OT: A Good History on Smith & the Book of Mormon

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Denise | Forum Activity | Posted: Fri, Jan 11 2019 11:45 AM

https://www.amazon.com/Mormonism-without-Theism-Non-Theistic-Mythology-ebook/dp/B072DXYHLZ/ 

Published in 2017, it's an interesting volume

- The author is Mormon, a historian, but really gets down to the unpleasant details. 

- Heavily annotated, with an accessible bibliography (to check as needed).

If you're wanting to argue with Mormons, this book won't help you. It's more history, and the likely sources of both the texts, and much of the theology.  It's quite up front, mirroring the LDS' own publishing of detailed historic documents (complete with various changes).

I got it wanting a better feel for John D Lee's confession, the connectivity to early restoration groups, Swedenborg, etc. The author draws from quite a bit ... even the Testaments of the Twelve (jewish).

Ben may wish to comment, yea or nea.  


Posts 2903
SineNomine | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jan 11 2019 12:58 PM

This looks like a book suggestion for FL, to me. That's not OT.

Posts 1324
Ben | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jan 11 2019 12:59 PM

Obiviously I haven't read the book, but color me highly highly skeptical, for a number of reasons.

 I've never heard of the author, and googling shows he has no virtually internet presence to check him out on; no publications or affiliation with things like the American Academy of Religion, the Mormon History Association, the Journal of Mormon History, or any universities, colleges, or academic conferences. Not even a Facebook account or Twitter feed. There are no reviews or book notes anywhere. The author appears to have an undergrad degree in history from UVU, which didn't even become a university until 2008, the year he graduated.  The book is self-published through Amazon. I checked with a couple academic friends, and no one has heard of this guy or book. So, "historian"? That strikes me as generous. 

Second and perhaps more important, I'm not sure whether he's actually LDS or not, but writing a non-theistic history of Mormonism while claiming to be a believer is a bit like writing an atheist history of Christianity. If one is not a believer in specific claims or theistic at all, then one must account for events some other way. It is perhaps telling that his favorite books are by Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Carl Sagan, and George Orwell. 

"Mormon History" is one of few hot topics in the field right now, which means there is better (LDS) history to read, as it's being published in bales by Oxford Press, Indiana University Press, and others, peer-reviewed and professionally researched. I've read lots of pro and con LDS history written by a variety of people from a variety of perspectives, and my PhD work is in history of religion. Would I pick this up? Probably not, as it gives the impression of being low quality and I have lots of other stuff on my plate. Could I recommend it as written by a Mormon historian? It doesn't seem to earn that description. My 2 cents.

"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected."- G.K. Chesterton

Posts 9855
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jan 11 2019 1:57 PM

Ben:

Obiviously I haven't read the book, but color me highly highly skeptical, for a number of reasons.

 

Appreciate it.

I'd already seen most of the source materials from the Deseret bookstore. Seeing them presented in parallel was interesting. I knew Smith's apocalyptic prophesy surrounded the American South vs the North, but not that the issue was tariffs, instead of slavery. And that Smith had a second prophesy as well. The bulk of discussion was the New York / Pennsylvania period.


Posts 992
EastTN | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jan 11 2019 2:06 PM

Ben:

... writing a non-theistic history of Mormonism while claiming to be a believer is a bit like writing an atheist history of Christianity...

Unfortunately, I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see that soon (if it hasn't already happened) - Case Against Atheist Pastor Dismissed.

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