Sunday Lit Crit Sermon: the Relief Society Magazine on kinds of truth

Just what is true in literature and what meaning we can find in it are perennial subjects for prophets as well as literary pontificates. Yet often both of these are treated as unitary–a work of literature is either true or its not, and has just one meaning. Of course literary critics have long seen that works of literature can be true in different ways and have multiple meanings. But somehow this fact is lost in the debate when we put things in a religious sphere.

Except when it comes to scripture. By the early twentieth century some Mormons not only thought that scripture was true in multiple ways and had multiple meanings, they also taught these ideas in the published Relief Society lessons about the Bible, such as the extract from a lesson found below. Oddly enough, I’m not sure that most Church members today see this point, at least not from the scripture lessons I attend each week.

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Sunday Lit Crit Sermon: Stayner on Interpreting Scriptural Poetry

psalmsbookIf a prophet-poet writes scripture and has to make a choice, does he make his poem more Beautiful? or more True? Or, since poetry is usually about expressing some kind of Truth Beautifully, where is the balance between Beauty and Truth? Is the balance always the same regardless of the subject or the role of the poem?

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