The Nahom Follies

I wasn’t planning to write this piece, but so many of the comments on my earlier Book of Mormon posts have raised a particular point, and I don’t want it to seem that by ignoring it, I am conceding its value. The story also says much about how an authentic academic find metastasizes into popular [Read More...]

Wandering Over the Plains of the Nephites

Mound_Builder_City

In my last post, on the Book of Mormon, I asked a question: Does the Book contain a statement or idea about the New World that Joseph Smith could not have known at the time, but which has subsequently been validated by archaeological or historical research? I mention this point because the apologist literature includes [Read More...]

Tom Brady and Joseph Smith, Lies and Liars

“And yet Joseph Smith was plainly a liar,” informs Lawrence Wright in his best-selling Going Clear. In an epilogue, Wright compares Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard to the founding prophet of Mormonism. As evidence, Wright points to Smith’s denial of polygamy and his claim that scrolls of Egyptian papyrus contained the writings of the biblical [Read More...]

The Beginning and End of Mormon Polygamy

Zina D. H. Young

Many observers of Mormonism have offered their thoughts on the recent statements on plural marriage published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They discuss the origins of plural marriage and Joseph Smith’s own practice of polygamy; the living out of polygamy in early Utah; and the church’s abandonment of plural marriage between [Read More...]

Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham

Outsiders to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints familiar with Mormonism typically have heard something about the Book of Mormon. Perhaps they know that Joseph Smith claimed to have received golden plates from an angel. Those a bit more familiar with Mormonism might know that Smith also dictated scores of revelations, messages from [Read More...]

The Brightness of the Sun

The Conversion of St. Paul, Jean Fouquet, in the Hours of  Étienne Chevalier, ca. 1450s

Sometime around the year 1820, the young Joseph Smith was troubled. According to the earliest account, written in 1832, Smith was anxious over the state of his sinful soul. He “felt to mourn,” for his own sinfulness and that of the world. He was convinced of God’s existence, simply by looking at the wonders of [Read More...]

Stephen Webb’s Mormon Christianity

I recently had the pleasure of reading Stephen Webb’s Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints (Oxford, 2013). My review is up on the Books & Culture website — I characterize Mormon Christianity as “brilliant, provocative, and occasionally maddening.” The maddening, from my vantage point, is what I consider a rather [Read More...]


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