birch-draft2

Schedules & Readings


1. Introduction

  • Introduction to content and scope of the course
  • Overview of the Mormon tradition

2. The Nineteenth Century Context:
Perspicuity, Common Sense, & Revelation

Topics

  • Backdrop: The place of theology in American Christianity
  • Scottish Common Sense thought
  • The Mormon appeal to revelation
  • The thought of Parley & Orson Pratt

Readings

  • E. Brooks Holifield, “Restoration” and “Evidential Christianity” from Theology in America
    (Yale University Press, 2005)
  • Parley Pratt, excerpts from Key to the Science of Theology (Deseret Book Co., 1978, reprint of
    1855 edition)
  • Orson Pratt, “Man is the Offspring of God…” in The Essential Orson Pratt (Signature Books,
    1991)
  • Catherine Brekus, "Mormon Women and the Problem of Historical Agency" Journal of Mormon History 27:2 (Spring, 2011)
  • Richard T. Hughes, “Two Restoration Traditions: Mormons and Churches of Christ in the
    Nineteenth Century” (Journal of Mormon History 19:1, Spring, 1993)
  • Leigh Eric Schmidt, “Mormons, Freethinkers, and the Limits of Toleration” in From the
    Outside Looking In: Essays on Mormon History, Theology, and Culture (Oxford University Press,
    2015)

3. The Early Twentieth Century:
Roberts, Smith, Talmage, and Widtsoe

Topics

  • Backdrop: The Fundamentalist/Modernist Controversy
  • James Talmage and the stabilization of Mormon theology
  • Joseph Fielding Smith and question of anti-intellectualism
  • The speculative theology of John Widtsoe
  • B.H. Roberts and the regulation of authoritative discourse

Readings

  • George Marsden, “The Protestant Crisis and the Rise of Fundamentalism, 1870-1930” from
    Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1990)
  • John Widtsoe, “The Meaning of Theology” and “How Knowledge is Gained” in Rational
    Theology (Signature Books, 1998, reprint of 1915 edition).
  • Joseph Fielding Smith, “Conflict Between Science and Religion” (1&2) and “Fundamental
    Doctrines of the Church” in Man: His Origin and Destiny (Deseret Book Co., 1954).
  • Matthew Bowman, “James Talmage, B.H. Roberts, and Confessional History in a Secular
    Age” in Standing Apart: Mormon Historical Consciousness and the Concept of Apostasy (Oxford
    University Press, 2014)
  • Molly Worthen, “Errand from the Wilderness” from Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority
    in American Evangelicalism (Oxford University Press, 2014)
  • Philip Barlow, “The Mormon Response to Higher Criticism” from Mormons and the Bible,
    updated edition (Oxford University Press, 2013)
  • Richard Sherlock, “‘We Can See No Advantage of a Continuation of the Discussion’: The
    Roberts/Smith/Talmage Affair” (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 13:3, Fall, 1980)

4. From the “Chicago Experiment” to the “Charted Course”

Topics

  • Joseph Merrill and the Chicago Divinity School pipeline
  • J. Reuben Clark and the retrenchment of LDS education
  • Joseph Fielding Smith vs. Heber Snell on biblical studies

Readings

  • J. Reuben Clark, “The Charted Course of the Church in Education” (The Church of Jesus
    Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1994, revised and reprinted version of the 1938 edition)
  • Casey Paul Griffiths, “The Chicago Experiment: Finding the Voice and Charting the Course
    of Religious Education” BYU Studies 49:4 (2010)
  • Sterling McMurrin & Jackson Newell, “Teacher of Religion” from Matters of Conscience:
    Conversations with Sterling McMurrin on Philosophy, Education, and Religion (Signature Books,
    1996)
  • Richard Sherlock, “Faith and History: The Snell Controversy” (Dialogue: A Journal of
    Mormon Thought 12:1, 1979)

5. Institutional Contexts:
Brigham Young University, University of Utah, and Stanford

Topics

  • The Chamberlain brothers and the BYU purge
  • Hugh Nibley and the origins of contemporary Mormon apologetics
  • Lowell Bennion, Sterling McMurrin and the liberal voice in Mormonism
  • The origins of Dialogue and Sunstone

Readings

  • Devery Anderson, “A History of Dialogue, Part One: The Early Years, 1965-1971” (Dialogue:
    A Journal of Mormon Thought 32:2, Summer, 1999)
  • Claudia Bushman, “The Intellectual Activities of Recent Years” in Contemporary
    Mormonism: Latter-day Saints in Modern American (Praeger, 2006)
  • Brian Birch, “The ‘Old Orthodoxy’: Sterling McMurrin and the Development of Mormon
    Thought” in Bennion, McMurrin, Tanner: Conscience and Community in Mormonism [OR] 

    Integrity: The Mormon Odysseys of Lowell Bennion, Sterling McMurrin, and Obert Tanner (University of Utah Press, forthcoming)

