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This article provides insights on the story of Aaron and the golden calf in the Bible, explaining why Aaron may have decided to make it and why his punishment for doing so was minor in comparison to other biblical reprimands.
Review of Richard Abanes. One Nation under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church.
Todd Parker discusses the meaning of Abinadi’s name and compares his circumstances to those of John the Baptist and his message to that of King Benjamin. He points out legal pretexts for Abinadi’s trial from Old Testament passages, and demonstrates how the priests of King Noah misunderstood the function of prophecy. Abinadi provides several examples of types and shadows pointing to the mission of Christ.
Review of The Use of Egyptian Magical Papyri to Authenticate the Book of Abraham: A Critical Review? (1993), by Edward H. Ashment.
Idrimi of Alalakh lived in Syria about a century after Abraham and left an autobiographical inscription that is the only such item uncovered archaeologically from Middle Bronze Age Syro-Palestine. The inscription of Idrimi and the Book of Abraham share a number of parallel features and motifs. Some of the parallels are a result of similar experiences in their lives and some are a result of coming from a similar culture and time.
Blake Ostler examines what relationship exists between the papyri of the ancient Egyptian Book of Breathings possessed by Joseph Smith and the Book of Abraham. Ostler finds that Joseph Smith, in associating vignettes of the Book of the Dead to explain Abraham’s experiences, was actually duplicating an ancient practice about which he could not have known from secular sources available in his day.
Stories about Abraham circulated in ancient times and were continued into the medieval period. Many of these accounts were then lost and have come to light only recently. John Tvedtnes examines several such stories— ranging from creation accounts to the attempted sacrifice of Abraham— and shows how they support the Book of Abraham.
Hugh Nibley discusses how Abraham was an ordinary man who held no office and worked no miracles, and yet he was one of the greatest minds of the last forty centuries. Nibley discusses Abraham’s relationship with the temple and gives an overview of the ancient temple. He also shows how the Book of Abraham answers what Nibley calls the “terrible questions”: Where do I come from? Why am I here? How does the universe figure in the gospel? How did it all begin, and how will it all end? Nibley argues that the vision given to Abraham in the Book of Abraham contains stage directions indicating that the vision is dramatized, and the Book of Abraham includes the script.
The prophet Nephi declared that the Lord speaks to his people “according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3). Religious beliefs are an integral part of a culture’s shared “language,” and the ways in which individuals interpret supernatural manifestations is typically mediated through their cultural background. The hierophanies recorded in Latter-day Saint canon directly reflect the unique cultural background of the individuals who witnessed them. This paper analyzes several distinct hierophanies witnessed by prophets in both the Old and New Worlds and discusses the cultural context in which such manifestations occur, which aids modern readers in obtaining a greater understanding of the revelatory process recounted in these texts.
This article discusses the importance of recording sacred experiences and preserving other written records.
Utilizing techniques adapted from literary criticism, this paper investigates the narrative structure of the Book of Mormon, particularly the relationship between Nephi’s first-person account and Mormon’s third-person abridgment. A comparison of the order and relative prominence of material from 1 Nephi 12 with the content of Mormon’s historical record reveals that Mormon may have intentionally patterned the structure of his narrative after Nephi’s prophetic vision—a conclusion hinted at by Mormon himself in his editorial comments. With this understanding, readers of the Book of Mormon can see how Mormon’s sometimes unusual editorial decisions are actually guided by an overarching desire to show that Nephi’s prophecies have been dramatically and literally fulfilled in the history of his people.
Butler discusses the premises of the DNA argument between supporters and critics of the Book of Mormon.
In response to the articles in this issue, Peterson notes that Latter-day Saints do not extend themselves to expose and attack other faiths. He further discusses, among other things, an open canon and continuing revelation, salvation as outlined in the scriptures, the ordinances of the gospel, revelation following the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, the biblical canon, inerrancy, biblical texts, the Book of Abraham, and the nature of God.
It is very important for Latter-day Saints to keep pace, more or Less, with the fast-moving developments in the fields of Bible and related studies. By failing to do this we run the risk of laboring to accommodate our religion to scientific and scholarly teachings that have long since been superceded, altered, or completely discarded.
