New Maxwell Institute Journals

The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship has reorganized its scripture study journals.

For many years it has published the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Originally that was a 6×9 text only scholarly journal. At some point the decision was made to make it an 8-1/2×11 glossy with lots of illustrations, in the vein of Biblical Archaeology Review. At that time the journal was made a part of the subscription, so I think it is received by something like 25,000 people. But the narrow focus on the Book of Mormon meant that there was no outlet for studies on other Mormon scripture.

So the Journal has been expanded and renamed the Journal of Book of Mormon & Restoration Scripture. The long time editor, S. Kent Brown (for whom I was a teaching assistant in the early 80s), has retired, so the new editor is Andrew Hedges. (I don’t know him personally, but he went to my alma mater, the University of Illinois, so he gets a thumbs up from me!) I was thrilled to see that Grant Hardy is an Assistant Editor, as also Steven Harper, Jennifer Lane and Kerry Muhlestein. One improvement I especially appreciate is that they now put the endnotes right after the article instead of at the back in really small type.

The first issue features the following:

Terrence L. Szink, “The Vision of Enoch: Structure of a Masterpiece”

Daniel Belnap, “‘I Will Contend with Them that Contend with Thee’: The Divine Warrior in Jacob’s Speech of 2 Nephi 6-10”

James Gee, “The Nahom Maps” [a gorgeous presentation of ten 18th and 19th century maps that mention Nahom]

Warren P. Aston, “Identifying Our Best Candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful”

Forthcoming are:

“The Book of Mormon Onomastic Ending -(i)hah”

“Nephi and Goliath: A Case of Literary Allusion” (I’m sure this one is by my friend Ben McGuire)

There is also a new journal, which is not out yet but should first appear this year: Studies in the Bible and Antiquity. The editor of this one is Brian Hauglid, a friend of mine, to be assisted by Carl Griffin. Between these two journals, there is now a publishing outlet for studies relating to all of the Standard Works.

(If anyone is interested, my Maxwell Institute publications are here.)


  1. The Studies in the Bible and Antiquity publication is intriguing to me. I don’t do ancient scripture studies, so I don’t have a pony in the race, but it seems like there are already loads of Bible and ANE journals, no? Is this just a safe place to be apologetically Mormon? Is there a worry that it be a ghetto of sorts?

  2. Should have been “unappologetically.”

  3. This is (IMO) an encouraging development, especially with the individuals participating as editors. That said, it seems a bit odd to have a collection of articles exclusively dedicated to Book of Mormon topics in the first issue proclaiming the journal a venue for scholarship on all “Restoration scripture.”

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    I think the intent is to do biblical and ancient studies that are of particular interest to an LDS audience. I don’t get the impression that it is intended to be an apologetic journal. Part of the motivation is that there is an increasing number of Mormons with the chops to do such studies (such as all of the grad students), but no outlet for them. What if someone at FPR, for example, had an article with a specifically Mormon take on something in the Bible–where would it go? Now there will be a place to publish that sort of an article.

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    Christopher, part of the reason is probably that this is the first issue, so they probably had BoM stuff in the pipeline. But one of the expectations is that the JSPapers are going to drive a lot of new scholarship on the D&C, for example.

    Also, Abraham stuff conceivably could go in either journal; the decision was to put that in the Restoration Scripture one. But anything relating to the JST outside of the PoGP will go in the ancient studies one.

  6. Sounds like the apologetics stuff is moving more to FAIR and FARMS (nee Maxwell Institute) is starting to do broader scholarship. Which I think is a good thing.

    I’m curious if the Review of Books will change it all.

  7. Kevin, I’m sure you’re right, although it probably wouldn’t been too difficult to find an appropriate article on the D&C to include. It just seems that it would have helped the reader understand a bit better where they’re taking the journal with the name change.

    But anything relating to the JST outside of the PoGP will go in the ancient studies one.

    I’m a bit confused by this decision. Do you know the details of why they went that way, Kevin?

  8. John Hamer says:

    I think the new name is totally unwieldy. The Book of Mormon is a Restoration scripture. Wny not call it the Journal of Restoration Scripture, or Mormon Scriptural Studies?

  9. Good point, John. I agree completely.

  10. I agree Christopher. Exactly how to judge the JST seems complex. Some seems to fit ancient studies while others seems more akin to the D&C.

  11. It just seems to me that all of the JST can accurately be described as restoration scripture, while only a small, undetermined, and basically unknowable percentage can be accurately classified as ancient studies.

