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Mormon Apologetic, Scholarship and Evangelical Neglect:
Paul Owen and Carl Mosser
The original version of this paper, presented presented at the 1997 Far West Regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, has been placed online - without permission - in the alt.religion.mormon newsgroup. It is archived by Deja News (Reproduced below, with corrections).
The paper has now been published in Trinity Journal (Fall '98, p179-205). Note: The Trinity Journal version includes editorial changes and additions.
Individual copies of Trinity Journal can be purchased for $7.00 (in the U.S.) or $8.00 (for overseas) each. A one year subscription (two issues) is 14.00 (U.S.) and 16.00 (overseas). In a few months, Trinity Journal hopes offer the opportunity of downloading individual articles for $2.00.
The first section below is comments by Carl Mosser which were posted
to the AR-talk Email list. Mr. Mosser is the co-author of the above
entitled article, and his AR-talk comments will add some interesting
background to the article that follows.
A point of clarification: Neither my colleague Paul nor myself "fear losing the debate with the LDS." We are quite confident that truth will prevail. However, the fact of the matter is that at the present time the LDS are winning this debate. As our paper amply demonstrates, there is a plethora of scholarly and apologetic literature produced by Latter-day Saints that remains unrefuted and for the most part unmentioned in Evangelical criticisms of Mormonism. In our opinion this is an intolerable state of affairs. The paper was written to make the community of Evangelical scholars aware of this growing body of LDS literature. The sophistication of argumentation and the breadth of sources cited by the LDS in this literature is simply more than the education and training of many cult apologists affords them to adequately deal with. The paper was written as a call to arms for Evangelical scholars who do have the needed training, skills and specialization. Again, we do not fear losing the debate ultimately. What we fear is that, like with the Modernist controversy earlier in the century, the Christian community will ignore LDS scholarship so long that we will have found ourselves in quite a hole that requires a lot of energy to get out of that would be better spent on other matters.
From what I can tell most members of AR-talk became aware of our paper through Eric Pemment's citation of Noel Reynold's quotations of it in a Forum Lecture at BYU published on the FARMS web page. At the time of Pemment's posts I was not on the AR-talk list and was unable to clarify matters (which I intended to do once I received a publisher's letter of acceptance for the paper). But, as is clear to anyone who has read the paper, Reynold's paraphrases portions of the paper's introduction and does so in a manner favorable to Mormonism. If all one has read is Reynold's paraphrases he or she might get the wrong impression about the scope and intent of the paper.
It was also brought to my attention that some mention was made on the list about a review of How Wide the Divide? by Paul and myself. Our review is scheduled to be published in the FARMS Review of Books in March. FARMS was quite generous in allowing us all the space we wanted and the freedom to write whatever we wanted as long as we were civil and fair. It is some 60-75 pages long (depending on how it is formatted) and includes over 200 footnotes of substance. With the risk of sounding arrogant (which I do not intend), I believe that this review, along with our paper, is the most extensive Evangelical interaction with LDS scholarship available today. The review was written primarily with LDS readers in mind, but in it we also have an aside directed at the Evangelical apologetics community. I would encourage everyone with an interest in Mormonism, HWTD or Evangelical apologetics in general to read it. There will also be two other reviews of HWTD from the LDS perspective in the same edition of the Review. If anyone questions our choice to publish this review with FARMS I am willing to discuss this off the list.
Mormon Apologetic, Scholarship and Evangelical Neglect:
Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?
Spiritual warfare is a reality. Battle in the spiritual realm is not fought with guns and tanks in the manner of the world. This is the war of ideas that vie for men's minds. The Apostle Paul tells us that the weapons we fight with have divine power to demolish such intellectual strongholds. Of Christians he says that, "we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God" (II Cor. 10:5). However, to tear down arguments entails that one must first know what the arguments are. This paper seeks to describe the scholarly and apologetic arguments of one group which we, as evangelicals, believe inhibit true knowledge of God.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormonism, has, in recent years, produced a substantial body of literature defending their beliefs. This paper does not discuss the full range of defensive and offensive scholarship by Latter-day Saints. Instead, we will focus our discussion upon those disciplines that fall under the broad categories of biblical studies and church history. We choose these two categories because of the importance they play in understanding Christian origins and the nature of early Christianity. Both Mormonism and evangelicalism claim to be the Church which Christ founded. Both claim to be the heirs of New Testament Christianity. Both cannot be correct. It is then appropriate to focus on these disciplines because knowing what the beliefs and practices of the earliest Christians were and whether or not the Church which Christ founded apostatized is the central issue of contention. We realize that what we say will not be welcomed by all, especially by some in the counter-cult movement. Some may criticize us for giving the Mormons too much credit and for being too harsh on our fellow evangelicals. However, much like testifying against a loved one in court, we cannot hide the facts of the matter. In this battle the Mormons <are> fighting valiantly. And the evangelicals? It appears that we may be losing the battle and not knowing it. But this is a battle we <cannot> afford to lose. It is our deep hope that this paper will, in some small way, serve to awaken members of the evangelical community to the important task at hand.
Section A: Mormonism
1. Evangelical Myths and Five Conclusions
There are many evangelical myths concerning Mormon scholarship. The first is that there are few, if any, traditional Mormon scholars with training in fields pertinent to evangelical-Mormon debates. This is simply false. It is a myth that when Mormons receive training in historiography, biblical languages, theology and philosophy they invariably abandon traditional LDS beliefs in the historicity of the Book of Mormon and the prophethood of Joseph Smith. It is a myth that liberal Mormons have so shaken the foundations of LDS belief that Mormonism is crumbling apart. It is a myth that neo-orthodox Mormons have influenced the theology of their Church to such a degree that it will soon abandon traditional emphases and follow a path similar to the RLDS or the World-Wide Church of God . These are myths based upon ignorance and selective reading. These myths must be abandoned by responsible evangelicals.
The title of this paper reflects five conclusions we have come to concerning Mormon-evangelical debates. The first is that there are, contrary to popular evangelical perceptions, legitimate Mormon scholars. We use the term scholar in its formal sense of "intellectual, erudite; skilled in intellectual investigation; trained in ancient languages."  Broadly, Mormon scholarship can be divided into four categories: traditional, neo-orthodox, liberal and cultural. We are referring to the largest and most influential of the four categories -- traditional Mormon scholars. It is a point of fact that the Latter-day Saints are not an anti-intellectual group like Jehovah's Witnesses. Mormons, in distinction to groups like Jews, produce work that has more than the mere appearance of scholarship.
The second conclusion we have come to is that Mormon scholars and apologists (not all apologists are scholars) have, with varying degrees of success, answered most of the usual evangelical criticisms. Often these answers adequately diffuse particular (minor) criticisms. When the criticism has not been diffused the issue has usually been made much more complex.
A third conclusion we have come to is that currently there are, as far as we are aware, no books from an evangelical perspective that responsibly interact with contemporary LDS scholarly and apologetic writings.  In a survey of twenty recent evangelical books criticizing Mormonism we found that none interact with this growing body of literature. Only a handful demonstrate any awareness of pertinent works. Many of the authors promote criticisms that have long been refuted; some are sensationalistic while others are simply ridiculous. A number of these books claim to be "the definitive" book on the matter. That they make no attempt to interact with contemporary LDS scholarship is a stain upon the authors' integrity and causes one to wonder about their credibility.
Our fourth conclusion is that at the academic level evangelicals are losing the debate with the Mormons. We are losing the battle and do not know it. In recent years the sophistication and erudition of LDS apologetics has risen considerably while evangelical responses have not.  Those who have the skills necessary for this task rarely demonstrate an interest in the issues. Often they do not even know that there is a need. In large part this is due entirely to ignorance of the relevant literature.
Finally, our fifth conclusion is that most involved in the counter-cult movement lack the skills and training necessary to answer Mormon scholarly apologetic. The need is great for trained evangelical biblical scholars, theologians, philosophers and historians to examine and answer the growing body of literature produced by traditional LDS scholars and apologists.
II. The Goals of Mormon Scholarship
We realize that our five conclusions may be controversial. However, having read an immense amount of the scholarly literature published (in both LDS and non-LDS venues) by Latter-day Saint intellectuals;  having read a great deal of apologetic material produced by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS); and having read or examined most evangelical works on Mormonism, we feel that we are justified in our conclusions. The scholarship of Mormon writers is often rigorous. In the least their work warrants examination. Further, we have had a number of opportunities to converse with several leading LDS academians. Last summer we even spent three days at BYU attending the FARMS/BYU sponsored International Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls. Because of our opportunities to interact with LDS scholars we believe that we can (in part) see where they are coming from and where they are headed.
