I am feeling testy today, so I thought that I would post on a subject I have been thinking about for a while: the most over rated text in Mormon studies. Perhaps it is part of being raised in a prophetic, leader-revering culture, but there is a tendency on the part of Mormon intellectuals toward hagiography. Not of church leaders of course. (Being Mormon intellectuals has liberated them from anything so crass.) Rather, I am talking about hagiography by Mormon intellectuals of Mormon intellectuals. (See the article on Quinn.)
Originally, I had thought of doing a most over-rated Mormon intellectual thread, but I ultimately decided that was too cruel, even for me in a testy mood. No personal attacks please. Rather, I am interested in those texts that everyone says are a “must read” but end up being a bit disappointing when you actually check them out. For my money the winner is:
Don’t get me wrong. I like this book. It is a fun discussion of Mormon theology in the context of the history of western philosophy and theology. However, at the end of the day, McMurrin doesn’t have much to say about Mormonism that hasn’t already been said (better!) by B.H. Roberts. In addition, when you get right down to it, McMurrin doesn’t really spend much time even talking about Mormonism. Instead he gives us a rough and ready history of a couple of theological concepts with some commentary about Mormonism thrown in. Yet as an intro to the history of theology or philosophy McMurrin is woefully inadequate.
None of this is a criticism of the book per se, but it does make me wonder at the sometimes breathless way in which I have heard McMurrin’s acumen and insight praised.
Any other runners up? (Remember to be nice.)