Mormon Studies Discoveries

Four scholars share the most delightful or surprising discoveries they have made as they’ve researched Mormonism.

Laurie Maffly-Kipp

Archer Alexander Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies, Washington University

“Joseph Smith was only the most famous of a lot of Americans who were creatively appropriating the Bible and using it interesting kinds of ways to start new religious traditions, or to correct the problems they saw in old traditions.”

Terryl Givens

Jabez A. Bostwick Chair of English, University of Richmond

When one rigorously examines the Mormon theological tradition, one finds an intellectual depth there that I didn’t expect to find.”

James Faulconer

Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding, Brigham Young University

“I was reading an essay by Martin Heidegger where he talks about the Nothing. It’s a very difficult essay because it’s hard to get a handle on what he means by ‘nothing.’ And then all of a sudden, I was reading it and I thought ‘I know what he means! He means primal matter. He means primal intelligence. He means the stuff is there before God does anything at all.’ “

Ann Taves

Virgil Cordano Chair of Catholic Studies, UC Santa Barbara

I was shocked to find that LDS historians (whose work I deeply respect) actually believe that there were ancient golden plates. . . . I read Richard Bushman and Terryl Givens talking about the polarization between non-Mormon historians and Mormon historians on this very point, and I realized I had to tackle this subject of the golden plates.”