Book for sale, slightly damaged

For sale: Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures.  Missing a few chapters.  $10.00.

High quality paper, hardcover edition.  A few chapters have been removed from the book as I intend to retain such chapters for future reference.  The remaining chapters are available in their entirety.

Missing are the following chapters:

  • The Latter-day Saint Concept of Canon, by Elder Alexander Morrison;
  • Scripture as Incarnation, by James Faulconer;
  • The World and the Word: History, Literature and Scripture, by John S. Tanner; and
  • The Historicity of the Book of Mormon, by Elder Dallin H. Oaks.

Chapters by Daniel Peterson, Louis Midgley and others are still found complete.  For example, the case study of the Book of Abraham by John Gee and Stephen Ricks is largely untouched beyond the discussion of northern Mesopotamia as the site of Ur.  The chapter by Daniel Peterson, however, has a few crinkles caused by spasms as pages were turned, beginning with the author’s arguments against scientific study of scripture as "the academic version of shooting fish in a barrel."  Kent Jackson’s article on Joseph Smith and the Historicity of the Book of Mormon is still found intact.  It may appear to be missing pages, but book is as-printed.  Without the footnotes and cross-references, the article is supposed to be only a few pages long.  Louis Midgley’s article, "No Middle Ground," is slightly marked, highlighting sections where Prof. Midgley informs Latter-day Saints of their own beliefs.  Pages may appear strangely yellowed-colored as a result.

Articles by Elders Morrison and Oaks have been removed from the book, as I wish to read and re-read them for their reason and faith.  John Tanner’s article has been removed so that I may study it as a form of intellgent and articulate testimony.  Jim Faulconer’s article has been removed to facilitate study by a team of cryptologists, but upon initial readings it seemed provocative and faith-promoting.

Please contact me if you are interested in this slightly damaged text.


  1. Arturo Toscanini says:

    If you removed the remaining essays, you’d likely get more money for book. More money would mean more tithing, and more tithing would mean more blessings. Such are the consequences of dispensing with Lou Midgely. (I even heard that Lou Midgley showed up unannounced at Lighthouse Ministries and rudely interrupted George Smith having fondue with the Tanners.)

  2. Why is it that Amazon lists this book for $90 and up? Is it still in print? Did you pay $90 for your copy? Would you sell those other four chapters for $80?

  3. Mark, no idea why Amazon lists it for so much. I bought my copy at the BYU bookstore on clearance a month ago for $10.00. They weren’t running out of them anytime soon…

    The other four chapters are the best. It took a lot of effort to rip them from the high quality binding :)

  4. D. Fletcher says:

    I actually think the church could do itself a favor and end all research on historicity, i.e., close down FARMS and any official connection to research of this kind. It would warrant a return to “total faith,” that the Book is itself a book of faith, not of history at all.

  5. D., you know that you and I see the issue a little differently; I see the historical, factual accuracy of the scriptures to a greater extent. But I think I still agree with you that historical-based proofs of scripture will never be a sufficient source of faith to be worthwhile. You can’t ground your testimony in how the Maya built stone temples, etc.

  6. D. Fletcher says:

    Yeah, Steve, we disagree, but perhaps you don’t know that I actually do think there’s some historicity to the scriptures. My problem with FARMS is that people are counting on it to “validate” their faith, their testimony, and this seems wrong. I think research into the Book of Mormon over its history has shown us that… there might be some things which are proved, along with things that are disproved. I don’t think the writers of the Book intended to be recording their history, and so their words are tainted by opinion and misinformation as anybody’s. The writers of the Book were employed to engender faith, just like the writers of the New Testament.

  7. Sigh.

    90% of what FARMs does is not geared towards proving anything. Rather, it’s meant to illucidate the context of the scriptures and the reasonableness of belief. That’s not proof nor a substitute for testimony, and I challenge you to find me a “FARMS person” who claims it is.

    It’s interesting to me that the people most dismissive of FARMS seem to be the same people who think FARMS is out to prove someone’s testimony.

    Perhaps the problem is not with the writers, but with the readers, who may do as D says. (Much FARMS stuff has a disclaimer in the front about that, BTW.)

    Furthermore, I don’t think our critics are going away. I’m sure you’ve seen this before, but it bears repeating.

    “Though argument does not create conviction, lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced; but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish.” (Austin Farrer on C. S. Lewis.)

    Elder Eyring also has some comment on this kind of thing.

    “It is helpful to meet a brilliant mind who defends gospel truths with fact and logic. There is comfort in finding that such a person has confronted the same questions with which you struggle and has retained his faith. But there is a hazard. Even the most brilliant and faithful person may defend the truth with argument or fact that later proves false. The best scholarship has, at least, incompleteness in it. But even flawless argument has a weakness if you come to depend on it: What happens to the next doubt, or the next? What if no physical evidence or persuasive logic can be produced to dispel it? ***You will find then what I have found—that faithful scholar who reassured you with logic did not base his faith there. It was the other way around.*** (There’s where I see FARMS.) His faith reassured him that someday, when God told him how it was all done, he would see all truth as perfectly logical, transparently reasonable. In the meantime he was enjoying discovering what he could with the logic he could muster.” Eyring, To Draw Closer to God, 142.

