Perhaps second only to regular features as a reliable blog standby are lists. I know, I know, such posts usually generate endless quibbling about meaningless personal preferences. But I want to propose what I think will be a worthwhile exercise.
I want to know, what are the five essential texts in Mormon studies?
What I have in mind here are the most influential scholarly works in Mormon history, sociology, theology, or any other area of interest to Mormons. I know that when I first became interested in such things, I scoured my parents’ bookshelves looking for anything promising, then turned to my Mom’s back issues of Sunstone. I gradually figured out which texts formed the background for the current conversations among Mormon thinkers. A lot of time would have been saved if someone had given me a short list of must-reads. Perhaps we can begin to generate such a list here.
So here are my top five most essential, in no particular order:
Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism
Leonard Arrington, The Mormon Experience
Michael Quinn, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View
Jan Shipps, Mormonism
Sterling McMurrin, Theological Foundations of the Mormon Religion
What important books have I missed? Which ones have I overrated?