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5 Things We Learned About the Jesus of Nazareth January 22 2018


 

Consider the many different ways Jesus has been portrayed over the centuries or the ways his name has been employed in support of this or that cause. N. T. Wright, a prominent Jesus scholar and Anglican Bishop, observes that he is “almost universally approved of” but for “very different and indeed often incompatible reasons.” If this is the case, then we wondered what Jesus were we worshiping and whether that Jesus was one of our own making?

During the past half-century historians have made significant strides examining the most recently discovered source materials in order to think once again about existing documents like the four Gospels. The aim was to reconstruct the Jesus who the men and women in first-century Palestine would recognize and follow. Jesus was born into an ancient society constrained by millennia of social, theological, and political practices perpetuated by the minority ruling elite and facilitated by a vast majority of souls who knew of no other way. Periodically prophets would rail against the system in the name of God. But the great, colossus of ancient Rome remained sustained through the oppression of individuals, the very individuals that Jesus came to invite into a new, righteous Kingdom.

The Jesus of history and the Gospels largely displaced the conventions of his day with regard to women and the family, as well as the social standing of the poor, the wealthy, and the outcast.

On Women:

In the twenty-first century, when issues regarding the roles of men and women in religious environments are alive and controversial, Jesus’s treatment of women was prescient. His example and the privileges afforded the first female Christians provide important perspectives. The subject takes on added significance as we appreciate the meaning of the priestly roles that women play in Latter-day Saint temples. Echoing what N. T. Wright suggests in his recent book Surprised by Scripture, we must “think carefully about where our own cultures, prejudices, and angers are taking us, and make sure we conform not to the stereotypes the world offers but to the healing, liberating, humanizing message of the gospel.” He continues, “[we live in a time when] we need to radically change our traditional pictures of what men and women are and of how they relate to one another within the church, and indeed of what the Bible says on this subject.”

On the Family:

What little Jesus had to say about the family is jarring to modern ears. He replaced the household of his day with a new universal family called the Kingdom of God where all were brothers and sisters. All were welcome: the poor and the rich, men and women, bond and free, high and low, Jew and Gentile. Members were asked to live in a communal order where everyone had what they needed.

On the Poor:

At the end of Jesus’s ministry, his priorities had not shifted from those he announced by way of the Isaiah text he read as he stood in the synagogue in Nazareth. Prior to his betrayal, Jesus spoke about the Final Judgment. He reminded those who heard him then, as well as those who hear him today, that when our lives are weighed in the balance, we will be judged not on what we know, or how many things we owned, or on how many church meetings we attended; rather, we will be judged on the basis of how well we loved our neighbors, and how well we fed the hungry, clothed the naked, cared for the sick, and visited those in need (Matt. 25:31–46).

On the Wealthy:

Matthew’s Gospel records that Jesus spoke to a “rich young man” who, by his own report, kept all the commandments in Torah, the Mishnah, and the Oral Traditions. Jesus asked him to go one step further and distribute all his wealth equally amongst the poor in order to be a part of God’s kingdom (Matt. 19:21-22). The apocryphal Gospel of Hebrews records that when the young man could not take that step, he “began to scratch his head because he did not like that command.”  But then, Mark’s Gospel says, “Jesus felt genuine love for [this man]” (Mark 10:21 NLT).

Father James Martin, in a memoir on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2014, writes about his encounter with the story, standing on the supposed spot where Jesus told it: “Jesus ‘loved him’? Where did that come from? I had heard this Gospel story dozens of times. How had I missed that line? . . . Those three words . . . altered the familiar story and thus altered how I saw Jesus. No longer was it the exacting Jesus demanding perfection; it was the loving Jesus offering [agency]. Now I [and we] could hear him utter those words with infinite compassion for the man. . . . Jesus explicitly offers a promise of abundance to everyone” (Jesus: a Pilgrimage, 271).

Jesus invited all to be bound to him by the “covenant of salt.”

The Covenant of Salt is a three-part obligation. The meaning of the name of the covenant would have been obvious to the men and women who followed him: salt was and is the root word of salvation and it was an enormously valuable commodity in their day. At the end of our study, we came to understand a little better what N. T. Wright observes – that what mattered most to Jesus was that his true disciples were “the kind of people through whom the kingdom will be launched on earth.” Being like Jesus meant that each of us qualified for heaven through serving his “lambs.” Being like Jesus was about loving others and thereby transforming the earth, making it a Godlike place. It was what Jesus earnestly prayed for and by example asked us to pray for: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10 KJV; emphasis added). God’s ultimate rule on earth will come about because we, as true disciples of Jesus Christ, are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matt.5:13, 14 KJV). We have covenanted. We have come away from this pilgrimage with a resolve to “have salt in ourselves, and have peace one with another” (Mark 9:50 KJV).

 

James and Judith McConkie will be speaking and signing books at Writ & Vision in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, January 30 at 7 pm, and at Benchmark Books in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, February 7 at 5:30 pm..These events are free to the public.

