Wednesday, November 02, 2005

One of the Great Lights of the World

This is how Joseph Smith described his idea of a Mormon university. Here is a pdf version of a speech by John Tanner I read in BYU Magazine last night. In it Tanner describes Joseph's passion:

He studied many subjects but had a particular passion for languages.
Entry after entry in his journal find him studying Latin, Greek, German, and
especially Hebrew. He was an avid participant in the Kirtland Hebrew
School, which met in the west room of the third floor of the temple. On
Feb. 17, 1836, Joseph exclaimed in his journal:

My soul delights in reading the word of the Lord in the original, and I
am determined to pursue the study of the languages, until I shall become master
of them, if I am permitted to live long enough.

What remarkable determintaion to learn language by study--and this from a
translator and seer! As Terryl L. Givens (BA '81) recently observed,
Joseph "consistently merged the gift of prophecy with the gritty work of
language study." To become "one of the great lights of the world" we
cannot afford to be less committed to learning by study than was the

I think that there needs to be a huge paradigm shift in the Latter-Day Saint community if we are to become this Great Light. I think we have a long way to go before we are following Joseph in prizing and pursuing learning for the joy and spiritual insight it brings. I think there are too many of us who would knit our brows in confusion upon finding that the prophet studied ancient Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, and then laugh in disbelief were it suggested that we might do the same.

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