"To Cheer, to Raise, to Guide":
Twenty-Two Years of the FARMS Review
“To Cheer, to Raise, to Guide”: Twenty-Two Years of the FARMS Review
Daniel C. Peterson
The office of the scholar is to cheer, to raise, to guide men by
showing them facts amidst appearances. He plies the slow, unhonored, and unpaid
task of observation. . . . He is the world’s eye. —Emerson1
Nearly a quarter of a century ago, in 1988—I never
really envisioned myself becoming as old as I now am—John W. Welch, the
moving force in the establishment of the Foundation for Ancient Research and
Mormon Studies (FARMS) roughly a decade earlier, approached me with a question.
Would I be willing to launch and edit a new annual volume reviewing books about
the Book of Mormon?
I had been an enthusiastic fan of what came to be known as FARMS
from its founding in 1979, but I had been unable to do much about my enthusiasm
during that time, since, from the fall of 1978 through the late summer of 1982,
I had been living in Egypt and since, from the summer of 1982 to the fall of
1985, I was busy with my doctoral program at the University of California, Los
Angeles. (California was a very long distance from FARMS in those days, to say
nothing of Egypt. Some younger readers will find this difficult to imagine, but
there was no Internet in 1979. Few people even had personal computers.)
By 1988, though, I had been on the faculty at Brigham Young
University for roughly three years, and I had begun to involve myself with the
work of FARMS.
Still, Jack Welch’s invitation represented my first opportunity
to be formally connected with FARMS. So I leaped at the chance. And, thus, the Review of
Books on the Book of Mormon, as it was originally called, was born.
From the beginning, though, I wanted our new
periodical—FARMS’s first periodical—to be more than just a simple
collection of book reviews. I thought about the way I myself used the work of
music critics: When I went into a music store to buy a recording of, say,
Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, I would first walk over to the bookshelf, if the store
had one, to consult various guides to, or magazines on, classical recordings.
Having familiarized myself with what the commentators had to say, I would put
the guides back on the shelf and buy the version I had selected. But I never
bought any of the guides. Why should I? They had served their purpose when I
made my choice. For me, they had little or no intrinsic value; they were merely
a means to an end.
I wanted the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon to be something
that would have value in itself, that would be worth buying and reading in its
Fortunately, that goal was achieved right from the start.
I’ll use as my illustration of that fact John Clark’s review of
F. Richard Hauck’s Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon. When I
first approached Professor Clark, already a very experienced Mesoamerican
archaeologist, with the proposal that he review the Hauck book, he was—to
put it mildly—reluctant. He was busy, often on the road, preoccupied with
digs in Chiapas, Mexico. He wasn’t particularly eager to wade into the
squabbles over Book of Mormon geography.
Frankly, I did not expect to receive anything from him. But then
he came through, in spectacular fashion, with a marvelous review essay
entitled “A Key for Evaluating Nephite Geographies.” 2 It eventually yielded fifty-one pages in the printed edition, complete with
maps, tables, and figures. Going beyond simply reviewing a specific book, it
set forth ten fundamental requirements that had to be met by any aspiring
geographical model for the Book of Mormon. It was precisely the kind of thing
that, just as I had hoped, would have value in itself and would be worth buying
and reading in its own right. From then on, in every issue of the Review,
there has always been at least one essay—often more than one—that
has had value independent of (and sometimes much greater than) the book or
other item that it was reviewing. Some of the books being reviewed provided an
excuse for important contributions to the scholarship on a topic.
Another characteristic feature of the Review was also
established with the very first issue: its willingness to be critical even of
books by friends, by people on our “side.” Todd Compton, a classicist
and an old friend of mine from graduate-school days at UCLA, opened his review
of three volumes in the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley by saying that “one
approaches Hugh Nibley with a mixture of awe and anguish.” 3 The sweep and genius of Nibley were stunning, but, Compton said, sometimes the
details were a bit inaccurate. Likewise, Louis Midgley’s review of the first
two volumes of Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet’s Doctrinal
Commentary on the Book of Mormon faulted seeming tendencies to
recast our scriptures as—though, of course, no believer would actually
say it this way or be less than offended at such a thought—messy and
inadequate attempts to do dogmatic theology, tendencies that he saw implicit in
the books he was reviewing.4
Other characteristics of the Review that were apparent even in
the first issue included its editor’s very laissez-faire attitude toward review
lengths. I sought out people who I thought were qualified to have something
interesting to say about the books they had been asked to review, and then I
stood out of their way. I didn’t tell them what approach to take nor whether to
be positive or negative. I didn’t even tell them how many words they had to
make their points. It was probably a bit unnerving to some of them, but when
they asked how long their reviews should be, I simply said that their reviews
should be as long as they needed them to be in order to say what they wanted to
say. Given such free rein, the Review has, over the years,
published some quite lengthy essays. I’m happy about that.
