LATIN – apologeticus GREEK – apologetikos Apologetics: “The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2009).
- FAIR APOLOGETICS INDEX. FAIR is proud to announce an apologetics index to help you find resources.
- THEY LIE IN WAIT TO DECEIVE, VOLUME II. The second volume is now online. Last month we announced all four volumes of this classic series are available for sale and volume one could be downloaded free of charge from the Website. This month we are pleased to announce that Volume II is now available.
- SCHOLARSHIP IN MORMONISM AND MORMONISM IN SCHOLARSHIP. Excerpts from a fascinating talk given by John Tvedtnes at the 2001 FAIR Conference.
- DOCTRINAL TRENDS IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY AND THE STRENGNTH OF THE MORMON POSITION. First presented as a FARMS brown-bag seminar, this FAIR Paper by Barry Bickmore examines the shifting nature of doctrines in the early Christian Church.
- DOES THE BOOK OF MORMON TEACH MAINSTREAM TINITARIANISM OR MODALISM? Barry Bickmore’s new FAIR Paper examines whether the Book of Mormon’s teachings about the Godhead can be classified as trinitarianism or modalism.
- A GIFT FOR APOLOGETICS. As your finish your gift giving, give a tax-deductible contribution to FAIR.
- ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS. Interested in writing for FAIR? Learn how you can have your apologetics work published.
- PUBLISHING NOTES. Learn how you can become more involved in FAIR and how you can reuse the material we publish.
FAIR APOLOGETICS INDEX
We are proud to announce an apologetics index on the FAIR Website. Just click on the “Apologetics Index” tab on the left side of our home page. With this new index you no longer need to search the Internet, wading through multiple sources that may or may not be credible. With one click you can be in touch with the very best material on the Web.
The index is organized in a topical fashion and links you to many of the excellent articles on various topics on Mormonism and anti-Mormonism. The index links you to articles on the FAIR Website, out of the Ensign magazine, and from the better Websites on the Internet. You can click on the particular topic that interests you, or you can type your keyword into the search box.
The index is a work in progress and we will continue to load various links from the Internet. If you know of a particularly good article please e-mail us at the Webmaster and send us the name of the Website, the name of the article and it’s author, the link to the article, and the topic or topics the article addresses.
We hope that this will greatly assist those in finding answers to questions about anti-Mormonism no matter where they are found.
THEY LIE IN WAIT TO DECIEVE, VOLUME II
Last month we announced that these four classic books were available at our bookstore and that Volume I, which discusses D.J. Nelson and the Book of Abraham, could be downloaded free from the Website.
This month we are pleased to announce that Volume II has been placed on the Website in electronic format and is available free for download. This book discusses the Solomon Spaulding manuscripts as a possible source for the Book of Mormon and contains a complete copy of that manuscript. It also exposes the background and tactics of Walter Martin and other professional anti-Mormons as they attempt to show the Book of Mormon to be a fraud.
SCHOLARSHIP IN MORMONISM AND MORMONISM IN SCHOLARSHIP
Here are some selected notes from the wonderful talk John Tvedtnes gave at our FAIR conference this past August. This is only a partial transcript from the talk with a few selected quotes. I would certainly recommend the full version.
-Scott Gordon President, FAIR
I returned a few days ago from Jerusalem, where I presented a paper on “Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon” at the thirteenth annual World Congress of Jewish Studies. It was not my first time speaking in Jerusalem on a subject that is of specific interest to Latter-day Saints. In the 1970s, I was invited to deliver a series of lectures on Mormonism for the history and sociology departments of Haifa University. It was my only opportunity to lecture in Hebrew. In 1981, I was one of two Americans invited to speak at a scholarly conference sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Education and Culture and marking the opening of a new museum exhibit on Coptic textiles in Jerusalem. My paper was entitled “Baptism for the Dead: The Coptic Rationale,” and it was very well received…
After John W. Welch organized the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) in 1979, critics of the Church began arguing that there were no real LDS scholars or that, at best, they were pseudo-scholars. This tactic was designed to dissuade potential readers from looking at FARMS materials. But things began to change after 1997, when Evangelical scholars Carl Mosser and Paul Owen presented their now-famous paper at a regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. Entitled “Mormon Scholarship, Apologetics, and Evangelical Neglect: Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?” it was later published in Trinity Journal 19NS (1998). The authors noted that various LDS scholars who wrote for FARMS were also involved in serious scholarly work that has been published in a wide range of non-LDS scholarly publications.
