Religious Studies Center Books

This volume of collected essays is intended to assist disciples of Jesus Christ in coming to a deeper understanding of the Savior and his ministry through their personal study of the New Testament. Because the period and culture of the New Testament can be daunting to modern readers, the editors gathered the work of Latter-day Saint scholars who have devoted time and research to gaining a greater understanding of the New Testament. The editors included essays written from a variety of perspectives to highlight the different lenses that can productively be brought to bear on the New Testament. Some of these essays are overtly devotional, while others are more explicitly academic, but all are written with the intent to help each of us accomplish one goal: to learn of him.

In discussing home-centered worship, this volume explores both individual and family worship and draws from reports from a diverse sample of more than five hundred Latter-day Saints who have shared the challenges and barriers they have faced—and successes they have experienced. Individuals and families can establish and maintain a home-centered religious life and strengthen their conversion to the gospel by using these real-life experiences, quotes, and key findings in the social sciences.

This is the first comprehensive history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mongolia. The nation is known for its rugged countryside and is called the "land of the eternal blue sky" because of the country's many days of sunlight, though the harsh climate in Mongolia is really one of short, hot summers and extreme, cold winters.

In such a harsh climate, one might not expect the gospel message to thrive, but it has. Through groundbreaking first-person accounts, the authors have captured and shared the voice of the Saints in this land, highlighting vital aspects of the establishment, growth, and development of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mongolia. From Ulaanbaatar to Darkhan and the other regions of the country, the translation of the scriptures, the creation of stakes, the development of local leadership, building efforts, Deseret International Charities, and administration of the Church, the Mongolian Saints have felt to acknowledge the hand of the Lord in this effort.

The 51st Annual Brigham Young University Sidney B. Sperry Symposium

The related themes of households and families figure prominently in the New Testament. On various occasions Jesus taught about marriage, divorce, and more general familial relations. Jesus, Peter, and Paul also taught about the important contributions single members and widows make in the kingdom and such household complexities as mixed-faith marriages or relationships between slaves and masters. Thus, the New Testament contains much counsel on household conduct, familial relationships, and belonging to "the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19).

The Sperry Symposium, named in honor of pioneering Latter-day Saint scripture scholar Sidney B. Sperry and held on the campus of Brigham Young University, seeks each year to examine and illuminate an aspect of the religious and cultural heritage of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This fourth volume by the Book of Mormon Academy at Brigham Young University is a careful study of the intersections of two ancient texts: The Book of Mormon and the Bible. The authors approach the two books of scripture from within two fundamental frameworks. First, several of the essays explore the books in terms of the worlds from which they come with their related ideals, interests, and origins. Second, a number of the authors analyze topics based on the texts themselves, closely studying the two texts and helping readers better understand connections.

Self-doubt limits our perception of our potential and diminishes our joy and hope in who we are and what we can become. When we don’t feel good about ourselves, we have help. Jesus Christ saves us not only from our imperfections but also from our imperfect understanding of ourselves. This book explores sources of self-doubt and the impact of positive psychology in changing our thought patterns. It emphasizes an often-ignored dimension of the Atonement of Jesus Christ: how Christ helps us overcome self-doubt and unproductive thinking.

This book contains reflections from two groups of scholars who trace their beginnings to the early Saints who built the Kirtland Temple. These scholars come from the two largest branches of the Restoration movement, Community of Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have often found themselves on the opposite sides of many issues. This book is filled with honest, frank conversations between people of the two faiths but also collegiality and friendship. Centered on twelve themes, this dialogue is about bringing together informed scholars from the two churches working together, with goodwill, to accurately understand each other.

This book tells the inspiring stories of nineteen pioneering Latter-day Saints in Mexico, exploring how and why they converted to the Church and what happened to them, their families, and their descendants afterward. Despite personal, economic, political, social, and religious struggles that tested their newfound faith, these members, like countless other Mexican Saints whose stories are yet untold, turned their lives to the Savior's gospel of life and salvation and carried on as exemplars to their people.

Where does one go to learn more about Book of Mormon studies? For those who do not regularly engage with scholarship, it’s hard to know how to begin. Currently there’s no general guide to Book of Mormon scholarship available to the public. Even with all that’s happened in the last few decades, and especially all that’s happening right now in Book of Mormon studies, this situation needs to be remedied. There has been no general guide to Book of Mormon scholarship available to the public—until now. This introduction breaks down Book of Mormon studies, from its history to the obstacles that will need to be overcome as it moves forward. Additionally, this introduction provides readers with resources that they can turn to for further information on Book of Mormon studies.

