His lecture series is now online via the Maxwell Institute:
Ben Park, an associate editor of the newly envisaged Mormon Studies Review, has forwarded a call for papers: “The Book of Mormon: Americanist Approaches.” The call is “seeking essays that engage with The Book of Mormon as a work of literature and situate it within the context of Americanist literary studies.” It also wants to “resist the urge to simply historicize the book’s importance away or address its claims to sacred status.” (It is extraordinarily unclear how one can “historicize the [Book of Mormon's] importance away.” What does that even mean?) This type of approach undoubtedly represents another indication of the future direction of the Maxwell Institute, and its clear severing of ties to classic FARMS scholarship.
[Note: When I first posted this notice, I thought it reflected Ben's views, even though he was not personally issuing the call for papers. There is still no indication that it doesn't reflect his views. He can perhaps let us know if it doesn't. However, for clarity, I have modified the original text slightly to distance it from Ben.]
John Gee and Matt Roper’s “Ether’s Cave” blog continues to produce interesting stuff
Including a useful bibliography on the Book of Mormon:
Also, FAIR has produced a great “LDS Scripture Study Aids” Facebook page as sort of a clearing house.
Check them out! That’s an order!
Now online. Lot’s of interesting things here about names in the Book of Mormon.
In reviewing the past year of scholarship in the nexus of Mormonism and ancient studies, I note the following developments in journal publication.
The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Studies (with a full-time staff of eleven and a multi-million dollar endowment) has published nine articles in two volumes: five articles (72 large-format pages) in an issue of The Journal of Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scriptures, and four articles (115 Pages) in the Studies in the Bible and Antiquity, a total of 187 pages.
The Interpreter Foundation, in the eleven months since its foundation in August 2012, (with no full-time staff and an average monthly budget of a few thousand dollars), has produced 48 articles in five volumes (total 1004 pages) of their journal Interpreter.
I commend both organizations for their efforts and encourage their continued publications in this important field.
Today is the one year anniversary of the coup at the Maxwell Institute.
My grandma always said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
“Ether’s Cave” by Matt Roper and John Gee (and others?).
My view on the issue of Mormon studies.
Update and Clarification: Several people have apparently misunderstood my use of the term Mormon studies. Mormon studies is typically used in two ways.
First, as a description of the study of anything to do with Mormonism–history, art, literature, politics, religion, economics, etc.
Second, Mormon studies is used in parallel to Islamic studies or Hindu studies–that is, as a subset of religious studies. That is how I am using the term in this essay. I thought it was clear from my discussion that I was referring to Mormon studies as Mormon religious studies, that is, a subset of religious studies in general to which I compared it throughout my discussion. I’m sorry if this ambiguity was a cause of confusion.
Thus, for example, Mormon history has its own professional organization, its own annual conference, its regular professional journal. On occasion, Mormon history encompasses Mormon religion, but it also does the history of Mormon colonialism in Utah, or Mormon political impact in the early twentieth century, etc. Mormon religious studies does not.
I have argued that, as a professional discipline in academia, Mormon religious studies basically does not exist. The exception might be the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology (http://www.smpt.org/), but theology is only one subset of religious studies as a whole.
We discussed Korihor and Alma 30 in Gospel Doctrine today. Here is my summary of the ten foundational claims of Korihor. It is interesting that essentially none of the claims of the New Atheists are, in fact, “new”.
If you want to compare Bradford’s “new” vision for the Maxwell Institute with the “old” FARMS vision, compare the current Maxwell Institute mission statement with the traditional FARMS mission statement.
Original Maxwell Institute mission statement:
The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship encourages and supports research on the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, the Bible, other ancient scripture, and related subjects. The Maxwell Institute publishes and distributes titles in these areas for the benefit of scholars and interested Latter-day Saint readers. Primary research interests at the Maxwell Institute include the history, language, literature, culture, geography, politics, and law relevant to ancient scripture. Although such subjects are of secondary importance when compared with the spiritual and eternal messages of scripture, solid research and academic perspectives can supply certain kinds of useful information, even if only tentatively, concerning many significant and interesting questions about scripture. The Maxwell Institute makes reports about this research available widely, promptly, and economically. These publications are peer reviewed to ensure that scholarly standards are met. The proceeds from the sale of these materials are used to support further research and publications.
Current Maxwell Institute mission statement:
By furthering religious scholarship through the study of scripture and other texts, Brigham Young University’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship seeks to deepen understanding and nurture discipleship among Latter-day Saints while promoting mutual respect and goodwill among people of all faiths.
The difference in vision is about as clear as possible. The first statement shows what FARMS was, the second statement shows what Bradford and his allies want the Maxwell Institute to become, and, indeed, to a large extent what it already has become. And the fact of the matter is that I don’t object to the current Maxwell Institute’s mission statement. It is a worthwhile mission and I support it.
What I find objectionable is that the resources, personnel, time, and money that were originally dedicated to the FARMS mission have been diverted to other projects related to the new vision of its mission, while systematically dismantling the elements of the original mission, as most can be most starkly seen by Dan’s recent dismissal as editor of the Mormon Studies Review.