Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Scholarship of Hugh Nibley and John Sorenson: The Myth of Non-Respectability

It is not uncommon to hear people say that Hugh Nibley and John Sorenson was not real, respectable scholars. That, supposedly, no one outside of Mormons have even heard of them or read their scholarship. It is certainly true neither one looms as largely in broader academia as they do in Mormon intellectual circles. Neither of them is like a Richard Bushman in their respective fields. But it is an exaggeration to say that they were irrelevant and unrespectable in their disciplines. A brief gander at the non-Mormon who’s who of contributors to the 2-volume festschrift for Hugh Nibley, and magnanimous praise they heap upon him, ought to be more than enough to dispel such myths. Sorenson’s festschrift also has non-LDS contributors, and the leading Mayanist of his generation—Michael Coe—refused to engage him at conferences because he was “too formidable.” Coe has also heaped praise on Sorenson in—of all places—a Mormon Stories interview, where he says that Sorenson is a friend, and declares him the leading researcher on paradigm shifting research on pre-Columbian transoceanic contact, which Coe admits he finds persuasive.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

“The Things Which my Father Saw”: The Chiastic Inclusio of 1 Nephi 11–14

A less common image of the tree of life that I thought was really cool looking.
When recording his sweeping vision found in 1 Nephi 11–14, Nephi appears to have framed it with an inclusio. According to Wikipidia, “In biblical studies, inclusio is a literary device based on a concentric principle, also known as bracketing or an envelope structure, which consists of creating a frame by placing similar material at the beginning and end of a section.” Wikipidia goes on to explain:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Does the Historicity of the Book of Mormon Matter?

The “historicity wars” of the bloggernacle have died down, and I am reticent to start them back up again. Since I am generally ignored by the bloggernacle, however, that is unlikely to happen. I have long pondered over the relevance of historicity for the Book of Mormon—if it matters, and if so, why it matters. As I have been reading about the experiences of Joseph Smith and others with the plates and other artifacts in the newly released From Darkness unto Light: The Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon, by Michael Hubbard MacKay and Gerrit Dirkmaat, I have once again begun to ponder the question of historicity.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Best Information on Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: A Review Round-up

Today, Interpreter published three reviews of the soon-to-be released book on Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding.  The first review, written by Gregory L. Smith, the author or co-author of a smattering of articles on Joseph Smith’s polygamy, concludes, “[Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding] is warmly recommended for anyone who wants to learn more about Joseph’s plural marriages but particularly to those just venturing into its sometimes choppy waters. Were I not vulnerable to the sin of envy, I’d wish I had written it.”

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Great Opportunity

Tikal: One of many awesome places you can visit and learn about with Dr. Mark Wright
I have frequently commented on Book of Mormon geography, archaeology, etc. here on this blog. While reading and thinking and writing on these things is nice, and maps and photographs can do a lot to help a person visualize something, nothing is even half as good and going there yourself. I hope to have the opportunity to go too many places relevant to the Book of Mormon someday—Israel, maybe some places on the Arabian Peninsula, Guatemala, and central Mexico. At present, I need to save up for school and whatever else life has in-store for me in the near future. But I really, really, REALLY wish I could go to Mesoamerica this winter.

Why? Because Mark Wright, one of the best and brightest LDS Mesoamericanists, is leading a tour this winter, from December 26–January 4. I don’t have the words to express how incredible this opportunity is. While I mean no disrespect to others who lead such tours, I can promise you that no other tour guide else will be able to deliver the same level of expertise on both Mesoamerica and the Book of Mormon. If this is something of interest to you, I strongly recommend you take this incredible opportunity to learn and experience the Book of Mormon like you never have before.

You can get more information on the tour here.

You can get more information on Dr. Wright and some of his publications here and here.