And many of them have been my
own. From the start, although my maiden effort came to only six pages,5 I (and occasionally others) have written
substantial editor’s introductions to each issue of the Review. I didn’t ask
permission to do so, and nobody came forward to stop me. It has been a bully
pulpit for more than two decades now.
There was one other factor that greatly helped to ensure the Review‘s
success: Shirley Ricks. Shirley had married one of my companions from the
Switzerland Zürich Mission, my longtime friend and now colleague in BYU’s
Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages, Professor Stephen Ricks. Holding
a PhD herself, in studies relating to the family, she had become an editor with
FARMS. Her contribution as the Review‘s production editor was
essential from the very first. Meticulous at her craft, she was also the
crucial person who saw to it that issues of the Review actually went
to press and emerged for distribution. Consummately well organized, in later
years she also managed to impose at least some minimal measure of discipline on
wide-ranging and often hilarious Review editorial meetings.
The second volume of the Review appeared in 1990. A few new
things appeared in it, harbingers of things to come. First of all, though every
item contained in it was related to the Book of Mormon, not everything in it
was a book review. It led off with the text of Richard Dilworth Rust’s “Designed
for Our Day,” the annual FARMS lecture. (We have, since that time,
published the texts of a number of important FARMS- and now Maxwell
Institute–sponsored lectures.) It also included Daniel McKinlay’s
response to Alan Goff’s 1989 BYU master’s thesis entitled “A Hermeneutic
of Sacred Texts: Historicism, Revisionism, Positivism, and the Bible and Book
of Mormon.” 6
In addition, it contained my
review of Peter Bartley’s Mormonism: The Prophet,
the Book and the Cult. 7 Taken with Ara Norwood’s critique of Vernal
Holley’s attempt to derive the toponyms and the geography of the Book of Mormon
from Joseph Smith’s nineteenth-century environment,8 which appeared earlier, this represented the
first in a long and continuing series of responses by me and others to what is
quite accurately described as sectarian or countercult anti-Mormon literature.
Though such responses have never dominated the Review, they have been one
of its serious areas of focus and specialty over the more than two decades of
its subsequent history. And gratifying anecdotal evidence suggests that at
least some prominent anti-Mormon writers, who were once able to get away with
just about anything (confident that their work would neither be reviewed nor
noticed by serious, informed Latter-day Saint authors), found this very, very
One of my own personal favorite reviews was published in the
third issue of the Review. Loftes Tryk’s The Best Kept Secrets in the Book of Mormon was (unintentionally, I think) among the funniest books I had ever read, and I
absolutely loved reviewing it. Any critic of the church who argues, in print,
that the initials LDS reveal the true origin of Mormonism because they
stand for “Lucifer Devil Satan” is definitely going to have my
Last year, in this Review, I examined Peter Bartley’s
polemic against the Book of Mormon, and termed it “rather worthless.”
I had not yet read Loftes Tryk’s The Best Kept Secrets in the Book of Mormon,
which is incomparably worse. For all his many, many flaws, Peter Bartley now
seems to me by contrast the Shakespeare, the Michelangelo, the Aristotle, the
Einstein of anti-Mormonism. If Bartley’s book is no Rolls Royce—if,
indeed, it more closely resembles an engineless Studebaker sitting on
grass-covered blocks behind a dilapidated barn—it is nonetheless infinitely
more sober and respectable than Loftes Tryk’s literally incredible volume, a
gaudily painted Volkswagen disgorging dozens of costumed clowns to the zany
music of a circus calliope.9
This issue also featured one of the most memorable opening lines
we’ve ever published, when Stephen Robinson began his review of a revisionist
volume from Signature Books with “Korihor’s back, and this time he’s got a
printing press.” 10 One of our finest essay titles would come in volume 5 (1993): “Playing
with Half a Decker,” Louis Midgley’s review of Dean Maurice Helland’s
Professor Robinson’s insightful response to a collection of
mostly sectarian criticisms of the Book of Mormon resulted in the publisher and
owner of Signature Books, George D. Smith, instructing his attorney to threaten
legal action. By so doing, Smith was seeking to use the courts to silence
responses to criticisms of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon rather than
employing the traditional tools of scholarship, argument, and the analysis of
evidence. I was determined not to be intimidated by this gambit, and I responded
to this legal mischief in the next editor’s introduction to the Review.12 Subsequently, when criticisms of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon have
trickled out from Signature Books, comprehensive responses have regularly
appeared in the Review.13
There has been at least one additional effort to silence and
punish financially those Latter-day Saints who even mention the name of one
very litigious countercult author, let alone those who have the temerity to
examine his opinions on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. But this amusing
story cannot be told here, nor can the name of this fellow even be so much as
mentioned: in Review circles we simply refer to him as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”
The Review has always had an impish sense of humor and a
penchant for irony and satire. This has offended some who have, I’m convinced,
quite misunderstood what was going on. But it has entertained many, and,
personally, I’ll choose dry wit over dry tedium any day of the week.
