SL10112: Out of Context: Using and Abusing Quotations

Nearly all LDS writers and speakers quote scripture as well as passages from other writers. Whether it is Neal A. Maxwell citing C. S. Lewis, Boyd K. Packer quoting a poem from Best-Loved Poems of the LDS People, or President Monson invoking Abraham Lincoln, the time-honored practice helps clarify thoughts, extend arguments, and provide authority and credibility. Contemporary literary theory even reminds us that the citation is inevitable, for “grafting” another text is inherent in any use of language. Given how often LDS authors quote other writers, I explore the effect of these literary borrowings in an LDS context, examining how citing another’s text generates, expands, and multiplies meaning as well as distorts, limits, and re-interprets the original source text.