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 Post subject: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:49 pm 
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A friend of mine recently brought to my attention Prof. Donald W. Parry's of Asst. Prof. Joseph M. Spencer's The Vision of All: Twenty-Five Lectures on Isaiah in Nephi's Record, recently published in Interpreter.

See https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/an-approach-to-isaiah-studies/?fbclid=IwAR3IaWNgYEp7U8r3SdB9IKtM9o5gygE3aTTlmsCcAyAndqNQaR43ayLcNuw

As is often the case regarding book reviews published in Interpreter, this reviewer commits one of the cardinal sins of book reviewing--to complain, in short, that the author did not write the book the reviewer thought the author should write. Unfortunately, however, things get much worse than that. (Would that Parry had stopped with writing an irrelevant review!) Parry implicitly accuses the author of not being a good Latter-day Saint.

Right out of the gate, Parry claims that "Spencer's work presents certain challenges and problems, especially for Christians who maintain that Isaiah's text contains numerous Jesus Christ-focused elements." This is because, as Parry repeatedly quotes without providing sufficient context, Spencer tells his reader, "Stop looking for Jesus in Isaiah." Interestingly, the first time Parry quotes this phrase, he provides enough context to suggest that all is not as Parry is depicting it: "Here it is, put far too strongly at first: Stop looking for Jesus in Isaiah."

So, Parry will go on to write at some length on the absolute necessity of searching for Jesus Christ in Isaiah's text. In doing so, he uses the un-contextualized quote of Spencer as a kind of straw man. The idea the reader walks away from this review carrying is that questionably faithful Spencer does not look for Christ in Book of Mormon Isaiah, whereas the stalwartly faithful Parry sees this as practically the only reason to read Isaiah at all, since Christians and LDS prophets have concentrated on the same.

But let's look more closely at that first quote of Spencer: "Here it is, put far too strongly at first: Stop looking for Jesus in Isaiah." The key phrase here is "put far too strongly at first." What this suggests to me is that later Spencer will ease off of this idea of not looking for Jesus in Isaiah. But, why would Spencer want his reader to ease up on this later if he is not in support of looking for Christ in Isaiah as Parry strongly implies? Probably because Spencer wants his reader to take a temporary break from looking for Jesus in Isaiah so that she or he can see other things in the text too, not because Spencer does not support Christian readings of Isaiah.

Such reading strategies are neither unusual nor exceptionable. If you want to see something other than what you assume to be the case in a text, try setting aside your assumptions and look for something else.

The root problem for Parry--that issue motivating Parry to engage in this kind of uncharitable review--is perhaps captured in Parry's comments on Spencer's view that Isaiah 7:14 was not understood by the ancient author to be a prophecy about Jesus but about Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz. In other words, Spencer does not privilege later interpretations of Isaiah from Christian and Latter-day Saint readers over what is at least arguably the understanding of the author himself.

Given the fact that this is such a problem for Parry, and one he clearly disagrees with Spencer about, you might think he would spend some time correcting Spencer's error. Unfortunately, one is only given this: "But the translation "Mighty God (in the KJV) has both lexical support and validation from multiple prominent translations." Oh, and a footnote: "See, for example, Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Brill: Leiden, NLD, 2000), 172, which states, for אל גבור, “Messiah ,אל ג Is 95 trad. God the heroic force.”"

OK, so there is a reasonable difference of opinion here. Some people might say that Isaiah did not see the future clearly in such a way that he understood his own words in the way later readers would interpret them, while others would say that he clearly understood that he was prophesying of Jesus of Nazareth. I don't know how one would know exactly what Isaiah was thinking, or what kind of difference it really makes that we feel certain about something we have no way of knowing, but there you have it. Evidently it is unacceptable to Parry that Spencer would depart from other LDS readers in this way.