Review of Step by Step through the Book of Mormon: The Story in Scriptures? A Geographical, Cultural, and Historical System of Understanding (1996), and Step by Step through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary, Part 1?Through the Wilderness to the Promised Land (1996), by Alan C. Miner
Review of “A Hemeneutic of Sacred Texts: Historicism, Revisionism, Postitiveism, and the Bible and Book of Mormon” (1989), by Alan Goff.
After Joseph Smith received the gold plates from the angel Moroni, he had to take great measures to protect them from people who wanted to steal them for their monetary value. Although Joseph did not leave much documentation of such experiences, the people who were closely associated with him at the time did. Using what records still exist, Hedges pieces together some of the stories of Joseph’s challenges in obtaining and protecting the gold plates.
Review of Fun for Family Night: Book of Mormon Edition (1990), by Allan K. Burgess and Max H. Molgard.
Review of Living the Book of Mormon: A Guide to Understanding and Applying Its Principles in Today's World (1991), by Allen K. Burgess.
Review of Timely Truths from the Book of Mormon (1995), by Allan K. Burgess
Catherine Thomas places Alma and his teachings within the context of the premortal existence to show his concern for the plan of redemption. She notes that some spirits were notably more responsive in their faith than others and that Israel was there organized. Alma’s discourses are set against his dramatic conversion, from a condition of abject wickedness to that of a highly motivated saint. His transformation serves as a model of encouragement for the lost soul seeking a higher state.
In Alma 21 a new group of troublemakers is introduced—the Amalekites—without explanation or introduction. This article offers arguments that this is the same group called Amlicites elsewhere and that the confusion is caused by Oliver Cowdery’s inconsistency in spelling. If this theory is accurate, then Alma structured his narrative record more tightly and carefully than previously realized. The concept also challenges the simplicity of the good Nephite/bad Lamanite rubric so often used to describe the players in the book of Mormon.
Alma’s distinctive use of the word state in the Book of Mormon is present in his unique concentration of state, his tendency to reword with state, and his treatment of a shared topic involving state.
Review of “Is Mormonism Christian?” (2002), by Craig L. Blomberg
Ammon, a Nephite missionary who chose to serve a Lamanite king as his servant, gained fame by cutting off the arms of the king’s enemies. The practice of smiting off arms of enemies as trophies fits a cultural pattern known among the later Aztecs and Maya in pre-Spanish Mesoamerica.
Review of Charting the Book of Mormon (1999), by John W. Welch and J. Gregory Welch
Nephite kings were expected to fulfill the same roles that kings played in other ancient civilizations— commander of the military forces, chief judicial official, and leader of the national religion. A king’s success depended not only on the extent to which he performed each role, but also on the motives behind his service. Selfless rule by Benjamin-type kings commanded the respect and praise of the people, while King Noah’s quest for personal gain roused Old World disdain for the monarch. The Nephite experiment with kingship confirms that between “kings and tyrants there’s this difference known; kings seek their subject’s good; tyrants their own” (Robert Herrick, 1591–1674).
Daniel Peterson discusses recent research that supports a spiritual witness for the Book of Mormon, including the following: Joseph Smith’s lack of schooling, his supposed misnaming of Jesus’ birthplace, the translation process, studies of chiasmus, possible locations for Book of Mormon events, and ancient manuscripts that are consistent with Book of Mormon accounts about document practices and beliefs of past civilizations.
Review of Finding Biblical Hebrew and Other Ancient Literary Forms in the Book of Mormon (1999), by Hugh W. Pinnock
Although much attention has been paid to those who have possessed the Joseph Smith Papyri in modern times, relatively little attention has been paid to the ancient owners of the papyri. This lecture examines the ancient owners, the world in which they lived, and their contact with the Book of Abraham.
By Miles Gerald Bradford, Published on 01/01/97
In the past, experts have assumed that primitive sailors would have found it impossible to cross the oceans between the Old World and the New. However, John Sorenson here concludes that the evidence for transoceanic contacts now drowns out the arguments of those who have seen the New World as an isolated island until ad 1492. Sorenson’s arguments are based on evidences from Europe, Asia, and Polynesia of the diffusion of New World plants and infectious organisms. His research identifies evidence for transoceanic exchanges of 98 plant species, including tobacco and peanuts. The presence of hookworm in both the Americas and the Old World before Columbus also serves as evidence to establish transoceanic contact.