 


James W. McConkie has JD from the S. J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. His practice has focused in the area of torts and civil rights for more than four decades. He has been an adjunct professor at Westminster College teaching Constitutional law for non-lawyers. He has taught Church History and New Testament courses for BYU’s Division of Continuing Education for over 15 years with his wife Judith and is the author of Looking at the Doctrine and Covenants for the Very First Time. In 2017 he and his law partner Bradley Parker created the Refugee Justice League, a non-profit organization of attorneys and other professionals offering pro-bono help to refugees who have been discriminated against on the basis of their religion, ethnicity, or national origin.

Judith E. McConkie has an MFA in printmaking from BYU and a PhD in philosophy of art history and museum theory from the University of Utah. She has taught art history at the secondary and then university levels for over 40 years. She was the Senior Educator at BYU’s Museum of Art and Curator of the Utah State Capital during its major renovation project from 2004–2010. During that time she authored With Anxious Care: the Restoration of the Utah Capital. She continues to teach in BYU’s Division of Continuing Education with her husband James. She has published in Sunstone and Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Though and has presented at Sunstone’s annual symposium. Her prints and watercolors have been exhibited nationally and in the Henry Moore Gallery in London, England. She and James are the parents of three children and 12 grandchildren. 

Whom Say Ye that I Am? Lessons from the Jesus of Nazareth
By James W. McConkie and Judith E. McConkie

Available Jan 30, 2018

Preview the book

Pre-order your copy


Q&A with James and Judith McConkie for Whom Say Ye that I Am? Lessons from the Jesus of Nazareth December 19 2017

309 pages, Paperback $27.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-707-6)
Available January 30, 2018


Pre-order Your Copy Today

 

How did both of you become interested in writing about Jesus from a cultural perspective?

For over 15 years we have taught CES together and have enjoyed an ongoing conversation about the gospel. Our daughter attended the BYU study abroad program in Jerusalem. When she returned she started an even more intensive discussion with our family about Jesus -- what he stood for and what he did. This conversation culminated in our desire to write this book together. We have always taught classes together and are stronger when we work as a team.

 

What do you feel distinguishes Whom Say Ye? from other work written about Jesus, particularly for an LDS audience?

All of us create a Jesus in our own image—a self-validating Jesus. What we mean by that is that there are as many versions of Jesus as there are religions. He is wheeled out in support of almost any “good” cause: socialism, capitalism, pacifism, use of force, government programs to help the poor and not help the poor. He was even used by the South to support slavery during the Civil War and by the North to oppose it.

During the last 20 years or so historical Jesus scholars have stripped away centuries of assumptions about Jesus in an attempt to reveal more closely who he really was, what he thought, what motivated him (made him angry or sad) and what kind of a community he was trying to establish. This book examines the historical Jesus literature and what its implications may be for the Mormon community and other Christian faiths. 

We did not want to devise a self-validating Jesus who just happened to agree with our view of things—a Jesus that could make us feel good about whatever we happened to be thinking or doing at the time. Making Jesus in our own image was no God at all, and certainly not one who could save us.

 

What sources did you rely on for this study?

We decided to use only the four Gospels and preeminent Jesus scholars such as N. T. Wright, Marcus J. Borg, John Dominic Crossan, Bart Ehrman, Raymond Brown, Michael White, Lisa Sergio, Karen Torgesen, Anthony Salderini and others. We also consulted newer alternate translations of the Bible, history texts and a number of respected commentaries.

 

What is the major focus of Whom Say Ye?

In general, we focus on how Jesus treated and interacted with individuals and then with the institutions of his day: the Jewish religious establishment and the Roman Empire. Almost without exception he was inclusive, compassionate, and forgiving with individuals, and angry and confrontational with institutions that exploited the poor and caused unnecessary human suffering—the social misery caused by cultural structural systems of society.

 

How has the book changed your understanding and appreciation for Jesus? 

In writing this book, we found it reinforced the idea that all men and women everywhere, no matter what religion, culture, race, or background are equally important and valuable in the sight of God. We witnessed in the pages of the four Gospels the deep compassion Jesus had for humankind.

 

What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

We hope those who read this book find a clearer of view of who Jesus is and what he stands for and a greater desire to be more like he him.

 

Pre-order Your Copy Today


Ebook Flash Sale on Mormon titles starts December 12th! December 11 2017

Greg Kofford Books is pleased to announce our second annual EBOOK FLASH SALE on select titles on Tuesday, December 12th and Wednesday, December 13th! Pick up a few titles that have been on your reading list for as low as $2.99!

Click image below to purchase. Offer is valid for Kindle ebooks only.

