I am increasingly attending to how the early Latter-day Saints understood and used the Bible as part of a project on what I call the assault on Common Sense. The best treatment of this topic remains Phil Barlow’s thoughtful and thought-provoking Mormons and the Bible. Phil draws attention to the extent of earliest Mormon Biblical literalism, emphasizing the ways that Smith and others created meaning in their exegesis, providing a space for the Restoration truths to fit within Christianity, broadly conceived. I have been long striving for a phrase to use to describe this idiosyncratic, potent, and often supernaturalizing literalism in Biblical exegesis. This week I think I settled on a name for it.
Marvelous literalism. The capacity to see, e.g. the Mother in Heaven in Jeremiah’s denunciation of competing goddesses, or the divine anthropology in stray phrases from Psalms and Paul’s denunciation of polytheism. The capacity to see the Book of Mormon in Isaiah or American Zionism in references to arrows over walls. I’m trying to decide whether it’s untenable to use the pun in marvelous to capture both the belief in the supernatural that permeates Mormon exegesis and the fact that I think what they do is, colloquially but sincerely, marvelous.
What do people think? Will the phrase work? And are there any other examples of marvelously literal exegesis that you personally treasure?
 I’m describing the Mormon assault on Protestantism, particularly through the lens of Common Sense, which represented a philosophical school, a Protestant theology, and something like an American intellectual Zeitgeist for the period.
 Phil also does a wonderful job of situating the New Translation within the broader arc of creative, or dare I say, marvelous exegesis.
 There is also the sense of hunting out the lost fragments of Christianity in these odd and oddly interpreted proof texts that must not be discounted. That’s part of why I like marvelous here as well, since they are engaging in a sort of textual treasure-digging in their hunt for the lost truths of the Gospel in the degraded modern Biblical text.