Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Bradford, Mary Lythgoe
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Reviews I 135 though it was continually expanded and up-dated through 28 editions (most recently in 1973), it retained obvious defects. In the words of Leonard Arrington, Church Historian, it is "theologically oriented," and primarily an account of "the recurring conflict between the Church and its 'enemies,' " with "no attempt to relate Mormon history to contemporary national developments." When President Smith died in 1973, Church officials and Deseret Book Company requested that the Church Historical Department prepare a history that would meet the same needs as Essentials. With the approval of the First Presidency, Arrington appointed James B. Allen, Professor of History at Brigham Young University, and Assistant Church Historian, and Glen M. Leonard, a Senior Historical Associate in the department to prepare the history. The result is the most important volume yet produced in the new Mormon history. The Story of the Latter-day Saints has been received so enthusiastically by Church members that at this writing, it has sold more than 20,000 copies. Perhaps the authors' most scholarly contribution lies in their artful analysis of Mormonism within the context of American history. For instance, they perceptively treat the "Mormon Question" in politics in relation to national concerns, particularly the Know-nothing and Republican Parties. As professional historians and active Mormons, the authors have achieved a remarkable blend of the scholarly approach and the religious story. When recounting an event of religious significance, they are careful to speak as historians, "according to Joseph and Oliver," and "according to Joseph's account." They do not feel constrained to bear testimony, and yet they demonstrate an empathy toward Mormonism that could only emanate from devoted members. It is a pleasing balance. In refreshing contrast to Joseph Fielding Smith's morality play, Allen and Leonard freely and frequently describe the Saint's imperfections, concluding, for instance, that they were not without blame in early persecutions. Although somewhat textbookish, the narrative flows smoothly with a consistent style. The interpretation, on the other hand, is curiously inconsistent. Due to Allen's special research, the treatment of the First Vision must be regarded as progressive, even though it does not include an examination of the various accounts. In what may be a surprise to some Mormons, the authors note that Joseph Smith stopped recounting the story very early because of his desire to protect sacred things from contempt. An especially refreshing approach is made to the translation process of the Book of Mormon, the authors suggesting that words did not miraculously appear, nor did a literal translation pop into Joseph's mind. Rather, "he was forced to concentrate deeply, attempting to determine the meaning for himself, and once he had the idea correct, he would know by a divine confirmation that he was right." Noting that ideas are expressed differently in different languages, the authors claim that the best translations "always carry the marks of the translator himself, who inevitably uses certain idioms and expressions characteristic of his training and background." As a result, the language of Joseph Smith's time and the grammatical problems he possessed also appear in the Book of Mormon, especially in the first edition. The only disappointing aspect of this enlightening discussion is the authors' annoying decision to "pass the buck" for the interpretation, prefacing it with