Journal 55:3 | BYU Studies

Journal 55:3

Volume 55:3 (2016)
In helping to keep readers up to date on important historical dis­coveries pertaining to the kingdom of God, this issue continues a long-standing role of BYU Studies. Here are an article explaining the significance of the Council of Fifty, an excerpt from the new Joseph Smith Papers volume of Council of Fifty minutes, and a review of three Joseph Smith Papers volumes. Here are an article...Read more

From the Editor

In a revelation that has served as an educational handbook for the Church, Joseph Smith aimed for all learners to “be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient,” so that as they face the “perplexities of the nations,” they might “be prepared in all things” (D&C 88:78–80). In... Read more

Understanding the Council of Fifty and Its Minutes

Joseph Smith organized the Council of Fifty, a civic body of leading Mormon men as well as a few non-Mormons, in March 1844 in Nauvoo, Illinois. William Clayton took minutes of the Nauvoo meetings. Minutes of the Council of Fifty are now published in full by The Joseph Smith Papers project. These minutes preserve teachings and statements of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young on government and related... Read more

Minutes of the Afternoon Meeting of the Council of Fifty, April 11, 1844

This document is an excerpt from The Joseph Smith Papers, Administrative Records: Council of Fifty, Minutes, March 1844–January 1846 . It is William Clayton’s record of a council meeting on April 11, 1844, in Nauvoo. The Council of Fifty was a body of leading Mormon men and a few non-Mormons created to support the civic goals of the church. Minutes include a statement from Joseph Smith on the... Read more

The Cordwainer

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Joseph Smith and Egyptian Artifacts: A Model for Evaluating the Prophetic Nature of the Prophet's Ideas about the Ancient World

Joseph Smith’s collection of Egyptian antiquities has been the point of much interest, both in his day and ours. Among those things that piqued great attention during the Prophet’s lifetime, and continue to do so today, are his explanations of the drawings (known as vignettes when referring to ancient Egyptian literature) on the papyri he possessed and connections he made between the papyri,... Read more

Anatomy of Invention

The 2015 Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Faculty lecture, presented on May 17, 2016, addressed the topic “Anatomy of Invention.” Larry Howell focused on three principles—inspiration, collaboration, and exploitation—as important elements of innovation. Howell begins with a story about a research project that was shut down because the European headquarters closed the entire division of the company... Read more

Silent Wednesday

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Theological Underpinnings of Baptism for the Dead

“Lord, are there few that be saved?” (Luke 13:23). This question has troubled thinkers from Christianity’s beginning, generally known as the soteriological problem of evil, which stems from the logical tension between three propositions: (1) God is perfectly loving and just and desires that all of his children be saved; (2) salvation comes only through an individual’s appropriation of Christ’s... Read more

On Criticism, Compassion, and Charity

The humanities are not just an adornment but are essential to our spiritual lives, writes Dr. Handley. He suggests that neither religion nor the humanities can have the greatest impact in our lives without three crucial ingredients: criticism, compassion, and charity. Criticism is the means by which we protect ourselves from deception and by which we strengthen our autonomy as moral agents. In... Read more

"This Is Very Historic": The Young Ambassadors 1979 Tour of China

In 1979, diplomatic relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China were reestablished. Because of counsel from President Spencer Kimball, leaders at Brigham Young University were already considering that a performing group might tour China. This article tells the story of putting the tour into place and the events of the tour itself. Twenty students, Elder James E. Faust,... Read more


The author of this essay uses details of his visit to Egypt to chronicle the change in his own heart as he became acquainted with both individual Muslims and their beliefs. From being a total stranger who considered Muslims as “Other,” Snow comes to see the goodness in this people, the sincerity of their beliefs, and how their goodness moved him closer to his God. “After Islam [their guide]... Read more

Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volumes 1–3

Beginning in the year 2008, the Church Historian’s Press has published a dozen volumes in the Joseph Smith Papers series. As explained on the Papers website , this highly important and long-awaited project eventually will publish “all known and available documents meeting the project’s criteria as Joseph Smith documents. . . . All Joseph Smith documents, even routine ones such as certificates,... Read more

Schooling the Prophet: How the Book of Mormon Influenced Joseph Smith and the Early Restoration

Scholars studying Mormonism have documented Joseph Smith's preference for citing the Bible rather than the Book of Mormon in his sermons and writings. Terryl Givens asserts in his influential study of the book that Joseph Smith only made "brief allusions to the Book of Mormon" in his teachings. While it is easy to see confirmation of these conclusions in statistical studies of the number of... Read more

Mormonism and American Politics

This is a book that lives up to its blurbs. It really does feel “deft, discerning, and nearly definitive” (Jon Butler, from the book’s back cover). Mormonism and American Politics brings together ten papers (along with three additional essays) that were originally presented at a February 2012 Columbia University conference on Mormonism and politics. It says something that the conference was... Read more