For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope
“It deserves to be widely read.” — Association for Mormon Letters
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What is hope? What is Zion? And what does it mean to hope for Zion? In this insightful book, Joseph Spencer explores these questions through the scriptures of two continents separated by nearly two millennia. In the first half, Spencer engages in a rich study of Paul's letter to the Roman to better understand how the apostle understood hope and what it means to have it. In the second half of the book, Spencer jumps to the early years of the Restoration and the various revelations on consecration to understand how Latter-day Saints are expected to strive for Zion. Between these halves is an interlude examining the hoped-for Zion that both thrived in the Book of Mormon and was hoped to be established again.
Praise for For Zion:
“For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope is more than a theological reflection. It also consists of able textual exegesis, historical contextualization, and philosophic exploration. Spencer’s careful readings of Paul’s focus on hope in Romans and on Joseph Smith’s development of consecration in his early revelations, linking them as he does with the Book of Mormon, have provided an intriguing, intertextual avenue for understanding what true stewardship should be for us—now and in the future. As such he has set a new benchmark for solid, innovative Latter-day Saint scholarship that is at once provocative and challenging.” — Eric D. Huntsman, author, The Miracles of Jesus
“With For Zion, Joseph Spencer develops the Mormon tradition of Zion, writing in the style of Hugh Nibley—mixing Old Testament and New Testament studies with commentary on the Book of Mormon, the Joseph Smith revelations, and early Mormon history. The main area of development is the addition of theology, Spencer’s expertise. Mormon readers much prefer scriptural commentary and history to theology, but Spencer weaves in his theological arguments and reflections in a readable and accessible manner. He also tracks the textual development of Joseph Smith’s consecration revelation with great care and provides historically informed readings. And the whole work is aimed at the redemption of Zion. For Zion proves that there can be such a thing as genuinely Mormon theology.” — Mark Ashurst-McGee, Joseph Smith Papers
“The hour is late. Our eyes are heavy. Working without rest, possessed by our possessions, and consumed by fantasies of acquisition and success we know full well, even were they to be realized, offer no relief from what's eating us, we stumble. ‘Wake up!’ Spencer calls. ‘Have hope! The kingdom of God is among us, Zion is real, the Sabbath is here, and the law of consecration remains, as it must, in full force!’” — Adam S. Miller, author, Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology
“Joseph Spencer is one of the most astute readers of sacred texts working in Mormon Studies. Blending theological savvy, historical grounding, and sensitive readings of scripture, he has produced an original and compelling case for consecration and the life of discipleship.” — Terryl Givens, author, Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought
“It deserves to be read widely, however, and the message of consecration deserves discussion in Mormon sacrament meetings, Sunday schools, and General Conferences.... For Zion is clearly a work of rigorous philosophical and theological scholarship. It is not a simple book with a simple message. It is a complex book with a simple message. And, if Spencer has it right, the real work of consecration is the hinge upon which the hope of the Restoration turns, and the time for that work is not future, it is now.” — Les Blake, Association for Mormon Letters
“For Zion is the most ambitious scholarly engagement with the law of consecration since Hugh Nibley’s Approaching Zion." — Blair Hodges, By Common Consent
“Those interested in and familiar with Mormon theology will find this a refreshing read... Spencer’s book adds freshness and credibility to the literature, and his contribution to this topic is noteworthy.” — Lauren McCombs, BYU Studies
“What Spencer’s book drives home (and is all the reason for reading this remarkable book) is the invaluable insight that our hope in the future transformation of the world is made most evident in our loving answerability for its present circumstances.” — George Handley, Home Waters
About the Author:
Joseph M. Spencer is a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of New Mexico, where he studies contemporary French thought. He is the author of An Other Testament: On Typology (Salt Press, 2012; Neal A. Maxwell Institute reissue, 2014), as well as of numerous essays on both philosophy and Mormon Studies. He is currently the associate director of the Mormon Theology Seminar and an associate editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. He and Karen, his wife, live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with their five children.