Mormonism and the Magic World View
I will not attempt an analysis of each of Quinn’s claims. Such an effort will require careful study by many historians over a long period of time. At
pages, this review is already far too long.
Instead, Iwill examine a limited number of claims in comprehensive detail, hoping to elucidate the many flaws inQuinn’s methodology, analysis, and use of evidence. The representative topics I have chosen fordiscussion are methodological problems, accessibility of occult books, magic artifacts, and Kabbalah.
1. Methodological Problems
Quinn’s Idiosyncratic Definition of Magic
Quinn’s tendency toward neologisms has been called “Quinnspeak,”
a term which could even moreappropriately be applied to his remarkable insistence on redefining key terms and misrepresenting hisprimary sources. Many reviewers of Quinn’s first edition recognized that his fundamental problem was afailure to accurately define magic and to distinguish between magic and religion.
Rather than paying
I feel I should apologize to readers for the length of this “review.” Due to Quinn’s remarkable tendency tomisrepresent even the most straightforward sources, I felt it necessary to quote extensively from the sources Quinnuses and provide a detailed point-by-point analysis of Quinn’s faulty methods and misrepresentations. For me tohave simply stated that Quinn was in error would not be convincing to many who—like Quinn himself—arepredisposed to think the worst of scholars who believe that traditional versions of LDS history are more accuratethan revisionist versions. Even so, I could easily have doubled the size of this review with additional examples of theproblems, errors, and misrepresentations I have discovered.
Klaus J. Hansen, “Quinnspeak,” review of
Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example,
by D. Michael Quinn,
FARMS Review of Books
10/1 (1998): 132–40.
See John Gee, “Abracadabra, Isaac and Jacob,”
Review of Books on the Book of Mormon
7/1 (1995): 46–71;Stephen D. Ricks and Daniel C. Peterson, “Joseph Smith and ‘Magic’: Methodological Reflections on the Use of aTerm,” in “
To Be Learned Is Good If
. . .,” ed. Robert L. Millet (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987), 129–47; and StephenD. Ricks and Daniel C. Peterson, “The Mormon as Magus,”
January 1988, 38. See also William J. Hamblin,