As I’ve tried to study the history of Mormon literature, I’ve realized that we are currently are in a oddly mixed situation. By and large what Mormon literature has been produced through the past 175+ years is easily available to anyone with a good Internet connection, a basic computer and the ability to read and understand English. But when we move to criticism and compilation of this literature, the wonderful new archives of material might as well not exist. Is anyone working with these old texts?
It took me a little bit to find my head this week. It was only after Church today that it occurred to me that today’s “Sunday Lit Crit Sermon” should be from Richard Cracroft. While I had been searching my sources for an appropriate item, the answer was in the most recent news posted here on A Motley Vision. And in this excerpt, Cracroft doesn’t disappoint; diving into one of the most difficult issues in Mormon letters: What makes a work ‘Mormon’?
For the last few months I’ve been thinking a little about parables after I discovered a number of parables that James E. Talmage wrote early in the 20th century and began to wonder what other Mormon parables have been written. I did discover one page of links to “Parables from the Prophets,” (which I suspect might include things that aren’t always considered parables), but, in contrast, rarely do we talk in Mormonism about parables that aren’t from the New Testament.
Which leads me to the questions: What is a parable in Mormonism? Why don’t we call other stories parables? And why do we largely ignore parables that aren’t in the scriptures?