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Publisher's Summary

In this first volume of his magisterial study of the foundations of Mormon thought and practice, Terryl L. Givens offers a sweeping account of Mormon belief from its founding to the present day. Situating the relatively new movement in the context of the Christian tradition, he reveals that Mormonism continues to change and grow. Givens shows that despite Mormonism's origins in a biblical culture strongly influenced by 19th-century Restorationist thought, which advocated a return to the Christianity of the early Church, the new movement diverges radically from the Christianity of the creeds.
Mormonism proposes its own cosmology and metaphysics, in which human identity is rooted in a premortal world as eternal as God. Mormons view mortal life as an enlightening ascent rather than a catastrophic fall, and reject traditional Christian concepts of human depravity and destiny. Popular fascination with Mormonism's social innovations, such as polygamy and communalism, and its supernatural and esoteric elements - angels, gold plates, seer stones, a New World Garden of Eden, and sacred undergarments - have long overshadowed the fact that it is the most enduring and even thriving product of the 19th century's religious upheavals and innovations.
Wrestling the Angel traces the essential contours of Mormon thought from the time of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to the contemporary LDS church, illuminating both the seminal influence of the founding generation of Mormon thinkers and the significant developments in the church over almost 200 years. The most comprehensive account of the development of Mormon thought ever written, Wrestling the Angel will be essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the Mormon faith.
©2015 Oxford University Press (P)2014 Audible Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Ken . on 02-15-15

A comprehensive review of Mormon theology

With references from antiquity, literature, and theology, Givens provides acomprehensive review of Mormon theology, showing where it fits into the stream of intellectual and theological thought. Mormons believe in a universe organized out of existing materials and deny the theory of ex nihilo creation. Similarly, Joseph Smith's theology was not created "out of nothing" but out of the existing threads of thought or sometimes in opposition or response to existing theologies. Was Mormonism a response to Calvinism? Yes. Did Mormonism partake of the Universalist impulse? Yes. did Mormonism contain several elements rejected in early Christianity? Absolutely.

Mormons believe that any statement given under the power of the Holy Ghost is authoritative, even scriptural. They have dozens of general authorities who make sometimes conflictingpronouncements. This makes Mormon theology sometimes difficult to pin down. Givens relies primarily on Joseph Smith, as the expounder a Mormon theology. Brigham Young, the Pratt Brothers James E Talmage and BH Roberts are secondary. Bruce R McConkie and Joseph Fielding Smith are hardly relied on at all. Some will take issue with given choices.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By nilloc on 04-30-16

Academic, Excellent, mostly good narration

Would you listen to Wrestling the Angel again? Why?

Yes. It's pretty dense and I love the way that Givens draws the threads through historical Christian thought and shows both the connections between Mormonism and Christian history as well as the doctrinal innovations of Mormonism and how they came about.

What about B.J. Harrison’s performance did you like?

The narrator's voice is easy to listen to and his cadence and intonation make for easy understanding. The one shortcoming is a good number of misread words - for example reading "emphatic" when the actual word was "empathic" and reading "compromising" when the actual word was "comprising." In most situations context makes clear what the real word is, but it breaks the flow to have words that don't fit the meaning and have to figure out what the actual word must have been.

But, having said that, most of the narration is very good.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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