Andrew H. Hedges is a scholar with the Joseph Smith Papers Project who holds a PhD in American History from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He was one of the editors for the second volume of the journals series, which covered the years 1841–1843 and includes material pertinent to Joseph Smith’s practice of plural marriage (as explained in the introduction).
In a recently published roundtable discussion on how to teach the history of plural marriage to students, Hedges recommended,
I would hope that every teacher who’s going to have his or her students read these essays [the Gospel Topics essays] would also have looked at the sources behind them. Look at Kathryn Daynes’s book More Wives Than One. Look at Brian Hales and his research. Look at what The Joseph Smith Papers have put out in bits and pieces. If a teacher has done his or her homework along these lines, he or she will be in a position to better answer those questions.
(Andrew H. Hedges et al., “Discussing Difficult Topics: Plural Marriage,” Religious Educator 17, no. 1 : 21.)
Here is another credentialed, professional historian endorsing the work of Brian Hales for those looking to answer questions about Joseph Smith’s plural marriage.
Notice, however, whom Hedges does not even mention, let alone recommend.
7 thoughts on “Another Endorsement for Brian Hales”
Seriously man? Of course Hedges wouldn't draw attention to Runnells. Would ANYONE on the Joseph Smith Papers Project mention or recommend Runnells? Would any member in good standing of the church for that matter recommend you turn to the CES Letter before Joseph Smith's Polygamy?
We get it. Hales is a scholar. Runnells isn't. Some will empathize with Hales. Others with Runnells.
You're preaching to the choir right now. You can argue that Runnells may poison the water for Hales, but chances are, those that are looking for the CES letter in the first place don't have any interest in examining Hales' work. Kathryn Daynes' book, while incredibly well-researched and put together, did nothing to help my testimony. If anything, I left it even more convinced that polygamy was a load of garbage. Same goes for the essays and the JS papers. Just because someone may "be in a position to better answer the question" doesn't mean that they'll arrive at the same one as you.
You realize, of course, that I'm engaging in some rhetorical exercise, yes? Runnells talks a lot of trash about Brian Hales being an amateur that no *actual* historians or scholars take seriously. The delicious irony of the situation, however, appears to be totally lost on Runnells, and it is this irony that I wish to illustrate.
I'm also (sorta) directing this at Runnells' ridiculous fanbase, who reverence the CES Letter as, I kid you not, "one the greatest pieces of scholarship ever written on Mormon history," to use the words of one redditor. Such foolishness, I hope, will be recognized through my meager efforts to highlight just whom exactly is being cited positively by the best and brightest of Mormon historians.
Also, I agree that (most probably) nobody at the JSPP would recommend Runnells, but maybe not for the same reasons you seem to think.
"Runnells talks a lot of trash about Brian Hales being an amateur that no *actual* historians or scholars take seriously. The delicious irony of the situation, however, appears to be totally lost on Runnells, and it is this irony that I wish to illustrate."
Assuming it was him who addressed you on another blogpost of yours, he too acknowledges that he is not a scholar. I agree, however, that he doesn't make a good case for Hales being an amateur. Ad hominem attacks can be found amongst Mormon scholars as well.
"I'm also (sorta) directing this at Runnells' ridiculous fanbase, who reverence the CES Letter as, I kid you not, "one the greatest pieces of scholarship ever written on Mormon history," to use the words of one redditor. Such foolishness, I hope, will be recognized through my meager efforts to highlight just whom exactly is being cited positively by the best and brightest of Mormon historians."
I guess I just don't understand why you care to bother with the exmormon reddit. They are generally composed of people who are very bitter towards the church have ZERO interest in taking any active Mormon scholar seriously. I decided to stop going there because it is quite vitriolic most of the time. I mean, some people on that thread won't even acknowledge the works of Vogel or Metcalfe and consider them to be too soft. You really don't need to be wasting time on your blog with those guys.
"Also, I agree that (most probably) nobody at the JSPP would recommend Runnells, but maybe not for the same reasons you seem to think."
Mm, don't be too quick to assume. I, too, can think of several reasons why they wouldn't recommend Runnells (not just because he's not a scholar or on their side). As one who arrived at the conclusion that the church is not true, I wouldn't necessarily direct people to the CES letter either. To me, the CES letter is essentially the Wikipedia of ex-Mormon arguments. I find the primary sources to be far more worth time and examination than Runnells work as a whole.
You are correct that JSP wouldn't reference Runnells. But they didn't need to reference Hales either. The fact that they did speaks to Hales' credibility as a more objective and sophisticated voice on the topic.
For sure. I'm not trying to make a case for Runnells as a scholar. While I am a conglomerate of agnosticism/atheism/humanism, I still find LDS church history to be fascinating and reference Hales' website regularly. However, I draw very different conclusions from the material he references.
I would also point out that the research of Meg Stout is not in Hedges' list of recommended reading….
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