Latest Institute book examines the Three Nephites in relation to Buddhist and Muslim figures

11.24.2015 | The Maxwell Institute

PostponingHeaven-FrontJad Hatem’s new book Postponing Heaven is a creative philosophical comparison of Mormonism, Buddhism, and Islam. Surprisingly, each of these faiths acknowledges the existence of a plurality of human messiahs. Hatem examines Mormonism’s Three Nephites, Buddhism’s Bodhisattva, and Islam’s Mahdi—distinctive messianic figures who “postpone Heaven,” so to speak by sacrificially prolonging their lives for the benefit of humankind. We asked Hatem how a Lebanese professor of philosophy, literature, and religion came to write Postponing Heaven and the two additional essays on Mormon topics that are appended to it. Here is his reply:
The book is a result of a passion and a circumstance. I have a passion for religions in general, each of which I take to embody the attempt to decipher the mystery of human being in terms of its animating transcendent dimension. The circumstance was a course I gave in 2007 on Mormon doctrine. The course made me discover the point of contact between Mormonism, Buddhism, and Shi’ite Islam. That gradually suggested the possibility of writing a short book combining the philosophical point of view (implementing the transcendental of messianicity) and the point of view of the academic study of religions, without neglecting the literary dimension—since I did a fair bit of work on the novels of Orson Scott Card to support my argument. As for the two essays appended to the main work: During my stay at BYU in 2008, at your invitation, I had the opportunity to take part in the meetings of the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology that took place that year at the University of Utah. I took that opportunity to develop the theme of chapter 6 of this book, “Lehi’s Axiom,” through a confrontation with Schelling. I am among those who believe in the virtue of comparison. The idea of the second essay came to me while reading Pico della Mirandola: I brought together two distant stars. Needless to say, through that meditation I found a way of satisfying my passion for Christology.”
Postponing Heaven is part of the Institute’s new Groundwork series on scripture and theory. You can purchase a copy at today or read more about the book here.