Interpreter Peer Reviewed

Interpreter Peer Reviewed

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Interpreter is wonderful

Lately some people have asked what I think of the Interpreter magazine (http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/).

I think it's wonderful. Sincerely. It is one of the few outlets for LDS scholarship. I have enjoyed reading it from its inception.

I have met and/or corresponded with several of the members of the Executive Board, Board of Editors, and Contributing Editors. Every single one has been sincere, pleasant, friendly, thoughtful, and committed to the Gospel and the pursuit of truth.

There is only one area in which I think the Interpreter is misguided, and that is where it takes a definite point of view in the area of Book of Mormon historicity, including geography and Church history. The Editors take an activist position in this area, rejecting papers they disagree with and accepting papers they approve of, regardless of academic merit.

This is why I've undertaken the peer reviews that should have been done before publication of the Mesoamericanist papers here.

Some of the Editors have told me they don't know much about the topic, so they defer to experts. In my opinion, the experts they rely on have a definite agenda. In some cases, they have decades of publications to defend. Maybe they think their reputations are at stake. I think their reputations would be enhanced, not diminished, by taking a fresh look at the topic and being willing to change their mind, even if it means repudiating what they have written in the past.

I come from a business and legal background, not an academic background, so I'm used to making decisions based on evidence and reasoning, not academic tradition or a sense that I have to defend what I wrote in the past when I had less evidence. Changing course in response to new information is an everyday occurrence in business and law, but apparently it's not in the academic world.

But I have hope for the Interpreter, as I'll explain in my next entry.


2 comments:

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  2. Jonathan,

    I completely concur. I couldn't have said it better myself.

    I have read most articles of Mormon Interpreter from their beginning, what was it, a couple of years ago? And would have read all of them if I had the time.

    I've never met anyone connected with the Interpreter, so I can't comment on their sincerity, devotion to the gospel, or their devotion to the pursuit of truth, but I can't speak high enough about the intellectual and academic quality of their works. Except, as Jonathan notes, their bullheadedness and dogmatic position of Book on Mormon geography.

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