"Kingdom of Priests" : Priesthood, Temple, and Women in the Old Testament and in the Restoration
Dialogue : A Journal of Mormon Thought
IN THIS PAPER I WILL ATTEMPT to consider priesthood as portrayed in Old Testament texts. One of the common fallacies of historical interpretation is to base our understanding of an early phenomenon on later understandings and institutions, which generally reflect a changed, developed point of view and which may have gained wide currency for any number of reasons. The earliest documents, reflecting a somewhat unfamiliar state of things, are then treated with benign neglect, at best. In religion, an institution often achieves a successful doctrinal-historical synthesis (after years or decades or centuries of difficult work, development, and change), but then institutional historians project that synthesis back into early history. If one analyzes the early documents carefully, however, the pattern of development and change is clearly found. In my opinion, the institutional church could regard the process by which the church came to its synthesis as an inspiring story of man seeking guidance from God and getting it bit by bit, step by step, through a process of human striving (including possible mistakes) mixed with divine revelation. Looking at the earliest sources is first a matter of scholarly honesty (and of course, honesty is never antithetical to the gospel); second, it provides an authentically faith-promoting view of men and women's struggles as they receive guidance from God, step by step, line by line.