So what are the LDS scholar-apologists trying to prove? In what intellectually plausible ways are they supporting their unique scriptural canon and doctrinal system? The main body of this paper is devoted to illustrating the answer to this question. The Mormon goals are fairly straightforward. First, they believe the Book of Mormon to be an ancient text written by people of Jewish lineage. A number of studies have been done which attempt to reveal Hebraic literary techniques, linguistic features, cultural patterns and other markers which, it is argued, Joseph Smith would not have been capable of fabricating. Second, Latter-day Saints believe that other ancient texts have been restored through Joseph Smith (e.g. the books of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price). As a result, Mormon scholars have taken a great deal of interest in the study of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi texts. The goal here is to highlight features which these ancient documents share with their own sacred literature. Third, it is a conviction of the LDS Church that earliest Christianity suffered substantial apostasy from the latter first century through the end of the second century. This apostasy is usually equated with the process of post-apostolic Hellenization. Under this theory they maintain that the original doctrines of the ancient Church were not lost all at once. So Latter-day Saints have taken a keen interest in the beliefs and practices of the early post-apostolic Church. Special attention has been given to the writings of the Patristic Fathers in an effort to demonstrate similarities with Mormon beliefs and practice. These similarities are not intended to show that the early Christians were proto-Mormons but rather that remnants of true pre-Hellenized belief remained for a time after the apostasy. In this regard Mormon academians (along with many non-LDS scholars) have taken keen interest in the "parting of the ways" between Judaism and Christianity.
III. Hugh Nibley: The Father of Mormon Scholarly Apologetics
Hugh Nibley is without question the pioneer of LDS scholarship and apologetics. Since earning his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley in 1939, Nibley has produced a seemingly endless stream of books and articles covering a dauntingly vast array of subject matter. Whether writing on Patristics, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Apocrypha, the culture of the Ancient Near East or Mormonism, he demonstrates an impressive command of the original languages, primary texts and secondary literature. He has set a standard which younger LDS intellectuals are hard pressed to follow. There is not room here for anything approaching an exhaustive examination of Nibley's works.  We must confess with Truman Madsen, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion at Brigham Young University: "To those who know him best, and least, Hugh W. Nibley is a prodigy, an enigma, and a symbol." 
The few evangelicals who are aware of Hugh Nibley often dismiss him as a fraud or pseudo-scholar. Those who would like to quickly dismiss his writings would do well to heed Madsen's warning: "Ill-wishing critics have suspected over the years that Nibley is wrenching his sources, hiding behind his footnotes, and reading into antique languages what no responsible scholar would ever read out. Unfortunately, few have the tools to do the checking."  The bulk of Nibley's work has gone unchallenged by evangelicals despite the fact that he has been publishing relevant material since 1946. Nibley's attitude toward evangelicals: "We need more anti-Mormon books. They keep us on our toes." 
No doubt there are flaws in Nibley's work, but most counter-cultists do not have the tools to demonstrate this. Few have tried.  It is beyond the scope of this paper to critique Nibley's methodology or to describe the breadth of his apologetic.  Whatever flaws may exist in his methodology, Nibley is a scholar of high caliber. Many of his more important essays first appeared in academic journals such as the Revue de Qumran, Vigiliae Christianae, Church History, and the Jewish Quarterly Review.  Nibley has also received praise from non-LDS scholars such as Jacob Neusner, James Charlesworth, Cyrus Gordon, Raphael Patai and Jacob Milgrom.  The former dean of the Harvard Divinity School, George MacRae, once lamented while hearing him lecture, "It is obscene for a man to know that much!"  Nibley has not worked in a cloister. It is amazing that few evangelical scholars are aware of his work. In light of the respect Nibley has earned in the non-LDS scholarly world it is more amazing that counter-cultists can so glibly dismiss his work.
For many years Nibley may have been conservative Mormonism's only reputable scholar. However, due to Nibley's influence as a motivating professor, today there are many more. During the years Nibley taught at BYU several LDS students followed his example by going on to earn the degrees necessary to gain a hearing in the academic community. For example, Stephen E. Robinson went on to Duke University to earn a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies under W. D. Davies and James Charlesworth.  Others went in different directions: S. Kent Brown took a doctorate from Brown University, focusing his research on the Nag Hammadi texts; C. Wilfred Griggs received a Ph.D. in ancient history from the University of California at Berkeley and is a specialist in early Egyptian Christianity;  under the supervision of David Noel Freedman and Frank Moore Cross, Kent P. Jackson took a doctorate in Near Eastern studies from the University of Michigan after completing a dissertation on the Ammonite language;  Avraham Gileadi earned his Ph.D. at BYU, with R. K. Harrison serving as the primary reader of his dissertation concerning the literary structure of Isaiah;  Stephen D. Ricks received a doctorate in Near Eastern Religions from the University of California at Berkeley and Graduate Theological Union under Jacob Milgrom;  Donald W. Parry received his Ph.D. in Hebrew jointly from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and University of Utah; John Gee is currently completing a Ph.D. in Egyptology at Yale University. Many more examples of Mormon scholars with equal credentials could be listed. Currently another crop of traditional Mormon intellectuals, in part funded by FARMS' Hugh Nibley Fellowships, are earning advanced degrees from Oxford, Duke, Claremont, UCLA, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Catholic University of America, and elsewhere. Their fields of study are quite relevant: New Testament, Syriac, Early Christianity, Near Eastern languages and cultures, and other disciplines.
The significance of these facts is simple: Mormons have the training and skills to produce robust defenses of their faith.
IV. The Book of Mormon: An Ancient Text?
The increased sophistication of LDS scholarly apologetic is clearly seen in their approach to the Book of Mormon. Not only do they use scholarship to defend the Book against common criticisms; they are attempting to place it squarely into an ancient Near Eastern background. It is their contention that the Book of Mormon reflects the culture, language and customs of ancient Semitic peoples. This reflection is seen not only in the major story line but also in subtle and important ways which, they argue, Joseph Smith (or anyone else living in the nineteenth century) could not have extrapolated from the Bible.
For example, Paul Y. Hoskisson (Assistant Prof. of Ancient Scripture at BYU) wrote an important essay entitled, "Textual Evidences for the Book of Mormon."  Hoskisson begins his study by pointing out: "In order for material in the Book of Mormon to be sufficient evidence for an ancient Near Eastern vorlage, as I am using the term sufficient here, it must be demonstrated that the textual material is ancient Near Eastern and that it was not available to Joseph Smith."  The point being made is that while certain features of the text could be explained as pointing to an ancient Near Eastern origin, not all such evidence would qualify as sufficient evidence. Thus we see an LDS scholar attempting to establish some methodological controls for what constitutes "proof" in the Book of Mormon debate. In his essay Hoskisson provides what he feels are examples of sufficient evidence for an ancient Near Eastern vorlage for the Book of Mormon. The first item of evidence examined relates to the statement, "their souls did expand" in Alma 5:9. In context the meaning appears to approximate "they became happy," in light of the structural parallelism with the phrase "'they did sing redeeming love' to celebrate their freedom."  Hoskisson points out that the King James Bible does not use the word soul in conjunction with expand, although the Book of Mormon also speaks of the soul enlarging and swelling in Alma 32:28 and 34 (respectively). He remarks: "This phrase appears to be unusual. Why should a soul expand? If this phrase is unique in English to the Book of Mormon, could the phrase reflect an ancient Near Eastern vorlage rather than have its origin in English?"  After pointing out a lack of evidence for this phrase in any extant pre-1830 English source, he goes on to point to instances of this metaphor in Ugaritic and Akkadian sources. However, ultimately this is not found to be an example of <sufficient> evidence, because the phrase "expand the soul" does occur in German, and English belongs to the Germanic language group. Hoskisson admits: "Therefore, though the phrase 'expand the soul' does not occur in any readily available pre-1830 English text, and though it is an authentic ancient Near Eastern Semitic phrase, because it is attested in German, we must conclude that the phrase 'their souls did expand' is at best necessary evidence for an authentic Near Eastern Semitic Book of Mormon vorlage, but not sufficient evidence." 
