Journal of Mormon History, July 2020 Issue Synopsis.

Vol. 46, no. 3 of JMH recently arrived in my mailbox. It has some fine articles and I thought I might preview them for you in hopes that you’ll pick up the issue and have a look. It is available by subscription in hard copy, or electronically and is a benefit of membership in the Mormon History Association. There are four articles in the issue, an essay, a notice of a document and a book review.

Leading off, in pages 1-22, is “Joseph Smith, Adam Clarke, and the Making of a Bible Revision,” by Thomas A. Wayment, a professor in the Classics Dept. of Brigham Young University (Provo). Wayment has several important pieces of work on Joseph Smith’s Bible revision work.[1]

Wayment notes that since the publication of the Latter-day Saint annotation of the King James Bible in 1979, Smith’s Bible work has attained near canonical status, yet no full scale scholarly study of the translation project has appeared (1). Wayment observed that like the manuscripts of the NT Gospels which drew upon a number of sources, Smith’s revision project is found to involve several nineteenth-century print sources (2). One of those sources was Adam Clarke’s commentary on the Bible. Wayment suggests that Clarke functioned in part as an analogue of a sacred seeing stone, helping Smith understand the opacities of an already existing English text. I won’t go through Wayment’s textual examples of Clarke’s influence on the Bible project, by all means, take the opportunity to read “the Making of a Bible Revision” except to note that Smith follows Clarke’s textual criticism as much more a theological editor than, say, a Greek scholar. The question has been posed, did Smith on occasion restore some meaning or intent from some ancient autograph or aural experience. Wayment says this can’t really be dealt with from a scholarly point of view but what can be done is to examine how, in certain instances, Smith built his new text (16).

The next article (pages 23-59) is “Sacralizing the Secular in Latter-day Saint Salvation Histories (1890-1930),” by Miranda Wilcox. Wilcox is a associate professor of English at BYU -Provo.

Wilcox characterizes her work as an historiographic essay on how certain influential Latter-day Saint leaders sought to refocus the Mormon picture away from the oddities and conflicts of Utah nineteenth-century theology and practice (polygamy and it’s pillars) and onto early founding stories of the religion (Joseph Smith’s beginning story, for example) and the sacred position of nuclear family. These efforts functioned partly as guide for the next generation and a new public face of a church once denounced as a freak of religious democratization. Wilcox penetrates this surface with a sharp historical scalpel, finding a process that struggled through Progressive Era passages like eugenics and racial hierarchies. It’s a fascinating and often unsettling story but in light of recent developments a useful spotlight.

Next up is (pages 60-76) “Not Weary in Well-Doing: The Missionary Role of LDS Servicemen in Occupied Japan, 1945-1953,” by William B. Allred. Allred is an officer in US Marine Corps and holds a BS in history from the US Naval Academy (2018). Allred recounts proselytizing activities of Latter-day Saint soldiers in post-war Japan and the establishment of formal mission activities.

The next article (pages 77-101) in this issue is “A Blueprint for a Global Education System,” by Casey Paul Griffiths, E. Vance Randall, and Scott C. Esplin. The three authors are faculty members at BYU -Provo, Griffiths and Esplin in Religious Education, Randall in Education Policy. They write of the contested ground over emphasis of a church sponsored junior college program (advocated by Ernest Wilkinson) over against programs like the Institutes of Religion, etc.

The final article (pages 102-124) is an interesting study of the Home Teaching program, “Home Teaching (1963-2018),” by journal co-editor Jesse L. Embry.

Wrapping up the issue is an essay, “The Relief Society in Ghana,” Daniel Nii Aboagye Aryeh; “The Diedrich Willers Letter—Revisited,” Vanessa Whiteley; and a review of Konden Smith Hansen’s book, Frontier Religion: Mormons & America, 1857-1907,, review by Stephen T. Betts, a doctoral student at the University of Virginia.

[1] See, Thomas A. Wayment, “Intertextuality and the Purpose of Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible,” in Foundational Texts of Mormonism eds. Mark Ashurst-McGee, Robin Scott Jensen, and Sharalyn D. Howcroft (New York: Oxford UP, 2018), 74-100; Thomas A. Wayment and Haley WIlson-Lemmon, “A Recovered Resource: The Use of Adam Clarke’s Bible Commentary in Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation,” in Producing Ancient Scripture: Joseph Smith’s Translation Projects in the Development of Mormon Christianity eds. Michael Hubbard MacKay, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Brian M. Hauglid (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2020).


  1. Christopher Blythe says:

    Thanks for spotlighting the new issue! I really enjoyed this one.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for the head’s up. Mine should arrive in a few days.

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