FARMS Review 19/1 (2007) Now in Print

In my ongoing campaign to encourage people to subscribe to and read the Mormon studies journals, I am pleased to report that the latest issue of the FARMS Review has just returned from the printer. The electronic version has not yet been posted, but it should be shortly for the benefit of subscribers. (Presumably, as in the past, one or two articles will be made freely available to the public immediately, with the rest of the contents being made freely available eventually.)

FARMS Review 19/1 (2007) – Table of Contents

Daniel C. Peterson, Editor’s Introduction, “Reflections on the Reactions to Rough Stone Rolling and Related Matters”……xi


James B. Allen, “Davis Bitton: His Scholarship and Faith”….1

John L. Sorensen, “Valuing Davis Bitton”…..9


Brant A. Gardner, “A New Chronicler in the Old Style”…..13
(a review of David Calderwood, Voices from the Dust)

Richard N. Williams, “The Book of Mormon as Automatic Writing: Beware the Virtus Dormitiva,”……23
(Review of Scott C. Dunn, “Automaticity and the Dictation of the Book of Mormon”)


William J. Hamblin, “Reformed Egyptian”…..31

William J. Hamblin, “Sacred Writing on Metal Plates in the Ancient Mediterranean”…..37


Louis Midgley, “Two Stories–One Faith”…..55
(response to Richard Lyman Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling)

Alyson Skabelund Von Feldt, “Does God have a Wife?”…..81
(review of William G. Dever, Did God Have a Wife: Archaeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel)


M. Gerald Bradford, “The Study of Mormonism: A Growing Interest in Academia”…..119

James E. Faulconer, “Rethinking Theology: The Shadow of the Apocalypse”…..175

Terryl L. Givens, “New Religious Movements and Orthodoxy: The Challenge to the Religious Mainstream”……201


Michael S. Heiser, “You’ve Seen One Elohim, You’ve Seen Them All? A Critique of Mormonism’s Use of Psalm 82″…..221

David E. Bokovoy, “‘Ye Really Are Gods’: A Response to Michael Heiser concerning the LDS Use of Psalm 82″……267

Michael S. Heiser, “Israel’s Divine Council, Mormonism, and Evangelicalism: Clarifying the Issues and Directions for Future Study”…..315


Jacob D. Rawlins, “Turning Away”…..325
(Review of Tad R. Callister, The Inevitable Apostasy and the Promised Restoration and Alexander B. Morrison, Turning from the Truth: A New Look at the Great Apostasy)

Alison V. P. Coutts, “Disarray Revisited”…..333
(Review of Noel B. Reynolds, ed., Early Christians in Disarray: Contemporary LDS Perspectives on the Christian Apostasy and Scott R. Peterson, Where Have all the Prophets Gone)

Stephen D. Ricks, “Forward or Drawrof?”…..343
(review of Gustave Mahler, ed. & trans., <emthe Sealed Book of Daniel Opened and Translated: The Linear Bible Code–Reading the Book Backwards)


John Gee, “A Method for Studying the Facsimiles”…..347
(review of Allen J. Fletcher, A Study Guide to the Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham)


Ralph C. Hancock, “A Sinking Ship”…..355
(review of C. John Sommerville, The Decline of the Secular University)


Julian Baggini, Atheism: A Very Short Introduction…..361

Randall Balmer, Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism…..362

Margaret Barker, The Hidden Tradition of the Kingdom of God…..363

Allan Jacobs, The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis…..364

Ramsay MacMullen, Voting about God in the Early Church Councils…..365

Richard I Mouw, Calvinism in the Los Vegas Airport: Making Connections in the Modern World…..366

Roger E. Olson, Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities…..368

Daniel C. Peterson, Muhammad: Prophet of God…..369

Jeffery L. Sheler, Believers: A Journey into Evangelical America…..370

Christian Smith, with Melinda Lundquist Denton, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers…..371


  1. Just out of curiosity, what are the big difference folks have with RSR? (I honestly thought there would be more reactions in this volume)

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Clark, I don’t have my copy yet, but I think you’re reading a negative reaction into the titles (such as the “response” word in Midgley’s piece). Both Dan Peterson and Lou Midgley are big fans of RSR.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    As I reread your comment I see that you may be asking about the “reactions” that Peterson responds to; if so, Clark, we’ll need to read the DCP piece fo find out.