Oddly, in support of his view, Parry brings forward the words of Biblical scholar Hulitt Gloer:

Quote:
The writers of the New Testament were convinced that the true meaning of the Old Testament is Jesus Christ and that He alone provides the means of understanding it. True interpretation of the Old Testament is achieved by reading Old Testament passages or incidents in light of the event of Christ. … For the early Christians, all Scripture was to be interpreted by the fact of Christ because it is to Him that the Old Testament Scripture points (John 5:39)


And, um, yeah? I am not sure how this quote either conflicts with Spencer or particularly supports Parry's argument. All it says, that I can see, is that some people in New Testament times and later were convinced that Isaiah was referring to Jesus. That is unexceptionable and in the context of this review really kind of irrelevant. Why irrelevant? Because I doubt that Spencer disagrees or that Parry's use of the quote is anything but misleading in its suggestion that Spencer would not agree.

There are many things one can glean from Parry's review--that he is not a fan of Spencer's book, that he wants you to believe Spencer doesn't believe in the LDS gospel, that the only valid reading of Isaiah is one that privileges Jesus, and that one ought not to say anything about Book of Mormon Isaiah without mastering Biblical Hebrew (you know, like Joseph Smith supposedly did after he translated both the Book of Mormon and portions of the Bible). What you will not get a solid sense of, however, is the content or arguments of the actual book itself.

So, I am afraid I will have to rate Parry's review of Joseph M. Spencer's latest book as ** out of five stars. Do not read this review unless you are interested in learning what Donald Parry thinks Spencer should have written, or what may be building in Donald Parry's file of documents designed to argue that Joseph M. Spencer should not get "continuing status" at BYU. After all, as Parry himself writes in this review:

Quote:
In my experience and considered opinion, academics (particularly those who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints) who intend to explicate Isaiah’s text in books or media would do well to possess the following: (1) a comprehensive understanding of the doctrinal framework of the Restoration of the gospel (and acceptance of and compliance with its teachings), and (2) a heart open to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, the quintessential revelator and teacher.


I think we all know by now how well Parry thinks Spencer demonstrated these qualities--ones a BYU administrator or board member wants to see in his longterm BYU faculty--in his book.

Where is the second review, you ask? It is coming up.

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“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith


Last edited by Kishkumen on Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 2:24 pm 
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The second review of Joseph Spencer's new book is by Adam Miller. This review is published on the blog "By Common Consent."

https://bycommonconsent.com/2016/11/02/response-the-vision-of-all/

To skip to the punchline, Miller's review differs from Parry's in two key ways:

First, it actually addresses the content of Spencer's book;

Second, it is a positive review written on a level appropriate for the level of discourse at which the book was actually pitched.

I feel funny raising the first point because Miller states:

Quote:
In what follows, I’m not (exactly) going to talk about what Joe actually says in The Vision of All. Rather, I’m going to say some things that are “based on” the things Joe talks about in this book. I’m going to say things that are “inspired by” the real things Joe actually says in this book. I’m going to offer you something like a “ripped from the headlines” fictionalization of what Joe says, exaggerating and dramatizing some of his ideas, punching up the script as it were, in order to foreground some things that, I think, really make the book remarkable.


Still, he manages to explain what the book is about, and he makes you want to read the darn thing. Moreover, he manages to quote passages of the book (not just snippets), something that is a good sign and indicative of a review that presents the contents of the book more faithfully:

Quote:
Isaiah’s vision is not the vision of some. It’s the vision of all. As Isaiah reveals God’s hand at work in world history, God hasn’t been sifting out and sequestering a covenant people away from the dangers of the Gentile world with its crazy, Gentile ideas.

Rather, God has been scattering and dispersing and distributing Israel throughout the body of the Gentile world in order to effect the salvation of the world itself. And not only is Israel crucial to the redemption of the Gentiles, but Isaiah is adamant that the Gentiles are the only thing that can save Israel from itself. Isaiah’s vision is the vision of all.

