Journal 55:1 | BYU Studies

Journal 55:1

Volume 55:1 (2016)
John W. Welch quotes a German saying, "A good question is half an answer." He shows that the articles published in this issue of BYU Studies Quarterly are the result of good questions: questions that do not assume a conclusion, questions that matter to our understanding of scripture, questions that add to our knowledge. Richard E. Turley Jr. and Jeffrey G. Cannon reexamine the history of the...Read more

From the Editor

As I scan the contents of this new issue of BYU Studies Quarterly , I am gratified by the hard work of the many authors, reviewers, editors, and assistants that has made this latest installment possible. I am also excited to send this issue to you, our readers, all around the world. As scholars and users of academic research, we all are curious. We wonder about a lot of amazing things as we try... Read more

A Faithful Band: Moses Mahlangu and the First Soweto Saints

Having found a copy of the Book of Mormon sometime in the 1960s and sought baptism, a small group of black South Africans were denied admission into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until 1980. Contemporary documents show that beyond the Church's long-standing policy restricting ordination and temple worship for persons of black African descent, leaders' fears of running afoul of... Read more

The Israelite Roots of Atonement Terminology

This article focuses on three common English terms— atonement, salvation, and redemption ; their usual Hebrew equivalents as rendered in the King James Version of the Bible (KJV); and their associated conceptions found within the Hebrew Bible. In general, ancient Israelites understood redeem primarily in terms of kinship and family law and secondarily as a covenantal term. Salvation was found... Read more

On Fear, Food, and Flight

This personal essay interweaves three seemingly disparate themes—the author’s battle with Crohn’s disease, her attempts to master a certain inversion in yoga (that she refers to as flying), and her boyfriend’s depression, which causes him to break off their relationship. “When most people think about a fear of flying, they might think of planes, mechanics. My fear of flight is personal. It... Read more

Seer Stones, Salamanders, and Early Mormon "Folk Magic" in the Light of Folklore Studies and Bible Scholarship

The 2015 publication of an Ensign article on, and especially photos of, one of Joseph Smith’s seer stones still owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints caused quite a sensation in the blogosphere. Mormon studies as a discipline has struggled to make sense of seer stones too. These responses are understandable, considering how often communities tend to presume little change in... Read more

Proselyting on the Rock of Gibraltar, 1853–1855: The Letters of Edward Stevenson to the Juvenile Instructor in 1885

In 1852, Edward Stevenson and Nathan Porter were called as Latter-day Saint missionaries to preach the gospel in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory. The men arrived in 1853 and Porter was soon forced to leave, but Stevenson, having been born in Gibraltar, was allowed to stay. He served as a lone missionary and suffered heavy persecution, partly because of opposition to the Church’s practice... Read more

Motives and the Path to Perfection

Some economists have claimed that people are 95 percent selfish, that they are motivated almost exclusively by selfish motives. This did not ring true to the authors of this article. They hypothesized that human motivation is much more complex and nuanced. Specifically, they identified five distinct motives based on fundamental human needs. These motives are: own consumption, goodwill, promise... Read more

The Mormon Missionary: Who Is That Knocking at My Door?

Robert L. Lively Jr., dean emeritus at the University of Maine at Farmington, is the author of the 2015 book The Mormon Missionary: Who Is That Knocking at My Door? Lively conceived this book after inviting missionaries to visit his religion classes and realizing that a non-Mormon had never written a book that tells the story of Latter-day Saint missionaries. His research involved over 275... Read more

Becoming Divine: An Introduction to Deification in Western Culture

M. David Litwa, who earned his doctorate at the University of Virginia and teaches Greek there, describes his book as attempting to “trace the discourse of deification from ancient Egypt all the way to . . . modern America,” thus offering “a general introduction to the topic of deification, in all its diversity”. “From the very first time I heard of it until the present day,” he explains, “I have... Read more

Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding

In their book Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding , authors Brian and Laura Hales provide readers with a concise history of Joseph Smith’s practice of plural matrimony. At only 175 pages in length, excluding endnotes and the index, the Hales’ work will be both easy to read and informative for the general public. Despite the book’s brevity, it is detailed enough to address, or... Read more

Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary

On the surface, Way Below the Angels: The Pretty Clearly Troubled but Not Even Close to Tragic Confessions of a Real Live Mormon Missionary is just another missionary memoir, but with an exceptionally long title. We’ve read it before; many of us have lived it, this archetypal Mormon hero’s journey. Harline’s version of what he terms the “One True Missionary Story” goes like this: a young... Read more

Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness by W. Paul Reeve and For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830–2013

Mormonism’s fraught relationship with American and global racial diversity remains for many observers and believers one of the religion’s most troubling aspects. The most perplexing aspect of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ historically racialist policies was overturned in 1978 when the Church leadership granted priesthood ordination to all worthy men regardless of color or... Read more

Edward Hunter Snow: Pioneer—Educator—Statesman

Thomas Alexander, prominent historian of the American West and author of Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890–1930 and Things in Heaven and Earth: The Life and Times of Wilford Woodruff, a Mormon Prophet , has completed a well-researched biography of Edward Hunter Snow (1865–1932), one of the early homegrown leaders of St. George, Utah. Son of Julia Spencer Snow and... Read more

By Divine Design: Best Practices for Family Success and Happiness

In The Family: A Proclamation to the World , the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaim that the responsibilities and joys of marriage, parenting, and family life are given to men and women “by divine design.” Using this phrase to set the tone for their edited volume, this book’s editors further subtitle this selection of... Read more

Ancient Temple Worship: Proceedings of the Expound Symposium, 14 May 2011 and Temple Insights: Proceedings of the Interpreter Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference: "The Temple on Mount Zion," 22 September 2012

Ancient Temple Worship and Temple Insights are both compilations of works by various authors and published as proceedings of symposia organized by the late Matthew B. Brown, who was an author and historian writing for the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute of Religious Scholarship, and the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research. Readers... Read more

The Prophet and the Reformer: The Letters of Brigham Young and Thomas L. Kane

Matthew J. Grow is the director of publications for the LDS Church History Department and is the author of Liberty to the Downtrodden , which is a biography of Thomas L. Kane. Ronald W. Walker, formerly a professor of history at Brigham Young University, is a prolific writer and Latter-day Saint historian. These two join their considerable talents and expertise to bring readers The Prophet and... Read more

The First Vision: A Harmonization of 10 Accounts from the Sacred Grove

The First Vision of Joseph Smith is one of the defining moments in the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With it began the Restoration of the gospel and the reopening of the communication between God and his children. Even after the contributions of scholars such as Milton V. Backman, James B. Allen, John W. Welch, and Steven C. Harper, most Latter-day Saints are... Read more