125 Years of the Manifesto – and an overlooked change in Mormon scripture

Wilford Woodruff and his Concilors in the First Presidency

 “It seemed to me to be the awfulest moment in my life," - wrote B. H. Roberts - "my arm was like lead when the motion was put; I could not vote for it, and did not.”¹ But his abstention in the 6 October 1890 General Conference wasn't taken into account. Both the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Herald coverage stated that the vote to approve the Manifesto had been unanimous, even though many members didn't raise their arms to support the document: … [Read more...]

Matt Bowman and Ben Park Talk Seer Stones On RadioWest

Photograph by Welden C. Andersen and Richard E. Turley Jr., Courtesy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 For the lucky few vacationing in isolated corners of the world without internet access, you may have missed the furious hubbub surrounding Joseph Smith’s seer stone. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in conjunction with the Community of Christ released previously unseen photographs of the stone along with a new volume of manuscripts from the Joseph Smith Papers Project, sparking a conversation among Mormons about its significance and relevance to faith.Former Peculiar P … [Read more...]

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 Risks and Revelations of Protest and Lament

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass gave voice to the unspeakable injustice of American slavery in an address unrivaled either before or since. As a former slave, he spoke from profound experience. As an orator, he spoke with deft and sharpened words. “What, to the American slave,” he asked his white audience, “is your 4th of July?” The answer: “a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.” This was not celebr … [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...]

Junia The Apostle and Mormonism’s Priesthood

Most Mormons don’t know it yet, but Romans 16:7, "Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was," may soon become one of the most important and contested verses in our community. If we look at how other Christians dealt with their own internal struggles over women’s ordination, we can see that in the 1980’s-1990’s, this text received a dramatic increase in attention from mainline Protestant and Evan … [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...]

What do we mean by “Another Testament”?

Before 1981, the Book of Mormon was simply the Book of Mormon; since then, however, it has borne the subtitle “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” I suspect that this addition had several purposes. First almost certainly was to draw attention to Christ in a church that many consider non-Christian.[1]  Second would be to clarify the relationship of the book to the Bible: not a replacement, but An Other Testament like the Old and New ones.Growing up, I always read “testament” as “testimony”: in … [Read more...]