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During the April 1998 LDS General Conference James White made his regular conference appearance.  On Sunday evening he appeared on the radio talk shows of Van Hale and Richard Hopkins.  During the course of Van Hale's show, Dr. William Hamblin called in to question James about his interpretation of Ps. 82.  Because of the limitations of being able to fully discuss the issue on the radio, Dr. Hamblin wrote to James to discuss the matter further.  With Dr. Hamblin's permission their correspondence follows.

Letters Forty-one through Forty-nine

Letter Forty-One

Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 15:29:23 -0600
From: "William J. Hamblin" <>
Subject: Biblical Consistency?
To: James White <>
Cc: skinny <>

Dear James

Some more reflections on your untenable positions.  
I await your June reply.

If one's presupposition is that the text [of the Bible] is inherently disjointed, of course----but if you begin with the presupposition that the text is unified, it is no more circular reasoning than assuming that any author is consistent in his own writings.

Both positions are ultimately presuppositions.  Your position is not somehow privileged in this matter.  Your assumption is that God is the ultimate author and therefore the entire text must therefore be internally consistent.  I could, of course, argue that even if God were the actual author, this does not guarantee internal consistency both on the grounds of the same type of logical difficulties I raised with the issue of infallibility, and on the grounds of transmission and corruption of the text, (an historical fact, you must admit).  Thus, even if God's ultimate authorship mean absolute consistency (a dubious proposition), the fact that the text has been transmitted and changed for several thousand years guarantees that the text we have is not the one God himself authored.  Thus, although this quest for mythic absolute consistency might be arguable in theory, in actuality, it cannot be argued for any of the mutilated texts that have come down to us (as witnessed by the fact that, in the issues under discussion here, bene elohim was changed to bene Yisrael in Deut 32).  But, of course, my position is that God inspired *men* to author the text.  At any rate, there are at least three positions on this topic:

1- God is the author, the text is infallible and is therefore necessarily absolutely internally consistent.  (Your position).  There are two undisputable historical facts which undermine this theory.  

    A- The problems of textual transmission and corruption  

    B- The fact that the Bible is clearly inconsistent with itself on a number of issues (like numbers of people involved in an event, etc.).

2- The text of the Bible was written by humans and is a purely human document, just like Plato or Aristotle, or any other from antiquity.

3- The text of the Bible is inspired by God, but written by men.  This inspiration does not guarantee infallibility of the text (as discussed earlier).  All revelations are fixed in a cultural context, and must be understood within that context.  The text of the Bible has been corrupted over millennia of transmission.  (My position.)  
Thus, the choice is not between your fundamentalism and the absolute skepticism of the agnostics.

In point of fact, of course, the Bible was written over the course of 1000 years at a minimum, and perhaps as many as 1500.  It is in three different languages.  There are dozens of authors; the names and dates of many of the authors are unknown.  Under any historical circumstances, the controlling assumption would be that there would be growth and development in the ideas and language found in the text.  The same applies to the Vedic or Zoroastrian scriptures.  For you to claim otherwise is simply special pleading.

I truly doubt, Dr. Hamblin, that you would appreciate someone taking one of your books, chopping it up into odd-sized bits, and then beginning the process of "interpretation" by *assuming* that you will contradict yourself on every page, indeed, in almost every paragraph.

Of course, I am one author, writing over the space of only a few decades.  I am not dozens of authors writing over a thousand or more years.  Furthermore, if you examine the entire corpus of Hambliniana, I do, in fact, change my position and ideas on a wide range of issues.  It's called learning and intellectual development.  Many of us have experienced this phenomenon.  (I'm sorry if it is beyond the range of your experience.)  So, yes, my ideas of 10 years ago are often quite different than my ideas now, and are so reflected in my writing.  This is also standard practice in treating single authors of antiquity:  early, middle and late Plato or Augustine, for example.  Would you insist that Augustine's writings from his Manichaean period (if such existed) would have to be 100% compatible with his writings of his Christian period?  Or is Catholic Luther be 100% consistent with Protestant Luther?  You insist on a development in Joseph Smith's thought, don't you?  Is this unfair or unscholarly on your part?

I would assume you appreciate it when people take the time to let you define your own terms, and give you the benefit of the doubt when it comes to what might appear to be contradictory in your statements.

Indeed; which is one of the many things which irritates me about the approach of anti-Mormons like you to LDS scripture and doctrine.  In fact, you are exhibiting a grotesque double standard here, which is typical of anti-Mormons.  You do not allow us to define our own terms, nor do you give us the benefit of the doubt.  But of course, this has nothing to do with the question of whether or not there is development and differences in Biblical theology, does it?  I am letting the Bible define its own terms: the Sons of Elyon are elohim according to Ps 82:6.  You are the one who insists that such a straightforward statement must be redefined and reinterpreted to be consistent your late twentieth century North American conservative protestant theology.

It would, of course, be very, very easy to take even one of your articles and, by applying modern form critical methodology, make you appear to be completely inconsistent and absurd.

No it wouldn't.  This is an entirely different matter than change and development over time.

In reality, *you* are the one reasoning circularly here.  You are assuming something (the *dis*unity of the text) and allowing that presupposition to determine your usage.  Yet, how do you prove disunity, since, of course, you cannot logically just presupose it?

Actually, since the text was written over 1000 years by dozens of authors, the a priori assumption must be that the text will reflect the differences of background, language, assumptions, etc. of the different authors.  This is the normal historical assumption when dealing with any collection of texts written over 1000 years.  Or do you also grant the Hindu claim of the fundamental unity and internal consistency of the Vedic scriptures?  If not, why should we a priori grant this to the Bible?  It is something to be demonstrated, not asserted.

Of course, only when it comes to studying the Bible can people get away with assuming such things.  No one "assumes" disunity in other ancient documents without being challenged on it---but when it comes to the Bible, it's considered a given anymore.

This is pure balderdash!  You assertion merely demonstrates that you know nothing of the history of such matters.  In fact, modern "critical" methods developed in *classical* studies, dating back at least to the Renaissance.  Look at the critical attacks by Isaac Casaubon in 1614 on the Hermetica, for example; or the question of Homeric authorship of the Iliad and Odyssey, which is precisely analogous to the questions of biblical authorship.  Only after such methods were developed in classical studies did skeptics begin to apply them to the Bible.

William J. Hamblin
Associate Professor of History
323 KMB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602-4446

FAX 801-378-5784

Letter Forty-two

From: James White <>
To: William J. Hamblin <>
Date: Thrusday, May 28, 1998 9:56 AM
Subject: One more try

At 03:43 PM 5/4/98 -0600, you wrote:

>Thus, I was not saying that Ps 82 was gibberish to you, but that the
>*literal* interpretation of Ps 82, that the sons of Elyon are gods, is
>gibberish.  You have amply demonstrated, by your unwillingness to
> deal with the literal meaning of the Psalm, that you do find it gibberish.

I reject, completely, the assertion that you are presenting the "literal" interpretation of Psalm 82.  It is not "literal" to rip the Psalm from the context of the entire Old Testament, read a completely foreign idea into it that makes Yahweh a second God to Elohim (the LDS view), all the while ignoring the simple fact that the Psalm is about judgment upon judges who have judged unjustly.  This is no more "literal" than the Roman Catholic misuse of John 6 and the words of Jesus about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

Secondly, I resent, and reject the assertion that I have been "unwilling" to deal with the "literal meaning" of the Psalm.  Such is merely triumphalistic rhetoric that has no meaning.  It assumes the conclusion of this entire conversation----and, if you assume your conclusion, why discuss the issue in the first place?