As Joe puts it, citing Isaiah 49:6:

“It is a light thing that thou shouldst be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel. I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the ends of the earth.” With these words Isaiah offers a crucial corrective to Israel’s self-understanding. They seem to think that their whole work is to look out for their own redemption, to see that they do what’s necessary to secure the Lord’s blessing. But when they express their inevitable frustration at failing, the Lord responds by making clear that there’s a bigger picture. It’s too “light,” too easy, just to redeem Israel. God’s got his eyes on the whole world. You see, Israel isn’t there with the task of redeeming itself, but of being a “light to the Gentiles,” of being God’s “salvation unto the ends of the earth.” (89-90)


Now, Miller's review is not a great review. It is a breezy read of a blog review. But in what it does and what it does not do, it still manages to be a much better review of the actual book than Parry's.

What does it do right?

1) It manages to get at the actual content. Parry's review, by contrast, was more interested in what kind of hay he could make out of the content, and that came in mining the text for one quote and then egregiously misusing it to the max. Miller actually quotes the content more extensively and then tries to show you why he is excited about the cool things the text is saying.

2) The review is about helping the reader understand why the book might be a worthwhile read on the level it is pitched. Parry talks about Spencer's chatty style, which comports with the purpose and approach of the book. Spencer's book is not a scholarly monograph. It is a collection of twenty-five lectures. Parry knows this but still manages to hold that against Spencer and his book.

Further commentary: Now, it would not be fair to say that Parry is alone in this kind of book-reviewing sin. Many a scholar has written the review that details how they would write a similar book, albeit one that is not the book on review. The damage is done when the reviewer assumes or pretends to assume that it is a fair and honest thing to write as though the book should be the book they would write instead. And by the latter I do not mean one that is more correct or better argued but one that is written for a fundamentally different purpose. For example, if a publisher asks me to review a book that is proposed for use as a textbook, I would be of no help to them if I were to respond as though the book had failed in the task of being a scholarly monograph I am in the process of writing.

What does Miller's review not do and correctly so?

In no way does Miller's review imply that there is something amiss with Joseph Spencer's faith. Unfortunately, Parry's "review" implies that Spencer's approach is fundamentally inappropriate for a faithful Latter-day Saint. Parry's implicit accusation is more than regrettable; it is dangerous to Spencer's livelihood.

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“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith


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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 3:47 pm 
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Donald Parry wrote:
In my experience and considered opinion, academics (particularly those who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints) who intend to explicate Isaiah’s text in books or media would do well to possess the following: (1) a comprehensive understanding of the doctrinal framework of the Restoration of the gospel (and acceptance of and compliance with its teachings), and (2) a heart open to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, the quintessential revelator and teacher.

And I guess everyone who follows the NFL (particularly Patriots fans) would do well to cheer for the Patriots.


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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:17 pm 
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If the forces of the Adversary had not conspired to usurp the throne of the Maxwell Institute of Apologetics from its rightful heir, this article would not have been necessary.

It is incumbent on the Interpreter, as the last bastion to defend a pure and everlasting doctrine, to root out these ravenous wolves in casual business attire so that the ideal masters on South Temple can see thy work is being done. Oh to hear them say, "Thou great and noble servants, unforgivable ill hath been done in your casting out. Come, reclaim your throne and help drive thine enemies before thee. For thou hast the power, and the glory, and the divining scepter of Maxwell, forever and ever."

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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:17 pm 
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Fantastics work, Reverend. It's amazing the Brethren haven't squashed the new MI yet given all the evidence for spiritual failing that Interpreter provides.

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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:42 pm 
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This all makes sense to me. The same can be observed with Gee’s senseless review of The Next Mormons.

Problem is the outcome isn’t likely to change as a result of thoughtful critics pointing out what is obvious to most: Pharisees really hate being called Pharisees.


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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:24 pm 
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Dr Moore wrote:
This all makes sense to me. The same can be observed with Gee’s senseless review of The Next Mormons.

Problem is the outcome isn’t likely to change as a result of thoughtful critics pointing out what is obvious to most: Pharisees really hate being called Pharisees.


True, which makes it all the more odd that they appear to so enjoy being Pharisees!

