Skip to main content

REVIEWING THE REVIEW: VOL. 13, ISS. 1 (2001)


Overview

            Immediately following the huge 12/2 is this rather slim issue of the Review. Without counting the Editors Introduction, this whole issue is shorter than one review (Hamblin’s) in the previous issue. If we count the Editors Introduction, then it is only a few pages longer than Hamblin’s review.

            This issue features only 9 reviews/articles (including the Ed. Intro., which is still the only non-review essay), reviewing only 5 publications. Only four of these reviews/articles are longer than 20 pages, while the other five are all under 10 pages in length.

            Louis Midgely dominates this issue. The two longest pieces (combining to cover more than 85 pages) are from Midgely, both dealing with the ongoing debates about the “Brodie legend.”

            This issue may signal the shift that took place in the Review over the years from its focus on the Book of Mormon, to being dedicated to “Mormon studies” in a broad sense. Only one review is centered on the Book of Mormon, though this may be explained by the lack of content presented in this issue generally.

Recommended Reading:

            Kevin L. Barney, “A Seemingly Strange Story Illuminated,” a review of John A. Tvedtnes, The Book of Mormon and Other Hidden Books: “Out of Darkness unto Light,”(Provo, UT: FARMS, 2000), pg. 1-20: Barney’s review of Tvedtnes book is both enjoyable and insightful. Barney explains why a book of this nature was necessary, and provides a useful mini-response to Thomas J. Finley’s critique of Hugh Nibley.    

            Louis Midgley, “The Legend and Legacy of Fawn Brodie,” a review of  Newell G. Bringhurst, Fawn McKay Brodie: A Biographer’s Life (Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1999), pg. 21-72: Midgley is essentially the “Brodie expert” of the FARMS Review. He gives what I felt was a generally positive review of Bringhurst’s biography of Brodie, though he certainly points out where he feels Bringhurst’s discussion is lacking, and adds some important insights for those interested in the “Brodie legend.”

            Louis Midgley, “Comments on Critical Exchanges,” a review of Glen J. Hettinger, “A Hard Day for Professor Midgley: An Essay for Fawn McKay Brodie,” Dialouge 32/1 (1999): 91-101, pg. 91-126: Midgley responds to Hettinger and others, as well as spells out and clarifies his position on a number issues. An import read for those who seek to follow not only the debates regarding Brodie, but debates over how to do Mormon history in general (a debate which Midgley has been a major player).

            L. Ara Norwood, “He Ain’t Heavy,” a review of James R. White, Is the Mormon My Brother? (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1997), pg. 133-164: A good review of a slightly improved evangelical anti-Mormon approach (“slightly improved” in contrast with more traditional, sensationalistic and derogatory anti-Mormonism such as that of Walter Martin). Some good sources and arguments in response to the “polytheistic” charge frequently made against Mormonism, along with some brief treatment of other criticisms.

Final Thoughts

            Overall, this issue was somewhat lack luster. While both of Midgley’s essays are important, I would not consider any of the content of this issue to be “must-read.” That is not to say that none of this issue is worth reading. For those who are avid about Mormon studies, some good information and insights can be gleaned from the reviews in this issue (including, as always, even the reviews/articles not recommended here). But compared with other issues of the Review (both older and newer), I found this issue to be sub-par.

Rating: 2/5 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The 15 “Best Books” to Read BEFORE Having a Faith Crisis

Elder M. Russell Ballard recently stressed that it is important for Gospel educators to be well-informed on controversial topics, not only by studying the scriptures and Church materials, but also by reading “the best LDS scholarship available.” I personally think it is imperative in today’s world for every Latter-day Saint—not just Gospel educators—to make an effort to be informed on both controversial issues as well as knowing reliable faith-building information as well.
(Given that Elder Ballard’s CES address was published to general Church membership in the Ensign, I think it’s safe to say that Church leadership also feels this way.)
An important step in the process of getting informed is reading the 11 Gospel Topic essays and getting familiar with their contents. But what’s next? How can a person learn more about these and other topics? What are the “best books” (D&C 88:118) or “the best LDS scholarship available”?
Here are 15 suggestions.
1. Michael R. Ash, Shaken Faith S…

“The Dominant Narrative is Not True”: Some Thoughts on Recent Remarks by Richard Bushman

The following is making its rounds on Facebook (from this video): Questioner: In your view do you see room in Mormonism for several narratives of a religious experience or do you think that in order for the Church to remain strong they would have to hold to that dominant narrative?
Richard Bushman: I think that for the Church to remain strong it has to reconstruct its narrative. The dominant narrative is not true; it can’t be sustained. The Church has to absorb all this new information or it will be on very shaky grounds and that's what it is trying to do and it will be a strain for a lot of people, older people especially. But I think it has to change. As I have seen this quote flash across my Facebook news feed and thought about how to make sense of it, I have been reminded of the short essay response questions I would often have on tests or assignments in college or even high school. It would not be uncommon for these questions to be built around a quote from an important schola…

Responding to the New Video on Nahom as Archaeological Evidence for the Book of Mormon

Many of my (few) readers have probably already seen the new video by Book of Mormon Central on Nahom as archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon, starring my good friend (and co-author on a related paper) Stephen Smoot. If you haven’t, check it out:


As usual, comments sections wherever this video is shared have been flooded by Internet ex-Mormons insisting this not evidence for the Book of Mormon. I’ve actually had a few productive conversations with some reasonable people who don’t think Nahom is, by itself, compelling evidence—and I can understand that. But the insistence that Nahom is not evidence at all is just, frankly, absurd. So I’ll just go ahead and preempt about 90% of future responses to this post by responding to the most common arguments against Nahom/NHM now:
1. The Book of Mormon is false, therefore there can be no evidence, therefore this is not evidence. First, this is circular reasoning. It assumes the conclusion (Book of Mormon is false) which the evidence pre…