Monday, September 29, 2014

The Reviews Are In

Earl Wunderli recently published a book arguing that the Book of Mormon is 19th century fiction. It was, unsurprisingly, published by Signature Books.

The reviews of Wunderli's work are in, and so far the critical responses to the book have been . . . not that great.

Matthew Roper, Paul Fields, and Larry Bassist, "'If there be faults': Reviewing Earl Wunderli’s An Imperfect Book," online here.

Brant A. Gardner, "The Book with the Unintentionally Self-Referential Title," online here.

Robert A. Rees, "Inattentional Blindness: Seeing and Not Seeing The Book of Mormon," online here.

Robert A. Rees, "Earl Wunderli’s Imperfect Book," online here.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Latter-day Saint vs. Community of Christ Views on the Historicity of the Book of Mormon

The temple of the Community of Christ in Independence, Missouri. I took this picture when I visited this site last year.

This afternoon I ran into Professor Alex Baugh on BYU campus, who very kindly handed me a copy of the latest issue of the Mormon Historical Studies journal. As I was thumbing through the articles, I noticed an article titled "LDS Misconceptions about the Community of Christ," written by Richard G. Moore. Curious, I started reading the article. As I was reading my attention was drawn this, which I thought was significant.
In a 2006 article, one Community of Christ member wrote: "I know of no one in the leadership of the Community of Christ who accepts the Book of Mormon as a work of history, even if they view it as scripture. Of course, some rank and file members still accept it as such." Opinions about the Book of Mormon range from both ends of the spectrum within Community of Christ membership, each church member being welcome to have his or her own beliefs. Community of Christ leadership takes no official position on the historicity of the Book of Mormon. . . . The Book of Mormon is certainly not viewed in the same light as it used to be by many Community of Christ leaders and members.
(Richard G. Moore, "LDS Misconceptions about the Community of Christ," Mormon Historical Studies 15, no. 1 [Spring 2014]: 13–14.)

Contrast this with the opening sentence found in the Church's recent Gospel Topics essay on "Book of Mormon and DNA Studies," which Elder Steven E. Snow has reminded us received First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve approval before publication.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affirms that the Book of Mormon is a volume of sacred scripture comparable to the Bible. It contains a record of God’s dealings with three groups of people who migrated from the Near East or West Asia to the Americas hundreds of years before the arrival of Europeans.
Or compare this with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's powerful 2009 remarks during General Conference.
I ask that my testimony of the Book of Mormon and all that it implies, given today under my own oath and office, be recorded by men on earth and angels in heaven. I hope I have a few years left in my “last days,” but whether I do or do not, I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days. 
As I have argued at length, the historicity of the Book of Mormon is a theological imperative for the soul and substance of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the hand of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I would strongly urge members of any branch of the Restoration who accept the Book of Mormon as merely inspired fiction to reconsider their belief, given the radical implications this position holds for the legacy of Joseph Smith.

Friday, September 5, 2014

"All is Vanity"

One of the perks of being an Ancient Near Eastern Studies major is that when you experience unrequited love you can turn to the Hebrew Bible for some kind of solace.

דִּבְרֵי֙ קֹהֶ֣לֶת בֶּן־דָּוִ֔ד מֶ֖לֶךְ בִּירוּשָׁלִָֽם

הֲבֵ֤ל הֲבָלִים֙ אָמַ֣ר קֹהֶ֔לֶת הֲבֵ֥ל הֲבָלִ֖ים הַכֹּ֥ל הָֽבֶל 

כָּל־הַדְּבָרִ֣ים יְגֵעִ֔ים לֹא־יוּכַ֥ל אִ֖ישׁ לְדַבֵּ֑ר לֹא־תִשְׂבַּ֥ע עַ֨יִן֙ לִרְאֹ֔ות וְלֹא־תִמָּלֵ֥א אֹ֖זֶן מִשְּׁמֹֽעַ

וְנָתַ֣תִּי אֶת־לִבִּ֗י לִדְרֹ֤ושׁ וְלָתוּר֙ בַּֽחָכְמָ֔ה עַ֛ל כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֥ר נַעֲשָׂ֖ה תַּ֣חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם ה֣וּא ׀ עִנְיַ֣ן רָ֗ע נָתַ֧ן אֱלֹהִ֛ים לִבְנֵ֥י הָאָדָ֖ם לַעֲנֹ֥ות בֹּֽו

 רָאִ֙יתִי֙ אֶת־כָּל־הַֽמַּעֲשִׂ֔ים שֶֽׁנַּעֲשׂ֖וּ תַּ֣חַת הַשָּׁ֑מֶשׁ וְהִנֵּ֥ה הַכֹּ֛ל הֶ֖בֶל וּרְע֥וּת רֽוּחַ

Oh, or maybe not.