An other of our co-posts with Kurt Manwaring is here. This is 10 Questions with Susan Easton Black. Black has written some great books over the years and contributed a lot to apologetics as well. I’ve given friends many copies of her 400 Questions and Answers about the Book of Mormon. It’s a great entry to get people thinking about the Book of Mormon and answering some basic questions. However her publishing history is pretty huge and well worth checking out. Her most recent book is Martin Harris: Uncompromising Witness of the Book of Mormon written along with Larry Porter. (Sadly not available in a Kindle edition for some reason) She’s an emeritus professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU and is an instructor at the Utah Valley Institute of Religion.
Brant Gardner has kindly agreed to offer some comments on the recent Church essay on Book of Mormon geography. He’s a research assistant with Book of Mormon Central and arguably one of the top experts in the question of Book of Mormon geography. I’ve enjoyed discussing the Book of Mormon with Brant going way back to the 90’s when I ran the old Morm-Ant mailing list to discuss ancient history as it related to Mormon scripture. Since then Brant’s published some groundbreaking work. I think his The Gift and Power: Translating the Book of Mormon is the main sustained overview of the underlying translation process of the Book of Mormon. That is not just the actions of Joseph Smith but what we should say about the nature of the text itself as a translation. There are few books I’d characterize as “must reads” in Mormon theology but I think this is one of them. He also has the excellent The Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History engaging in issues related to a mesoamerican historical setting for the text. He’s also has an well received commentary on the Book of Mormon text itself that tries to bring in insights from a purported mesoamerican setting.
We’re happy to share an other in our series of interviews by Kurt Manwaring. This week’s is his interview with Grant Hardy. He’s the author of the recently released The Book of Mormon: Maxwell Institute Study Edition. Kevin Barney recently reviewed that study edition. Prior to that he was well known for the Book of Mormon: A Readers Edition which nicely formatted the Book of Mormon into paragraphs following the original text. The new Maxwell Study Edition builds on that adding extensive notes and making use of Royal Skousen’s work on a critical text. Grant teaches Chinese history at University of North Carolina at Asheville. We’re quite excited to be able to share part of this interview with 10 Questions.
Back when I first was invited to join T&S I started doing a series on Hell in the Book of Mormon. This is a long delayed follow up. Previously I’d discussed the three broad categories of how hell has been viewed theologically and vulcanism metaphors in the Book of Mormon. This time I want to start focusing on the metaphors and typology used to deal with hell in the Book of Mormon with a focus on Egyptian conceptions of hell.
One of the interesting questions about the plan of salvation is why we need to think we’re going to die. Clearly death has an important role in our development, but why? I came upon a great interview with Todd May, the philosopher behind the popular TV show The Good Place, on what it means to be a good person. Allow me to quote the segment on death and immortality.
For family scripture study in the mornings we’ve started just following the Primary manual rather than merely reading the scriptures. This has lead to much, much more fruitful scripture study I think. If you’ve not done this yourself, consider trying it out for a week or two. I’m not sure kids get as much out of reading the scriptures particularly in the KJV. Yet when you discuss the issues with them they understand it much better. This week we were covering Matthew 2 and Luke 2.
Welcome to the ninth chapter of the never quite weekly reading club for Adam Miller’s Future Mormon. For general links related to the book along with links for all the chapter discussions please go to our overview page. Please don’t hesitate to give your thoughts on the chapter. We’re hoping for a good thoroughgoing critical engagement with the text. Such criticisms aren’t treating the text as bad or flawed so much as trying to engage with the ideas Adam brings up. Hopefully people will push back on such criticism if they disagree or even just see flaws in the logic. That’s when we tend to all learn the most.
The ship of Theseus was an old Greek philosophical question. Over time a ship has various elements replaced – boards, masts, sails, etc. Over time less and less of the ship is the same as when it started. When is it the same ship? Various thinkers over the centuries have had different answers for what makes the ship’s identity. Some argue there is no identity and we just call things the same if they resemble one an other close enough in some arbitrary fashion. Others think the ship slowly loses its identity over time as it changes. Others think there’s some basic design or intent and so long as that intent forms it, it’s the same ship even if some elements differ.
