Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Joseph Smith Papers, Part II

Long time readers of my blog (all two of you) may recall my post about the Joseph Smith Papers, the new project by the LDS church to compile all of Joseph Smith's written documents (I presume, excluding the BOM and other scriptural works) into a single book.

I was headed down I-15 last night and noticed a billboard alerting me that Volume 1 of the JSP has just been released.

I'd like to reiterate my skepticism about this project. The Church was originally working with Oxford University on compiling the papers, but scrapped that collaboration to ensure "editorial control." Read into the term editorial control when applied to what was intended to be a wholly exhaustive collection what you will.

I'm hopeful that the historians involved in compiling these documents kept true to the mission they layed out, and I'll be interested in reading the book(s).

But: I remain skeptical. Remember, we are talking about an organization whose explicit and official doctrine is for its historians to to lie about embarrassing aspects of its history. And you can look forward to an upcoming I'll be writing another post on that concept, "Faithful History," shortly.

3 comments:

Judy said...

Hey Patrick...just wanted you to know that I think Lauren will be coming to your gathering this week, but I may have to bow out this time. not that i want to...just timing issues. I hope to join in next time and do so look forward to seeing you! I love reading your posts! Could I be reader #3??!!!

GreenishBlue said...

Cool. Hopefully I'll see you another time then! Glad Lauren can make it.

Ha! You were already reader number 2! :)

Saganist said...

I'm also skeptical. It seems like I read somewhere about non-LDS scholars being on board with the project, and that everyone involved was committed to the highest possible degree of integrity and transparency. That was encouraging, but not entirely convincing. That also may have been before the "editorial control" change, which I hadn't heard about, and which doesn't surprise me.

I think the church has an interest in historical accuracy only to the extent that it supports their higher interests: survival and growth. If they see anything in the Joseph Smith Papers project as threatening their bottom line, I have no doubt it will be placed under "editorial control". As Boyd K. Packer says, some things that are true are not very useful.