The Fall 2013 issue of BYU Studies Quarterly recently hit the web and print subscribers’ mailboxes, which means that it’s time for another quick journal content overview for JI’s readers. All the usual caveats apply—that is, these summaries are meant to whet your appetite, but for the full effect you’ll want to visit the pieces and their arguments in their totality. In this issue of BYUSQ, four original articles and other tidbits are on offer.
The issue’s leadoff article is a close look at the textual history of a rather enigmatic verse of scripture, now D&C 130:22, which is vital to Mormonism’s distinctive doctrines of divine embodiment. In “The Textual Development of D&C 130:22 and the Embodiment of the Holy Ghost,” Ronald Bartholomew explores the development of this passage, originally captured as part of one of Joseph Smith’s sermons in 1843, later incorporated into his History, and finally canonized as scripture in the 1876 Doctrine and Covenants. The course this text took to canonization is a fascinating one; Bartholomew focuses his attention on following the revisions to the text in the years following Joseph Smith’s death. Noting that the most significant textual changes were made in the 1850s by clerks under the direction of Brigham Young and other church leaders, Bartholomew briefly explores the contemporary teachings and writings of Young and others in an effort to reconstruct their thinking about the nature of the Holy Ghost. He concludes that while the rationale for changes to original language remains unclear, the revisions have generally made the text more consistent with other Mormon scripture.
Also part of the issue is further work on Mormon educational history from Scott Esplin. His article “Joseph F. Smith and the Reshaping of Church Education” charts the rapid transformation of the Church’s educational policy in the early 20th century from a separatist model of independent Church schools to a full embrace of secular public education, with supplementary religious instruction—the model that the Church still follows today. Focusing on Joseph F. Smith, who oversaw and directed much of the Church’s education affairs between 1890 and 1905, the article gives the educational and broader historical context for this change: social diversification and Protestant schools in Utah, the financial efffects of anti-polygamy legislation, the national Common School movement, modernist understandings of scripture and evolution, and so on.
William Hartley’s explicitly titled “The Closedown of LDS Iowa Settlements in 1852 That Completed the Nauvoo Exodus and Jampacked the Mormon Trail” is a close look at the year 1852 on the Mormon trail, a year that he suggests is little studied and appreciated. The article examines Church leaders’ decision to gather the large population of Latter-day Saints remaining in settlements in the Midwest, and their subsequent efforts to do so, which included the founding of the Perpetual Emigration Fund. Hartley discusses the considerable size of these settlements, including Kanesville, Iowa, the increasing pressure applied by Church leaders to settlers there, the challenges of relocation, and the logistics of the actual migration itself. 1852, he notes, was the busiest year of all on the western trails as 70,000 emigrants crossed to California, Oregon, and Utah; Mormon emigrants comprised about 10,000 of this number and boosted Utah’s population by about 50%
Finally, Fred Woods also contributes material adding to our understanding of early Mormon missionaries in the South Pacific, especially Tahiti in the mid-nineteenth century. Supplementing the work that has already been done with the journals of Addison Pratt and others, Woods’ article, titled “Latter-day Saint Missionaries Encounter the London Missionary Society in the South Pacific, 1844-1852,” reproduces passages from letters of Christian missionaries from London who discuss their encounters with Mormonism in Tahiti during the period. The effect is to give us a bit more textured understanding of the interactions between Mormon and other missionaries in the Pacific during the period.
Something for everyone in this issue. Enjoy.