Future Mormon: Essays in Mormon Theology
By Adam S. Miller

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($18.99 paperback)

Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology
By Adam S. Miller

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The Mormoness; or The Trials of Mary Maverick: A Narrative of Real Events
Edited by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

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For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope
By Joseph M. Spencer

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Who Are the Children of Lehi? DNA and the Book of Mormon
By D. Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens

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Fire on the Horizon: A Meditation on the Endowment and Love of Atonement
By Blake T. Ostler

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Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women's Local Impact
By Neylan McBaine

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Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding
By Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales

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Knowing Brother Joseph Again: Perceptions and Perspectives
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The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future
By Charles Shiro Inouye

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The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl, Part One
By Scott Hales

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Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Apologetics
Edited by Blair G. Van Dyke and Loyd Isao Ericson

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Twelve Days of Kofford 2017 November 21 2017

Greg Kofford Books is once again pleased to offer twelve days of discounted holiday shopping from our website!

HERE IS HOW IT WORKS: Every morning from Dec 1th through the 12th, we will be posting a DISCOUNT CODE on our Facebook or Twitter pages. Use this discount code on the corresponding day to receive 30% off select titles. The final day will be an e-book flash sale on Amazon.com.

To help you plan, here are the dates, titles, and sale prices we will be offering beginning Dec 1st. These sales are limited to available inventory. You must follow our Facebook or Twitter pages to get the discount code. Orders over $50 qualify for free shipping. Customers in the Wasatch Front area are welcome to pick orders up directly from our office in Sandy, UT.

Day 1 — Brant Gardner collection

Second Witness, Vol 1: First Nephi
by Brant A. Gardner

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Second Witness, Vol 2: Second Nephi through Jacob
by Brant A. Gardner

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Second Witness, Vol 3: Enos through Mosiah
by Brant A. Gardner

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Second Witness, Vol 4: Alma
by Brant A. Gardner

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Second Witness, Vol 5: Helaman through Nephi
by Brant A. Gardner

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Second Witness, Vol 6: Fourth Nephi through Moroni
by Brant A. Gardner

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The Gift and the Power: Translating the Book of Mormon
by Brant A. Gardner

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Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History
by Brant A. Gardner

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Day 2 — The Garden of Enid

The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl
Part One

by Scott Hales

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The Garden of Enid: Adventures of a Weird Mormon Girl 
Part Two

by Scott Hales

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Day 3 — The Mormon Image in Literature

The Mormoness; Or, The Trials of Mary Maverick:
A Narrative of Real Events

Edited by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

$12.95 paperback
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Boadicea; the Mormon Wife: Life Scens in Utah
Edited by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

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Dime Novel Mormons
Edited by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

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Day 4 — Women's topics

Women at Church: Magnifying LDS Women's Local Impact
by Neylan McBaine

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Mormon Women Have Their Say: Essays from the Claremont Oral History Collection
Edited by Claudia L. Bushman and Caroline Kline

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Voices for Equality: Ordain Women and Resurgent Mormon Feminism
Edited by Gordon Shepherd, Lavina Fielding Anderson, and Gary Shepherd

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Day 5 — Polygamy titles

Joseph Smith's Polygamy, Vol 1: History
by Brian C. Hales

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Joseph Smith's Polygamy, Vol 2: History
by Brian C. Hales

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Joseph Smith's Polygamy, Vol 3: Theology
by Brian C. Hales

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Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding
by Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales

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Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto
by Brian C. Hales

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Mormon Polygamous Families: Life in the Principle
by Jesse L. Embry

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Prisoner for Polygamy: The Memoirs and Letters of Rudger Clawson at the Utah Territorial Penitentiary, 1884–87
by Stan Larson

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Day 6 — Science titles

Who Are the Children of Lehi? DNA and the Book of Mormon
by D. Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens

$15.95 paperback
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“Let the Earth Bring Forth”: Evolution and Scripture
by Howard C. Stutz, with a foreword by Duane Jeffrey

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Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements
Edited by William E. Evenson and Duane E. Jeffrey

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Parallels and Convergences: Mormon Thought and Engineering Vision
Edited by A. Scott Howe and Richard L. Bushman

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Day 7 — Biography

Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life
by Boyd Jay Petersen

$32.95 hardcover
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“Swell Suffering”: A Biography of Maurine Whipple
by Veda Tebbs Hale

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William B. Smith: In the Shadow of a Prophet
by Kyle R. Walker

$39.95 paperback
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LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, 4 Vols
by Andrew Jenson

$259.95 paperback
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The Man Behind the Discourse: A Biography of King Follett
by Joann Follett Mortensen

$29.95 paperback
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Day 8 — Political topics

Liberal Soul: Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Politics
by Richard Davis

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A Different God? Mitt Romney, the Religious Right, and the Mormon Question
by Craig L. Foster

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Common Ground—Different Opinions: Latter-day Saints and Contemporary Issues
Edited by Justin F. White and James E. Faulconer

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Even Unto Bloodshed: An LDS Perspective on War
by Duane Boyce