Critical to understanding the widespread symbolism and imagery pointing to Jesus Christ in the New Testament is an exegetical grasp of the content--that is, an understanding of the historical, literary, and theological context of the language. The image of water recurs frequently throughout the New Testament Gospels as a symbol of the Savior’s purity, cleansing power, true doctrine, and so forth. Similarly, blood is used often to reflect the sacred mission of Christ and the price of our salvation. This article investigates this imagery, particularly as used by Apostle John, to explain the significance of the Savior’s mission in mortality and the miracle of his mercy in immortality.
A summary of the scriptural and historical evidences concerning the Arabian Bountiful, with an evaluation of all possible coastal locations on the Arabian peninsula based upon exploratory fieldwork by the authors in the Sultanate of Oman and the Republic of Yemen from 1984 to 1990. The study concludes that an objective and precise identification of Bountiful with a present-day location is now feasible and introduces data on physical traces revealing very early human involvement at the site.
A number of texts from the Qumran scrolls demonstrate the community’s interest in heavenly ascent and in communion with angels. This article lays out a pattern observable in some of the poetic/liturgical texts (for example, the Hodayot and other noncanonical psalms) in which the leader of the community is taken up into the divine council of God to be taught the heavenly mysteries, is appointed a teacher of those mysteries, and is then commissioned to share the teachings with his followers. Upon learning the mysteries, the followers are enabled to likewise ascend to heaven to praise God with the angels. In some texts, the human worshippers appear to undergo a transfiguration so that they become like the heavenly beings. This article further illustrates how these elements can be found together in a liturgical text known as the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice; their collective presence suggests that all were part of a ritual sequence. Finally, the article argues that these same elements, or traditions related to them, can be found in passages from the Old Testament.
This annotated bibliography compiled by John Sorenson makes accessible a range of information about animals in the Book of Mormon. It also includes an appendix of animal references in the Book of Mormon.
Rust, in the third annual FARMS Book of Mormon lecture delivered on 27 February 1990, examin3ed literary aspects of the book that develop the primary purposes set out on the title page. He discussed the elements characteristic of an epic that will allow modern-day Lamanites to trust in the Lord's deliverance and detailed literary (especially poetic) presentations of the covenants in the Book of Mormon. Literary elements combine with the influence of the Spirit to testify of the purposes of the Book of Mormon.
The fragmentary text on a stele erected at Karnak seems to be connected with the volcanic eruption on Thera. The phraseology in many instances bears uncanny resemblance to the Book of Mormon account of the destruction in the Americas at the time of the crucifixion.
The Book of Mormon is clearly a didactic text, with its narrators using plainness, explicitness, and repetition to keep the message clear and straightforward. However, Hardy offers a more in-depth analysis of the text’s rhetorical design that also reveals it as a literary text. The Book of Mormon is both a primer for judgment and a guidebook for sanctification. Parallel narratives are compared through clusters of similar narrative elements or phrasal borrowing between the multiple accounts. In Mosiah, Mormon tells the story of the bondage and delivery of Alma and his people after recounting the story of the bondage of the people of Limhi. Hardy explains that ambiguity, indirection, comparison, and allusions are all used to suggest the larger context of these two narratives. The ability to read the book as a guidebook for sanctification, rather than just as a straightforward didactic primer, will provide insight and guidance in the process of living a faithful life.
Review of Temple Themes in Christian Worship (2008), by Margaret Barker.
Prophesying of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, Nephi foretold that an unlearned man would be asked by God to read the words of a book after a learned man had failed to do so. The unlearned man was initially unwilling, claiming, “I am not learned” (2 Nephi 27:19). One interpretation of Nephi’s account is that Joseph Smith could not translate the Book of Mormon before the meeting of Martin Harris and Charles Anthon. Early historical accounts are consistent with this interpretation. However, according to Joseph Smith—History 1:64, Harris did take a translation to Anthon. Although this translation has not been found, evidence exists of similarities between this document and documents produced during the preliminary stages of the translation of the Book of Abraham. These similarities suggest that the document taken to Anthon was a preliminary and unsuccessful attempt to translate the Book of Mormon, during which Joseph Smith studied the translation problem out in his own mind as he qualified himself to receive the revealed translation from God.