>Thus, you are compelled to revert to metaphorical explanations that
>gods = judges.  But, as I originally stated, the literal reading of this
>psalm is unacceptable to you.

No, sir, it is the literal reading of the Psalm to keep it as one literary whole.  It is the literal reading of the Psalm to recognize that the judgment of verses 6 and 7 comes about due to the sins of the judges in verses 3 and 4.  That, sir, is literal reading.

>>Christ did not exegete Psalm 82.  He quoted a single verse in >>reference to His opponents.  He never cited verses 1 through 5, 
>>nor 7 and 8.

>I note, for the record, that you are backtracking on your previous >position.  I wrote:
>When Christ quoted "ye are gods" from Ps. 82:6, he was--in typical
>rabbinic fashion--giving a scriptural reference.  Today we would say,
>"Read Ps 82:6," but, since such a reference system had not been
>developed at the time of Christ, the ancients would simply quote the
>first line of the passage they were referencing.  Christ expected his
>listeners to know the scripture, and to consider the entire passage, not
>simply the one line.
>To which you replied "Most definitely....including the verses you have
>removed from consideration (3 & 4)."
>So now that you have apparently finally recognized that your original
>proposed exegesis of John 10 does not work, you are shifting your
>position, and insisting that Jesus was *not* using standard citation
>practices of the first century AD to refer to the passage as a whole by
>quoting one line of the passage.  Which is your position?

Of course, I have not backtracked nor shifted positions.  I simply pointed out that Jesus did not exegete the passage in John 10, He cited it.  You have confused the fact of His citation of it with the assertion that He is offering an exegesis of the entire Psalm in the brief comments in John 10.  No one could possibly claim to "exegete" a passage by making a mere reference to one verse.  Such would not be a meaningful use of the term "exegete."

>That "He [Jesus] never cited verses 1through 5, nor 7 and 8" or that
>"[Jesus] Most definitely [cited them]....including the verses you have
>removed from consideration (3 & 4)."  And why are you shifting ground?

I'm not.  You are confused.

>Hence, what you are offering is YOUR interpretation of what is going on
>in John 10, and reading that back as if it were Jesus' interpretation into
>Psalm 82,
>I am doing no such thing.  I have provided a line by line exegesis of
>John 10.  You have yet to demonstrate where this exegesis is wrong.
>If Jesus said what I think he said, it should provide a key to
>understanding Ps 82.

Of course, Psalm 82 pre-existed John 10, and I have provided my exegesis of the passage as well.

>all the while continuing to ignore two major things: 1) the testimony of
>verses 3 and 4, and 2) the constant witness of the entire OT to the fact
>that there is only one true God, who has eternally been God.
>Question begging.  These issues are not decided in your favor, >despite your endless repetition of claims that they are; these
>issues are precisely what are in dispute.  How can your
>assertion that your case is proven be taken as evidence that
>your case is proven and therefore needs no proof.

Of course, you assert that yours is the literal reading above, which is the issue in dispute, but you don't call *that* "question begging."  It seems to me that the double standard upon which you are functioning is making any kind of meaningful dialogue impossible.  Be that as it may, verses 3 and 4 will not go away, no matter how much effort you put into ignoring them.

>>I'm disappointed that you apparently don't agree.  But, if you 
>>want to limit the discussion, at this point, to only Ps. 82, I'm
>>perfectly willing.  ( I suspect that most readers of this
>>correspondence will see this as the quintessential "when you
>>loose, change the topic" tactics for which you and many other
>>anti-Mormons are so well known.)
>Excuse me, but that is not only rude, it is childish.  Such is merely
>triumphalistic rhetoric.
>I accuse you of changing topics when you begin to "lose" (not
>"loose", indeed).  This is neither rude, nor childish, it is simply
>an observation of fact.

It is not an observation of fact, it is a rude, childish attempt to win "points" by making unnecessary comments that only add emotional impact for your followers, little more.  Your refusal to even acknowledge your own slip in behavior is truly reprehensible.

>Notice again, how you are changing the topic from whether or
>not you have changed the topic (by refusing to deal with my
>exegesis of John 10), to claiming I am rude and childish.

Of course, *you* were not changing the topic by bashing "anti-Mormons" and making silly comments about them "losing" the conversation.  The childishness of the original comment is beyond dispute.

>It is amazing that someone of your caliber can so quickly drop to the
>level of antagonistic ad-hominem as you did here.
>Apparently you don't understand the ad hominem argument.

I well understand the use of ad hominem.  I resent the fact that it seems to be the stock-in-trade for BYU professors.  Until this round, you had mainly managed to avoid it.

>I said you changed the subject.  You manifestly did.  I sent you
>a lengthy post on John 10, you refused to deal with it.  You
>insisted that I deal with Ps 82 instead.  I did.  It is now your turn
>to deal with John 10.  You apparently won't.  How is this
>observation an ad hominem?

Anyone who has followed this to this point can only be as amazed as I am.  I now delete any further attempts on your part to get away from Psalm 82, and move back to the topic:

>Anyway, here are some of the issues that you have
>"conveniently ignored," by which I mean you have failed to deal
>with the substance of my argument.  Your rhetorical posturing
>will not be confused by any thinking and informed readers for
>substantive arguments and evidence.

[More unnecessary ad-hominem]

>1- Everything in my recent posting about John 10.

As I said, you contacted me about Psalm 82.  The record is plain.  You have not yet dealt with the important elements of that passage.  I believe you are not able to do so, and hence are wishing to change the grounds, all the while accusing *me* of doing that.  I have refused to follow your lead.

>2- The extensive arguments of Mullen on the Assembly of the Gods.

I don't find such a meaningful addition to the discussion.  I have refused to engage in this kind of "Oh, well, have you read MY scholars" argumentation in e-mail.  It is meaningless.

>3- The fact that Baptists (or whatever you are) don't believe in a >council of the gods, even though one is mentioned in the OT.

We believe what Psalm 82 says, and again, you assume that which is in dispute to make your point.  I think you called that question begging.

>4- The fact that there is no linguistic or contextual reason to interpret
>the word elohim as judge in Ex 22:8-9.  The text makes perfect sense
>when read as bringing judgement before God.

There is, of course, *every* reason for so doing, as I have demonstrated.

>5- The fact that humans are called sons of the Most High, Christ is
>called son of the Most High, and the sons of the Most High are called

None of this is in dispute:  what it MEANS is, of course, the very issue in dispute.  You again seem to assume the very issues that allegedly prompted you to write in the first place.

>6- These four questions I raised earlier have received no substantive
>answer (remember, endlessly repeating an unsubstantiated assertion
>without reference to evidence and analysis does not pass muster as a
>substantive response):

Nor does labeling the responses of your opponent in such a manner make those responses unsubstantiated assertions, etc.  I could just as easily call your assertions unsubstantiated....that does not make them so.  I am, evidently, at a substantial disadvantage here, since I refuse to engage in such argumentation.