The Mosser/Owen paper called for a re-evaluation of the way Evangelicals deal with Latter-day Saint scholarship. What is needed, they contend, is to keep the mostly untrained Mormon-bashers out of the discussion and bring Evangelical scholars in. While some Evangelical scholars have taken up the gauntlet, the amateurs still rule the field with their mostly unfounded anti-Mormon diatribes. However, their argument has changed direction. Now they contend that LDS scholars do well when writing in their chosen academic fields, but are not objective (and therefore not scholarly) when writing about LDS subjects.
There has been a tendency among non-LDS scholars to suggest that unique LDS scriptures such as the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and the Book of Moses are not subjects for serious scholarly study except as literary frauds, and that Joseph Smith’s claim to have restored the ancient Church is bogus. But the past few decades have seen some softening in this position…
In the spring of 1978, the Religious Studies Center of Brigham Young University sponsored a symposium to which a number of non-LDS scholars were invited to discuss topics of special interest to Latter-day Saints. The papers presented at the symposium were assembled by Truman G. Madsen and published in a book entitled Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels. Several of the papers discussed topics drawn from the Book of Mormon and other unique LDS scriptures. David Winston of the University of California (Berkeley) discussed “Preexistence in Hellenic, Judaic and Mormon Sources.” Krister Stendahl of the Harvard Divinity School discussed “The Sermon on the Mount and Third Nephi.” Edmond LaB. Cherbonnier of Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut) spoke “In Defense of Anthropomorphism.” John Dillenberger, President of Hartford Seminary Foundation, compared “Grace and Works in Martin Luther and Joseph Smith.” Ernst W. Benz of the University of Marburg titled his presentation “Imago Dei: Man in the Image of God.” James H. Charlesworth of Duke University presented a paper entitled “Messianism in the Pseudepigrapha and the Book of Mormon.”
In 1981, while serving as chair of the annual Symposium on the Archaeology of the Scriptures and Allied Fields, I invited Raphael Patai of Princeton University to speak at the symposium on the subject of his book The Hebrew Goddess (1968), in which he suggested that at least some Jews in ancient times believed God was married. Patai expressed surprise that Latter-day Saints should be interested in the topic, and when I explained our concepts of God and eternal marriage, he asked that I send him some materials, which I did. His presentation at the symposium was well received, and Patai later returned to Provo for other presentations…
Patai credited Lundquist for breaking the “writer’s block” that enabled him to complete his book The Children of Noah: Jewish Seafaring in Ancient Times, published by Princeton University in 1998. In the Preface, Patai wrote:
Then, in the late 1980s, I was asked by my friend Dr. John M. Lundquist, head of the Oriental Division of the New York Public Library, to contribute a paper to the Festschrift he, together with Dr. Stephen D. Ricks of Brigham Young University, planned to publish in honor of the eightieth birthday of Hugh W. Nibley. Thinking about what would be most suitable for a collection of essays in honor of an outstanding Mormon scholar, and knowing that according to the traditions of the Mormons their ancestors [sic] sailed to America from the Land of Israel about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, I felt that a paper discussing some aspect of Jewish seafaring in ancient times would be most appropriate. So I went back to the seafaring typescript, and reworked the chapter that dealt with Rabbinic legal provisions related to seafaring. It was published in volume one of the Nibley Festschrift in 1990, and is reprinted here in a slightly changed format as Chapter 10.
Referring to the first sailors to leave the Mediterranean Sea and enter the Atlantic Ocean, Patai wrote:
This daring feat of striking out into unknown waters is dwarfed by what the Mormon tradition attributes to a group of Jews who lived in the days of King Zedekiah in Jerusalem, that is, in the early sixth century BCE (the same time in which the Phocaean skippers were supposed to have sailed through the Strait of Gibraltar). According to Mormon tradition, their venture into unknown waters took place in the year 589 BCE, that is, three years before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and it was thanks to this extraordinary feat that the American continent was populated by a remnant of biblical Israel…
Another Jewish scholar who has dealt with LDS topics is Jacob Neusner, who has been an occasional speaker at BYU. His article, “Conversations in Nauvoo on the Corporeality of God,” appeared in BYU Studies 36/1 (l996-97)…
In recent years, Book of Mormon topics have been discussed in regional and national meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL). At the 1997 national meeting, Eric G. Hansen gave a paper on “The Egyptian ‘Opening of the Mouth’ Ritual in the Book of Mormon.” Angela Crowell has presented three papers at meetings of the Central States regional meetings of SBL. In the Spring of 1988, she presented a paper entitled “Biblical Hebrew Poetry in the Book of Mormon.” A year later, she read a paper based on her MA thesis topic, “A Comparative Study of Biblical Hebrew Sentence Structure in the Old Testament and in the Book of Mormon.” After the session, she was approached by a professor/rabbi who told her that he had taught a class at the University of Missouri-Kansas City on the Book of Mormon. In April 1992, Crowell presented a paper entitled, “A Comparative Reading of Homiletic and Narrative Midrash in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon.”
