The Oxford Handbook of Mormonism

Book Notice

The Oxford Handbook of Mormonism, edited by Terryl L. Givens and Philip L. Barlow (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015)

The Oxford Handbook series publishes academic essays in particular fields within the humanities and social sciences. This volume focuses on a growing subgenre of religious studies—Mormonism. Terryl Givens and Philip Barlow have brought their considerable experience and expertise to the task of assembling and editing this collection of essays on topics about Mormon history, theology, and lived religion. Givens is a professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond and the author of several books, including Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity. Barlow is a professor of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University and the author of Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion. The other contributing authors serve in various academic fields, and the book includes their biographies so that the reader may better contextualize the diverse perspectives of the essayists.

The Oxford Handbook of Mormonism is organized into eight sections beginning with “History of Mormonism.” This section discusses not only the history of Mormonism, but also the development of Mormon studies as a scholarly field. Essays explore topics on Mormons in Utah and around the world, women’s relationship with the Church, and differences between Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ. The next two sections, “Revelation and Scripture” and “Ecclesiastical Structure and Praxis,” give broad overviews of elements in the Church such as the Bible and the Book of Mormon, revelation on an individual and Church level, missionary work, the priesthood, and temples. “Mormon Thought,” the fourth section, focuses more on theology than the other sections. The doctrines of revelation, the nature of God, the Atonement, and the plan of salvation are all included. The “Mormon Society” section treats social discussions such as family structure, gender, race, politics, and lived religion. “Mormon Culture” examines popular and folk culture, the relevance of geography in Mormon culture, and relationships with art, architecture, literature, music, and media. The Oxford Handbook concludes with “The International Church” and “Mormonism in the World Community.” In these final two sections, Mormonism is studied in its locations in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Pacific, and also in relation to world religions, law, and politics.

The Oxford Handbook of Mormonism contributes considerably to the burgeoning field of Mormon studies. The essays are logically and neatly organized in the eight sections, yet each topic is distinct. The essays are current and should provide a valuable resource for those in Mormon studies, as well as for general readers interested in the open landscape of American and world religions. The Oxford Handbook is not so much a reference handbook as it is a collection of essays, editorials, and articles. This guide will give modern scholars an understanding of the status of Mormon studies today and the possibilities for where it can go in the future.


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Print ISSN: 2837-0031
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