  4. Christopher Smith says:

    The is bound to be one of the best FR issues ever. I’m especially interested in reading the review of Scott Dunn’s article and the exchange with Michael S. Heiser. It’s nice that they’re letting an evangelical scholar offer a dissenting opinion. I think the only other time they did that was after How Wide the Divide was publshed. (Or was it the New Mormon Challenge? I forget.)

  5. This is a good of a time to ask. I’m reading Hugh Nibley’s “Lehi in the Desert” “The world of the Jaredites” and “There Were Jaredites” right now. I’m curious, how accurate is Mr. Nibley’s assertions about the correlation between the anthropology and archaeology of Ancient Asia to both the Nephites and the Jaredites? What evidences did Mr. Nibley gloss over that might have contradicted his assertions, if any?



  6. David Honey’s review of Nibley’s book comes to mind.

    Ecological Nomadism

    I’m curious why this issue does not seem to feature any formal reviews of RSR.

    (BTW, has Journal of Book of Mormon Studies ceased publication? I’m waiting for the second issue of 2006.)

  7. Kevin,

    Do the two articles by Hamblin differ from his similarly titled FARMS articles published during the 1990s?

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Justin, it is my understanding that the latest JBMS also has just been printed and will shortly be sent to subscribers. Although I don’t have specifics on the contents at this time, I have heard that this will be a fat issue.

    Since I don’t actually have the FR issue in hand yet, I can’t answer your question about the Hamblin articles, but my guess is that they are formal publications of his prior informal papers.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    Christopher, you’re thinking of HWTD, and I agree, it is fun when they publish scholarly exchanges like that.

  10. Kevin, I didn’t mean to imply a negative reaction. Just that I assumed there would be some disagreements. I’m curious as to what the major points of disagreement are.

  11. Thanks, Kevin.

    I own every issue of FARMS Review, and I’ve found recent issues to be less interesting than those published in the 1990s. I’m not interested in rereading slightly revised versions of recently published articles (e.g., “Moroni as Angel and Treasure Guardian” or “‘Priced to Sell’: Review of Prophecy and Palimpsest” by Robert M. Price), or reading reviews of Sunstone articles from the 1980s. More variety in the reviewers would also be welcome.

  12. Mike Parker says:

    Justin #6:

    BTW, has Journal of Book of Mormon Studies ceased publication? I’m waiting for the second issue of 2006.

    I received my issue in the mail Saturday 7/28. It’s a double issue focusing on the latest research on Lehi’s journey in Arabia.

    Comment by Justin

  13. Mike Parker says:

    (Please ignore the “Comment by Justin” in my previous comment. I’m posting this via a mobile device, and messed up on the copy/paste…)

  14. Justin, interestingly I felt that way too. Back in the early 90’s I regularly bought the reviews. It seemed like there was a lot of original research that was brought out in the reviews. (Although to be fair there was also a lot of irrelevant books that got reviews that were pointless) The last while I’m hard pressed to think of reviews I return to. Contrast this with some excellent ones from the 90’s such as the one on Book of Mormon geography.

    That’s not a slam on FARMS. I think in a way a lot of the “low hanging fruit” has been picked in terms of LDS scholarship at this stage. What comes next is harder and takes time.

    Still, am I alone in being somewhat disappointed? Or are my feelings more the difference between a guy who’s read a lot the last 15 years and is in his late 30’s versus a guy being exposed to faithful intellectual study for the first time in college.

  15. To add, I think that FARMS is also partially “defined” by their opposition.

    It’s been a while since there were good intellectual attacks on the Church. (IMO) In the 90’s you had Quinn’s work, Brent Metcalf had some interesting stuff, and so forth.

    More recently we’ve had the MMM stuff, but beyond that what is there? We’re all awaiting Metcalf’s new book on the BoA which should reinvigorate that field. (When is it coming out? Is it out?) But not a whole lot else that I can see.

