Books that have been recently published by BYU Studies.

Book cover for Artifacts Speak: Revisiting Old Stories about Treasured Latter-day Saint Heirlooms
Artifacts Speak: Revisiting Old Stories about Treasured Latter-day Saint Heirlooms
This book reports on selected buildings and objects that bring to life important events that took place in the first two decades of the Restoration. As museum curators and historians worked to exhibit and tell the history of these objects, they sometimes found that stories told about them were incorrect. This collection’s aim is to tell a more accurate history about these treasured heirlooms.   Since the beginning of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members have kept records and honored their past. Documents and artifacts provide evidence of sacred events and connect the spiritual aspect of the Church to tangible objects. This book reports on selected buildings and objects that bring to life important events that took place in the first two decades of the Restoration. As museum curators and historians worked to exhibit and tell the history of these objects, they sometimes found that stories told about them were incorrect. This collection’s aim is to tell a more accurate history about these treasured heirlooms. Items discussed in this volume:
  • The two Smith family homes in Palmyra-Manchester, New York
  • The artifacts of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, including weapons, canes, Carthage Jail, and watches
  • Eliza R. Snow’s watch, given to her by Joseph Smith
  • The Nauvoo Temple bells
  • The Relief Society Campanile on Temple Square
  • Cannons and other artillery used in Nauvoo and Utah
  • Odometers used on the pioneer trail
Telling a better history of these physical objects helps preserve them for future generations. 504 pages Paperback
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Martin Harris: Uncompromising Witness of the Book of Mormon
Martin Harris: Uncompromising Witness of the Book of Mormon reveals the compelling story of a man who had seen angels and knew Joseph Smith was a prophet but who nevertheless struggled to keep his faith in the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His is a story of fascination with worldly honors, flirtations with apostasy, and pride that nearly cost him the joy of his later years in the West. It is the biography of a witness who clung tenaciously to his testimony of the Book of Mormon.  
Well-known historians Susan Black and Larry Porter have written a landmark biography of Martin Harris, one of the most important figures in early Church history. Joseph Smith relied on his generosity and goodwill to publish the Book of Mormon, of which he was one of the Three Witnesses. But Latter-day Saints in the twenty-first century know relatively little about him, especially the decades he spent away from the Restoration—until now. This biography deserves a place on the bookshelves of historians and other interested Church members. Strongly recommend.

Reid L. Neilson Assistant Church Historian and Recorder The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

This deeply researched book examines the life of one of Joseph Smith’s closest associates in the Church’s early years. It tells us more about signifi­cant episodes, such as the printing of the Book of Mormon, than anyone has ever known. Most important, it helps us reassess the character of Martin Harris, a key contributor to the Restoration. Harris emerges as a man of substance and judgment, a fitting witness to the angel and the plates. The book explains how he fell away and then returned but at no time backed away from his testimony.

Richard Lyman Bushman Author, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

As one of the earliest believers in Joseph Smith’s spiritual claims, Martin Harris figured prominently in the early events of the Restoration. He observed firsthand many of the sacred scenes associated with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, assisted in its translation, was one of the book’s Three Witnesses, financed its publication, and was one of the first converts baptized into the Church of Christ. Authors Susan Easton Black and Larry C. Porter have produced an insightful, informative, well-­documented biography of Martin Harris’s lifelong religious sojourn—a life characterized by integrity, faith, and generosity, but most of all, testimony. This is solid, down-to-earth biographical history at its best.

