The Lectures on Faith in Historical Perspective

This distinctive volume, which continues the Religious Studies Center’s tradition of high production quality, may prove a landmark publication in three important senses. Most importantly, it provides a new edition of the text of the “‘Lectures on Faith” together with charts comparing the textual variations among the four major earlier editions (1835, 1876, 1891, and 1985) as well as the variations between the 1835 edition and this 1990 editionÑuseful resources for students of the lectures. Less significant for scholars, but probably of more value to most readers, are the excellent “discussions” of the seven lectures by Dennis F. Rasmussen, Joseph Fielding McConkie, Rodney Turner, Robert L. Millet, Robert J. Matthews, and Ardeth G. Kapp. Third, the book is nicely constructed for popular study of the lectures; it brings together in one place both the lectures and much of what has been thought and said about them and supplements them with an extensive bibliography of related materials. In addition to these. contributions, the volume represents a vigorous and well-designed effort to rehabilitate the largely disregarded lectures.

In a helpful introduction, editor Charles Tate explains the guidelines governing changes made for the 1990 edition of the lectures. Scholars might object to the decision to modernize Punctuation, spelling, format, and sentence structure rather than reproduce the original 1835 version. One criticism of this modernized edition is that it will not lend itself to authorship studies. But as I have used this edition, I have become more sympathetic to the editors’ approach and have detected little change in meaning. Eliminating the distracting imperfections in the 1835 text has rendered it more readable. Most helpfully, the editors have numbered the lists of questions and answers following each of the lectures. These improvements, combined with updated scripture references, make studying the lectures much easier. And for those who need to have the original, the editors have charted all the variations of their version from the 1835 version.

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