March 8, 2010

"My Faves" on the Book of Mormon - Kevin Christensen

In the "My Faves" series I've been asking Mormon scholars to list and briefly describe their favorite five articles on the Book of Mormon. Kevin Christensen's selections are intended for anyone interested in reading the Book of Mormon.  For such a wide audience, Christensen chose important essays covering the essential contexts of the book. "Really," Christensen adds, "there has been an amazing amount of work.  More than I can even think through. 'Important' is a relative term, of course.  For a different set of readers, I would have to do another list." His explanation follows each reference. 

1. Richard L. Bushman, "The Recovery of the Book of Mormon" in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited, Noel Reynolds, ed. (FARMS, Provo, 1997), 21-38.

This chapter establishes the timeline and the eyewitnesses to something very important. It includes the exciting observation that even though Joseph's critics often claim to be telling the "real story", they, rather than believers, tend to avoid early first-hand eye-witness testimony. 

2. Hugh Nibley, "New Approaches to Book of Mormon Study" in The Prophetic Book of Mormon, (Deseret Book and FARMS, Salt Lake City and Provo, 1989), 54-126.

This is old, dating to 1953, but does a wonderful job of explaining the logic of his approach, of placing the Book of Mormon in the contexts that it claims for itself, and examining it there.  I've never seen the logic assailed.  Rather, the critics tend to demonstrate exactly the pitfalls and inevitable consequences that he explains. 

3. Alan Goff, "Boats, Beginnings, and Repetitions," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 1/1 (1992), 67-84.

This begins teaching readers the importance of reading an ancient text as an ancient text, with a mindset attuned to their view of repetition and allusion.  While his subsequent essays go into more detail, and further examples, this one approaches the earliest stories in the Book of Mormon, and should, I think, teach a new reader how to read by using the first stories they would encounter. 

4. Brant Gardner, "The Social History of the Early Nephites," 2001 FAIR Conference, (youtube video available here).

Gardner's paper takes a fresh look and compelling approach to the text and context of the Book of Mormon.  Brant walks through the early Nephite story showing how a knowledge of context can transform our reading of the text. 

5. S. Kent Brown, "New Light From Arabia on Lehi's Trail" in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon (FARMS, Provo, 2002).

This article is representative and thus provides an important introduction to the Arabian setting.  It should further impress readers with the importance and significance of reading the Book of Mormon in a specific time and place.

Kevin Christensen has worked as a technical writer in California, Kansas, Missouri, and currently in Pennsylvania. He has an BA in English from San Jose State University. His own essays can be found in Dialogue, Sunstone, the FARMS Review, The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Insights, the FARMS Occasional Papers, Glimpses of Lehi’s Jerusalem, Meridian Magazine online, FAIR, and in Terryl Givens and Reid Neilson's Joseph Smith Jr.: Reappraisals After Two Centuries (Oxford University Press, 2009).


Robert Boylan said...

I am glad you got Kevin Christensen to do this; I have always enjoyed his insights in the Book of Mormon in his articles and comments on the MAD Board.

Anonymous said...

This is great. I've always enjoyed Kevin's insights and I'm definitely going to go back and take a second look at some of these articles he's recommended. I look forward to more Blair.

Anonymous said...

I like that he had the old and new skool! His Bushman selection is worthy of a top 5.

I enjoy reading S. Kent Brown, but I love to hear him talk. For some reason his voice is like the audible version of Nitrous Oxide to me. :-)

Big UP!


mfbukowski said...

Great idea Blair, and I know we all enjoy KC as well. I love the point Bushman makes about Emma saying that Joseph was just plain too "unlearned" to have done it- and never recanting that statement.

BHodges said...

Newest addition is Richard Bushman.

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