With such essays in volume 4 (1992) as Matthew Roper’s review of
Weldon Langfield, The Truth about Mormonism: A Former Adherent Analyzes the LDS
Faith,14 and John Gee and Michael Rhodes’s review of Charles Larson’s By His Own
Hand upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri,15 it was becoming clear that the Review was not going to limit
itself solely to books about the Book of Mormon. Still, it remained heavily
concentrated on such books, and every issue concluded with a comprehensive bibliography
of relevant titles for the preceding year.
In 1994, the Review went from annual to semiannual. The immediate
impetus for this change was the publication of an anthology of mostly
secularizing and reductionist essays on the Book of Mormon, largely authored by
disaffected former believers and edited by Brent Lee Metcalfe, entitled New Approaches
to the Book of Mormon.16 We devoted essentially an entire issue of the Review—volume 6, number
1—to detailed responses to New Approaches. I was particularly
delighted, when I was looking for somebody to respond to a chapter that argued
that the population figures in the Book of Mormon were unrealistic, to come
across Dr. James E. Smith, a Latter-day Saint and a professional demographer
with particular expertise in the estimation of ancient populations.17 I hadn’t even imagined that such a person existed.
Since Metcalfe had included an essay in New Approaches in which he argued that the complex literary device known as chiasmus (or
inverted parallelism) could have appeared in the Book of Mormon simply by
accident, I was especially pleased to have included in this same issue of the Review Bill Hamblin’s subtle and yet devastating refutation of Metcalfe’s conclusion.18
I have had occasion many times since to marvel at the range and
depth of talent and training that exists, and that can be called upon, among
members of the church. Another notable example of this came when I was looking
for someone to examine Robert D. Anderson’s reductionist Inside the
Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon. I was
delighted to discover Michael D. Jibson, MD, PhD, director of residency
education and clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of
Michigan, who not only knew his stuff but also wrote so well that I’m not sure
that we corrected so much as a comma in his submitted essay.19
With volume 8, in 1996, we made the first name change to the Review,
altering it from Review of Books on the Book of Mormon (and thus,
unfortunately, losing the wonderful acronym ROBOTBOM) to FARMS Review
of Books. And, for the first time, we moved from an undifferentiated
table of contents to a list of contents organized by type. For instance, the
table of contents for FARMS Review of Books 8/1 featured items categorized
under not only “Book of Mormon” but also “Books on Other Ancient
Scripture,” “Polemics,” “Historical and Cultural Studies,”
“Study Aids,” and “Fiction.” These categories have shifted
from issue to issue, according to need—the table of contents for FARMS Review
of Books 8/2, the very next issue, was organized into “The Book
of Mormon,” “Other Scriptures and Ancient Texts,” “Other
Publications,” “Publications for Children,” and “Study Aids”—but
they have always clearly signaled that the Review‘s concerns have broadened
beyond the Book of Mormon alone. (In FARMS Review of Books 9/2 ,
the category of “Mormon Studies” made its first appearance.)
Volume 11, number 2, published in 1999, was dedicated to
responses to Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson’s important book How Wide the
Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation.20 It even included a lengthy review essay by Paul L. Owen and Carl A. Mosser in
which these two young evangelical scholars offered their own critique of
Latter-day Saint doctrine.21 Although there were understandable concerns among some about providing yet
another platform for others to argue against the faith of Latter-day Saints, I
thought it worthwhile to showcase a pair of evangelicals who, at least, sought
to do so honestly, charitably, and fairly. We had, entirely with justice, been
complaining so long about attacks on the church that were neither honest nor
charitable nor fair that it seemed reasonable to celebrate, as it were, a
hopeful sign of better (or, at least, less bad) things to come.22
Another of my own favorite moments in the history of the Review—I’ve
had to skip over many, owing to constraints of time, energy, and reader
patience—came when, in 2001, Review 13/2 published the mature
Davis Bitton’s bitingly critical review of a 1966 essay in Dialogue bearing the title “Anti-Intellectualism in Mormon History” 23 and written by . . . the younger Davis Bitton.24 (One of our editors, upon first noticing that the author of the review bore the
same name as the author of the work that was being reviewed, called to warn me
about the mistake. But that, of course, was the joke. The Review‘s
humor is, not uncommonly, directed at itself and its own authors.)
