A Review and a Farewell: Of Manuscripts and Seer Stones

I've been, as Mormons say, "less active" here at the blog for the past few months. A number of changes have forced me to contribute less---among them graduation ("Doctor Spencer," now!) and a move to Utah. And I'll now actually be signing off from the blog entirely. I'd like to make one last contribution before doing so, and that in form of a review. A few days ago, I had the opportunity to attend the press conference held in connection with the release of the newest volumes of the Joseph Smith … [Read more...]

“The Prophecy of This Book”

Believers in the Book of Mormon are inevitably acquainted with Revelation 22:18-19:For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.For as long as … [Read more...]

Joseph Smith Papers: Documents Volume 3

A couple of weeks ago, I participated---by Skype---in the launch event for the newest Documents volume of the celebrated Joseph Smith Papers Project. I assume the project needs no introduction at this point, having already published more than a half-dozen volumes. The installment I'll review here is already the third published volume in the Documents series (though note that seven or more volumes are projected in this series!). I'll just say a bit about this volume, and perhaps about the … [Read more...]

What Is a “Mormon” Reading of Scripture? Thoughts on Michael Austin’s “Re-reading Job”

Every four years, every Sunday School in the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints turns its attention to the Old Testament. Only a single lesson over the course of that year is dedicated to Job, of which biblical book Victor Hugo said the following: "Tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to me to retain one work only, I should save Job." Forty minutes every four years---that's not even enough time to get Latter-day Saints interested in Job, let alone … [Read more...]

In Good Conscience…

Over the past six years or so, I’ve watched a number of my friends and acquaintances---and one family member---leave The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I’ve heard many of them (but by no means all of them) say something like the following when explaining or defending their decision to leave: “I can’t in good conscience (variant: in good faith) remain a member of the Church.” Often (but by no means always), this formula appears in the course of expressing a set of relatively traditio … [Read more...]

On Translation Theories and the Interpretation of the Book of Mormon

Since Blake Ostler's landmark article appeared in Dialogue in 1987, there's been something of a trend among believing Mormon intellectuals. Increasingly, the tendency is to account for the English text of the Book of Mormon by positing a kind of weave of several agents operative in the production of the Book of Mormon---one of them divine (God, in some form), one of them human but ancient (the original authors of the book), and one of them human but modern (Joseph Smith). The most elaborate … [Read more...]

Emma, My Daughter in Zion: A Preliminary Study of D&C 25, Part 2

In the preceding post (part 1), I work through a set of exegetical preliminaries to any theological engagement with D&C 25, the revelation to Emma Smith. I take as my task now to begin addressing the revelation at that more interpretive level. I’ll give my attention to three isolable themes in particular in the course of this post, each with clear implications for feminist interests. … [Read more...]

Emma, My Daughter in Zion: A Preliminary Study of D&C 25, Part 1

This and the post following it (part 2) are pieces I wrote a few years ago as a guest blogger at another Mormon-themed blog. I've reworked them a bit, but I've largely left them as I originally wrote them. I think they're worth a revisit now for a host of (largely obvious) reasons I won't go into. I'll say that my having written them in the first place and my posting them now shouldn't be construed as either supportive or critical of any positions being taken on relevant issues. My aim in these … [Read more...]