Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

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Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
Formation 2006
Type Research Institute (Religious texts, Mormon studies)
Headquarters Brigham Young University
Executive Director
M. Gerald Bradford
Parent organization
Brigham Young University
Affiliations The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, or simply the Maxwell Institute, was created by Brigham Young University (BYU) in 2006 as the umbrella organization for several of the University's academic initiatives, including: the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (METI), the Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts (CPART), the Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies, and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS).[1] By 2013, FARMS had become fully absorbed into the Institute's Willes Center. The Maxwell Institute's mission statement reads: “Our mission is to deepen understanding and nurture discipleship among Latter-day Saints and to promote mutual respect and goodwill among people of all faiths through the scholarly study of religious texts and traditions.”[2]


According to its website, The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship is an academic research unit at BYU composed of scholars whose primary interest is the study of religious texts and traditions. The Institute consists of researchers who manage the following initiatives:

  1. Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies, which deals principally with the Book of Mormon in ancient and modern settings, in addition to other LDS scripture.
  2. Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (METI), which studies and produces bilingual editions of important Jewish, Christian, and Islamic texts.
  3. Center for the Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts (CPART), which undertakes digital humanities projects relating to ancient religious texts.
  4. William (Bill) Gay Research Chair, which focuses on study directly related to the ancient world and LDS scripture, particularly the Book of Abraham (as of 2013, the chair is held by John Gee).

The Institute also employs a small staff of office assistants, publications personnel, and a number of student interns. Finally, it includes a three-member Research Technology Group. This group works with software such as WordCruncher in order to help facilitate research of complex texts.[3]


The Institute publishes books and journals for both general and academic readers. Academic publications focus on early Christian studies, Middle Eastern texts, and Mormon studies, including the Mormon Studies Review. Academic book-length titles often carry the BYU Press imprint and are distributed by the University of Chicago Press. Publications for general readers consist of research and interpretation of the contents and contexts of ancient and modern LDS scripture, as well as scholarship that commends and defends the Mormon faith. These publications include three periodicals—the Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture, Studies in the Bible and Antiquity, and the Mormon Studies Review. One of the Institute's important publications is Royal Skousen's Book of Mormon Critical Text Project.[4] The Maxwell Institute Podcast features interviews with religious and textual scholars from a variety of religious traditions.[5]


The Institute depicts its work as reflecting the relationship between faith and intellect, discipleship and scholarship in the Mormon tradition and in interaction with other world religions including wider Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Interested LDS readers are urged to rely on their publications for thoughtful analysis of LDS scripture. Institute scholars have also emphasized the hope that their publications dealing with texts from other religious traditions will broaden understanding and promote goodwill through interactions with Mormons and people of other faiths. The Institute is named for former LDS apostle, Neal A. Maxwell, a man known by Latter-day Saints and others, not only for his poignant and learned writings and sermons, but also for his example as a disciple-scholar.

The Institute initiated a new Maxwell Institute Blog in March 2013.[6]


The Maxwell Institute's work is made financially possible by support from BYU, independent donors, and periodical subscribers. In addition, scholars and colleagues around the world donate their time and effort in helping to “seek out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith”.[7]


In 2012, controversy and debate was sparked when Institute director Gerald Bradford removed Daniel C. Peterson from a long-time editorship of the FARMS Review (now Mormon Studies Review).[8] Peterson retained his position as editor of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (METI) until resigning from that post in September 2013.[9]


  1. ^ "BYU renames ISPART to Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship". 
  2. ^ "Our Mission Statement", (Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship) 
  3. ^ "Scholars & Staff", (Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship) 
  4. ^ Petersen, Sarah (March 19, 2013), "BYU professor Royal Skousen concludes his discussion on changes to the Book of Mormon original text", Deseret News 
  5. ^ Maxwell Institute Podcast
  6. ^ Hodges, Blair (25 March 2013), "Welcome to the Maxwell Institute Blog", (Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship) 
  7. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 88:118
  8. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher (June 26, 2012), "Shake-up hits BYU's Mormon studies institute", The Salt Lake Tribune, retrieved 2013-08-15 
  9. ^ Peterson, Daniel C. (September 7, 2013), "The Middle Eastern Texts Initiative: A Retrospective and a Farewell", Sic et Non (Daniel C. Peterson blog) (Patheos), retrieved 2014-03-15 

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