent they were written.</p><p>For I am sent that ye might have life.</p><p>Therefore I will liken it unto salt which is</p><p>good;</p><p>But if the salt has lost its savor,</p><p>wherewith shall it be seasoned?</p><p>It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the</p><p>dung hill; men cast it out. He who hathears to hear, let him hear. These things he</p><p>said, signifying that which was written,</p><p>verily must all be fulfilled.</p></li><li><p>7/31/2019 Looking Beyond the Mark</p><p> 5/12</p><p>Jesus criticism of the leaders of the Jews was largely for their perverted</p><p>priorities, for confusing tokens with covenants, ritual with religion. Further, he</p><p>condemned their adherence to the traditions of the elders as teaching the doctrines</p><p>and the commandments of men (JST Mark 7:67; JST Matthew 15:8). In the eyes of</p><p>the Lord, to present oneself as a master and expert of the law and then to miss the</p><p>undergirding intent and antitype of the law was the height of hypocrisy. In a sense, itwas to be guilty of a profanation and violation of the entire Mosaic code. Ye blind</p><p>guides, Jesus said in a scathing denunciation, who strain at a gnat, and swallow a</p><p>camel; who make yourselves appear unto men that ye would not commit the least sin,</p><p>and yet ye yourselves, transgress the whole law (JST Matthew 23:21). In addition, the</p><p>Lord chastened the leaders of the Jews for being so caught up in the observance of the</p><p>traditions of the elders (see Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:19) that they had ceased to</p><p>observe the very law around which those vain traditions had been established. In an</p><p>insightful passage from the Sermon on the Mount, Christ explained to his disciples:</p><p>KJV Matthew 7:35</p><p>And why beholdest thou the mote that is</p><p>in thy brothers eye, but considerest not</p><p>the beam that is in thine own eye?</p><p>Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let</p><p>me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and,</p><p>behold, a beam is in thine own eye?</p><p>JST Matthew 7:48</p><p>And again, ye shall say unto them, Why is</p><p>it that thou beholdest the mote that is in</p><p>they brothers eye, but considerest not the</p><p>beam that is in thine own eye?</p><p>Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let</p><p>me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and</p><p>canst notbehold a beam in thine own eye?</p><p>And Jesus said unto his disciples,</p><p>Beholdest thou the Scribes, and the</p><p>Pharisees, and the Priests, and the</p><p>Levites? They teach in their synagogues,</p><p>but do not observe the law, nor the</p><p>commandments; and all have gone out of</p><p>the way, and are under sin.</p><p>Go thou and say unto the, Why teach ye</p><p>men the law and the commandment, whenye yourselves are the children of</p><p>corruption?</p><p>Say unto them, Ye hypocrites, first cast</p><p>out the beam out of thine own eye; and</p><p>then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the</p><p>mote out of thy brothers eye.</p></li><li><p>7/31/2019 Looking Beyond the Mark</p><p> 6/12</p><p>Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam</p><p>out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou</p><p>see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy</p><p>brothers eye.</p><p>A similar passage from Mark points toward misplaced zeal and priorities among Jewish</p><p>leaders Jesus is chiding the Jews for failure to keep the regulations of the law regarding</p><p>care of ones parents (see Exodus 20:12). Note the account in the JST:</p><p>KJV Mark 7:910</p><p>And he said unto them, Full well ye</p><p>reject the commandments of God, that ye</p><p>may keep your own tradition.</p><p>For Moses said, Honour thy father and</p><p>thy mother; and Whoso curseth father or</p><p>mother, let him die the death:</p><p>JST Mark 7:912</p><p>And he said unto them, Yea, altogether</p><p>ye reject the commandment of God, that</p><p>ye may keep your own tradition.</p><p>Full well is it written of you, by the</p><p>prophets whom ye have rejected.</p><p>They testified these things of a truth, and</p><p>their blood shall be upon you.</p><p>Ye have kept not the ordinances of God;</p><p>for Moses said, Honor thy father and thy</p><p>mother; and whoso curseth father or</p><p>mother, let him die the death of the</p><p>transgressor, as it s written in your law;</p><p>but ye keep not the law.</p><p>Spiritual Stumblings of the Jews</p><p>Jesus stood as a marked contrast to the rabbis of his day. He taught the people</p><p>as one having authority from God, and not as having authority from the Scribes (JST</p><p>Matthew 7:37). The ability to teach with spiritual authority is a gift granted to those</p><p>who pay the price of fasting, prayer, and scripture study (see Alma 17:23). Jesus had</p><p>paid such a price and much more, while his Jewish counterparts had attended more to</p><p>what the learned had said aboutthe law than what had actually been said inthe law. Ye</p><p>do err therefore, Christ said the Sadducees, because ye know not, and understand not</p><p>the Scriptures, neither the power of God (JST Mark 12:28). Here even the</p><p>Sadduceeswho rejected the oral interpretations so dear to the heart of the Pharisees</p><p>are scolded for their lack of scriptural insight. Had the leaders of the Jews prayerfully</p><p>studied and taught from the scriptures of the day, there would have been a power and anauthority behind the words they spoke. Had they accepted Jesus as the Christ and</p></li><li><p>7/31/2019 Looking Beyond the Mark</p><p> 7/12</p><p>entered in at the strait gate, they would have enjoyed the ratifying influence of the Holy</p><p>Ghost in their declarations. Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written:</p><p>Many great doctrinal revelations come to those who preach from the scriptures.When they are in tune with the Infinite, the Lord lets them know, first, the ful...</p></li></ul>