Journal 57:4 | BYU Studies

Journal 57:4

Volume 57:4 (2018)
This issue is the first to appear under the leadership of Steven C. Harper and leads off with his personal narrative of his history with BYU Studies and Latter-day Saint scholarship. This issue’s cover is a painting by Robert T. Pack, “Mary Whitmer and Moroni,” portraying the moment that Mary Whitmer is shown the plates by an angelic messenger. It serves as an accompaniment to the article by John...Read more

For the Salvation of Zion

No one knew...that Jack was beginning what would be a quarter-century tenure in his new role, but he had already set the course for it. He had seen no reason to revolutionize what BYU Studies was—a quarterly journal committed to showcasing the complementary nature of revealed and discovered truth, welcoming contributions from all fields of learning written for educated nonspecialists. He was... Read more

Timing the Translation of the Book of Mormon: “Days [and Hours] Never to Be Forgotten”

We know many details about the timing of the translation of the Book of Mormon. We have firm evidence that Oliver Cowdery began working as Joseph Smith’s scribe on April 7, 1829, and that Joseph began dictating to Oliver at about Mosiah chapter 2. First in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and then at the home of Peter Whitmer in Fayette, New York, the translation progressed quickly and was finished by June... Read more

Elvis Has Left the Library: Identifying Forged Annotations in a Book of Mormon

In 1989, a copy of the Book of Mormon was donated to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints containing, purportedly, marginal annotations made by Elvis Presley. Over the next several years, various speakers, newspaper columnists, and even a documentary film producer made claims that Elvis really had made these markings. The author of this article, who is director of the Church History... Read more

Cecil B. DeMille and David O. McKay—an Unexpected Friendship

World-renowned filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille and David O. McKay, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, developed an unexpected friendship when they were introduced by Latter-day Saint painter Arnold Friberg, who had been commissioned by DeMille as the set painter for his epic The Ten Commandments. The two men developed a mutual respect and admiration for each other, as... Read more


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Photographs of the First Presidency, April 6, 1893

On the day of the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took time out to go to a portrait studio and have their photos taken. The photographers also took photos of crowds lined up outside the temple. The First Presidency were Wilford Woodruff, George Q. Cannon, and Joseph F. Smith. These photographs are a lasting record of the... Read more

Fine, Thanks

This essay explores the challenges of living with a chronic illness. From describing patronizing doctors to worrying about being seen as “needy,” the author examines various aspects of life as an “invalid,” someone who is “not valid,” or at least not as valid as her more healthy friends and family members. Darlene Young discusses two sides of faith: Is it the confidence to be healed or the trust... Read more

An Egyptian Linguistic Component in Book of Mormon Names

There are several names in the Book of Mormon—such as Zenephi, Zenos, and Zenock—that look as though they are composed of scriptural names (Nephi, Enos, Enoch, and so forth) with different forms of a z-prefix that might mean “son of ” or “descendant of.” This article proposes that the names Zenephi Zenos, Zenock, and Cezoram incorporate the names of other Book of Mormon or biblical individuals... Read more

Autobiography of Jane Elizabeth Manning James

The short autobiography of Jane Manning James gives us a snapshot of the incredible life of one of the first black members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During her nearly seven decades of Church membership, Jane Manning James lived in the homes of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, survived the 1850 cricket crisis, and was baptized for ancestors in the Salt Lake temple after... Read more

Finding Jane

Melissa Leilani Larson is the screenwriter for the 2018 film Jane and Emma, which depicts the trials and friendship of Emma Smith and Jane Manning James. In this essay, Larson details her journey in writing the film and particularly her search for inspiration as she tries to find Jane Manning James’s gravesite. Read more

Jane and Emma

As a woman, as a person of color, and as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I am relieved that I can genuinely recommend Jane and Emma as a quality film—unique, significant, and relevant to the needs of our day. The strength of the film can be found in its story and content, casting and production team, soundtrack, cinematography, and driving purpose. The night of the... Read more

Jane and Emma

The new film Jane and Emma is about the friendship between Jane Manning and Emma Smith. The film is loosely historical, based on the limited writings that Jane left behind, but though some aspects of the story are imagined, the film speaks to many facts about Latter-day Saint history that we know to be true. The film openly acknowledges, for instance, the fact of Nauvoo polygamy and Joseph Smith’... Read more

Feeding the Flock: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Church and Praxis

