On the Internet, Libraries, and Seeking

Pictured: techies at Google headquarters in ancient Alexandria polishing their search engine algorithms (ca. 56 BC). Steven C. Harper (who holds a PhD in early American history from Lehigh University) is a former professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University, a current editor at the Joseph Smith Papers Project, and a historian … Read more

As Far As It Is Translated Correctly: Translation, Interpretation, and Revelation

The first half of the eighth Article of Faith reads, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” This simple statement captures the theological position on the Bible accepted by Latter-day Saints. Unlike their Protestant friends, Latter-day Saints reject the doctrine of sola scriptura and instead … Read more

“Whose Fruit was Desirable to Make One Happy”: The True Story of José Almerich

José Almerich (left) with my uncle Matthew Stevens (right) circa 1973–1976. This account was written by my mother Jill Stevens Smoot. The following transcription has standardized and corrected some grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  This is the true story of José Almerich. From 1973–1976 my father, Robert V. Stevens, along with his wife Sue Stevens and their … Read more

Christian Hypocrisy in Annette von Droste-Hülshoff’s “Die Judenbuche”

A portrait of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff (1837). I wrote the following in the Fall of 2014 for a course at Brigham Young University on Deutsche Literatur des 19. Jahrhunderts. Introduction The specter of anti-Semitism in German history looms large in today’s post-Holocaust world. The great past works of German literature, ranging from Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Nathan der Weise … Read more

Make America Great Again! (By Protecting it from the Mormons)

It’s important that we protect America from lawless criminals and religious fanatics. (Source Wikimedia) That there could be any Mormons who espouse Islamophobia truly baffles me. Like, seriously. I cannot wrap my mind around it. If anyone should by sympathetic to the plight of a denigrated and (often maliciously) misunderstood and misrepresented religious minority in … Read more

Latter-day Khumrot and “Fences Around the Law”

Jesus disputed with the Pharisees over matters of the Law of Moses on a number of recorded occasions. (From LDS.org) In Judaism exists the concept of the khumrot (חומרות), or proscriptions that are implemented to safeguard the halakhah (הלכה)–––the body of Jewish religious laws–––from being transgressed. The khumrot of Orthodox Judaism are not the laws themselves, but are instead … Read more

Social Deification in Ancient Egyptian and Mormon Theology

Detail of an image inside the tomb of Sennedjem, discovered at the necropolis of Deir el-Medina and dating to the 19th dynasty. Here Sennedjem is accompanied by his wife Lyneferti and wields the “sekhem-scepter, a symbol of power.” (Image and description via Tour Egypt.) The German Egyptologist Jan Assmann has some interesting observations about the ancient … Read more

Book Review: Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones

Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones (2016) At a church conference on October 25–26, 1831, the topic of the translation of the Book of Mormon arose and Joseph Smith was pressed to furnish the details pertaining thereto. According to the minutes taken at the conference, “Br. Joseph Smith jr. said that it was not intended to tell … Read more