LDS encyclopedia attracts attention in publications

During its first year of existence, the four-volume Encyclopedia of Mormonism has attracted attention from professional journals and other publications.

Published near the end of 1991 by MacMillan Publishing Company of New York, the encyclopedia was assembled under the direction of a 13-member board of editors at BYU. Two members of the Council of the Twelve were advisers to the project, although the work is not an official publication of the Church. The articles in the encyclopedia - more than 1,200 - were written by 738 contributors, both inside and outside the Church.An optional fifth volume contains the textual material in the LDS triple combination: Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price.

Though some have criticisms pertaining to a perceived lack of objectivity, reviewers have generally praised the encyclopedia's comprehensiveness and usability. Most noteworthy was a review in the prestigious Library Journal, Feb. 15, 1992, issue. (See May 9 Church News.)

"It is outstanding in form and substance, and demands a place in public and academic collections," commented Craig W. Beard, University of Alabama at Birmingham Library, in the review.

A reviewer in the Wilson Library Bulletin of April 1992 opined, "Whether or not one shares the authors' collective sympathetic view of the Mormon Church and its doctrines, one cannot deny that this is a rich source of information on a significant, enduring American religious body whose influence increasingly extends to other parts of the world."

Reference Books Bulletin, published by the American Library Association, noted that the Church "represents one of the most distinctive and successful religions organized in the U.S."


First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life published this brief but glowing notice in its December 1991 number: "Monumental is the word that springs to mind to describe this thorough accounting of `the history, scripture, doctrine, and procedure of [the ChurchT. Hundreds of scholars collaborated in producing a resource that defies review but certainly deserves a place in any library with pretensions to comprehensiveness."

J. R. Kennedy Jr. of Earlham College, in the July/August 1992 issue of Choice, wrote that the encyclopedia "is appropriate for theological libraries and others wanting a wide ranging and readable treatment of Mormonism by Mormons."

A reviewer in Catholic Library World, October/November/December 1991 issue, wrote that the encyclopedia "will prove to be a very helpful reference source for any academic library and larger public library." But the reviewer found the article on Catholicism and Mormonism "quite simply too brief to do justice to the topics"; i.e. God, Christ, atonement, authority, scripture, church, eucharist, marriage and family."

The publication has drawn acclaim from LDS reviewers and readers. The Mormon History Association - with its mostly LDS membership - awarded a special citation May 15, 1992, to the publisher, editors and writers for "a significant achievement in the compilation and dissemination of LDS history."- R. Scott Lloyd

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