Whose picture is truly representative? Which is better? Is it just a matter of which audience we want to please or which community we want to join? Her bibliography cites only a few texts relevant to the question of defining and comprehensively solving the puzzle that the Book of Mormon presents. Her bibliography of contemporary LDS scholarship on the Book of Mormon is not extensive, not up-to-date, and is clearly weighted to skeptical interpretations generally consistent with her secular views.
This is not necessarily decisive for her suggestions, but it does raise questions and has implications for the issue of how well her hypothesis accounts for what she has not considered. Perhaps the most serious failing of the critiques of the Book of Mormon was an inability to deal with the text in any detail. Their aim was always to explain away the Book of Mormon rather than understand it. For example, it is important to see the full implications of the way Taves contextualizes [Page 98] Joseph Smith by placing him in company with Wilson, Schucman, and research on dissociative mental states.
In surveying a range of different Joseph Smith histories, Richard Bushman observed that. To a large extent, Joseph Smith assumes the character of the history selected for him. John McDade had observed the same decisive influence of contextualization in his important survey of Jesus research:.
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Contextualization has a determining effect, causing Joseph Smith to assume the character of the history selected for him. Taves places Joseph Smith alongside Helen Schucman and Bill Wilson and notions of automaticity and the creativity of highly hypnotizable individuals. That is a soil, context, and nurture designed to grow a particular crop targeting the appetite of her secular audience.
One of her sources, Terryl Givens in By the Hand of Mormon , included a survey of scholars who contextualize the Book of Mormon in the ancient world. But which context is best? And how do we measure best? Jesus says that the soil and nurture in which a word is placed can lead to different yields, ranging from nothing to a hundred-fold. And how then will ye know all parables? For my part, I spent several years compiling a list of 28 biblical keys for discerning true and false prophets. And it is clear this approach to solving the puzzle of Joseph Smith leads to some very different conclusions regarding how we might compare him to Bill Wilson and Helen Schucman and what we consequently might see as most significant about them.
Instead he is like the chess player who, with a problem stated and the board physically or mentally before him, tries [Page ] out various alternative moves in the search for a solution.
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These trial attempts, whether by the chess player or by the scientist, are trials only of themselves, not of the rules of the game. The presence of the alternative approach defined by Blass for testing documents also turns out to be a means to try the rules of the game as Taves defines them. And what we know about the rules of paradigm debate from Kuhn means that we compare paradigms in a way that does not completely depend on self-referential arguments.
There are no proofs, but there are good reasons for judgements which are not simply matters of personal taste or individual preference. There is another relevant comparative test to make by reading Richard L.
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The texts and books that Anderson examines include:. Dunn here is so inaccurate and misleading in dismissing Anderson that it seems to me a response to what Dunn imagined Anderson wrote, rather than what he actually produced. Anderson discusses a range of modern Gospels, including but not limited to spiritualist work.
He observes that in comparison to modern Apocrypha the Book of Mormon is unique in 1 not contradicting the New Testament; 2 demonstrating affinity with ancient styles and practices, including the Pesher form exemplified in the Dead Sea Scrolls but not known or demonstrated by any other modern Gospel; and 3 demonstrating unique consistency with the criteria non-LDS scholars have created for identifying authentic logia, that is, words of Jesus not found in the New Testament.
Anderson also discusses the witnesses to the Book of Mormon as without parallel in any of the other modern gospels. In doing so, he highlights what is different and distinctive about the Book of Mormon, and all of his findings are directly relevant in evaluating the model that Taves offers.
These include the following:. But surface composition does not tell the whole story of the different substances. For example, in making a case that The Sorry Tale had not only a translation resembling the Book of Mormon, but an equally impressive content, Dunn writes:. Christ himself is the outstanding and speaking character, though the central figure is a son of the Emperor Tiberius by Theia, a dancing slave, who names him Hatte. The whole is subvictorian prose at its predictable worst, where tears are dropping jewels and bosoms regularly heave.
Despite Mrs. If they are mentioned, the score for accuracy is low. For instance, Mrs. If this Tale cannot recreate settings, what is its picture of Christ? The free and rapid dictation shows a patchwork of events from the Gospels — their historical integrity is flaunted in random chronology and modified message. Although all Gospels detail how five thousand were physically fed, The Sorry Tale gives a sentimental version of how hunger vanished as the crowd was overwhelmed with truth.
