Robert Alter lectures now available to watch online

dr. alterA unique book called The Art of Biblical Narrative appeared in 1981—a seismic moment in the history of interpreting the Hebrew Bible. Robert Alter inspired widespread interest in literary analysis of scripture. Alter’s work showed that biblical authors were not mere primitive scribblers; he says they were “among the pioneers of prose fiction in the Western tradition” in matters of narrative, character, organization, and much more. Using the tools of literary criticism, Alter has helped countless readers find countless treasures in these ancient texts.

For nearly a quarter of a century, Alter worked on his own translation of the Hebrew Bible, which was published last year in three volumes of over 3,000 pages. Alter visited Brigham Young University in January to talk about the project in a lecture called “The Challenge of Translating the Bible.”

The following day, Dr. Alter discussed how he came to write The Art of Biblical Narrative

Both lectures are available to watch online now. Dr. Alter is also scheduled to appear in an upcoming episode of the Maxwell Institute Podcast.

Dr. Alter's visit was co-sponsored by the Institute along with BYU's Department of Ancient Scripture and the Kennedy Center's Ancient Near Eastern Studies Program.

Upcoming Events

  • February 12, 19, 26  |  12 PM
    Maxwell Institute Brown Bag sessions
  • February 28  |  11 AM
    Guest Lecture—Benjamin E. Park
    “Kingdom of Nauvoo: The Rise and Fall of a Religious Empire on the American Frontier”

  • March 6  |  9 AM–3 PM 
    Student Symposium
    Latter-day Saint Women and Scripture
    Details Pending. Updates on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram


Summer Seminar applications are due February 15

“The Restoration and the Arts: Theory, Practice, Intersections”
Brigham Young University
June 8 – July 14, 2020

In the summer of 2020, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute at Brigham Young University, with support from the Mormon Scholars Foundation, will sponsor a summer seminar for graduate students and other qualified individuals on “The Restoration and the Arts: Theory, Practice, Intersections.” Approaches that emphasize virtually any aspect of the theory or practice of art (visual, dramatic, literary, or musical) in the Latter-day Saint tradition, or the intersection of Latter-day Saint art with theology, pedagogy, or worship, will be welcome. Terryl Givens, Neal A. Maxwell Senior Research Fellow at the Maxwell Institute, will co-direct this summer’s seminar with Latter-day Saint artist Brian Kershisnik.

Admitted participants will receive a stipend of $3,000 with an accommodations subsidy if needed. International participants will also receive some transportation assistance, the amount to be determined by availability of funding. (We hope to cover most airfares for the internationals).

Applications are due February 15, 2020. 

How to request a free copy of our Annual Report

annual report coverIN THIS ISSUE

—Spencer Fluhman’s devotional address, “The University and the Kingdom of God”
—Terryl Givens’s Neal A. Maxwell Lecture, “Apologetics and Disciples of the Second Sort”
—Melissa Inouye’s Living Faith lecture, “Making Zion”
—Grant Hardy and Brian Kershisnik’s Willes Lecture, “Illuminating the Book of Mormon”


—Reports from each Institute scholar on their work in 2019
—Features on our student research assistants
—Coverage of the 2019 Institute public lectures, conferences, symposia, and other events events

. . . and more! 

Read online or request a complimentary print copy by sending your name and mailing address to with the subject line "Annual Report request."

Brief Theological Introductions to the Book of Mormon on the way

Pre-orders for First Nephi: a brief theological introduction are now available at Amazon and Deseret Book. The release date for Terryl Givens's volume on Second Nephi will be announced soon. We will alert you via newsletter first. 

As you've seen by now, we haven't yet caught up with the Sunday school's "Come Follow Me" schedule. Volumes will continue to appear as soon as they are done printing. We hope to be fully caught up by the time we get to Mosiah, with all volumes appearing by the summer. We appreciate your patience!

Series details and updates are always available at   


James E. Faulconer named as Institute senior research fellow

The Maxwell Institute is excited to announce Brigham Young University professor of philosophy James E. Faulconer has been named a senior research fellow. Dr. Faulconer transfers to the Institute from his former position as Resident Senior Research Fellow at Brigham Young University’s Wheatley Institution.

A longtime friend if the Institute, Dr. Faulconer is author of our “Scriptures Made Harder” series (2013–2015) and other books such as Scripture Study: Tools and Suggestions (1999), Faith, Philosophy, and Scripture (2010), and The Life of Holiness: Notes and Reflections on Romans 1, 5–8 (2012).

Paul Edwards, director of the Wheatley Institution, thanked Faulconer for his past contributions. “Jim’s expansive intellect and fresh insight have contributed enormously to our success and growth,” Edwards said. “We are grateful that he will continue with us as a Wheatley Fellow and that he will now be able to devote his full capacity to scholarship about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with the Maxwell Institute as well.”

In welcoming Dr. Faulconer, the Institute’s associate director Philip Barlow said, “Jim is among the most thoughtful and genial Latter-day Saint philosophers ever to have turned their gaze toward religion as a formal subject.  His arrival at the Maxwell Institute brings an infusion of experience, depth, devotion, and wisdom.”

Dr. Faulconer said he plans to spend his first few months at the Institute completing his brief theological introduction to the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon, and after that, completing a book on scriptural theology.


J. Spencer Fluhman named visiting professor at UC Santa Barbara

J. Spencer Fluhman, executive director of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute and associate professor of history at Brigham Young University, has begun his term a visiting professor in the Department of Religious Studies at UC Santa Barbara. His appointment—which includes both teaching and research responsibilities, running concurrent with his directorship of the Maxwell Institute—spans UCSB’s winter and spring terms, January through July 2020.

Dr. David Walker, associate professor of religious studies at UCSB, said Fluhman’s appointment signals the department’s increasing support of “innovative scholars in the field of Mormon studies and American religions.”

“Few people have done more to render Mormon studies a seriously interdisciplinary endeavor in and for the modern academy as Professor Fluhman,” Dr. Walker said.

Dr. Fluhman said his passion for religious studies is fueled in part by a concern to foster peaceful relationships in communities with diverse beliefs.

“I worry about religious illiteracy: not knowing about the community life of my neighbors,” said Dr. Fluhman. “Religious studies is a democratic process that can deepen and broaden that understanding.”

Learn more about Dr. Fluhman’s appointment here, or follow along on Twitter at @spencerfluhman.



For centuries, Christians have celebrated Mary as the miraculous virgin and Mother of God. Catherine Taylor suggests a much richer history of traditions about Mary, much closer to the experiences of Christian women down through the ages. Taylor specializes in late antique Christian art history and iconography and joins us to talk about women of the ancient world.
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