While books are the traditional media of Mormondom, the compact disk and dvd have revolutionized how we do things over the last decade. Here are some notable new releases:
The Truth About the Gospel of Judas, Deseret Book Company. Have you seen those roundtable discussions on BYUTV where they have four or five gospel scholars discuss a passage of scripture? Well, this is kind of like that for the controversial Gospel of Judas. BYU does have some solid scholars on related topics, and here we have them bantering about how Latter-day Saints should approach the book. Now, if you know what the Nag Hammadi Library, Coptic, Gnostics and the history of Judas in Mormon thought are, this probably isn’t a conversation for you. This disk is for the average Saint with a Sunday School level of knowledge of the ancient Near East.
It is a good discussion. I think the biggest negatives are that the conversationalists try too hard to make the conversation faith promoting. Not that faith promotion is a bad thing, but I don’t think the ramifications of such a discovery have to be cast in light of “good news” or “bad news.” There is only news. Also, when discussing Judas they eliminate all perspectives from the Mormon marketplace of ideas except that of Joseph Fielding Smith, which while significant, obviates the thoughts of folks like Talmage, which are included in the Missionary Library.
For those interested in a more in depth discussion, the recent edition of BYU Studies has an interesting article.
Now Let Us Rejoice — Organ Hymns for the Sabbath, Mormon Tabernacle Choir (I hadn’t realized that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir had its own record label.). Now, we are a long ways from the days where the saints gathered in the Temple after long hours of administering our sacred rites to dance into the night with the Nauvoo Brass Band. We are a people of the organ. I think that most people’s conceptions of organ music are flavored by the calm moments before sacrament meeting. This new album could be a surprise for some. These aren’t the arrangements from the hymnbook. This music has tension, dynamism and complexity. In many ways, it is challenging. As a people of the organ, this is an interesting step beyond the regular fare and I recommend it as a natural step towards the grander world of this, in many ways anachronistic, instrument.
Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants, by Robert J. Woodford. I first received a hard copy of this dissertation from UMI for $40. It came in the mail and was about eight inches thick (It is 1,874 pages). I flipped through it and my first thought, having written a dissertation myself, was, “What was he thinking!” Woodford’s dissertation is the ultimate in Doctrine and Covenants history. He gives a historical background of each edition up to the 1970′s, the historical background of each section and a detailed list of manuscripts and textual variations among them. It is a goldmine. $20 for a text searchable PDF on DVD sure beats the heck out of my $40 copy from microfilm.