An excellent article by Daniel Peterson has appeared on The Interpreter, “The Book of Mormon Witnesses and Their Challenge to Secularism”, addressing secularism, theism, the meaning of life, and importance (and strength) of the testimony of the Book of Mormon witnesses. I heartily recommend reading it.
One significant thing I cover in my thesis (now submitted, and hopefully en route to my viva) is that quite a few scholars get the tone of the Book of Mormon work: there’s a tendency in some quarters to treat it as if it is engaging in some gentle academic discussion, which understates the ultimate authority it claims and the forcefulness with which it states its demands for its readers to change their lives and repent.
One facet of this is touched upon by this interesting article by Noel B. Reynolds, which has just been posted on The Interpreter. Reynolds is responding, amongst other things, to certain claims made by Joseph Spencer in his An Other Testament: On typology (a work, I confess, I’m not a fan of), particularly the division Spencer suggests in Nephi’s writings. One compelling point Reynolds raises in his article is proposed claims result in the characterisation of Nephi as an esoteric writer, something which fits uneasily with Nephi’s own explicit enthusiasm for ‘plainness’.
Duane Boyce has written an excellent article at The Interpreter, responding to what I thought was a rather unconvincing and poor reading of Jacob 7 by Adam Miller, but which what at least some seemed to have feel was rather deep.
I thought the following points were particularly good:
- That we have two major witnesses as to Sherem’s character and conduct other than Jacob himself: Sherem, and the Lord.
- Laman and Lemuel were not somehow sincere and pious, as some people keep suggesting (I respond to the same claim here).
- That our definition of what constitutes Christlike conduct has to be based on the actual words and actions of Christ himself, rather than the rather selective image people use which would actually exclude the real Christ (again, a subject I’ve briefly touched on too). Boyce happens to quote one of my favourite quotes of Jesus to make this point (“Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?”, Matthew 23:33), but also makes the excellent point that – since he’s presumably the Lord here – it’s Christ who actually strikes Sherem dead!
- The problems we face when we place a “lens” over our reading scripture (again – sorry! – something I mention here). I think Duane Boyce does a thorough job of showing precisely how that has happened here.
- We should be very cautious in attempting moral evaluations of prophets, and run very real risks. I think that should be especially the case when we’re charging them of being judgemental and “un-Christlike”.
- “An unconventional reading of scripture is not equivalent to a deep reading of scripture”.
Read the whole thing here: Reclaiming Jacob | The Interpreter Foundation
There’s an excellent article at the Interpreter website on the Ammonites and the question as to whether or not they were pacifists. I think it’s not only a good article on its subject, but also a good example of the sort of thing I’d like to see more of: it’s not just about some niche area that may be interesting from a historical or cultural perspective, but rather about something which has important implications for what the Book of Mormon is trying to teach us (in this case on the topic of just war).
I don’t have a great deal of questions or concerns about historical polygamy (either in the 19th century or in biblical times). But I’m aware that there are those who do, and for anyone who does one of the best resources is Brian Hales, who happens to have written an extremely informative article on the Interpreter site here.