Following this discussion, Hoskisson provides three examples of what he feels are "sufficient" evidence: 1) the repeated use of the cognate accusative in the Book of Mormon (e.g. 2 Nephi 5:15; Mos. 9:8; 11:13; 23:5); 2) the occurrence of the Jewish name Alma in a land transaction found at Nahal Hever, dating from the time of the Bar-Kochba revolt;  and 3) the concept of the oceanic waters being the fountain of rivers, which is typical ancient Near Eastern thought, and occurs in 1 Nephi 2:9.
A second study that we want to look at was done by C. Wilfred Griggs (Associate Professor of Classics, History, and Ancient Scriptures and Director of Ancient Studies, Brigham Young University). His essay is entitled, "The Book of Mormon as an Ancient Book."  He beings his study by throwing out a challenge to critics of the Book of Mormon: "It claims to be an ancient book, and it must be examined and criticized in terms of its claim. ... Since nobody could feasibly invent a work the length of the Book of Mormon which represented ancient Near Eastern society accurately..., subjecting the book to the test of historical integrity would be a rather easy task for any specialist to undertake."  Griggs goes on to file a complaint which we would agree is somewhat justified: "It is precisely this dimension of historical criticism, however, which has been almost totally neglected in attempts to establish the book as a fraud."  As an example somewhat parallel to the Book of Mormon, Griggs points to the 1958 discovery by Morton Smith of the purported letter of Clement of Alexandria written to a certain Theodore. The contents of this letter were previously unknown to the scholarly world, and there is no mention of Theodore in any of Clement's extant writings. The date of the copy, which was discovered in the Mar Saba monastery near Jerusalem, was fairly easy to establish at around 1750. However, after a detailed study of this document in comparison with other ancient sources, Morton Smith concluded that this was indeed an authentic letter of Clement. Griggs comments: "If a two-and-a-half-page text can elicit 450 pages [the length of Morton Smith's study] of analysis and commentary in an attempt to determine its authenticity, one would not expect less from the scholarly world in the case of the Book of Mormon." 
Griggs moves on from there to an examination of the Tree of Life dream recorded in 1 Nephi 8-15 against the backdrop of Mediterranean texts which date to approximately Lehi's time (sixth century BC). His discussion mentions numerous examples of religious and magical texts written on gold, silver and bronze tablets. Of particular interest are the so-called "Orphic gold plates" which date as early as the fifth-century BC and have been found in such scattered areas as Italy, Greece and Crete.  Scholars are agreed that these gold plates demonstrate foreign influence, but have not come to a consensus as to what that influence was. Griggs notes, however, "The influence was certainly from the ancient Near East, even if there is no agreement on where the ideas were originally found."  Having noted this, the remainder of the examination involves a comparison of the rituals connected with these plates with materials in the Egyptian Book of the Dead and Lehi's dream in the Book of Mormon. Griggs concludes after his detailed study: "Since the Greek gold tablets appear to have an Egyptian origin which agrees in time and content with the Egyptian associations of the Book of Mormon, the most feasible and plausible explanation for the internal characteristics shared by the Book of Mormon is that seventh/sixth-century BC Egypt is the common meeting ground for the two traditions." 
There is not room here for detailed study of further examples of scholarly defenses of the Book of Mormon. But there are many more which do merit attention. John Welch has argued for an ancient vorlage based on chiastic structures in the Book of Mormon.  Donald W. Parry, professor of Hebrew at BYU and a member of the International Dead Sea Scrolls Editing Team, has published an exhaustive study of Hebrew poetic structures in the Book of Mormon text.  Roger R. Keller, a former Presbyterian minister armed with a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies from Duke University, has written a monograph arguing on the basis of distinctive word usages that the Book of Mormon cannot be the product of a single nineteenth-century author, but rather is the product of several ancient writers.  John Tvedtnes, senior project manager for FARMS, has written technical studies on hebraisms and Isaiah variants in the Book of Mormon.  Several studies involving form-critical analysis also require some attention. Stephen D. Ricks, Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages at BYU, has written a detailed article discussing King Benjamin's coronation in Mosiah 1-6 against the backdrop of ancient Near Eastern treaty literature.  Blake T. Ostler has examined the account of Lehi's vision in 1 Nephi 1 against the backdrop of the "call form" in similar theophanies in the Hebrew Bible and Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.  There are many more studies which could be mentioned, but this should suffice to demonstrate that LDS academians are producing serious research which desperately needs to be critically examined from an informed evangelical perspective.
V. The Dead Sea Scrolls, Pseudepigrapha, and the Pearl of Great Price
Biblical scholars are well aware of the impact which the discoveries at Qumran and adjacent vicinities have had on both Old and New Testament studies.  The Dead Sea Scrolls have greatly enhanced our understanding of Old Testament textual criticism, Aramaic backgrounds to the New Testament and the complexity of the various Judaisms which existed in first-century Palestine. It would be hard to overestimate the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls research for understanding the bible.
Recently Mormon scholars have come to the forefront of Dead Sea Scrolls research. FARMS and BYU regularly sponsor international conferences on the Scrolls in Israel or the U.S. attended by world-renowned scholars. At least five Latter-day Saints are on the International Dead Sea Scrolls Editing Team headed by Emmanuel Tov.  The work of Latter-day Saints on the Scrolls is readily accepted by the larger academic community and they are often asked to collaborate, contribute or edit books with non-LDS scholars.  Mormon interest in the Scrolls is not limited to mere curiosity. They use the fruits of their research to promote their faith. 
Mormons have taken a keen interest in the scrolls for several reasons. Foremost among these, they want to support a portrait of early Christianity which is firmly rooted in apocalyptic Judaism. Nibley writes that "this common tradition was not that of conventional Judaism, let alone Hellenistic philosophy; it was the ancient tradition of the righteous few who flee to the desert with their wives and children to prepare for the coming of the Lord and escape persecution at the hands of the official religion."  Nibley feels that there is a line of continuity between the desert sectarians represented by Lehi and his family (cf. 1 Nephi 2), the community at Qumran, earliest Christianity, and second-century gnosticism. The argument being put forth is not that the Qumran Essenes were proto-Mormons, but simply that Mormonism has more in common with the apocalyptic belief system represented at Qumran than with that of Hellenized Christianity. Nibley continues: "Now with the discovery and admission of the existence of typical New Testament expressions, doctrines, and ordinances well before the time of Christ, the one effective argument against the Book of Mormon collapses."  Elsewhere he points to ten parallels between the Qumran literature and the Book of Mormon. Then tenth example is given as follows: "For the first time we now learn of the ancient Jewish background of (1) the theological language of the New Testament and Christian apocrypha, (2) their eschatological doctrines, and (3) their organizational and liturgical institutions. All three receive their fullest exposition in 3 Nephi, where the Messiah himself comes and organizes his church on the foundations already laid for it." 
Nibley is not alone pointing out prattles between the Qumran texts and Mormon scriptures. William J. Hamblin complains that "the critics [of Mormonism] have never explained why we find close linguistic and literary parallels between the figure Mahujah in Dead Sea Scrolls Aramaic fragments of the Book of Enoch and Mahijah questioning Enoch in the book of Moses (Moses 6:40)."  Gaye Stratearn suggests several points of contact between the Genesis Apocryphon (1 QapGen) discovered at Qumran and the LDS Book of Abraham.  Stephen E. Robinson points to numerous similarities between the Qumran community and the Latter-day Saints. He notes that the Qumranites wrote important information on metal, they believed in baptism(s) by immersion,  their community was led by a council of twelve men with three governing priests, they had sacred meals of bread and wine administered by priests,  and they believed in continuing revelation through a prophetic leader. He writes, "All of this leads to the conclusion that in many ways the Essenes may have been closer to the [Mormon] gospel than other Jewish sects."  As with defenses of the Book of Mormon, more examples could be listed. In light of the growing participation of LDS scholars in Scrolls research we can be sure that many more will be brought to our attention.
Mormon scholars also have a related interest in the Old Testament pseudepigrapha. Their involvement in pseudepigraphal studies can be seen in the two volume Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth.  The dust jacket of the work states: "Scholars, Bible students, professionals of all religious groups and denominations, and lay people --- indeed, all those who can be signified as 'People of the Book,' Christians, Jews, Mormons, Muslims --- will be interested in these translations."  The editor's preface contains a thanks to Brigham Young University's Religious Studies Center for their partial funding of the project. Stephen E. Robinson, a student of Charlesworth's was responsible for the translation and commentary of the Apocryphon of Ezekiel, the Testament of Adam and 4 Baruch. 
