This past week, Greg Kofford Books–what I consider to currently be the best publisher in Mormon Studies1–released a new volume edited by Julie Smith titled As Iron Sharpens Iron: Listening to the Various Voices of Scripture. As the description explains,
Our scripture study and reading often assume that the prophetic figures within the texts are in complete agreement with each other. Because of this we can fail to recognize that those authors and personalities frequently have different—and sometimes competing—views on some of the most important doctrines of the Gospel, including the nature of God, the roles of scripture and prophecy, and the Atonement.
In this unique volume, fictionalized dialogues between the various voices of scripture illustrate how these differences and disagreements are not flaws of the texts but are rather essential features of the canon. These creative dialogues include Abraham and Job debating the utility of suffering and our submission to God, Alma and Abinidi disagreeing on the place of justice in the Atonement, and the authors Mark and Luke discussing the role of women in Jesus’s ministry. It is by examining and embracing the different perspectives within the canon that readers are able to discover just how rich and invigorating the scriptures can be. The dialogues within this volume show how just as “iron sharpeneth iron,” so can we sharpen our own thoughts and beliefs as we engage not just the various voices in the scriptures but also the various voices within our community (Proverbs 27:17).
I’m honored to be included among the contributors. My essay features a fictionalized dialogue between Mormon and the patriarch Jacob (Israel) on the subject of wealth. As I explain in the opening of my essay,
Mormon’s entire life was consumed by war and violence brought by what he saw as divisions created by wealth, vanity, and economic inequality. His abridgment of the Nephite records often highlights the pride of the rich and inequality as the source of conflict. Yet, the patriarch Jacob—later renamed Israel—is depicted in the Genesis account as being very prosperous and often pursuing wealth at the expense of others.
Be sure to check it out. You can read a Q&A with Julie Smith on the book here.