>1- There is a perfectly good Hebrew word for judge (shaphat).  If Ps 82
>meant to condemn wicked judges, why in the world didn't God
>inerrantly inspire the psalmist to use the word for judge?

Such an argument begs the question, in the real sense of the term.  The issue is not "why not use this term" but "what does this term mean in the passage."  I remind you of the Psalm says:

Psalm 82:3  Vindicate the weak and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.  4 Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.

These elohim are commanded to vindicate the weak and fatherless.  That is the role of the Israelite judge, the one "unto whom the word of God came" (John 10:35)

These elohim are commanded to do justice to the afflicted and destitute.  That is the role of the Israelite judge, the one "unto whom the word of God came" (John 10:35)

These elohim are commanded to rescue the week and needy.  That is the role of the Israelite judge, the one "unto whom the word of God came" (John 10:35).

These elohim are commanded to deliver the weak and needy out of the hand of the wicked.  That is the role of the Israelite judge, the one "unto whom the word of God came" (John 10:35).

Leviticus 19:15  'You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly.

(Deuteronomy 1:16-17)  "Then I charged your judges at that time, saying, 'Hear the cases between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him.  [17] 'You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike.  You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God's.  The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.'

(Deuteronomy 16:18-20)  "You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.  [19] "You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.  [20] "Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you.

(Deuteronomy 17:9-12)  "So you shall come to the Levitical priest or the judge who is in office in those days, and you shall inquire of them and they will declare to you the verdict in the case.  [10] "You shall do according to the terms of the verdict which they declare to you from that place which the LORD chooses; and you shall be careful to observe according to all that they teach you.  [11] "According to the terms of the law which they teach you, and according to the verdict which they tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, to the right or the left.  [12] "The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the LORD your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.

Therefore, the logic is rather clear:

1.  The *exact* same terms are used of the elohim in Psalm 82 as of human judges.  
2. The term elohim is without question used of judges in Exodus 22.
3. These elohim are subject to the judgment of God, and are said to be subject to death.

Therefore, given the context in which the elohim are charged with doing what the judges do and the realm in which they are charged with doing it (i.e., the earthly realm), there is nothing obscure about what leads me, and many others, to seeing these elohim as the judges of Israel.

>Why all this language about elohim, the council of el, and the bene

Because God is judging those that He had placed in a tremendously important and authoritative position.  There is a biblical concept: to whom much is given, much is required.  These men stood in the very place of God.  The judgement they delivered was to be seen as being God's judgment!  Such places these men in a position of tremendous responsibility and honor.  And, the more responsibility one carries, the greater the judgment when that responsibility is disregarded.  They are indeed called sons of the Most High and elohim----which makes their sin against that great privilege even more devastating (v. 5).

>2- Your claim that humans have judging
>functions as described in Ps 82 is quite correct.  I presume, however,
>that you are also aware that God is the supreme judge, and judgement,
>is, in fact, ultimately a divine rather than human function, and that
>mortals will participate in rendering divine judgement at the final
>judgement (e.g. Mt 19:28, Lk 22:29).

Of course.  That is perfectly consistent with what I have written thus far:  that they are commanded to dispense justice and righteousness as the judges of God's people.  They have failed to do so.  The verdict is rendered by Yahweh:  they have judged unjustly and have shown partiality to the wicked.  That means they have been involved in the action of judging here on earth.  They are the ones to whom the people of Israel have taken their cases.  For a person taking the text literally, this ends the discussion.  For the Mormon, who are these "gods"?  At first you talked of them becoming gods, but then withdrew that assertion.  Are there pre-incarnate spirits?  When did the people of Israel take their cases to spirit beings?  Who are these "elohim" in LDS theology?  Where do they fall in the eternal law of progression?

>3- I quite concur that mortals are condemned for rendering unjust >judgement.  This does not demonstrate that elohim can be used as a
>term to mean judges.

Well, since verse 2 says that these elohim are condemned for rendering unjust judgment *in the human realm*, the logic is irrefutable, at least, if one takes the passage in its own context.

>4- I challenge you show me anywhere else in the OT or NT, 
>where the term elohim unequivocally means judge?

Exodus 22:8-9.

>7- The fact that the earliest Christian exegetes (Justin and
>Irenaeus) agree with my position on the elohim of Ps 82 and
>John 10. (I can list many others as well, if you want.)  Who is
>the first Christian exegete who agrees with your position?

As I recall, I disputed your understanding of both, actually.  In fact, I don't recall any of them indicating they believed in a plurality of gods, nor did their interpretation of the passage indicate that they had, in fact, abandoned the heritage of God's people, that being monotheism.  Hence, your question is based upon merely your own assertion that their words are commensurate with your interpretation.  That has yet to be determined.

>8- The hermeneutical absurdity of your claim that you are letting the
>text speak for itself.

I will allow the facts to refute your ipse dixit.

>>Nor is that, or your listing of viewpoints, relevant to the exegetical
>>discussion I *thought* you requested at first, Dr. Hamblin.  While it is
>>fascinating to note the degradation of commentaries over the years (I
>>have often commented that especially when it comes to the OT, you
>>have to go back 100 years to find much of worth),
>I find the discoveries of the last 100 years are fundamental to
>understanding the text.

What specific "discoveries" are you referring to?  The "discovery" that the Bible is not really inspired?  The "discovery" that the Old Testament should be atomized and examined as any other old piece of humanly designed literature?  Discoveries of texts are vitally important.  The *use* of those texts takes us right back to the presuppositions of the ones doing the using.

>Note the difference here.  To maintain your position you must reject the
>discoveries and advances of biblical studies of the last 100 years.
>While I see these last 100 years as confirming Joseph's restoration of
>ancient doctrines. Interesting distinction, no?

Interesting, and erroneous.  I rejected no discoveries or advances.  I rejected the enthronement of unbelieving scholarship and the *degradation* of biblical studies.  Unless you are prepared to say that it is better to approach the text from the position of unbelief than to allow it to stand as a unitary whole, you seem to be attempting to make points that are irrelevant to what I've actually said.

>I have never made such a survey, but would actually be surprised
>if there were any by major publishers.  The currrent climate is
>not favorable to a methodology of interpretation that would "buck
>the trends" in regards to OT studies.
>This is absurd nonsense.

I made that comment over and over again while reading your attempt to come up with swords in the BoM, Dr. Hamblin.  But I didn't think that inserting such comments into any interaction would be overly helpful.

>Even if you could argue that Scholars Press (the publishing arm
>of the SBL) would not publish evangelical studies (which might
>be true), there are dozens of evangelical publishing houses that
>would.  Are you claiming that there are no conservative
>publishing houses in the US?  Or just not conservative enough
>for you?  Is the Word series not conservative?

No, the Word series is not conservative overall; and is much less so in the OT sections (there are a few conservative studies in the NT series).  I have no interest in debating the current situation in OT studies.  Anyone familiar with them knows what I am referring to.