Review of Parallel Histories: The Nephites and the Americans (1989), by Anthony E. Larson.
Review of The Mormon Defenders: How Latter-day Saint Apologists Misinterpret the Bible (2001), by James Patrick Holding
Review of The 1996 Directory of Cult Research Organizations: A Worldwide Listing of 752 Agencies and Individuals (1996), by Keith Edward Tolbert and Eric Pement
Review of “Apologetic and Critical Assumptions about Book of Mormon Historicity” (1993), by Brent Lee Metcalfe.
Cooper addresses the claim that Thomas Murphy’s DNA research is a “Galileo event.” He provides information on Galileo’s life to show that Galileo was not against religion and that the Catholic Church was not against science. Cooper then parallels that information with the Murphy situation. Like Galileo, Murphy has not taken a stance against religion, only against a particular religious text
Michael Lyon examines the importance and significance of hypocephali as works of art and expressions of religious belief. Facsimile 2, associated with the Book of Abraham, belongs to this class of documents. Lyon illustrates that hypocephali symbolize the sacred center of the universe, expressed in Facsimile 2 as well as in the shield of Achilles and the mandala tradition.
Since 1989, the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon has published review essays to help serious readers make informed choices and judgments about books and other publications on topics related to the Latter-day Saint religious tradition. It has also published substantial freestanding essays that made further contributions to the field of Mormon studies. In 1996, the journal changed its name to the FARMS Review with Volume 8, No 1. In 2011, the journal was renamed Mormon Studies Review.
A review of A Guide to the Joseph Smtih Papyri (2000) by John Gee.
Review of New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology (1993), edited by Brent Lee Metcalfe.
Review of John Gee and Brian M. Hauglid, eds. Astronomy, Papyrus, and Covenant.
According to the Book of Mormon, a land named “Bountiful” was a fertile site on the Arabian Peninsula with timber, fresh water, and ore where Nephi built a ship to carry Lehi’s group to the New World. In the seemingly barren land of the southern Arabian peninsula, a site that appears to correspond to the description in Nephi’s record has been identified on the remote southern coast of the country of Oman. Kharfot may not be the exact location of Bountiful, but its discovery does show that a place matching the criteria for Bountiful does exist.
Royal Skousen’s most significant contribution to Book of Mormon scholarship, this paper states, is in openly and systematically detailing the thousands of variants that occur across two manuscripts and twenty editions and showing that these variations do not affect the message or validity of the book as a witness of Jesus Christ. Skousen’s work also offers new insights into the process of translating and publishing the Book of Mormon. Though the work of translation appears to have involved a number of different methods, we can nevertheless be sure that the Book of Mormon was translated by the “gift and power of God.”
The archaeology of New York—and specifically the Hill Cumorah—is persuasive evidence that Book of Mormon peoples did not live in that region. By implication, the Cumorah of the golden plates is not the Cumorah of the final battles—Mormon’s hill and Moroni’s hill are not one and the same. These conclusions follow from a few basic points and assumptions that the author explores in this article.
Archaeology has much to offer as a scientific means of gathering independent evidence of the Book of Mormon’s authenticity. But one must look in the right place. A cautionary tale is the failed Cluff expedition of 1900, which, assuming a “hemispheric model” of Book of Mormon geography, traveled from Provo as far as Colombia looking for the city Zarahemla. Yet in 1842 the Times and Seasons (under Joseph Smith’s editorship) had printed excerpts from a popular book on Mesoamerican archaeology that demonstrated a surprisingly high level of civilization, implying that Nephite lands did not extend into South America, thus supporting the theory of a ”limited” geographic model. Both sides believe that archaeology is on their side. Book of Mormon critics also claim that archaeology is on their side, but decades of archaeological investigation in Mesoamerica and in the Old World has shown a pattern of increasing convergence that favors Book of Mormon authenticity. Evidences discussed include, among others, metal records in stone boxes, ancient writing, warfare, the tree of life and other metaphors, Old and New World geography, and cycles of civilization. In a sidebar article, the findings of an amateur archaeologist challenge a popular assumption that the hill was the scene of the final battles depicted in the Book of Mormon.
