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Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity Hardcover – November 5, 2014


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Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity + The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections On the Quest for Faith + The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 5, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199794928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199794928
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.5 x 6.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Givens successfully tackles a mountain of logistical, chronological, and topical challenges in an astonishing work of scholarship. This comprehensive and impressive volume is fundamental in the study of an important, multifaceted, and understudied piece of religious history." --Library Journal


"Givens has given us a hugely impressive, erudite and systematic work. He shows us the vast and complex landscape of this most extraordinary and most American of religions. Through this monumental work we experience the sheer scale and audacity of Mormon cosmology and theology and how this transforms our understanding of divine nature and human nature alike." --Simon Critchley, Hans Jonas Professor, The New School for Social Research


"Givens has provided the most thorough and expert accounting of Mormonism's place in the Christian thought-world. The book raises the bar for those who would challenge Mormonism's status as a Christian faith. For the rest of us, who simply want to understand Mormonism, it is a welcome gift of fine scholarship." --Kathleen Flake, Richard Lyman Bushman Professor in Mormon Studies, University of Virginia


"We--general readers and scholars--need a lucid survey of the Latter-day Saints' complex doctrinal developments. We also need work that places the whole of Mormon theology in conversation with Western culture and historic Christian thought. We now have both in one remarkable, rewarding book." --David Holland, Associate Professor of North American Religious History, Harvard Divinity School


"In a sweep of enormous scope Givens takes Mormon thought from the cultural world of its nineteenth century American emergence through theological debates on orthodoxy-heresy amongst the early Christian Fathers to Protestantism's heyday and to today's Latter-day Saint distinctiveness." --Douglas J. Davies, author of The Mormon Culture of Salvation


"Terryl Givens' careful and detailed account succeeds admirably in its goal of presenting the origins and development of Mormon theology clearly. The book is particularly welcome for giving readers a solid sense of where Latter-day Saint theology aligns with, and differs from, the theologies of main Christian traditions." --Mark A. Noll, author of America's God: From Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln


"Terryl Givens's scholarship is magisterial, yet this book brilliantly synthesizes key themes in Mormon thought in a way which is accessible and engaging for the non-specialist reader. An essential study of contemporary Mormon religious thought and its origins which should be read by any serious student of comparative Christian traditions." --Fenella Cannell, Associate Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science


"Givens, possibly the most significant voice in the field of Mormon studies, has previously explained Mormonism by way of scripture, history, and philosophy. Here, he turns his attention to theology, a more difficult proposition than it sounds, since Mormons tend to emphasize practical living rather than theological speculation and believe in continuing revelation...What emerges is a complex, nuanced picture of a dynamic faith." --Publishers Weekly


"Wrestling the Angel not only succeeds in providing the most comprehensive and rigorous overview of Mormonism's theological tradition, but it is, in the end, a key contribution-perhaps the most important contribution in the last half-century-to that very tradition." --The Juvenile Instructor


About the Author


Terryl L. Givens is Professor of Literature and Religion and James A. Bostwick Chair of English at the University of Richmond. His books on Mormonism and American religious culture include By the Hand of Mormon, People of Paradox, Parley P. Pratt (with Matthew Grow), and Viper on the Hearth.

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This is a very informative read.
Creatio-exnihilo
Highly recommend for those already well grounded in LDS history and doctrine, wouldn't recommend for someone new to the study.
Brett Folkman
One thing this book makes clear: there is still room for opinion and interpretation in Mormonism.
Learner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Learner on September 24, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is apparently aimed at a highly-educated audience who is not Mormon - at least, it does not assume you know about Mormonism.

I'm just a Mormon guy who made it through college. I'm will be looking forward to reading reviews of this book by more knowledgeable people than I.

This is college-level reading. You will encounter rich, scholarly language. You will read not only about such concepts as "theosis" and "dualism" but also about "ovism" and "homoousios" and "traducianism." There's a little Latin too. (Go ahead and look up the word "entail," if you don't know it, because you will see it many times.)

For me the effort has been richly rewarded, a banquet for my mind. I am learning a lot about my own religion. It turns out Mormonism is a pretty deep and fascinating thing even for a devout, life-time member like me. In that respect this book, whether intended or not, also serves as an apologia.

A typical chapter takes a point of theology, first stating the traditional Christian view. Next, alternate views held by Christians and others in the past are touched on - views which Mormonism often agrees with. Chapters typically end discussing varying understandings of the doctrine by early Mormons. Finally, the "settled" doctrine of the current Mormon church is explained.

This book shows how initially Joseph Smith revealed many things when he re-established the church of Christ. Then later Mormon prophets added to and clarified those doctrines.

I'm not sure I agree with 100% of the Givens' statements or their reasoning. Some statements are too definite for my comfort. I don't think any of us can say the last word on God and the universe at this point. (I think the Givens would agree with me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth L. Reed on November 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Really great history of religious concepts (e.g. God, Jesus, Trinity, etc.) that have been argued over for centuries. Givens reviews historical discussions, then presents the mormon views as they started with Joseph Smith then evolved over time since. Views originated with Brigham Young and others are also treated and discussed. Easy reading (e.g. the usual theological impenetrability is removed), and where a theological term is kind of necessary, he explains it.

Great book for Mormon scholars and more advanced readers. A bit of a handful for the naive, I think, but written with clarity for most readers with an interest in theology, Mormon or otherwise.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brett Folkman on November 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Excellent broad coverage of LDS doctrinal views and the historical context in which they developed. Well researched and heavily footnoted. The biggest downside due to the breadth of topics covered is one is left wanting more, a deeper delving into certain topics that only get a cursory review! Highly recommend for those already well grounded in LDS history and doctrine, wouldn't recommend for someone new to the study. - Brett Folkman, Doctor of Ministry
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