>BILL (old)
>>The reason for this shift is that new archaeological discoveries, >>especially the Ugaritica, along with linguistic and comparative >>studies have decisively demonstrated that the language used in the
>>Bible to describe the assembly of the gods and the bene elohim is
>>precisely the same language used by other peoples (especially the
>>Canaanites) to describe the divine assembly of their gods.  Have you
>>read E. T. Mullen, The Assembly of the Gods: The Divine Council >>in Canaanite and Early Hebrew Literature, (Scholars Press,
>>If you have, and disagree with his conclusions, I would like to see a
>>detailed rebuttal of his position.  (I'm not expecting you to write it
>>yourself.  Just refer me to a source which systematically explains this
>>evidence from your perspective.)
>Again, this well illustrates the role of unchallenged
>presuppositions in OT publications.  If you have read widely in
>the field, you know that the idea that such sources are to be
>taken not only as relevant, but as *determinative,* is almost a
>watchword.  You simply won't get anywhere without buying into
>that viewpoint.
>None of what you say here, even if true (and it is simply your
>unsubstantiated opinion), deals with the massive amount of evidence
>collected by Mullen.

Which again demonstrates what I said before:  there is a vast difference between the use of evidence in a meaningful context and the use of evidence in a context designed to produce certain results.  You have to rely upon scholarship that would be just as negative to your claims of inspiration for LDS writings as it is of the Christian Scriptures.  You have to rely upon the form-critical perspective that carries particular concepts into its work that are *directly* contrary not only to the use of the OT by the Lord Jesus, but to every use of the OT by all the NT writers.  If you choose to go that direction (and your recent posts attacking the consistency of Scripture demonstrate that this is indeed your intention) I can't stop you, but I have no intention of following you down that path.

>However, there are many reasons to question the assertion, not the
>least of which has to do with the fact that it is impossible to think that
>God would borrow from the pagan practices and concepts of the day to
>reveal His truth; i.e., that the pagan >elements of a "council of gods"
>should, by some magical determination, be taken into the
>consideration of a text that fundamentally identifies Canaanite ritual
>and worship as idolatry.
>Here you simply assert what is or is not impossible for God to
>do or not do based solely on your presuppositions.

Actually, that's what you did above when asking why God wouldn't use the words YOU think He should use to communicate certain concepts.  I am not doing that at all.  I am making a simple statement: that it is logically inconsistent with the revelation of God in the Bible (and, of course, given the stance you've already taken, and the sources you are dedicated to, you can't deal with that revelation, since there is no meaningful way to even determine what it is, and, from that perspective, there is no unified testimony to the nature or character of God in the OT anyway) to think that God, in giving His revelation through the Psalmist, would borrow from the pagan worldview in the way that is asserted by so many in OT studies today.  You have your presuppositions, and I have mine.  I believe the assertion is perfectly logical in the light of the consistent condemnation of the very practices that provide the background of the Caananite "council of gods" to which you refer.

>It is not argument, it is not evidence, it is circular reasoning and bald
>assertion.  Are you going to deal with the evidence or not?

I reject your assertion that only you deal with evidence and anyone who disagrees with you does not.

>>BILL (old)
>>You have been frequently insinuating in your postings that you feel I
>>have skipped verses 3 and 4 because they disprove my position and
>>because I have no explanation for them.  Actually, I skipped them
>>because I felt that the standard explanation for those who view Ps 82
>>as referring to celestial beings--which I apparently mistakenly
>>assumed you had read--was quite clear on the matter.
>You would never accept such faulty argumentation from me, Dr. >Hamblin.  If I had consistently ignored a major portion of your >presentation and exegesis of a passage, and when forced to address
>that action, simply said, "Oh, I assumed you had read the standard
>explanations, so I ignored that," you'd rightly nail me to the wall.
>No I wouldn't, if you provided me a standard bibliographic reference,
>and could demonsrate that the overwhelming consensus of modern
>scholarship, conservative and liberal, on the issue agreed with your

The overwhelming consensus of modern scholarship....a term I often encounter in the writings of the Jesus Seminar, and find it no more compelling there than I do here.  Of course, the "overwhelming consensus of modern scholarship" finds the BoM to be a work of 19th century fiction, too, but that hasn't seemed to stop you folks at FARMS from thinking otherwise.  The "overwhelming consensus of modern scholarship" is inveterately opposed to a number of positions you take, Dr. Hamblin, yet, you don't seem to bow to that "consensus."  Of course, the "overwhelming consensus of modern scholarship" tells me that I evolved over aeons of time from a single-celled creature, and that same consensus says that the Bible is a mishmash of ancient mythology combined with Graeco-Roman ethical treatises.

[Of course, I could, if I wanted to, say that you are here trying to "change the topic" and, if I wanted to follow your lead, say that you are "losing" so that you are attempting to cover that fact by appealing to some alleged "majority" on a topic.]

>I returned from New York on Monday.  As to Tate, my personal library
>copy will work just fine.  Do you wish me to address his comments on
>verses 3 and 4 as if they were your own?  That will be a little tough for
>two reasons. 1) He has to do what any commentator has to do:  he
>cannot make any meaningful connection between "gods" and the
>obviously human act of doing justice, so, he focuses upon human
>judges (336, 340-341).
>He does not!  He mentions that humans judge unjustly, but the
>thrust of his argument is that "vv. 3-4 are composed of a set of
>commands to the gods" and "the contrast [between proper
>judgement] and the performance of the gods is evident; they
>have failed to do their duty" (p. 336).  On pages 340-41, he
>references your position, concluding "The interpretation [that Ps
>82 refers to human judges] is not well grounded in the exegesis
>of the texts." (p. 341).  He concludes that "it [is] impossible to
>assume that the `gods' (who are called `sons of Elyon' in v. 6) 
>could be human beings."  (341).  Please try to get it right and
>read the texts clearly.  Although he mentions your position, he
>does so to refute it, not accept it!

Well thank you, again, Dr. Hamblin, for completely misrepresenting me, while quoting me at the same time.  I said that in discussing the condemnation of the elohim, he focuses upon human judges.  It is self evident that I am correct:

"Their commission has been to provide judgment for those who lack the wealth and power to defend themselves in HUMAN SOCIETY (emphasis mine)....The imperative verb "judge" in 3a doubtless means "judge justly," but it seems to me that it may indicate the need for ELDERS, JUDGES, KINGS, AND OTHER LEADERS (emphasis mine) to actively *intervene* in the interest of powerless people who cannot defend their rights....Yahweh expects JUDGES AND LEADERS (emphasis mine) to protect the marginalized people IN SOCIETY (emphasis mine):  the poor, the oppressed, and those without family support." (p. 336)

Again, there is no meaningful way to apply these terms to your polytheistic deities, and as I said, Tate has no meaningful way to discuss the charges against them outside of human judges, elders, kings, etc.  In fact, you have not provided any meaningful application, even from LDS theology (which, as you undoubtedly admit, Tate would not find in the passage), as to how non-incarnate beings of any type can be held accountable by God for judging justly in the Israeli society.

>Let me lay out this issue in a simple syllogism.  Your argument is:
> Some humans judge unjustly
>  The beings in Ps 82 judge unjustly
>  Therefore, the beings in Ps 82 are humans.

< chuckle > No, the proper syllogism is presented above.  To recap:

1) Doing justice, vindicating the poor, and not showing partiality, are the commandments given to the judges of Israel who stand in the place of God.
2) In Psalm 82 God judges "elohim" for failing to do these very things in the context of human society.
3) There is no commandment anywhere in Scripture given to anyone but human judges to judge justly.

