“Muhammad’s Reception among the Arabs,” Part One

    Another little installment from a different part of the manuscript:   Muhammad’s Reception among the Arabs In these early days of his prophetic ministry in Mecca, Muhammad reaped much ridicule but few converts. (Among those who did con­vert, however, were some of the greatest names in later Islamic his­tory, names such as Ali, Umar, Uthman, and Abu Bakr. We shall meet them all again.) His call to worship the one God, Allah, and to abandon the worship of… Read more

The Rise and Fall of Steady State Cosmology

    Another passage from Hans Küng, The Beginning of All Things: Science and Religion (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans Publishing, 2007), translated by John Bowden from Hans Küng, Der Anfang aller Dinge: Naturwissenschaft und Religion (Munich: Piper Verlag, 2005):   When around the middle of the twentieth century an attempt was made in apologetic Christian writings to identity the point in time of the Big Bang with a divine creation of the world, non-Christian Marxist scientists, according to the German astronomer Otto Heckman, “disturbed… Read more

Church Acquires Printer’s Manuscript of Book of Mormon

    This is a pretty big deal:   “Church Acquires Printer’s Manuscript of Book of Mormon:  Historic documents purchased from Community of Christ”   It also carried a pretty hefty price tag:  $35 million.   To put that in at least some perspective, though:  I noticed an online comment from an experienced dealer in historic Mormon documents indicating his belief that the market value of the Printer’s Manuscript should have been in the $50-100 million range.   Next, I would… Read more

The next installment

    For all the talk of a land “flowing with milk and honey,” Pales­tine is a relatively difficult place to eke out a living. Tahiti might have been nice, with fruit just waiting to be picked. Switzerland is far prettier. Even in the Near East, there are places where it would have been much easier to live a peaceful life. Take Egypt, for instance. With a regular and predictable river running gently through it, separated from would-be enemies by… Read more

“The Beginning of All Things”

    Some passages from Hans Küng, The Beginning of All Things: Science and Religion (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans Publishing, 2007), translated by John Bowden from Hans Küng, Der Anfang aller Dinge: Naturwissenschaft und Religion (Munich: Piper Verlag, 2005):   There are galaxies that lie beyond our horizon: “Such galaxies are not only in principle unobservable now — they will remain beyond our horizon for ever,” remarks Sir Martin Rees, British Astronomer Royal. (page 43, quoting M. Rees, “Andere… Read more

The Latter-day Saint Travel Ban

    I was pleased, yesterday, to find in my office mailbox an official printed copy of the Brief of Scholars of Mormon History & Law as Amici Curiae in Support of Neither Party that has been filed with the Supreme Court of the United States in the conjoined cases of “Donald J. Trump, et al., Petitioners, v. International Refugee Assistance Project, et al., Respondents” and “Donald J. Trump, et al., Petitioners, v. Hawaii, et al., Respondents.”   I’m one of the twenty-one signatories to… Read more

“American Prophet” and the Remarkable Power of Film

    I was very pleased to be able to attend the premiere, last night, of the new Lee Groberg/Mark Goodman film American Prophet, about Joseph Smith.   It was very powerful.  And the narration, by the late Gregory Peck — something of a miracle itself, in a way — was an added benefit.   My wife and I have worked with Mark Goodman, Russell Richins, and James Jordan, all of whom were involved with American Prophet, on the Interpreter… Read more

“Climate change not as threatening to planet as previously thought, new research suggests”

    Oh my.  If this proves to be true, will Al Gore feel obligated to fly around in private jets even more than he currently does?   “Climate change not as threatening to planet as previously thought, new research suggests”   “Limiting global warming to 1.5 °C may still be possible”   Personally, I’m neither a climate-change zealot nor a climate-change skeptic, and I’m certainly not opposed to attempting to clean up our environment and to keep it clean…. Read more

“Post-Biblical Judaism”

    In the previous passage from my forthcoming book, I wrote briefly about the scandal of what we in the West have often called “world history.”  Now I focus a bit more:   Post-biblical Judaism There is a similar gap—not scandalous, but still more than a bit unfortunate—in our knowledge of the history of religion. For most Latter-day Saints, and for most Christians generally, the history of Israel ends with Malachi. There is a blank space of a few… Read more

From Chapter 1, “After the Testaments”

    Something of an apology (in the classical sense) for the book on Islam that I’m preparing for a Latter-day Saint audience, from Chapter 1:   I have a little book in my home library that I treasure. I love it for its impressive title: The History of the World in Two Hundred and Forty Pages.[1] In many ways, although I’m about to use it as a bad exam­ple, it isn’t really a bad book. But I confess that… Read more

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