Latest ‘Journal of Book of Mormon Studies’ breaks new ground

12.06.2018 | Joseph Spencer

I’m thrilled to introduce the 2018 issue of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Its appearance marks a number of significant developments. Some of these have delayed appearance of this new issue in print and electronic availability more than we’d have liked, but I’m convinced that the result is more than worth the wait. This issue is the first from a new editorial team. In the Spring of 2018, I was appointed as the new editor of the Journal, succeeding Brian Hauglid, who served as editor for four years. Continuing as the book review editor for the Journal was Janiece Johnson (Neal A. Maxwell Institute), and joining the team as associate editors were Matthew Bowman (Henderson State University), Amy Easton-Flake (Brigham Young University), Jacob Rennaker (John A. Widtsoe Foundation), Andrew Smith (Brigham Young University), and Rosalynde Welch (independent scholar). In addition, we’ve welcomed new and helpful voices to the editorial advisory board for the Journal. The team has worked together wonderfully.

The University of Illinois Press

Shortly after my appointment as editor, discussions began between the Maxwell Institute and the University of Illinois Press about the possibility of a joint publication venture. The result of those discussions is that this issue is also the first to be published by the University of Illinois Press on behalf of the Maxwell Institute (see the UIP Press page for the Journal). UIP’s production team has been most pleasant, and they have created the possibility to make the Journal‘s work far more readily available to scholars working in the academy but unfamiliar with the scholarly study of Restoration scripture. The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies is now available through the online database JSTOR and can be found more easily through searches of various academic databases. I’m most pleased to see the increased academic visibility of the Book of Mormon these developments promise to create. The Institute has been trying for years to make the Journal available through these sources. The past year has also witnessed the emergence of a new institution dedicated to promoting the academic study of the Book of Mormon: the Book of Mormon Studies Association, officially organized at a conference just a few weeks ago at Utah State University (with John Christopher Thomas of our own editorial advisory board named as president). This organization (which had its beginnings in another conference at USU in October of 2017) is helpfully providing a venue for developing serious academic work on the Book of Mormon, and it has already proven to be a most helpful resource for the Journal. One essay in the current issue and at least three in the forthcoming 2019 issue had their origins at conferences associated with this new organization. This has increased both the quantity and the quality of submissions to the Journal over the past year. We look forward to further synergy between the Journal and the Book of Mormon Studies Association.

What’s in volume 27

But what can readers expect from this new issue? I’m most excited about a special feature: In 2017, Elizabeth Fenton of the University of Vermont taught a graduate seminar in the university’s English program focused entirely on the Book of Mormon. This issue contains a substantial interview with Professor Fenton about the experience, along with a copy of the course syllabus and five representative (and impressive) papers produced in the course of the seminar by her students. These papers illustrate a range of approaches to reading the Book of Mormon—all of them deeply respectful of the fact that the Book of Mormon is a volume of sacred literature for believing Latter-day Saints, and also all of them offering insightful literary investigations of the book’s interest to the academy. I hope this special feature will be of great interest to Latter-day Saints hoping to think broadly about the meaning of the Book of Mormon, and also to university instructors of various sorts who wish to think about what it might mean to bring the Book of Mormon into their courses and curricula. Volume 27 also contains new research articles, including groundbreaking reception-historical work by Janiece Johnson (on how early converts—and especially women—approached the text of the Book of Mormon), further developments of recent intertextual work by Nick Frederick (looking at the uses of the New Testament in the Book of Mormon), and important work on the language of the Book of Mormon by Jan Martin (considering the use of early modern English terms with a theologically controversial status). Four recent books are reviewed, including a book of deeply postmodern poetry—Renee Angle’s Wo0, reviewed by Kylan Rice. And four research notes are included, among them an apologetic contribution from Adam Stokes, a member of Community of Christ. As with the 2017 issue, this issue includes also a bibliography of everything (we could find) published in the last year, in a scholarly vein, about the Book of Mormon. This volume adds a new regular feature to the Journal as well. Each issue of the Journal will now include a literature review focused on a specific topic related to Book of Mormon studies. The aim here is to make readily available to those working on the Book of Mormon a ready resource for becoming familiar with the conversation on specific aspects of Book of Mormon studies. The 2018 issue therefore includes a deeply interesting review of the literature on race and the Book of Mormon, produced by Russell Stevenson. You can subscribe to the Journal by visiting the University of Illinois Press page. A year-long electronic subscription costs $20, or $35 for a year-long electronic-and-print subscription. Alternately, individual or institutional access is available there through JSTOR. Further information can be found for institutional subscriptions at the same website. Back issues—now including the 2017 issue—can be accessed for free here.

Free Sample

We’re also providing free access to two pieces from the latest volume. Janiece Johnson’s article and Kylan Rice’s book review. Enjoy!

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Joseph Spencer is editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, co-director of the Mormon Theology Seminar, and assistant professor of ancient scripture in BYU’s Department of Religious Education.