Mark Wright introduces the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies vol. 23

12.04.2014 | Guest

This guest post comes from Mark Alan Wright, associate editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies and professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. Volume 23 is finally here. Subscribe to the digital edition for ten dollars or to the print edition (which includes digital subscriptions to all our periodicals) for $25. —BHodges

The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies has a (somewhat tired) new editorial board—Brian Hauglid, Joe Spencer, and myself—and we’ve returned to the original name and smaller format of the Journal. We are deeply indebted to the previous editors that established and maintained it as the premier scholarly periodical on the Book of Mormon since its inception in 1992. We hope to honor and expand their vision and the scope of the Journal as we move into the future. As an editorial team, one of our hopes is that the new Journal will have increased reach into the broader field of religious studies and the emerging sub-field of Mormon studies. To that end, we invited both LDS and non-LDS scholars to participate on our editorial advisory board, in our peer-review process, and as content contributors.

Moving forward, the Journal will feature full-length essays, brief notes, and review essays. It will embrace a wide range of academically rigorous approaches and methods from both believers and nonbelievers from a variety of disciplines. Long-time readers should find much that feels familiar—cutting edge scholarship that deepens their understanding of and appreciation for the text. We hope any readers who may occasionally be unsettled by the increased diversity of voices in our pages might come to appreciate and engage with those who contribute unique insights, whatever their faith backgrounds may be. Our hope is that all our readers, regardless of their position of belief, will find edification and value in serious Book of Mormon research. The ultimate goal is to foster responsible conversation among people of goodwill. To give everyone a glimpse of what this volume offers, we’re offering a free download the lead article and one of the book review essays. (Linked below.)

In This Volume

Volume 23 opens with an introduction by editor Brian Hauglid, wherein he provides a brief overview of previous approaches to the Book of Mormon and the academic interest that has recently been emerging even among non-LDS scholars. He explains our motivation as an editorial board to broaden the audience for Book of Mormon scholarship and bring it into larger discussions of sacred texts taking place in the academy.

The first essay, “The Word and the Seed: The Theological Use of Biblical Creation in Alma 32” by David Bokovoy, insightfully argues that Alma’s discourse on faith intricately weaves together creation motifs from both Yahwistic and Priestly narratives found in Genesis 1-3. You can read Bokovoy’s piece free of charge here. It’s so good we think you’ll have to subscribe after that.

The next piece, “‘Saving Christianity’: The Nephite Fulfillment of Jesus’s Eschatological Prophecies” by Heather Hardy, proposes that Jesus’s visit to the Nephites in the New World fulfills his eschatological prophecies concerning the coming of the Son of man in glory and the establishment of the kingdom of God within a generation of when he first uttered the predictions. Rather than viewing them as failed prophecies, as many biblical scholars do, Hardy argues that the Book of Mormon attests to their fulfillment anciently while also anticipating a second fulfillment of them at the time of the second coming.

The third essay, “Christ and Krishna: The Visions of Arjuna and the Brother of Jared” by Joseph Spencer, uses a comparative framework to explore the distinctive notions of divine incarnation found in the Bhagavad Gita and the Book of Mormon. He models a methodology for approaching the Book of Mormon as world scripture and demonstrates the value of studying it alongside the religious texts of other faith traditions.

The fourth essay, “Theological Apostasy and the Role of Canonical Scripture: A Thematic Analysis of 1 Nephi 13-14” is the work of Paul Owen. His detailed exegesis of the apocalyptic portions of Nephi’s vision serve to highlight the tension between Mormonism and the wider Christian tradition.

The fifth essay, “‘And it Came to Pass…’” The Sociopolitical Events in the Book of Mormon Leading to the Eighteenth Year of the Reign of the Judges” by Dan Belnap offers a deep reading of the remarkably complex social tensions in the books of Mosiah and Alma that lead up to the Nephite and Lamanite wars. These tensions are easily overlooked by casual readers of the Book of Mormon. Belnap’s intensive historical-critical reading demonstrates the narrative complexity of the text.

The sixth essay, “The Deliberate Use of Hebrew Parallelisms in the Book of Mormon” by Carl Cranney, uses statistical analysis to argue that parallelistic poetic patterns occur systematically in specific genres of texts throughout the Book of Mormon, demonstrating they appear due to authorial intent rather than by mere chance.

The two review essays in this volume are written by Ben Park and Roger Terry. Park reviews David Holland’s Sacred Borders: Continuing Revelation and Canonical Restraint in Early America and Eran Shalev’s American Zion: The Old Testament as a Political Text from the Revolution to the Civil War, two books which look at the Book of Mormon’s appearance in the nineteenth century. You can read it free of charge here. Terry reviews Brant Gardner’s The Gift and Power of God: Translating the Book of Mormon.

The two short essays in this volume’s Notes section are written by Kimberly Berkey and Brad Kramer. Berkey offers an insightful reinterpretation of Alma 13 based on a close internal reading of the text, and Kramer discusses Three Nephite folklore in light of New Testament resurrection narratives.

We are deeply indebted to all of the authors who contributed to the volume, as well as our book review editor, Jared Tamez, our production editor, Shirley Ricks, and members of our editorial advisory board. We also owe thanks to Joe Bonyata, Don Brugger, Angela Barrionuevo, and Andrew Heiss for their respective work in designing, proofreading, and typesetting this volume, and to Sarah Skriloff and Blair Hodges for producing the digital edition. Finally, a special debt of gratitude is owed to Gerald Bradford for his guidance, encouragement, and support in our efforts to speak to the larger academy without losing sight of the Maxwell Institute’s mission: “to deepen understanding and nurture discipleship among Latter-day Saints and to promote mutual respect and goodwill among people of all faiths through the scholarly study of religious texts and traditions.”

As we celebrate the completion of the current volume, we are already looking ahead to our next issue. In our desire to take a multifaceted approach to the Book of Mormon, we invite article submissions from interested scholars from a wide variety of disciplines (see submissions guidelines here).

The new Journal of Book of Mormon Studies will be published annually rather than semi-annually as in previous years. Print subscriptions are $25, which includes digital access to the latest issue of the Journal and to the Maxwell Institute’s other periodicals, the Mormon Studies Review and Studies in the Bible and Antiquity. Digital-only subscriptions are $10, which also includes full access to the Institute’s other two periodicals (for subscriptions, click here).

As an editorial team, we are very pleased with the diverse and multifaceted approaches to the Book of Mormon represented in this volume. We hope our readers, old and new, share our enthusiasm and will help spread the word.