Review of Tudor Parfitt. The Lost Ark of the Covenant: The Remarkable Quest for the Legendary Ark.
Review of Kim B. Clark. Armor: Divine Protection in a Darkening World.
Review of Lehi's Isle of Promise: A Scriptural Account with Word Definitions and a Commentary.
In 1830 the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation that became known as the Articles and Covenants, later included in the Doctrine and Covenants as section 20. In this paper Scott Faulring discusses the emergence and significance of that revelation that would become a constitutional and procedural guide to regulating church affairs.
The idea that King Noah’s life was to be valued “as a garment in a hot furnace” is a type of simile curse. He would suffer death by fire, which was a just punishment for the wicked.
The Book of Mormon prophets were intentionally plain in their language even when using figurative language; they generally avoided using obscure figures with hidden meanings. In this paper, Kelly Ogden lists metaphors used in the Book of Mormon along with the plain definitions the prophets gave to explain the figurative language they used. Ogden notes that when teaching doctrine the prophets would often repeat concepts using different words so the people could not misunderstand.
Review of Grant H. Palmer. An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins.
The attitude held by certain sectors of the anti-Mormon crowd has changed over the years, even to the point where some no longer deny the literary merit and beauty of the Book of Mormon. Although an assessment of the impact of Jack Welch’s work and writing on chiasmus may be premature, it is clear that his work on the subject incited the expansion of other literary analyses of the Book of Mormon and encouraged the publication of their results. Welch’s work influenced studies and analyses on chiasmus in Classic Mayan texts, and his publications have contributed much to the discipline of chiastic analyses.
Review of Douglas E. Cowan. Bearing False Witness? An Introduction to the Christian Countercult.
Review of Religion, Feminism, and Freedom of Conscience: A Mormon/Humanist Dialogue (1994), edited by George D. Smith.
Robert Millet shows that Christ’s atonement is central to the Book of Mormon, particularly as it pertains to the fall. He illuminates the nature of the “good news” of the gospel—the hope of redemption through Christ. Without the atonement all other facets of our religion are bereft of ultimate power, and we remain in our sins. He explains that the atonement is infinite in several ways and that the Book of Mormon both extends an invitation to come unto Christ and teaches how to do so. Grace and works each play an important role in our salvation.
Skeptics have misused some historical sources as they attempt to reverse the Eight Witnesses’ statements about their physical contact with the Book of Mormon plates. The Eight Witnesses speak of viewing the plates themselves with unobstructed vision. They left 10 specific statements of handling the plates. This article provides an overview of the statements and experiences of the Eight Witnesses and the arguments of their critics, both then and now. Their unequivocal testimonies resist revisionists’ attempts to portray their experience as mere illusion or deception.
Daniel Peterson examines the book of Mosiah as an initial step in determining the overall doctrine of priesthood in the Book of Mormon. He attempts to account for every verse in the book of Mosiah that deals, either directly or indirectly, with questions of priesthood and authority. He discusses the priesthood in the small plates, the roles of priests, whether early Nephite priests were ordained, and the church in the days of Mosiah2.
This article examines the book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon in order to study the doctrine and pres-ence of the priesthood in Book of Mormon times.
Review of The Lord's University: Freedom and Authority at BYU (1998), by Bryan Waterman and Brian Kagel
Noel Reynolds discusses scholarship in the Latter-day Saint community, particularly with respect to the question of the authorship of the Book of Mormon. In this overview of the book, Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited, Reynolds discusses the research of Richard L. Bushman, Richard L. Anderson, Royal Skousen, Hugh Nibley, and others.
Review of The Book of Isaiah: A New Translation with Interpretive Keys from the Book of Mormon (1998), by Avraham Gileadi
Review of The Book of Isaiah: A New Translation with Interpretive Keys from the Book of Mormon (1998), by Avraham Gileadi
Review of The Literary Message of Isaiah (1994), by Avraham Gileadi.