That issue also contained a fine article by Ari Bruening and
David Paulsen examining the development of the early Mormon concept of God and
looking specifically at claims that the Book of Mormon’s view of the Godhead is
a form of modalism.25
Perhaps most significantly, though, volume 13, number 2, marked
the appointment of two new associate editors for the Review.
Louis Midgley, a retired professor of political science at BYU,
had earned his doctorate at Brown University and had focused his research and
writing on philosophical theology and its implications for doctrines of natural
law and the moral underpinnings of government. He had already contributed several
important essays to the Review.
George Mitton had followed graduate studies in political science
and public administration at Utah State University and Columbia University with
a twenty-five-year career in the government of the state of Oregon, where he
was mostly involved with educational planning and administration of the state’s
colleges and universities. He had previously joined in writing for the Review substantial and complex critiques of John Brooke’s The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of
Mormon Cosmology, 1644–1844 and of D. Michael Quinn’s Same-Sex
Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example.26 Since
their appointment, Brothers Midgley and Mitton have been actively involved in
securing, vetting, editing, and improving materials for the Review,
as well as in writing their own essays (and sometimes editor’s introductions)
In 2003, with Review 15/1, we saw another name change. The FARMS Review
of Books dropped the “of Books” and became, simply, The FARMS
Review. We had, for some time, been reviewing videos and websites
and articles and theses, and even publishing freestanding essays, so the new
title more accurately reflected what we were actually doing. I liked the change
because it allowed the flexibility that we wanted, and because it reflected a
common kind of academic-journal title exemplified by such venerable
publications as The Yale Review and The Sewanee Review. I thought,
wrongly as it turns out, that we had finally reached equilibrium, that we had
the title we wanted, and that it would stay in place. Review 15/1 also saw the first “Book Notes,” relatively short and often
(though not always) purely descriptive pieces on books to which we wanted to
call our readers’ attention or about which we simply wanted to set out an
opinion. These were often authored by one or more of the three editors—at
first they were usually unattributed—but sometimes others contributed
Book Notes as well. (In such cases, the authors of the notes were identified.)
In 2003, in Review 15/2, we began to address the then-boiling
issue of Amerindian DNA and the Book of Mormon,27 as well as a volume published by a retired Church Educational System
instructor, written apparently while on the church payroll, attacking
fundamental claims of the restoration.28 As these two examples illustrate, when an issue seemed to warrant several
essays, or when there are clearly different opinions on or approaches to a
single topic, we have invited several authors to voice their opinions. In
addition, we have invited several authors to respond to the same critic or
criticism in several issues of the Review.
I could list literally scores of truly important reviews and
essays published in the Review over the years, and I’m painfully aware of
omitting many. One important exchange occurred in Review 19/1 (2007),
when we published a critique of Latter-day Saint use of the well-known “ye
are gods” passage from Psalm 82, written by the evangelical scholar
Michael S. Heiser.29 It was accompanied by a reply from David E. Bokovoy, 30 a Latter-day Saint graduate student of the Hebrew Bible at Brandeis University,
which was followed by a rejoinder from Dr. Heiser.31 The exchange was a model, on both sides, of civil and charitable disagreement,
and a fascinating tutorial on a very interesting topic (namely, the so-called
divine council) in contemporary biblical scholarship.
With Review 19/2, Don Brugger replaced Shirley Ricks as the Review‘s
production editor. (She had been reassigned to help complete the Collected
Works of Hugh Nibley in time for the centennial of his birth in March 2010.)
After nearly two decades, the change was a bit painful, but Don has stepped into
the role admirably and with superb editorial skills, and the work proceeds.
