Some years ago I bought Margaret Barker’s The Great Angel on the last day of an annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. (On the last day of each conference, hundreds of booksellers—Cambridge and Brill being notable exceptions—sell their display copies at a fifty-percent discount, creating the Bookanalia, a book-buying frenzy among otherwise staid and boring academics that is a wonder to behold.)
As I began reading through the book on the flight home, I would come across passages that made me stop and ask, “Could Barker be a Mormon?” Reading further I would conclude she probably wasn’t. But a few pages later I would again be forced to wonder, “Well, maybe she really is a Mormon.” Every Latter-day Saint I’ve talked to about Barker’s research has had a similar reaction. The truth is, however, Barker is a Methodist preacher and a past president of the Society for Old Testament Study, who has had no extensive contact with Latter-day Saints.
I have long believed that Barker’s books deserved to be more widely known and read by Latter-day Saints. Kevin Christensen’s “Paradigms Regained,” the second in the ongoing series of FARMS Occasional Papers, is an excellent introduction to Barker’s works and their possible implications for Latter-day Saints. I would like to thank Sharon Nielsen for her excellent editorial assistance.