Review of Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1875-1896 (1998), by David L. Bigler
Brigham Henry Roberts, a Book of Mormon scholar in the early twentieth century, was a pioneer in his field. He conducted research regarding the culture and the geography of the Book of Mormon peoples in an attempt to determine the setting of the Book of Mormon. His extensive work in this area has significantly influenced the progress of Book of Mormon research. Roberts also enthusiastically defended the book when others criticized it. He was able to do so effectively because of his study of and familiarity with the Book of Mormon. Roberts did, however, have a few limitations, the most detrimental being his unfounded assumption that “the narrow neck of land” in the Book of Mormon is the Isthmus of Panama. Yet, Roberts’s pioneering efforts remain today a crucial catalyst to modern analytical studies of the Book of Mormon.
To help mitigate the soteriological problem of evil, that one having had no chance to hear the gospel would be sent to hell, many early Christians practiced baptism for the dead. The only reference to this in the New Testament comes in 1 Corinthians 15:29, a scripture that some scholars attempt to reinterpret or repunctuate to dismiss baptism for the dead but that most scholars defend as a legitimate reference. Further strengthening the historicity of the practice are references by early writers such as Tertullian and Ambrosiaster. The quest for authenticating the practice of baptism for the dead should rest on these and other historical references, not on retroactively applied standards of orthodoxy.
Anti-Mormon criticisms of the Book of Mormon are frequently based on a questionable set of assumptions concerning the nature of historical and archaeological evidence, the role of governing presuppositions, and the nature of historical proof. Using arguments found in a recent anti-Mormon critique by Luke Wilson as a foundation, this article analyzes difficulties of reconstructing ancient geographies, problems with the discontinuity of Mesoamerican toponyms, the historical development of the idea of a limited geography model, and challenges of textual and artifactual interpretation when trying to relate the Book of Mormon to archaeological remains.
Review of John W. Welch. The Sermon on the Mount in the Light of the Temple.
Review of Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon: Insights from Prophets, Church Leaders, and Scholars (1999), by K. Douglas Bassett
Review of Fair Gods and Feathered Serpents; A Search for the Early Americas' Bearded White God (1997), by T. J. O'Brien
The Book of Mormon provides many good examples to Latter-day Saint writers of how to magnify their work. By following the patterns of the Book of Mormon, writers can understand what to emphasize and how to include the Spirit in their writing.
Royal sonship is a key theme of Mosiah 1–6, including King Benjamin’s seminal address at the temple in Zarahemla (Mosiah 2–5) on the occasion of his son Mosiah’s enthronement. Benjamin, however, caps this covenant sermon, not with an assertion of his son’s royal status and privileges, but with a radical declaration of his people’s royal rebirth (or adoption) as “ the children of Christ, his sons and his daughters” (Mosiah 5:7) and their potential enthronement at God’s “ right hand” (5:9). Similar to rhetorical wordplay involving proper names found in the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other ancient texts, Benjamin’s juxtaposition of “sons”/“daughters” and the “right hand” constitutes a deliberate wordplay on his own name, traditionally taken to mean “son of the right hand.” The name of Christ, rather than Benjamin’s own name, is given to all his people as a new name—a “throne” name. However, he warns them against refusing to take upon them this throne name and thus being found “on the left hand of God” (5:10), a warning that also constitutes an allusion to his name. Benjamin’s ultimate hope is for his people’s royal, divine sonship/daughterhood to be eternally “sealed.”
Critics of the Book of Mormon often cite genetic evidence in their attacks on the historicity of the text, saying that the lack of any Near Eastern–American Indian DNA links conclusively proves that no emigration ever occurred from the Near East to the Americas. Their simplistic approach—that the Book of Mormon purports to be a history of the entire American Indian race—is not supported by archaeological or Book of Mormon evidence. The authors pose and respond to questions about the geographical scene, the spread of Book of Mormon peoples, Latter-day Saint traditions about the scenes and peoples of the Book of Mormon, the terms Nephites and Lamanites, the possible presence of others in the land, ocean travel, Mesoamerican native traditions, languages of the Western Hemisphere, Old World peoples coming to the Americas, archaeological evidence, and ethnically distinct populations in ancient American art. These questions set out the social, cultural, and geographical contexts that are necessary for geneticists to understand before reaching major conclusions.
