Jenkins Response 2: Expertise

The story is told of a man who was never wrong in anything he said. Paradoxically, he only knew one thing for certain: when to keep his mouth shut.  

The reality is that Jenkins is woefully uninformed regarding ancient Book of Mormon studies.  Of course, all of us are woefully uninformed on most topics.  That doesn’t stop most of us from having opinions about almost everything.  In the modern world, alas, there can no more Renaissance Men, who have mastered all disciplines, because there is simply far too much knowledge than can be acquired in one lifetime.   

But all opinions are not created equal.  If a scholar decides to publicly and dogmatically opine on a topic, it is not unreasonable to expect him to have an informed opinion, and to actually understand the topic.  Unfortunately, anyone who knows anything about ancient Book of Mormon studies can immediately see that Jenkins doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  Now, of course, that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily wrong.  The Book of Mormon is either an ancient book, or it isn’t, so even by mere random guessing one has a 50% chance of getting it right.  But that’s not the point.  The point is, that Jenkins cannot demonstrate his case because he hasn’t done his homework.  Rather, all he can do is merely assert his case.  The Book of Mormon is, after all, is of those rare books one doesn’t have to actually read in order to have an opinion about it.  (At this point, admittedly, I am merely asserting this.  I hope to make the case in detail as time progresses.)

Now my critics will no doubt whine that I am making an ad hominem attack against Jenkins, and am insulting him.  I am not.  Jenkins is bright man and a fine scholar.  I’ve enjoyed several of his books.  He has lots of interesting things to say on a number of topics.  None of that, however, provides the slightest evidence that he understands ancient Book of Mormon studies, and is therefore qualified to engage the issue, let alone dogmatically opine.  Indeed, he has repeatedly refused to read books and articles on the topic that have been suggested to him.  

(By the way, nothing I have said here about Jenkins comes close to the contempt he  repeatedly heaps in his blogs on those who accept the historicity of the Book of Mormon, as I’ll describe in detail a bit later.)