Whereas LDS interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls is primarily related to the desire to root earliest Christianity in the soil of apocalyptic Judaism, the pseudepigrapha offer more specific points of contact between LDS scriptures and various ancient sources. The Mormons are not generally trying to say that a genetic literary relationships exist between these texts, but rather that there are significant conceptual parallels which point to an ancient milieu for the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price.
In a panel discussion a question was asked concerning connections between Mormon scriptures and ancients [sic] sources such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Pseudepigrapha and the Nag Hammadi texts. In answer S. Kent Brown pointed to two main areas. First of all, there are points of contact with regard to interest in key personalities: Adam (Moses 6:45-68; cf. Life of Adam and Eve and the Coptic Apocalypse of Adam), Enoch (Moses 6:25-8:1; cf. the Book of the Giants fragments, and the Ethiopic, Slavonic and Hebrew books of Enoch), Melchizedek (Alma 13:14-19; cf. 11Q Melchizedek and the Nag Hammadi Melchizedek work), Abraham (Book of Abraham; cf. the Testament of Abraham and Apocalypse of Abraham), and Joseph (2 Nephi 3:5-21; cf. Testament of Joseph). Second there are parallels in terms of key themes such as the Creation account (Moses 3:21-5:21; cf. 4 Ezra 6:38-54 and the Gnostic, On the Origin of the World and the Hypostasis of the Archons), the notion of a pre-mortal existence of souls (Abraham 3:18-28; cf. the Apocryphon of James and the Gospel of Thomas, saying 4), and the idea of an eschatological restoration following a period of apostasy (cf. The Apocalypse of Peter in the Nag Hammadi library). 
Space does not permit an extended discussion of LDS use of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, the New Testament Apocrypha and the Nag Hammadi texts.  However, several studies deserve mention. Hugh Nibley wrote a book-length work on the extant Enoch literature.  Stephen E. Robinson, in a very sober article, makes several interesting points: Paul's apparent use of the Wisdom of Solomon, which teaches the premortal existence of souls (8:19 ff.) and the creation of the world out of unformed matter (11:17); the Narrative of Zosimus (also known as the History of the Rechabites) which contains an interesting tradition about Jews leaving Jerusalem in Jeremiah's time, and traveling across the ocean to a land of promise;  the Testament of Adam (3:1-5), which contains an account similar to what is found in Doctrine and Covenants 207:53-56; and the Gospel of Philip, which describes a three-stage initiation rite which corresponds to the three chambers of the Jerusalem temple.  In another interesting study, S. Kent Brown compares the titles Man of Holiness and Man of Counsel in Moses 6:57 and 7:35 with material in the Hebrew Bible and two later documents, Eugnostos the Blessed and The Sophia of Jesus Christ. 
VI. Mormonism and Earliest Christianity: Evidence of an Apostasy?
LDS writers are not alone in noting various parallels between these ancient texts and Mormon literature. James H. Charlesworth, in a lecture delivered at Brigham Young University entitled, "Messianism in the Pseudepigrapha and the Book of Mormon," points to what he describes as "important parallels ... that deserve careful examination." He cites examples from 2 Baruch, 4 Ezra, Psalms of Solomon and the Testament of Adam.  If the world's leading authority on ancient pseudepigraphal writings thinks such examples deserve "careful examination," it might be wise for evangelicals to do some examining. George Nickelsburg has also noted a rather interesting parallel between the Qumranic Book of the Giants and the LDS Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price.  Yale's Harold Bloom is perplexed as how to explain the many parallels between Joseph Smith's writings and ancient apocalyptic, pseudepigraphal, and kabbalistic literature. He writes, "Smith's religious genius always manifested itself through what might be termed his charismatic accuracy, his sure sense of relevance that governed biblical and Mormon parallels. I can only attribute to his genius or daemon his uncanny recovery of elements in ancient Jewish theurgy that had ceased to be available either to normative Judaism or to Christianity, and that had survived only in esoteric traditions unlikely to have touched Smith directly." 
It is a central tenet of Mormonism that the original Church established by Christ apostastized. Later-day Saint scholars (among others) contend that the Church of the post-apostolic period differed substantially from the earliest Christianity. In this Mormon scholars have, in large part, adopted the views of Adolph Harnack and Walter Bauer.  The spirit of apostasy and the increasing influence of Hellenization contributed to a spiritual and doctrinal decline in the second and third centuries. According to this thesis, the result was that early Christianity, rooted in apocalyptic Judaism, was transformed into a synthetic blend of "Christianity" and pagan Platonic philosophy. The process of Hellenization was so severe that it literally killed the religion Christ founded and replaced it with something else. Stephen E. Robinson summarizes his view when he writes:
Mormons have written several studies in this area.  As usual, Hugh Nibley led the way.  He began with a book published under the title, The World and the Prophets. This book is the edited transcript from a series of talks originally delivered to an LDS radio audience between March 7 and October 17, 1954 entitled "Time Vindicates the Prophets."  In this book, according to the foreword by R. Douglas Phillips, Nibley "Describes with great clarity the process by which the Church changed from an organization with inspired prophets into a thoroughly different and alien institution built upon the learning of men. He shows how prophets were replaced by scholars, revelation by philosophy, inspired preaching by rhetoric."  Whatever one may think about Nibley's conclusions, the breadth of learning displayed in these lectures is, frankly, intimidating. In them he discusses hundreds of passages from Papias, Clement, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, and Crysostom (among others). In classic Nibley style all references are personally translated from the Greek and Latin originals.
Mormon intellectuals do not confine their reconstruction of early Christian history to Latter-day Saint audiences. In an attempt to reach a wider academic audience C. Wilfred Griggs has published a book-length history of early Egyptian Christianity with E. J. Brill.  By its frequent bibliographic listing in standard church history reference books it appears that Griggs' work has been received favorably.  Though in no way an explicit apologetic for Mormonism, this book lends much support to the LDS thesis. In it he argues that earliest Christianity, as it was introduced to Egypt in the first century, was not the same species that was later identified as "Orthodox." Griggs declares that "a radical bifurcation of Christianity into orthodoxy and heresy cannot be shown to have existed in Egypt during the first two centuries."  His study of many early Christian and Gnostic papyri found in Egypt during the last hundred and fifty years leads Griggs to agree with Bauer's main thesis.  That is, certain manifestations of Christianity which the Church later renounced as heresies "originally had not been such at all, but at least here and there, were the only form of the new religion -- that is, for those regions they were simply 'Christianity.'"  What later heresiologists like Irenaeus identified as "gnosticism" in Egypt was simply "Christianity" to the Egyptians. 
Griggs portrays a version of early Christianity quite different from the nascent Catholicism which later developed into "orthodoxy." This version had a more extensive literary tradition, broader theological tendencies, and more esoteric ritual practice.  He maintains that the archaeological evidence points to a version of Christianity "based on a literary tradition encompassing both canonical and non-canonical works (both categories being named as such here in light of their later status as defined by the Catholic tradition). ... Egyptian Christians did accept the Apocalyptic literary tradition so notably rejected by the Western Church, especially as reflected in the Resurrection Ministry texts, but not at the expense of the gospel or epistolary tradition of the emerging Catholic Church." 
This version of Christianity thrived in the Nile Valley for quite some time.  Its demise began at the end of the second century with the Bishop of Alexandria being influenced by Irenaeus' Against Heresies. The Bishop and his successors, in a vie for prestige, increasingly aligned themselves with powerful "orthodox" episcopates. As the power of the Alexandrian episcopate extended over greater geographical area the original apocalyptic form of Christianity was increasingly condemned as heretical. When the Alexandrian bishops finally held ecclesiastical power for all Egypt, rival versions of Christianity were systematically wiped out.  The correspondence with the LDS doctrine of apostasy should be obvious. 
As well as arguing for a radical Hellenization of Christianity, LDS scholars find many parallels between early Christianity and particular LDS practices and doctrines.  For example, William J. Hamblin has written a detailed study comparing Latter-day Saint temple endowment ceremonies with materials known from certain Gnostic sources and the so-called Secret Gospel of Mark. Hamblin argues, in agreement with Morton Smith, John Dominic Crossan, and Hans-Martin Schenke, that the Secret Gospel of Mark preserves material which pre-dates canonical Mark. Hamblin notes: "Before the recent discovery of Clement's letter it had usually been maintained by modern scholars that the theologians of Alexandrian Christianity were influenced by Gnostic and Hellenistic concepts. The new letter of Clement shows that the Great Mysteries and Hierophantic Teaching were not copied by the Alexandrians from the Gnostics or Greek Pagans, but, as maintained by Schenke, were part of the earliest ideas and practices of Alexandrian Christianity."  He moves from there to a discussion of esoteric rites which we know of from the Nag Hammadi library and the writings of Irenaeus, noting twelve parallels with the LDS temple endowment which he feels are significant. 