Feeding the Flock is a landmark study of the history of the practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Professor Terryl L. Givens’s aim in the book is to answer the question “What did Joseph Smith and his successors understand the purpose of the church to be, and how did the resultant structure and forms of practice evolve over time?” (x). As the compound form of this question... Read more

Educated: A Memoir

Tara Westover grew up at the base of Buck’s Peak, raised by Latter-day Saint parents in rural southern Idaho. Her father operated a junkyard, and her mother was a self-taught herbalist and midwife. Fueled by fears that powerful, secret forces had infiltrated the federal government and other institutions, Westover’s parents distrusted public education and the medical establishment. Her father in... Read more

Textual Studies of the Doctrine and Covenants: The Plural Marriage Revelation

With the 2013 publication of the Gospel Topics essay addressing the introduction of polygamy in Nauvoo, Illinois, it was only a matter of time before commentaries would be written for mainstream Church members explicating the Joseph Smith revelation on celestial and plural marriage. William Victor Smith is the first to make the attempt in Textual Studies of the Doctrine and Covenants: The Plural... Read more

Journals, Volume 2: December 1841–April 1843; Journals, Volume 3: May 1843–June 1844

These two volumes complete the important Journals series of the Joseph Smith Papers and once again demonstrate the determination of the Church, through its Church History Department, to make available the full body of the papers of the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each volume includes a fine historical introduction to the period covered along with an essay... Read more

The Power of Godliness: Mormon Liturgy and Cosmology

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the ritual behavior of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The latest volume to address that subject is Jonathan Stapley’s The Power of Godliness: Mormon Liturgy and Cosmology , published by Oxford University Press. Grounded in his extensive studies concerning individual healing rites and Latter-day Saint sealings,... Read more

Mountain Meadows Massacre: Collected Legal Papers

In his review of Massacre at Mountain Meadows: An American Tragedy , Jared Farmer concluded by stating, “While Mormon history is markedly better because of their work, it will be much better still when historians put the massacre to rest and move on.” Farmer has a point. Current scholarship has discovered as much of the truth of the events leading up to the massacre as we are likely to learn. The... Read more

Voice of the Saints in Taiwan

In writing this book, the Chous had no ax to grind, no theory to prove or defend. Their purpose was simply to create a record of the history of the Church in Taiwan by collecting information from the people who lived it. Their book comprises a timeline of events concerning the Church in Taiwan, centered on the faith-promoting experiences of the Latter-day Saints who live there. This book will be... Read more

Foundational Texts of Mormonism: Examining Major Early Sources

At first glance, the title of this work may imply it is a documentary history project, but in fact, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Robin Scott Jensen, and Sharalyn D. Howcroft have not compiled a collection of documents, but rather a series of essays by other scholars (with the exception of Howcroft who includes her own entry in the volume) about these foundational documents. The editors lay out the purpose... Read more

Abinadi: He Came among Them in Disguise

This volume, which examines the Book of Mormon story of Abinadi, is the first volume generated by the Book of Mormon Academy, “an academic think tank and research group begun . . . to promote scholarship and teaching on the Book of Mormon” (vi). Scholars in this group “primarily pursue their own research agendas,” but sometimes they produce studies “that can be combined into one volume” such as... Read more

Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism

Saints, Slaves, and Blacks draws on historical and scriptural sources to examine the history of Latter-day Saint thought regarding blacks. Author Newell Bringhurst notes that when the first edition of the book was published in 1981, “it attracted limited notice both within and outside the Mormon community.” Bringhust chalks the oversight up to bad timing—it was published just three years after... Read more

The Worldwide Church: Mormonism as a Global Religion

Since 1981, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has experienced a dramatic increase in membership outside of the United States and Canada (vii–xii). As a result, in March 2014, Brigham Young University and the Church History Department sponsored a Church history symposium titled The Worldwide Church: The Global Reach of Mormonism . Anyone who is interested in Church history and the... Read more

Pioneer Women of Arizona

Roberta Flake Clayton self-published Pioneer Women of Arizona in 1969 after spending thirty-three years conducting numerous interviews and cataloguing over two hundred biographical sketches of the pioneer women, both old and young, who, beginning in the nineteenth century, came to Arizona by wagon or train and settled communities such as Phoenix, Mesa, Snowflake, Flagstaff, and Prescott. Clayton... Read more