Procedural Violations in the Trial of the Woman Taken in Adultery

Abstract: The story in John 8 of the woman taken in adultery is sometimes used to argue that Jesus was lenient toward sin and that we should be too. However, when placed in its broader context, we can see the story is not one in which Christ shows indifference or contempt for the law, but rather utmost respect for it.

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The Crucifixion as a Mockery, Witness, and Warning of the Judgment

Abstract: In its action, setting, and arrangement, the crucifixion may be viewed as a stark mockery of the final judgment scene. This article provides a brief review of the relevant scriptures, considered together with some related apocryphal and other early Christian writings of interest in regard to the crucifixion. These sources point to the interpretation that the gospel writers saw in the crucifixion a striking symbolism that can provide a strong reminder, witness, and warning of the coming judgment. The Lord is seen in the crucifixion as at once representing His humility in submitting Himself to be judged and, conversely, His authority and power to be the judge of all. The crucifixion signifies the concept of a reciprocal or two-way judgment, as emphasized in the Book of Mormon, where mankind first judges the Lord, and later are to be judged accordingly by Him in return.

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The Record of My Father

Abstract: In 1 Nephi 1:16–17, Nephi tells us he is abridging “the record of my father.” The specific words Nephi uses in his writings form several basic but important patterns and features used repeatedly by Nephi and also by other Book of Mormon writers. These patterns and features provide context that appears to indicate that Nephi’s abridgment of Lehi’s record is the third-person account found in 1 Nephi 1:4 through 2:15 and that Nephi’s first-person account of his own ministry begins in 1 Nephi 2:16.

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Revisiting “Sariah” at Elephantine

Abstract: Jeffrey R. Chadwick has previously called attention to the name ŚRYH (Seraiah/Sariah) as a Hebrew woman’s name in the Jewish community at Elephantine. Paul Y. Hoskisson, however, felt this evidence was not definitive because part of the text was missing and had to be restored. Now a more recently published ostracon from Elephantine, which contains a sure attestation of the name ŚRYH as a woman’s name without the need of restoration, satisfies Hoskisson’s call for more definitive evidence and makes it more likely that the name is correctly restored on the papyrus first noticed by Chadwick. The appearance of the name Seraiah/Sariah as a woman’s name exclusively in the Book of Mormon and at Elephantine is made even more interesting since both communities have their roots in northern Israel, ca. the eighth–seventh centuries BCE.

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Research and More Research

Abstract: Young members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have grown up with a plethora of information available to answer the questions they may have about the Gospel. This, in turn, has allowed discordant information to cause concern in many members, ultimately drawing some away from the Gospel. In a recent address to young, married members of the Church in Chicago, President Dallin H. Oaks advised that more research is often not the way to approach these concerns, but rather that members should rely on their faith in Jesus Christ. While many may not agree with this advice, when it comes to questions that will never have a provable answer, particularly of a religious nature, President Oaks’s words are correct. Research can never completely replace true faith, only supplement it.

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I Don’t Have a Testimony of the History of the Church

Abstract: In this masterful presentation, accomplished historian Davis Bitton addresses the role of history and belief. Testimonies, he asserts, are born of belief and spiritual witnesses, not from historical events. It is quite possible to know all about Church history and still remain a believing member.

[Editor’s Note: This essay was presented at the 2004 FAIR Conference.1 In preparation for publication it has been lightly copy edited and some citations and annotations added.]

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An Approach to History

Abstract: When researching and evaluating historical information, it is easy to come across things that may lead to a crisis of faith. Some of those crises may lead individuals to leave the Church and actively proselytize against it. It is much better when dealing with historical issues to approach them from a standpoint of charity, treating historical figures as we would like to be treated.

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Seeing Psalms as the Libretti of a Holy Drama

Abstract: Psalms was the favorite Old Testament book at Qumran and in the New Testament; the Book of Mormon contains more than three dozen allusions to Psalms. While Psalms contains both powerful, poetic words of comfort and doctrinal gems, many psalms also seem to careen between praise, warning, comfort, military braggadocio, and humility, sometimes addressing the Lord, sometimes speaking in the voice of the Lord or his prophets. The texts that most strongly exhibit such abrupt shifts may yield greater meaning if they are read as scripts or libretti of a sacred, temple- based drama.

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Was Adam a Monotheist?
A Reflection on Why We Call Abraham Father and Not Adam

Abstract: The three great monotheistic religious traditions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) all claim Abraham as father and prototypical monotheist. Though Adam is the putative first father in all of these traditions, he is seldom remembered in Judeo-Christian scriptural, apocryphal, or pseudepigraphic texts as an exemplary monotheist. This essay briefly reviews why Abraham retains the lofty title “Father of Monotheism” while exploring how Latter-day restoration scripture adds to and challenges this ancient tradition vis-à-vis enhanced understanding of Adam’s covenantal and monotheistic fidelity to God.

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Campbellites and Mormonites: Competing Restoration Movements

Abstract: In October 1830, Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer Jr., Parley P. Pratt, and Ziba Peterson were the first missionaries sent to travel through the western states to the Indian territory at the far reaches of the United States. Pratt, a former resident of northeastern Ohio, suggested they stop in the Kirtland, Ohio, area and visit his preacher friend, Sidney Rigdon. It was Rigdon who had earlier convinced Pratt that the restoration of the ancient order that included faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, and the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit could be found in Alexander Campbell’s restoration movement. Within a few weeks, the four missionaries baptized Rigdon and more than 100 new converts into Joseph Smith’s restoration movement — many of whom had been members of Campbell’s restoration movement. Although both Alexander Campbell and Joseph Smith called their movements restorations, the foundation upon which each was built was very different.