Therefore, the persons addressed in Psalm 82 are the human judges of Israel.

[Dscussion [sic] of straw man argument deleted]

>2) There is no connection, as far as I can see, between his >understanding and your own in the sense that he is not, to my >knowledge, asserting that these gods are offspring of an exalted man
>from another planet.

>Did I say there was?  Have I argued that this Psalm contains the >fulness of the LDS understanding of the Godhead?  However, he does
>say that the elohim are the offspring/sons of Elyon.

The fulness of the LDS understanding of the Godhead?  Are you just looking to get a toe in the door, perhaps?  Are you not asserting that these elohim are the offspring of an exalted man?  If that is the case, then why choose as an example someone who would fundamentally see the Psalm, and its context, differently than you do?  Will you then end up having to say that he, too, is simply blind to the "literal" reading of the text when we get around to attempting to find that "fulness" of the LDS doctrine?

>Hence, the question I originally asked you remains:  please
>direct me to the statements of the General Authorities of the
>LDS Church that refer to the role of other "gods" in judging and
>doing justice here on earth.  Who, aside from Elohim and
>Yahweh, in LDS theology, are charged with such duties?
>I already gave you this information.  Please pay attention.

Please drop such comments.  They are meaningless and distracting.

>To quote from a
>former post, I presume, however, that you are also aware that
>God is the supreme judge, and judgement, is, in fact, ultimately
>a divine rather than human function, and that mortals will
>participate in rendering divine judgement at the final judgement
>(e.g. Mt 19:28, Lk 22:29).

That is not an answer, Dr. Hamblin.  It is not an answer to say "All judgment is ultimately God's judgment, therefore, non-corporeal beings who have no meaningful connection with Israeli society can be held accountable for rendering justice in that society."  How can God hold these beings accountable for NOT doing justice when we nowhere have a commandment upon which to hold them accountable?  Who are these beings, Dr. Hamblin?  How are they to vindicate the fatherless or the poor?  Please answer this question.  I believe there is no logical answer:  and I do not appreciate your avoiding the issue while using such terms as "please pay attention."

>And, I asked this question before as well: are you a god, Dr. >Hamblin?
>No.  Are you?  I am, however, a son of God?  Are you?

No, I am not a god, and will never be one.  Jeremiah 10:10-11 closes the door on that idea:

(Jeremiah 10:10-11) But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King.  At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.  [11] Thus you shall say to them, "The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens."

I have been adopted as a son of God by faith in Christ Jesus.  So, if humans are not gods, we again come back to the point of Psalm 82, and even of Jesus' application of this in John 10, since He did not apply the words of Psalm 82:6 to non-corporeal beings, but to humans like you and I.  You say you are not a god.  Good.  The men who were about to stone Jesus were not gods, either, even though Jesus applied the words of Psalm 82:6 to them.  See the point?

< continued >

Letter Forty-two (continued)

From: James White <>
To: William J. Hamblin <>
Date: Thursday, May 28, 1998 10:29 AM
Subject: One more try #2

< continued from previous >

Now, up to this point, I have avoided the use of commentaries and the like, since 1) you seemed to indicate, by your original e-mail, that you wanted to discuss the topic directly between us, and 2) I feel that the text is in no need to external witnesses as to what it means.  In fact, outside of looking at Tate at your insistence, I have not consulted any source outside of the Scriptures themselves in responding to your posts.  But, since you have made such a huge issue of what commentators say, I will now break that pattern.  I would like to introduce the witness of one of the best sources on the OT, the massive work of Keil and Delitzsch.  I provide here the commentary on Psalm 82:

As in Ps. lxxxi., so also in this Psalm (according to the Talmud the Tuesday Psalm of the Temple liturgy, God is introduced as speaking after the manner of the prophets. Ps. lviii. and xciv. are similar, but more especially Isa. iii. 13-15. Asaph the seer beholds how God, reproving, correcting, and threatening, appears against the chiefs of the congregation of His people, who have perverted the splendour of majesty which He has put upon them into tyranny. It is perfectly characteristic of Asaph (Ps. 1., lxxv., lxxxi.) to plunge himself into the contemplation of the divine judgment, and to introduce God as speaking. There is nothing to militate against the Psalm being written by Asaph, David's cotemporary, except the determination not to allow to the l'Asaph of the inscription its most natural sense. Hupfeld, understanding "angels" by the elohim, as Bleek has done before him, in scribes the Psalm: "God's judgment upon unjust judges in heaven and upon earth." But the angels as such are nowhere called elohim in the Old Testament, although they might be so called; and their being judged here on account of unjust judging, Hupfeld himself says, is "an obscure point that is still to he cleared up." [Note this well, Dr. Hamblin!] An interpretation which, like this, abandons the usage of the language in order to bring into existence a riddle that it cannot solve, condemns itself. At the same time the assertion of Hupfeld (of Knobel, Graf, and others), that in Ex. xxi. 6, xxii. 7 sq., 27,* elohim denotes God Himself, and not directly the authorities of the nation as being His earthly representatives, finds its most forcible refutation in the so-called and mortal elohim of this Psalm (cf. also xlv. 7, lviii. 2).

By reference to this Psalm Jesus proves to the Jews (John x. 34-36) that when He calls Himself the Son of God, He does not blaspheme God, by an argumentatio a minori ad majus. If the Law, so He argues, calls even those gods who are officially invested with this name by a declaration of the divine will promulgated in time (and the Scripture cannot surely, as in general, so also in this instance, be made invalid), then it cannot surely be blasphemy if He calls Himself the Son of God, whom not merely a divine utterance in this present time has called to this or to that worldly office after the image of God, but who with His whole life is ministering to the accomplishment of a work to which the Father had already sanctified Him when He came into the world. In connection with hagiase one is reminded of the fact that those who are called elohim in the Psalm are censured on account of the unholiness of their conduct. The name does not originally belong to them, nor do they show themselves to be morally worthy of it. With hagiase kai apesteilen Jesus contrasts His divine sonship, prior to time, with theirs, which began only in this present time.

Vers. 1-4. God comes forward and makes Himself heard first of all as censuring and admonishing. The "congregation of God" is, as in Num. xxvii. 17, xxxi. 16, Josh. xxii. 16 sq., "the congregation of (the sons of) Israel," which God has purchased from among the nations (lxxiv. 2), and upon which as its Lawgiver He has set His divine impress. The psalmist and seer sees Elohim standing in this congregation of God. The part Niph. (as in Isa. iii. 13) denotes not so much the suddenness and unpreparedness, as, rather, the statue-like immobility and terrifying designfulness of His appearance. Within the range of the congregation of God this holds good of the elohim. The right over life and death, with which the administration of justice cannot dispense, is a prerogative of God. From the time of Gen. ix. 6, however, He has transferred the execution of this prerogative to mankind, and instituted in mankind an office wielding the sword of justice, which also exists in His theocratic congregation, but here has His positive law as the basis of its continuance and as the rule of its action. Everywhere among men, but here preeminently, those in authority are God's delegates and the bearers of His image, and therefore as His representatives are also themselves called elohim, "gods" (which the LXX. in Ex. xxi. 6 renders to kriterion theou, and the Targums here, as in Ex. xxii. 7, 8, 27 uniformly, dayanaya). The God who has conferred this exercise of power upon these subordinate elohim, without their resigning it of themselves, now sits in judgment in their midst. Yishpoth of that which takes place before the mind's eye of the psalmist. How long, He asks, will ye judge unjustly? shaphat aywel is equivalent to asah aywel, Lev. xix. 15, 35....How long will ye accept the countenance of the wicked, i.e. incline to accept, regard, favour the person of the wicked? The music, which here becomes forte, gives intensity to the terrible sternness (das Niederdonnernde) of the divine question, which seeks to bring the "gods" of the earth to their right mind. Then follow admonitions to do that which they have hitherto left undone. They are to cause the benefit of the administration of justice to tend to the advantage of the defenceless, of the destitute, and of the helpless, upon whom God the Law-giver especially keeps His eye....They are words which are frequently repeated in the prophets, foremost in Isaiah (ch. i. 17), with which is enjoined upon those invested with the dignity of the law, and with jurisdiction, justice towards those who cannot and will not themselves obtain their rights by violence.

