Journal 56:2 | BYU Studies

Journal 56:2

Volume 56:2 (2017)
The cover of this issue features a unique stained glass window from an LDS meetinghouse in La Cañada, California. It portrays Jesus Christ knocking on a door, with a kind expression that sends a message of invitation to all. The window also shows the sticks of Judah and Joseph, a dove of peace, gold keys, two hands gripping one another, and the all-seeing eye of God, all symbols of peace,...Read more

From the Editor

The front and back covers of this issue of BYU Studies Quarterly feature a unique stained glass window. It is found in the chapel of the La Cañada Ward meetinghouse in Southern California. Since I grew up in that ward, where my parents lived and served for fifty years, I have many special personal reasons for wanting to share these pictures with all who enjoy this journal. A few old-timers still... Read more

Kingship, Democracy, and the Message of the Book of Mormon

Gregory Steven Dundas offers a detailed reading of governmental forms in the Book of Mormon in the context of other ancient civilizations. He makes the case that democracy was almost unknown in the ancient world and that nearly all people assumed that kingship was the best form of government. This makes King Mosiah’s decision to implement a form of democracy (elected judges) among the Nephites a... Read more

Reading Competency in the Book of Mormon: Abish and Other Model Readers

Michael J. Call draws from the work of such reception theorists as Gerald Prince, who propose that embedded in every narrative are examples of the very act in which the actual reader is engaged at every moment of the reading process, that is, the assimilation and interpretation of observed phenomena. Call proposes that, among others, the story of Abish, servant of King Lamoni's wife, offers such... Read more

The Latter-day Saint Reimaging of "the Breath of Life" (Genesis 2:7)

Many Latter-day Saints have come to transform the traditional biblical meaning of the phrase "the breath of life" into a new, Restoration-oriented use that refers to the embodiment of the first human's premortal spirit and, by extension, the embodiment of all other people's spirits. However, the phrase "the breath of life" as found in Genesis seems to best be understood as a figurative... Read more

Ann Booth's Vision and Early Conceptions of Redeeming the Dead among Latter-day Saints

In March 1840, Ann Booth, a new Latter-day Saint convert in Manchester, England, had a vision of the spirit world in which she saw an LDS apostle teach and baptize John Wesley. She also saw in vision some of her family be baptized, and she later learned that the apostle she had seen was David W. Patten. Brigham Young, in Manchester, wrote a copy of the vision in a letter to his wife, in Nauvoo,... Read more

Pieces of April: From the Life and Journal of Lance Larsen

These extracts from the journal of poet Lance Larsen provide a window into "the importance of noticing" and "the inner life, a lived perspective that clarifies the creative process." Larsen was Utah's poet laureate from 2012 to 2017. Introducing the journal entries is an interview with Larsen conducted by BYU Studies poetry editor Casualene Meyer. Interspersed among the journal entries are four... Read more


Kim Webb Reid examines her lifelong fear of flying that began when a SkyWest flight crashed into a private plane over her elementary school while she was at recess. " Pilot error, the reports often say when there's an air disaster, as if that should make the public feel safer—as if piloting errors don't occur for me on a daily basis while I navigate through this life with anxiety." Reid ponders... Read more

America 1844: Religious Fervor, Westward Expansion, and the Presidential Election That Transformed the Nation

When Joseph Smith declared his candidacy for the American presidency in 1844, he was only one of many hoping to change the entire nation. At this moment of societal transformation, the Whig Party, who just four years earlier achieved their first presidential victory, concluded that they needed a new candidate to replace their incumbent. The Democratic Party was divided over the future direction... Read more

Geology of the Book of Mormon

Since the earliest days of the publication of the Book of Mormon, there have been several studies, scholarly and otherwise, on the geography of the regions and events described within that book. Until now, most of those discussions and arguments over the possible locations and arrangement of its cities and regions have been based on geographical relationships described in the Book of Mormon... Read more

Eighth Witness: The Biography of John Whitmer

Ronald E. Romig is the former archivist for the Community of Christ, and past president of the Mormon History Association and the John Whitmer Historical Association. He has recently been appointed one of three world church historians for the Community of Christ. He is the editor of a brief series of illustrated documentary histories, including Emma’s Nauvoo and Martin Harris’s Kirtland . As the... Read more

William B. Smith: In the Shadow of a Prophet

Kyle R. Walker is a faculty member at BYU–Idaho and is the editor of United by Faith: The Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family (2005) and the author of The Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith Family: A Family Process Analysis of a Nineteenth-Century Household (2002), part of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute and BYU Studies Dissertations in Latter-day Saint History series. Additionally, Walker is... Read more

Mormons in the Piazza: History of the Latter-day Saints in Italy

Every so often, the publication of a book functions as a milestone in a particular area of study. The book is recognized either as the first, most comprehensive, or most distinctive treatment of a subject, with which all later researchers will need to familiarize themselves in order to be considered credible. When it comes to the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Italy... Read more

Hammerhead Six: How Green Berets Waged an Unconventional War against the Taliban to Win in Afghanistan's Deadly Pech Valley

H ammerhead Six tells the story of U.S. Army Captain Ronald Fry and his elite team of Special Forces soldiers tasked with the difficult 2003 mission of tracking high-value targets in one of the most dangerous regions of Afghanistan, the Pech Valley. But this is not a typical blood-and-guts, Rambo-like war story. Although the mission called for these soldiers to seize weapons caches, hunt down... Read more

The Awkward State of Utah

The authors describe the era 1896 to 1945 as the "awkward adolescence" of Utah history. This period saw the pivotal change from an agrarian and inward-focused society to one that embraced mainstream America and global modernity. While historians such as Leonard Arrington, Thomas Alexander, and Ethan Yorgason have focused on the years 1890 to 1920 as the era of greatest change, Charles Peterson... Read more