Feast upon the Word Blog

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Christmas List 2012: Books on Scripture/Theology

Posted by kirkcaudle on December 7, 2012

As the host of the newly created Mormon Book Review Podcast I have the opportunity to read and/or review a variety of books dealing with Mormonism. Recently, I have been approached and asked for recommendations on good LDS themed books that have been released during 2012. Other blogs, such as this BCC post by J. Stapley, have created some nice lists of their own. In order to stay within the spirit of the Feast blog, my Christmas list will focus on books that deal directly with scripture and/or theology. The books are listed in alphabetical order, contain an Amazon link, as well as links to audio interviews with the authors (if applicable).

Books that I have read/reviewed:

Brown, Samuel. In Heaven as It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death

For my money, the best book dealing with Joseph Smith is Richard Bushman’s 2007 biography of the Prophet, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. In 2012, Samuel Brown has produced the second best book about Joseph Smith. Brown, a medical researcher and physician, takes on the 19th century American Christian death culture that was so present in the daily lives of Joseph Smith and his family. Using that culture as a backdrop, Brown presents, through the eyes of Smith, the complex development of an afterlife/death theology in early Mormonism.

My audio interview with Samuel Brown can be found here.

Miller, Adam. Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology

Richard Bushman calls Adam Miller, “the most original and provocative Latter-day Saint theologian practicing today.” After reading the writings of Adam Miller it is hard to disagree with Bushman. However, even if he is wrong, Bushman cannot be far off in his assessment. Rube Golberg is a landmark work in the world of Mormon theology. One reason for this is because Miller does what few Mormons have dared to do, theology. This book is a collection of 14 academic essays pieced together in a logical order. The academic nature of the book lends itself best to those with at least an elementary knowledge of philosophy and theology. I believe that the average reader can gain great knowledge from this book, but the serious student of religion will benefit the most because, in my estimation, the book is directed towards such an audience.

Listen to a conversation that Adam Miller and I had about Rube Goldberg Machines here.

Skousen, Royal. The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text

Ok, so this book did not come out in 2012, it came out in 2009. However, I still have to put it on the list simply because what Skousen has done here is pretty remarkable. The Earliest Text is the culmination of his work on The Book of Mormon Critical Text project. It is disappointing that more readers of The Book of Mormon are not familiar with this improved (and reformatted) text. The changes (both in format and language) provide for an entirely new experience reading this book. I think that Feast readers will experience the Book of Mormon in a completely different way after using it in their studies.

Royal Skousen talks about The Book of Mormon Critical Text Project here and here.

Spencer, Joe. An Other Testament: On Typology

If you are a regular reader of the Feast blog you have undoubtably already heard of Joe Spencer. If you like his posts, then you will like this book. Spencer has an uncanny ability to read The Book of Mormon and see things that most of us do not see. Spencer reads the book on its own terms and finds the beauty that lies within. Few books contain such sound exegesis and provide such a close reading of the text. It is not a stretch to say that Spencer is one of the greatest minds doing work on The Book of Mormon today and that An Other Testament is among the most important books on The Book of Mormon ever written.

Listen to Joe Spencer talk about An Other Testament here.

The following are books that come highly recommended from others whom I trust. Therefore, I feel confident enough about each of these books to make mention of them here. I am now in the process of reading/reviewing each of these books. I will update this blog post with my own reviews and/or interviews after that process is complete.

Baker, Jacob, ed. Mormonism at the Crossroads of Philosophy and Theology: Essays in Honor of David L. Paulsen

Mormonism at the Crossroads of Philosophy and Theology is published by Greg Kofford Books, a press that is really publishing some great work in the Mormon Studies field. Those interested in Mormon scripture/theology should really consider checking out their entire catalogue. The book describes itself as, “a collection of essays representative of Paulsen’s wide-ranging professional and personal influence, collected in honor of his many achievements and published on the occasion of his retirement. Each of the authors (a majority of whom are not LDS) has been impacted by Paulsen’s scholarship and friendship in important ways, and have authored essays reflective of this dynamic. In addition, the essays are significant contributions to Mormon thought in and of themselves, covering diverse areas of inquiry from Mormon atheology to the possibility of an Evangelical Mormonism; from Liberation Theology to Mormon conceptions of divine embodiment; from Mormon approaches to transcendence to Mormonism’s confrontation with evil and suffering, and many more.”

