Scholarly controversies, like sartorial fashions, have a way of becoming quickly passe, as I am reminded by a group of articles which Dialogue has posted on the e-Papers section of Dialogue Paperless. I am thinking particularly of the three articles posted there on chiasmus in the Book of Mormon, which you can view if you like by going to http://www.dialoguejournal.com/ and following the icons. We have had zero comments on these three articles, indicative of a general indifference to the topic. I would be interested to know how readers of this blog would vote if they were on an editorial board making a decision whether to publish a piece on chiasmus.
Chiasmus, a literary device akin to rhyme, alliteration, and stanzaic structure, is thought to have been consciously used by Old Testament authors. Its appearance in the Book of Mormon is therefore seen by many as evidence that the Book of Mormon is indeed the translation of an ancient record. There is an extensive literature on intentional chiasmus in the Book of Mormon, both positive and negative, most of it decades-old.
Dedicated scholars remain interested in the subject. Mormon readers generally are not. It has had its day. I recognize that, as far as keeping up subscriptions is concerned, Dialogue should publish on issues currently in fashion. So my question is whether Dialogue is shooting itself in the foot by publishing new articles on old topics.
I will add that I have found the authors on both sides of the chiasmus controversy to be gentlemanly and fair in their approach. On the side favoring intentional chiasmus in the Book of Mormon are a pair of authors, Boyd F. and W. Farrell Edwards. They are son and father, professors of physics at public universities who have a close connection with FARMS. As such they are apologists in the best sense of the word. They write to sustain the faith, but they do so with objectivity and a uniform politeness. FARMS writers are sometimes accused of scorn and argumentum ad hominem in their rebuttals. I for one have found FARMS scholars to be entirely professional, and I am happy to avail myself of their services as referees from time to time.
From my perspective as editor of Dialogue, both apologists and critics are essential to the health of Mormonism. The apologists give an intellectual foundation to the faith. Without them, Utah Mormonism would transform into something like the Community of Christ, which has replaced the RLDS tradition with a creed having no further need of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. But the critics are essential too. Without them, the Utah church would retreat even further from an accommodation with modern science and thought.