Journal 54:3 | BYU Studies

Journal 54:3

Volume 54:3 (2015)
Fruitful insights emerge from comparing important people and their works. Two articles in this issue, by Robert A. Rees and Rosalynde Welch, compare Joseph Smith and John Milton. These two figures had drastically contrasting life experiences, but both produced works that had a strong impact on the world. Jeffrey N. Walker has written a detailed legal history of the Kirtland Safety Society,...Read more

From the Editor

Ten years ago, people around the world marked the bicentennial of Joseph Smith's birth. In June 2005, a two-day conference was convened at the Library of Congress, which I attended with my wife, pictured above; two major biographies were published; and a handy resource of crucial primary sources about the key events of the Restoration ( Opening the Heavens ) was published. Since then, eleven... Read more

John Milton, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon

This comparison of Joseph Smith and John Milton focuses on their literary output and especially the preparation each had for dictating a long religious work, in Milton's case Paradise Lost and in Smith's the Book of Mormon. Most notable authors, including Milton, had a long apprenticeship that involved writing several "try works," practice works that served as tutorials and stepping stones... Read more

Affinities and Infinities: Joseph Smith and John Milton

The lives of John Milton and Joseph Smith converge and diverge in fascinating ways. Milton was the son of a middling scrivener who depended on the unsavory practice of money lending, but made a handsome life for his family; Smith was the son of a landless farmer who depended on the undesirable necessity of borrowing and in time a morass of debt defined the family life. Both men were autodidacts... Read more

The Kirtland Safety Society and the Fraud of Grandison Newell: A Legal Examination

Latter-day Saint leaders founded the Kirtland Safety Society in 1836 to meet the commercial needs of a growing community. They first attempted to obtain a charter for the bank, but the Ohio legislature was uncooperative. They changed the Society to a joint stock company and also allied it with a Michigan bank that was already chartered. For a few weeks, the company generated economic activity in... Read more

"Hard" Evidence of Ancient American Horses

The suggestion of horses and chariots in pre-Columbian America has long been an easy target for critics of the Book of Mormon. In spite of difficulties in defending this claim, and although the evidence is incomplete, the geological and archaeological record does provide support for horses and even wheeled vehicles in ancient America. Much of this evidence is not questionable or even that new,... Read more


Access the PDF Download to view the full content of this poem. Read more

Stranded in the Stars

This essay, which won second place in the BYU Studies 2015 personal essay contest, explores the similarities between sand dunes and galaxies through the lens of a family trip gone awry. The author and his family traveled to the dunes near their home in Idaho but managed to lock the keys in the car. Stranded there, the author ponders the vastness of the universe, which scientists have estimated to... Read more

Beholding the Tree of Life: A Rabbinic Approach to the Book of Mormon

Ever since his mission president in Florida assigned him to make the Jews in Miami his special project, Bradley J. Kramer has been passionate in learning about and from the Jewish people. This has included studying Hebrew, visiting synagogues, attending seminars and Torah classes, and doing everything he could to understand better how Jews approach their scriptures. Also holding an MA in English... Read more

Brigham Young: Sovereign in America

I first came across David Mason's writing in the Washington Post' s "On Faith" blog, to which he contributed. Mason is a Latter-day Saint, the son of a BYU physics professor, and an associate professor of theatre at Rhodes College in Tennessee. His blog posts were atypical, to say the least, but insightful and well written. I emailed him about one of his posts, and we began an intermittent but... Read more

All That Was Promised: The St. George Temple and the Unfolding of the Restoration

This book reflects the fortunate confluence of several factors: first, Blaine Yorgason's considerable talents as a storyteller combined with the academic skills of seasoned historians Douglas Alder and Richard Schmutz; second, the inclusion of previously unpublished journal accounts from colorful and credible participants who helped build the St. George Temple; and third, the previously little-... Read more

Saints Observed: Studies of Mormon Village Life, 1850-2005; Four Classic Mormon Village Studies

In the early 1920s, a young graduate student at the University of Chicago named Nels Anderson employed a research method that was not then familiar to students of sociology, who took data from libraries and archives for their term papers. Nels took a different approach, because there was little data to be found in those locations on the group he wanted to study: homeless working men, or "hobos."... Read more

The Journey of a People: The Era of Restoration, 1820 to 1844; The Journey of a People: The Era of Reorganization, 1844 to 1946

In the first official history in twenty years, Mark A. Scherer--world church historian of the Community of Christ (formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or RLDS)-- offers a much-needed update giving the position of Community of Christ theologians, historians, and leaders on Restoration history. Currently available are the first two volumes of Scherer's... Read more

Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family

Boyd Jay Petersen's Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family collects a wide range of the author's work from the last fifteen years and includes everything from published essays and book reviews to the eulogies Petersen delivered at his own parents' funerals. Though the mode varies from essay to essay within the book, there is a remarkably consistent purpose... Read more

Reaching the Nations: International Church Growth Almanac, 2014 Edition, Volume I: The Americas, Oceana, and Europe; Reaching the Nations: International Church Growth Almanac, 2014 Edition, Volume II: Asia and Africa

Since the Deseret News Church Almanac stopped publishing in 2012, David G. Stewart's publications have become the only ready in-depth resource for country-by-country statistical information on the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And Stewart's publications exceed what the former publication offered: they accessibly present numbers and graphs that show activity,... Read more

Diary of Two Mad Black Mormons: Finding the Lord's Lessons in Everyday Life

Zandra Vranes and Tamu Smith met through Genesis, a support group for black Mormons. As they moved to separate states, they created their blog Sistas in Zion to keep in touch, but it soon grew in popularity and they've been "chattin' about church ever since" (xiii). Vranes and Smith, the sistas in Zion, have become very well known on the Mormon blogging scene and now co-host Sistas in Zion Radio... Read more

The Temple, a Holy School

The Education in Zion Gallery in BYU's Joseph F. Smith Building houses two murals, standing nearly twenty feet tall. One is of the Kirtland Temple and the other depicts Brigham Young Academy. It is not by accident that these murals face each other, for both represent houses of learning and the importance of the sacrifice involved in educating the whole soul. Learning and teaching others are... Read more