Paul Y. Hoskisson
Again, as editor, I am excited about our current issue. My experience is that not all topics are of equal interest to all readers. The difference, might I suggest, is probably based more on our interests as individual readers rather than on the intrinsic nature of each article. Surely several of the wide variety of articles in this issue will be of interest to you. I hope you enjoy both the scholarship of our authors and the diversity of their topics.
To help celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Hugh W. Nibley, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, Religious Education, and the Harold B. Lee Library, all of BYU, sponsored a twelve-part lecture series. In January of this year Richard Lyman Bushman delivered the first, entitled "Hugh Nibley and Joseph Smith." I am pleased to offer the reader a slightly edited transcription of his presentation. In this article, Brother Bushman pointed out that High Nibley approached the Prophet Joseph Smith from a unique angle, namely, look at what the Prophet as the Lord's messenger produced and stop trying to discredit the messenger. What a timely reminder!
Though Lehi and Sariah did not need to be told that their names would be brought together as evidence of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, that is precisely what Jeffrey R. Chadwick has done. When the Book of Mormon was first published, neither name was known as an authentic Hebrew personal name or, for that matter, as a verifiable ancient Semitic personal name in any language. In the last sixty years this has all changed. Brother Chadwick has conveniently gathered the evidence for Lehi as a genuine West Semitic name and then, in his conclusion, brought Lehi and Sariah together as strong evidence for the ancient nature of the Book of Mormon.
Kevin L. Barney in his article "On Elkenah as Canaanite El" takes the reader through the various possible interpretations of the name Elkenah, a name that appears twelve times in the Book of Abraham. Brother Barney suggests that while all these interpretations are possible, one is more plausible than the others.
John W. Welch seems to have a gift for seeing things that many of us miss. In this new offering, "Seeing Third Nephi as the Holy of Holies of the Book of Mormon," he has broken new ground. Brother Welch sees in 3 Nephi temple themes and references to holiness that are congruous with the temple setting and covenant-making context in this centrally important book within the Book of Mormon.
The "Harrowing of Hell" may not seem like a particularly edifying topic, but in the hands of David L. Paulsen, Roger D. Cook, and Kendel J. Christensen, it becomes a most interesting window into pre-Restoration Christian teachings. Their article, "The Harrowing of Hell: Salvation for the Dead in Early Christianity," is the first of three on what is known outside of Latter-day Saint circles as postmortem evangelism and inside the Restoration as work for the dead. This first article on Christ's teaching the dead and the next one to follow on baptism for the dead explore how the soteriological problem of evil (how can a just and merciful God make possible the salvation of those who died without knowing of Christ?) was handled from the early church fathers down to the Restoration. The third and final article, and the main justification for publishing this three-part series in the Journal, will be a study of the concept of work for the dead among Latter-day Saints.
On occasion, Hugh W. Nibley, whose hundredth birthday was on 27 March of this year, wrote for non—Latter-day Saint audiences. "Worthy of Another Look: Classics from the Past" in this issue offers a little-known piece of his, "The Book of Mormon: A Minimal Statement," which he penned for a Catholic periodical. I hope you will enjoy it.