Another example comes from David L. Paulsen's article in the Harvard Theological Review entitled, "Early Christian Belief in a Corporeal Deity: Origen and Augustine as Reluctant Witnesses." Paulsen's study begins by appealing to Harnack for support of the view that the second-century Church replaced the personal God of the Bible with an incorporeal deity due to the influence of Platonism. Paulsen writes, "Harnack identifies several sources of early Christian belief in an embodied deity, including popular religious ideas, Stoic metaphysics, and Old Testament sayings, literally understood. ... But no doubt the biblical writings contributed most significantly to early Christian corporealism; for therein God is described in decidedly anthropomorphic terms." The remainder of Paulsen's article contains a discussion of certain polemical writings of Origen and passages from Augustine which indicate that it was common for Christians in their day to view God as an embodied deity (though Origen and Augustine did not). 
VII. Where is the Bible?
In response to the topics we have been discussing one might assert that they are simply irrelevant to the issue at hand. After all, if Mormons cannot ground their beliefs in the Bible it does not matter whether or not they find support for them among the Dead Sea Scrolls, pseudepigrapha, or church history. Without the Bible it does not matter whether they are using their expertise in Near Eastern history, cultures and languages to defend a possible Near Eastern background for the Book of Mormon. We agree that there is truth in this objection. But, the issues are not so simple that they can be dismissed in this way.
One of the fundamental issues debated by evangelicals and Mormons is the interpretation of the Bible itself. Both parties claim that the Bible is the Word of God. Both claim to believe every verse in the Bible.  Both parties claim biblical support for <their> religion. So, theoretically, much of the debate could be solved by an appeal to the Bible. But before this can be done there must be agreement on the hermeneutical ground rules.
It seems that in large part evangelicals and Mormons are agreed that the Bible should be interpreted according to its grammatical-historical sense. Writing about the similarity of evangelical and LDS views on the nature of Scripture, Stephen E. Robinson says, "We [LDS] take the Scriptures to be literally true, we hold symbolic, figurative or allegorical interpretation to a minimum, accepting the miraculous events as historical and the moral and ethical teaching as binding and valid."  This statement is very close to the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics.  The question then is not one of methodology.
Logically then, what must be established in Mormon-evangelical dialogues is the historical-cultural context in which the biblical texts were written. This is exactly what the Mormons are doing in their studies of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the pseudepigrapha and Christian origins. They are building the contextual superstructure necessary for a proper interpretation of the Bible, particularly the New Testament. They are arranging the evidence in a manner that will, if flaws are not demonstrated, warrant an interpretation of the New Testament that is both historically-culturally based <and> at odds with evangelical theology.
Though most energies are being spent in the study of these other areas, Mormons have not neglected biblical studies proper. An example that should have made evangelical Old Testament scholars aware of their LDS counterparts was the festschrift written in honor of R. K. Harrison. Produced in 1988 by an evangelical publishing house, Israel's Apostasy and Restoration contained essays by several leading evangelical scholars as well as three essays written by Mormons (among others). The volume was edited by none other than Avraham Gileadi.  And how does the scholarship of the LDS authors fare in comparison? Their essays in no way stand out as inferior.  In fact, at least one evangelical theologian has quoted in agreement from these essays in his own writing.  It strikes us as unusual that no evangelical scholars thought it was odd for Mormons to edit and contribute to this book. It would seem that someone would have investigated to see if these Mormons were using their skills in defense of their faith. As it turns out this book itself does, in very subtle ways, support Mormonism. First, all three of the LDS essays lend support to some aspect of LDS theology.  Second, the theme of the book and its title reflect the Mormon belief that human history is a series of apostasies from and restorations of true faith (the last being Joseph Smith's Restoration of the Church).
It seems that there exists an unfounded presupposition among evangelicals that there are no respectable LDS biblical scholars. This often blinds people from noticing the work LDS scholars have done. Yet, as with the above mentioned theologian, evangelicals quote Mormon scholars for support more than they know. This is not to say that the practice is wrong per se (it's not), or that Mormon scholars might not sometimes make valid points. (There is an analogy here with evangelical quotation of liberal, Catholic or Jewish scholars.) The point we want to make is this: It is inconsistent for evangelicals to insist that heterodox groups like the Mormons have no legitimate biblical scholars, and then utilize the very scholars whose existence they deny. 
As with the Book of Mormon, DSS and pseudepigrapha we could describe several examples of LDS biblical scholarship, but space does not permit. In a fuller treatment of the subject we might describe, in addition to the above, the work LDS have done on biblical law,  chiastic structures,  the role of magic in the Old Testament,  the unity of Isaiah,  Pauline theology  as well as others  Suffice it to say that responsible LDS scholars tend not to participate in the naive prooftexting that characterizes the average Mormon missionary or lay person. 
Section B: Evangelicalism
I. Where are the Evangelicals?
We hope by this point we have convinced some of our readers that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is currently producing a robust apologetic for their beliefs. Their scholars are qualified, ambitious, and prolific. What are we doing in response? The silence has become deafening. And it is getting louder. The only two significant attempts (apart from the Tanners) are one article by James White and a recent book by Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon.
The article by James White, "Of Cities and Swords: The Impossible Task of Mormon Apologetics," was an attempt to introduce evangelicals to LDS apologetics, to the work of FARMS, and, in the process, critique the group.  This article failed on all three points. White's article does not mention a single example of the literature we have presented in this paper. He does not accurately describe the work of FARMS, or of LDS scholarship in general. He gives his readers the mistaken impression that their research is not respected in the broader academic community. We believe that we have demonstrated that this is simply not the case. His attempted critique picks out two of the weakest examples. Not only does he pick weak examples, he does not give even these an adequate critique. This is nothing more than "straw man" argumentation.
The book by John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Behind the Mask of Mormonism: From Its Early Schemes to Its Modern Deceptions, is far worse.  We have read a great deal of evangelical literature on the subject. This book, in our estimation, is among the ugliest, most unchristian, and misleading polemics in print. The authors constantly belittle their opponents -- always questioning either their intelligence or integrity. Particularly frustrating is the appendix which was added to the updated edition. They accuse Mormons of being unwilling "to consider the established theological, textual, historical, and archaeological facts surround Mormonism and Christianity."  The fact of the matter is that it is our evangelical brothers who in this book display their own unwillingness to give any consideration to such issues.  Nor do they intend to. They write:
It is amazing, in light of the massive amount of purported evidence that has been published by the LDS, that they could make such a statement. Not only do they appear to assume that Mormon scholars must not really be "familiar with the Bible and Christian history," but they seem to say that there is no need to spend any significant amount of time or resources to respond. In our opinion the views expressed here simply amount to a refusal to do serious scholarly investigation. It is either the result of apathy or inability. The most they are able to do is offer an enthusiastic endorsement of Brent Lee Metcalfe's anthology, New Approaches to the Book of Mormon, and pronounce the battle over. 
II. What Needs to be Done: Some Proposals
The evangelical world needs to wake up and respond to contemporary Mormon scholarship. If not, we will lose the battle without ever knowing it. Our suggestions are as follows: First, evangelicals need to overcome inaccurate presuppositions about Mormonism. Second, evangelical counter-cultists need to refer LDS scholarship that is beyond their ability to rebut, to qualified persons. Third, evangelical academians need to make Mormonism, or some aspects of it, an area of professional interest. Fourth, evangelical publishers need to cease publishing works that are uninformed, misleading or otherwise inadequate. Fifth, scholars in the evangelical community ought to collaborate in several books addressing the issues raised in this paper. Related to this, professional journals should encourage articles on these same topics. Finally, might we suggest that members of organizations such as the Evangelical Theological Society consider forming Mormonism Study Groups. The fact is that the growth of Mormonism is outpacing even the highest predictions of professional sociologists of religion, and is on its way, within eighty years, to becoming the first world-religion since Islam in the seventh century.  With such growth, the needs expressed in this paper will become ever more pressing as the twenty-first century approaches.
The sentiments we have tried to express in this paper are fittingly stated in the words of one prominent evangelical theologian with which we will conclude.