    (Am I wrong in this? Like my perhaps biased exposure to faithful LDS scholarship it seems like our naturalistic critics had their best days in the 90’s as well)

  16. Christopher Smith says:

    The New Mormon Challenge and the Vogel biography of Joseph Smith are both fairly recent.

  17. I received my issue in the mail Saturday 7/28. It’s a double issue focusing on the latest research on Lehi’s journey in Arabia.

    Thanks for the update, Mike. By double issue, do you mean that it’s simply larger than a typical issue or that it’s numbered (or counts) as the second issue of 2006 plus the first issue of 2007? Perhaps JBMS should shift to annual publication. It seems to have trouble putting out two issues a year.

  18. Kevin Christensen says:

    I think the FARMS Review is the most consistently exciting and relevant LDS journal. For my money, it keeps getting better and better, bringing in new voices writing at a high level with the wingspread needed for meaningful exploration. In each issue, I run across things that change my perceptions. I’ve been particularly excited by the recent work by Larry Morris and Mark Ashurst McGee, Taggart’s review of Leaving the Faith, Midgely’s touching tribute to Hugh Nibley, the high caliber work on DNA issues, on MMM, everything by Brant Gardner, John Clark, Daniel Peterson, and Alan Goff, and the in-depth, thoughtful reviews on numerous other topics. I read every issue cover to cover, and have done from the start. I can’t say that about any other LDS journal, though I have heaps and heaps of them While I don’t agree with everything I read in the Review, I rarely react with boredom, and almost never, far worse, the incredulous “What were they thinking?” response that I too often taste elsewhere (for example, the Huggins essays in Dialogue.)

    For the new issue, pay close attention to Alyson Von Feldt’s review of Did God Have a Wife? This is one of those that changes perception afterwards.

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  19. Yeah, but The New Mormon Challenge was (IMO) pretty disappointing. For the most part it was summaries of work that had gone on before or was largely irrelevant (i.e. Orson Pratt’s metaphysics) Don’t get me wrong it was a very important book in terms of getting discussion going. In terms of pushing research and LDS understanding I don’t think it was.

    Vogel’s biography I’ll grant you, although once again I don’t think there was that much new there. (Maybe someone will disagree with me there – I’ve not read it yet although it is in my “to read” list) I just don’t see it as important as say Magic World View; Refiners Fire; or even at lot of Signature’s stuff from the early 90’s which seems quaint now but was blazing a trail then.

    So I’m sticking with my comments. I think part of the problem (outside of my afore mention wonder at exposure to LDS studies) is that most of the low hanging fruit has been plucked on both sides. What comes next is harder. So perhaps we just can’t expect the plethora of publishing we once had.

    Kevin, I think the DNA issue is the best counter-example to my argument and I’m glad you brought that up. I’ll therefore temper my comments.

    I’ll check out Feldt’s work, although I’d argue that the “God’s wife” discussion was pretty well set in the early 90’s by amateurs and professionals. Yes the details are more filled in now but the basic thesis and argument hasn’t changed that much.

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    Like Kevin C., I’m a big fan of the Review, largely because I never find it boring.

  21. Well boring is definitely not a word I’d associate with it.

  22. Vogel has done such wonderful work for Mormon Studies over the years that I don’t mean to criticize overly, but I didn’t find that his biography added anything beyond a) another psychologic framework applied, and b) an attempt to engage in pretty detailed biographical criticism of the BoM.
    I’m curious to see whether Feldt has anything new on an old topic.

    Clark, I think it’s time to end ghettoization and particularism in Mormon Studies, bring it out into dialogue with broader currents in a more rigorous way.

  23. Stirling says:

    Clark, I think it’s time to end ghettoization and particularism in Mormon Studies, bring it out into dialogue with broader currents in a more rigorous way.

  24. I think Vogel did some great and creative stuff in the 90’s. His work on mound builder myths was quite important. While I obviously disagree with him on the naturalistic origins I have to note the stuff he brought out.

    Like you I just haven’t heard of much in his recent work. Of course as I said I’ve not read the book (yet).