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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:22 am 
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Gadianton wrote:
It's amazing the Brethren haven't squashed the new MI yet given all the evidence for spiritual failing that Interpreter provides.

Even now, Dr. Midgley might be in contact with the secretary to the Strengthening the Membership Subcommittee on Inquisitional and Penitence Matters to see if all of the current Maxwell staff can be sequestered to level 5 of the Salt Lake oubliette.

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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 8:19 am 
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Gadianton wrote:
Fantastics work, Reverend. It's amazing the Brethren haven't squashed the new MI yet given all the evidence for spiritual failing that Interpreter provides.


I suppose that is true. In this case, however, we are not talking about someone working at Maxwell Institute. Joseph Spencer is an assistant professor in the Department of Ancient Scripture in the College of Religion at BYU. So, the stakes are much higher for him if certain people come to agree with Parry that Spencer is not faithful, not a believer. Spencer could be denied continuing status if this attack on his reputation is successful.

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“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith


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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 8:29 am 
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Dr Moore wrote:
This all makes sense to me. The same can be observed with Gee’s senseless review of The Next Mormons.


These two reviews do have in common a noticeable pushback against change. Parry's review exhibits a continuing attachment to more fundamentalistic readings of scripture. It seems that, in his mind, Isaiah had to be able to see Jesus of Nazareth and prophesy specifically of Jesus of Nazareth in order for his prophecies to have force. He apparently does not like the idea that Isaiah might not have a clear idea of what he is predicting, or that his idea of what he is predicting might not constrain the interpretations of later readers.

In short, Parry has a very learned but in certain respects narrow way of reading Isaiah. He does not grant the possibility that someone could write a worthwhile book for Latter-day Saints that was not written in reference to a mountain of writings and sayings of other Christian readers, especially LDS leaders. I am admittedly more sympathetic to Parry's views on the importance of reading Biblical Hebrew, but I am not sure that reading Nephi's Isaiah requires knowing Hebrew, since, after all, Joseph Smith did not know Hebrew when he translated the Book of Mormon, and, presumably, Nephi did not transcribe the text of Isaiah in Hebrew onto the plates.

Since we cannot know Reformed Egyptian and really have no idea what that is, and it seems that God decided to have Joseph Smith give us only the English version of this Reformed Egyptian text, one wonders exactly why it should be absolutely necessary to discuss Book of Mormon Isaiah through the lens of Hebrew texts of the same. I am not saying that Biblical Hebrew is not useful, or crucial for understanding Isaiah. I do, however, think that it may not be the sine qua non for discussing Book of Mormon Isaiah in a non-scholarly* series of lectures.

* By non-scholarly I am speaking not in terms of Spencer's qualifications or the depth of learning he brings to the discussion but of a text that is not intended primarily for consumption by other scholars and is not written for the purpose of advancing professional scholarship on Isaiah.

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“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith


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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:27 am 
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Kishkumen wrote:
I suppose that is true. In this case, however, we are not talking about someone working at Maxwell Institute. Joseph Spencer is an assistant professor in the Department of Ancient Scripture in the College of Religion at BYU. So, the stakes are much higher for him if certain people come to agree with Parry that Spencer is not faithful, not a believer. Spencer could be denied continuing status if this attack on his reputation is successful.


Reverend, lol, my bad! I just made an assumption and went with it, so in this instance, I'm no better than Parry. It's a good thing the peer review over here is better than at interpreter or I could have caused some real confusion.

It is funny though, how nobody can seem to please the olds FARMS crowd unless you're one of them or somehow established yourself as a 'friendly' first. Back in the day, all these Saints with testimonies were dupes, not scholarly enough for FARMs and were taken to task for that. Now, they are too scholarly. But sometimes even those walking the middle were eviscerated. On an odd occasion, the wrong scholar treads upon the right territory. I'm thinking of F. Richard Hauack who was given the old heavy-handed hatchet treatment even though he was promoting the Limited Geography Theory. Minor innovations became great offenses.

