[This is an update to a post from August 25, Raising the Abrahamic Discourse: An Essay on the Nature of Dialogues About the Book of Abraham]
I believe that academic dialogue is important and can be fruitful. There are many scholars who are academically interested in the Book of Abraham, its translation, and its content. Some scholars have even made such study their life’s work. (This is not unusual in many specialized subject areas.)
Regardless of the area of study, all scholars approach any topic with their own sets of existing beliefs. It is impossible for a scholar to be a “blank slate” when it comes to any field of study. It is no surprise that my existing beliefs are consistent with what I view as the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. It is likewise no surprise that others, including Professor Ritner, start with a set of beliefs that preclude divine involvement in the work of Joseph Smith.
With that in mind and because I am truly interested in academic dialogue about the Book of Abraham, before I posted any kind of response online, I personally contacted Professor Ritner. I suggested that we work together on creating an academic volume on the subject. I suggested possible guidelines for doing so, possible academic venues, possible editors, and even a potential table of contents. I modeled it after volumes on contested issues that have been successfully done in academia elsewhere. The goal would be to have a balanced approach observing the highest academic rigor and tone, creating a dialogue with each other rather than having parties who speak past each other. If done correctly, I believe that such an approach can lead to real progress. [Read more…] about Update from Kerry Muhlestein re: Raising the Abrahamic Discourse