I obtained this issue of the Review by attending some of the Nibley Lecture series last year. They were giving copies away at a desk near the entry way as a way of promoting their work.
This issue of the Review is not especially long, and possess nothing particularly ground breaking. Nonetheless, it contains some solid contributions to Mormon studies and related fields, on topics such as the biblical Christmas story, the influence of Greek philosophy on protestant soteriology, Mesoamerica, the “New Atheism,” the Book of Mormon, early Mormon history, LDS apologetics, and “born-again Mormonism.” Interestingly (and perhaps “bafflingly” to some), this issue only has one review of an anti-Mormon book. It contains an additional article which is directed at an anti-Mormon claim, and a review of an atheist book. In contrast, it has three reviews of LDS publications (two of which are generally positive, while one is critical), a review of recent “reader editions” of the Book of Mormon, and a generally positive review of a book by British Methodist scholar Margaret Barker.
Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Probing the Lives of Christ and Joseph Smith,” pg. 1-29: This is a printing of the Neal A. Maxwell Lecture originally given on March 20, 2009. Anderson briefly shares experiences as a historian of both ancient and modern history, and the different approaches required for each, and reviews the reliability of the Gospels and Pauline letters, as well as the accounts of foundational events in early Mormon history (i.e. the first vision and the testimony of the Book of Mormon witnesses).
William J. Hamblin, “The Most Misunderstood Book: christopher hitchens on the Bible,” a review of Christopher Hitchens, god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York: Twelve, 2007), pg. 47-95: Hamblin, a professor of ancient history, rips into Hitchens’ sloppy approach to the Bible. The non-capitalization of Hitchens name in the title is not a typo, but was intentional on the part Hamblin to parody Hitchens in his refusal to capitalize “God.”
Stephen D. Ricks, “Lehi and Local Color,” a review of S. Kent Brown and Peter Johnson, eds., Journey of Faith: From Jerusalem to the Promised Land (Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute, 2006), pg. 169-177: A good summary and overview of the Near-Eastern nature of the story found in 1 Nephi, focusing specifically on the proper names found in those chapters.
Matthew Roper, “Myth, Memory, and ‘Manuscript Found’,” pg. 179-223: The Solomon Spaulding theory on the Book of Mormon has been, for the most part, abandoned. Yet there are some who continue to cling to it. Roper has, in my opinion, put the last nails in the coffin. This article, combined with Roper’s review, “The Mythical Manuscript Found” in 17/2, serve as the most authoritative works on the issue of the Spaulding theory. If anyone ever wishes to resurrect this theory on the origins of the Book of Mormon (and I sure hope no one does – please let Solomon Spaulding rest in peace!), then they must deal with the research Roper has done on this topic. This article is a must read for anyone interested in the Spaulding theory, or the intellectual history of anti-Mormonism in general.
In my opinion, this issue of the Review is somewhat mediocre. Other than Roper’s article above, I would not consider much of this issue to be on the level of “must-read.” Still, for anyone who is interested in Mormon studies, the other recommended articles are interesting and valuable to some degree. Depending on your interest level, they may be worth your while, as may be some of the other reviews not recommended here.