Videos Available from BYU’s Joseph Smith & Antiquity Conference

JS Antiquity

(Cross-posted from Juvenile Instructor.)

A couple months ago, BYU and the LDS Church History Department put on a fascinating conference titled, “Approaching Antiquity: Joseph Smith’s Study of the Ancient World.” Thanks to the wonders of technology, most of the presentations are now available as youtube videos, which you will find below.

While there are many papers that I strongly recommend, those given by Bushman, MacKay, Heal, Wright, Holland, Bowman, and Grey were some of the highlights for me.

(Note: in the first four sessions, the last paper of each session is combined with the panel’s responder.)


  • Richard L. Bushman (History, Columbia University), “The Academic Study of Antiquity in Antebellum America” (45min)

Scholars, Scripts, and Folklore of Antiquity

  • Richard E. Bennett (Church History, BYU), “‘To The Most Learned Men of this Generation’: Martin Harris and His Visits East, 1828” (25min)

  • Michael Hubbard MacKay (LDS Church History Department), “‘Git Them Translated’: Joseph Smith, Ancient Characters, and Translating the Plates” (25min)

  • Steven C. Harper (LDS Church History Department), “Joseph Smith’s Relationships to Hermeticism and Masonry” (25min)
  • Richard L. Bushman (History, Columbia University), Respondent (15min)

Joseph Smith and Ancient Texts

  • Jared Ludlow (Ancient Scripture, BYU), “Joseph Smith’s Reading of Jewish Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha” (25min)

  • Lincoln H. Blumell (Ancient Scripture, BYU), “What has Palmyra to do with Jerusalem? Joseph Smith and the Writings of Flavius Josephus” (25min)

  • Thomas A. Wayment (Ancient Scripture, BYU), “Joseph Smith and Early Christian Apocrypha” (25min)

  • Kristian S. Heal (Maxwell Institute, BYU), “Joseph Smith and the Early Church Fathers” (25min)
  • Benjamin E. Park (History, University of Cambridge), Respondent  (15min)

Joseph Smith’s Interest in the Ancient Americas

  • Mark Alan Wright (Ancient Scripture, BYU), “Joseph Smith and Native    American Artifacts” (25min)

  • Matthew Roper (Maxwell Institute, BYU), “Joseph Smith and the Ruins: Central   American Archaeology and Early Views about the Book of Mormon” (25min)
  • Andrew H. Hedges (LDS Church History Department), Respondent (10min)

Plenary Session

  • David F. Holland (History, UNLV), “Joseph Smith and Antiquity: Points of Contact between the Prophet and the Ancient Sources” (50min)

Joseph Smith, the Bible, and 19th Century Biblical Scholarship

  • Kent P. Jackson (Ancient Scripture, BYU), “Joseph Smith and the Bible” (25min)

  • Nicholas J. Frederick (Ancient Scripture, BYU), “Joseph Smith and the Gospel of John” (25min)

  • Justin R. Bray (LDS Church History Department), “The Seventy Disciples in Early 19th Century Christian Thought” (25min)

[currently unavailable]

  • Samuel Brown (Medical Ethics and Humanities, University of Utah School of Medicine), “The Prisca Theology in Early Mormonism” (25min)

[currently unavailable]

  • Matthew B. Bowman (Religion, Hampden-Sydney College), “Joseph Smith and 19th c. Biblical Commentaries” (25min)

  • David F. Holland (History, UNLV), Respondent (20min)

Joseph Smith’s Study of Biblical Languages

  • Matthew J. Grey (Ancient Scripture, BYU), “‘The Word of God in the Original’: Joseph Smith’s Study of Hebrew and its Impact on His Translations, Thought, and Theology” (25min)

  • Craig K. Manscill (Church History, BYU), “‘By the Help of God I Can Read in the Hebrew Bible’: Hyrum Smith’s Study of Hebrew” (25min)

[currently unavailable]

  • John W. Welch (Law, BYU), “Joseph Smith’s Awareness of Greek and Latin”  (25min)

  • Kevin L. Barney (Independent Scholar), Respondent (15min)

Joseph Smith and 19th Century Egyptology

  • John Gee (Maxwell Institute, BYU), “Joseph Smith and Ancient Egypt” (25min)

  • Kerry Muhlestein (Ancient Scripture, BYU), “Joseph Smith and Egyptian Artifacts: Towards a Preliminary Paradigm for Evaluating Prophetic and Mundane Ideas Regarding Aspects of the Ancient World” (25min)

  • Brian M. Hauglid (Ancient Scripture, BYU), “‘Endowed with a Knowledge of Hidden Languages’: Joseph Smith and the Egyptian Project” (25min)

[curretly unavailable]

  • John S. Thompson (Egyptology, University of Pennsylvania), Respondent


  1. My apologies: the original post had some technical difficulties with the youtube videos. They should now be fixed.

  2. J. Stapley says:

    Just listened to MacKay’s. Seriously awesome.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Sam’s isn’t available because he refused to sign the release. I was sitting next to him as he redacted it with a red pen.

  4. Thanks for the links. Since I can’t possibly watch all of them thanks also for the suggestions of the highlights. And I know this is stating the obvious, but scanning down through these videos really emphasizes what a male-dominated field this is.

  5. J. Stapley says:

    Amy, unfortunately so.

  6. Amy: that is very unfortunately the case. In the conference’s defense, they have been outspoken in saying that no women submitted papers, and all the women they solicited papers from turned them down. There are several tricky factors that go into this, but I think one thing our field needs to keep in mind for the future is choosing topics that is prone for more gender inclusiveness.

  7. Thanks for the heads up Ben. I will be a tired man tomorrow!

  8. Perhaps women will never engage in a field where they won’t be seen as authoritative, because, according to our church culture, they will never have any authority.

  9. Jessica F. says:

    The lack of women is NOT just an LDS thing it is a religious thing. And most women who study religion study women and religion since there is often a peer group there, and a huge field of study that needs to be done.

    In my religious studies program I am the ONLY woman in my year. I think that there is even a greater reluctance in religion that is authoritative and systematically blocks women from participation even on the local level. I personally feel that I walk this impossible path of if I submit something as an LDS woman it has to be flawless. And let me just say that I have been at mormon conf where I feel ignored and like an outsider because of my gender in ways that are so foreign to me at school (outside of Utah).

  10. Thanks for posting all of these. I haven’t watched any of them yet but I know what I will be doing with my free time over the next couple of weeks.

  11. Sharee Hughes says:

    I am so glad to find these videos available. I had planned to attend the conference, but had the misfortune to come down with a serious case of pneumonia and was too sick to do anything at the time. I have just watched one of these and shall be sure to spend some time in the coming days watching the others. Thank you, Ben, for this post..

  12. Matthew Bowman is an amazing presenter.

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