We have a great lineup of speakers for the 2007 FAIR Conference. Below you will find an overview of each speaker’s credentials and their presentation. If you would like to see the schedule of when the speakers will be addressing the Conference, visit our Conference overview page.
holds a BA in History and Near Eastern studies from Brigham Young University and an MA in Ancient Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University where he is currently a doctoral candidate in Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East.
David is an LDS Institute instructor at the Boston Institute of Religion and a CES Field writer for Institute curriculum. He is a five-time recipient of the Hugh Nibley Fellowship from the Neil A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Studies.
David has published articles in a variety of journals and books including BYU Studies, the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, FARMS Insights, and the FARMS Review. He is the co-author of the book Testaments: Links Between the Book of Mormon and the Hebrew Bible.
David currently lives in Belmont, Massachusetts, with his wife Carolyn and their four children.
Presentation: Isaiah in the Book of Mormon: The Things of Joseph and the Things of the Jews.
Craig L. Foster is a Research Specialist in Library Public Affairs of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in political science at BYU in 1986. He then earned a Master of Arts in history (1989) and a Master of Library and Information Sciences (1991) at BYU.
He is the author of Penny Tracts and Polemics: A Critical Analysis of Anti-Mormon Pamphleteering in Great Britain, 1837–1860 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, 2002). He has also published articles in scholarly journals including Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, FARMS Review, Genealogical Journal, The Journal of the John Whitmer Historical Association, Journal of Mormon History, Mormon Historical Studies, and Utah Historical Quarterly. He has also written encyclopedic entries for the Encyclopedia of the American West and Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History.
Craig is involved in several scholarly and social organizations, including the Mormon History Association and John Whitmer Historical Association. He served in the Belgium Brussels Mission, 1978–1980 and has served in various ward and stake callings. He and his wife, Suzanne, are the parents of three children: Robert, Shannon, and Senia.
Presentation: Demonstrations, Protests, and Pamphleteering in the Heart of Mormonism.
John Gee received his Ph.D. from Yale University. He is the William (Bill) Gay Associate Research Professor of Egyptology at the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University and the author of A Guide to the Joseph Smith Papyri.
Presentation: Some Puzzles from the Joseph Smith Papyri
Terryl Givens was born in upstate New York, just the other side of the Finger Lakes from Palmyra, and graduated from Brigham Young University. He did his graduate work at Cornell and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Intellectual History and in Comparative Literature. He has published articles on Greek aesthetics, literary theory, and European Romanticism, in addition to books in religious studies, including Viper on the Hearth, By the Hand of Mormon, and People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture, released in July 2007. Dr. Givens’ presentation is from a work in progress When Souls Had Wings: Pre-Mortal Existence in Western Thought.
Dr. Givens is currently Professor of Literature and Religion and holds the James Bostwick Chair of English at the University of Richmond, where he has been named a Distinguished Educator and teaches courses in nineteenth century studies.
Presentation: When Souls Had Wings: What the Western Tradition Has to Teach
Us About Pre-Existence
Dr. John F. Hall is Professor of Classical Languages and Ancient History at Brigham Young University. He is the Eliza R. Snow University Fellow and also Editor of The BYU New Testament Commentary. Dr. Hall is former Chair of BYU’s Department of Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature and served as a member of the FARMS (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies) Board of Directors. His professional involvement beyond BYU extends to service on the boards of several professional associations including a term as national President and six terms as Secretary of the Classical Association of the Middlewest, West and South (CAMWS) encompassing 34 states and 4 Canadian provinces.
Dr. Hall is the author of many articles and books on various topics of Roman history, the ancient Etruscans, early Christianity, and the original Greek New Testament. Among volumes of interest to an LDS audience are New Testament Witnesses of Christ: Peter, John, James, and Paul; Charting the New Testament; and Masada and the World of the New Testament. Most recently Professor Hall, along with Professor John Welch, edited lecture notes of Hugh Nibley to produce Apostles and Bishops in Early Christianity. Dr. Hall has also acted as curator or academic director of several archaeological exhibitions at BYU including: The Etruscans: Legacy of a Lost Civilization; Masada and the Dead Sea Scrolls; and at present, Ancient Roman Inscribed Bronze Plates.
Professor Hall received his doctorate in Ancient History and Languages from the University of Pennsylvania. As an undergraduate he attended BYU graduating Summa Cum Laude with a double major in Latin and Greek, with the university designation of University Scholar, and the Honors Program designation of Highest Honors. Dr. Hall is in his twenty-ninth year as a member of the BYU faculty.