  8. Ben, I didn’t mean to suggest that FARMS wants us to substitute empirical evidence as a foundation for our faith. I know that’s not the case. They are smart, faithful people.

    I should note that I do not dismiss the claims of the FARMS staffers in the book; quite the contrary, I am unable to address the bulk of their proofs. However, I can say that as a casual reader, the approaches to historicity that spoke most clearly to me were those that dealt with the issue through literary or philosophical tradition rather than via debate, argument or external evidences. I wonder why this is so — I suspect much of it is just a matter of taste. But I was put off by papers that sound overly authoritarian or dogmatic about issues that are far from resolved. The tack taken by Elder Oaks was, to me at least, far more appealing.

  9. Ah, ok. There I go tilting at windmills again.

    I have the book, and I thought the Gee/Ricks article was excellent. Then again, that’s the kind of stuff I’m immersed in with my schooling, so it spoke to me more than it would to someone else.

  10. The book is listed for $29.95 at Deseret Book online.

  11. HL Rogers says:

    For me Steve’s post points to another criticism that I have had with some of the religious scholarship at BYU. I assume that 1. the Church wants religious scholarship to take place at BYU (thus the fact that they have encouraged the BYU religion faculty to publish etc.) and 2. that such scholarship can be done at a high level at BYU. However, I have seen very litle of number 2 come form BYU. I don’t mean this to sound overly critical or overly broad. There is some very high quality religious scholarship coming out of the Y but my impression is that it comes from very few people.

    With books like the one above, the chapters have to be heavily reworked and retooled with the authors after they are submitted and before they are publishable. This makes me think that even though BYU has created places for Mormon religious scholarship to be published (to help tenure track professors fulfill their requirement (see the Religious Educator as a new journal mainly aimed at helping BYU reliigon profs publish)they have not been able to find the scholarship to fill the pages.

  12. HL Rogers says:

    As a caveat: this problem is probably not unique to BYU. I get the sense that often universities have a small proportion of the faculty publishing the majority of the top flight scholarship coming from it. However, I think the BYU religion department is unique in that it seems very torn between being an institute and being a university. That is not a criticism for either approach. I think BYU needs both from its religion department: those that can teach the gospel in a CES institute faith-promoting manner and those that can do the research and the publishing which I think is important for Mormon studies. My critique is more that BYU seems much better at the institute angle than at the scholarship angle.

  13. If BYU has them on clearance and isn’t going to run out of them any time soon, would you pick a copy of one up for me for $20.00?

    E-mail if you can do that ($20.00 + priority mail envelope and postage — $24.00 total).

  14. I would do that, if I were in Utah.

  15. Maybe someone here is at BYU?

    Well, I’ll check my e-mail tomorrow to see if I have a taker.

  16. I have no comment on the book, but have to congratulate Steve on hitting upon such an hilarious form to employ for a book review.

  17. Thanks Wm. I appreciate it.

  18. Daniel Peterson says:

    “The chapter by Daniel Peterson, however, has a few crinkles caused by spasms as pages were turned, beginning with the author’s arguments against scientific study of scripture as “the academic version of shooting fish in a barrel.””

    I just happened across this old discussion, and was, frankly, amazed by what I found.

    I wonder whether you actually read the book (or, at least, my article in it). I made no such argument as you attribute to me — nor anything even remotely like thereunto — and I have no problem at all with what I suppose you intend by “scientific study of scripture.” That wasn’t even what my article was ABOUT.

    Moreover, I just took a look at the article in order to remind myself of what I had in mind when I referred to something (to use my actual words) as “the academic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel.” And it turns out that I wasn’t referring to “scientific study of scripture” at all — where you came up with THAT I can’t imagine — but to my own immediately preceding discussion of the difference between the disclosures yielded by historical method, on the one hand, and, on the other, replicable data obtainable from laboratory experiments. As I said, a critic had claimed that only scientific knowledge counts as genuine knowledge. I thought his position transparently false — indeed, self-contradictory — and, at the risk of belaboring the obvious, explained why.

    Here is what I actually said following that passage, as opposed to your gross distortion of it:

    “Now, again, this may seem obvious. My discussion may seem the academic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. But there is an important point to be grasped here: Historical knowledge does not, it is true, attain the same kind or degree of certitude as can be attained in a chemistry lab, or at the end of a geometric proof — though, in passing, let me say that even those two areas may not deliver quite as much certainty as is commonly thought — but it can attain a plausibility or probability that comes very close to certainty. And we are right to call it, precisely, ‘historical knowledge.”

