LDS Scholars Embrace Historicity of Scripture
In defense of the historicitythe historical actualityof scriptures embraced by Latter-day Saints, several BYU and Institute scholars have contributed to a collection of essays published recently by BYU's Religious Studies Center. Edited by Paul Y. Hoskisson, Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures contains 11 essays that explore this topic.
From Elder Alexander B. Morrison's discussion of the open canon of LDS scripture and the checks and balances on it, to Elder Dallin H. Oaks's defense of faith and revelation as important elements of scriptural scholarship, the essays are helpful contributions to the understanding of historicity in scripture. Essays by BYU religion professors Paul Y. Hoskisson, Kent P. Jackson, Robert J. Matthews, and Robert L. Millet deal with scholastic developments that have led some to question the historicity of scripture, offer cogent reasons why the scriptures must be historically authentic if they are to be believed at all, and explain the necessity of historicity in both the justice of the gospel plan and the spiritual development of individual believers.
Two essays augment the idea of historicity. John S. Tanner advocates reading the scriptures as texts with meanings that may be literal, literary, or both, while James E. Faulconer's complex but rewarding exploration of a premodern view of religious history directs attention away from the usual understanding of historicity and toward the underlying order embodied in scriptural accounts. John Gee and Stephen D. Ricks focus on historical plausibility as a method for determining historicity, disclosing both the strengths and weaknesses of this methodology. They show that the Book of Abraham is plausible in terms of what we know about its genre, specificity of concrete detail, particulars of government, social organization, and religious custom.
As Louis Midgley explains in his essay, critics of the Book of Mormon have tried to find a middle ground between deliberate fraud and divine authenticity to justify its coming into being. But those who approach the study of the Book of Mormon from a naturalistic viewpoint have already imposed upon it the conclusion they hope to reach. Daniel C. Peterson presents a straightforward and entertaining discussion of the difference between historicity and inerrancy. Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures is a thoughtful examination of an important issue for Latter-day Saints and people of faith everywhere. The collective force of this volume comes from its variety of engaging academic perspectives, showing that the historicity of the LDS scriptural canon is vital to the spiritual purposes behind them. To obtain a copy, see the enclosed order form or visit the catalog section of our Web site.