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War & Peace in Our Time: Mormon Perspectives
Edited by Patrick Q. Mason, J. David Pulsipher, and Richard L. Bushman

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The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future
By Charles Shirō Inouye

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Day 9 — Personal essay

Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family
by Boyd Jay Petersen

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Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays
by Mary Lithgoe Bradford

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Writing Ourselves: Essays on Creativity, Craft, and Mormonism
by Jack Harrell

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On the Road with Joseph Smith: An Author's Diary
by Richard Lyman Bushman

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Day 10 — Church history

Hearken O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith's Ohio Revelations
by Mark Lyman Staker

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Fire and Sword: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Northern Missouri, 1836–39
by Leland Homer Gentry and Todd M. Compton

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A House for the Most High: The Story of the Original Nauvoo Temple
by Matthew McBride

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Villages on Wheels: A Social History of the Gathering to Zion
by Stanley B. Kimball and Violet Kimball

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Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890–1930, 3rd ed.
by Thomas G. Alexander

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Day 11 — International Mormonism

Tiki and Temple: The Mormon Mission in New Zealans, 1854–1958
by Marjorie Newton

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Mormon and Maori
by Marjorie Newton

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The Trek East: Mormonism Meets Japan, 1901–1968
by Shinji Takagi

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From Above and Below: The Mormon Embrace of Revolution, 1840–1940
by Craig Livingston

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The History of the Mormons in Argentina
by Néstor Curbelo

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For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830–2013
by Russell W. Stevenson

$32.95 paperback
$23.07 sale price

 

Day 12 — Flash ebook sale

 CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS


Free Scriptural Theology ebook for newsletter subscribers! October 30 2017

FREE EBOOK FOR NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS

Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Scriptural Theology
Edited by James E. Faulconer and Joseph M. Spencer

Part of the Perspectives on Mormon Theology series

$24.95 FREE FOR OUR NEWSLETTER SUBSCRIBERS (Limited time)

Greg Kofford Books is pleased to offer for a limited time a free ebook version of Scriptural Theology, the first volume in the Perspectives on Mormon Theology series.

This volume is edited by James E. Faulconer and Joseph M. Spencer and seeks to offer a variety of perspectives regarding the nature and meaning of scripture for Latter-day Saints.


Book description:

The phrase “theology of scripture” can be understood in two distinct ways. First, theology of scripture would be reflection on the nature of scripture, asking questions about what it means for a person or a people to be oriented by a written text (rather than or in addition to an oral tradition or a ritual tradition). In this first sense, theology of scripture would form a relatively minor part of the broader theological project, since the nature of scripture is just one of many things on which theologians reflect. Second, theology of scripture would be theological reflection guided by scripture, asking questions of scriptural texts and allowing those texts to shape the direction the theologian’s thoughts pursue. In this second sense, theology of scripture would be less a part of the larger theological project than a way of doing theology, since whatever the theologian takes up reflectively, she investigates through the lens of scripture.

The essays making up this collection reflect attentiveness to both ways of understanding the phrase “theology of scripture.” Each essay takes up the relatively un-self-conscious work of reading a scriptural text but then—at some point or another—asks the self-conscious question of exactly what she or he is doing in the work of reading scripture. We have thus attempted in this book (1) to create a dialogue concerning what scripture is for Latter-day Saints, and (2) to focus that dialogue on concrete examples of Latter-day Saints reading actual scripture texts.

Contributors: James E. Faulconer, Joseph M. Spencer, Robert Couch, Adam S. Miller, Eric D. Huntsman, Claudia L. Bushman, Bruce W. Jorgensen, Jane Hafen, Jenny Webb, George B. Handley



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On the twelfth day of Kofford: $1.99 flash sale on Kindle e-books! December 12 2016

On the twelfth day of Kofford, fill your digital stockings with our HUGE e-book promotion. Today only, each of the following titles are only $1.99 on Kindle! PLUS, to help you prepare for the upcoming D&C year in Gospel Doctrine class, we are offering B. H. Robert's classic six-volume A Comprehensive History of the Church on Kindle for only $3.99!

This flash sale ends at midnight tonight (Dec. 12th)

 

 As Iron Sharpens Iron: Listening to the Various Voices of Scripture
Edited by Julie M. Smith

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK

Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology
by Adam S. Miller

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK

Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family
by Boyd J. Petersen

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK

The Man behind the Discourse: A Biography of King Follett
by Joann Follett Mortensen

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK

The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future
by Charles Shiro Inouye

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

 

“Swell Suffering”: A Biography of Maurine Whipple
by Veda Tebbs Hale

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

Discourses in Mormon Theology: Philosophical and Theological Possibilities
by James M. McLachlan; Edited by Loyd Ericson

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The Liberal Soul: Applying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Politics
by Richard Davis

$1.99 FLASH SALE FOR KINDLE E-BOOK 

“let the earth bring forth”: Evolution and Scripture
by Howard H. Stutz

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Villages on Wheels: A Social History of the Gathering to Zion
by Stanley B. Kimball

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Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays
by Mary Lithgoe Bradford

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The Mormoness; Or the Trials of Mary Maverick: A Narrative of Real Events
by John Russell; Edited and annotated by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall

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A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Century One (All 6 Volumes)
by B. H. Roberts

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On the third day of Kofford: 30% off personal essay titles! December 03 2016


All personal essay titles are 30% off on December 3rd. These special prices are only available for one day, so don't wait!