Review of Joel P. Kramer and Scott R. Johnson. The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon.
According to the non-Mormon historian Jan Shipps, “the mystery of Mormonism cannot be solved until we solve the mystery of Joseph Smith.” Stated more casually, this is called the “prophet puzzle,” and it is sometimes suggested that Latter-day Saints will understand themselves only to the degree that they understand Joseph Smith. The classic definition of the role played by Joseph Smith was contributed by LDS leader B. H. Roberts in the late nineteenth century: “What was Joseph Smith’s mission? It was the mission of Joseph Smith, under God’s direction, to establish the Church of Christ and the Kingdom of God upon the earth; and to the accomplishment of this work he devoted the whole energy of his life and was faithful until the end.”2 What Roberts meant by this is that Smith restored organizations, roles, priesthoods, sacraments, and so forth that had been previously present among God’s people in all ages. Smith was particularly clear that Jesus had established this church in his own period. To the extent that information about this part of the Christian past is preserved, it is to be found particularly in the New Testament.
Robert Millet begins by reviewing what we know of King Benjamin’s life prior to his great sermon and covers some of the highlights of what he taught. Millet explains what the name Jesus Christ means according to the Hebrew background, and delineates the importance of that name. He explains some of the benefits of the atonement, including that it covers those who have sinned in ignorance.
Review of The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power (1997), by D. Michael Quinn.
This talk was given on 26 October 1973 to the Pi Sigma Alpha honor society in the Political Science Department at Brigham Young University. It first appeared in BYU Studies 15/1 (1974) and was reprinted in Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1978) and in the second edition of that volume in 2004. It is reprinted here with minor technical editing.
In most languages, the Church is designated as that of the last days, so this speech—which is only a pastiche of quotations from its founders—is unblushingly apocalyptic. Did our grandparents overreact to signs of the times? For many years, a stock cartoon in sophisticated magazines has poked fun at the barefoot, bearded character in the long nightshirt carrying a placard calling all to “Repent, for the End is at Hand.” But where is the joke? Ask the smart people who thought up the funny pictures and captions: Where are they now?
Review of The Bible Code (1997), by Michael Drosnin
This book is in actuality the Book of Mormon with some differences.
Bibliography of Sidney B. Sperry’s writings.
Review of Paul Copan and William Lane Craig. “Craftsman or Creator? An Examination of the Mormon Doctrine of Creation and a Defense of Creatio ex nihilo.” In The New Mormon Challenge: Responding to the Latest Defenses of a Fast-Growing Movement
Review of Questions to Ask Your Mormon Friend: Challenging the Claims of Latter-day Saints in a Constructive Manner (1994), by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson
Review of Questions to Ask Your Mormon Friend: Effective Ways to Challenge a Mormon's Arguments without Being Offensive (1994), by Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson.
Review of Written by the Finger of God: A Testimony of Joseph Smith's Translations (1993), by Joe Sampson.
Royal Skousen’s work on his Book of Mormon critical text project demonstrates that he is an able textual critic who employs sound judgment and proven methods to uncover the original text of the Book of Mormon. In many cases, these decisions seem counterintuitive to untrained readers, but Skousen correctly applies the principle that a more awkward reading is most likely original. He also shows his ability to make conjectural emendations for which no direct textual evidence is available. In every case, Skousen clearly lays out his reasoning so that readers who disagree with his inferences can examine the evidence for themselves to reach their own conclusions. This paper goes on to speculate that Skousen’s work may in time bring the LDS and RLDS editions of the Book of Mormon closer together textually. In the end, the critical text project is a superb work of scholarship on par with the standard works of biblical textual criticism.
Review of Robert V. Remini. Joseph Smith.
Review of Answering Mormon Scholars: A Response to Criticism of the Book “Coving Up the Black Hole in the Book of Mormon” (1994), by Jerald and Sandra Tanner.
Review of To Mothers & Fathers from the Book of Mormon (1991), by Blaine Yorgason and Brenton Yorgason.
