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2016 Science & Mormonism Symposium: Body, Brain, Mind & Spirit
are now available.
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Ruth M. Stephens Article Prize
Deadline for submissions is 1 August 2016
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Printed JournalWelcome to Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, a nonprofit, independent, peer-reviewed educational journal focused on the scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its publications are available free of charge, with our goal to increase understanding of scripture. Our latest papers can be found below.

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“Idle and Slothful Strange Stories”: Book of Mormon Origins and the Historical Record

Abstract: From the very beginning, Joseph’s story about the origins of the Book of Mormon seemed wild and unbelievable. Today, however, Joseph’s account enjoys a high degree of corroboration from (1) eyewitness accounts confirming Joseph’s possession of actual metal plates and other artifacts, with some even corroborating the involvement of an angel in providing access to the record; (2) eyewitness reports on the process of producing the text; and (3) evidence from the original manuscript. This evidence is reviewed here, and the implications it has for the Book of Mormon’s origin are considered. Continue reading

A Pilgrim’s Faith

Review of Russell Stevenson, Black Mormon: The Story of Elijah Ables. (self-published, 2014), 140 pp., 14.95.

Abstract: The history of the African-American community and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been a confused one since the Church’s early days. Few blacks joined the fledgling group, and those that united with the Saints met with a mixed reception. This short biography by historian Russell Stevenson is the story of one of these pioneering souls, Elijah Ables, who was also the first black priesthood holder. Continue reading

Dating Joseph Smith’s First Nauvoo Sealings

Abstract: In the October 2015 issue of The Journal of Mormon History, Gary Bergera presents a richly illustrated article, “Memory as Evidence: Dating Joseph Smith’s Plural Marriages to Louisa Beaman, Zina Jacobs, and Presendia Buell” (95–131). It focuses on a page from the “Historian’s Private Journal,” which Bergera dates to “specifically September or thereabouts” of 1866 (99). Wilford Woodruff’s handwriting on that page describes Joseph Smith’s plural marriage sealings and dates his marriage to Louisa Beaman to “May 1840,” to Zina Huntington on “October 27, 1840,” to Presendia Huntington on “December 11, 1840,” and also to Rhoda Richards on “June 12, 1843.” The first three dates on the historian’s document are important, as Bergera explains: “If accurate, Woodruff’s record not only pushes back the beginnings of Joseph Smith earliest Nauvoo plural marriage by a year but it also requires that we reevaluate what we think we know — and how we know it — about the beginnings of LDS polygamy” (95–96). The key question is whether the information on that page can be considered “accurate” in light of other available documents dealing with these plural sealings. During the remaining thirty-four pages of the article, Bergera presents an argument that 1840, not 1841, is the most reliable year for the Prophet’s earliest Nauvoo plural unions. This essay examines why his analysis of the records appears to be incomplete and his conclusions problematic. Continue reading

On Being a Tool

Abstract: Members, missionaries, and apologists must never lose sight of the fact that the gospel isn’t merely about abstractions and theoretical principles. It’s also, and most importantly, about people, about people with their own life stories, fears, hopes, and questions. Thus, if we want to be optimally effective, we must listen to people, understand them, and craft our message to reach them individually, where they are. The Interpreter Foundation is committed to helping with this task, but it cannot replace personalized instruction and caring. Continue reading

Conversations with Mormon Historians

Review of Alexander L. Baugh and Reid L. Neilson, eds., Conversations with Mormon Historians, Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, in cooperation with Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, 2015. pp.580 + xv, including index. $34.99.

Abstract: Conversations with Mormon Historians is a compilation of interviews with sixteen Latter-day Saint scholars. The book reveals why they went into their chosen professions, their rise to prominence as historians, and their thoughts regarding important topics such as the Prophet Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Continue reading