We’re happy to share Kurt Manwaring’s interview with Thomas Wayment. He’s the author of the just released The New Testament: A New Translation for Latter-day Saints. Kevin Barney recently reviewed that work. He’s also responsible for quite a few interesting papers, particularly on the New Testament from a Mormon perspective. Last year he shook things up by noting the large influence, particularly in the New Testament, of Clarke’s Bible Commentary on Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible. (JST) LDS Perspectives did a great interview with him on that topic. We quite excited to be able to share part of this interview with 10 Questions.
It’s that time of year when everyone does their year in review columns. He’s mine with a more Church focus. I don’t claim this is comprehensive but it’s the major stories I saw over the last year.
What is paradise? We all know it’s the place where the spirits of the righteous go. (Alma 40:12-14) The word comes out of the New Testament where there are three references. At least one of these, Rev 2:7, ties it to the Garden of Eden where one eats of the tree of life which is in the midsts of paradise. The other is Paul talking of someone (usually assumed to be Paul himself) “caught up into paradise and heard unspeakable words…” (2 Corinthians 12:4) This is very much like accounts in apocalypses and heavenly ascents where the third heaven is often equated with Eden.
We’re happy to share Kurt Manwaring’s interview with Wes Granberg-Michaelson. He’s the author of Future Faith: Ten Challenges Reshaping Christianity in the 21st Century. His book, which I’ve not yet read, is about the social incentives that are changing Christianity. As many know we’ve discussed a lot how rising generations are different religiously (and in particular far more secular) and how this affects retention in the Church. Granberg-Michaelson isn’t a member. He was actually the secretary of the Reformed Church in America, one of the oldest US denominations. While much of what he addresses is an analysis of Christianity in general, I think a lot is particularly relevant for past discussions we’ve had here. He thinks that current changes are at least as important as the conversion of Constantine or the break with Catholicism by Martin Luther.
The Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology will hold its 2019 Annual Meeting at the University of Utah, March 14-16. The theme is “More Nations Than One: Theology, Culture, and Pluralism.” As always, however, they will give full consideration to papers on any aspect of Latter-day Saint belief. They particularly encourage submissions on this year’s theme. Submissions are due by January 15th.
We’re happy to share Kurt Manwaring’s interview with Robert Millet. Millet is a well known professor of ancient scripture at BYU. He was Dean of Religious Education there and is the author of numerous well regarded books including the Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon along with Joseph Fielding McConkie. He was part of the move in the 1990’s to emphasize the rhetoric of grace theologically in the Church.
A lot has been written of late on so-called “middle way Mormons.” There’s not really much consistency what people mean by the term. The idea seems close to what in prior decades some disparaged as cafeteria Mormons or jack Mormons. (I don’t think that a good thing to say, mind you) That is people who still have ties to the Church and often even attend services but typically don’t follow major observable practices. When I was young the usual culprit was Word of Wisdom. By my 20’s I found there were those who still had a loose testimony but weren’t following the law of chastity, paying tithing, or other such things. Many of those people eventually just completely fell away but some, especially after they started having children, made efforts to come back. The question becomes whether middle way Mormonism is a new phenomena or just a new name for a common long term phenomena.
I admit I have a bit of a fascination with evolution and theology. Not just in terms of trying to figure out how to reconcile them but also people’s stances towards the theology and science. I’ve long been dissatisfied with many polls on the subject since they tend to frame the questions in terms of Protestant (typically more “literalist” Evangelical) views. Those questions for various reasons never quite fit Mormon approaches. Usually I could even figure out clearly how I’d answer the poll beyond trying to guess what they were after. Today there’s a fascinating paper on the question that seems to get at the details in a much better way. More interestingly it’s a longitudinal study showing how views have changed.
About every 50 years in US history there’s a major conflagration of political turmoil. This manifests with both positive change along with sometimes negative changes or retrenchment. The last major turbulence in the US (and in many ways the west in general) was in the late 60’s through early 70’s. We’re now in a similar period which almost certainly has yet to reach its peak. It’s hard not to notice that when looking at Church history that major changes in the Church are loosely tied to these periods.
I always like a few days to reflect on conference. Partially that’s because I’m usually dealing with a bunch of kids during conference. Partially because I’ll admit I don’t learn well from lectures. It’s hard not to fall asleep. I also just learn better from the printed talks and it takes a few days for those to appear. Mainly though it’s because I just like to get an idea for what people see as the big concerns in the Church. So here’s my musings after they’ve had a few days to congeal.