Because mortality is a test, we will all experience some dark days that may include grief, illness, disappointment, disillusionment, temptation, confusion, unanswered questions, and pain. The good news is that Jesus Christ promises deliverance from all our mortal suffering and his promises are sure. While we wait for deliverance to come in his time and in his way, Christ’s intimate understanding of our lives, our trials, our hopes, and our heartaches allows him to perfectly succor, strengthen, and refine us. Speaking from the annual Brigham Young University Easter Conferences in 2021 and 2022, authors Marie C. Hafen, Virginia Hinckley Pearce Cowley, Tyler J. Griffin, John Hilton III, Jan J. Martin, and Jennifer Reeder teach and testify of the power of Christ’s deliverance.

This book examines what the New Translation is (today most Latter-day Saints refer to it as the Joseph Smith Translation), what it contains, what it teaches, and how Joseph Smith arrived at its text. The author has written it with the intent to make the information accessible to scholars and general audiences alike and its chapters not only informative but also readable. Jackson is a believer in the prophetic mission of Joseph Smith and considers the New Translation and its story to be evidence of his divine calling. More importantly, however, is the message that is clear throughout the New Translation’s pages—that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world.

For the most part we have good enough evidence to reconstruct the mechanical process by which Joseph Smith created his Bible revision, that is, the way he dictated the text and the way his scribes wrote it to create what is written on the existing manuscript pages. But behind the physical artifact, what were the means by which he came to the words that would become the New Translation? Did they come from his own experience, from assumptions he made while reading the Bible, or from other sources? Or did some or all the text come through revelation, as he and his followers believed? What were the instincts that guided his work, and how did he translate those instincts into words? This book cannot answer the theological questions, but it can assess the evidence in the primary documents in an effort to understand how the New Translation came to be.

The complete text of the Bible revision made by Joseph Smith, the Latter-day Saint prophet and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presented with modern punctuation and spelling and with the original chapter and verse divisions created by Joseph Smith and his scribes. The Prophet labored on the Bible project from June 1830 until July 1833. In his lifetime, he and his contemporaries referred to this work as the New Translation. Since the late 1970s it has most often been called the Joseph Smith Translation.

The New Translation makes significant contributions to Latter-day Saint beliefs, particularly in the early chapters of Genesis. Key topics in which the Old and New Testament revisions are the source of significant Latter-day Saint beliefs include the nature of God, the universal impact of God’s work, the plan of salvation, the character and motives of Satan, the fall of Adam and Eve, the antiquity of Christianity, the creation of an ideal community called Zion, the purpose of the law of Moses, and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. This volume is published in parallel columns with the corresponding verses of the King James Bible.

The Book of Moses is canonized scripture spanning the epochs of Creation, Adam and Eve, Enoch, and Noah. Its content was revealed anciently by God to Moses and re-revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith in modern times. This book explores the origins and development of the Book of Moses, its ancient nuances, the linguistic features of its revelations, and how its sweeping visions and rich doctrines inspired and guided Joseph Smith and the early members of what would become The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in their pursuit of Zion.

This volume aims to assist in the personal and family study of the history and teachings of the Old Testament. The book gathers some of the clearest writings on the Old Testament that have been published by the Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University. The Old Testament is not only foundational to our understanding of the birth, life, atonement, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Savior, as found in the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, and other scripture, but it also teaches us about God, our faith history, and the spiritual heritage of the house of Israel.

For some, the Old Testament is a difficult volume to read, much less understand. The language, symbolism, and history depicted within it can be challenging and at times frustrating. Modern biblical research and the methodologies used in that research have opened up this book of scripture to greater understanding. So too have the restoration of the priesthood and continuing revelation, which have revealed that the Old Testament patriarchs are not simply literary examples of righteous behavior in the past but living beings who have engaged with the Saints in this dispensation. This volume incorporates both academic insights and restoration revelation, thus demonstrating the way in which both can be used to gain greater insight into these pivotal narratives.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were among US soldiers in World War II who endured the atrocities of the Bataan Death March in the Philippines and the brutality of Japanese POW camps. This is the story, largely told through their personal accounts, of a group of twenty-nine Latter-day Saint POWs in the Philippines, the events that brought them together to form an informal branch of the Church in an infamous POW camp, a remarkable event in the history of the Church, and the events that would later pull them apart—twelve to their liberation and seventeen to their death.