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"...supporters of Billy Meier still point to the very clear photos of Pleiadian beam ships flying over his farm. They argue that for the photos to be fakes, we have to believe that a one-armed man who had no knowledge of Photoshop or other digital photography programs could have made such realistic photos and films..." -- D. R. Prothero


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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:20 am 
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Why did Dr. Parry ask that comments be turned off? I noticed that a comment on the review from Noel Reynolds was posted and then was removed.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:37 pm 
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Gadianton wrote:
Reverend, lol, my bad! I just made an assumption and went with it, so in this instance, I'm no better than Parry. It's a good thing the peer review over here is better than at interpreter or I could have caused some real confusion.

It is funny though, how nobody can seem to please the olds FARMS crowd unless you're one of them or somehow established yourself as a 'friendly' first. Back in the day, all these Saints with testimonies were dupes, not scholarly enough for FARMs and were taken to task for that. Now, they are too scholarly. But sometimes even those walking the middle were eviscerated. On an odd occasion, the wrong scholar treads upon the right territory. I'm thinking of F. Richard Hauack who was given the old heavy-handed hatchet treatment even though he was promoting the Limited Geography Theory. Minor innovations became great offenses.


If memory serves, I think Spencer was already identified as an ideological "other" by Ralph Hancock. So, Spencer is definitely on the Mopologetic radar, seeing as Hancock falls under the general ideological umbrella of those who are deeply concerned about the influence of "liberalism" (in the modern sense) on the Gospel and the Church. Parry's "review" is getting at similar issues. How we read the scriptures--as literalists or as literary theorists, vel sim.--says a lot about where our loyalties lie in the minds of Mopologists.

Although I know it does him no favors, I am happy that people like Spencer are at BYU pursuing different approaches than those Parry champions. Parry's skills are important, no doubt, but his commitment to certain LDS modes of reading leaves us all stuck in a rut, I am afraid. Better to give some room for younger scholars whose approaches will open up new ways of thinking about the scriptures.

Really, I find myself in an odd position here. I recall taking a class with Joseph Fielding McConkie and clashing with him a bit when he said that reading the scriptures in other languages was of negligible importance, "since the scriptures of the Restoration are in English." I asked him why Joseph Smith had studied classical and modern languages if that were indeed the case. He took it fairly well I thought, and I enjoyed the class even though I found myself disagreeing with McConkie on various points throughout the term.

In this case, however, it is the seeming insistence that one must read Biblical Hebrew in order to have anything of value to say that I chafe at. Sure, if I am a professional Hebrew Bible scholar, I damn well better know Hebrew if I presume to teach people about the ancient Hebrew scriptures. But, if I am talking primarily about Mormon scripture, the first surviving manuscripts of which are in English, then maybe it is not all that important to deal with Hebrew.

Another issue, however, is raised. The very fact of Joseph Spencer's hire into the Department of Ancient Scripture makes the contradiction of Mormon scripture glaringly obvious. If you check Joseph Spencer's c.v., he apparently only claims knowledge of three modern languages: Spanish, French, and German. THERE ARE NO ANCIENT LANGUAGES IN WHICH HE CLAIMS COMPETENCE.

NOT ONE.

Department of Ancient Scripture? No knowledge of any ancient languages?

SERIOUSLY?

Of course, because ancient Mormon scripture is NOT ANCIENT in the common sense of the word ancient (it is 19th century English scripture for which ancient date is claimed), knowledge of ancient languages is not required to have something valuable to say about Mormon scripture.

May I suggest that it is in this anomaly that some of Parry's concerns reside? Does the hiring of Joseph Spencer and his ability to hold forth on ancient Hebrew texts not highlight the problem of ancient scripture at BYU in which 19th century scripture is treated as ancient? Sure, he can hold forth on Isaiah because who is going to stop him? In allowing this situation to unfold does one not admit the very thing that Parry and his cohorts want to avoid, namely, the admission that the Book of Mormon, the Book of Moses, and the Book of Abraham are, in conventional terms, modern scripture, and not ancient?