Presentation: As Far as It is Translated Correctly: The Problem of Tampering with the Word of God in the Transmission and Translation of the New Testament
William J. Hamblin (Ph.D. University of Michigan) is Professor of History at Brigham Young University, specializing in the medieval and ancient Near Eastern. His most recent books are Warfare in the Ancient Near East to 1600 BC: Holy Warriors at the Dawn of History (Routledge, 2006) and, with David Seely, Solomon’s Temple: Myth and History (Thames and Hudson, 2007). He has also published numerous articles an Mormon studies.
Presentation: Solomon’s Temple: Myth and History.
Larry E. Morris is a writer and editor with the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at Brigham Young University. He is the co-editor (along with John W. Welch) of Oliver Cowdery: Scribe, Elder, Witness, published in 2006 by the Maxwell Institute. He has also published articles on Oliver Cowdery in BYU Studies, the FARMS Review, and the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Morris is also interested in the history of the American West and published The Fate of the Corps: What Became of the Lewis and Clark Explorers After the Expedition in 2004 with Yale University Press. He recently completed a book on explorer John Colter for the University of Nebraska Press. He and his wife, Deborah, live in Salt Lake City and have four children.
Presentation: The Cowdery Controversies.
Steven L. Olsen
Steven Olsen is currently serving as Associate Managing Director for the Family and Church History Department. He has worked for Church History his entire professional career, most recently as Acting Director, Museum of Church History and Art. In his current position, he oversees the operations and provides leadership for the Church History Library, Church Archives, Museum of Church History and Art, and Church Historic Sites. He is also an adjunct professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University.
His service to the wider profession has included terms as president of the Utah Museums Association and Western Museums Association and on the boards of the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Utah State Office of Museum Services, and the National Alliance of State Museums Associations. He has published widely in the fields of museum studies and Church history and frequently presents at scholarly and professional association conferences.
Steven has a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and master’s and doctor’s degrees in anthropology from the University of Chicago. He and his wife Kathi have five children. He served a mission to France and has held numerous ward and stake callings, including bishop, high councilor, and gospel doctrine teacher.
Presentation: Are the Church Archives Closed?
Blake Ostler graduated from Brigham Young University in 1981, receiving a BA in Philosophy, summa cum laude, and a BS in Psychobiology, magna cum laude. He earned his JD at the University of Utah, cum laude, in 1985. From 1982 to 1985 he was a William Leary Scholar. He is fluent in Italian and French and conversant in Swedish, Spanish and German, and conducts scholarly research in Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek and Latin. Mr. Ostler has published numerous articles in professional philosophical journals including International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Religious Studies, BYU Studies, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought and he is the author of the three volume series Exploring Mormon Thought.
Mr. Ostler is a partner in the Salt Lake City law firm of Mackey Price Thompson & Ostler. He is the past Chair for the Education Law Section of the Utah State Bar (1996), and past Chair for the Law for Clergy Section of the Utah State Bar (1990).
Presentation: Spiritual Experiences As The Basis For Belief And Commitment.
Daniel C. Peterson
A native of southern California, Daniel C. Peterson received a bachelor’s degree in Greek and philosophy from Brigham Young University (BYU) and, after several years of study in Jerusalem and Cairo, earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at BYU, as well as a member of the board and associate executive director of its Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts, which has produced a computer-digitized version of the Dead Sea Scrolls, electronically recovered damaged documents from the ruins of Herculaneum, Petra, and elsewhere, and is engaged in joint publishing ventures with such institutions as the Vatican Apostolic Library in Rome. He is the executive editor of BYU’s three-part Middle Eastern Texts Initiative, which includes not only the Islamic Translation Series but two sister series: Graeco-Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, and Eastern Christian Texts. These series publish dual-language editions of classical works of medieval Arabic and Persian philosophy, Arabic medicine and science, and early Coptic, Syriac, and Christian Arabic literature. (The University of Chicago Press distributes the volumes.) He is the author of several books and numerous articles on Islamic and Latter-day Saint topics, including most recently a biography of the Prophet Muhammad (Eerdmans, 2007). Dr. Peterson served in the Switzerland Zürich Mission, and, for approximately eight years, on the Gospel Doctrine writing committee for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He currently serves as a Gospel Doctrine teacher in his home ward. He is immediate past chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), and edits the FARMS Review of Books. Dr. Peterson is married to the former Deborah Stephens, of Lakewood, Colorado, and they are the parents of three sons.