To get the 30% discount, simply enter the code OURSTORIES (all caps) in the discount code box at check-out.


Orders over $50 qualify for free shipping. Also, local Utah customers can opt to pick up their order directly from our office in Sandy (select this option under the shipping menu). 

For more information about the Twelve Days of Kofford holiday sales, click here.

Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family
by Boyd Jay Petersen

Retail: $22.95
Sale price: $16.07

Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays
by Mary Lithgoe Bradford

Retail: $20.95
Sale price: $14.67

Writing Ourselves: Essays on Creativity, Craft, and Mormonism
by Jack Harrell

Retail: $18.95
Sale price: $13.27


Q&A with Adam S. Miller, author of Future Mormon: Essays in Mormon Theology April 15 2016

by Adam S. Miller
146 pages

Paperback $18.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-509-6)


Pre-order your copy today.

Why the title, “Future Mormon”?

It is difficult to be contemporary. Historians can avoid the trouble of being contemporary by writing about history and the history of ideas. But as a philosopher and theologian, I think the other tack is more appropriate. Rather than taking shelter in the past, my work takes shelter in the future. It takes future Mormons as it audience. I can't claim any kind of authority in the present, but my hope is that my work might be useful down the road for my grandchildren and great grandchildren. No one, right now, is asking me to write anything or think harder about anything. That's understandable. But maybe I can still be useful and leave something behind that could be helpful in the future.

How does this new volume differ from Rube Goldberg Machines?

Future Mormon is, I think, a stronger collection of essays. They are more tightly integrated around a handful of key themes and, while they frequently remain academic in spirit, they are, in general, less playful or poetic and more straightforward than some of the material in Rube Goldberg Machines.

In the introduction you describe your book as a “future-tense apologetics.” In what ways is your book apologetic, and how does it differ from how apologetics is traditionally understood?

The book is apologetic in that it offers a defense of Mormonism. But it is different from conventional forms of apologetics because it doesn't attempt to defend Mormonism against the specifics of any past or present criticisms. Rather than supplying specific answers to specific questions, I think these essays, instead, try to gather potential tools and resources that future Mormons may need to tackle problems that, for us, may be only barely perceptible at present.

When you look at the generations coming up, what do you suspect will be the most pressing issues for them as they navigate their relationship with Mormonism? And how does Future Mormon address those issues?

The most pressing issue will be Christ. Future generations will have to—just as we must—figure out how to not just talk about Christ but live life in Christ. Life in Christ is the perpetual challenge. They, however, will also have to figure out what such a life looks like in a world that, increasingly, takes sexual, racial, and economic equality seriously, all while dealing with profound and planet-wide ecological changes.

As does much of your work, this book focuses a good deal on grace. This is a topic that has received much more traction in Mormonism today than it did in the past. Why do you think this is the case, and how does your understanding of grace differ from how Mormons generally view it?

Grace is just one way of talking about what life in Christ looks like. But it is a good way. It is language native to Christianity's earliest and most influential expression. For my part, I think that Mormons generally use the word in a way that is still too narrow, still too secondary. We need something like a general theory of grace. In this book, I try to open up some accessible lines that could help us think about what a general theory of grace would involve.

In one of your essays, you say that Mormons need to learn to be more Pauline. In the last several decades there has been a growing interest in Paul by philosophers--and even atheist philosophers. What has drawn their interest, and what is it about Paul that Mormons have generally failed to learn from?

Paul's message, as an apostle of Christ, has perennial traction, with Christians and non-Christians alike. In his letters Paul is trying to describe what a certain kind of life, an awakened and liberated life, looks like. This kind of life—whether someone comes to it by way of the Christian tradition or more directly by way of life itself—has a kind of universal appeal. If atheists aren't interested in the theological work that we're doing, then we're probably doing it wrong. Paul, though, is a good example of doing it right.

Year in Review and the Year Ahead December 29 2015

2015 was another amazing year for Greg Kofford Books! Here is a recap of the year and a look ahead to what is coming in 2016 and beyond.