  12. I second John’s concern about the name and Chris/Clark’s concern about the placement of the JST, especially since I personally see his revisions as more akin to the D&C.

    Otherwise, these sound like positive developments, and I am particularly encouraged by those involved.

  13. Thanks Kev., that makes sense. Any sense how they will approach things like the DH?

  14. re # 3, Christopher, doesn’t the first issue have an article about Enoch’s vision in it?

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    I agree with John that the name is unwieldy.

    The JST could have gone either way; it was just a handshake agreement between the editors as to where it would go. I wouldn’t read any more into it than that.

    The FARMS Review has already undergone this sort of change. It originally was the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, and then the scope was broadened to include books on other subjects (FARMS Review of Books), and then the scope was broadened further to allow review of articles (FARMS Review). Since there is movement away from the old name FARMS, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a name chage there as well, although I have no knowledge on that score.

  16. Seems to be a short issue. Is the cover as ugly as some say?

    Re #8: the editor’s notebook in this issue states the following:

    With this issue,…the title of the Journal has been changed to the Journal of the Book of Mormon and Restoration Scripture—”the Book of Mormon” being retained in the title not only to help provide a sense of continuity with the former title but also in recognition of that book’s continuing role as the keystone of the Mormon faith. Highlighting the Book of Mormon also seems appropriate in light of the recent establishment of the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies at the Institute.

    As my grandfather used to say, “All restoration scripture is equal, but some restoration scripture is more equal than others.”

  17. John F.,

    You’re right. My mistake.

  18. Kevin, I was thinking less of that change than more a move away from apologetics into a broader kind of review. i.e. editorial choices.

  19. Since there is movement away from the old name FARMS, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a name chage there as well

    It seems the logical conclusion will be to just call it “The Review”.

  20. Louis Midgley says:

    I find it a bit odd that there es speculation about a matters that can easily be nailed down by merely asking those involved. Kevin’s remarks are emarks are accurate; changes in the name of the primary serial publication of the Maxwell Institute have been made because of shifts in the focus and scope of that publication. Will there or should there be further changes?

    Whether the Review, whatever its name, will continue to play a role in the defense or vindication of your faith is something about which I have written an essay which will serve as the “Editor’s Introduction” to the number of the Review that is about to go to the printer. The essay is entitled “Debating Evangelicals.” I wonder if any of you have ever encountered one of these folks, or read anything they have written, or followed their activities, or if you think debating with them or other critics of your faith is a necessary or worthy endeavor.

  21. I wonder if any of you have ever encountered one of these folks,


    or read anything they have written,


    or followed their activities,


    or if you think debating with them or other critics of your faith is a necessary or worthy endeavor.

    Not exactly my cup of herbal tea. But more power to you folks who do.

  22. Steve Evans says:

    I guess I have a hard time seeing the value of religious debate. Joseph Smith History has pretty much killed the spirit of religious debate in our religion, I think.

  23. Louis, I think engaging with critics is important. However given that we have both FAIR and FARMS (nee Maxwell) I wonder if strategically a shift in focus might be wise.

  24. Louis Midgley says:

    I am very pleased that Christopher and Steve Evans, if I have understood their remarks, have a difficult time imagining that debating evangelicals is a wise thing to do. That is exactly what I argue in my essay. But the fact is that some Latter-day Saints are very much into debating with evangelicals. Some have made a career out of doing that. Part of my argument is that debating with evangelicals has not really educated our more sophisticated evangelical critics about the faith of the Saints, and, in addition, efforts to debate them has actually increased the hostility of our less sophisticated critics, which is a much larger group of evangelicals. So I am against debating evangelicals, if we can avoid it. I think that it is essentially a mistake for those who think they are defending the faith of the Saints to debate with evangelicals or anyone else. I still think that those I label “debating evangelicals” are wrong on some crucial issues. And I am not opposed to pointing this out.
    I have been following what is called the New Perspective on Paul (NPP). N. T. Wright, perhaps the leading figure in this movement, has become a target for criticisms. One of those critics is Gary L. W. Johnson. In a collection of essays in which, among other things, Tom Wright’s stance on Paul is attacked, there is an “Afterword” by Albert Mohler, who is currently a leading light in the Southern Baptist Convention, and also a severe critics of our faith. For various reasons, Mohler is very hostile to the NPP. Immediately preceding his “Afterword” there is an essay by Gary L. W. Johnson entitled “The Reformation, Today’s Evangelicals, and Mormons: What Next?” Johnson can’t stand Richard Mouw or Robert Millet. The debates that Mouw has sponsored twice a year for a decade with Millet and the many books by Millet that Mouw has facilitated have frustrated and angered Johnson. I see this as one bit of evidence that those debates have increased rather than lessened the hostility of some “debating evangelicals” towards the Church of Jesus Christ. And Mouw and David Neff, the chief editor of Christianity Today, can do exactly nothing to tone down this hostility.
    I have no idea what Clark means by “engaging with critics.” Since I know a good deal about the FARMS Review, and something about Fair, I do not see them as duplications. The fact is that Fair does several things that have never been attempted in the FARMS Review. It is also true that some who are involved with Fair publish some of their scholarship in the Review. So I have no idea what shift in focus, strategic or otherwise, Clark might have in mind. Should we shift away from doing what we do with the Review merely because Fair has both a wiki and an “ask and apologist” function, or holds an annual conference where papers are read? For me that would result in a net loss.

