My first introduction to the scholarly research of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon was an introduction to the texts and books of Hugh Nibley. I have read many of his articles and studies a couple of the books which are really compilations of his writtings and talks.’
Although Nibley could probably qualify as a liberal (I don’t personally know what his political views are), I have a great admiration for what he has done for what I will refer to as Mormon Studies. Nibley could arguably be called the Father of Mormon Studies (although that title probably really belongs to the Father in Heaven). Nibley took his testimony of the gospel as a foundation for his personal intellectual growth. He studied greek, biblical hebrew, archeology, history, and many other topics that relate to Mormon Studies.
I approach my regular study of the scriptures differently because of Nibley. I try to dedicate a specific amount of time to researching the scriptures. You see I have heard personal stories, where Nibley was teaching a Gospel Doctrine class and would sometime spend and entire hour talking about just 1 verse of scripture, and still not be done with his lecture when the time was done.
So, now when I pick up my scriptures, I do what some might call “looking beyond the mark.” I try to grasp the deeper meaning, the bigger picture, the stick between your teeth until it hurts meat. I love studying the Book of Mormon that way. There is so much to gleen from the scriptures, and this can only be done if one tries to be Nibleyesque in their studying.
I have heard Nibley referred to as a liberal. Not often, and I myself, having never met, can see how some might conclude that. I quick read of Approaching Zion could lead one to conclude the Nibley is a liberal. However, I don’t know.
Nibley makes the argument for a Zion society, where men donate all things for the common good. This commen good law is often referred to as the Law of Consecration. The Law of Consecration has one element that doesn’t fit with the liberal/democrat mind set. These consecrations/donations are voluntary. If I recall correctly, I believe that Nibley even argues that voluntary contributions would be necessary for a true Zion society. So, I am not convinced that one has to be a liberal to be Nibley enthusiast.
If any of my readers know of Nibley’s political persuations, I invite your correction. But, as for now, I am not convinced that he was a liberal or democrat.
Recently, one of Nibley’s daughters has published a book that portrays both Hugh Nibley and the LDS Church rather negatively (I haven’t read it, I only speak from rumor). It is sad that such a thing has happened so close to the mans passing.
I understand that Nibley wasn’t a perfect man. I understand the the author of this negative book isn’t perfect. Thus, I am willing to take it for granted that the negative portrayal of Nibley is mostly inaccurate, but understanding that Nibley wasn’t a perfect person.
I am grateful to the Lord for the influence Nibley has had in my life. I guess it is time I pick up a couple more of his collected works, and delve into the great deep.