Vers. 5-7. What now follows in ver. 5 is not a parenthetical assertion of the inefficiency with which the divine correction rebounds from the judges and rulers. In connection with this way of taking ver. 5, the manner in which the divine language is continued in ver. 6 is harsh and unadjusted. God Himself speaks in ver. 5 of the judges, but reluctantly alienated from them; and confident of the futility of all attempts to make them better, He tells them their sentence in vers. 6 sq. The verbs in ver. 5a are designedly without any object: complaint of the widest compass is made over their want of reason and understanding; and yada takes the perfect form in like manner to egnwkasi, noverunt, cf. xiv. 1, Isa. xliv.18. Thus, then, no result is to be expected from the divine admonition: they still go their ways in this state of mental darkness, and that, as the Hithpa. implies, stalking on in carnal security and self-complacency. The commands, however, which they transgress are the foundations (cf. xi. 3), as it were the shafts and pillars (lxxv. 4, cf. Prov. xxix. 4), upon which rests the permanence of all earthly relationships which are appointed by creation and regulated by the Tora. Their transgression makes the land, the earth, to totter physically and morally, and is the prelude of its overthrow. When the celestial Lord of the domain thinks upon this destruction which injustice and tyranny are bringing upon the earth, His wrath kindles, and He reminds the judges and rulers that it is His own free declaratory act which has clothed them with the god-like dignity which they bear. They are actually elohim, but not possessed of the right of self-government; there is a Mast High (elyon) to whom they as sons are responsible. The idea that the appellation elohim, which they have given to themselves, is only sarcastically given back to them in ver. 1 (Ewald, Olshausen), is refuted by ver. 6, according to which they are really elohim by the grace of God. But if their practice is not an Amen to this name, then they shall be divested of the majesty which they have forfeited; they shall be divested of the prerogative of Israel, whose vocation and destiny they have belied. They shall die off c'adam, like common men not rising in any degree above the mass (cf. bene adam, opp. bene ish, iv. 3, xlix. 3); they shall fall like any one (Judg. xvi. 7, Obad. ver. 11) of the princes who in the course of history have been cast down by the judgment of God (Hos. vii. 7). Their divine office will not protect them. For although justitia civilis is far from being the righteousness that avails before God, yet injustitia civilis is in His sight the vilest abomination.

Ver. 8. The poet closes with the prayer for the realization of that which he has beheld in spirit. He implores God Himself to sit in judgment...since judgment is so badly exercised upon the earth. All peoples are indeed His nachalah, He has an hereditary and proprietary right among ...The inference drawn from this point backwards, that the Psalm is directed against the possessors of power among the Gentiles, is erroneous. Israel itself, in so far as it acts inconsistently with its theocratic character, belies its sanctified nationality...The judgment over the world is also a judgment over the Israel that is become conformed to the world, and its God-estranged chiefs.

(Commentary on the Old Testament, volume 5, 400-404)

You will notice, Dr. Hamblin, that in almost every single particular, I arrived at the same conclusions on the basis of the text itself. This illustrates an important point: I approach the text with the following presuppositions:

    1) The text is consistent with itself (immediate context)

    2) The text is consistent with the rest of revelation (canonical context)

When those two simple concepts are allowed their place, the results will be the same. However, both concepts are actively *denied* by much of modern scholarship, due to these presuppositions:

1) The text has been altered so often prior to canonization that it is most likely inconsistent with itself in its immediate context.

2) There is no canonical context or consistent revelation in the Old Testament.

This conversation, aside from demonstrating a number of other things, has surely brought out this difference in approach quite clearly.


Letter Forty-Three

Date: Thu, 28 May 1998 17:20:36 -0600
From: "William J. Hamblin" <>
Subject: Give it your best shot
To: James White <>
Cc: skinny <>


Thank you for your lengthy post.  I don't have time to deal with all of the many issues you raised all at once.

Why don't you pick what you feel is the best and most important issue you raised in your letter, and I'll respond to that.  Then I'll pick what I feel is the most important and you can respond.  We can then talk through these issues one at a time.

Is that acceptable?

William J. Hamblin Associate
Professor of History
323 KMB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602-4446

FAX 801-378-5784

Letter Forty-four

Date: Fri, 29 May 1998 13:43:34 -0600
From: "William J. Hamblin" <>
Subject: Some Issues
To: James White <>
Cc: skinny <>

Dear James,

Issue 1.  Sir William.
No, sir, it is the literal reading of the Psalm to keep it as one literary whole. . . . That, sir, is literal reading.

I note that I have been "sir-ed."  How gratifying.  That must mean I am getting to you.

Issue 2.  Keil and Delitzsch
Your presentation of the material from Keil and Delitzsch is interesting, but irrelevent.  I have never disputed that people have attempted to interpret Ps 82 as referring to judges.  Indeed, I sent you a list of many additional examples.  The problem is, that K&D are about a century old, and do not deal with the archaeological and textual evidence discovered in the past century.  What would be useful is to provide a modern source which deals with the Ugaritica, etc., while maintaining the elohim = judges interpretation.

Issue 3.  What does literal mean?
I reject, completely, the assertion that you are presenting the "literal" interpretation of Psalm 82. . . . Of course, you assert that yours is the literal reading [of Ps. 82] above, which is the issue in dispute, but you don't call *that* "question begging."  It seems to me that the double standard upon which you are functioning is making any kind of meaningful dialogue impossible.

I reject, completely, your rejection.  Apparently you do not understand the meaning of "literal interpretation."  Ps 82:6 says that the the sons of elyon are elohim.  The literal interpretation of this text is that the the sons of elyon are gods.  Now, you believe that the elohim are human judges.  If the text said the elohim were human judges, and I argued that it really meant the elohim are the sons of elyon, I would not be interpreting the text literally, don't you agree?  You are necessarily interpreting the text metaphorically when you claim that the elohim are judges, not gods.  God/gods is the literal meaning of elohim.  Now this is not to say that you are wrong.  Simply that you are not reading the text literally.  The metaphorical interpretation might be the correct one (as in Jesus' parables), but it is not the literal one.