Alexander L. Baugh Professor, Church History and Doctrine, BYU

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BYU New Testament Commentary Series: Epistle to the Hebrews cover
New Testament Commentary: Epistle to the Hebrews
A verse-by-verse commentary on the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews. Provides a modern English version of the text. Cites scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). Focuses on Jesus Christ and his role as High Priest and Savior, highlighting the saving nature of faith in him.   The Epistle to the Hebrews is a faith-filled testimony of Jesus Christ. This commentary is the most comprehensive study of the epistle that Latter-day Saint scholars have yet produced. The commentary removes many of the barriers that hinder the reader from understanding this complex work. The volume is not written for an academic audience but for anyone interested in a detailed examination of this highly spiritual and insightful work. The authors show that although the epistle has been ascribed to the Apostle Paul because its doctrines and approaches are so similar to his, it is actually the work of an unnamed early church authority. The result of this conclusion stresses that the Apostle was not alone in his understanding of the work, ministry, and mission of the Lord. In the past, many non–Latter-day Saint readers have viewed the epistle as a polemic against certain Jews who were making trouble for Jewish Christians. This work finds Hebrews to be primarily a pastoral work carefully designed to encourage its readers to base their lives on nothing more and nothing less than Jesus Christ. The commentary presents the full Greek text alongside the King James Version and the authors’ New Rendition, followed by translation notes and analysis. The translation notes explain the meaning and context of words, phrases, and passages and the choice of words in the New Rendition. The analysis examines the doctrine and teachings of each section, opening the epistle to the reader’s understanding. The work strives to be up to date, comprehensive, scholarly, and as doctrinally sound as possible. It relies on the canon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Joseph Smith Translation, and teachings of latter-day prophets alongside rigorous biblical scholarship and the original Greek text. This commentary has the same purpose as the epistle itself: to bear witness of the Lord and his lifegiving ministry.  
This up-to-date commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews provides a unique restoration perspective on the Jewish and first-century Christian themes of Jesus Christ’s authority, priesthood, temples, and faithfulness. Draper and Rhodes make this somewhat neglected and challenging epistle much more understandable through a careful examination of the Greek text accompanied by a side-by-side KJV text and translation notes. Their analysis sections contain numerous invaluable insights gleaned from many decades of teaching. This commentary assists modern readers to gain the scripture study skill of context as Draper and Rhodes elucidate this epistle’s text from both a Semitic and Gentile historical and cultural milieu.

— Brent Schmidt, faculty, Department of Religious Education, Brigham Young University–Idaho

The commentary on Epistle to the Hebrews is fascinating! As with the other commentaries written by Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes, we have the Greek text, the translation, and the reasoning behind the translation. The historical, sociopolitical, and religious background they provide is invaluable in fully understanding the inspired (and inspiring) messages of the writer of Hebrews. I find this commentary very accessible. You don’t have to have a background in history or be a biblical scholar. You can dive in where you are at and learn at the feet of masters. I also appreciate the enhanced insights from the inclusion of Latter-day Saint scripture. There are a number of scholarly commentaries on Hebrews, but very few that are accessible to a lay person, and none with a Latter-day Saint perspective. If you are seeking a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, this commentary will be invaluable.

— Eleanor Thorne, administrator with BYU Continuing Education, PhD from University of Missouri–Colombia

Draper and Rhodes have written a useful commentary to this important New Testament book. Their commentary is especially helpful for teasing out connections between the ancient writings in the New Testament and the unique contributions of the Restoration. The Epistle to the Hebrews is a book that has a lot of resonance with latter-day scripture and teachings, and Draper and Rhodes’s commentary is written with an ear to that resonance.

— Avram Shannon, assistant professor, Department of Ancient Scripture, Religious Education, Brigham Young University

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New Testament Commentary: The Gospel according to Mark
The Gospel of Mark is an undiscovered gem, hiding in plain sight. Mark’s story—at least from the vantage point of a twenty-first-century audience—is virtually unknown. Following broader trends in Christian history, Latter-day Saints have focused on the other Gospels. Mark’s Gospel gets very little attention and, when it does, it is usually read through the lenses of the other Gospels, with the result that Mark’s distinctive voice is muted. But the Jesus presented in Mark’s Gospel is worthy of study: He is a man of action and few words. He is witty, warm, and wise. He’s also the Son of God. He has power which leaves people in awe, and he uses that power to help the people most people don’t like. He hugs little kids. He listens to and learns from women. He banishes demons and reminds parents to feed their children. He doesn't know everything, but he does know how to end chaos. His disciples usually misunderstand him, but he teaches them continually and patiently. This Jesus is betrayed and abandoned and alone and humiliated, but he still chooses God’s will over his own—even though he didn’t want to. Mark tells an amazing story. The overriding goal of this commentary is to recover Mark’s unique voice. Special attention is given to five areas:
  • An examination of the differences in ancient texts of Mark is used to make conjectures about how the text read in its earliest versions.
  • Basic cultural knowledge is supplied to help the modern reader bridge the gap to the ancient world.
  • Biblical allusions in Mark’s text are explored and explained.
  • Literary structures, both large and small, are considered.
  • The traditional neglect of women’s stories is corrected.
The result is a commentary that answers the question, “What would Mark’s story of Jesus have meant to its first audiences?” in a way that informs and inspires Mark’s readers twenty centuries later.  
No other biblical commentary directed specifically to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints eclipses the quality of Julie Smith’s accomplishment with the Gospel of Mark. It is informed, gracefully composed, accessible, and, most importantly, trustworthy. It opens a range of possible interpretations of key and challenging passages but is not guilty of imposing extraneous meaning on the text. The volume’s preoccupation—“What would this story have meant to Mark’s earliest audiences?”—is judiciously chosen and frees Smith from distractions and diverse thickets. A superb example of what light may emerge from scripture in the company of a competent, faithful, and honest guide.

