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BYU Studies Quarterly Vol. 54 (2015)
A previously unknown oil sketch by Minerva Teichert (1888–1976), the pioneering LDS woman artist, was recently acquired by an art collector when it came up for sale in Salt Lake City. This small painting depicts the temptation of Corianton, a son of Alma in the Book of Mormon. The painting had been owned for many years by a Wyoming rancher who received it from Teichert as a birthday gift when he was a boy in the early 1950s. This article introduces The Seduction of Corianton, including a full-color scan of the painting.
This comparison of Joseph Smith and John Milton focuses on their literary output and especially the preparation each had for dictating a long religious work, in Milton’s case Paradise Lost and in Smith’s the Book of Mormon. Most notable authors, including Milton, had a long apprenticeship that involved writing several “try works,” practice works that served as tutorials and stepping stones preparing their authors for their magnum opus. Joseph Smith had no such trial period for learning how to weave together intricate subplots, multitudes of characters, and historical background detail. Milton, in particular, had all the advantages of a first-rate English education. Smith, by contrast,had the most meager of educational opportunities. According to his wife, at the time he dictated the Book of Mormon, he “could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter.” In spite of these disadvantages, Smith dictated most of the Book of Mormon over a period of less than three months, whereas Milton’s dictation of Paradise Lost took place over more than a decade. While it has been popular since 1830 for critics to debunk or diminish the Book of Mormon, it has stood the test of time in more ways than one.
The suggestion of horses and chariots in pre–Columbian America has long been an easy target for critics of the Book of Mormon. In spite of difficulties in defending this claim, and although the evidence is incomplete, the geological and archaeological record does provide support for horses and even wheeled vehicles in ancient America. Several theories that attempt to address the issue of pre–Columbian horses are examined in this article, some of which are mutually exclusive. Therefore, not all can be correct. Evidence presented in this article includes (1) archaeological evidence for large animals used for draft and transportation; (2) wheeled artifacts showing a person or animal riding on an obviously artificial wheeled platform; (3) the possibility that Book of Mormon peoples referred to native animals such as the Baird’s tapir with names such as horse that they were familiar with; (4) early accounts suggesting that Native Americans had horses too early for them to come from strays that escaped the Spanish conquistadors, especially since the Spanish kept very careful records of their horses; (5) the prevalence of the pinto or piebald horse among Native Americans and its relative absence among Spanish expeditions; (6)images in Mesoamerican art that might depict horses; (7) evidence that horses survived far longer after the last ice age than previously thought; and (8) the question of the Bashkir Curly.
Teachings about grace in the Book of Mormon are more at home in the worlds of the Bible and the ancient Mediterranean than in the modern understanding that grace is a free, unearned gift. The Book of Mormon teaches that grace is part of a covenant that places requirements on the receiver. Grace manifests God’s goodness to humankind and is closely aligned with mercy and Christ’s Atonement to meet the demands of justice and make salvation possible. It parallels the meanings of hesed (mercy) from the Old Testament and the concept that all gifts give rise to reciprocal obligations, which prevailed in the ancient world.
In December 2010, BYU Studies published a study by Jeffrey R. Chadwick entitled “Dating the Birth of Jesus Christ.” It presented historical and scriptural evidence showing that Jesus was not born in April of 1 BC, as popular Latter-day Saint thought supposed, but most likely in December of 5 BC. A significant component in “Dating the Birth of Jesus Christ” was the proposition that Jesus died at Passover in the early spring of AD 30. While this dating is widely accepted, a minority of scholars disagree. A great deal of historical and scriptural evidence suggests otherwise, however, and this study demonstrates, with some degree of certainty, that Jesus did in fact die in AD 30, on the eve of Passover, the 14th day of the Jewish month Nisan, which in that year fell on April 6 in the old Julian calendar. This study also presents evidence that the day on which Jesus died was not a Friday, but the fifth day of the Jewish week, the day we call Thursday. This paper introduces a great deal of data to support the author’s conclusions, including modern scholarly assessments, original primary historical references, citations from the New Testament and the Mishnah, astronomical information, and tables that display the timing of events.