avatar

About Daniel C. Peterson

Daniel C. Peterson (Ph.D., University of California at Los Angeles) is a professor of Islamic studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University and is the founder of the University’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, for which he served as editor-in-chief until mid-August 2013. He has published and spoken extensively on both Islamic and Mormon subjects. Formerly chairman of the board of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) and an officer, editor, and author for its successor organization, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, his professional work as an Arabist focuses on the Qur’an and on Islamic philosophical theology. He is the author, among other things, of a biography entitled Muhammad: Prophet of God (Eerdmans, 2007).

Reason, Experience, and the Existence of God

Abstract: Both reason and experience are essential to religious life, which should be neither completely irrational nor entirely cerebral. But surely, of the two, the experience of direct and convincing revelation would and should trump academic debate, and most obviously so for its recipient. The Interpreter Foundation was established in the conviction that reasoned discussion and analysis necessarily have a place in faithful discipleship, but also in the confidence that divine revelation has genuinely occurred. The role of reason, accordingly, is a helpful one. It serves an important ancillary function. However, it does not supplant experience with God and the divine and must never imagine that it can. Academic scholarship can refine and clarify ideas, correct assumptions, defend truth claims, generate insights, and deepen understanding, but, while human inquiry sometimes creates openings for revelation, it will never replace direct divine communication. Interpreter knows its place. Continue reading

The Yale Book of Mormon text goes into its third printing

RoyalSkousenAuthorandPropritorI’m delighted to hear that Royal Skousen’s superb and helpful Yale University Press edition of The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text has just gone into its third printing.

The folks at Yale didn’t really expect it to make a second printing, so this represents considerable success.

And, just in case you missed the announcement, the massive books outlining his arguments for his various text-critical decisions are now up and freely accessible on the website of The Interpreter Foundation:

http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/announcing-the-online-edition-of-royal-skousens-analysis-of-textual-variants-of-the-book-of-mormon/

The Sibling Scandals of the Resurrection

I’ve recently picked Stephen T. Davis’s Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the Resurrection up again.1 It’s an impressive book that had a pivotal effect on my thinking when it first appeared. Davis, the Russell K. Pitzer Professor of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College in California, argues that “Christians are within their intellectual rights in believing that Jesus was raised from the dead.”2 “The thesis of the book,” he explains, “is that the two central Christian resurrection claims — namely, that Jesus was bodily raised from the dead and that we will all be raised from the dead — are defensible claims.”3 Continue reading

Some Notes on Faith and Reason

Philosophers and theologians, believers and unbelievers, friends to faith and enemies, scientists, historians — these and many others have devoted a very great deal of time and attention for centuries to the relationship between faith and reason.

There is little if any general consensus on the matter, and I have no intention, in just a few pages here, of trying to settle things. I’m inclined, though, to share a few thoughts on the topic from my Latter-day Saint perspective. Continue reading

A Letter from the President and Chairman of the Board

3 May 2014

Dear friends of The Interpreter Foundation:

As I write, Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture is closing in on its hundredth straight week of publishing at least one article every Friday, the Foundation has just recorded its seventy-first scripture roundtable, our blog is flourishing, we’ve hosted a major conference on religion and science (the proceedings of which will eventually appear in print), we’ve established an article prize, we’ve obtained 501(c)(3) status from the United States Internal Revenue Service, and our first published book is selling well. And even that list doesn’t exhaust what The Interpreter Foundation has accomplished and what it has still in the works.

We’ve been able to do this on a remarkably small budget—and we’ve been wholly transparent about that budget. Some expenses are unavoidable, and we pay a few people (mostly well below market rates) because . . . well, we simply didn’t feel right about exploiting their willingness to serve to the degree that the work demands. But our donated funds have been used very efficiently. A very large proportion of our work is performed by volunteers, and I’m astonished at what’s regularly accomplished, every week. I can’t adequately express my gratitude for the generosity of so many people out there.

That said, our expenses are rising. (This is the inevitable penalty of success.) It costs significant money to sponsor conferences and publish books, and we intend to continue to do both—on an even larger scale.

So, just as I thank all of those who have contributed their time and their effort to make The Interpreter Foundation the resounding success that it is, I express my appreciation to all those who’ve contributed financially. This isn’t sentimental boilerplate: We couldn’t have pulled this off without you.

But there’s more to be done and—to put it bluntly—that’s going to require more money.  Our expenditures of late have been higher than our income.  Not by much, and we’re not in a crisis.  But I’m writing with the long-term prospects of the Foundation in mind.

So I wish to say to those who’ve contributed to The Interpreter Foundation what I’ve said to those who work with us.  We’re deeply grateful for what you’ve done in the past . . . and we need more.  Whether it’s an hour of time or a five-dollar bill—or, of course, a million dollars!—we are and will be grateful.

Instructions on how to donate to The Interpreter Foundation can be found at http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/donations/ .

Very sincerely yours,

Daniel C. Peterson
Chairman and President
The Interpreter Foundation