This is not to say that there have been no important shifts in
Latter-day Saint theology. Most notably, Latter-day Saints are
emphasizing the role of grace in salvation, the person of Christ, and
the centrality of the Book of Mormon in formulating doctrine. It is this
last emphasis which insures that Mormonism will not completely abandon
its historic distinctives.
Cf. _The Oxford English Dictionary_ 2nd ed., s.v. "scholar"
& "scholarly." Of course, a scholarly method does not
guarantee correct conclusions.
Jerald and Sandra Tanner, _Answering Mormon Scholars_ 2 vol. (Salt Lake
city: Utah Light House Ministry, 1994, 1996) might appear to be an
exception. However, this work is primarily an answer to several reviews
of their books that appeared in the _Review of Books on the Book of
Mormon_. The Tanners are keen students of Mormon history, but do not
have the skills necessary for a full-scale rebuttal of Mormon
scholarship. The one true exception is Francis J. Beckwith and Stephen
E. Parrish, _The Mormon Concept of God: A Philosophical Analysis_
(Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1991). The focus of this book is
quite narrow. It is also difficult to obtain. For LDS reviews see David
L. Paulsen and Blake T. Ostler in _Philosophy of Religion_ 35 (1994):
118-120; James E. Faulconer in _BYU Studies_ (Fall 1992): 185-195; and
especially Blake T. Oster in _FARMS Review of Books_ 8 no. 2 (1996):
Again, on their limited topic, Beckwith and Parrish are the lone
Most LDS intellectuals are affiliated with Brigham Young University or
one of its daughter campuses. However, this summary statement includes a
few LDS scholars who teach at non-LDS colleges and universities. Philip
L. Barlow, Th.D. (Harvard) is an example of a Mormon scholar who teaches
at a non-Mormon institution. He teaches in the department of theology at
Hanover College (Presbyterian).
FARMS is currently working on a twenty volume collection of Nibley's
works, ten of which are already published (abbr. CWHN).
Truman Madsen, foreword to _Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless:
Classic Essays of Hugh W. Nibley_, edited by Madsen (Provo: BYU
Religious Studies Center ,1978), ix.
Quoted by Madsen, ibid., xi.
In fact, the only substantial evangelical interaction we have seen to
date is James White's 56 page (single spaced) disputation of the proper
syntax of the pronoun [some Hebrew word] in Matthew 16:18. This paper
can be acquired from the Alpha & Omega Ministries Internet site.
For a sharp critique of Nibley's methodology from an LDS perspective see
Kent P. Jackson in _BYU Studies_ 28 no. 4 (Fall 1988): 114-119.
Specific references can be found in John M. Lundquist and Stephen D.
Ricks, eds., _By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W.
Nibley_ (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co. and FARMS, 1990),
See the contributions by these men in volume one of Nibley's festschrift
_By Study and Also by Faith_.
See Philip L. Barlow, _Mormons and the Bible_ (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1991), 147 n. 105.
Robinson's dissertation was published as _The Testament of Adam: An
Examination of the Syriac and Greek Traditions_ (SBL Dissertation
Series; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1982). Other works include: "The
Apocryphal Story of Melchizedek," _Journal for the Study of Judaism
in the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman Period_ 18 (June 1987(: 26-39;
"The Testament of Adam and the Angelic Liturgy [4QSirSabb],"
_Revue de Quman_ 12 (1985): 105-110; "The Testament of Adam: An
Updated Arbeitsbericht," _Journal for the Study of the
Pseudepigrapha_ 5 (October, 1989): 95-100. He has also contributed to
the _Anchor Bible Dictionary_ and the _Old Testament Pseudepigrapha_.
See C. Wilfred Griggs, _Early Egyptian Christianity: From Its Origins to
451 C.E._, Coptic Studies Series, ed. Martin Krause, no. 2 (New York: E.
J. Brill, 1990). This book will be discussed below.
Kent P. Jackson, _The Ammonite Language of the Iron Age_ (Harvard
Semitic Monographs; Chico: Scholars Press, 1983).
For one example of his work on Isaiah see Avraham Gileadi, _The Literary
Message of Isaiah_ (New York: Hebraeus Press, 1994). It is significant
that this book received endorsement from professors David Noel Freedman
and the late R. K. Harrison.
For an example of Ricks' expertise with Semitic languages, see his
_Lexicon of Inscriptional Qatabanian_ (Rome: Editrice Pontificio
Instituto Biblico, 1989).
Paul Y. Hoskisson, "Textual Evidences for the Book of Mormon,"
in _The Book of Mormon: First Nephi, The Doctrinal Foundations_, ed.
Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr. (Provo: BYU Religious Studies
Center, 1988), 283-95.
Hoskisson notes: "Since the publication of the Book of Mormon,
other West Semitic names ending with aleph have turned up, indicating
that the terminal aleph in Alma is not unique to this name" (p. 294
n. 29). In support he cites a study by fellow Latter-day Saint Kent P.
Jackson published in a festscrift in honor of David Noel Freedman: Kent
P. Jackson, "Ammonite Personal Names in the Context of the West
Simitic Onomasticon," in _The Word of the Lord Shall Go Forth:
Essays in Honor of David Noel Freedman in Celebration of His Sixtieth
Birthday_ ed. Carol L. Meyers and M. O'Connor (Winona Lake, IN:
Eisenbrauns, 1983), 507-21. Also, Hoskisson, "An Introduction to
the Relevance of and a Methodology for a Study of the Proper Names in
the Book of Mormon," in _By Study and Also by Faith_, 2:126-35.
C. Wilfred Griggs, "The Book of Mormon as an Ancient Book," in
_Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins_, ed. Noel B.
Reynolds (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1982), 75-101.
30. Ibid., 81.
31. Ibid., 82.
See John W. Welch, "Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon," in _Book
of Mormon Authorship_, 33-52; J. W. Welch, ed., _Chiasmus in Antiquity_,
with a foreword by David Noel Freedman (Hildesheim: Gerstenberg Verlag,
1981); J. W. Welch, "Criteria for Identifying and Evaluating the
Presence of Chiasmus," _Journal of Book of Mormon Studies_, vol. 4
no. 2 (Fall 1995): 1-14. On the ritual context of the Book of Mormon see
J. W. Welch, _The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount_
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co. and FARMS, 1990).
Donald W. Parry, _The Book of Mormon Text Reformatted according to
Parallelistic Patterns_ (Provo: FARMS, 1992).
Roger R. Keller, _Book of Mormon Authors: Their Words and Messages_
(Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1996).
See John Tvedtnes, "The Hebrew Background of the Book of
Mormon," in _Rediscovering the Book of Mormon_ ed. John L. Sorenson
and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co. and FARMS, 1991),
77-91; idem, "Isaiah Variants in the Book of Mormon," in
_Isaiah and the Prophets_ ed. Monte S. Nyman (Provo: BYU Religious
Studies Center, 1984), 165-77.
Stephen D. Ricks, "The Treaty/Covenant Pattern in King Benjamin's
Address (Mosiah 1-6)," _BYU Studies_ (Spring 1984): 151-62.
Blake T. Ostler, "The Throne-Theophany and Prophetic Commission in
1 Nephi: A Form-Critical Analysis," _BYU Studies_ (Fall 1986):
See for example Joseph Fitzmyer, "The Qumran Scrolls and the New
Testament after Forty Years," _Revue de Qumran_ Tome 13 (October
Donald W. Parry, Andrew Skinner, Dana M. Pike, Stephen J. Pfann and
David Rolph Seely.
See Florentino Garcia Martinez and Donald W. Parry [LDS], eds., _A
Bibliography of the Finds in the Desert of Judah, 1970-1995_ (New York:
E. J. Brill, 1996); Emmanuel Tov and Stephen J. Pfann [LDS], eds., _The
Dead Sea Scrolls on Microfiche_ (Israel Antiquities Authority, 1993);
idem, _Companion Volume to the Dead Sea Scrolls on Microfiche Edition_
(Israel Antiquities Authority, 1995); Donald W. Parry [LDS],
"Retelling Samuel: Echoes of the Books of Samuel in the Dead Sea
Scrolls," _Revue de Qumran_ Tome 17 (1996): 293-306; Stephen J.
