Date of Award

Spring 2006

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Carey, Patrick

Second Advisor

Golitzin, Alexander

Third Advisor

Barnes, Michel


This dissertation shows that the primary motivation behind the Mormon use of patristic sources is apologetic, as an attempt to show the Mormon denomination as the most authentic form of Christianity. While apologetic motivation is not ipso facto problematic, it has often distorted the methodology, interpretations, and logical conclusions that Mormons have come to see as normative concerning patristic and other ancient literature. Some of LDS work has been done to influence outsiders; some has been done to assimilate into the larger outside academic milieu; most has been done as a support for those who have already committed to Mormonism. In one sense, Mormonism's responsibility to providing its adherents with rational justifications for its reasonableness is commendable. These apologetic attempts, however, have become so widespread and persistent by Mormon authors - even those at the highest academic levels - that often the line between what is reasonable and what is fantastic becomes blurred. Genuine differences in geography, time, practices, and beliefs are often generalized as Mormon authors compile similarities to modem Mormonism, artificially constructing a proto-Mormonism which never actually existed. The prevailing Mormon methodology of reading modem Mormon post-restoration truth back onto ancient sources virtually necessitates such synthetic constructions. Several more sober-minded Mormon scholars who explore ancient material have noted this problem, and have tried to urge Latter-day Saints to exercise more care in drawing conclusions. Yet each of these scholars has been part of the problem, practicing to some extent the same methods and drawing the same conclusions that they warn against...



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