  25. I am very pleased that Christopher and Steve Evans, if I have understood their remarks, have a difficult time imagining that debating evangelicals is a wise thing to do. That is exactly what I argue in my essay.

    You’ve understood my remarks correctly. I look forward to reading your essay, but do have one question. Is this a change in attitude for you, or do you consider your previous apologetic writings in the FARMS review and elsewhere to not constitute “debating evangelicals”? (Although I may not sound like it, I mean that question entirely innocently).

  26. Steve Evans says:

    Christopher, I have the same thoughts — and Lou is reading me correctly as well.

  27. Louis Midgley says:

    The expression “debating evangelicals” is by intention ambiguous. It is both a label for a certain class of evangelical and also something a Latter-day Saints might engage in with an evangelical. I am not fond of those who seem to fit the label and I am not inclined to get into what I call the rhetorical gutter with them. I argue in that essay I mentioned that debating with evangelicals, even or especially when it has its pleasures and is civil might not be a wise thing to do. That is not, however, to say that we should not respond to the calumny spread about our faith by others. We have an entire section of the D&C that requires us to respond. But by negotiating with our enemies? Or by debating with them?
    I take it that both Steve and Christopher think that in the past I have gotten into debates with evangelicals and hence I might have had a change of mind. I have not appeared before an audience in a debate with an evangelical or published a debate with one of them. I have, however, along with some of my colleagues, tried really hard to educate some countercultists about Mormon things. Even though these exchanges started out and even continued in a civil manner, nothing came from those endeavors. I learned from that experience. That does not mean that I ceased to respond to some of their literature or stopped trying to provide an account of their endeavors. Much of what I have published has been intellectual history. And of this has been focused on critics of the Church. Since I have long been interested in Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish theology, I simply shifted from dealing with famous and for me very interesting Protestant, Catholic and Jewish theologians to the bottom feeders who engage in attacks on my faith.
    I have a high regard for some contemporary Protestant and Roman Catholic scholars and the work they produce. I constantly point to this literature in essays and also in book notes that appear in the FARMS Review. Some of those who I admire are aware of what I have written and have indicated a measure of approval. One instance will illustrate. Clark Pinnock, who was until he recently the leading conservative Protestant theologian, indicated his fondness for what I have written about recent shifts in evangelical theology. I believe that Dan Peterson, who with others heard Clark’s comments, mentioned this incident in one of the issues of the FARMS Review. Now with people like Roger Olson, or numerous other Protestant scholars for whom I have much admiration. But these are not at all interested in debating with us with an eye to talking us into becoming evangelicals–that is, Calvinists. They are, instead, interested in learning something about what we believe and also why we hold our beliefs. And I have an interest in what and why they hold their beliefs. And the fact is that Protestant scholarship on many topics is far superior to anything we can muster and we can learn much from that literature. How many Latter-day Saints know much about historical matters involved in what can be called religion or faith? Not many. N. T. (Tom) Wright is an example of such a one. But there are a host of others in the Protestant world. I have often called attention to this fact.
    But I have exactly no interest in debating with James White or hundreds of other countercultists or with others from primarily from Calvinist or Reformed brand of conservative Protestantism, all of whom are dedicated to trying to talk us into surrender. There is little to be gained from conversations with those who start with the assumption that the Saints must pass some orthodoxy test they have devised before they will award the seal of Christian approval to our faith, or even allow us to think of ourselves as Christians.