What’s up next for the ‘Journal of Book of Mormon Studies’

04.06.2020 | The Maxwell Institute

Joseph M. Spencer has been appointed as editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies for another term. In this guest post he talks about what’s coming up next!

Joseph M. Spencer

I’m beyond honored to be reappointed as the editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. The past three years have been rich and rewarding. I believe we’ve continued to uphold the Journal’s legacy of publishing excellent scholarship on the keystone scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, work that simultaneously holds up to the canons of academic respectability and enriches the learning of the Saints. I’m grateful to the editorial team I’ve worked with for the past several years, my associate editors and our book review editor. I’m thankful also for so many authors who selflessly write for the benefit of the Journal’s readers with no compensation other than to see good thinking find its way into print. It feels to me like a rich age for Book of Mormon scholarship, and I’m happy to be a part of that through my own humble role as an editor.

There coincides with my reappointment a plan to issue, over the years 2021–2023 three successive special issues of the Journal. Much has happened in Book of Mormon studies during the past two decades. With the thirtieth volume of the Journal due to come out during 2021, it feels it’s the right time to take a few steps back and ask questions about where Book of Mormon studies has been, where things stand now, and where we anticipate them going over the next decades. Consequently, after the publication of Volume 29 later this year, there will be a temporary change in the publishing plan for the Journal.

The 2021 issue (Volume 30) will be dedicated to reflections on Book of Mormon studies before the twenty-first century—from its first stirrings late in the nineteenth century with Orson Pratt through to the astonishing FARMS projects that concluded the twentieth century.

The 2022 issue (Volume 31) will be dedicated to reflections on the shape and substance of the current field of Book of Mormon studies—beginning from the near-simultaneous appearances of Terryl Givens’s By the Hand of Mormon and Grant Hardy’s The Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Edition and continuing right up to the current moment, with a wide variety of institutions publishing good work on the Book of Mormon.

The 2023 issue (Volume 32) will, finally, be dedicated to reflections on the future of Book of Mormon studies, to work that will be done standing on the shoulders of a good many giants.

The reflections on the past, the present, and the future of Book of Mormon studies to be published in each of these special issues will be written by invited contributors to roundtables that will appear as the heart of each issue. In addition to the roundtable in each issue, however, there will also appear a lead research article or two, commissioned by the Journal. These may or may not cohere with the theme of the roundtables, and our aim with them is to continue to publish leading work in the field even as we’re trying to take stock of where the field stands.

We’ll continue, moreover, to publish reviews of literature, review essays, and book reviews in each issue—along with our annual Book of Mormon Bibliography. However, because the contributors to the roundtables, as well as the authors of lead research articles, will be invited or commissioned, the Journal won’t be accepting open submissions during the next several years. The current plan is to return to the Journal’s traditional submission-and-publication model with the 2024 issue (Volume 33), so we hope that authors of excellent work on the Book of Mormon will continue to watch for opportunities to publish with us in the future.

I’m thrilled about these developments—eager for more opportunities to think with others about what’s been happening with Book of Mormon studies. This year, with the whole Church reading the Book of Mormon together as part of the Come Follow Me program, it feels like there’s something electric about our shared commitment to this remarkable volume of scripture. I’ve myself heard a great many thoughtful people, people who have read the Book of Mormon many times, talking about how much they’ve been learning as they’ve committed to give the book a fresh read this year.

I hope the continued work of the Journal can only contribute to making this book always fresh, always new, and always inspiring!

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Joseph M. Spencer earned a PhD in philosophy at the University of New Mexico and has published extensively on Latter-day Saint scripture and theology in BYU Studies Quarterly, the Journal of Philosophy and Scripture, and the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies where he serves as associate editor. Spencer is co-editor of the book series Groundwork: Studies in Theory and Scripture. His other books include Reading Nephi Reading Isaiah and For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope. His latest is 1st Nephi: a brief theological introduction.