MORMON CONCEPT OF SCRIPTURE DISCUSSED
The Mormon concept of scripture was one of the main topics discussed at the consultation session on the study of the Latter-day Saints held at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta last November. Two of the papers read at that time are now available on the attached order form.
The first, written by Dr. W. D. Davies, entitled "Reflections on the Mormon Canon," has now been published in the Harvard Theological Review 79 (1986), 44-66. Professor Davies points out several ways in which "the emergence and development of the Mormon canon compares and contrasts with the process of canonization in early Christianity." He also contrasts the closed nature of the Samaritan canon, which consisted of only the Pentateuch, with the openness of the Mormon canon. Professor Davies asks, "Is there a correlation between the smallness of the Samaritans' canon and their very limited influence?" On the other hand, "the Mormons have today dispersed to traverse the entire world. Is their canon, ever augmented, a sign or a symbol of the vitality and inclusiveness of their faith? What began as a small American sect has become worldwide in its range and influence."
The second paper, by John W. Welch and David J. Whittaker, is entitled "Mormonism's Open Canon." This paper explores historically the delicate and dynamic balance that exists in Mormonism due to the openness of its canon, on the one hand, and to its strict adherence to scripture, on the other. It also traces the historical experience of the Latter-day Saints since 1829 with their open body of scripture.
Both papers address the growing consensus among Christian and Jewish scholars that the Bible does not contain all the words revealed by God to his prophets, and the idea that the concept of scripture in early Christianity was not a closed one. These ideas, with their wide-ranging implications that have been long familiar to the Restored Church, have become more widely discussed and accepted today than ever before.