29 November 2007

Course of study

Next year we are studying the Book of Mormon in our Sunday School classes, and the teachings of Joseph Smith in Priesthood/Relief Society. I try to make a habit of reading some supplementary material alongside the correlated manuals and assignments. So I'm looking for some advice as to what I ought to read alongside our course of study for 2008.

My plans so far:

Book of Mormon- Since Cumorah, Hugh Nibley
By the Hand of Mormon (reread), Terryl Givens

Joseph Smith- Rough Stone Rolling, Richard L. Bushman

Also next semester, I am taking a class on the OT in the Department of Religion (needed a little time away from the law school). Any suggestions on some additional reading or particular versions of the OT that I might want to consider?


  1. I posted a month ago on this topic, actually. There are FIVE books to add to your list :)


  2. I don't have any suggestions, but I was wondering what you thought of By the Hand of Mormon? And what about People of Paradox, for that matter? I'm brainstorming books to ask for for Christmas and/or read over the break, and I've been considering these two. However, I've heard that Givens' work tends to have a somewhat biased flavor. Would you suggest them?

  3. Steve,

    Givens is definitely pro-Mormon. He is obviously not pro-Mormon enough for some people's taste, since Deseret Book won't even carry his books. However, since his books are not really dealing with controversial historical or doctrinal material, I am not sure his bias should be so troubling. I know people get a little bent out of shape over Bushman's supposed bias in RSR, but that in my mind is a qualitatively different kind of subject matter. As I remember it (having read it 2-3 years ago), By the Hand of Mormon does not seem to be overly concerned with whether the BOM is true or not, but rather what was the effect that it had on the Church and on Joseph Smith. That may be faulty memory, but this is NOT a FARMS-style "try-to-prove-the-BOM-is-true" kind of text.

    In my opinion, you should definitely read both of the books you have picked out here. If you have not noticed already, T&S is running a mini-"symposium" on People of Paradox on their site. I think the book is flawed as to its organization, but the ideas are sound.

    Over the next 10-20 years, if you want to be considered well-read in Mormon Studies, familiarity with Givens' oeuvre will be essential. Also, check out his book Viper on the Hearth, which is actually my favorite one of his. It deals with anti-Mormon rhetoric in the 19th century and how it was deployed against Mormons to make them the "Other." It is expensive and hard to find, but you can try to request it from the University Library and that seems to work well.

  4. Hey bro, I think you need a break from all these academic classes. Go check out wilderness skills or fly-fishing. You can't go wrong with those!


  5. Hey, I read People of Paradox and part of By the Hand of Mormon over the break. Thanks for suggesting them.

    I haven't gotten far enough into By the Hand of Mormon to comment much on it, but I really enjoyed People of Paradox, even though I think he skimped on analysis in some chapters, opting instead for mere historical summary. But he really shined in the chapters on art, theatre, and literature (unsurprisingly, considering his background). It was a great read.