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Young scholars featured at symposium

BYU event gives exposure to students' study, analysis

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Longer summaries of these and a few other symposium presentations are included in the on-line edition. Click here for the summaries.

Presenting papers at academic symposia and conferences goes with the territory for most university professors; not so much, though, for the students they teach and mentor.

Helping newly minted scholars gain that experience early on is the aim behind the annual Religious Education Student Symposium at BYU, which convened for the 12th straight year on Feb. 19.

About 82 proposals were submitted for this year's conference, said Kent P. Jackson, associate dean of religious education, from which 45 were accepted and 15 received cash awards ranging from $250 to $1,000.

Submissions covered topics such as Joseph Smith's youth, covenant renewal, Jehovah in the Old Testament, true worship and the Atonement of Christ.

The symposium has grown each year, said John Livingstone, professor of LDS Church history and doctrine and a commentator at one of the sessions, who noted that religion faculty members read the papers and select the ones for inclusion in the symposium and later publication in a journal.

"It's all volunteer; it's not based on class assignments, although sometimes a professor will really enjoy a paper and suggest that it be submitted to the student symposium," he said. "It's a good experience for them, especially if they have a bit of an academic bent."

To Kerry Muhlestein, professor of ancient scripture and another session commentator, one of the best things about the symposium is that it develops research skills among students, who pass on what they learn to their peers, who in turn are made aware of opportunities available to themselves.

In one of the sessions, for example, Daniel Becerra spoke of the temptations to which Jesus was subjected and identified six such occasions in the New Testament accounts. He suggested that the wilderness setting in which Jesus was tempted by the devil was the only instance in which Jesus was subjected to an "internal challenge" that appealed to a desire Jesus had, that being to make known to the world His role as the Son of God.

In his presentation on young Gordon B. Hinckley's published writings as a missionary for the Church in London, England, Matthew Wilcox highlighted how the future Church president used his literary talents and skills "to build the kingdom (of God) and defend what was going on in the British Isles with the Church."

In her paper on "True and Saving Worship," Elicia M. Hansen drew a distinction in Mormon thought between the worship that is reserved for God, the Father, and the reverential awe, respect and love that Church members have for Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

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