Over the more than two decades of its existence, under its
various names, the Review has published hundreds of pieces by well over
two hundred authors. These authors, chosen because they struck the editor(s) as
having something interesting, valuable, or relevant to say and the
qualifications to say it, have been left free to say pretty much what they
wanted, at whatever length they wanted to say it. (We have published only a quite
small number of unsolicited submissions.) 32 They have dealt with many issues, from Amerindian DNA to recent arguments for
so-called Heartland models of Book of Mormon geography that try to situate the
story of the Nephites and the Jaredites entirely within the continental United
States, from efforts to resuscitate the “Spalding theory” of Book of
Mormon origins to sociological studies of the religiosity of American youth,
from Margaret Barker’s work on ancient temple imagery to Mormon’s editorial
method and the usefulness of religious history, from so-called Intelligent
Design to contemporary Openness Theology, from the doctrine of creation ex nihilo to the concept of remembrance in the scriptures and unique perspectives on the
Sermon on the Mount.
I am unabashedly proud of the Review. The late University of
Utah professor and former assistant church historian Davis Bitton once told me
that, in his opinion, the best writing in the church was being published in its
pages. (I agree.) And another former president of the Mormon History
Association took me aside many years ago at an MHA meeting to complain about the Review:
whenever the newest issue arrived, he lamented, he had to put everything else
down and read it from cover to cover, which absolutely destroyed his work
schedule and his plans for the day.
By a very great distance, the Review has, since its first issue
in 1989, been the publication of FARMS and now the Maxwell Institute most
overtly willing to confront critics, most prone to engaging in controversy or
polemics or overt apologetics. (These words are, it should be noted, not
intrinsically negative or pejorative in normal English usage.) And yet, as I’ve
already remarked, such apologetic, polemical, or controversial engagements
represent only a minority portion of the Review‘s content over the years.
Even a simple listing of some (not
all) of the freestanding essays from just the past few years of the Review will give some sense of the range of topics it has addressed:
• Mark H. Willes,
“To All the World: Reinventing the Church’s Media Businesses,” FARMS Review 22/2 (2010): 1–13.
• Cecil O.
Samuelson, “On Becoming a Disciple-Scholar,” FARMS Review 20/2 (2008): 1–14.
• Bruce C. Hafen,
“Reason, Faith, and the Things of Eternity,” FARMS Review 20/2 (2008): 15–35.
• Ronan James
Head, “A Brief Survey of Ancient Near Eastern Beekeeping,” FARMS Review 20/1 (2008): 57–66.
• James E.
Faulconer, “The Myth of the Modern; the Anti-myth of the Postmodern,” FARMS
Review 20/1 (2008): 219–36.
• Raphael Jospe, “ ’The Glory
of God Is Intelligence': A Note on Maimonides,” FARMS Review 19/2 (2007):
• Steven L.
Olsen, “The Theology of Memory: Mormon Historical Consciousness,” FARMS Review 19/2 (2007): 25–35.
• Terryl L.
Givens, “New Religious Movements and Orthodoxy: The Challenge to the
Religious Mainstream,” FARMS Review 19/1 (2007): 201–20.
• M. Gerald
Bradford, “The Study of Mormonism: A Growing Interest in Academia,” FARMS
Review 19/1 (2007): 119–74.
• William J.
Hamblin, “Sacred Writing on Metal Plates in the Ancient Mediterranean,” FARMS
Review 19/1 (2007): 37–54.
• Stephen D.
Ricks, “Dexiosis and Dextrarum
Iunctio: The Sacred Handclasp in the Classical and Early Christian
Review 18/1 (2006): 431–36.
• Paul Y.
Hoskisson, “Aaron’s Golden Calf,” FARMS Review 18/1 (2007):
• Royal Skousen, “Conjectural
Emendation in the Book of Mormon,” FARMS Review 18/1 (2006):
We have reprinted slightly edited or updated essays that had
previously appeared elsewhere,33 when we believed that they had been neglected, and we have also published one
or two older essays that had previously circulated privately.
