Emerging from a 22-year tradition of penetrating scholarly reviews and essays is the new Mormon Studies Review. Formerly titled The FARMS Review, it sports a sleeker design and larger format and promises to survey a broader spectrum of topics.
In his editor's introduction, Daniel C. Peterson reprises the Review's history and attainments during the past two decades. He notes how it will continue to defend LDS scripture and faith claims through the kind of "vigorous and learned discourse" tempered with satire and wit that has set it apart from the beginning.
Headlining the offerings in this inaugural issue is the 2011 Neal A. Maxwell Lecture, in which Marilyn Arnold, BYU emeritus professor of English, describes how her career focus on literary scholarship meshed with the high calling of discipleship that she responded to as a result of her journey of discovery into the literary richness of the Book of Mormon.
In the section on Book of Mormon studies, archaeologist John E. Clark abridges and updates his classic treatment on evaluating proposed Nephite geographies according to their fidelity to the Book of Mormon's internal geography, and Mesoamericanist Brant A. Gardner argues that many features of Nephi's writing are best explained as the result of his formal training as a scribe in Jerusalem.
Associate editor Gregory L. Smith demonstrates the consistency of LDS Church apostle Boyd K. Packer's past and present teachings on sexual morality as part of a larger critique of LDS same-sex marriage advocates who oppose the Church's stance on homosexuality and gay marriage.
A 2008 issue of Literary and Linguistic Computing reported the findings of three Stanford-based researchers who used an innovative and, as it turns out, seriously flawed approach to determining Book of Mormon authorship. The findings were refuted by G. Bruce Schaalje, Paul J. Fields, Matthew Roper, and Gregory L. Snow in a 2011 study published in that same journal. The Review features a less technical treatment of that significant study on stylometry and follows it with a related study by Roper and Fields that once again quashes the moribund Spalding-Rigdon theory of Book of Mormon origins.
In other offerings, Brian M. Hauglid evaluates a compendious volume on the Book of Moses, Noel B. Reynolds comments on a prominent New Testament scholar's important book arguing that "the Gospels were written under the direct influence of living eyewitnesses," Richard E. Bennett praises a new biography of the staunch 19th-century Mormon defender Thomas L. Kane, and Louis C. Midgley reviews a primer on Christian church history and contemplates whether it is even possible to tell an all-encompassing, neutral story of the "now mostly lost history of Christianity." What's more, Hugh Nibley's essay "Beyond Politics," which Nibley excluded from his Collected Works series, is included. As usual, several Book Notes are included to round out the lineup.