Context (Sorry no catchy New York Post titles on this one)
How's this for an assertion: ultimately everything has to be understood within its own historical context. Ideas, institutions, works of art, etc. all come to life in history, and can only really be understood in light of that history.
The other night I was reading about Joseph Fielding Smith. This man was Church Historian from 1921 to 1970, but had worked in the historian's office since 1901. Whether you agree with them or not, his books on Church History are among the classics of our LDS canon. What interested me about him, though, is that his obsession with history came from a desire to understand the Doctine and Covenants in its historical context. I don't have the exact quotation, but he believed that it was impossible to understand these revelations outside of the church's history that surrounded them.
So what does this idea that context is everything mean for works like the Book of Mormon? Is there enough context already in the book, or when more gets laid out in the future will we all let out a collective "ah-ha"? More generally, (for those of you who get a little sick of the LDS blather)how much context is enough to understand an event? I mean, we'll never have it all. Is there a threshold that you cross and say, "ok now I understand the context"?