New Books for Christmas!

These are the new books I got for Christmas this year. I’m looking forward to reading them even though I know it will take forever since I’m always reading multiple books at once. Let me know if you have any comments about these books, be they good or bad!

Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament

The Story of Christian Theology

Exploring Mormon Thought Vol. 2

MesoAmerica and the Book of Mormon: Is This the Place?

By the Hand of Mormon

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13 comments on “New Books for Christmas!

  1. Jeremy says:

    Both “Jehovah and the World of the Old Testament” and “By the Hand of Mormon” are on my short list for books to purchase and read. I have only heard good about both books. Unfortunately, I have about 30 other books that are in line to be read before I can justify buying another book.

  2. Dave says:

    Jehovah and the World of the OT is a very nice reference. The text is careful to reflect current scholarship without offending traditional Mormon readers, while the photos and illustrations will enlighten any member of the family.

    The Olson book is very accessible — I’ve read large chunks of it but can never get through a library copy.

    Haven’t read Ostler yet. I offer no opinion on the Lund book. I’m sure I’ll like the Givens book better the second time around.

  3. James says:

    Also, feel free to share with us what you got for Christmas.

  4. Robert Boylan says:


    “By the Hand of Mormon” by Givens–the closest thing to an unbiased discussion of the BOM and its evidences, coming forth, criticisms, etc. It is *the* work I suggest to those wishing to delve deeper into the Book of Mormon, beyond the Book of Mormon itself, of course.

    “The Problems of Theism and the Love of God” by Blake T. Ostler–the best work on soteriology (theology of salvation) by an LDS author there is. *Everyone* has to read his work. As you have an interest in Open Theism, his chapter on prayer and divine openness will prove to be interesting. Also, I find myself in 100% agreement with the exegesis offered of the KFD and Sermon in the Grove in chapter 12, “God the Eternal Father.”

    Olson’s “The Story of Christian Theology”–I have not yet read this, but I got this book (along a few others, including his “The Mosiac of Christian Belief”) for Christmas. Interesting you also got it–“great minds think alike” and all that. When I read it, I might comment on it here.

    Lund’s “Mesoamerica: Is this the place” is not too bad. I am guessing you have read Sorenson’s “An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon,” which is better. Notwithstanding, Lund does offer some good arguments against the HGM and other LGMS, and a good defence for Mesoamerica being the geographical and cultural setting of the Book of Mormon. He did spend some time in Quetzacoatl, which, frankly, has nothing to do with (1) Jesus and (2) the Book of Mormon (see Brant Gardner’s essay in vol. 5 of Second Witness on this; cf. his Sunstone paper from the 1980s). However, it is still a good book.

    Robert Boylan

  5. James says:

    Thanks Robert!

    I bought Given’s book because I’d heard that it is a must have for the serious student of the Book of Mormon. I hope I’m a serious student.

    I almost didn’t get Ostler’s book because I couldn’t find anywhere (online or offline) to buy it. It just doesn’t seem to be as available as the other two volumes. But I got lucky and accidentally found it one day at a Houston LDS bookstore. I’d been wanting it already and it was on sale (because it’d been on the shelf for so long) so I came home grinning. I enjoyed his 3rd volume so much and I’ve been interested in open theism, Calvinism, and soteriology in general.

    I’ve been reading library copies of Olson’s book off and on for the past few years. I finally decided to dish out the cash for it this year. It is a great book.

    I was hesitant to get Lund’s book. Mark Wright told me that it is a hit-and-miss resource, and that most readers (like me) won’t always know where Lund goes wrong. Brant said essentially the same thing about it on a message board. But Larry Poulson recommended it in that same message board discussion, and since I had gift certificate money to spend at the local LDS bookstore, and nothing else in the store seemed appealing, I went for it.

    I have read most of Sorenson’s work, and I really need to read it again.


  6. Robert Boylan says:

    Ostler’s book deals a great deal with Calvinism and the like, offering what I view to be rather cogent and devastating arguments against Reformed theology, such as Penal Substitution and alien imputed righteousness, while at the same time, fairly representing Reformed (and Catholic and Arminian) theology discussed therein. You will enjoy it. Blake Ostler has done LDS studies a great service by his interaction with non-LDS scholarship, besting previous attempts (e.g., Biblical Mormonism by Richard Hopkins [which misrepresented Trinitarian theology beyond belief]). You will enjoy the book, and hopefully will also find a great deal of interest from the Givens’ text, too.

