Richard Lloyd Anderson

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Mormon Richard Lloyd Anderson
Richard Lloyd Anderson

Richard Lloyd Anderson was an emeritus professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Anderson was born in 1926 in Salt Lake City, the first child to Agnes Ricks and Lloyd Anderson. He grew up in Salt Lake, Provo, and Ogden, Utah, and briefly in Pocatello, Idaho. He remembered being bossy to his two sisters and brother. He recalled an occasion with his brother, Karl, who was eleven years younger;

I remember finding him and shepherding him home from street football on a Sunday afternoon. His white shirt was dirty and sweaty, and we were almost late for sacrament meeting. I gave generous instructions on watching his watch, adding, “In the future we may be bishops and stake presidents, but neither of us will amount to anything unless we can get to a meeting on time.” Later I became a counselor in a stake presidency, but he became a stake president and a regional representative.[1]

When an overbite disqualified him from naval officer training and naval pilot training during World War II, he enlisted instead as an air crewman and served as a radioman for the U. S. Naval Air Corps. He logged over five hundred hours in a search and rescue plane. He was in the Navy for about one year before the war ended and served an additional year before he was discharged.

While serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Northwestern States Mission, he developed an organized system for Mormon missionaries to teach lessons to nonmembers. “A Plan for Effective Missionary Work” was nicknamed the “Anderson Plan” and helped his mission be the first to baptize 1,000 converts in a year. Within a few years, over 10,000 copies of his plan were printed and used in about sixty percent of the LDS missions throughout the world. Gordon B. Hinckley consulted with him while developing a standardized missionary teaching plan for the Church. “A Systematic Program for Teaching the Gospel” was implemented by the Church in 1952.

Anderson began college at Weber College in 1949. Sidney B. Sperry and Hugh Nibley encouraged Anderson to come to BYU. He transferred and studied Latin under J. Reuben Clark III and M. Carl Gibson and early Christian history and Greek under Nibley. He met his future wife, Carma de Jong in an Oriental History class taught by Nibley. He earned his BA degree in History with honors in 1951.

Anderson earned his JD degree from Harvard Law School. While at Harvard, he also studied Greek and was accepted into their Ancient History program. Financial limitations prevented him from finishing the program, and he taught for a year in Cedar City, Utah, for the Church Educational System and the College of Southern Utah. He began teaching religion at BYU in 1955 and earned a master’s degree in Greek while he taught. In 1957 he began his doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley and received his PhD in Ancient History in 1961. He taught at UC Berkeley for one year and then became a professor of Church history and doctrine at BYU in 1964, where he stayed until his retirement in 1996. He and his wife, Carma, directed a study abroad program in Salzburg, Austria, in 1972.

After his retirement, he worked as a senior research associate at FARMS, a senior research fellow at the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History, and a senior review editor for the Joseph Smith Papers. He produced a multi-volume documentary history of Oliver Cowdery.

His book Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses is widely considered the definitive LDS work on the subject. He has also researched and written on early Christianity and concentrated his research on the lives of Christ and the Apostle Paul. He published a book entitled Understanding Paul.

In 2006, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in history by the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation.

Richard and Carma Anderson are the parents of four children. He passed away on August 12, 2018.