“The Expanded Canon: Perspectives on Mormonism and Sacred Texts” is the first of a proposed collection of essays from various scholars and contributors (both Latter-day Saints and of other faiths). The purpose of each of the 14 essays is to present ideas pertaining to the canon/scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The main thrust of the essays examines how the doctrine of an "open canon" in the church affects the belief system of members and leaders of the faith. The unique position of the church in regards to continuing revelation makes it necessary to identify which teachings should be considered scripture/canon and which are simply the ideas of a leader or member.
Authors such as David Frank Holland, Brian D. Birch, Claudia and Richard Bushman and others present differing views on how and why the church accepts some writings as scripture over others. Few solid conclusions are reached, but the discussions are "food for thought" to those interested in such things.
One outstanding example of welcome discussion comes in "Reading Women Back into the Scriptures" by Claudia Bushman. Despite the tone of the title, this essay is not just an attempt to press the religious world for the inclusion of women's voices in the scriptures. Rather, it serves as a cry for a more expansive look at possible preserved, inspired writings of faithful women that might be recognized as inspired and, thus, included as scripture.
Most of the essays are reasonably easy to read and understand, despite the scholarly focus. One may be somewhat unsettling because the focus is from an outside view of the faith, but as a whole, the writings are palatable.
This collection is being developed under the auspices of the Utah Valley University Comparative Mormon Studies Department.