A new book edited by Julie M. Smith, As Iron Sharpens Iron: Listening to the Various Voices of Scripture, does something wonderful. It takes something we all “kind of” know–that not every verse of scripture fits together in perfect harmony with others; that every writer whose words eventually became “scripture” agrees with every other writer–and in the interesting and entertaining format of imagined dialogues between scripture writers illustrates some of those divergent voices and viewpoints. Joining Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for this discussion are book contributors Julie M. Smith, Michael Austin, and Mark Decker.
In the book, you can hear, among others, Abraham and Job in dialogue about suffering and God’s killing of children (Austin’s piece), Jacob from the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith debating polygamy and God’s laws and their exceptions (Decker’s), and Gospel writers Mark and Luke in conversation about women’s values and roles and the best way to honor them in Christ’s kingdom (Smith’s contribution). These stand alongside others such as John the Evangelist and John the Revelator (treating these as different individuals) on the Divinity of Jesus by Nicholas J. Frederick, Job and John on The Satans by Ronan James Head, Tamar and David on Personal Morality by Jason A. Kerr, Abraham and Thomas on Doubt by Steven L. Peck, Amulek and Alma on the Atonement by Joseph M. Spencer, Hannah and Sariah on Complaint, plus eight other fascinating dialogues. As Michael Austin notes within the conversation in this episode, we as Latter-day Saints too often think of and focus on scripture at the “verse” level versus the chapter and/or “book” level, and in so doing miss so much richness. This book and this discussion begins to show the new and complex and robust worlds that can open when we step back and view what has ended up in our scriptures as the writings of good people wrestling with God and life’s big questions, and who are sharing about their experiences and/or the events that shaped their peoples and giving their best takes on these subjects. It’s then up to us to give their words our consideration and make them springboards into our own spiritual explorations.
Please listen to this episode and share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Julie M. Smith, ed., As Iron Sharpens Iron: Listening to the Various Voices of Scripture (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2016)
Michael Austin, Re-Reading Job: Understanding the Ancient World’s Greatest Poem (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2014)
Mark T. Decker, Peculiar Portrayals: Mormons on the Page, Stage, and Screen (Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 2010)
John Russell, The Mormoness; Or, The Trials of Mary Maverick: A Narrative of Real Events (Mormon Image in Literature),Michael Austin and Ardis Parshall, eds., (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2016)
Mark T. Decker, Industrial Society and the Science Fiction Blockbuster: Social Critique in Films of Lucas, Scott, and Cameron (Jefferson, NC: McFarland Publishing, 2016)
Eric Samuelsen, The Plan: A Play, Sunstone (July 2009)
H. Parker Blount, “Scarlet Threads in the Lineage of Jesus: Four Women of the Old Testament,” Sunstone, (November 2006)