Award-winning Publications

Several Kofford titles won awards from the Mormon History Association and the Association for Mormon Letters in 2015:

MHA Best Book Award

For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013
By Russell W. Stevenson
$66.95 hardcover
$32.95 paperback

“Invaluable as a historical resource.” Terryl L. Givens, author of Parley P.
Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism
 and By the Hand of Mormon: The
American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion

MHA Best International Book Award

Mormon and Maori
By Marjorie Newton
$24.95 paperback

“Unflinchingly honest yet unfailingly compassionate.” — Grant Underwood,
Professor of History at Brigham Young University

AML Religious Non-Fiction Award

Re-reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World's Greatest Poem
By Michael Austin
$50.00 hardcover
$20.95 paperback

“A new gold standard for Mormon writings.” — Julie M. Smith, author, Search,
Ponder, and Pray: A Guide to the Gospels

 

All 2015 Titles

Here are all of the great titles that Greg Kofford Books published this past year:

Mr. Mustard Plaster and Other Mormon Essays
By Mary Lythgoe Bradford
Published January, 2015
$20.95 paperback

“Vibrant portraits of a kind and loving soul.” — Boyd J. Peterson, author of
Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and
Family

Perspectives on Mormon Theology: Scriptural Theology      
Edited by James E. Faulconer and Joseph M. Spencer
Published February, 2015
$59.95 hardcover
$24.95 paperback

Each essay takes up the relatively un-self-conscious work of reading a
scriptural text but then—at some point or another—asks the self-conscious
question of exactly what she or he is doing in the work of reading scripture.

Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding
By Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales
Published April, 2015
$19.95 paperback

“It is a book that will be read and discussed for years to come.” — Robert L.
Millet, Professor Emeritus of Religious Education, Brigham Young University 

Even Unto Bloodshed: An LDS Perspective on War
By Duane Boyce
Published May, 2015
$29.95 paperback 

“Indispensable for all future Mormon discussions of the subject.” — Daniel C.
Peterson, editor of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture

William B. Smith: In the Shadow of a Prophet
By Kyle R. Walker
Published June, 2015
$69.95 hardcover
$39.95 paperback

“Walker’s biography will become essential reading.” — Mark Staker, author of
the award-winning Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph
Smith’s Ohio Revelations

Voices for Equality: Ordain Women and Resurgent Mormon Feminism
Edited by Gordon Shepherd, Lavina Fielding Anderson, and Gary Shepherd
Published July, 2015
$32.95 paperback

“Timely, incisive, important.” — Joanna Brooks, co-editor of Mormon
Feminism: Essential Writings
and author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A
Memoir of an American Faith

Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History
By Brant A. Gardner
Published August, 2015
$34.95 paperback

“Illuminating, prismatic views of the Book of Mormon.” — Mark Alan Wright,
Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University and
Associate Editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies

 

Looking Ahead at 2016 and Beyond

Here are a few eagerly-anticipated titles currently scheduled for the first part of 2016 and a look at what is in the works for the future:

The Mormon Image in Literature Series
Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall, series editors

The Mormoness; Or, The Trials Of Mary Maverick: A Narrative Of Real Events
By John Russell, edited and annotated by Michael Austin and Ardis E. Parshall
Available January 26, 2016. Pre-order your copy today!
$12.95 paperback

Published in 1853, the first American novel about the Mormons is also one of
the best. John Russell, an Illinois journalist and educator, witnessed the
persecution in Missouri and Illinois and generally sympathized with the Saints.
The Mormoness tells the story of Mary Maverick, the heroine of the novel,
who joined the Mormon Church when her husband was converted in Illinois.
Though not initially a believer, Mary embraces her identity as “the
Mormoness” when her husband and son are killed in a Haun’s Mill-like
massacre–and at the end of the novel, she must find a way to forgive the
killer.

The End of the World, Plan B: A Guide for the Future
By Charles Shirō Inouye 
Available February 16, 2016. Pre-order your copy today!
$13.95 paperback

Environmental decline, political gridlock, war and rumors of war, decadence,
and immorality. The End of the World, Plan B traces the idea of the end, or
destruction, of the world through a number of spiritual traditions. It shows that
our present understanding of the “end game” has been distorted by a modern
emphasis and demand on justice as the ultimate good. As an alternative to
this self-destructive approach, Charles Shirō Inouye shows that in these
traditions, justice is not the isolated end in itself that we ought strive for; rather
it is taught in tandem with its balancing companion: compassion. Plan B is a
hopeful alternative to our fears about how things are going.

 

Also forthcoming...

More volumes are in the works for our The Mormon Image in Literature, Contemporary Studies in Scripture, and Perspectives on Mormon Theology series.

Saints, Slaves, and Blacks by Newell G. Bringhurst, revised and updated

Lot Smith: Utah Hero, Arizona Colonizer by Carmen Smith and Talana Hooper

The Trek East: Mormonism Meets Japan, 1901-1968 by Shinji Takagi

Science the Key to Theology by Steven L. Peck

And much, much more...

Thank you for making 2015 exceptional and we are excited about 2016!

