Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
Formation 2006
Type Research Institute (Religion, Mormon studies)
Headquarters Brigham Young University
Executive Director
J. Spencer Fluhman
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, is a research institute at Brigham Young University (BYU) made up of faculty and visiting scholars who study and write about religion, primarily The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

Its mission statement reads: "The Maxwell Institute both gathers and nurtures disciple-scholars. As a research community, the Institute supports scholars whose work inspires and fortifies Latter-day Saints in their testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and engages the world of religious ideas."[1]

The Maxwell Institute depicts its work as reflecting on 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 readers are urged to rely on publications for thoughtful analysis of LDS scripture, though they do not produce official literature on behalf of the LDS Church. Maxwell 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's namesake, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, is a former LDS Apostle, known by Latter-day Saints and others for his poignant and learned writings and sermons, as well as his example as a disciple-scholar.


The Maxwell Institute was established in 2006 as an umbrella organization for several of the BYU'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).[2] By 2013, FARMS had become fully absorbed into the Institute's Willes Center. In 2017 METI was transferred to the international publisher Brill and CPART completed its final project.

In 2012, debate was sparked when the Maxwell Institute's then-director, Gerald Bradford, removed Daniel C. Peterson from a long-time editorship of the FARMS Review (now Mormon Studies Review).[3] Peterson retained his position as editor of the Middle Eastern Texts Initiative (METI) until resigning from that post in September 2013.[4]


According to its website, the Maxwell Institute provides research positions for full-time faculty, visiting scholars, post-doctorate researchers, and other temporary research fellows who study religion. The Institute publishes some of what its scholars produce, but expects scholars to place much of their research in other venues.

The Maxwell Institute also includes two initiatives:

  1. Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies,[5] which deals principally with the Book of Mormon in ancient and modern settings, in addition to other LDS scripture.
  2. William (Bill) Gay Research Chair,[6] 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 Maxwell Institute frequently sponsors guest lectures at BYU, as well as symposia, workshops, and conferences on religion.

The Maxwell Institute also employs a small staff of office assistants, communications personnel, and a number of student interns.[7]


The Maxwell Institute publishes books and journals for both general and academic readers. Its three periodicals are the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, the Mormon Studies Review (each published in partnership with the University of Illinois Press), and Studies in the Bible and Antiquity (currently on hiatus). One of the Maxwell Institute's important past publications is Royal Skousen's Book of Mormon Critical Text Project.[8]

Although the Maxwell Institute is not primarily a publisher, it maintains a publishing imprint and produces a handful of titles each year. These include the "Living Faith" series: "Living Faith books are for readers who cherish the life of the mind and the things of the Spirit. Each title is a unique example of faith in search of understanding, the voice of a scholar who has cultivated a believing heart while engaged in the disciplines of the Academy."[9]

A podcast features interviews with resident and visiting scholars and lecturers of the Maxwell Institute. In the past it has also featured religious and textual scholars from a variety of religious traditions beyond the Institute, including N. T. Wright, Marilynne Robinson, and Martin Marty.[10]


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."[11]


  1. "About",, Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
  2. "BYU renames ISPART to Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship".
  3. Stack, Peggy Fletcher (June 26, 2012), "Shake-up hits BYU's Mormon studies institute", The Salt Lake Tribune, retrieved 2013-08-15
  4. Peterson, Daniel C. (September 7, 2013), "The Middle Eastern Texts Initiative: A Retrospective and a Farewell", Sic et Non (Daniel C. Peterson blog), Patheos, archived from the original on October 23, 2013, retrieved 2014-03-15
  5. "Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship". Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.
  6. "Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship". Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.
  7. "Scholars & Staff",, Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
  8. Petersen, Sarah (March 19, 2013), "BYU professor Royal Skousen concludes his discussion on changes to the Book of Mormon original text", Deseret News
  9. "Living Faith Books". Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  10. "Maxwell Institute Podcast". Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.
  11. Doctrine and Covenants 88:118
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.