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About Joseph M. Spencer
Joseph M. Spencer is a Ph.D. candidate in philosophy at the University of New Mexico. In addition to authoring books and essays, he is the associate director of the Mormon Theology Seminar and an associate editor of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. With Adam S. Miller, he edits Groundwork: Studies in Theory and Scripture, a book series published by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.
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So begins the first book in the Book of Mormon, as the prophet Nephi brings us through the wilderness to a promised land where his family fractures rather than flourishes. But in spite of that tragedy, Nephi points us to the hope he found in his father's inspired dream for the future. Driven by his father's fears and faith, he sought and received his own revelations about how his people might someday find redemption and might ultimately help bring about the redemption of Israel and the entire human family.
In this brief theological introduction, philosopher and theologian Joseph M. Spencer investigates the central themes and purposes of a book he calls a "theological masterpiece." What was Nephi trying to accomplish with his writings? How can readers today make better sense of Nephi's words? What can an ancient seer offer readers in the twenty-first century?
Spencer introduces a Nephi for our moment, a complex prophet with an urgent message for a world in turmoil.
Así comienza el Libro de Mormón, mientras el profeta Nefi lleva a los lectores a través del desierto hacia una tierra prometida . Allí, su familia se quiebra en vez de florecer. Al enfrentar esa tragedia, Nefi halla esperanza en los registros que la familia trajo de Jerusalén, y en el sueño revelador de su padre sobre el futuro. Impulsado por los temores y la fe de Lehi, Nefi busca y recibe sus propias revelaciones en cuanto a cómo su propio pueblo podría, algún día, encontrar la redención, y cómo ellos podrían finalmente ayudar a provocar la redención de Israel y de toda la familia humana.
En esta breve introducción teológica, el filósofo y teólogo Joseph M. Spencer investiga los temas y propósitos centrales de 1 Nefi, un libro que él llama una “obra maestra de teología.” ¿Qué estaba intentando lograr Nefi con sus escritos? ¿Cómo pueden comprenderlos mejor los lectores de hoy día? ¿Qué puede ofrecer este antiguo vidente a los lectores en el siglo veintiuno?
Spencer presenta un Nefi para hoy día —un profeta complejo quien nació de buenos padres para declarar un mensaje urgente a un mundo alborotado.
Praise for The Vision of All:
“Joseph Spencer uses a lecture style to gently ease his readers into what many Book of Mormon readers fear the most—Isaiah. Spencer’s approach carefully replaces the fear with understanding, elucidates textual complexities, examines scholarly issues, and is remarkably helpful in showing his readers how and why we should care deeply about the presence of this Old World prophet in our New World scripture.” — Brant A. Gardner, author of Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History
“With this book, Joseph M. Spencer has accomplished a remarkable feat. He has produced a reader-friendly, engaging study of the writings of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon that makes Isaiah accessible without overly-simplifying his theology and message. After reading Spencer’s book, Latter-day Saints will more fully understand why Nephi devoted so much of his life and writings to Isaiah and why Jesus expressed to the Nephites that ‘great are the words of Isaiah.’ This book needs to be on the shelf of every serious Book of Mormon student.” — Nicholas J. Frederick, Assistant Professor of Ancient Scripture, Brigham Young University, author of The Bible, Mormon Scripture, and the “Rhetoric of Allusivity”
“Spencer is one of the most careful readers of scripture in Mormon Studies and this book puts his skill on full display. . . . The Vision of All is easily one of the best books in the genre.” — Walker Wright, Worlds Without End
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
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.