Issue 4.  Exegesis or interpretation
Of course, I have not backtracked nor shifted positions.  I simply pointed out that Jesus did not exegete the passage in John 10, He cited it.  You have confused the fact of His citation of it with the assertion that He is offering an exegesis of the entire Psalm in the brief comments in John 10.  No one could possibly claim to "exegete" a passage by making a mere reference to one verse.  Such would not be a meaningful use of the term "exegete." . . . You are confused.

If using the word "exegesis" to describe Christ's activity in Jn 10 bothers you, I will withdraw the term and use the word "interpretation."  Will you admit Christ is interpreting 82:6 by his statement in John 10?  Is there not an implied meaning to Ps 82:6 which Christ understood by quoting it in John 10?  And is that implied meaning not the key to understanding Ps 82:6?  I have pointed out my exegesis at great length.  You are unwilling to respond to that and explain where I have misunderstood or misrepresented the "plain meaning" of the text.

Issue 5.  Totally depraved.
It [that James changed the subject] is not an observation of fact, it is a rude, childish attempt to win "points" by making unnecessary comments that only add emotional impact for your followers, little more.  Your refusal to even acknowledge your own slip in behavior is truly reprehensible. . . . The childishness of the original comment is beyond dispute.

I will admit, for the sake of argument, that I am "rude, childish," and my "behavior is truly reprehensible."  You do not need to mention the fact again.  I concede my depravity.  Now that that issue is out of the way:  It does not change the fact that you refuse to deal with John 10.  It does not change the fact that changing the subject is a standard anti-Mormon ploy.  It does not change the fact that you are an anti-Mormon.

6.  Ad Hominem
I well understand the use of ad hominem.

Well, what is it?  Ad hominem does not mean making insulting remarks, as you seem to think.  My saying you are an anti-Mormon is not an ad hominem.  If I were to say, "you are an anti-Mormon, therefore your views are wrong", that would be an ad Hominem.  Ad hominem is a logical fallacy.  It occurs when one argues as follows:
     X is a Mormon
     Mormons are evil
     Therefore, X's argument is wrong. 
It ignores the evidence and analysis that X presents for his case.  Even if X is evil, it does not mean his evidence and analysis are incorrect.  This is the ad hominem fallacy.  The classic example in the anti-Mormon world is:  "Show me a non-Mormon archaeologist who believes in the Book of Mormon."  The ad hominem is that Mormon archaeologists, *because they are Mormon* cannot present evidence and analysis on this matter.  Only non-Mormon views are permissible.  In fact, you engage in the ad hominem when you dismiss all the analysis of modern scholars *because* they are [allegedly] liberals.

Issue 7.  What are we debating?
As I said, you contacted me about Psalm 82.  The record is plain.  You have not yet dealt with the important elements of that passage.  I believe you are not able to do so, and hence are wishing to change the grounds, all the while accusing *me* of doing that.  I have refused to follow your lead.

Let me see here.  When I accused you of losing the debate and changing the topic, that was apparently "rude, childish," and "behavior [which] is truly reprehensible."  However, now that you accuse me of losing and changing the topic, your behavior is, well?  But, I am teasing you.  How mean.  How truly reprehensible.  Why, by the way, are you fixating and hyperventilating about what the topic is?  I believe that Jesus' interpretation of Ps 82 can provide a key to understanding that Psalm.  I have explained why in detail.  You apparently disagree but refuse to explain why.  The fact remains, you refuse to deal with John 10.  And I will be sending you a full exegesis of Ps 82 in a short while.

Issue 8.  Ignoring the evidence.
I note, for the record, that you refuse to deal with the evidence presented by Mullen in Assembly of the Gods.

Issue 9.  Exodus 22:8-9
There is, of course, *every* reason for so doing [translating elohim as judges in Ex 22:8-9], as I have demonstrated.

One of your letters must have bounced.  I recall a great deal of posturing and assertion, but no demonstration.  Perhaps you could repost what you feel is your best demonstration on this point.  As I said before, the text makes perfect sense if we read elohim as "gods" or God.  The accused is brought before God.  Some type of unspecified divination or revelation takes place, and God renders judgement.  A similar, but more detailed example of what I am talking about can be found in Num. 5:11-28.  So, although human judges do judge some cases, in other cases (Num 5:11-28), God himself judges.  So, what specific characteristics of Ex 22 necessitate us to read "judges" for "elohim" in these verses?  (As I noted, and you ignored, the Latin and Greek translations render elohim as gods.  Apparently the earliest Christians disagreed with your interpretation.

Issue 10.  Does God judge?
Do you concur that God is the supreme judge, and is repeatedly described as judging humans?
(See the following passages. Examples can be further multiplied.)
Gen 18:25
Ps 6:7-9
Ps 7:11
Ps 35:24
Ps 43:1
Ps 50:6
Ps 54:1
Ps 58:11
Ps 68:5
Ps 72:2
Ps 75:7
Ps 82:8
Ec 3:17
Jer 21:12, 22:16
Ez 18:30
Rom 2:16
Rom 3:6
Heb 12:23
Heb 13:4

William J. Hamblin
Associate Professor of History
323 KMB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602-4446

FAX 801-378-5784

At this point James elects to end the conversation on his web site.  However, James wrote to Dr. Hamblin beyond what he as posted as of 1 June 1998.  The following letter received by Dr. Hamblin and his response follow:

Letter Forty-five

From: James White <>
To: William J. Hamblin <>
Date: Friday, May 29, 1998 1:50 PM
Subject: Re: Some Issues

At 01:43 PM 5/29/98 -0600, you wrote:

>Dear James,
>Issue 1.  Sir William.
>No, sir, it is the literal reading of the Psalm to keep it as one
>literary whole. . . . That, sir, is literal reading.
>I note that I have been "sir-ed."  How gratifying.  That must mean
>I am getting to you.

No, I was just brought up differently than you were, I guess.  Thanks for the interchange.  I'll give you the last word.


Letter Forty-six

Date: Fri, 29 May 1998 16:46:06 -0600
From: "William J. Hamblin" <>
Subject: Last word?
To: James White <>
Cc: skinny <>

>No, I was just brought up differently than you were, I guess.
>Thanks for the interchange.  I'll give you the last word.


Thank you so much for giving me the last word.  I will certainly take advantage of this kind offer.  I also await your promised posting of the complete correspondence on your web page.

You seem fixated on my alleged inability to provide a context for verses 2-4 of Ps 82, even though I have provided that interpretation by referring you to Tate's commentary.  Be that as it may, I will now explain it to you again, hopefully for the last time.

1.  At least some of the ancient Hebrews believed that, along with God, there were other celestial beings, (whom they called variously sons of God, elohim, council of God, sarim, etc.) who served as rulers over the nations.  This is clear in the original version of Deut. 32:7-9, where Elyon divides the nations as an inheritance among the sons of God (cf. Sir. 17:17).  In Daniel, each nation seems to have a celestial being as its prince (sar) (Dan 8:25, 10:13,20 [cf. Josh 5:14]), with Michael as the sar of Israel (10:21, 12:1).  (Note in the War Scroll (1QM 17:7-8, it states that "He [God] will exalt the rule of Michael over all the gods [elim] and the dominion of Israel over all flesh.")  Some of these celestial beings seem to fight one another (Dan 10:18-20; Rev 12).

