Jeff has been the recipient of several awards and patents and has been an adviser for initiatives in science, defense, space, industry, and academia worldwide. He chairs the Scientific Advisory Council for the Nissan Research Center—Silicon Valley and is a former co-editor of the Human-Centered Computing Department for IEEE Intelligent Systems. He was a member of the Defense Science Board 2015 Study on Autonomy, the Board on Global Science and Technology for the National Academies of Science, and the National Research Council Committee on Emerging Cognitive Neuroscience Research.
Jeff serves as a vice president for The Interpreter Foundation and is on the Advisory Board for the Academy for Temple Studies. He has lectured for FairMormon in the US, Germany, and France, and is an organizer of the Interpreter Science and Mormonism Symposium Series. He has an abiding interest in Genesis, temples, and the ancient Near East (www.templethemes.net). He has written a detailed commentary on the first five chapters of the book of Moses (Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve, In God’s Image and Likeness 1, Eborn, 2010 (updated edition 2014)), and, with David J. Larsen, has published a second volume continuing the commentary through JST Genesis 11 (Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel, In God’s Image and Likeness 2, Eborn, 2014). He has also authored Temple Themes in the Book of Moses, Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood, Temple Themes in the Symbols of the Priesthood (forthcoming 2016), and articles on temple studies and the ancient Near East for Studies in the Bible and Antiquity, Element: A Journal of Mormon Philosophy and Theology, Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, and BYU Studies.
Jeff was a missionary in France and Belgium from 1975-1977, and his family has returned twice to live in France: once from 1993-1994 as a Fulbright Scholar and a second time from 2005-2006 as an unexpected “sabbatical” in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan. Jeff has served twice as a bishop and twice as a counselor in the stake presidency of the Pensacola Florida Stake. He and his wife, Kathleen, are the parents of four children and ten grandchildren. In July 2016, they began two years of service in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kinshasa Mission.
Abstract: In this article, we examine circumstantial evidence for the claim of Zebedee Coltrin, contained in a secondhand report within a heretofore unpublished letter, that Jesus Christ came personally to the Kirtland Temple over an extended period to give instruction about temple work. After summarizing what Joseph Smith seems to have known about temple ordinances by 1836, we attempt to show when and how the experience reported in the letter might have occurred. We give short biographies of the participants in the story of the letter: Luna Ardell “Dell” Hinckley Paul, Zebedee Coltrin, and “Brother Potter.” We cite Matthew. B. Brown’s observations on the question of why it might have been expedient that the Saints wait several years before receiving the full complement of temple ordinances that were eventually administered in Nauvoo. Both a typescript and a reproduction of the manuscript of the letter are provided, as is an additional letter to family members from co-author K-Lynn Paul describing the circumstances under which his grandmother’s letter was found and donated to the Church. The Dell Paul letter is consistent with arguments that the Prophet learned much about temple ordinances through personal experiences with heavenly beings, translations, and revelations as much as a decade before he got to Nauvoo. If the letter’s claim that Jesus Christ “stood and talked to them just as I am talking to you” is accurately reported, it provides an additional witness of the Savior’s frequent presence in Kirtland in 1836.Continue reading →
Abstract: A well-known account from early Church history describes how, in the spring of 1844, two young men, Dennison Lott Harris and Robert Scott, helped protect Joseph Smith from dissidents plotting against his life. Almost completely unknown, however, is Dennison’s account of his subsequent role as a firsthand witness to events that appear to have taken place on the morning of 26 March 1844, just prior to the meeting in which Joseph Smith gave his “Last Charge” to the Quorum of the Twelve and “roll[ed] the kingdom off [his] shoulders” onto theirs in the presence of the Council of Fifty. This article provides the background necessary to understand all these events and publishes for the first time a complete, annotated transcript of Dennison’s 1881 verbal statement to First Presidency counselor Joseph F. Smith. In addition, the article includes a discussion of the significance of apostolic succession then and now, drawing in part on the encounters of Catholic scholars John M. Reiner and Stephen H. Webb with Mormonism. In the Appendix, I reproduce an 1884 article from The Contributor that gives a secondhand version of Dennison’s account of the conspiracy of Nauvoo.Continue reading →
Abstract: In this article, I explore some of the opportunities and challenges that lie before us as we try to reach a better understanding of the prophetic corpus that has come to us from Joseph Smith. I turn my attention to a specific instance of these opportunities and challenges: the 21 May 1843 discourse on the doctrine of election, which Joseph Smith discussed in conjunction with the “more sure word of prophecy” mentioned in 2 Peter 1:19.Continue reading →
Editor’s Note: In celebration of the long-awaited publication of the expanded proceedings of the 2013 Interpreter Science and Mormonism Symposium — Cosmos, Earth, and Man (Orem and Salt Lake City: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2016), we share an expanded version of the introduction to that volume in this issue of the journal. The second Interpreter Science and Mormonism Symposium, subtitled Body, Brain, Mind, and Spirit, will be held at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah in the Classroom Building, Room 101, from 8:30 am-3:30 pm on March 12, 2016. For more information about the book and the upcoming symposium, see MormonInterpreter.com.
Abstract: From the beginning, Latter-day Saints have rejected the notion that science and religion are incompatible. In this article, we give an overview of studies that have surveyed the professional participation of Mormons in science and the views of American academics and scientists on religion in general, Mormons in particular, and why many thoughtful people in our day might be disinclined to take religion seriously. We conclude with a brief survey of current LDS perspectives on science. Our brief survey demonstrates that it is not only futile for religion and science to battle each other; it is also unnecessary. Continue reading →