A Lengthening Shadow: Is Quality of Thought Deteriorating in LDS Scholarly Discourse Regarding Prophets and Revelation? Part Three

Abstract: Many mistakes that occur in scholarly endeavors are understandable. The truth is often difficult to discover, and this makes errors inevitable and expected. And, of course, some mistakes are so insignificant that to complain of them would be mere pedantry. But this is not true of all errors. Some are both obvious and of such significance to their topics that they are egregious. With respect to the gospel, there is reason to be concerned that this is occurring to some degree on the topic of prophets and the Lord’s revelations to them. Erroneous claims and arguments are not difficult to find, including some published under the auspices of reputable and mainstream entities. Is it possible that such errors are becoming common, and commonly accepted, in Latter-day Saint scholarly discourse? Part One considered multiple examples, primarily from Terryl Givens and Patrick Mason, that begin to suggest a positive answer to this question, and Part Two did the same with regard to examples from Grant Hardy. This Part considers several additional instances that can be treated more briefly and then provides a general conclusion to the two-part question that has guided this exploration. Continue reading

A Lengthening Shadow: Is Quality of Thought Deteriorating in LDS Scholarly Discourse Regarding Prophets and Revelation? Part Two

Abstract­: Many mistakes that occur in scholarly endeavors are understandable. The truth is often difficult to discover, and this makes errors inevitable and expected. And of course, some mistakes are so insignificant that to complain of them would be mere pedantry. But this is not true of all errors. Some are both obvious and of such significance to their topics that they are egregious. There is reason to be concerned that this is occurring to some degree on the topic of prophets and the Lord’s revelations to them. Erroneous claims and arguments are not difficult to find, including some published under the auspices of reputable and mainstream entities. Is it possible that such errors are becoming common, and commonly accepted, in LDS scholarly discourse? Part One considered multiple examples, primarily from Terryl Givens and Patrick Mason, that begin to suggest a positive answer to this question. This installment, Part Two, considers examples from Grant Hardy that also suggest an affirmative answer. Continue reading

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

Reflections on the Mission of The Interpreter Foundation

Abstract: Among the covenant obligations taken upon themselves by faithful Latter-day Saints is the consecration of their talents, gifts, and abilities to the building of the Kingdom of God on the earth. Those who established and lead The Interpreter Foundation see their mission in terms of this covenant. The Foundation’s goal is to foster honest and accessible scholarship in service to the Church and Kingdom of God, scholarship that will be of use and benefit to our fellow Latter-day Saints. Continue reading

Sorting Out the Sources in Scripture

Review of David E. Bokovoy, Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis-Deuteronomy. Contemporary Studies in Scripture. Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2014. 272 pp. $26.95 (paperback); $70.00 (hardcover).

Abstract: To date, LDS scholars have largely ignored the important but rather complex questions about how primary sources may have been authored and combined to form the Bible as we have it today. David Bokovoy’s book, one of a projected series of volumes on the authorship of the Old Testament, is intended to rectify this deficiency, bringing the results of scholarship in Higher Criticism into greater visibility within the LDS community. Though readers may not agree in every respect with the book’s analysis and results, particularly with its characterization of the Books of Moses and Abraham as “inspired pseudepigrapha,” Bokovoy has rendered an important service by applying his considerable expertise in a sincere quest to understand how those who accept Joseph Smith as a prophet of God can derive valuable interpretive lessons from modern scholarship. Continue reading