Faulconer, James. The Life of Holiness: Notes and Reflections on Romans 1, 5-8
If you visit the Feast blog regularly, then you will know James Faulconer better as Jim F. AKA the guy that posts those awesome Sunday School notes. Published by the Maxwell Institute, this book was literally just released and it is just about as new as a book can get. I am really looking forward to reading more of it. The book describes itself as, “the product of years of reflection and careful study of the Epistle to the Romans . . . a work that provokes their thoughts, offering questions for consideration and reflection more than answers, matters to consider rather than doctrine to hear.”

Mason, Patrick Q., J. David Pulsipher, and Richard L. Bushman, eds.War and Peace in Our Time: Mormon Perspectives

In my opinion, the question of how Mormons should approach modern warfare is a question that has not garnered enough attention in the field of Mormon Studies. This collection of essays is (like Crossroads of Philosophy and Theology) published by Greg Kofford Books and is described as “essays reveal[ing] how the scriptures, prophetic teachings, history, culture, rituals, and traditions of Mormonism have been, are, and can be used as warrants for a wide range of activities and attitudes-from radical pacifism to legitimation of the United States’ use of preemptive force against its enemies.” Contributors to this volume include: Patrick Q. Mason, J. David Pulsipher, Richard L. Bushman, Joshua Madson, Morgan Deane, Robert A. Rees, F.R. Rick Duran, Mark Ashurst-McGee, Jennifer Lindell, Ethan Yorgason, Jesse Samantha Fulcher, Robert H. Hellebrand, D. Michael Quinn, Boyd Jay Petersen, Loyd Ericson, Eric A. Eliason, Gordon Conrad Thomasson, Ron Madson, Mark Henshaw, Valerie M. Hudson, Eric Jensen, Kerry M. Kartchner, and John Mark Mattox.

5 Responses to “Christmas List 2012: Books on Scripture/Theology”

  1. [...] Recommended Article FROM http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2012/12/07/christmas-list-2012-books-on-scripturetheology/ [...]

  2. kirkcaudle said

    This list was highlighted in Emily W. Jensen’s column at the Deseret News on Tuesday. Thanks for the acknowledgment Emily!

    http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865568975/Bloggernacle-Back-Bench-Christmas-lists-share-ideas-for-the-holiday-plus-a-new-Christmas-Mormon.html

  3. kirkcaudle said

    My interview with Jacob Baker regarding “Mormonism at the Crossroads of Philosophy and Theology: Essays in Honor of David L. Paulsen” is now on-line. You can find it here:

    http://www.themormonbookreview.com/2013/01/04/an-interview-with-jacob-baker-mormonism-at-the-crossroads-of-philosophy-and-theology-episode-10/

  4. kirkcaudle said

    My interview with James Faulconer discussing his book “The Life of Holiness: Notes and Relections on Romans 1, 5-8″ can be found here:

    http://www.themormonbookreview.com/2013/01/11/an-interview-with-james-faulconer-%E2%80%9Cthe-life-of-holiness-notes-and-reflections%E2%80%9D-episode-11/

  5. kirkcaudle said

    My interview with Patrick Mason discussing the book he co-edited, “War and Peace in Our Time: Mormon Perspectives” is now on-line and can be found here:

    http://www.themormonbookreview.com/2013/01/24/an-interview-with-patrick-mason-%E2%80%9Cwar-and-peace-in-our-time-mormon-perspectives%E2%80%9D-episode-14/

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