2.  There are also accounts in the OT of the sin and fall of one or more of these sons of God/celestial beings, who are cast down from heaven, "die" and go to sheol (Ez 27:11-19, Is 14:4-20).  Lucifer is, of course, the classic example; Christ saw him "falling from heaven" (Lk 10:18; note Satan is a "son of God" according to Job 1:6, 2:1).  In Ezekiel and Isaiah, the fall of the celestial being/s is used as a metaphor for the wickedness and sin on earth, and the eventual fall of an earthly king (Tyre, Babylon).  For more details read Neil Forsyth, The old enemy:  Satan and the combat myth (Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1987) and Hugh R. Page, The myth of cosmic rebellion (Leiden ; New York : E. J. Brill, 1996).

3.  Ps. 82 fits perfectly within the milieu of these ideas.  There is a council of God composed of the sons of God or gods (1,6).  Some of them have sinned and failed in their commission, which was to justly rule and judge the nations under their stewardship (2-4).  This celestial disorder is paralleled by social disorder on earth, and cosmic disorder of nature:  darkness, and the "foundations of the earth are shaken" (5; = earthquake?).  These rebellious/unrighteous sons of God are condemned to die like Adam and fall like the other sarim ("princes") (6-7), just like the celestial beings in Ezekiel and Isaiah noted above.  Whereas formerly Elyon had divided the nations among the sons of God as their inheritance (Deut 32:8), with Israel as Yahweh's inheritance (Deut 32:9), now God himself will "judge" and "inherit" all the nations (8).

Now, you may disagree with this interpretation.  But your claim that I cannot explain Ps 82 either in its own context, or in the broader context of the Old Tesament, is manifestly absurd.  My exegesis explains the entire passage in its literal sense, without requiring the metaphorical substitution of judges for gods.  It is also entirely consistent with the broader context of the Old Testament (as noted above), with the archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century (which you ignore), and with the modern exegesis which has become nearly universally accepted in the last thirty years (which you reject, though without providing reasons).  It is also, I should note, consistent with LDS theology, while it is not consistent with your late twentieth century North American fundamentalistic Protestant theology.

Dr. Hamblin has forwarded a post he made informing those who have been keeping up with the correspondence what James has done on his web page.  The following is Dr. Hamblin's post:

Letter Forty-seven

Date: Mon, 01 Jun 1998 16:05:00 -0600
From: "William J. Hamblin" <>
Subject: James says goodbye
To: skinny <>

Here is James White's sign-off.  He did not send these to me, but I got them off his web site.

The First paragraph is at the beginning of his web page.  After the break the rest is at the end.

In April of 1998, James White appeared on radio station KTKK in Salt Lake City, Utah.  One of the callers to the program was Dr. William Hamblin of Brigham Young University.  Dr. Hamblin did not identify himself when he called in, but asked James White concerning the variant reading of Deuteronomy 32:8 in the Dead Sea Scrolls.  After James returned home, Dr. Hamblin contacted him by e-mail.  Below we provide the discussion that has ensued. The same material can be found at

The discussion ended May 29th, 1998, when Dr. Hamblin, in responding to the respectful use of the term "sir," indicated that it was his intention to "get to" James.  Given certain standards of civil behavior that James has always attempted to follow, the discussion was ended.


Thus ends the conversation, for, obviously, there is no reason to continue it.  The reasons are rather clear:
1)  Dr. Hamblin now admits that it is his goal to "get to" me.  I do not engage in protracted correspondence with those who simply seek to "get to" me.  I engaged in this to edify others and defend God's truth.  Evidently Dr. Hamblin's motivations were different.
2)  The scholarly, contextually sound, textually-based exegesis from the commentary of Keil and Delitzsch was dismissed with prejudice simply due to the fact that it is 100 years old.  The fact that Dr. Hamblin is entrenched in the use of non-believing, secularly-oriented standards in the examination of the OT text is beyond doubt demonstrated by this cavalier attitude, and since the glaring differences between the two positions have been fully explained in the preceding dialogue, there is no reason to repeat what has already been written.
3)  The meaning of the term "literal" is too obvious for comment.  Any person slightly familiar with exegetical issues knows that the "literal" meaning of a passage is the meaning of that passage as taken in its own context.  Dr. Hamblin continues to beg the question with his replies.
4)  Dr. Hamblin, at first, avoided clear attempts at generating emotional responses.  He has chosen to drop this approach, and now begins to introduce such emotionally laden terms as "anti-Mormon" and such purely ad-hominem attacks as "anti-Mormons change the subject" etc.  This simply continues the childish comments made earlier---comments that have no place in a scholarly dialogue on important issues regarding the text of Scripture.
5)  Dr. Hamblin provides evidence of issues not in dispute, such as the long list of verses at the end.  No one disputes that God is the ultimate judge.  But it has become painfully obvious that Dr. Hamblin is incapable of dealing with the fatal flaw of his own exegesis: verses 3 and 4.  This is so plain that we need only point it out.  The elohim of Psalm 82 are judged as false judges for their failure to do what only human judges are commanded to do.  So that this thread does not end up falling under the "Nastigrams 'R Us" (which it will, eventually, do, as the temperature escalates with each round), we here end the dialogue, and leave it to the reader to determine who has dealt with all of Psalm 82 in its own context and who has not.

William J. Hamblin
Associate Professor of History
323 KMB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602-4446

FAX 801-378-5784

Letter Forty-eight

From: James White <>
To: William J. Hamblin <>
Date: Friday, May 29, 1998 5:16 PM
Subject: Re: Last word?

At 04:46 PM 5/29/98 -0600, you wrote:

>>No, I was just brought up differently than you were, I guess.
>>Thanks for the interchange. I'll give you the last word.
>Thank you so much for giving me the last word.  I will certainly take
>advantage of this kind offer.  I also await your promised posting of the
>complete correspondence on your web page.

You don't seem to understand.

1) I was referring to your last message.  I have already posted it on the web site.
2) Complete correspondence?  What else do you want, all the little notes back and forth about where I'm traveling or the like?

>You seem fixated on my alleged inability to provide a context for >verses 2-4 of Ps 82, even though I have provided that interpretation by
>referring you to Tate's commentary.

And as I demonstrated, Tate's commentary only discusses the human roles of human judges at that point.  But this has become a massive waste of time. I will gladly allow the readers to decide.


Letter Forty-nine

Date: Mon, 01 Jun 1998 16:17:44 -0600
From: "William J. Hamblin" <>
Subject: Re: Last word?
To: James White <>
Cc: skinny <>

>You don't seem to understand.
>1) I was referring to your last message.  I have already posted it on the
>web site.
>2) Complete correspondence?  What else do you want, all the little
>notes back and forth about where I'm traveling or the like?

No, I'm not talking about the chit-chat.  I'm talking about several substantive letters which I sent you which you have still refused to post.  You may recall, several letters ago, that I agreed to allow you to post my letters on your web page, with the following conditions:

BILL (old, SHIELDS letter 18, dated 15 Apr)
It's fine with me if you post it [our correspondence] on your web page, as long as:

    1- you do not edit or cut my postings (except to eliminate the typical email duplications), and
    2- you include everything I write.

At that time you made no objection to these conditions.  Tomorrow I'll resend you the substantive letters which you failed to put on your web page.