NOTICES AND REVIEWS
It seemed like a good idea—a first-of-its-kind-inAustralia Book of Mormon symposium sponsored by the LDS Student Association at the University of Sydney in Australia.
It was a good idea. On October 9, 1982, about 220 people arrived for the all-day symposium, some from almost six hundred kilometers away. Gary L. Sturgess, one of the participants, wryly commented, "For a country where the only real experience with intensive Church 'scholarship' has been loonies saving up to buy a boat to sail to the North Pole to look for the Lost Tribes, it was a good experience."
The symposium's planners decided that the papers should introduce and summarize existing work rather than break new ground, for much of the material would be new indeed to those present. Most of the topics selected drew from papers in the F.A.R.M.S. Reprint Series and Sturgess acknowledged that "our reliance on F.A.R.M.S. is apparent," adding, "it is an indication of the value your work will have for those of us isolated from primary sources and the mainstream of Gospel scholarship."
Steven Mackie presented an analysis of the eight major theories of where the Book of Mormon lands might be. His presentation also discussed Lehi' s probable route from Jerusalem to the Red Sea, the probable location of the Jaredite nation, whether the "face of the land" had become unrecognizable at the time of Christ's crucifixion, and how Joseph Smith received the plates in New York.
In discussing literary aspects of the Book of Mormon, Gary Sturgess explained and gave examples of its chiastic structure drawn from the work of John Welch and Noel Reynolds, but also examined the literary antecedents and force of such images as the tree of life as described by Bruce Jorgensen's work, and reconstructed the possible Jerusalem temple rituals as prelude to examining evidences of the same theme in the Book of Mormon.
Ronald W. G. Innis attempted to bring some order to the field of Book of Mormon studies for the student by organizing forty selected books and papers according to their intent: defending the Book of Mormon (a purpose of earlier scholars); comparing possible links between the Old World and the New (examples were the cross-cultural studies of John Sorenson and Ray Matheny's analysis of the Padilla Gold Plates); doing a textual study of subjects contained only within the Book of Mormon (as John Tvedtnes's phonemic analysis of proper names for both Nephite and Jaredite figures); and current studies which approach such recurrent attacks as the Spaulding theory with new critical tools.
A detailed list of New World-Old World cultural similarities was provided by Richard W. Fee; while Michael Otterson related some warmly inspirational anecdotes about contemporary translations of the Book of Mormon gathered from interviews with members of the Church Translation Division.
LDSSA president Spencer Tasker and his organizing committee went the second mile in publishing the symposium's proceedings in an attractive notebook. Clearly the Australian vision for Book of Mormon studies is a responsible and an expansive one.