About Joseph M. Spencer

Joseph M. Spencer has degrees from Brigham Young University and San Jose State University and is currently a PhD student in philosophy at the University of New Mexico, where his work focuses on contemporary French philosophy and early analytic philosophy. He is the associate director of the Mormon Theology Seminar, associate editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, and co-editor (with Adam Miller) of the book series Groundwork: Studies in Theory and Scripture, published by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute. He is the author of An Other Testament: On Typology (Salt Press, 2012) and For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope (Kofford, 2014).

On the Dating of Moroni 8-9

Abstract: Students of the Book of Mormon who have attempted to establish a rough (internal) date for the composition of Mormon’s two letters in Moroni 8–9 have come to different and inconsistent conclusions. Nonetheless, there seems to be evidence enough from the text to arrive at reasonably certain conclusions as to when the letters are supposed to have originated. At the same time, the fact that the text never bothers to state the exact circumstances under which the letters were produced is theologically suggestive. What might be the interpretive and especially theological implications that follow from the establishment of rough dates for the letters? This essay argues from textual evidence that the reader should understand the two letters to have been written at rather different times: Moroni 8 in the years 345–50, and Moroni 9 in the years 375–80. It then draws interpretive and theological conclusions about the import of these dates: principally that Moroni’s inclusion of the letters forces readers to recognize that Mormon’s history is inventive and theologically motivated. Continue reading

The Time of Sin

Abstract: This essay provides a close theological reading of Helaman 13, the first part of the sermon of Samuel the Lamanite. Beginning from the insight that the chapter focuses intensely on time, it develops a theological case for how sin has its own temporality. Sin opens up a disastrous future, deliberately misremembers the past, and complicates the constitution of the present as the past of the future. Continue reading