Journal 50:1 | BYU Studies

Journal 50:1

Volume 50:1 (2011)
Volume 50, issue number 1, of BYU Studies begins with a philosophical look at what it means to be Mormon: what is the nature of the faith that binds a very diverse group of members? Joseph Spencer looks at four historical models of discourses that are present in Mormonism. Next is an article about the importance of music in Christian worship, written by a Catholic scholar in England. Next, an...Read more

The Four Discourses of Mormonism

Alain Badiou, an important French philosopher, used a theoretical model of discourses to analyze the epistles of Saint Paul. Joseph Spencer applies Badiou's reading of Paul to Mormonism to answer the question, "What does it mean to be Mormon?" Badiou viewed Greek and Jewish thought as a closed circle—Hellenistic discourse as a totalizing universalism, and Jewish discourse as an exception to Greek... Read more

"With the Voice Together Shall They Sing"

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe that in their temples, as they make covenants with God and participate in worship, they are restoring ancient practices that were lost over the centuries. Mormons have participated with people of other religions in the scholarly study of the meaning and effect of temples in history and in modern worship. This article by... Read more

Worlds Come and Pass Away: Evolution of Stars and Planets in the Pearl of Great Price?

In a revelation given to Joseph Smith and recorded in the book of Moses, we find the statement that "worlds" come into existence, live for a time, and pass away (or, at least, pass into a different state). How does this statement accord with the astronomical knowledge of Joseph Smith's day? Emeritus professor of astronomy Hollis Johnson briefly recounts the history of astronomy, from ancient days... Read more

How Country Music Can Improve Your Marriage

This light-hearted personal essay describes one man's "quest to become the Perfect Husband, the Ultimate Man, the Guy My Wife Dreams Of." Greg Hansen, a professional musician, has discovered one secret weapon: country music. "Before becoming the Highly Improved Guy I am today, I would come home after a long day in the recording studio, ready to de-stress and download, my full ration of words... Read more

A Trick of Light

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"A Mother There": A Survey of Historical Teachings about Mother in Heaven

*This article is being offered free as a courtesy to as it was footnoted in two expanded Gospel Topics. ( Topic 1 , Topic 2 ) Since the 1840s, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) have taught that in addition to a Father in Heaven, we have a Mother in Heaven. This cherished doctrine has been an important, although relatively obscure, part of the Latter-day... Read more

"And gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche"

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"The Testimony of Men": William E. McLellin and the Book of Mormon Witnesses

William E. McLellin (1806-1883) was an early Mormon apostle who later left the church. In his later years he questioned the authority of founder Joseph Smith, but he always said he believed that the Book of Mormon was truly the word of God. In 1871 he wrote a notebook in which he recorded his contacts with men who had filled special roles as Book of Mormon witnesses in 1829. McLellin described... Read more

Diversity in Nineteenth-Century St. Louis

In 1840, Douglas Miln, a Scotsman visiting St. Louis, Missouri, wrote a letter to Reverend William Beckett of Aberdeen, Scotland. In it Miln decried mob violence, the usurping of power by the rich, conditions of slaves, the slave trade, and religious diversity as he saw it in the frontier town. Then he spent more than half of his four long pages describing Mormonism, at that time only ten years... Read more

Temple Elements in Ancient Religious Communities

The idea of Zion or utopia has fascinated the human race since ancient times. This topic has special meaning to Mormons, since latter-day scripture revealed to Joseph Smith is replete with references to building Zion. What, then, can Latter-day Saints learn from attempts by other groups? One thing we learn, writes Brent Schmidt, is that certain characteristics appeared in some successful ancient... Read more

The Search for Mormon Literary Quality: Bound on Earth, Rift, Long After Dark, and The Best of Mormonism 2009

For a hundred years or more, Latter-day Saints have been writing works of literary quality. We have had among us fine poets and novelists, playwrights and essayists, and, more recently, a few serious filmmakers. I'm not the only one who knows this secret. For three decades, students have taken Mormon literature courses at BYU, reading novels, poems, and plays virtually unknown to their parents... Read more

American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us

American Grace is the next pivotal work within the social scientific study of religion that LDS readers should find interesting on many levels, including the extensive attention it gives to Mormonism. In this work, Robert Putnam (author of the national bestseller Bowling Alone ) teams up with David Campbell (editor of A Matter of Faith: Religion in the 2004 Presidential Election ) and field... Read more

Muhammad: Prophet of God

Islamic studies scholar Daniel C. Peterson has written a small book that speaks volumes about the man who, in about the year AD 610, while meditating in a cave near Mecca in Arabia, received a prophetic call that led to the establishment of a religion that today is claimed by almost a quarter of the world's inhabitants. It adds to the growing body of research by Peterson and other Latter-day... Read more

God and Sex: What the Bible Really Says

Once, while serving as a military chaplain, I attended a training event in Colorado Springs. There we toured the world headquarters of the Evangelical "Focus on the Family" ministry. Our friendly guide explained to us that their organization existed to promote the "biblical model" of the family in the modern world. A cheeky question popped into to my mind: "By 'biblical model' do you mean the... Read more

By What Authority? The Vital Questions of Religious Authority in Christianity

It appears that I have stumbled upon the answer to Juliet's timeless question, "What's in a name?" ( Romeo and Juliet , act 2, scene 2). While a rose, by any other name, may have smelled as sweet to Juliet, the name of a book can make a significant difference for a reader. By What Authority? is a compilation of papers delivered at a 2006 Brigham Young University conference on religious authority... Read more

Days Never to Be Forgotten: Oliver Cowdery

Days Never to Be Forgotten presents the fruits of the 2006 BYU Church History Symposium on the life and work of Oliver Cowdery in honor of the two hundredth anniversary of his birth. Eleven scholars of Mormon history contributed essays about various aspects of Cowdery's life and involvement in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ultimately, the contributors have two goals: to honor... Read more

When the Saints Came Marching In: A History of the Latter-day Saints in St. Louis

Most of our histories about Mormons in Missouri speak of dramatic events in the 1830s in the western region of the state. Congratulations to Fred Woods and Thomas Farmer for writing a history of the Latter-day Saints in St. Louis. Woods, a professor of Church History and Doctrine at BYU, and Farmer, a lifetime St. Louis resident, wrote of the LDS presence in St. Louis beginning with early... Read more

Utopian Communities of the Ancient World

It is often said, and not only by classicists, that in order to understand the modern world a person must learn to understand the ancient world. Fascination with antiquity has not diminished in the digital postmodern age, perhaps because people are wondering more and more what life is really all about and what chance there might now be in the age of instant worldwide communication and... Read more