1st Edition

Joseph Smith, Jesus, and Satanic Opposition Atonement, Evil and the Mormon Vision

By Douglas J. Davies Copyright 2010

    This book explores Mormon theology in new ways from a scholarly non-Mormon perspective. Bringing Jesus and Satan into relationship with Joseph Smith the founding prophet, Douglas Davies shows how the Mormon 'Plan of Salvation' can be equated with mainstream Christianity's doctrine of the Trinity as a driving force of the faith. Exploring how Jesus has been understood by Mormons, his many Mormon identities are described in this book: he is the Jehovah of the Bible, our Elder Brother and Father, probably also a husband, he visited the dead and is also the antagonist of Satan-Lucifer. This book offers a way into the Mormon 'problem of evil' understood as apostasy, from pre-mortal times to today. Three images reveal the wider problem of evil in Mormonism: Jesus' pre-mortal encounter with Lucifer in a heavenly council deciding on the Plan of Salvation, Jesus Christ's great suffering-engagement with evil in Gethsemane, and Joseph Smith's First Vision of the divine when he was almost destroyed by an evil force. Douglas Davies, well-known for his previous accounts of Mormon life and thought, shows how renewed Mormon interest in theological questions of belief can be understood against the background of Mormon church-organization and its growing presence on the world-stage of Christianity.

    Contents: Jesus in early Mormon America; Mormon-Israel; Millennial kingdom experiment; Plan and Trinity; Jesus, the living and the dead; Joseph, Jesus and Lucifer; Atonement; Jesus, Satan and evil; Jesus and doctrinal kinship; The hope of glory; Jesus and the Holy Ghost; Jesus, opposition, otherness and sacrifice; Bibliography; Index.


    Douglas Davies was Professor of Religious Studies at Nottingham University prior to becoming Professor in the Study of Religion at Durham. He is President of the British Association for the Study of Religion and holds the Oxford D.Litt. and an Honorary Dr Theology from Uppsala. His many books and other publications include other highly acclaimed books on Mormonism: The Mormon Culture of Salvation (Ashgate 2000) and Introduction to Mormonism (CUP 2002).

    'Davies goes beyond the standard Mormon texts, mining folk theology, non-Utah church traditions, and non-canonical Mormon sources, to paint a vibrant picture of a different kind of Mormon trinity. Full of provocative insights from one of the religion’s keenest observer-scholars.' Terryl Givens, University of Richmond, USA 'A fascinating account, both profound and accessible, of the developing faith world of Mormonism, written in a wonderfully non-partisan tone by a non-Mormon expert. As this book brings Mormon authors into serious conversation with mainstream Christian thinkers, it reflects theological fair play at its best.' Heikki Räisänen, University of Helsinki, Finland Davies is already the author of several excellent studies of Mormonism. His new book combines scrupulous neutrality with genuine intellectual curiosity. He approaches Mormonism as a set of beliefs, but beliefs shaped by secular factors like organization, and examines the distinctive kind of evil that preoccupies Mormons - apostasy. Overall, he approaches Mormonism as a living, changing enterprise. Robert A. Segal, University of Aberdeen, UK 'The book is brimming with insights drawn out by Davies's self-described "theoretical and practical" approach... this book deserves to be read for the same reason given in glowing reviews of his earlier work: Davies carefully and honestly engages with Mormon thought in a non-polemical way that promotes further dialog and understanding of Mormonism. His outsider's perspective should provoke reflection and new insights for life-long Mormons, and it should also help non-Mormons understand the strength and structure of the Mormon worldview as encompassed by the Plan of Salvation.' Association of Mormon Letters 'Recommended.' Choice 'I applaud Davies’s scholarly ambitions and have sympathy for many of his general perspectives. His insights into the cultural, theological, and metaphysical implications of such foundational doctrines as the plan of salva