Presentation: God and Mr. Hitchens.
David R. Seely
David R. Seely is a Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University. Dr. Seely earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Near Eastern Studies. He has published on various biblical topics, the temple and the Book of Mormon. He is one of the team of editors of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Presentation: Solomon’s Temple: Myth and History.
John L. Sorenson
John L. Sorenson is professor emeritus of anthropology at Brigham Young University. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in archaeology from BYU, a master’s degree in meteorology from the California Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California at Los Angeles.
He originated the program in anthropology at BYU, heading it for fourteen of his twenty-four years of faculty service. His primary academic and professional emphasis was in sociocultural anthropology, including many years as an applied anthropologist. Among other positions, he served as director of social sciences at General Research Corporation in Santa Barbara, California, in the 1960s and later founded Bonneville Research Corporation in Provo, Utah. He is the author of more than 200 publications.
Despite following a variety of other professional interests throughout his career, Dr. Sorenson never lost his strong interest in Mesoamerican archaeology, the subject that first drew him to anthropology. Since his retirement from BYU in 1986, he has concentrated his research and writing in that area.
One of the key figures in the early development of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (now part of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship), Dr. Sorenson served for several years as the editor of its Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. His 1985 book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, published by FARMS and Deseret Book, has become the most influential treatment of Book of Mormon peoples and history in their Mesoamerican context.
Dr. Sorenson and his late wife, Kathryn, reared nine children. In 1993 he married Helen Lance Christianson, mother of nine. They reside in Provo, Utah.
Presentation: The Trajectory of Book of Mormon Studies.
Richard E. Turley Jr. serves as managing director of the Family and Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His responsibilities include management of the Church Archives and Records Center, the Church History Library, the Museum of Church History and Art, and the Granite Mountain Records Vault. He is also responsible for the management of the Church’s worldwide family history operations, including hundreds of documentary microfilming and digital imaging projects, oversight of the Family History Library, and support for thousands of branch Family History Centers on six continents. He is a member of the editorial board for The Papers of Joseph Smith and general editor of The Journals of George Q. Cannon series. His book Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992) is an oft-cited history of the famous Hofmann forgery-murder case of the 1980s. Along with Ronald W. Walker and Glen M. Leonard, he is currently writing a book on the Mountain Meadows Massacre that will be published by Oxford University Press.
Presentation: Reflections on Mountain Meadows
Wendy Ulrich, Ph.D., was a psychologist in Ann Arbor, Michigan for 20 years before moving to Montreal, Quebec for a recently completed three-year mission. She has served as president of the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists, has authored numerous professional articles in both psychology and business, and has done consulting and training for such corporations as Marriott, Johnson & Johnson, University of Michigan, General Electric, and United Way. Dr. Ulrich is founder of Sixteen Stones Center for Growth in Alpine, Utah, providing seminar-retreats for LDS members seeking personal and spiritual growth and development. She and her husband have three children.
Presentation: Seeing Our Blindness: The Impact of Personal History on our Understanding of God.
Jeffrey N. Walker is the series manager and co-editor for the legal and business volumes of the Joseph Smith Papers. Raised in Michigan, Jeff served a mission in the Canada-Montréal mission. Upon his return he completed a B.S. from Western Michigan University, magna cum laude. Jeff earned J.D., cum laude, from the J. Reuben Clark Law School, where he served as an editor for the BYU Law Review. He practiced in Los Angeles with one of the largest west-coast law firms before joining the Salt Lake City law firm of Jones, Waldo, Holbrook & McDonough. Jeff has worked as general counsel for a regional healthcare company, a national consultant for Lexis/Nexis, as well as a founding partner of the law firm Holman & Walker. He is the president and co-owner of Western Architectural Services, a thematic manufacturing company located in Draper, Utah, and a founder of the national watch store chain, Precision Time. He is also a trustee and treasurer for the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation and the managing editor of the Mormon Historic Studies. Jeff is currently an adjunct professor in the Department of Church History and Doctrine and the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University.
Jeff is married to the former Elizabeth Hepburn and they have four children, three dogs, three cats and one grandson.
Presentation: A Change of Venue: Joseph Smith’s Escape from Liberty Jail.