Margaret Barker is a world-renowned biblical scholar. She’s been quoted by the likes of N. T. Wright and given an award by the Queen of England. Interestingly, the Methodist preacher is also a favorite of many Latter-day Saint scholars. In this interview, Kevin Christensen tells the story of how Barker first encountered the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—and why so many of the faith’s scholars are drawn to her work.
The Book of Mormon is a foundational text for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The earliest related research produced reference works, and there have been decades of investigation into its historicity, leading to today’s “golden age” of scholarship. In this interview, Joe Spencer and Nick Frederick discuss the future of Book of Mormon studies, such as emerging emphases on reception history and theology.
Joseph Smith taught many truths about Jesus Christ that stemmed from his First Vision and other revelatory experiences. For example, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has said that Joseph’s depiction of a weeping Jesus in the Book of Moses reveals more about the true nature of Christ than any theological treatise. In this interview, historian Keith Erekson draws on the Joseph Smith Papers to explain what the Prophet taught about the Savior.
Latter-day Saint Temples play an important role in helping members focus on Christ and become more like Him. Disciples make sacred promises inside the temple, such as covenanting to live the Law of Consecration. Everything about the rituals are centered on Jesus Christ. In this interview, Jennifer C. Lane discusses her new book about temples and ritual.
Truman Madsen is perhaps best known for his Joseph Smith lectures. The BYU professor thought of the Prophet as a window through which he could see Jesus Christ. But his contributions extend far beyond lectures given at Brigham Young University. Those who knew him best, like his wife, Ann Madsen, say there was much more to Truman G. Madsen than meets the eye.
The poetic version of D&C 76 has been lauded since it was first published under Joseph Smith’s name in 1843. However, the latest scholarship suggests that it was ghostwritten by William W. Phelps. While some also think it may have resulted from coordination between the Prophet and Eliza R. Snow or Parley P. Pratt, most scholars agree that Joseph Smith wasn’t the sole author of “The Vision” in poetic form.
Faith and science are often seen as conflicting approaches in the search for truth—including within the Latter-day Saint community. For example, Joseph Fielding Smith and B. H. Roberts disagreed about whether science or scripture should take priority in the debate over evolution (see the story in Saints 3). In this interview. Dr. Jamie L. Jensen explains that faith and science are symbiotic pathways to truth.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that faith is the first principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And yet many people struggle to understand their own beliefs. Furthermore, the importance of belief seems to be on the decline, as evidenced by the rise of those leaving organized religion. In this interview, Terryl Givens, and his son, Nathaniel, explain that admitting “belief is hard” could be a step toward accessing the power of faith—and balancing faith and intellect.
The relationship between Latter-day Saint women and the priesthood is complex. Joseph Smith famously “turned the key” during a Nauvoo Relief Society Meeting, but it’s unclear precisely what he meant. Church leaders have since taught different things about priesthood keys, authority, and power. Despite a surge of new prophetic teachings, the role of women and the priesthood remains an open question. In this interview, Lisa Olsen Tait explains the history of women and priesthood in the church.
Joseph Smith states in Section 131 of the Doctrine and Covenants that “in the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees.” Modern Latter-day Saints often view “celestial glory” as synonymous with “Celestial Kingdom.” However, the historical record suggests that the phrase likely meant something different to Joseph. In this interview, Bryan Buchanan expounds on Shannon Flynn’s research about the Prophet’s use of “celestial glory” in D&C 131.