Exploring Mormon Conceptions of the Apostasy

Examining claims of historical apostasy is a pertinent task for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For the last hundred years, the Great Apostasy narrative has shaped Latter-day Saint historical assumptions, contributed to the construction of Latter-day Saint social and theological identity, and impacted the ability of the Church to develop ecumenical relationships. The contributors want to raise awareness about the influence of this narrative as well as to reconsider some of the assumptions made by this narrative. We hope to cultivate scholarly discourse among the contributors as well as the Latter-day Saint community about the challenges and consequences of simultaneously acknowledging complexity, causality, and providence when interpreting history for theological purposes. We hope to develop a richer understanding of the definitions, connotations, social functions, and theological implications of Latter-day Saint conceptions of the apostasy.

Please join fifteen faithful Mormon scholars for a free, public conference to be held on March 1-2, 2012 in the Harold B. Lee Library Auditorium at Brigham Young University.


Thursday, March 1, Library Auditorium, Level 1

9:00 – 9:50 “Narrating Apostasy”

            Miranda Wilcox, Brigham Young University, English


Exploring Ancient Judaism

10:00 – 10:50 “Mormon Conceptions of Apostasy against the Backdrop of the Hebrew Bible"

            Cory Crawford, Ohio University, Classics and World Religions

11:00 – 11:50 “Perceptions of Jewish Apostasy, Reformation, and Restoration in the Intertestamental Period (200 B.C. to A.D. 70)”

            Matthew J. Grey, Brigham Young University, Ancient Scripture


Exploring Early Christianity

1:00 – 1:50 “Purity and Parallels: Constructing the Apostasy Narrative of Early Christianity”

            Taylor Petrey, Kalamazoo College, Religion

2:00 – 2:50 “The Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325): A Reexamination of the Council, Creed, and Canons”

            Lincoln Blumell, Brigham Young University, Ancient Scripture

3:00 – 3:50“Recontextualizing Early Christianity: Mormons, Arians, and Other Heretics”

            Ariel Bybee Laughton, Independent Scholar, Early Christianity


Exploring Non-Christian Contexts

4:00 – 4:50 “Religious Pluralism in the Qur'an: Islamic Alternatives to the Binary Logic of Apostasy"

            David Peck, Brigham Young University-Idaho, History and Political Science


Friday, March 2, Library Auditorium, Level 1

Exploring “The Dark Ages”

9:00 – 9:50 “From Jacob Burckhardt to James Talmage: Mormon Views of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in its ‘Great Apostasy’ Narrative”

            Eric Dursteler, Brigham Young University, History

10:00 – 10:50 “Complexity and Richness: An Alternative Approach to the Later Middle Ages for Apostasy and Restoration Narratives”

            Spencer Young, University of Western Australia, Medieval History

11:00 – 11:50 “Friends in Low Places: Apostasy and Restoration in the Sixteenth Century”

            Jonathan Green, Brigham Young University-Idaho, German


Exploring Mormonism

1:00 – 1:50 “‘A prodigy with many hundred heads’: Early Latter-day Saint Conceptions of the Great Apostasy”

            Christopher Jones, The College of William and Mary, History

Steve Fleming, UC Santa Barbara, Religious Studies

2:00 – 2:50 “A Progressive Apostasy: B.H. Roberts, James Talmage, Joseph Fielding Smith and Protestant Ideas of Apostasy in the Nineteenth Century”

            Matthew Bowman, Hampden-Sydney College, Religion

3:00 – 3:50 “Between John and Joseph: Toward a New Apostasy Narrative”

            John Young, Flagler College, History

Continuing the Conversation

4:00 – 4:30 “‘We have only the Old Thing’: Rethinking Mormon Restoration”           
            Terryl Givens, University of Richmond, Literature and Religion

For directions to campus and visitor parking: http://lib.byu.edu/about/.


For more information about this conference, please contact Miranda Wilcox at 801-422-3339 or miranda_wilcox@byu.edu.


Funding generously provided by an Eliza R. Snow Faculty Grant.