Trends in Mormon scripture citations 2: Who cites what

I’ve been playing with BYU’s LDS Scripture Citation Index again. This time, instead of looking at general trends over time, I focused on the citation habits of individual church leaders — all Apostles and First Presidency members who have at least 300 citations in the database, 48 individuals in all. (Heber J. Grant is excluded, as are all Apostles junior to Henry B. Eyring.)

In the social network diagram below, gray ellipses represent church leaders (labeled with their initials; GaS is George A. Smith, GAS is George Albert Smith, and jfs is Joseph Fielding Smith). The darker the shade of gray, the more recently the person was ordained an Apostle. Colored rectangles represent books of scripture. A link between a leader and a book means that the leader’s number of citations from that book (measured as a percentage of his total citations) is at least one standard deviation above the average for the 48 leaders in the database. Six of the 48 leaders analyzed — including current church president Thomas S. Monson and the late James E. Faust, recently of the First Presidency — don’t show up on the diagram at all because their quoting habits are so utterly unexceptional. (The other four are Heber C. Kimball, Franklin D. Richards, George Q. Cannon, and Joseph F. Smith.)

The links do not necessarily indicate which books a given leader cites the most often. For example, Brigham Young quoted from the New Testament twice as much as from the Old (46% and 23%, respectively) — but when you compare those figures to the average rates of citation (40% for the New Testament, 15% for the Old), he stands out as an Old Testament man.

The diagram illustrates very clearly the recent rise of the Book of Mormon, pioneered by Ezra Taft Benson and followed by every apostle ordained under his leadership.

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1 Comment

Filed under Mormonism, Scripture, Statistics

One response to “Trends in Mormon scripture citations 2: Who cites what

  1. I don’t think you can find this in BYU’s LDS Scripture Citation Index, but I would be interested to see how citation of Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine has fluctuated over the years. Or, even better, any and all non-Scripture sources (e.g. Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, etc.).

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