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Assessing the Criticisms of Early-Age Latter-Day Saint Marriages

Abstract: Critics of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have accused Joseph Smith and other early Latter-day Saint men of pedophilia because they married teenaged women. Indeed, they have emphatically declared that such marriages were against 19th-century societal norms. However, historians and other experts have repeatedly stated that young people married throughout the 19th-century, and such marriages have been relatively common throughout all of US history. This article examines some of the accusations of early Latter-day Saint pedophilia and places such marriages within the greater historical and social context, illustrating that such marriages were normal and acceptable for their time and place.

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Curiously Unique:
Joseph Smith as Author
of the Book of Mormon

Abstract: The advent of the computer and the internet allows Joseph Smith as the “author” of the Book of Mormon to be compared to other authors and their books in ways essentially impossible even a couple of decades ago. Six criteria can demonstrate the presence of similarity or distinctiveness among writers and their literary creations: author education and experience, the book’s size and complexity, and the composition process and timeline. By comparing these characteristics, this essay investigates potentially unique characteristics of Joseph Smith and the creation of the Book of Mormon.

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Feasting on the Book of Mormon

Abstract: The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship has recently published a new study edition of the Book of Mormon. Edited by Grant Hardy, the Maxwell Institute Study Edition (MISE) incorporates important advances in Book of Mormon scholarship from the past few decades while grounding the reader’s experience in the text of the Book of Mormon. The reformatted text presented in the MISE improves the readability of the Book of Mormon, while footnotes, charts, bibliographies, and short explanatory essays highlight the strides made in recent years related to Book of Mormon scholarship. The MISE is a phenomenal edition of the Book of Mormon that is representative of the sort of close attention and care Latter-day Saints should be giving the text.

Review of Grant Hardy, ed. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Maxwell Institute Study Edition (Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University / Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2018). 648 pp. $35.00 (paperback).

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Read This Book:
A Review of the Maxwell Institute
Study Edition of the Book of Mormon

Abstract: The Maxwell Institute Study Edition of the Book of Mormon is an important tool for personal and class study of the Book of Mormon. Not only does it provide a better reading experience, it has important features that enhance study.

Review of Grant Hardy, ed. The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Maxwell Institute Study Edition (Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University / Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2018). 648 pp. $35.00 (paperback).

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Messengers of the Covenant:
Mormon’s Doctrinal Use of
Malachi 3:1 in Moroni 7:29–32

Abstract: Although not evident at first glance, shared terminology and phraseology in Malachi 3:1 (3 Nephi 24:1) and Moroni 7:29–32 suggest textual dependency of the latter on the former. Jesus’s dictation of Malachi 3–4 to the Lamanites and Nephites at the temple in Bountiful, as recorded and preserved on the plates of Nephi, helped provide Mormon a partial scriptural and doctrinal basis for his teachings on the ministering of angels, angels/messengers of the covenant, the “work” of “the covenants of the Father,” and “prepar[ing] the way” in his sermon as preserved in Moroni 7. This article explores the implications of Mormon’s use of Malachi 3:1. It further explores the meaning of the name Malachi (“[Yahweh is] my messenger,” “my angel”) in its ancient Israelite scriptural context and the temple context within which Jesus uses it in 3 Nephi 24:1.

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Translating the New Testament
for Latter‑day Saints

Abstract: A new translation of the New Testament by Thomas A. Wayment, a professor of Classics at Brigham Young University, offers Latter-day Saints a fresh look at this volume of scripture. Accompanying the translation are study notes that touch on historical, textual, and other items of importance in any critical reading of the New Testament. Wayment’s new edition should prove a helpful aid to Latter day Saint readers wishing to get more out of their study of the New Testament.

 

Review of Thomas A. Wayment, trans., The New Testament: A Translation for Latter-day Saints: A Study Bible (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University / Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2018). 491 pp. $29.99 (paperback).

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Barriers to Belief:
Mental Distress and Disaffection from the Church

Abstract: People leave the Church for a variety of reasons. Of all the reasons why people leave, one that has attracted little or no attention is the influence of mental distress. People who experience anxiety or depression see things differently than those who do not. Recognizing that people with mental distress have a different experience with church than others may help us to make adjustments that can prevent some amount of disaffection from the Church. This article takes a first step in identifying ways that mental distress can affect church activity and in presenting some of the things that individuals, friends, family members and Church leaders can do to help make being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints a little easier for those who experience mental distress.

[Editor’s Note: This paper was presented at the 2018 FairMormon Conference in Provo, Utah, August 2, 2018.1 To prepare it for publication, it has been source checked and copy edited; otherwise it appears here as first presented.]

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Light and Perspective:
Essays from the Mormon Theology Seminar on 1 Nephi 1 and Jacob 7

Abstract: The Mormon Theology Seminar has produced two volumes of essays exploring 1 Nephi 1 on Lehi’s initial visions, and Jacob 7 on the encounter with Sherem. These essays provide valuable insights from a range of perspectives and raise questions for further discussion both of issues raised and regarding different paradigms in which scholars operate that readers must navigate.

Review of Adam S. Miller, ed., A Dream, a Rock, and a Pillar of Fire: Reading 1 Nephi 1 (Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2017), 140 pp., $15.95.1
Review of Adam S. Miller and Joseph M. Spencer, eds., Christ and Antichrist: Reading Jacob 7 (Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 2017), 148 pp., $15.95.2

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“Come unto Me”
as a Technical Gospel Term

Abstract: The Book of Mormon repeatedly outlines a six-part definition of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but most writers within the book refer to only two or three of them at a time in a biblical rhetorical device called merismus. Throughout the scriptures, the term “come unto Christ” in its many forms is used as part of these merisms to represent enduring to the end. This article examines the many abbreviations of the gospel, connects the phrase “come unto Christ” with enduring to the end, and discusses some of the alternate uses of these types of phrases.

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