Shon Hopkin – Publishing in a Secular World

Search Isaiah asking BYU professor Shon Hopkin asking if publishing in the secular world is difficult.

Ken Krogue:  I learned, and I didn’t know a lot about the structure you, as scholars live with.  I learned at BYU that about eighty percent of the scholars are more research based, and maybe fifteen percent are more teaching based, and about five or seven percent come from the professional track.

Shon Hopkin: Yeah.

Ken Krogue: And so, it’s pretty wide range, and they’re fairly silo’ d in how they do things, but they’ll work together.

Shon Hopkin: Yeah.

Ken Krogue: But I’ve been thinking a lot about particularly the research piece, and you guys…are you in the research side?

Shon Hopkin: Yes.

Ken Krogue: So, you’re asked to publish?

Shon Hopkin: Yes.

Ken Krogue: And you have to do it in a secular world, with secular rules, I mean the whole publish or perish model has to get through peer review, but yeah, we’re BYU and we have a God centric mindset.  Has that been challenging? I mean, to get your stuff out there and really academically recommend it, journals, but yet you still want to represent what you believe?

Shon Hopkin: Yeah.

Ken Krogue: Talk about that.

Shon Hopkin: It’s really challenging actually?

Ken Krogue: Is it?

Shon Hopkin: Yeah.  It really is.  If I’m going to do Biblical things…so I believe in prophecy, right?

Ken Krogue: Yes.

Shon Hopkin: I believe in the coming of Jesus Christ, and His miraculous resurrection and atoning sacrifice.  Those things color the ways that I read the Bible and it is very rare.  You’ve got to talk about it in just the right way for that to be able to make it into some publication, that belief to make it through.  You have to really take a non-devotional approach, right? And just be very careful that you’re speaking…but this is dual language kind of stuff…

Ken Krogue: Yes, it is.

Shon Hopkin: Where you have to be able to speak…

Ken Krogue: And Isaiah did that.

Shon Hopkin: Isaiah very much did that, yes, but it is tricky, it is really tricky.  And so, what you’ll find is a lot of people, although less these days because, here at BYU they want us to do more and more that really communicates with outside audiences because it’s how BYU continues to become more and more reputable.

Ken Krogue: Yes.

Shon Hopkin: So, that’s hard but we get that from our board of educations.  I think a lot of our people are like, well, why aren’t you writing more stuff to the latter-day saints.  And we actually do try to do that, but we don’t get a lot of academic credit, work credit for it, and it’s a very busy job, and so you think, well I’ve got to keep my job, and I’m getting this direction from the board of education which is led by prophets.  So, I’ve got to do what I’m asked to do, but it is tricky, and it leads to sort of two different styles of publishing.

Ken Krogue: That makes sense.  What’s your next exciting adventure? Where are you going? You’ve got this coming out, but what’s next? What can we talk about?

Shon Hopkin: Ok, so two things.  I’ll mention, we just talked about the two different sides.  On the purely academic side, I’ve got a book on a medieval Jew that I’ve been working on for a long time, and I’m about to get done with, so I’m excited about that.

Ken Krogue: What are you going to call it?

Shon Hopkin: Well, so his name is Sarphati, it’s his name, so that will probably just be the title right there, Sarphati, and it’s an analysis of his work and a translation of his work, and there will probably be one latter day saint that reads it, and that’ll be my mom and she’ll tell me she read it, but it’ll be important.

Ken Krogue: Just like we do to Isaiah, right?

Shon Hopkin: Yeah, exactly yeah.  It’s not as rich as Isaiah, that’s for sure, but it’ll be helpful for me career wise and for medievalists, it’ll be a good deal. Yeah, it’ll be interesting.  For things that matter more to latter day saints, I’m just trying to finish up an article right now that I’m pretty excited about.  I’ve had the ideas for this for a long time, about women and the law of Moses.  And there  are some very interesting regulations about women, about giving birth and a time of separation, and you come back to the temple, even about the monthly cycle, things like that, that are life and death oriented, that the law of Moses cared a lot about, and I’m taking a latter day saint reading of those elements of the mosaic covenant, because they seem, at first glance, pretty negative and harsh towards women, and I don’t think they were intended that way at all.  I think they were actually designed to acknowledge the challenges of being a life giver in that sense, and then to work with those to help women, first of all to honor what they’re doing and then to help them heal as in this incredibly central dangerous role, especially in ancient times of giving birth.  So, anyway, I’m doing an article on that.

Ken Krogue: Wonderful.

Shon Hopkin: And how many people will or won’t care about that, I don’t know, but I care about it, and I think it’s interesting.

Ken Krogue: Beautiful.  Do you have anything brewing in the world of Isaiah?

Shon Hopkin: Let’s see.  What am I doing with Isaiah right now? Honestly, until this thing comes out that sort of where it’s sitting.  I teach education week every summer and I usually do an Isaiah section.

Ken Krogue: Oh, fun.

Shon Hopkin: this year things are a little bit slower for me because I’m going to be in Jerusalem from August of 18 to August of 19.

Ken Krogue: Oh, my heavens.

Shon Hopkin: So, it’s sort of gearing up for this trip in six months.

Ken Krogue: We might have you there when we do the conference then?

Shon Hopkin: That would be a lot of fun.

Ken Krogue: That would be cool.

Shon Hopkin:  that would be a lot of fun, yeah.

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