Pfann [LDS], "4QDaniel (4Q115): a Preliminary Edition with Critical
Notes," _Revue de Qumran_ Tome 17 (1996): 37-72; David Rolph Seely
[LDS], "The 'Circumcised Heart' in 4Q434 Barki Nafshi, "
_Revue de Qumran_ Tome 17 (1996): 527-536; Dana M. Pike [LDS], "The
Congregation of YHWH in the Bible and at Qumran," _Revue de Qumran_
Tome 17 (1996): 233-240; Andrew Skinner [LDS] and Dana M. Pike [LDS],
eds., _Discoveries in the Judean Desert XXXIII_ (Oxford: Clarendon
Press, forthcoming); Donald W. Parry [LDS] and Stephen D. Ricks [LDS],
eds., _Current Research and Technological Developments on the Dead Sea
Scrolls_ (New York: E. J. Brill, 1996). From this volume see: Donald W.
Parry [LDS], 4QSam and the Tetragrammaton" (pp. 106-125); Dana M.
Pike [LDS], "The Book of Numbers at Qumran: Texts and Context"
(pp. 166-194); David Rolph Seely [LDS], "The Barki Nafshi Texts
(4Q434-439)" (pp. 194-214); Scott R. Woodward [LDS], and others
"Analysis of Parchment fragments from the Judean Desert Using DNA
Techniques" (pp. 215-238); Donald W. Parry [LDS] and Steven W.
Booras [LDS], "The Dead Sea Scrolls CD-ROM Database Project"
(pp. 239-250). This last essay describes the groundbreaking computer
database _Dead Sea Scrolls Electronic Reference Library Vol. II_
produced by FARMS and BYU. Additional collaborators to the project
include the Oxford University Press, E. J. Brill, Israel Antiquities
Authority and the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center.
LDS interest in the scrolls can be seen in research projects such as
Robert A. Cloward, _The Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha and
the Dead Sea Scrolls: A Selected Bibliography of Text Additions and
English Translations_ (Robert A. Cloward, 1988, available from FARMS);
and further Donald W. Parry and Dana M. Pike, eds., _LDS Perspectives on
the Dead Sea Scrolls_ (Provo: FARMS, forthcoming). In personal
conversations Mormon scholars have described the following as extremely
poor examples of LDS usage of the scrolls: Vernon W. Mattson, _The Dead
Sea Scrolls and other Important Discoveries_, 2nd edition (Salt Lake
City: Buried Record Productions, 1979); Eugene Seaich, _Mormonism, the
Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Texts_ (Midvale, UT: Sounds of
Zion, 1980); Keith Terry and Steve Biddulph, _Dead Sea Scrolls and the
Mormon Connection_ (Maasai: 1996). We concur that there is a vast
qualitative difference between these writings and those mentioned above.
However, these last examples do illustrate the fact that Mormon interest
in the scrolls is growing at a popular level. Editions of the DSS are
readily available for laymen to buy in most LDS bookstores.
Hugh W. Nibley, "More Voices from the Dust," in _Old Testament
and Related Studies_ CWHN vol. 1 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co. and
FARMS, 1986), 243.
Nibley, "More Voices," 242.
Nibley, "The Dead Sea Scrolls: Some Questions and Answers," in
_Old Testament and Related Studies_, 250.
William J. Hamblin, "An Apologist for the Critics: Brent Lee
Metcalfe's Assumptions and Methodologies," _Review of Books on the
Book of Mormon_, 6 no. 1 (1994): 484-485. Hamblin is referring to the
Book of the Giants fragments 4Q203, 4Q530 and 6Q8. For an extended
discussion of this and other parallels see Hugh W. Nibley,
"Churches in the Wilderness," in _Nibley on the Timely and the
Timeless_ ed. Truman G. Madsen (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center,
Gaye Strathearn, "The Wife/Sister Experience: Pharoah's
Introduction to Jehovah," in _Thy People Shall Be My People and Thy
God My God_, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co.,
1994). The article contains an extended discussion of these and other
This is thought to be significant because it is an example of Jews
baptizing by immersion before the New Testament, thus showing the
practice in the Book of Mormon not to be anachronistic.
The point here is to illustrate a distinctively Christian ordinance with
roots in pre-Christian Judaism.
Stephen E. Robinson, "Background for the Testaments," _The
Ensign_ (December 1982).
James H. Charlesworth, ed., _The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha_ (New
York: Doubleday, 1985).
Emphasis added. Notice how Mormonism is listed with three of the great
world-religions. See note 105 below.
See _OTP_, 1:487-495; 1:989-995; 2:413-417.
See S. Kent Brown and others, "The Joseph Smith Translation of the
Bible: A Panel," in _Scriptures for the Modern World_, ed. Paul R.
Cheesman and C. Wilfred Griggs (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center,
For a good example of how Mormon scholars utilize such sources,
especially note the cautious essays by Stephen E. Robinson and S. Kent
Brown in _Aprocryphal Writings and the Latter-day Saints_, ed. C.
Wilfred Griggs (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1986).
Hugh Nibley, _Enoch the Prophet_, CWHN vol. 2 (Salt Lake City: Deseret
Book Co. and FARMS, 1986).
On this especially see John W. Welch, "The Narrative of Zosimus and
the Book of Mormon", _BYU Studies_ 22 (Summer, 1982): 311-332.
See Stephen E. Robinson, "Background for the Testaments."
S. Kent Brown, "Man and Son of Man: Issues of Theology and
Christology," in _The Pearl of Great Price: Revelations from God_,
ed. H. Donl Peterson and Charles D. Tate (Provo: BYU Religious Studies
Center, 1989), 57-72.
James H. Charlesworth, "Messianism in the Pseudepigrapha and the
Book of Mormon," in _Reflections on Mormonism: Judeo-Christian
Parallels_ ed. Truman G. Madsen (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center,
1978), 99-137. Non-LDS biblical scholars Jacob Milgrom, David Noel
Freedman, W. D. Davies and Krister Stendahl also contributed to this
W. D. Davies writes: "As a parallel in the Enochic corpus, George
Nickelsburg has called my attention in correspondence to 4QenGiants ...
8.3: prsgnlwh'tny[n] ('the copy of the sec[on]d tablet')." W. D.
Davies, "Reflections on the Mormon 'Canon'", _Harvard
Theological Reivew_, 79:1-3 (1986): 51 n. 18. The parallel here is with
Moses 6:46: "for a book of remembrance we have written among us,
according to <the pattern given us by the finger of God>."
Harold Bloom, _The American Religion_ (New York: Simon & Schuster,
1992), 101 (emphasis added).
See Adolph von Harnack, _History of Dogma_ 7 vols. (New York: Dover,
1961); and Walter Bauer, _Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity_
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971).
Stephen E. Robinson, "Early Christianity and I Nephi 13-14,"
in _The Book of Mormon: First Nephi, The Doctrinal Foundation_, 188. The
influence of Greek philosophy on "orthodox" Christianity is a
repeated theme in Robinson's recent dialogue with evangelical scholar
Craig Blomberg [Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson, _How Wide the
Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation_ (Downers Grove:
InterVarsity Press, 1997)]. On this issue Robinson and other Latter-day
Saints are fond of Edwin Hatch, _The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages
upon the Christian Church_ (London: Williams and Norgate, 1895; reprint,
Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995).
We are not referring here to the popular level use of the Fathers
exemplified in Van Hale's debates, nor to the <extremely> poor
handling of sources in Michael T. Griffith, _One Lord, One Faith:
Writings of the Early Christian Fathers as Evidences of the Restoration_
(Bountiful, UT: Horizon Publishers, 1996). These examples do not
represent the strength of the LDS apologetic from church history.
Nibley's most important works in this area are: _The World and the
Prophets_ CWHN vol. 3 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co. and FARMS, 1987)
and _Mormonism and Early Christianity_ CWHN vol. 4 (Salt Lake City:
Deseret Book Co. and FARMS, 1987).
These lectures were recorded and are available under their original
title in most LDS bookstores and from FARMS [P.O. Box 7113, University
Station, Provo, UT 84602]. We recommend the purchase of this series as
an excellent introduction to Nibley. His command of the Patristic
sources is most impressive. The book contains a few additional essays
and citations for all references but fails to convey the full vigor of
the original lectures.
Phillips, "Foreword," _The World and the Prophets_, x, xi.
C. Wilfred Griggs, _Early Egyptian Christianity: From Its Origins to 451
C.E._, Coptic Studies Series, ed., Martin Krause, no. 2 (New York: E. J.
For example, Griggs' book is listed in several of the bibliographies in
_Encyclopedia of the Early Church_ ed. Angelo Di Berardino, translated
by Adrian Walford (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).
Griggs, _Early Egyptian Christianity_, 45.
It should be mentioned that Griggs has excavated some of the more
important sites for the study of early Christianity in Egypt, especially
in the Fayum, and has himself discovered some of the papyri.
