Jonathan Neville’s “Response to Recent Reviews”

Jonathan Neville’s “Response to Recent Reviews” October 14, 2022


Looking down on Miami
Miami from the air, in 2011 (Wikimedia CC public domain)


Three new items went up today on the website of the Interpreter Foundation — two of them in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:


A Man That Can Translate and Infinite Goodness: A Response to Recent Reviews,” written by Jonathan E. Neville

Abstract: Since 1829, various theories about the production of the Book of Mormon have been proposed. Modern scholarship has moved away from the idea that Joseph Smith actually translated ancient engravings into English. Two books, A Man That Can Translate and Infinite Goodness, propose a “neo-orthodox” view, offering evidence that Joseph did translate ancient engravings into English. Recent reviews in the Interpreter of these two books significantly misunderstand and misrepresent the argument. This response corrects some of those misconceptions.

[Editor’s note: We are pleased to present this response to two recent book reviews in the pages of Interpreter. Consistent with practice in many academic journals, we are also publishing a rejoinder from the author of those reviews, immediately following this response.]


“A Rejoinder to Jonathan Neville’s “Response to Recent Reviews,” written by Spencer Kraus

Abstract: Jonathan Neville has offered a response to my two recent reviews of his works; however, in his response, Neville offers a poor defense regarding what he wrote and misrepresents my reviews of his works. As such, I present the following rejoinder in response to Neville’s concerns.


Interpreter Radio Show — September 25, 2022

In the 25 September 2022 episode of the Interpreter Radio Show, Steve Densley, Matthew Bowen, and Mark Johnson discussed the latest paper published by Professor Bowen latest paper published in the Foundation’s journal, Interpreter. They also discussed Volume Three of the historical work Saints.  That was in the first hour.  The second portion of the two-hour show was devoted to a roundtable in which the participants discussed the upcoming Come Follow Me lesson #45 (Daniel 1–6).  The entire show has now been purified of commercial breaks, archived, and made available to listeners like you at no charge.  The Interpreter Radio Show can be heard live each week on Sunday evenings from 7 to 9 PM (MDT), on K-TALK, AM 1640, or you can listen (also live) on the Internet at


And now for some links relating to

“Faith, family, dating and the looming marriage crisis in America (Part I)”

“Will religious groups face questions linked to America’s declining marriage stats? (Part II)”

Part Two actually focuses, to a not-insignificant degree, on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  So, how should we respond to the declining rate of marriage?  Do we need to begin working on an apologetic for marriage and the family?  Is this something that the family studies people at BYU should be doing?  Are they doing it?  Not only in publications but in classes, with people of the age who are actually deciding whether to marry or not?  Or should we back off?

Daniel Ortner, in Public Square Magazine“Catching a Vision of the Doctrine of the Family: Are Latter-day Saints too focused on teachings about the family? Or are prophets emphasizing exactly what God knows will lead to our greatest happiness?”

And here is something that may be related:

Erica Komisar, in the Wall Street Journal:  “In Praise of Traditional Marital Roles: Female ambition is fine, but men also need to be men.”


As the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints moves toward building a temple in Dubai at the invitation of leaders of the United Arab Emirates, leaders of the Church should be aware of reactions like these to a separate but not entirely unrelated project:

“Prominent Islamists And Arab Intellectuals Condemn UAE For Opening Hindu Temple In Dubai, While Liberal Muslims Consider It Promotion Of Tolerance”


In the meanwhile, the continuing protests in Iran bear watching:

Wall Street Journal:  “Iran Protests Are Proving a Durable Challenge to the Islamic Republic: Demonstrators’ main tactic—women removing the mandatory headscarf—is a kind of everyday civil disobedience that is hard to contain”

Delna Abdelkader, in The Conversation“Hijab rules have nothing to do with Islamic tenets and everything to do with repressing women”

Bernard-Henri Lévi, in Tablet, “The Women vs. the Mullahs: It’s time for the West to match the bravery of the protesters, and stop accommodating their executioner”

Mustafa Akyol, in the Wall Street Journal“The Mahsa Amini Protests and the Ayatollahs’ Gift to Secularism: Religion doesn’t flourish when it is compulsory. Look to Iran for an example.”

And this somewhat older piece is worth keeping in mind, too:

Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh, in the Wall Street Journal“Ayatollah Khamenei’s ‘Resistance Economy’: Iran’s supreme leader has an isolationist vision that makes it hard either to coerce or to cajole him.”


Miami Beach from the air
flight from Quito, Ecuador to Miami…the famous strip


It’s not immediately obvious in a place like Miami, where the current weather is humid and in the high eighties, Fahrenheit.  But we in the northern hemisphere are well into Fall.  So it’s time for me to share one of my very favorite poems, Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Herbsttag” or “Autumn  Day”:


Herr: es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

Befiehl den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
gieb ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,

dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
und wird in den Alleen hin und her
unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.


A rather loose and unsatisfactory translation of “Herbsttag” — but how on earth can one really translate poetry? — is this one, by Guntram Deichsel:


Lord, it is time. Let the great summer go,
Lay your long shadows on the sundials,
And over harvest piles let the winds blow.

Command the last fruits to be ripe;
Grant them some other southern hour,
Urge them to completion, and with power

Drive final sweetness to the heavy grape.

Who’s homeless now, will for long stay alone.
No home will build his weary hands,
He’ll wake, read, write letters long to friends
And will the alleys up and down
Walk restlessly, when falling leaves dance.


Posted from Miami, Florida



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