September 1, 2015

For those who do not have a subscription to Dialogue or have not yet heard, I wanted to point out an important new article in the Summer 2015 issue called “The Struggle for Female Authority in Biblical and Mormon Theology,” by Cory Crawford. The article represents a detailed investigation of the major scriptural sources that bear on the question of female authority in the Church and pays particular attention to how such traditions have been interpreted and shaped over time, tracing larger… Read more

July 23, 2015

The Revelation volume in the BYUNTC series is back in the news, so I thought I’d say a bit about it. At last fall’s SBL Grant Underwood gave Richard Draper some advice regarding this volume. Since Draper’s work was not well-received by either LDS or non-LDS scholars, Underwood wrote: “Perhaps by drawing on the talented pool of younger LDS scholars trained in New Testament studies, [Richard Draper] and Michael Rhodes can extend their work in ways that more effectively bring… Read more

April 5, 2015

In the last post I looked closely at the details of Dr. John Gee’s critique of Dr. Paul Owen’s essay in the most recent volume of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (JBMS). In that post I dealt especially with (1) Gee’s misrepresentation of Owen’s essay, (2) his lack of understanding of 2 Esdras/4 Ezra, and (3) how Gee’s response shows a lack of thoroughness in checking historical sources in making his critique of Owen’s paper. I promised at… Read more

March 30, 2015

The most recent volume of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (JBMS) includes a number of scholarly essays by researchers who are either established in the field of Mormon Studies or are promising to play a big role in this next generation of Mormon scholarship. Every essay has its own new offering to add to understanding the Book of Mormon (BM). Each of these scholars except Dr. Paul Owen is a member of the LDS church, and it seems… Read more

March 30, 2015

The appeal that follows is undergirded by a simple but unproven (at least not by me) set of assumptions that flows from my experience at BYU(-Provo) and with numerous BYU faculty currently employed. As I said at the end of part 2: The vast majority of BYU faculty members want BYU to succeed as a uniquely LDS university. They care very much about its students and their success in negotiating a transition to adulthood as faithful Latter-day Saints. They have… Read more

March 27, 2015

(Part 1 here; part 3 is now up). Faculty issues at BYU are funneled through the office of the Academic Vice President. For our purposes it is important to know that the office of the AVP deals with faculty hiring and firing, promotion and “tenure” (“Continuing Faculty Status”*) and discipline. Thus when a department sends one of its own up for tenure, it will pass through the offices of the Chair, Dean, and AVP. Promotion can be vetoed at any… Read more

March 25, 2015

[Part two; part three] The question of academic freedom at Brigham Young University provides an interesting case study in the dynamics of power and the pursuit of truth and the consequences of the concentration of power in a theologically defined hierarchy. Part 1 will explore the principles of academic freedom at BYU as expressed in its statement dated 1 April 1993 (available online, though a version dated Sept 14, 1992 was still handed to new faculty as of the end of the first… Read more

March 23, 2015

Doubt is not always a matter of choice. With regard to many LDSs who experience a crisis of faith, I would state the matter more strongly: Doubt is rarely a matter of choice. In this previous post I told a fictional story about Jack, who was born in the Church, loved the Church, but came to doubt the Church. For people such as Jack, keeping his faith in the Church would in many regards make his life easier. Transitioning out… Read more

March 19, 2015

Doubt can be thought of as a kind of questioning; and to question is to ask for reasons or an explanation for something one does not understand. One might wonder, for instance, what the Church does with its money. People do not always provide reasonable answers to questions; and how one processes an unreasonable answer will depend on a number of factors including one’s relationship with the individuals (or entities) one questions. If I trust the Church, for instance, I… Read more

March 2, 2015

The topic of Korihor, noted Book of Mormon anti-Christ, has come up in Mormon discussions recently. The identification of Korihor with various contemporary groups or individuals marks such as illegitimate and dangerous. Boundaries, separation, and vigilance against such ideas is warranted. One of the most popular interpretations is that Korihor teaches secular humanism, situating secular humanists (and often religious humanists) as not only heretical, but also demonic. It is worth mentioning that the text justifies Korihor’s murder on the basis of his beliefs,… Read more

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