Ibid., citing Walter Bauer, _Orthodoxy and Heresy_, xxii.
Ibid., 80, 82.
Ibid., 45-116 passim.
Griggs all but states the LDS view when he writes, "As was the
situation elsewhere in early Christianity, the real threat to believers
was considered to be from within the organization. Church members who
had turned from the true faith and were in rebellion (the meaning of the
Greek work <apostasia>) were a much greater threat to the Church
than were external forces." He follows this statement with an early
quotation that "identifies the real apostates with those who have
ecclesiastical authority." Ibid., 85.
Because appeals to the early Church for the doctrine theosis
(deification) are well-known we have chosen not to include it in this
study. Instead we chose to describe two lesser known examples. It should
be noted, however, that LDS research on the topic is more extensive than
merely reading the Fathers through. The most in depth study of theosis
from a Latter-day Saint perspective is Keith Norman, "Deification:
The Content of Athanasian Soteriology" (Ph.D. dissertation, Duke
William J. Hamblin, "Aspects of an Early Christian Initiation
Ritual," in _By Study and Also By Faith_ 1:211.
On the significance of the Secret Gospel of mark for Latter-day Saints
cf. Stephen E. Robinson, _Are Mormons Christians?_ (Salt Lake City:
Bookcraft, 1991), 99-101.
See David L. Paulsen, "Early Christian Belief in a Corporeal Deity:
Origen and Augustine as Reluctant Witnesses," _Harvard Theological
Review_ 83 no. 2 (1990): 106. Also see Kim Paffenroth's reply
("Paulsen on Augstine: An Incorporeal or Nonanthropomorphic
God?") and Paulsen's rejoinder ("Reply to Kim Paffenroth's
Comment") in _Harvard Theological Review_ 86 no. 2 (1993): 233-239.
See also David Paulsen, "Must God Be Incorporeal?" _Faith and
Philosophy_ 6 no. 1 (Jan. 1989): 76-87.
Recently Stephen E. Robinson has written, "Often Evangelicals
assume that we LDS accept the Book of Mormon <in place of the
Bible>, this is incorrect. There isn't a single verse of the Bible
that I do not personally accept and believe, although I do reject the
interpretive straitjacket imposed on the Bible by the Hellenized church
after the apostles passed from the scene." Blomberg and Robinson,
_How Wide the Divide?_, 59.
The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, _The Chicago Statement
on Biblical Hermeneutics_ (1982): esp. articles VIII, XIII, XIV, XV.
Avraham Gileadi, ed., _Israel's Apostasy and Restoration: Essays in
Honor of Roland K. Harrison_ (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988).
The LDS essays are Avraham Gileadi, "The Davidic Covenant: A
Theological Basis for Corporate Protection;" Stephen D. Ricks,
"The Prophetic Literality of Tribal Reconstruction;" and John
M Lundquist, "Temple, Covenant, and Law in the Ancient Near East
and in the Hebrew Bible."
The quotation of Stephen D. Ricks' essay "The Prophetic Literality
of Tribal Reconstruction" appears in Robert L. Saucy, _The Case for
Progressive Dispensationalism_ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing
House, 1993), 226 n. 11.
Ricks' article is significant because a literal regathering of Israel to
the Promised Land was predicted by Joseph Smith. [See _The Teachings of
Joseph Smith_ ed. Larry E. Dahl and Donald Q. Cannon (Salt Lake City:
Bookcraft, 1997), 329.] In light of the importance temples, covenants
and gospel laws play in Mormon religious life it should be apparent why
Lundquist would focus his study on this topic. Gileadi's essay also ties
in with his LDS theology with respect to proxy salvation.
Three recent examples of unwitting quotation can be seen in Mark F.
Rooker, "Dating Isaiah 40-66: What Does the Linguistic Evidence
Say?" _Westminster Theological Journal_ 58 no. 2 (Fall 1996): 307
n. 15 (referencing a study on language drift in biblical Hebrew by
William J. Adams and L. LaMar Adams): A. Boyd Luter and Michelle V. Lee,
"Philippians as Chiasmus: Key to the Structure, Unity and Theme
Questions," _New Testament Studies_ 41 no. 1 (Jan. 1995): 99 n. 34
(referencing John W. Welch's book on chiasmus, which, incidentally, has
an entire chapter on chiasmus in the Book of Mormon); and, Randall
Price, _Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls_ (Eugene, OR: Harvest House,
1996), 115 (citing Avraham Gileadi's work on Isaiah).
As the author of many studies in this area, his command of the
literature is demonstrated in John W. Welch, ed., _A Biblical Law
Biliography_, Toronto Studies in Theology, no. 51 (Lewiston, NY: Edwin
Mellen Press, 1990).
See especially John W. Welch, "Chiasmus in the New Testament,"
in _Chiasmus in Antiquity_, 211-249.
Stephen D. Ricks, "The Magician as Outsider: The Evidence of the
Hebrew Bible," in _New Perspectives on Ancient Judaism_ ed. Paul V.
M. Flesher (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1990), 125-134.
This study is significant because Ricks' conclusions could be used in a
cumulative argument seeking to vindicate Joseph Smith's use of magic.
See note 18.
For one example see, Richard Lloyd Anderson, _Understanding Paul_ (Salt
Lake City: Deseret Book, 1983).
See the following LDS authored entries in the _Anchor Bible Dictionary_:
Egypt, History of (Greco-Roman); Egyptian, the (person); Sayings of
Jesus, Oxrhynchus; Souls, Preexistence of; Truth, Gospel of [S. K.
Brown]; Khirbet Kerak Ware [S. J. Pfann]; Jaakubah; Jaareshia; Jaasu;
Jaaziah; Janziel; Names, Hypocoristic; Names, Theophoric [D. M. Pike];
Abortion in Antiquity; Sheba (Person); Sheba (Queen of) [S. D. Ricks];
Adam, The Testament of; Baruch, Book of 4; Joseph, Prayer of [S. E.
Robinson]; Arabah; Shur, Wilderness of; Sin, Wilderness of; Zin,
Wilderness of [D. R. Seely]; Rephidim, Succoth [J. H. Seely].
We use the term "lay person" loosely when referring to Mormons
who are not scholars. Technically all Mormons are laity.
James White, "Of Cities and Swords: The Impossible Task of Mormon
Apologetics," _Christian Research Journal_ (Summer, 1996), 28-35.
John Ankerberg and John Weldon, _Behind the Mask of Mormonism: From Its
Early Schemes to Its Modern Deceptions_ (Eugene, OR: Harvest House,
Not only is there no serious interaction with Mormon scholarship in this
book, what little there is, is frequently cited second hand from Jerald
and Sandra Tanner. A cursory reading of the endnotes makes this
abundantly clear. It appears that Ankerberg and Weldon, far from willing
to spend thousands of man-hours and thousands of dollars on the issue,
were also quite unwilling to spend a <few> dollars or a
<few> hours reading a <few> of the pertinent books
Ibid. See Brent Lee Metcalfe, ed., _New Approaches to the Book of
Mormon_ (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993). It has become common
for evangelicals to defer to this book. That is quite disturbing. The
authors of this volume are, for the most part, thorough-going
naturalists. The methodology they employ to dismantle traditional views
of the Book of Mormon could equally be used to attack the Bible. David
P. Wright, one of the contributors to the work, writes, "This, by
the way, shows that the conclusions made here about the Book of Mormon
cannot be used to funnel Mormons into fundamentalist Christianity.
<It is the height of methodological inconsistency to think that
critical method of study can be applied to the Book of Mormon and that
its results can be accepted while leaving the Bible exempted from
critical study."> (p. 212 n. 105, emphasis added). We are left
wondering as to how closely Ankerberg and Weldon (among others) have
read this book which they so enthusiastically endorse.
See Rodney Stark, "The Rise of a New World Faith," _Review of
Religious Research_ 26 no. 1 (September, 1984): 18-27. Stark originally
estimated 265 million Mormons by 2080. Currently actual growth is nearly
a million members above Stark's initial projections. Idem, "So Far,
So Good: A Brief Assessment of Mormon Membership Projections,"
_Review of Religious Research_ 38 no. 2 (December 1996).
Clark. H. Pinnock, _A Wideness in God's Mercy: The Finality of Jesus
Christ in the World of Religions_ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing
House, 1992), 122-23. N. B. We agree wholeheartedly with the above
quotation, but have serious reservations about Pinnock's general
approach to religious pluralism.