In general conference, President Russell M. Nelson spoke about poverty and other humanitarian concerns, declaring, “As members of the Church, we feel a kinship to those who suffer in any way. . . . We heed an Old Testament admonition: ‘Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy’ (Deuteronomy 15:11).” President Nelson’s linking of Old Testament law with modern social concerns highlights the continued relevancy of the Old Testament for confronting modern challenges, including poverty, ethnocentrism, and the world’s growing refugee crisis.

This third volume by the Book of Mormon Academy at Brigham Young University is a study of the sermon of Samuel the Lamanite by means of four analytical lenses. The first, a prophetic lens, discusses the roles of prophets, the prophetic promise of “prolonged days,” and Samuel’s prophecies. The second lens is pedagogical, providing readers with a greater understanding of how to teach the sermon. Readers who take advantage of the third lens, which is cultural-theological, will discover a useful framework for comprehending the ethics of wealth in the sermon, witness how Samuel stands up to Nephite discrimination, and benefit from a detailed reading of the sermon that will enable them to grasp how spiritual death divides both Christ and human beings. Lastly, the fourth set of lenses, literary in nature, assists the reader in recognizing a newly identified type-scene, traces possible sources Samuel may have relied on, explores sources Mormon may have turned to as he abridged the work, and studies parallels between the ancient sermon and a form of early American speech known as the “jeremiad.”

Joseph F. Merrill became the first native Utahn to earn a PhD. Working at the University of Utah, he labored to reconcile the secular world with the spiritual world of his youth. In 1912 he helped establish the first Latter-day Saint seminary at Granite High School. As Church commissioner of education, he helped establish the institutes of religion, with a mission to allow college students to reconcile the secular truths learned in university settings with the truths of the gospel. He created the Religion Department at Brigham Young University and encouraged young scholars to produce professional studies of the Latter-day Saint religion. In 1933 Merrill was called as an Apostle, where he continued his work to modernize the Church. In the final years of his life, Merrill continued to work to show that science and religion could be reconciled.

This volume celebrates the bicentennial of Joseph Smith’s 1820 First Vision of the Father and the Son, a founding event in the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. Contributors examine the various accounts of the vision, the religious excitement prevalent in the region, the question that prompted Joseph to enter the grove, the powers of darkness that assailed him, and the natural environment and ultimate preservation of the Sacred Grove. This volume brings together some of the finest presentations from a 2020 BYU Church History Symposium honoring the bicentennial of the First Vision.

This volume explores the possibility that mortality is framed and informed by God’s love in more ways than we normally suppose. We live within the cosmic embrace of God’s love, even when we encounter difficulties. Hence, as the medieval Catholic thinker Catherine of Siena suggested, “All the way to heaven is heaven” because gospel obedience brings joy and, in a perfectly natural way, fits us for the celestial kingdom. In the process we are stretched out along the long arc of God’s love. Our hearts turn to others, and not just to those about us but also to our ancestors and generations yet unborn. As we discover the depths of Christ’s Atonement, our everyday thinking and conduct begin to hum the miracles of God’s love, chief of which is that there is no bottom to that love.

Light is everywhere! It gives us vision, keeps us warm, and facilitates life. Light is even responsible for developments in communications technology, the internet, and space travel. However, light is not just a physical concept. It is a central theme used throughout scripture to literally and metaphorically describe spiritual concepts. Throughout history, scientists have studied light physically and theologians have studied light spiritually. But what if these two realms of study were combined? What if the physical light we see is actually related to the spiritual light discussed in scripture? Can we apply what we know about light scientifically to what we know about light doctrinally? In this book, engineer, chemist, and professor Aaron D. Franklin explores these questions and more by connecting principles of physical light to gospel truths about spiritual light. In so doing, Franklin provides an accessible way for us all, no matter our scientific or doctrinal prowess, to learn how we see, feel, and know truth—which is, of course, light.

Thirteen-year-old Mary Goble and her family were part of the pioneer overland journey to Utah Territory in the John A. Hunt wagon company in 1856. They traveled close to the Edward Martin handcart company and suffered with them through the cold of Wyoming. The core of the book is a transcription of Mary’s handwritten memoir with annotations that corroborate, correct, and provide context. This annotated transcription is bookended by an introduction and epilogue that place Mary’s story of her journey in the context of her life before and after her emigration.

This volume takes a fresh look at the history, people, and places in Washington, DC, that have affected the Church. Beginning with Joseph Smith’s earliest interactions with the federal government in the 1830s, the Church’s progress has been shaped by leaders and members interacting in Washington. This volume is filled with essays on many topics about the Church’s history, people, and places in the nation’s capital. It also chronicles many of the Saints and statesmen who have worked to bring the Church out of obscurity and onto a national and international stage.