There are treasures here, not to be missed, in these and other
essays, and in literally hundreds of reviews. Fortunately, all of the contents
of the Review,
from its first issue in 1989 down to the present day, are indexed and hence
easily available, at no cost, online:
Now, though, we come to yet another name change. The FARMS Review becomes the Mormon Studies Review. The change, which I sincerely hope really will be the last one, signals the breadth of the subject matter that the Review has treated over the past several years. It relieves us of the obligation
(which we once tried to meet but have long since abandoned) of trying to review
every single item published on the Book of Mormon, however trivial, obscure,
and/or insignificant. It was, however, largely compelled by the fact that, with
the rise of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, the name FARMS is receding rapidly into the background and we didn’t want the name The FARMS
Review to survive merely as a fossil reminder of that earlier stage
of the history of the organization (particularly since the name FARMS has always been a bit awkward, drawing calls to our receptionists from members
of 4-H clubs seeking counsel about raising pigs for competitions at the state
The Mormon Studies Review will continue to be published
semiannually, featuring reviews and essays dealing with a range of issues, most
of which, in one way or another, will center on the scriptures. It will
continue to defend the sacred writings of our tradition, as well as other
aspects of Latter-day Saint thought and practice. The Review represents our commitment to scholarly excellence—we won’t hesitate to
point out serious flaws, when we see them, in pro-Mormon publications as well
as in the works of critics—and our deep conviction of the intellectual
robustness of Latter-day Saint faith claims. Indeed, it will continue to
commend them, to the best of our capacity, through vigorous and learned discourse.
We also welcome into our aging ranks a new associate editor, the
energetic and prodigiously talented Canadian physician Gregory Smith. Dr. Smith
studied research physiology and English at the University of Alberta but
escaped into medical school before earning his bachelor’s degree. After
receiving his MD, he completed his residency in family medicine at St. Mary’s
Hospital in Montréal, Québec. There he learned the medical vocabulary and
French Canadian slang that he didn’t pick up in the France Paris Mission and
won the Mervyn James Robson Award for Excellence in Internal Medicine. He now
practices rural family medicine in Alberta, with interests in internal medicine
and psychiatry. A clinical preceptor for residents and medical students, he has
been repeatedly honored for excellence in clinical teaching.
Dr. Smith has a particular research interest in Latter-day Saint
plural marriage and has been published in the Review 34 (and elsewhere) on this and other topics. His science background has also led
him to write about DNA and the Book of Mormon. With twelve years of classical
piano training, he is, he says, “a lifelong audiophile and owns far too
many MP3 files.” He further reports that he “lives happily with his
one indulgent wife, three extraordinary children, and four cats.”
He will be a marvelous asset to the continued progress of the Mormon
I deeply appreciate the efforts of those who have assisted in the
development and production of this inaugural issue of the Mormon Studies
Review: associate editors Lou Midgley, George Mitton, and Greg
Smith; production editor Don Brugger, assisted by intern Julie Davis; editorial
reviewer and typesetter Alison Coutts; and proofreaders Paula Hicken and Sandra
Peterson (PhD, University of California at Los Angeles) is professor of Islamic
studies at Brigham Young University.
Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar,” speech given on 31 August
Clark, “A Key for Evaluating Nephite Geographies,” review of Deciphering
the Geography of the Book of Mormon, by F. Richard Hauck, Review of
Books on the Book of Mormon 1 (1989): 20–70. We have included
in this issue of the Review a slightly modified version of Clark’s original
essay with all references to Hauck removed.
Compton, review of Lehi in the Desert; The World of the Jaredites; There Were
Jaredites, by Hugh Nibley; An Approach to the Book of Mormon,
by Nibley; and Since Cumorah, by Nibley, Review of Books on the Book of
Mormon 1 (1989): 114–18.
Midgley, “Prophetic Messages or Dogmatic Theology? Commenting on the Book
of Mormon: A Review Essay,” review of Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Volume
1: First and Second Nephi, by Joseph Fielding McConkie and
Robert L. Millet; and Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Volume 2: Jacob through
Mosiah, by McConkie and Millet, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 1 (1989): 92–113.
C. Peterson, editor’s introduction, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 1 (1989): v–x.
B. McKinlay, review of “A Hermeneutic of Sacred Texts: Historicism,
Revisionism, Positivism, and the Bible and Book of Mormon” (master’s
thesis, Brigham Young University, 1989), by Alan Goff, Review of Books
on the Book of Mormon 2 (1990): 86–95.
C. Peterson, review of Mormonism: The Prophet, the Book and the Cult, by Peter
of Books on the Book of Mormon 2 (1990): 31–55.
Ara Norwood, review of Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look, by Vernal
of Books on the Book of Mormon 1 (1989): 80–88.
C. Peterson, “A Modern Malleus maleficarum,” review of The Best Kept
Secrets in the Book of Mormon, by Loftes Tryk, Review of
Books on the Book of Mormon 3 (1991): 231–60.
10. Stephen E.
Robinson, review of The Word of God: Essays on Mormon Scripture, ed. Dan
of Books on the Book of Mormon 3 (1991): 312–18.