  • Eugene England, "On Finding Truth and God: From Hope to Knowledge to Skepticism to
    Faith” in A Thoughtful Faith: Essays on Belief by Mormon Scholars (Cannon Press, 1986)
  • Lowell Bennion & Chauncy Riddle, “The Liberal and Conservative Voice in
    Mormonism” (transcript from 1962 debate)
  • Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, "The Pink Dialogue and Beyond"(Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 14:4 (Winter, 1981)
  • Sterling McMurrin, “Religion and the Denial of History” in Reason, Religion, and Truth:
    Essays in the Philosophy of Religion (University of Utah Press, 1982)
  • Hugh Nibley, “Three Shrines: Mantic, Sophic, and Sophistic" in The Ancient State
    (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1981)
  • Hugh Nibley, Letter to Sterling McMurrin (August 23, 1967)

6. “New Mormon” vs. “Faithful” Histories

Topics

  • Backdrop: Methodological and epistemological issues in historical scholarship
  • The rise and fall of Leonard Arrington as LDS Church Historian
  • The politics of the New Mormon History

Readings

  • Leonard Arrington, “Writing Latter-day Saint History: Philosophy and Testimony” in
    Adventures of a Church Historian (University of Illinois Press, 1998)
  • Thomas Alexander, "Historiography and the New Mormon History: A Historian’s
    Perspective" (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 19: 3 (Fall, 1986)
  • Richard Bushman, “Faithful History” in Believing History: Latter-day Saint Essays (Columbia
    University Press, 2007)
  • Jan Shipps, “Richard Lyman Bushman, The Story of Joseph Smith and Mormonism, and the
    New Mormon History” Journal of American History 94:2 (September, 2007)
  • Richard Bushman, “What’s New in Mormon History: A Response to Jan Shipps” Journal of
    American History 94:2 (September, 2007)
  • Gregory Prince, “Faith and Doubt as Partners in Mormon History” Leonard Arrington
    Mormon History Lecture Series (Utah State University Press, 2014).
  • Edwin Gaustad, “History and Theology: The Mormon Connection” in Faithful History:
    Essays on Writing Mormon History (Signature Books, 1992)
  • Boyd Packer, “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the IntellectBYU Studies 21:3 (1981)
  • Louis Midgley, “The Challenge of Historical Consciousness: Mormon History and the
    Encounter with Secular Modernity” in By Study and Also by Faith. Vol. 2 (Foundation for
    Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1990)
  • David Bohn, “Unfounded Claims, Impossible Expectations: A Critique of the New Mormon
    History” in Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History (Signature Books, 1992)

7. Revelation, Authoritative Discourse, and Boundary Maintenance

Topics

  • Backdrop: Authoritative discourse in religious communities
  • The “September Six” episode
  • Revelation theology and its implications for Mormon Studies
  • The dynamics of LDS Seminaries and Institutes

Readings

  • The role of the “Gospel Topics” essays in contemporary LDS discourse
  • Terryl Givens, “The Iron Rod and the Liahona: Authority and Radical Freedom from People
    of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture (Oxford University Press, 2007)
  • Dallin Oaks, “Alternate Voices” (Ensign, May, 1989)
  • Margaret Toscano, “Is There a Place for Heavenly Mother in Mormon Theology: An
    Investigation into Discourses of Power” in Discourses on Mormon Theology: Philosophical and
    Theological Possibilities (Greg Kofford Books, 2007)
  • Armand Mauss, “Mormon Fundamentalism: The Institutional Matrix” from The Angel and
    the Beehive: The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation (University of Illinois Press, 1994)
  • Lavina Fielding Anderson, “The LDS Intellectual Community and Church Leadership: A
    Contemporary Chronology" (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26:1, Spring, 1993)
  • Brian Birch, “’What power shall stay the heavens?’ Continuing Revelation and Doctrinal
    Authority Among the Latter-day Saints” in The Expanded Canon: Perspectives on Mormonism
    and Sacred Texts (Maxwell Institute for Latter-day Saint Scholarship, forthcoming)
  • David Holland, “Revelation and the Open Canon in Mormonism” in The Oxford Handbook of
    Mormonism (Oxford University Press, 2015)

8. Reason, Faith, and Theology

Topics

  • Backdrop: Faith and reason in philosophy of religion
  • Systematic vs. narrative theologies
  • The discourse of Mormon atheology
  • Fideism and the domestication of reason

Readings

9. Mormon Studies and Apologetics

Topics

  • Backdrop: Apologetic discourse the Christian theological tradition
  • Mormon apologetics and the secular academy
  • The institutionalization of Mormon Studies
  • The Joseph Smith Papers Project

Readings

10. Contemporary Applications

Topics

  • Selected areas of contemporary study

Readings

  • Paul Reeve, “Black, White, and Mormon: One Drop” in Religion of A Different Color: Race and
    the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness (Oxford University Press, 2015)
  • Rosemary Radford Reuther & Camille Williams, “A Dialogue on Feminist Theology” in
    Mormonism in Dialogue with Contemporary Christian Theologies (Mercer University Press,
    2007)
  • Charles Cohen, “The Construction of the Mormon People” in From the Outside Looking In:
    Essays on Mormon History, Theology, and Culture (Oxford University Press, 2015)
  • Kristine Haglund, "Arrested Development: Mormon Independent Publishing in the Age of the Blog" Juvenile Instructor, April 9, 2009
  • Patrick Mason, “Faith and Trust in a Secular Age” from Planted: Belief and Faith in an Age of
    Doubt (Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2015)

Directory