    I can certainly understand it that you found your weird misreading of my article outrageously ridiculous.

    So do I.

  19. Daniel, glad to see that you’re rewarding me with an equally charitable reading of my review! Sometime I’d love to hear what your article was really about, because I certainly didn’t understand your point from reading it.

  20. Daniel Peterson says:

    It was a very simple point: Scriptural historicity is important, but a claim of historicity is not to be confused with a claim of scriptural inerrancy.

    I’ve never run into anybody before who had a hard time seeing what I was getting at in that article. If anything, my fear was that readers would think my position trivially obvious. (Hence the line about “shooting fish in a barrel.”)

    If charity would help me to see an accurate point in your comments about my article — which, frankly, I cannot see at the moment — I would be happy to have you teach me charity.

  21. Steve Evans says:

    LOL! Daniel, I’m not sure that I am sufficient a teacher for your purposes.

  22. Steve, the problem is not that Daniel is reading you uncharitably. The problem is that you derided his article as being so bad it gave you spasms based on, according to him, misquoting him.

    His comment was that you are outrageously distorting what he said and based on your review he is not sure you actually read the article. If you really misquoted him as badly as he says, then I am not at all sure why it is Daniel who is showing a lack of charity by saying that.

    If you didn’t misquote him, rather than making comments about how uncharitable he is, you could deal with the argument he is making, which seems a straightforward matter of analyzing the text in question.

  23. Daniel Peterson says:

    Thanks, Frank.

    I was puzzled when I saw Steve’s claim that I had argued against the “scientific study of scripture,” since such a thought has never crossed my mind. (For the record, I absolutely do not oppose or object to such study — apart from the problematic nature of the word “scientific” in such a context.)

    So I went back to the article to see what could possibly have suggested such a thought to Steve’s mind. But that didn’t help. I still really don’t know.

  24. Gentlemen,
    Steve’s a corporate lawyer who blogs about South Park and Batman. He’s also a Canadian. He owns a Coby DVD player. He deserves our pity.

  25. Daniel Peterson says:

    I’m so sorry. I should have known.

  26. Good point, Ronan. On the other hand, his Batman posts are quite good.

    Daniel, perhaps were you to provide high quality artwork and balloon dialogue in your articles Steve would produce some high quality commentary. Also, consider publishing with Dark Horse Comics instead of FARMS.

  27. Frank,
    The fact that you just mentioned Dark Horse Comics means that we can be friends. Hooray!

  28. Adam Greenwood says:


    Dignity for sale, slightly used.

  29. Steve Evans says:

    Thanks, peanut gallery.

  30. OK, being serious now…

    I haven’t read the article in question, so cannot comment. Dan, I hear Steve has magnanimously offered you the podium. I do hope you take it as I’m sure BCC readers would love to read your insights on scriptural historicity (and its importance).

    Adam, nice of you to show up.

  31. now there’s a review that tells me I’ll like the book, with at least four good articles and a couple to make me hopping mad. And I’m so curious now what I’ll think of the Daniel Peterson piece.

    and to think i had no interest in this book when it came out.

  32. Aaron Brown says:

    Dan, let me second the suggestion that you agree to a guestblogging stint at BCC. You may not realize it yet, but BCC has already eclipsed T&S in prestige, intellectual firepower and relevance to Mormon life. It’s only a matter of time before the desperate T&S permabloggers realize their plight, by which time we will have already forgotten that they ever were.

    We’re VHS and they’re Beta. Join us.

    Aaron B

  33. Daniel Peterson says:

    “In other words, yield yourselves up unto us, and unite with us and become acquainted with our secret works, and become our brethren.”

    I’ll think about a guestblogging stint. I did it over at Times and Seasons a while back, but my tenure there was unspectacular, as I didn’t have much time. I fear that the same problem would surface here — particularly as I’m trying to wean myself from internet addiction, anyway.

    And, I confess, I said pretty much all that I wanted to say about the question of historicity and inerrancy in the article that Steve Evans found so risible and opaque.

    Still, though, I’ll think about it.

  34. Bro. Peterson: Yes, but there are many others of us who would very much like to hear what you might have to say about other subjects as well. (Steve Evans included as well I’m sure). I had no idea this thread even existed, and am now going to buy the book (not the $10.00 version). Deseret Book still has it listed as Dave referenced earlier.

    Looking forward to your guest post stint. Blogging, is not, however, part of internet addiction–so you should be fine there.

  35. Guy, you can actually buy it new from the BYU Bookstore for about $10.00, undamaged, if you poke around.

  36. Thanks Steve . . .do you know if you can order it online? Or perhaps over the phone, as I’m a bit distant now from the Lord’s Bookstore.

  37. hmm…. I think you can order by phone. I picked mine up last time I was in the Valley.

  38. “We’re VHS and they’re Beta.”

    So, who is DVD?