Panel 101 (Friday, October 22)

Title:  On the Scriptural Periphery: Perspectives on Joseph Smith’s Egyptian Project by Christopher Smith, Susan Staker, David Bokovoy

Abstract:  In 1835 Joseph Smith purchased some ancient Egyptian papyri and four mummies, which acquisitions galvanized several projects on the scriptural periphery. Three panelists offer perspectives on Smith’s Egyptian project. David Bokovoy provides a brief introduction to biblical criticism and the historical contextualization of Joseph Smith’s scriptural production. Christopher C. Smith compares the papyri to the Book of Mormon’s ephemeral golden plates and explains how the Mormon prophet fitted the two records into a dispensational understanding of salvation history based on inherited priestly and kingly lines. Susan Staker traces Joseph’s construction of a quasi-scriptural female character called Kahtoumun, a proxy for investigating the pure language of the first fathers, women’s status in a patriarchal world, and sexual danger.

Biographical Sketch:  Christopher Smith has a PhD in Religion from Claremont Graduate University and currently serves as the book’s manager for John Whitmer Books.

Susan Staker lives on Whidbey Island in Washington State, where she reads, writes (mostly about Joseph Smith), gardens, rides the ferry, and walks her dog. In past lives, she did editorial work for Adobe Systems, Signature Books, and Sunstone Magazine and studied narrative theory at the University of Utah.

David Bokovoy holds a PhD in Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East from Brandeis University and is the academic director over Prison Education for Salt Lake Community College.