LDS Perspectives Podcasts: The Three Witnesses, with Larry Morris

Listen from the website, or the direct audio file.

By June 1829 Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer had verbalized a desire to be the special three witnesses alluded to in the Book of Mormon.

D&C 17 records a revelation affirming their roles as witnesses and was given to Joseph Smith through a seer stone he apparently found while digging a well in 1822.

As witnesses, the three were very different. Martin Harris was zealous, impetuous, and even a bit eccentric. Oliver Cowdery was an intellectual. And David Whitmer was regarded as clear-thinking, down-to-earth, and honest.

David Whitmer was, perhaps, the strongest witness because he lived so long, never wavered in his testimony of the vision, and gave several newspaper interviews that give us additional details regarding the experience. David reported seeing several plates, the sword of Laban, the Liahona, and the Urim and Thummim.

Joseph Smith was understandably relieved to have others to testify of the existence of the plates. Larry Morris concludes that the experience of the Three Witnesses was both an empirical and spiritual experience.

Join Nick Galieti as he interviews Larry Morris as part of the Revelations in Context podcast series.

LDS Perspectives Podcasts: LDS Women at the Pulpit with Jenny Reeder and Kate Holbrook

Listen from the website, or directly from the audio file.

Editors Jenny Reeder and Kate Holbrook, respectively 19th- and 20th-century women’s historians, discuss their multi-year project to bring LDS women’s speeches together in At the Pulpit: 185 Years of Discourses by Latter-day Saint Women.

This is the second book to come out of the Church Historian’s Press in as many years with the goal of making LDS women’s experiences, history, and discourses available to the mainstream membership.

Before the reader even opens the book, the nostalgic cover art of At the Pulpit brings to mind its two opposing themes: change and familiarity. One glance at the over-sized corsage adorning Belle Spafford’s tailored dress may spawn a flood of memories. When was it that they stopped having women wear corsages at conference anyway? The scene is as familiar and comforting as it is foreign.

Because women didn’t typically speak in conference settings before the mid-20th century, the definition of “discourse” is stretched a bit for this anthology. To Reeder and Holbrook’s credit, this makes the book seem less like a collection of discourses than treasured glimpses into the relationship LDS women have had to their God over the last 185 years.

It is less a collection of talks than a creative medium for teaching about how attitudes toward the roles of women at home and in the LDS Church have changed and in some ways remained the same.

Many may find the introductions to each discourse the most enjoyable portions of the book. In these brief overviews, readers not only receive context for the discourse but also context for the time in which it is given.

Overall this is a welcome addition to the fine work coming out of the Church History Department and to the library of anyone wishing to entertain a more nuanced view on the amplitude of women’s voices in LDS discourse over the years.

LDS Perspectives Podcast: Lehi in America with Brant Gardner

In this episode, Laura Harris Hales interviews Brant A. Gardner. He is the author of several books and articles discussing the text of the Book of Mormon and ancient Mesoamerica. Listen here.

The discussion covers the didactic model for translating the Book of Mormon and a possible setting for it.

Brant describes how he became convinced that Mesoamerica could be a possible setting for Lehi to fit into the history of the American continent. He uses several examples from the text of the Book of Mormon that converge with the history of Mesoamerica at that specific time to support his theory.

Then we have some fun chatting about how our understanding of Mesoamerican artifacts and their meaning has changed over the past fifty years. He also lists some false traditions that have hampered our understanding of the relationship between Lehites and indigenous cultures.

According to Brant, his research is not presented to prove the Book of Mormon is true but rather to prove it interesting. I think you will agree that he does just that.

LDS Perspectives Podcast: Joseph’s Seer Stones with Michael Hubbard MacKay

Russell Stevenson interviews Dr. Michael Mackay about the use of seer stones in the Book of Mormon translation process. (Here)

Some may not realize that Joseph continued to use seer stones after the Book of Mormon was translated. He used them while translating the Bible, when dictating revelations, and even when giving patriarchal blessings.

After his death, Joseph’s stones were passed down to succeeding presidents of the church and looked upon as sacred relics.

Dr. Mackay claims the seer stones were not simply a tool to give Joseph confidence to translate; they represent something much more significant.

Listeners will likely agree with Dr. Mackay’s conclusions to varying degrees. Nevertheless, his perspective is one worthy of contemplation.

LDS Perspectives Podcast: Nephi and Isaiah with Joseph Spencer

Listen to an interview with Joseph Spencer about his new book discussing Isaiah in the Book of Mormon.

Second Nephi has a reputation for being a bit dry. Missing is the drama of the Book of Mormon. Where the story line pauses, it is replaced with long passages containing interpolations of the words of Nephi into the Old Testament scripture of Isaiah.

Nephi tells readers this departure into deeper doctrine is the “more sacred” part of the small plates. However, modern readers often have difficulty connecting with its discourses pertaining to the gathering of the house of Israel.

Our guest, Joseph Spencer, has spent much of his academic career studying covenantal history, including within Book of Mormon contexts.

Some have coined Isaiah’s presence in the Book of Mormon as a problem; Joseph Spencer sees it more as an answer to questions that emerge within the narrative.

He maintains that making sense of Isaiah’s place in the Book of Mormon is the essential key to making sense of the Book of Mormon. He identifies three narrative hinges in the Book of Mormon that each begin with a quotation from Isaiah. Maybe, just maybe, you might be encouraged to give Isaiah in the Book of Mormon a second look.

Join Laura Harris Hales as she discusses with Joseph Spencer the daunting pursuit of studying Isaiah in the Book of Mormon.