So does the hiring of Joseph Spencer constitute a kind of admission that it is OK not to believe in the literal antiquity of Mormonism's unique "ancient" scripture? And if that is the case, would a traditionalist not squirm or get hot under the collar to allow this encroachment to occur? Give an inch, and they take a mile. Where will this end? Will the teaching of Mormon scripture in its 19th century context--with no reference to antiquity--not eventually become the norm?

Here, perhaps, is where the real conflict resides. Parry likely has nothing against Spencer personally, but what Spencer represents may be a real problem. Now, I am engaging in quite a bit of speculation here, but I note that Parry's insistence on the value of Biblical Hebrew and Spencer's clear lack of even claimed credentials in that area is perhaps telling.

What a BYU Religion professor has had to say about antiquity was never all that important in the past, since no special expertise in ancient languages or ancient history was required to teach Mormon scripture. A person with a Ph.D. in whatever subject might be teaching Religion at BYU. It was in more recent times that pains were taken to ensure that faculty in Religion were real experts in the relevant disciplines.

Where does Spencer and his track record reside in this mix? He is a brilliant and likable fellow. It sounds like he has much to contribute to learned discussion of Mormonism. What he is not by any means is a scholar in the mold of Hugh Nibley.

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“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith


Last edited by Kishkumen on Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:43 pm 
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Tom wrote:
Why did Dr. Parry ask that comments be turned off? I noticed that a comment on the review from Noel Reynolds was posted and then was removed.
If the Interpreter wants to be taken seriously as a scholarly journal, then one of the criteria for publication should be that comments cannot be turned off at the request of the author. Otherwise it’s just an online hobby pulpit.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 2:46 pm 
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I have a question wrote:
If the Interpreter wants to be taken seriously as a scholarly journal, then one of the criteria for publication should be that comments cannot be turned off at the request of the author. Otherwise it’s just an online hobby pulpit.


I don't know about that. Journals do not have comments sections. Hey, if I were Parry and I had written such a thing, I would not want to be obliged to respond to comments, especially if I discovered that the faculty of Cassius University had drawn attention to my "review."

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:51 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:
I have a question wrote:
If the Interpreter wants to be taken seriously as a scholarly journal, then one of the criteria for publication should be that comments cannot be turned off at the request of the author. Otherwise it’s just an online hobby pulpit.


I don't know about that. Journals do not have comments sections. Hey, if I were Parry and I had written such a thing, I would not want to be obliged to respond to comments, especially if I discovered that the faculty of Cassius University had drawn attention to my "review."


"Mormon Interpreter" is not a "journal" in the traditional sense. In reality, it is a blog. You may remember, Reverend, circa the mid-summer of 2012, that the Mopologists were parrying criticisms about the fact that "Interpreter" was an almost entirely online and independent venture: they were saying this to counter criticisms that they were "not serious" or "not academic" since (a) they were pretty much purely digital, and (b) they were no longer affiliated with BYU. And so they sang the praises of Bryce Haymond, for his superior IT skills. They waxed poetic about how it was *better* to be strictly online, since it allowed them to be more "nimble." (And hey: they are certainly cranking out all kinds of stuff at a pretty rapid pace! Seriously: did Jack Chick produce material at this rate?)

All that said, I think that Tom is correct to take note of this development: it is remarkable that they've shut down the comments. Not a watershed moment, necessarily, but a very, very important development. They have tried *so* hard to be "transparent," and to make it seem like everything they're doing is on the "up and up," and yet here they go with the outright censorship. What is Parry afraid of? (And is he really the one who ordered this? Did DCP have zero say on the matter [actually, he probably doesn't even care]? What about Allen Wyatt? The "Board"?) Meanwhile, Reverend,I assume you saw this:

