"Mormon Hermeneutics"

Historical context?

The above website says this: “Scripture should be read contextually (that is, in the historical context of the people who would have first heard the revelation) and holistically (seeing everything scripture has to say on the topic at hand) to acquire accurate theological conceptions that members judge every person’s doctrine against.”

This is true. This is accurate.

However, the LDS church does not consistently follow this advice. Mormon Hermeneutics is a book that covers the first issue (the historical context) in detail. The book’s main argument: the LDS church does not sufficiently consider the ancient historical context when they interpret Scripture. Instead, they inordinately focus on the modern horizon of the reader. 


Acts 3:19-21: By mentioning “times of restoration,” Peter was focusing on the restoration brought by Christ. The original hearers (i.e., the historical context) of Peter’s sermon would not have any idea about a Mormon restoration nearly two millennia later. 

Isa 28:10: The phrase “line upon line” in its historical context has nothing to do with gradual, consistent communication from God to humankind. It is a passage that deals with drunken religious leaders and their lack of understanding—who mock the Prophet Isaiah. 

Jude 6: The KJV has the phrase “first estate.” The original readers would not believe that this refers to a “premortal existence” for humankind, because the verse speaks only of angels. (The literary context of the verse is clear—there are many that will be judged for “denying” Christ (see verses 4-16)—including angels who left their “first estate”). 

Ezek 37:16-17: Would the original readers think that one stick was the Bible and the other was the Book of Mormon? No. At the time of Ezekiel, there wasn’t even an entire OT compiled, let alone the NT. (What about a “double fulfillment” like in Isa 7:14 and Isa 40:3? Good question. See the book Mormon Hermeneutics, 91, 100-102 for a response). 

There are dozens of additional examples in the book. 

So again, “Scripture should be read contextually (that is, in the historical context of the people who would have first heard the revelation).” Yet the LDS church does not do this consistently. 

By jeffkrohn4

Jeffrey S. Krohn is from the United States and is Professor of Theology/Biblical Studies at Evangelical Theological College, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is married with four children. He previously lived in Peru and taught at Universidad Seminario Evangélico de Lima. He enjoys the outdoors, reading, and exploring new cultures with his family. He was incredibly blessed to study at Bethel College (University) in St. Paul, MN, Denver Seminary (MDiv); Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (ThM); and London School of Theology (PhD).

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