Terryl Givens, an LDS professor at the University of Richmond, made history in 1997 when his history of anti-Mormonism, The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy, was published by Oxford University Press. Oxford will also publish his Out of the Dust: Saints, Scholars, Skeptics, and the Book of Mormon, which is a serious look at the Book of Mormon and its skeptics, along with a survey of the scholarly work being done in regard to it…
This brings me back to my recent trip to Israel. It was not the first time the Book of Mormon has been discussed in a prestigious scholarly forum and I sincerely hope that it will not be the last. Some of those who heard my presentation gave me additional suggestions for Hebrew etymologies for Book of Mormon names. One of the speakers drew our attention to another attestation of the Hebrew name Sariah (the name of Lehi’s wife) in a Jewish text of the fourth century B.C. found in the Bosphorus region and mentioned only in a Russian publication.
So where do we go from here? I have other topics in mind that I believe will interest at least some non-LDS scholars, and I suspect that I am not alone in this. I plan, for example, to revisit my “King Benjamin and the Feast of Tabernacles” and update it for a Festschrift to be published in Israel next year in honor of a professor whose studies have specialized in Jewish festivals.
It is my earnest hope that we can convince our LDS colleagues that there are open-minded non-LDS scholars out there who would be willing to include scholarly studies on LDS scriptures and beliefs in their journals and books. In this, I have to concur with Gordon C. Thomasson, who once said that we believers should approach studies of the Book of Mormon with the a priori assumption that it is an authentic ancient text and that, moreover, the Book of Mormon can sometimes help elucidate the Bible and other ancient Near Eastern texts and archaeological finds. As we shall learn in some of the presentations being made at this conference, the volume of evidence for the Book of Mormon continues to increase. To be sure, we need to share that information with Latter-day Saints, but I believe the time is ripe to take this research to the world of non-LDS scholarship.
If you would like to order this talk on an audio CD, visit this page:
The presentation will be available on video and through printed transcripts in the near future.
DOCTRINAL TRENDS IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY AND THE STRENGTH OF THE MORMON POSITION
Barry Bickmore, author of Restoring the Ancient Church, outlines the historical argument for the proposition that Latter-day Saints represent a restoration of primitive Christianity. He shows that some of the most important areas of theology, early trends in Christian doctrines point from something very like LDS doctrine and toward the doctrines of later Christianity. He then examines how different Christian traditions try to deal with these facts. He shows that the meaning that LDS attach to early Christian doctrinal development follows quite naturally, while other interpretations are usually very forced.
You can download this paper for free at the FAIR Web site:
DOES THE BOOK OF MORMON TEACH MAINSTREAM TINITARIANISM OR MODALISM?
In this FAIR Paper, Barry Bickmore takes on the critics in examining the doctrines of the Godhead as expressed in the Book of Mormon. Since this topic seems to come up frequently when conversing with our non-member friends, this article would be an important must-read.
You can download this paper for free at the FAIR Web site:
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You can learn more information about making your gift to FAIR at the following location:
We welcome article submissions for the FAIR Web site. If you would like to submit an article, please review the editing guidelines at:
Submit your article to the FAIR Journal Editor. An appropriate article would be one that affirms the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
While LDS apologetics (in the broadest sense) deals with refuting critics of the Church, articles don’t necessarily have to deal with anti-Mormonism, but may deal with some new evidence of the Book of Mormon, some interesting scripture interpretation, a viewpoint or quote from the early Christian Fathers or other historical figure, an interesting lesson idea, an inspiring missionary story, Church history, or your view on a current event related to the Church or a piece from a historical journal.
We may also accept articles from people who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that may not necessarily meet the guidelines of supporting the church if it is a topic of general interest to people involved in apologetics.
A submission may range in length from several pages to a single paragraph.
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