Shon Hopkin – Why Isaiah?

Isaiah Scholar Shon Hopkin Explains why Isaiah is Important

Ken Krogue:  Why in the world did you choose to get involved with Isaiah, and maybe some of your… I mean, why is this thing such a question mark?

Shon Hopkin: Yeah, well, so I think like most latter-day saints, when Jesus comes to the Nephites, they’ve been waiting for him for about thousand years…six hundred years.

Ken Krogue: Yeah.

Shon Hopkin: And, Mormon says, I can only write one one-hundredth part and twice Jesus in those pages searched the words of Isaiah, great are the words of Isaiah.  I think that matters to us.  I think we’re more Isaiah oriented than just about any other people.  And Nephi models how to interact with Isaiah.  He loves it.  I feel like Nephi, his simplicity, his plainness, he got to on the other side of absorbing Isaiah, so he loved those words and he loved the way Isaiah taught and the doctrines that he espoused and that became who Nephi was as a prophetic figure.  And he took of course Isaiah and talked about Isaiah in his own way and those doctrines in his own way, and that becomes the book of Mormon that we love so much, but it’s not possible without Isaiah, and then of course we have this giant chunk in there.

Ken Krogue: Yeah, it’s huge.

Shon Hopkin: That acts almost like a barrier for many readers…

Ken Krogue: There’s jokes about it.

Shon Hopkin: Oh yeah, absolutely…he got shot at the door, but the bullet couldn’t get through the Isaiah chapters.

Ken Krogue: Yes.

Shon Hopkin: Yeah, nothing does.  So, I mean that’s part of it as far as Isaiah goes.  Early on I was a seminary and Institute teacher and my undergrad studies here were ancient eastern studies and so the Hebrew Bible is very important to me.  I did Hebrew studies for my PHD and so I was motivated by all things Hebrew Bible early on, then Isaiah, of course just, I think because I’m latter day saint, became a focal point of those studies. But there are other books that just really draw me.  Psalms is one of those, the book of Leviticus, oddly enough, but I love to see the ordinances that were practiced in ancient times and try to see connections with what we do today.

Ken Krogue: Gotcha.

Shon Hopkin: There was a funny moment I had.  So, the LDS scholar Robert Millet is my award.

Ken Krogue: Oh.

Shon Hopkin: Yeah, we’re in an award together and he’s actually the gospel doctrine teacher.

Ken Krogue: Oh my gosh, what a thrill.

Shon Hopkin:  Oh, it’s great.  Hard to have enough space in that gospel doctrine.  We’ve got people from other wards trying to come and take some of the seats.  So, anyway, we were in the temple, just in the chapel waiting to do an endowment session and he and his wife were sitting in the row behind, and me and my wife were sitting in the row ahead of them.  And he leaned over and tapped me.  All of us were just reading our scriptures waiting for the endowment session to start and he sort of pointed at our wives, both of them were reading in the book of Mormon, then he showed me what he was reading. It was in the book of Romans, because he is sort of a New Testament guy.  He dialogues with evangelicals a lot and then he laughed at me.  I was reading in Leviticus, so…sort of like unique.  Anyway, so…but the Isaiah stuff really does…it’s the intersection of my academic studies and my latter-day saint faith.  So, that’s how it works.

Ken Krogue: I see.  Wonderful.

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