  7. Robert Boylan says:

    As an aside, I created a list of “must-reads” in terms of justification that you can find at–

    I have to add a few other titles, but if you wish to pursue further the issue of Justification, I would recommend such texts on that list.

  8. Jackson Bight says:

    You mention the book listed above on Mesoamerica. Since the location of the Land of Promise has always held an interest to me, and having read more than two dozen different works on the subject, I was greatly pleased to have received a Christmas gift of a four-volume set regarding a different, and more plausable view (after reading the first book, that is). The first two books, “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica,” and “Who Really Settled Mesoamerica,” are both fascinating reads. I highly recommend them. And the fourth book, “Scientific Fallacies & Other Myths,” while in the set and verifies the science behind the claims, is a stand-alone-book which I would highly recommend to every high school and college student who is bombarded with false science regarding such areas as: Carbon-14 Radiocarbon Dating, the Big Bang Theory, Long Period Time Clocks, the Red Shifted Expanding Universe, and Organic Evolution. There is also a fascinating section on the Flood and how it occurred and where the water came from and went. I didn’t know these books existed until I received them as a gift, but it was the best gift I’ve received in many years. The books make reference to a website where they can be purchased or more information is available. There is also a blog connected to the site. It is

  9. James says:

    Sorry Jackson. I disagree with you on so many levels.

    I believe that Lehi landed in Mesoamerica.
    I believe that C-14 dating is OK.
    I believe the Big Bang is a good explanation.
    I believe organic evolution is great.
    I believe the flood was limited in scope, if it happened at all.

    • Wanda Kerl says:

      James– I thought I would weigh in on your post to Connor. You mentioned you believe carbon-14 is accurate. I hope you don’t mind, but I though you might be interested in this little tidbit:

      First, the entire concept of the clock is based upon many assumptions, one of which is that it is assumed the ratio of carbon-14 to carbon-12 has been constant for a very long time before the industrial revolution, when it was upset forcibly by the burning of huge masses of coal that released massive quantities of carbon-12 into the air. But for these assumption to be correct, upon which hangs the entire validity of this time clock and the entire system in general, the ratio had to remain the same since the specimen being measured first came into being. The question few ever ask, is why did Willard F. Libby of the University of Chicago, the brilliant discoverer of this method, assume this?

      Secondly, the concept of equilibrium regarding carbon-14 in the world is most crucial since it is used to determine age. Equilibrium means there is an equality that is evenly balanced regarding the amount of carbon-14 forming in the earth as a whole from the bombardment of cosmic ray protons, producing neutrons which in turn bombard nitrogen, which produces the radioactive isotope carbon-14, which then decays by emission of an electron of energy, changing the carbon-14 to nitrogen-14. At equilibrium with the atmosphere, a gram of carbon shows an activity of about 15 decays per minute. It has been estimated that it would take only about 30,000 years (from the “beginning”) to reach this equilibrium stage where the amount of formation is, and remains, equal to the amount of decay. In this sense, carbon-14 formation appears to be constant, which allows for the measurement of time elapse to be made. Therefore, this equilibrium, or “steady state,” is reached with the formation and decay amounts are equal. Consequently, if the world’s carbon-14 is in equilibrium, then the earth is over 30,000 years old—if equilibrium has not yet been reached, then the earth is younger than 30,000 years old.

      Thirdly, in all his measurements, Libby found that carbon-14 was entering the system some twelve per cent (12%) or more faster than it was leaving. This would indicate that the system was less than 30,000 years old, since a steady-state, or equilibrium, had not yet been reached. He called this within experimental error, but the fact is, Libby’s own experiments still showed that carbon-14 was building up on the Earth, thus proving that the planet was less than 30,000 years old. A fact he, and almost all other scientists of his day and since, have chosen to deliberately ignore.

    • James says:

      OK. Thanks Wanda. This isn’t an appropriate venue for this discussion, so I won’t pursue it further. Besides that, I’m simply not interested.

  10. Jackson Bight says:

    James. Disagreements are what makes the world go ’round, I’m told. And that’s fine. I was referring to a book that should be read by all Mesoamerican believers, if only for a different perspective. It is very different than anything I have seen printed on the subject, and the most complete and by far, the most footnoted and referenced, available. As for the science, read the book I was referring to and you might gain still another perspective. Again, it is heavily footnoted and referenced. It does not deal with the author’s beliefs or opinions, but directly with the science as stated by numerous scientists. It may not change your opinion of anything but I found it really fascinating. After all, believing something is never as purposeful as learning and knowing.

  11. James says:

    OK thanks for the recommendation Jackson! And I’m happy someone out there is reading my blog :)

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