Journal 54:1 | BYU Studies

Journal 54:1

Volume 54:1 (2015)
The topics in BYU Studies Quarterly 54, no. 1, range from recent to ancient religious history and from theatre to medicine. An article on tricuspid valve surgery documents Elder Russell M. Nelson's innovative, inspired, and life-saving surgery of a patient. Julie Smith shows that while the Gospel of Mark does not expound on the meaning of Jesus' death, resurrection, and atonement, the stories...Read more

From the Editor

The motto on the title page in each issue of BYU Studies Quarterly reads: "Involving readers in the Latter-day Saint academic experience." As this issue goes to press and to you, our readers, all over the world, I am excited about all that our experienced authors bring to you. How do their articles and other materials involve you in an LDS academic experience? As the breadth and depth in the... Read more

Discovering a Surgical First: Russell M. Nelson and Tricuspid Valve Annuloplasty

In an April 2003 general conference address, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recounted an experience of receiving sudden inspiration on how to perform a certain surgery. The image that came midsurgery to the young surgeon in 1960 led to the repair of a previously inoperable valve defect in the heart of a Latter-day Saint stake patriarch. This article documents the... Read more

Narrative Atonement Theology in the Gospel of Mark

At the level of discourse, the Gospel of Mark is almost silent on the meaning of Jesus's death: save a line here or there, reasons for the death—and the impact of that death on humanity—are barely mentioned in the text, and these scant wisps of discourse-level atonement theology are inadequate to the importance of the topic. But when the reader looks at Mark as a narrative account, several... Read more

Santa Biblia: The Latter-day Saint Bible in Spanish

The Santa Biblia: Reina-Valera 2009 is the first edition of the Holy Bible to be published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a language other than English. This version is based on the 1909 Reina-Valera, an important Spanish Bible in the Protestant tradition. The LDS Church had a team of translators and general authorities revise the biblical text, conservatively updating the... Read more

Leaving Egypt

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In this personal essay, Elizabeth Knight explores the meaning of magnitude, beginning with an explanation of the famous Richter Scale and illustrating its logarithmic measurement through three successive earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, the last of which she experienced firsthand. She then examines a different scale, one designed to measure the difficulty of whitewater rapids and how... Read more

Muslims among Mormons: Perspectives on Muslim Students Attending Brigham Young University

BYU's small Muslim population consists mostly of international students. In 2013, the authors interviewed thirty-seven Muslim students attending BYU. The study asked why they selected BYU; how they feel about BYU's honor code; their experience at a Mormon university; and whether being at BYU strengthened their commitment to Islam. Among the conclusions is that the environment created by the... Read more

Viracocha: Christ among the Ancient Peruvians?

Viracocha was the principal deity of ancient Peru. According to the cronistas (Catholic historians, mostly priests, arriving in Peru shortly after Francisco Pizarro and the conquistadors in the 1500s), he was called the "creating God of the Andes." This article examines various aspects of the Incan myths recorded by the cronistas and draws parallels with accounts of Christ's visit to the Americas... Read more

Shaping the Earth

In this personal essay, Erika Price explores the contrasts between physical hardness and softness. Beginning with fitness fanatics and bodybuilders, she then shifts to the perceived softness of new motherhood, which, as any mother knows, is a very hard experience. She has tried to raise her five sons to be tough and strong and yet tender, much as the Savior was. She ends her essay with a family... Read more


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Toward a Mormon Systematic Theology: Essay on Wrestling the Angel by Terryl L. Givens

Can Mormon theology be made systematic? That question presupposes, of course, that it is not systematic already, and this is where the skeptics of system building have an advantage. If Mormon theology appears to be a bit protracted, improvised, and even makeshift if not positively byzantine, then forcing it into a schematic form might be inappropriate. Organizing Mormon thought might even be a... Read more