 

 

 

 

 


Kofford Authors at MHA June 01 2015

Greg Kofford Books authors have long been well-represented as speakers and panel chairs at annual conferences of the Mormon History Association, and the 2015 Conference at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, Utah, June 4-7, is no exception! Check out the titles of their presentations and panels below: 

  

Russell Stevenson, author of For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism, 1830-2013 will present, "We Aren't Africa: Mormonism in Nigeria, 1960-1964."

 

  

Joseph Spencer, author of For Zion: A Mormon Theology of Hope will present, "Canon and History: On the Revelation to Emma Smith."

 

    

Boyd Petersen, author of Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life and Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family will chair theTheology and History panel. 

 

  

Claudia Bushman, co-editor (with Caroline Kline) ofMormon Women Have Their Say: Essays from the Claremont Oral History Collection will present "Early Decisions," as part of the Exponent II: Present at the Creation panel.

 

    

Lavina Fielding Anderson and Newell Bringhurst, editors of Excavating Mormon Pasts: The New Historiography of the Last Half Century will chair a panel and present a paper, respectively. Lavina will chair the Mormon History Journals Editors panel, and Newell will present "President David O. McKay's 1954 Encounter with the LDS Church's Black Priesthood Ban: An Important but Forgotten Episode."

 

  

Thomas Alexander, author of Mormonism in Transition: A History of the Latter-day Saints, 1890-1930, 3rd ed. will speak as part of the Culture of the Early Mormon History Association roundtable. 

 

 

  

Todd Compton, author (with Leland H. Gentry) ofFire and Sword: A History of the Latter-Days Saints in Northern Missouri, 1836-39 will present "Ganado Mucho, Navajo Headman, and the Mormons."

 

  

Don Bradley, author of the forthcoming The Lost 116 Pages: Rediscovering the Book of Lehi will present, "From Cumorah's 'Ark' to Joseph's Hat: Sacred and Mundane Objects in the Emergence of the Book of Mormon."

 

 

  

Christine and Christopher Blythe, editors of the forthcoming Mormonisms: A Documentary History, 1844-1860 will chair panels and present papers. Christine will present, " 'Presiding at Birth:' The Creation of Folk Theologies among Latter-day Saint Women," and she will chair the Mormonism and Material Culture panel. Christopher will present, "Martyrdom Canes and Vernacular Mormonism" in that same panel.

 

  

Stuart Parker, author of the forthcoming History through Seer Stones: A Hundred Years of Mormon Pasts will present, "Margarita Bautista's 'Eternal Mexico:' A Revolutionary Mormon proto-Chicanismo."

 

 

 

 


Q&A with Joseph Smith's Polygamy authors Laura Hales and Brian Hales April 06 2015

Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding

by Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales

223 pages

Paperback $19.95 (ISBN 978-1-58958-723-6)

Available April 14th in print and e-book

Pre-order your copy today.

Q: The last few years we've been inundated with new information concerning Mormon polygamy, from podcasts about polygamy, to the Church posting an essay on the subject, to Brian's 3 volume set on the history and theology of polygamy in early Mormonism. How does Joseph Smith's Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding fit into that landscape and contribute to this ongoing conversation?

Laura: The Gospel Topics essay on early polygamy gave as good of a basic introduction to the subject as it could in ten pages. Brian’s book was 1500 pages. This book expands on the information in the essay by using the research used to write the trilogy. The first third of the book provides a theological framework for the unfolding of Nauvoo plural marriage; the second third provides the history; and the third contains short biographies of 35 of Joseph’s possible plural wives who agreed to participate in this strange practice.

Brian: Even though this volume is short, no major topic has been avoided. All the controversies have been presented. This volume fills an important niche to help inquirers who want more information than that found in the LDS.org essay, but don’t have the time or interest to dive into 1500+ pages of my trilogy, which deals more with the various opinions regarding the controversies.

Q: Like most authors, you would probably like as many people as possible to read your book. Is there an intended audience for this volume?

Laura: Absolutely. This book differs from the first three volumes in the series in that it was written specifically for Latter-day Saint members curious about Joseph Smith and his many plural wives, or who wonder about the meaning of Doctrine and Covenants 132. Whether the reader has a basic or a more comprehensive knowledge of the topic, they will benefit from the information in this volume.

Q: What do you hope they get from it?

Laura: Our hope is that readers will gain some reassurance. Often in the past, aspects of the practice have been exploited or sensationalized by authors less concerned about accuracy than promoting their opinion of Joseph Smith or for their distaste for the practice of plural marriage.

There may be things that are surprising and possibly discomforting about what occurred during the time period, but when contextualized, they are easier to understand. The early polygamists were just as skeptical as us about the restoration of the practice. Their actions (including the behaviors of Joseph and Emma) are better understood when historical and theological information is provided.

We would also hope that readers will gain just a little bit of sympathy for Joseph Smith as they learn of the difficult choices he had to make. Perhaps readers will also feel admiration for the plural wives whose faith, courage, and tenacity enabled them to have the bravery to embrace this commandment.

