Ein Ruf aus der Wüste 4.2: Orson Hyde on new scripture

Everything makes sense until the last sentence.

Article 2

On the use and the validity of the writings of the Old and New Testament in our church

This sanctified treasure trove is recognized by the members of our church and we feel obligated to illustrate the just and holy commandments contained therein through example in our daily conduct. However, we do not want this to be understood as if the Holy Ghost had specifically emphasized each of these clauses, or as if all the ceremonies that were practiced among the Jews had also been imposed on us. Yet no part of sacred scripture can be found that would not provide some example to humble followers of Christ from which they might draw useful instruction.

No one has the right to add anything to these scriptures, and less still to take anything away; neither could he do so without drawing the justified ire of the divine head of the church upon him. See Rev. 22:18-19. Should it however please the Lord himself to subsequently give humankind a new revelation, be it through his own voice from Heaven, through the ministration of an angel, through the Holy Ghost, or through divine vision, this would be no addition or the work of men at all, but only the work of Him who has declared by the mouth of His Son that all hidden things will be revealed and all secrets brought to light. Therefore those who have will have further cause to expect still more, for the apostle James has said: “If any of you are in need of wisdom, let it be asked of God, who is generous to all people and will not make it the object of reproach, and it will be given to him.”

And Jesus has further said: “You will receive all things whatsoever that you request with firm faith.” Therefore the eternal word of life says, “To him who believes, all things are possible.” And it is my constant prayer and my unshakable faith that Heaven may continue to reveal His Word to us until the knowledge and glory of God will fill the entire earth and the nations will know war no more. But he whose superstition and tradition will mislead him to reject every new proclamation of truth from Heaven or from Earth (see Psalm 85:11) “will be like the heat of the wilderness and will never see when prosperity is coming.”

The man who prudently pursues the acquisition of earthly riches will use his entire current wealth for some certain and profitable business and then seek to increase it through industriousness and personal effort. Thus should the follower of Christ do. He should make the best possible use of the words of the Lord already given and, on the path of self-denial, prayer and strict obedience, seek to obtain still more, for Christ has said: “He who seeks will find.” The children of light should be just as wise in their time as the children of the world; but the Lord has said that they are not, and this is to be lamented. The fear persists that many will bind and bury their talent in a book.

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What does Hyde mean by binding and burying a talent in a book? The allusion to the parable of the talents is clear, but what’s the book doing here? I would be tempted to see Buch “book” as a misreading of Loch “hole,” as “burying their talent in a hole” would make perfect sense, but that doesn’t solve the problem of binden, “bind.” I don’t know if Orson Hyde would have written that many would “bind and bury their talent in a hole,” and the allusion seems too well known to imagine a typesetter misreading “book” for “hole.” And in the context of rejecting new revelation due to tradition, reference to a limiting “book” would not be out of place.

So if we can’t solve the problem by fixing the text, what might Hyde have meant by “bind and bury their talent in a book”?

4 comments for “Ein Ruf aus der Wüste 4.2: Orson Hyde on new scripture

  1. It seems to me that he is trying to say that he is concerned (the fear) that people are too deeply invested in the Bible to invest more time and effort into finding new revelations and scripture. The imagery in my mind is that they’re sticking all their money in the Bible and then burying it rather than spending that currency in seeking out more word of God. It fits the general gist of the paragraph, where he is comparing using your established wealth in “certain and profitable business” to having the Bible and then using “industriousness and personal effort” to increase your wealth to “obtain still more” of the word of God.

  2. I’m curious what German word you’ve translated as “talent”. Webster’s 1828 dictionary shows that in English “talent” then already had the same ambiguity often counted on in contemporary comments on the parable. If I’m not mistaken, the German word in the Lutherbibel had no such ambiguity. Regardless, I expect by “binding” their talent Hyde meant that many would choose to restrict their God-given ability to receive further revelation by limiting “revelation” to what they could find buried in the Bible, thereby preventing any increase. He seems to be echoing 2 Nephi: “… many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. … A Bible! We have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. 29:3-6.

  3. Chad, I agree, that’s probably the correct reading here.

    Wondering, the German word is “Talent,” so we end up with the same multiple meanings. I don’t know about Luther, but the Grimms’ dictionary does cite an example of the talent = skill usage from 1597. Considering the favorable words about the Bible at the start of Article 2, it’s surprising to see such a starkly negative conclusion to the article, but it looks like that’s what Hyde meant.

  4. Interesting. The word in my Lutherbible is “Zentner”. But the “Lutherbibel” has had enough revisions (and I don’t know which mine is), that I have no idea what word was used in the version in use in the 1830s-40s. I do not have a German Catholic Bible from any period.

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