  25. I was fascinated to read the Dahl piece on WC Bryan and Moundbuilders, which appeared to be an outline for the Vogel Moundbuilder work from 20yrs before.

    His documentary work is excellent.

    Perhaps the prior work has now left room for people to start publishing work that doesn’t attempt to decide whether Mormonism is true (leaving that to personal faith) but instead tries to figure out what it means.

  26. In 23, it looks like I didn’t successfully post my whole comment.

    Sam, I think I know what you mean by “I think it’s time to end ghettoization and particularism in Mormon Studies, bring it out into dialogue with broader currents in a more rigorous way.”

    I find the sentiment intriguing, and I’m assuming your recent articles are examples of this, but could you develop the thought a little here? (if you want to tell me to wait and listen to your Kirtland Papers presentation next week, that’s fine)

  27. Christopher Smith says:

    Is Sam presenting his paper at Sunstone? It will be available for download, right?

  28. Stirling, I’m talking about moving beyond narrow discussions about who did or didn’t transgress, what angels did or didn’t appear, and think about more interesting issues relevant to a broader audience. Given the narrative as it was told by those living it, what can we understand about their views of the nature of mortality or sin or human connection or the nature of community? How did their peers think about these issues? What was it like to be them? What was it like to talk with them or live with them?

    I’m not interested in post-modernism per se, I don’t mind a belief in Truth, but i’m not immediately persuaded that even Truth provides the full scope of meaning.

    If I can get a break in my schedule, I’m hoping to submit the Kirtland paper to a general religious studies/religious history journal in the next month or so. It will thus not be available online. See you at Sunstone (though because of work schedule I sadly may not be able to stay for any more than my own talk)

  29. FAIR-LDS says:

    Very interesting comment, and a little ironic that it shows up on a comment to a FARMS Review blog.

  30. Kevin Christensen says:

    The new FARMS Review is now online at the FARMS website:

    Let the feasting begin.

    Kevin Christensen
    Pittsburgh, PA

  31. Kevin B., I picked up my copy yesterday at the conference. Thanks.

    Do you have links to any other stimulating conversations on Psalm 82?

    Secondly, have you authored a book, sitting somewhere on one of those tables?

  32. Just to clarify in case anyone misunderstands. I’m not criticizing FARMS in the least. It’s just that I think the “glory days” of Mormon studies are in the past. Partially because that was when it really broke free of the “Hugh Nibley vs. anti-Mormons” mold and partially because those were my formative years. And I’m biased.

  33. LeIsle Jacobson says:


    “Or are my feelings more the difference between a guy who’s read a lot the last 15 years and is in his late 30’s versus a guy being exposed to faithful intellectual study for the first time in college.”

    I’d say you hit 80% of the nail on the head. Finding out that other intelligent, faithful members share similar ideas on BOM geography, evolution, scriptures, etc. — well, you can’t get more exciting than that.

    Another 10% is probably tied up with the “low hanging fruit” theory. FARMS initially compiled and published research gathered from decades of effort. A great deal of what they had to say had been published before, but never in any single, readily accessible form – it stands to reason that we can’t expect them to reproduce on a year-to-year basis the same flood of material that their early efforts managed to bring to light. – (though I do think there have been some pretty exciting new developments.)

    But I think, at least in my case, the last 10% of the ennui might not be the fault of FARMS failing to produce new research as it is that the reader is having a hard time digesting some of the new research.

    Recent papers really get into the minutia of a subject, and if it doesn’t happen to be a topic to which I have some previous interest or knowledge, I sometimes have to work pretty hard to understand what the author is getting at. I’ve also noticed that some of the authors now publishing – while undoubtedly knowledgeable experts in their fields, are not necessarily the world’s most entertaining writers. (It is, at times, not unlike slogging through medical journal articles back in college.)

    That may not be the case for you, it may all still be as mentally accessible as chiastic structure was to me when I first discovered FARMS, and every one of the writers may be just as engaging as Midgley or Peterson. But just in case the minutia approach is also a problem for you, I can recommend going after that high-hanging fruit. It might not be as good as the first few bites you took from the tree, those were, after all, bites taken on a empty stomach, but they are pretty filling nontheless.