Such oversimplified humanism does not match the Christ of the Gospels. Here scholars seek some basis for judging whether these free-floating sayings have historical credibility, since they are not in canonical Gospels. To be considered authentic, the quotation should come from an early source with probable access to authentic information about Christ. But given this condition, how can one separate folklore from responsible tradition? There are many terse and wholesome utterances, utterly unobjectionable and free from the bias of dubious theology or the tinsel of fantasy, which have appeared to many critics as not inappropriate to the Jesus of the canonical Gospels.
The first half of this paper gave sample quotations from modern apocrypha, showing that their language typically displays platitudes, wordiness, or unfocused mysticism. But Third Nephi joins the four Gospels in the spiritual light reflecting from vivid sayings of the Lord. Therefore, whoso remembereth these sayings of mine and doeth them, him will I raise up at the last day 3 Nephi Behold, I am the light which ye shall hold up — that which ye have seen me do 3 Nephi And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel, then will the Father show forth his own works in it 3 Nephi Because a main goal of scholarship is discovery, studies continue to gather and weigh the noncanonical sayings of Jesus.
Out of several hundred possibilities, from one to two dozen are usually selected on the double basis of location in a responsible historical source plus tone reminiscent of Jesus. Third Nephi contains many more vivid sayings than the examples given above. One of the reasons I enjoy the work of the best LDS scholars in comparison to the work of disaffected LDS and secular critics is that while I am rarely surprised or disturbed by what the critics offer, 79 I am [Page ] continually astonished by what I learn from scholars like Nibley, Anderson, Welch, Peterson, Tvedtnes, Ricks, Goff, Gardner, and many others.
Yet, she did list By the Hand of Mormon in her bibliography, a remarkable book published by Oxford University Press for an academic readership. Taves can take a kind of comfort in knowing that her secular audience, for the most part, will not know or value this body of scholarship. One may notice and value features of individual and corporate life which one otherwise might have overlooked. This sounds straightforward, except that until we all possess omniscience, we all inevitably possess incorrect inferences about external reality and are therefore all operating under as yet unidentified delusions.
The history of science demonstrates over and over again that change can often come through a new insight that goes against what almost everyone else believes. In considering whether Taves or I and other believing scholars offer a map that more accurately describes the territory of LDS faith, consider the following criteria of worth because they are not paradigm-dependent. Kuhn reports on what matters most in pragmatic practice:.
So playing to an audience always involves a kind of deference to opinion, to not saying and thinking beyond a given set of assumptions, to accepting the authority of group orthodoxy. But what should matter most is not who has a given set of opinions but why? Are those opinions well grounded?
stanacconnewp.cf Do I accept audience expectation as a constraint or determiner on my thought and questions, or am I engaged in an open-ended quest for further light and knowledge, considering audience only as an afterthought or side-effect that comes after new insight or discovery? Though argument does not create conviction, the lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced, but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned.
Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief is possible. A couple of years ago, Maxwell Institute leaders asked me to advise them on the future of the Mormon Studies Review. They were interested in engaging more fully with the rising academic field of the same name, but wondered if the journal should even continue given the already crowded periodical field. My response was brief — well, brief for me — and would not have impressed any capitalists in the room.
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Other journals have that covered. Speak instead to scholars, period. Drop any hybridity goals, they urged, and tilt unreservedly toward the academy. This change in audience has implications. Ours is not the only community that has experienced the results when the universities serve academic interests rather than faith community interests.
It is not just a Mormon issue.
Compare what happened in recent LDS social history with a survey of trends in biblical studies in the twentieth century:. There is a major crisis in biblical studies of which the churches seem unaware, and there is need for urgent action to ensure that at least in theological colleges something is taught that does not simply rely on university departments and replicate their syllabus and interests.
Theological colleges and university departments now have very different agendas. Biblical studies should serve the needs of the Churches; there are other goals, too, but if the needs of the churches are not even considered, something has to be amiss. Perhaps the time has come to break free from the Faustian pact between Church and Academy. We are unlikely to solve the problems currently facing biblical studies using the methods which created them.
What we need is an approach, soundly based in scholarship, which enables us to stand where they stood, look where they looked, read what they wrote and glimpse what they saw. There is no such thing as objective biblical scholarship, that is, biblical scholarship produced by those with no faith commitment. I have often said that a professor of French who [Page ] had never been to France did not speak the language and doubted that France even existed would not be taken seriously.
The same should apply with biblical studies, but it does not. The result is that the much biblical study produced in the UK, outside the faith-based institutions, is of no use to the consumers of biblical scholarship, that is, the faith-based communities. Any medical school that produced no graduates fit to practice medicine and no research relevant to the human body would be closed down.