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...]

The “Value” of the Book of Mormon

As part of a project I’m currently at work on, I’ve been reading as systematically as possible through the literature on the Book of Mormon that has been produced by adherents to the Community of Christ movement (formerly, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). It’s been a remarkably instructive experience for me, and I hope that the written result of my studies will be available in published form at some point. In the meanwhile, I thought I’d offer a few reflections on jus … [Read more...]

Justice and Fairness

It’s been interesting to follow discussions about gender and priesthood during the last several months. One theme lately has caught my attention: the idea that women’s ordination is required for the sake of justice. Is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by virtue of excluding women from priesthood offices, treating the women members unfairly? Is the ordination of women to priesthood offices the just thing to do?The simple answer, I think, is no.Do I think the Church and the … [Read more...]

In Praise of Cafeteria Mormonism

It was both troubling and fascinating (something like watching a car wreck) to witness the dustup of the past few days over the unfortunate column by LDS author Joni Hilton excoriating what she dubbed “liberal Mormons.”  I’m sure that Sister Hilton is a wonderful person who may or may not regret at least some of both the tone and substance of what she wrote, not to mention the minor firestorm she set off.  I have no idea why she feels the way she does, or what prompted her to write the column in … [Read more...]

The Next Century of Book of Mormon Studies

For at least one very obvious reason, I've been thinking a good deal lately about the past, the present, and especially the future of academic study of the Book of Mormon. What roads have led us from the beginnings of academic study of the book into the twenty-first century? What's been accomplished with the Book of Mormon over the past decade or so? What needs doing immediately, what needs attention over the next twenty or thirty years, and where ought we to be in a century? Here I'd like just … [Read more...]

The Humanist’s Book of Mormon

The past decade has witnessed a remarkable surge of interest in the Book of Mormon---or at least of interest in making the text of the Book of Mormon available and accessible. Beginning, in many ways, with the 2003 publication of Grant Hardy's Reader's Edition of the Book of Mormon (published by the University of Illinois Press and based on the 1920 edition), what might almost be called a kind of movement has taken shape: Penguin published a handsome reprint of the 1840 edition of the book; … [Read more...]


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