Joseph Spencer and I are editing a new series of scholarly books for the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship entitled Groundwork: Studies in Theory and Scripture.
In line with the official description, the series will test the richness of scripture as grounds for contemporary thought and the relevance of theory to the task of reading scripture. By drawing on a broad range of academic disciplines—including philosophy, theology, literary theory, political theory, social theory, economics, and anthropology—Groundwork books offer a deeper understanding of Mormon scripture and contemporary theory alike.
Books in this series, while of interest to a popular Mormon audience, are pitched primarily as scholarly contributions in Mormon Studies.
The first two volumes in the series are now available: a translation of Jad Hatem’s Postponing Heaven: The Three Nephites, the Bodhisattva, and the Mahdi and a second edition of Joseph Spencer’s own An Other Testament: On Typology.
Hatem’s book provides a comparative analysis, grounded in phenomenology, of messianic figures who (like the Three Nephites) postpone Heaven, sacrificially prolonging their lives for the benefit of humankind.
Spencer’s book offers a philosophically rigorous answer, grounded in epically close readings of Book of Mormon texts, to the question: how does the Book of Mormon want us to read the Book of Mormon?
Over the next few weeks, I’ll share a series of posts that reflect on some of contributions made by these books to the future of Mormon Studies.
Both books are, I think, excellent models for the kind of work the series hopes to promote longterm.
And, more, if you are yourself working in this vein as a scholar, we would love to hear more about it. Please contact us.