Midgley, “Playing with Half a Decker: The Countercult Religious Tradition
Confronts the Book of Mormon,” review of “Meeting the Book of Mormon
Challenge in Chile,” by Dean Maurice Helland (Ann Arbor, MI: University
Microfilms International, 1990), Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 5 (1993): 116–71. The reference in the title is to the notorious
anti-Mormon mountebank, charlatan, and demagogue Ed Decker, best known for his
once-popular, sensationalizing, anti-Mormon pseudodocumentary The God Makers.
12. Daniel C.
Peterson, “Questions to Legal Answers,” Review of Books on the Book of
Mormon 4 (1992): vii–lxxvi.
13. For an
account of the relatively small yet still significant number of subsequent
attacks on the faith of the Saints that have been issued by Signature Books,
see Louis Midgley, “The Signature Books Saga,” FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 361–406. For works reviewed after this article, see John A.
Tvedtnes, “Isaiah in the Bible and the Book of Mormon,” review of “Isaiah
in the Book of Mormon: Or Joseph Smith in Isaiah,” by David P. Wright, in American
Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon, ed. Dan Vogel and Brent Lee
Review 16/2 (2004): 161–72; Ryan Parr, “Missing the Boat
to Ancient America . . . Just Plain Missing the Boat,”
review of Losing
a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church, by Simon
G. Southerton, FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 83–106; Andrew H.
Hedges and Dawson W. Hedges, “No, Dan, That’s Still Not History,”
review of Joseph
Smith: The Making of a Prophet, by Dan Vogel, FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 205–22; Alan Goff, “Dan Vogel’s Family Romance and the
Book of Mormon as Smith Family Allegory,” review of Joseph Smith:
The Making of a Prophet, by Vogel, FARMS Review 17/2 (2005):
321–400; Richard N. Williams, “The Book of Mormon as Automatic
Writing: Beware the Virtus Dormitiva,” review of “Automaticity
and the Dictation of the Book of Mormon,” by Scott C. Dunn, in, American
Apocrypha, ed. Vogel and Metcalfe, FARMS Review 19/1 (2007):
23–29; Gregory L. Smith, “George D. Smith’s Nauvoo
Polygamy,” review of Nauvoo Polygamy: “. . . but we called it
celestial marriage,” by George D. Smith, FARMS Review 20/2 (2008): 37–123; Robert B. White, “A Review of the Dust Jacket
and the First Two Pages,” review of Nauvoo Polygamy, by Smith, FARMS Review 20/2 (2008): 125–29; Alan Goff, “How Should We Then Read? Reading
Mormon Scripture after the Fall,” review of Making of a Prophet,
by Vogel, FARMS
Review 21/1 (2009): 137–78.
Roper, review of The Truth about Mormonism: A Former Adherent Analyzes the LDS
Faith, by Weldon Langfield, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 4 (1992): 78–92.
15. John Gee, “A
Tragedy of Errors,” review of By His Own Hand upon Papyrus: A New Look at
the Joseph Smith Papyri, by Charles M. Larson, Review of
Books on the Book of Mormon 4 (1992): 93–119; and Michael D.
Rhodes, “The Book of Abraham: Divinely Inspired Scripture,” review
His Own Hand upon Papyrus, by Larson, Review of Books on the Book of
Mormon 4 (1992): 120–26.
16. Brent Lee
Metcalfe, ed., New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical
Methodology (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993).
17. James E.
Smith, “Nephi’s Descendants? Historical Demography and the Book of Mormon,”
review of “Multiply Exceedingly: Book of Mormon Population Sizes,” by
John C. Kunich, Sunstone 14 (June 1990), Review of Books on the Book of
Mormon 6/1 (1994): 255–96.
18. William J.
Hamblin, “An Apologist for the Critics: Brent Lee Metcalfe’s Assumptions
and Methodologies,” review of “Apologetic and Critical Assumptions
about Book of Mormon Historicity,” by Brent Lee Metcalfe, Dialogue 26/3
(Fall 1993), Review
of Books on the Book of Mormon 6/1 (1994): 434–523.
19. Michael D.
Jibson, “Korihor Speaks, or the Misinterpretation of Dreams,” review
the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon, by
Robert D. Anderson, FARMS Review of Books 14/1–2 (2002):
20. Craig L. Blomberg
and Stephen E. Robinson, How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997).
21. Paul L.
Owen and Carl A. Mosser, review of How Wide the Divide?, by
Blomberg and Robinson, FARMS Review of Books 11/2 (1999): 1–102.