The Season of Eric at Plan-B Theatre: A Milestone in Mormon Drama

It is rare, even for the most successful contemporary playwrights, to have a full season devoted to their work at a major theatre company. That is one reason why a full season of five Eric Samuelsen plays at Salt Lake City's Plan-B Theatre is noteworthy. Another reason the so-called "Season of Eric" is noteworthy is because it marks an important milestone in contemporary Mormon theatre. Never... Read more

Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832-1844; Histories, Volume 2: Assigned Histories, 1831-1847

KAREN LYNN DAVIDSON, DAVID J. WHITTAKER, MARK ASHURST-MCGEE, RICHARD L. JENSEN, editors. Histories, Volume 1: Joseph Smith Histories, 1832-1844. Vol. 1 of the Histories series of The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessie, Ronald K. Esplin, and Richard Lyman Bushman. Salt Lake City: The Church Historian's Press, 2012. KAREN LYNN DAVIDSON, RICHARD L. JENSEN, DAVID J. WHITTAKER, editors. Histories... Read more

Called to Teach: The Legacy of Karl G. Maeser

Powerful and inspiring teachers can profoundly impact their students, both in this life and in the eternities. Many of us are fortunate to look back fondly on one or two influential teachers who played a critical role in shaping our personalities or careers. Anyone who is a teacher, whether in a formal or informal classroom, or anyone who has had an inspiring teacher will enjoy the educational... Read more

Nels Anderson's World War I Diary

With the centennial of World War I beginning in 2014, Nels Anderson's World War I Diary, edited by Allan Kent Powell, is a timely and engaging firsthand account of America's involvement in "the war to end all wars." This account sees the war through the eyes of a Latter-day Saint private fighting with the American Expeditionary Force in Europe. Anderson notes, "Writing a diary requires a lot of... Read more

The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception

J. B. Haws received his PhD from the University of Utah and is an assistant professor in the Department of Church History at Brigham Young University. His research interests include twentieth-century history of Latter-day Saints and the general public perception of the group. This book (based on his 2010 PhD dissertation) is the winner of the 2014 Mormon History Association Best Book Award. The... Read more

Kirtland Temple: The Biography of a Shared Mormon Sacred Space

David J. Howlett, a professor and member of the Community of Christ, opens up a view of the Kirtland Temple that is not often considered by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Howlett chronicles the various ways that the Kirtland Temple has been a point of conflict and confluence, influencing the interaction between faith traditions stemming from Joseph Smith's religious... Read more

New Perspectives on 2 Enoch: No Longer Slavonic Only

This book contains the proceedings of the Fifth Enoch Seminar, held in Naples, Italy, on June 14–18, 2009. The theme of the conference was "Adam, Enoch, Melchizedek: Mediatorial Figures in 2 Enoch and Second Temple Judaism," covering topics of intrinsic interest for biblical scholars generally, as well as for Latter-day Saints. The book's subtitle, No Longer Slavonic Only, refers to an important... Read more

For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope

In this book, Joseph Spencer uses the differences between the original manuscript and the published text of Doctrine and Covenants 42 to argue that the law of consecration is neither a bygone utopian dream nor a future demand that we are not yet qualified to live. It is a law for today, "an outline of exactly how we as Saints are to live right now, wherever we are" (105). Before delving into the... Read more

Nauvoo & Hancock County, Illinois: A Guide to Family History and Historical Sources

For over a century, the LDS and RLDS (now Community of Christ) churches have had an interest in Nauvoo and Hancock County. Among Latter-day Saints, the Nauvoo period is seen as a kind of religious renaissance. It was there that Joseph Smith organized the Relief Society, clarified the nature of the temple and vicarious work for the dead, and forever altered the cosmological view of the Saints... Read more

Plain and Precious Things

D. John Butler received his law degree from New York University and currently practices law in Idaho. He is also a fiction writer and the author of The Goodness and the Mysteries: On the Path of the Book of Mormon's Visionary Men. In Plain and Precious Things, Butler casts the beginning of the Book of Mormon in a specific light: Lehi and Nephi as spiritual outsiders looking in on a corrupt... Read more