— Philip L. Barlow, Leonard Arrington Professor of Mormon History & Culture, Utah State University

Julie Smith’s new commentary on the Gospel of Mark represents an important addition to Latter-day Saint scholarship on the New Testament. Mark is a book that has been somewhat neglected by Latter-day Saints, and Smith’s commentary goes a long way towards correcting that neglect. With its numerous explanatory notes, this commentary takes the Gospel of Mark seriously, both as scripture and as a witness of the mission of Jesus. Where this commentary is especially welcome is in Smith’s thoughtful and thought-provoking treatment of women’s issues in the Gospel and in the scriptures generally.

— Avram R. Shannon, Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture, Brigham Young University

Among Latter-day Saints, the Gospel of Mark has often been overshadowed by the other Gospels. This volume aims to restore Mark’s distinct voice so that latter-day audiences can better understand and appreciate his unique testimony of Jesus Christ. By focusing on issues of translation, cultural knowledge, biblical allusions, literary interpretation, and the significance of women’s stories and concerns, this volume impressively narrows the gap between the expectations of modern readers and Mark’s ancient, yet vibrant, testimony of Jesus.

— Jacob Rennaker, John A. Widtsoe Fellow of Latter-day Saint Scholarship and Life, Chapman University

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Yet to Be Revealed: Open Questions in Latter-day Saint Theology
An important part of discipleship is knowing what questions to ask—and which ones have not yet been adequately answered. From the beginning to recent times, prophets have reminded the Saints that the Restoration is ongoing, not an event. Our purpose in assembling this collection of essays is simple: we wish to celebrate the miracle of continuing revelation, and the promise of more to come, that God will “yet reveal many great and important things.” This means that the essays selected for inclusion represent only a few of the hundreds of possible subjects. Ours is an effort to clarify some of the hazy borders of orthodoxy and to honor the dynamism, the richness, and the possibilities of a Restoration still very much in process of unfolding. Joseph Smith taught, “By proving contraries truth is manifest.” A fuller understanding of truth can come by keeping multiple perspectives in mind and letting them work themselves out in patience and God’s own time, like fruitful leaven.   Topics include:
  • What is the nature of God’s progress?
  • Where did Book of Mormon events take place?
  • What is women’s relationship to priesthood?
  • Is God subject to or the creator of eternal law?
  • Will things get better or worse before the Second Coming?
  • Was Jesus married?
  • Is the Song of Solomon scripture?
  • How was the Book of Mormon translated?
 
“We as Latter-day Saints have too often felt sure about things the prophets haven’t actually decided, and about things God seems to have left open for us to reflect on humbly. This breathtakingly honest collection of essays does excellent work to make clear just how much we in fact don’t know. That there’s so much to learn is wonderful news, however. We’ll have to bring all of our minds, and not just all of our hearts, to the task of being earnest disciples.”

—Joseph Spencer, author of 1st Nephi: A Brief Theological Introduction

  “This much-needed engagement with . . . interesting theological questions is long overdue.”

—Blake T. Ostler, Esq., author of the four-volume Exploring Mormon Thought book series on Latter-day Saint theology

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