“Celebrating Exactitude, When It’s Appropriate”

“Celebrating Exactitude, When It’s Appropriate” October 2, 2021

 

Lewis in the late 1940s
C. S. Lewis at about fifty (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

 

***

 

I’ve been on the road all day, so I’m just getting to it now, but a new article, full to overflowing with my legendary mendacity, viciousness, and venom, went up in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship today:

 

Daniel C. Peterson, “Celebrating Exactitude, When It’s Appropriate”

Abstract: It’s almost always better to be right than to be wrong, to be exact than to be sloppy. In scholarship generally and serious scriptural study specifically, it’s important to work toward precision in both interpretation and explanation. However, the Lord is fully capable of reaching us where we are, despite our imperfect languages and our limited capacities. “These commandments are of me,” he says at D&C 1:24, “and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.”

 

And here are links to a few articles in a previous number of Interpreter:

 

Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Matthew L. Bowen, and Ryan Dahle, “Textual Criticism and the Book of Moses: A Response to Colby Townsend’s “Returning to the Sources,” Part 1 of 2”

Review of Colby Townsend, “Returning to the Sources: Integrating Textual Criticism in the Study of Early Mormon Texts and History.” Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies 10, no. 1 (2019): 55–85, https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/imwjournal/vol10/iss1/6/.

Abstract: Textual criticism tries by a variety of methods to understand the “original” or “best” wording of a document that may exist in multiple, conflicting versions or where the manuscripts are confusing or difficult to read. The present article, Part 1 of a two-part series by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and Ryan Dahle, commends Colby Townsend’s efforts to raise awareness of the importance of textual criticism, while differing on some interpretations. Among the differences discussed is the question of whether it is better to read Moses 7:28 as it was dictated in Old Testament 1 version of the Joseph Smith Translation manuscript (OT1) that “God wept,” or rather to read it as it was later revised in the Old Testament 2 version (OT2) that “Enoch wept.” Far from being an obscure technical detail, the juxtaposition of the two versions of this verse raises general questions as to whether readings based on the latest revisions of Latter-day Saint scripture manuscripts should always take priority over the original dictations. A dialogue with Colby Townsend and Charles Harrell on rich issues of theological and historical relevance demonstrates the potential impact of the different answers to such questions by different scholars. In a separate discussion that highlights the potential significance of handwriting analysis to textual criticism, Bradshaw and Dahle respond to Townsend’s arguments that the spelling difference between the names Mahujah and Mahijah in the Book of Moses may be due to a transcription error.

 

Louis C. Midgley, “Tocqueville on New Prophets and the Tyranny of Public Opinion”

Abstract: Louis Midgley discusses the rise and fall in popularity of Alexis de Toqueville’s unrivaled volumes entitled Democracy in America and the impressive renaissance of interest they have enjoyed since 1930. They were published at a time when Europe was looking for guiding principles to replace aristocratic governments with democratic regimes. Importantly, however, Toqueville also reflected broadly on the crucial roles of religion and family in sustaining the virtues necessary for stable democracies. Toqueville’s arguments that faith in God and in immortality are essential for maintaining a strong society of a free people are more crucial than ever to Latter-day Saints and all those wishing to preserve democracy in America today.

[Editor’s Note: Part of our book chapter reprint series, this article is reprinted here as a service to the LDS community. Original pagination and page numbers have necessarily changed, otherwise the reprint has the same content as the original.

See Louis Midgley, “Tocqueville on New Prophets and the Tyranny of Public Opinion,” in “To Seek the Law of the Lord”: Essays in Honor of John W. Welch, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson and Daniel C. Peterson (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation, 2017), 171–88. Further information at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/to-seek-the-law-of-the-lord-essays-in-honor-of-john-w-welch-2/.]

 

Robert L. Millet, “The Theology of C. S. Lewis: A Latter-day Saint Perspective”

Abstract: In this essay, Robert Millet describes the work and impact of C. S. Lewis as it pertains to the Latter-day Saints. He explores possible reasons why Church leaders have felt comfortable quoting Lewis in General Conference more than any other non-Latter-day Saint writer and provides a substantial list of the subjects for which his writings have had special appeal to the Saints. While acknowledging Lewis’ personal faults and the obvious points of difference between his faith and our own, Millet concludes with an expression of gratitude for his “lasting lessons and his noble legacy.”

[Editor’s Note: Part of our book chapter reprint series, this article is reprinted here as a service to the LDS community. Original pagination and page numbers have necessarily changed, otherwise the reprint has the same content as the original.

See Robert L. Millet, “The Theology of C. S. Lewis: A Latter-day Saint Perspective,” in “To Seek the Law of the Lord”: Essays in Honor of John W. Welch, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson and Daniel C. Peterson (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation, 2017), 189–208. Further information at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/to-seek-the-law-of-the-lord-essays-in-honor-of-john-w-welch-2/.]

 

Stephen O. Smoot, “Notes on Book of Mormon Heads”

Abstract: This paper looks at the two types of heads used in the Book of Mormon. It argues against a recent theory that these heads served as mnemonic cues that enabled Joseph Smith to extemporaneously compose and dictate the text. Instead, it argues that the function and form of heads in the Book of Mormon finds ancient precedent in Egyptian literary culture and scribal practice. A brief addendum on the ancient precedent for the chapter breaks in the original text of the Book of Mormon is also provided.

 

Steven L. Olsen, “The Covenant of Christ’s Gospel in the Book of Mormon”

Abstract: With the trained eye of an anthropologist and a historian, Steven Olsen refutes claims that the Book of Mormon is a simple hodge-podge of biblical phrases and responses to controversies that Joseph Smith absorbed from his surroundings. Through a careful discussion of four main claims, he illustrates his thesis that the Book of Mormon “evidences a high degree of focus and coherence, as though its principal writers intentionally crafted the record from a unified and comprehensive perspective.” He shows that the Book of Mormon is not merely a history in the conventional sense, but rather is purposeful in the selection and expression of its core themes.

[Editor’s Note: Part of our book chapter reprint series, this article is reprinted here as a service to the LDS community. Original pagination and page numbers have necessarily changed, otherwise the reprint has the same content as the original.

See Steven L. Olsen, “The Covenant of Christ’s Gospel in the Book of Mormon,” in “To Seek the Law of the Lord”: Essays in Honor of John W. Welch, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson and Daniel C. Peterson (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation, 2017), 209–46. Further information at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/to-seek-the-law-of-the-lord-essays-in-honor-of-john-w-welch-2/.]

 

Posted from Newport Beach, California

 

 


Browse Our Archives