Q: Books about controversial subjects invite all kinds of commentary and criticism. As you have thought about what you would like reviewers to write about the book, what would top your wish list?

Laura: We did our best to present the story in the words of the participants without overly opining on motivations for behaviors, leaving the reader to ponder the evidence. At times, we probably could have provided more context, but we really wanted the reader to be able to look at the scant evidence and realize that much that has been previously published has included a fair amount of guess work. There is so much that we simply do not know. Hopefully we have conveyed the nebulous nature of the historical record, so the reader will be wary of any author that proclaims to know for surety what happened in any given situation.

If readers and reviewers could leave the book with an open mind, pondering what they have read, and searching on their own to answer their questions through further research, then I would be pleased. I have done this myself, studying the history of these people, how they interacted socially, and why Joseph would choose to be sealed to certain women. Some of my questions have been answered, but it takes time, patience, and study on the part of the seeker. Having reviewers laud us for leaving the door open instead of evaluating the merits of the book on their preconceived notions of what occurred, would be great.

Brian: Because polygamy involves sex and religion, it is immensely controversial. It appears that the greatest factor in determining a person’s reaction to plural marriage (or a book about it) involves their a priori beliefs. Because of the ambiguities and contradictions in the historical record, multiple interpretations can be advanced. Unbelievers seem to disagree with any explanation that does not depict Joseph as an adulterer motivated by libido. Believers, on the other hand, may join with us in seeing that while questions exist, there is no credible evidence Joseph was involved in sexual immorality and much documentation to support he was sincere and felt compelled by God to establish the practice.

This book is not an attempt to increase testimony, but instead to tell the story as accurately as we can, believing that historical truth will support belief better than any alternative. Accordingly, the best we may be able to hope for is for reviewers to conclude that we have presented the evidences with clarity and in a balanced way allowing individuals to understand our interpretations, even if they do not agree with them. 

Q: Laura, tell us a little about your own journey in co-authoring this volume with Brian. Where were you at personally about the subject matter when you began the project, and where did you end up?

Laura: My journey began before I married Brian. I attended an author-meets-critic session at the Sunstone Symposium where Brian’s trilogy was being critiqued. I hadn’t read the book, so I had no idea if the criticisms were valid. So I read the books over the next six weeks, expecting not to learn much new about early polygamy. After I finished the last page of the book, I found myself asking what had happened to the Joseph Smith I knew.

After thinking, writing, and studying about Joseph Smith and his practice of polygamy for the last eighteen months, I think I have found him again. He isn’t the sanitized prophet that I grew up with, but he is much more real to me. Over time I have been able to feel sympathy for him, which was elusive for me for a long time. The Joseph I know now is so much more multi-dimensional, and I feel like I have been able to get a small glimpse into his character from those who knew him. Hopefully over the years that view will broaden with even more study because I still have unanswered questions. 

Q: What were the most enjoyable and least enjoyable aspects of writing Joseph Smith's Polygamy?

Laura: The most enjoyable part of writing a book with a co-author is the synergy that happens—working together on an idea, completing each other’s sentences, and suggesting that elusive word to express a common thought. The least enjoyable aspect of writing this book were the spirited conversations that occurred when we disagreed on how to present a specific concept. I had to keep reminding Brian that he had already written “that book” and this one was for a different purpose and audience. I’m sure this was frustrating for him as well because this it is the first time he has collaborated on a writing project.

 

Pre-order your copy here.


Boyd Jay Petersen, Inaugural Speaker at 2014 John A. Widtsoe Lecture Series January 09 2014

The John A. Widtsoe Lecture Series has invited Boyd Jay Petersen, author of Dead Wood and Rushing Water and Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life to be the inaugural speaker in the 2014 lecture series.

His lecture, “Mormonism's All Seeing I: The Personal Essay and the Search for Truth,” invokes the legacy of Mormonism's great essayist Eugene England, exploring not just the balance between faith and the critical demands of rigorous scholarship but on the kinds of selves we uncover and create through self-narration and the cultivation of narrative voice. Boyd's writing takes up the legacy of Gene England's project—in its vulnerability and honesty, its generosity and warmth, and in its internal tensions.
Time: Tuesday, January 21st, 5:00pm
Place: Rm 206, Family Life Building, Utah State University.
The lecture is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be available.
 
Buy It Now- Dead Wood and Rushing Water: Essays on Mormon Faith, Culture, and Family
Buy It Now- Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life
____________________________________
 
Boyd Jay Petersen teaches English and religious studies at Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University.  He is the authorized biographer of Hugh Nibley (Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life. Greg Kofford Books, 2002), was awarded the adjunct faculty excellence award from UVU in 2006, and completed his PhD in comparative literature at the University of Utah in 2007. He currently serves as the program coordinator for Mormon Studies at UVU, book review editor for theJournal of Mormon History, and is a past president of the Association for Mormon Letters.  He and his wife Zina are the parents of four children and make their home in Provo, Utah.