New on disk

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:

October_2006_judasThe 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.

October_2006_motabNow 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.

October_2006_WoodfordCDHistorical 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.


  1. Thanks, J. The Woodford disk is now on my Christmas list. Would you like to venture any comparisons between it and Marquardt’s The Joseph Smith Revelations? Or Sperry’s Doctrine and Covenants Compendium?

  2. Dave, I’m actually not familiar with the Sperry work and am only tacitly familiar with Marquardt’s. The other book that I have found really quite valuable is Lyndon W. Cook’s The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants. Cook brings a lot of great history and otherwise unpublished materials that are quite complimentary to Woodford. It is kind of expensive on the used book market, but it is included in a lot of the electronic text databases. I don’t know how much it means, but it seems that most footnotes that I have seen cite Woodford or Cook.

  3. I first received a hard copy of this dissertation from UMI for $40.

    If you’re going to do things like this a lot, join a library that has UMI access. My copy of Woodford? Free, courtesy of Mr. Johns Hopkins.

  4. Jerk.

  5. I have an UMI e-copy too, actually. :) The UMI editions are not text searchable, though.

  6. Melissa De Leon Mason says:

    Thanks for this. I thought Patrick would like the Woodford disk so I e-mailed the link to myself with the title of “Christmas ideas for Patrick” and several other items I’d been thinking of. Then Patrick e-mailed back and I realized I had accidently sent the list to him, not myself. Curses!

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    I bought the Cook volume when it first came out, and I’m glad I did–it is very useful. I have a lot of books like that that are expensive now on the used book market. Part of the calculus in deciding whether to buy a new book is how long you think it will remain in print and whether it’s something you think you’re going to want anyway some day. It can be tough deciding when one has limited resources, as we all do.

  8. Do any of the commentaries on the Doctrine and Covenants have a future orientation looking at how the verses and sections have been used since their creation?

  9. Hm, well, the textual analyses are great, because they show the changes up to 1921(?) version and that effects how they are used (though the biggest changes aside from additions was between 1833-35). As to how the Saints have used them, I am not sure of a published work, but the fruit is ripe for the picking at the BYU General Conference Scripture index.

  10. It just dawned on me, Dave, that I believe that Marquardt’s treatment includes the extant revelations that were not put into the Doctrine and Covenants. You probably knew that, but I wanted to make a note of it. I imagine that it is probably much better the Collier’s Unpublished Revelations.

  11. any mouse says:

    is it disK or disC? or are both accepted?

    thanks for the recommendation on the motab cd and the woodruff disc. i’ve also added them to my christmas list! now if only i could find a way to get my anti family members to buy me church-related items. poor husband gets saddled with getting me all of the “boring” gifts.

  12. If you dont want to shell out $20 for the D&C CD, the changes in the text are documented here:

    And I have collected as much relevant first-person historical material as commonly available here:

  13. A cd or dvd is a disc, a floppy is a disk.

  14. No doubt you should be commended for your work, Kurt (Dorito). And Scott Kenny’s is great for all that are done. No doubt there. I just did a comparison of some important sections and find, however, that the Woodford/Cook combo is a much better resource. They have superior historical background and more primary source material. With Kenny it is obviously easier to compare textual variation (color coding), but Woodford compares all the manuscripts of all the sections. Woodford also gives the history of the various editions.


  1. […] The Emergence of Brigham Young and the Twelve: to Mormon Leadership, 1830-1841, by Ronald K. Esplin. [BYU Studies] $19.95 BYU Studies (and the Smith Institute before it) has made an effort to disseminate some of the more impactful theses in Mormon Studies (e.g., see here). Esplin’s thesis definitely qualifies. Sometimes (er, oft times) there is a gap between the casual or lay student of Mormonism and the insider-historian. Here, you will find lots of tasty morsels that you really can’t find anywhere else. Slowly chew your way into the inner sanctum. Remember: this is a thesis and so does not read like a novel. […]

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