Just a quick note to turn your attention to two fine documentary articles published in the latest issue of BYU Studies Quarterly:
Continuing his work on Mormonism in Asia in this issue, Reid Neilson presents a brief set of correspondence between Alma O. Taylor, one of the first Mormon missionaries to Japan, and the Reverend Nishijima Kakuryo, a Japanese Buddhist and missionary to the United States. Corresponding in 1901, the two men conducted a rather extensive debate centering on the practice of polygamy. Neilson uses the opportunity to discuss early Mormon evangelizing in Japan, and points toward much scholarship yet to be done on Mormonism in Asia and the significance of theological conceptions of race in early Mormon missionizing.
The current issue also features, thanks to our very own Robin Jensen and to LaJean Carruth, the first transcription of a set of notes of Sidney Rigdon’s speech on August 8, 1844, in which he urged the Saints to recognize the legitimacy of his authority to lead the Church. Taken by Thomas Bullock in Taylor shorthand, the notes lay undeciphered until now, and they represent a larger body of “lost sermons” which Carruth—one of only a few who reads shorthand—has been gradually recovering. They are presented here with the benefit of Robin’s legendary editorial eye. As Jenson and Carruth note, the document gives us a better look at Sidney Rigdon, who has been difficult to assess because many accounts are colored by his subsequent estrangement from the Twelve and the main body of the Church. It also sheds some badly needed light on a key moment during the tempestuous “succession crisis” following Joseph Smith’s death.
The issue also contains, for those interested, an excerpt from Susan Easton Black’s recent reproduction of the The Prophet, a Mormon newspaper published briefly in NYC from 1844-1845; Robert Millet’s meditations on the necessity and yet also “the perils of grace” in Mormon theology; an article by Eric Eliason which proposes an “experience-centered approach to Mormon folklore”; an article by Corbin Volluz on Hebrew numerology and the Book of Mormon; and a version of Douglas D. Anderson’s speech “Mormons in the Marketplace,” given at the Claremont Mormon Studies Student Association Conference in 2012.