WMLdeWette wrote:
While I don't think that the LDS Church's leadership views Interpreter negatively I do think that for Peterson it was a pure power grab. He has stated in the past, as has been noted in this thread, that even though he wasn't the boss on paper (MI director or BYU president) if you were someone in the know at the MI at the time everyone knew who was really in charge. So he felt that he was in control. Since the organizing of Interpreter Peterson has been obsessed with only a few things besides his travel and his blog: making sure that something is published every Friday (that somehow equates to quality or a positive for him). He has also recently been told to "tone things down" in relation to the way that Interpreter has gone after not a volume published in the Joseph Smith Papers but the validity of the credentials and testimony of individual scholars who edited those volumes. At some point you would really hope that Peterson would take the suggestions that Davis gave to him back in 2012 and Midgley gave to Skousen decades ago. I'm not confident that Peterson will ever change, though.
(emphasis added)

The censoring of the comments, given the nature of Parry's article, would seem to support to WMLdeWette is saying, no? True Mopologetics has perhaps crept back onto the Brethren's radar (after quite a long hiatus, I should add: they have ramped up the viciousness considerably in the past year or so), and now the hammer is coming back down?

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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:57 pm 
Endowed Chair of Historical Innovation
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As a known donor to the Interpreter, I wish to see the true vision realized, that being a genuine scholarly presentation of discoveries related to Mormonism. After all, I was with David Bokovoy, one of the founders, just days after that infamous dinner meeting.

But, reversion to personal tear-down and Pharisaical virtue signaling pieces masquerading as book reviews, I would argue, falls short of that goal.

With so much legitimate pushback on the methodology employed in, say, a sensation piece like the Greatest Guesser, I would submit that the public comments section is THE peer review process and ought to be enhanced as such through a comment period prior to official publication. It would be great if the comments were taken more seriously, even augmented through a registered voting and comment process, then fed back once or twice before granting approval to publish. It might never be able to establish a genuine double-blind peer review process, but something more democratized would very likely lead to a substantial rise in credibility and hence readership.


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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:22 pm 
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Dr Moore wrote:
With so much legitimate pushback on the methodology employed in, say, a sensation piece like the Greatest Guesser, I would submit that the public comments section is THE peer review process and ought to be enhanced as such through a comment period prior to official publication. It would be great if the comments were taken more seriously, even augmented through a registered voting and comment process, then fed back once or twice before granting approval to publish. It might never be able to establish a genuine double-blind peer review process, but something more democratized would very likely lead to a substantial rise in credibility and hence readership.


If only the Interpreter were taken that seriously. They could really use your guidance, Dr. Moore.

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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 12:06 am 
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Kishkumen wrote:
Spencer could be denied continuing status if this attack on his reputation is successful.

Then it was definitely a good thing that the consecrated secretary left off that last line in the Interpreter hit piece: "Off with his head!" Can you imagine what impressionable decision-makers in the Religion Department might have made of that?

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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:51 am 
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Dr Moore wrote:
As a known donor to the Interpreter, I wish to see the true vision realized, that being a genuine scholarly presentation of discoveries related to Mormonism. After all, I was with David Bokovoy, one of the founders, just days after that infamous dinner meeting.

But, reversion to personal tear-down and Pharisaical virtue signaling pieces masquerading as book reviews, I would argue, falls short of that goal.

With so much legitimate pushback on the methodology employed in, say, a sensation piece like the Greatest Guesser, I would submit that the public comments section is THE peer review process and ought to be enhanced as such through a comment period prior to official publication. It would be great if the comments were taken more seriously, even augmented through a registered voting and comment process, then fed back once or twice before granting approval to publish. It might never be able to establish a genuine double-blind peer review process, but something more democratized would very likely lead to a substantial rise in credibility and hence readership.


I like the idea of having the comments section act as a peer review mechanism. But too much democracy would expose too many like happened with the Dale team. Also, the voting would put the content out of the control of the editors.

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 Post subject: Re: A Tale of Two Book Reviews
PostPosted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:56 am 
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Yeah, I get that. While control and ownership are coveted, 100% of nothing is still nothing.


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