Skip to main content

My Apologetic Wish List!


In the spirit of the holiday season, I thought I would share my “wish list.” This isn’t so much what I want for Christmas as it is what I wish actually existed in the LDS scholarly/apologetic corpus.

1. Collected Statements of the Three and Eight Witnesses: On a number of occasions, Richard Lloyd Anderson has said that he has collected over 200 statements from one of the eleven witnesses relevant to their testimony of seeing the plates, many of which have never been published. Of the ones that have been published, they are scattered all over the place, or mixed into much larger collections of documents. What is needed for those who would like to study the witnesses is a volume with transcripts of all the relevant first-, second-, and even third- or fourth-hand sources. Any scrap of paper that has potential relevancy to the question of what they saw and experienced ought to be included, with introductions providing some historical context for the statements. It would have to be a collaborative effort, but Anderson would be the ideal candidate to serve as a general editor/compiler for the project. I’ll volunteer right now to do whatever I can to help with such a project – so they can be sure that they have at least one undergrad intern on board!

2. A Scholarly Biography on Oliver Cowdery: I’m talking something on par with Richard Bushman’s biography of Joseph Smith, or the recent biography by Terryl Givens and Matt Grow on Parley P. Pratt. To my knowledge, no such biography exists. As the “second elder” and, in my opinion, the second most significant person to the origins of Mormonism, Cowdery deserves a good biographer to do him justice. If I had to pick an author for this project, it would probably Larry E. Morris. Again, there is already at least one undergrad intern who would contribute whatever he can to seeing this book come into fruition.

3. A multi-volume, multi-author commentary on the Book of Mormon, with accompanying BoM dictionary/encyclopedia: Okay, so I basically borrowed this from William J. Hamblin’s “Desideratum for the Study of Mormon Scripture,” but it is something that needs to be done. I’m talking something on par with the Anchor Bible and Anchor Bible Dictionary, but for the Book of Mormon. Each book within the Book of Mormon would have its own volume, while some (such as the endless book of Alma) would probably be multiple volumes, and would cover every conceivable aspect: geography, chronology, politics, law, warfare, poetics, linguistics, literature, culture, metallurgy, ecology, etc. in addition to doctrinal and scriptural interpretation and spiritual insights. I would include as a part of this (probably in dictionary/encyclopedia) something not unlike Hamblin’s fourth, fifth and seventh items (fully analyzed historical Book of Mormon geography; fully developed internal and external chronology; complete onomasticon). I would also include some of the nineteenth-century history of its coming forth (Moroni visits, translation process, three and eight witnesses, printing and publication, etc.) in an introductory volume (and/or as part of the dictionary/encyclopedia). Ideally this project would include (but not be limited to): John W. Welch, Royal Skousen, John L. Sorenson, Brant A. Gardner, William J. Hamblin, Stephen D. Ricks, Donald W. Perry, S. Kent Brown, Mark Alan Wright, David E. Bokovoy, John A. Tvedtnes, John Gee, Grant Hardy, Noel B. Reynolds, Warren P. Aston, Richard L. Bushman, Richard Lloyd Anderson, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Don Bradley, Paul Y. Hosskison, Matthew Roper, Allen J. Christensen, John E. Clark, Larry E. Morris, Steven C. Harper, Randall Spackman, Ben McGuire, John S. Thompson, Aaron P. Schade, David Rolph Seely, Jo Ann H. Seely, Paul Y. Hoskisson, Jeffrey R. Chadwick, Matthew L. Bowen, and probably several others. You get the idea – I’m dreaming a little bigger on this one. I want all the who’s who of Book of Mormon scholarship and apologetics that are still living and breathing involved in this. With such a monumental project, of course you would need a General Editor to lead and direct it all. Who else could fit such a task other than Daniel C. Peterson (who should also be included among the list of contributors)? Unfortunately, the kind of funding and effort to make such a monumental project come into fruition is a long ways away. By the time it is even remotely possible, most these names just may be irrelevant by then.

4. Book of Abraham Evidences/Defenses Collection: I know all about the Book of Abraham series at the Maxwell Institute. Some really interesting stuff in there, to be sure. But each of those volumes is specialized and focused on one piece of the puzzle, and each is big and expensive. What I would really like to see is a volume akin to Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited or Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon for the Book of Abraham; a single, convenient (and relatively inexpensive) volume that makes a general overview of the evidence readily accessible. I would prefer to see Kevin L. Barney, Michael D. Rhoads, John Gee, Kerry Muhlestein, Brian M. Hauglid, maybe John S. Thompson (PhD in Egyptology, but yet to do anything on the Book of Abraham), and even the much vilified William Schryver among the contributors.

5. An LDS scholarly edition of the Bible: I understand why the Church formally sticks to the KJV. It’s language is consistent with the language used in the rest of the cannon, other more modern (and more accurate) translations tend to reflect certain theological biases that work against certain theological tenets of the Church, and to have our “own” translation of the Bible would really raise hell among Evangelicals (ala the Jehovah’s Witnesses) who already take issue with so much the Church does. But I would really like to see a good, scholarly edition of the Bible translated by LDS scholars, and possibly incorporating some of the JST readings. I’m not suggesting this become the “official” Bible of the Church, but to have as a study tool for nerds like myself. Many of the scholars already named could also serve as contributors to this, along with several others whom I’m too lazy list off at this point.

So there you have it. A short list of 5 things that I think the present world of LDS scholarship is lacking, and which I think would fill important voids. If Santa could find away to make these things happen, I would be happy as a kid on Christmas morning!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Nephite History in Context 4: The Iron Dagger of King Tutankhamun

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth contribution to my new series Nephite History in Context: Artifacts, Inscriptions, and Texts Relevant to the Book of Mormon. Check out the really cool (and official, citable) PDF version here. To learn more about this series, read the introduction here. To find other posts in the series, see here.
The Iron Dagger of King Tutankhamun
Background
The discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 was a worldwide sensation, and to this day is widely regarded as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all-time due to the veritable treasure trove of artifacts found inside. The treasure was so great that to this day many of the items have yet to be studied. Likewise, Tutankhamun (ca. 1336–1327 bc) remains the best-known Pharaoh of Egypt in popular culture today, but details about his actual reign and accomplishments are still generally unknown among the public. Some are aware that he ascended to the throne as a mere child, about 8 years old, but few r…

Nephite History in Context 3: Vered Jericho Sword

Editor’s Note: This is the third contribution to my new series Nephite History in Context: Artifacts, Inscriptions, and Texts Relevant to the Book of Mormon. Check out the really cool (and official, citable) PDF version here. To learn more about this series, read the introduction here. To find other posts in the series, see here.
Vered Jericho Sword
Background
Vered Jericho was a small ancient Israelite fortress first excavated in the winter of 1982 by archaeologist Avraham Eitan. It’s located roughly 3.7 miles (6 km) south of Jericho proper, on the northern side of Wadi es-Suweid. The walls still stand over 6 and half feet tall (2 m) and nearly 3 feet (0.9 m) wide, with two towers on each corner flanking the gate. Inside the fort is a courtyard and two dwelling structures. The fort may have also had cultic or ritual functions as a “high place” (beit bamah). It dates to the late seventh to early sixth century BC, and was destroyed by fire, quite likely in either the Babylonian siege of …

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…