22. Carl Mosser and
Paul Owen were also the authors of the well-known article “Mormon
Scholarship, Apologetics, and Evangelical Neglect: Losing the Battle and Not
Knowing It?,” Trinity Journal (Fall 1998): 179–205, in which
they lamented the low quality of evangelical critiques of Mormonism and called,
effectively, for more competent, honest, and fair polemics on their side.
23. Davis Bitton, “Anti-Intellectualism
in Mormon History,” Dialogue 1/3 (1966): 111–34.
24. Davis Bitton, “Mormon
Anti-Intellectualism: A Reply,” review of “Anti-Intellectualism in
Mormon History,” by Davis Bitton, Dialogue 1/3 (1966), FARMS Review
of Books 13/2 (2001): 59–62.
25. Ari D. Bruening
and David L. Paulsen, “The Development of the Mormon Understanding of God:
Early Mormon Modalism and Other Myths,” review of Mormonism and
the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830–1915, by Kurt
Review of Books 13/2 (2001): 109–69.
26. William J.
Hamblin, Daniel C. Peterson, and George L. Mitton, “Mormon in the Fiery
Furnace; Or, Loftes Tryk Goes to Cambridge,” review of The Refiner’s
Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644–1844, by John L.
Review of Books 6/2 (1994): 3–58; and George L. Mitton and
Rhett S. James, “A Response to D. Michael Quinn’s Homosexual Distortion of
Latter-day Saint History,” review of Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century
Americans: A Mormon Example, by D. Michael Quinn, FARMS Review
of Books 10/1 (1998): 141–263.
27. We began doing
this with a number of essays, including Daniel C. Peterson’s editor’s
introduction entitled “Of ‘Galileo Events,’ Hype, and Suppression: Or,
Abusing Science and Its History,” FARMS Review 15/2 (2003):
ix–lx; Daniel C. Peterson, “Prolegomena to the DNA Essays” (pp.
25–34); David A. McClellan, “Detecting Lehi’s Genetic Signature:
Possible, Probable, or Not?” (pp. 35–90); Matthew Roper, “Nephi’s
Neighbors: Book of Mormon Peoples and Pre-Columbian Populations” (pp.
91–128); Matthew Roper, “Swimming in the Gene Pool: Israelite
Kinship Relations, Genes, and Genealogy” (pp. 129–64): Brian D.
Stubbs, “Elusive Israel and the Numerical Dynamics of Population Mixing”
(pp. 165–182); and John A. Tvedtnes, “The Charge of ‘Racism’ in the
Book of Mormon” (pp. 183–197).
28. The reviews of
Grant H. Palmer’s An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins (Salt Lake City:
Signature Books, 2002) that were published in the FARMS Review 15/2
(2003) included a statement by the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for
Latter-day Saint History concerning Palmer’s book (p. 255), which was followed
by Davis Bitton, “The Charge of a Man with a Broken Lance (But Look What
He Doesn’t Tell Us)” (pp. 257–71); Steven C. Harper, “Trustworthy
History?” (pp. 273–307); Mark Ashurst-McGee, “A One-sided View
of Mormon Origins” (309–64); and Louis Midgley, “Prying
into Palmer” (365–410). Later we also published James B. Allen, “Asked
and Answered: A Response to Grant H. Palmer,” FARMS Review 16/1
29. Michael S.
Heiser, “You’ve Seen One Elohim, You’ve Seen Them All? A
Critique of Mormonism’s Use of Psalm 82,” FARMS Review 19/1
30. David E. Bokovoy,
Really Are Gods': A Response to Michael Heiser concerning the LDS Use of Psalm 82 and the
Gospel of John,” FARMS Review 19/1 (2007): 267–313.
31. Michael S.
Heiser, “Israel’s Divine Council, Mormonism, and Evangelicalism:
Clarifying the Issues and Directions for Future Study,” FARMS Review 19/1 (2007): 315–23.
32. In my experience,
at least, academic journals typically invite people to write book reviews. Of
roughly fifteen reviews I’ve written for secular journals, only one or two were
initiated by me.
33. Examples include
Mark Ashurst-McGee, “Moroni as Angel and as Treasure Guardian,” FARMS Review 18/1 (2006): 35–100; and Martin E. Marty, “We Might Know What to Do
and How to Do It: On the Usefulness of the Religious Past,” FARMS Review 21/1
34. Gregory L. Smith,
“George D. Smith’s Nauvoo Polygamy,” review of Nauvoo
Polygamy, by George D. Smith, FARMS Review 20/2 (2008):