Review of Blake T. Ostler. Exploring Mormon Thought: The Attributes of God. and Blake T. Ostler. Exploring Mormon Thought: The Problems of Theism and the Love of God.
Ancient texts are too often approached using modern assumptions. Among those assumptions obstructing an understanding of ancient texts is the modern emphasis on originality and on writing as intellectual property. Ancient writers relished repetition—stories that were repeated in succeeding generations—over originality. The Bible is full of repeated or allusive stories, and the Book of Mormon often reinscribes this biblical emphasis on repetition. One such biblical reverberation in the Book of Mormon is Nephi’s ocean voyage, which evokes biblical stories of origination: creation, deluge, and exodus. These three stories of beginnings are carefully alluded to in Nephi’s own foundational story, exactly as we would expect to find in an ancient Hebraic text.
Review of Robert K. Ritner. “The ‘Breathing Permit of Hôr’ Thirtyfour Years Later.” Dialogue 33/4 (2000): 97–119. Review of Robert K. Ritner. “ ‘The Breathing Permit of Hôr’ among the Joseph Smith Papyri.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 62/3 (2003): 161–77.
Review of . . . By His Own Hand upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri (1992), by Charles M. Larson.
Review of Michael D. Rhodes. The Hor Book of Breathings: A Translation and Commentary.
Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon consistently use such phrases as “Book of Lehi,” “plates of Lehi,” and “account of Nephi” in distinct ways.
Review of Jana Riess, annotator. The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained.
Some critics of the Book of Mormon have suggested that Joseph Smith produced the book through a process known as “automatic writing,” a rapid flow of language claimed to be generated through paranormal means such as trance-like states or claimed communications with spirits. This paper presents an overview of some prominent claims of automatic writing and examines the historical and scientific evidence for the authenticity of at least some of these cases. After discussing the similarities between these works and the Book of Mormon, the paper outlines a number of features in the Book of Mormon that clearly differentiate it from any known case of automatic writing, features such as the presence of Near Eastern and Mesoamerican geographic, cultural, and linguistic details that were unknowable to anyone in 1830. Based on this and other evidence, the Book of Mormon does not fit the profile of automatic writing but is best explained by Joseph’s own account of its ancient and divine origins.
This article has been adapted from the author’s book By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture That Launched a New World Religion. The author discusses three common understandings of the term revelation: (1) revelation as doctrine, (2) revelation as history, and (3) revelation as inner experience. He suggests that the Book of Mormon introduces a fourth type: revelation as dialogue. This form of revelation allows individuals to have direct contact with God, rather than only through the scriptures, and can be applied to our lives just as it was to the lives of those living in Book of Mormon times.
In the last few years, the topic of how DNA research fits in with the text of the Book of Mormon has become increasingly divisive. Now, for the first time in one volume, respected DNA scientists, geneticists, and Book of Mormon scholars provide their views on DNA and the Book of Mormon.
If it existed in only one ancient copy, says John Tvedtnes, the Book of Mormon may have been unique. But in virtually every other way it resembles many ancient books. In this present volume, Tvedtnes shows perhaps fifty things about ancient records that must have been hilarious in 1830 but make perfect sense today: the ubiquity of intentionally hiding books in all kinds of ingenious containers made of many materials, including stone boxes and ceramic jars; books incised on obdurate surfaces, like metals, bones, and ivory; inked papyri and parchments treated with swaddling cloths soaked in cedar and citrus oils to prevent decay; many sealed and open records; waterproofing sealants like bitumen and white lime mortar; caves serving as repositories of treasures buried in many sacred mountains; the ancient perception of permanence and eternalism associated with the preservative functions of writing; and numerous ancient traditions of angels as writers and guardians of written records. Many twentieth-century discoveries of ancient documents have made all of this visible.
The text of the Book of Mormon contributes to the understanding of the Pentateuch and to a confirmation that Moses was indeed its author. The Book of Mormon also helps confirm that Isaiah was the author of the book of Isaiah. The Isaiah chapters quoted in the Book of Mormon are a better translation than the King James Version, as they are undoubtedly from an older version. The Book of Mormon quotes Micah and Malachi with clarification and augments selected New Testament scriptures.
The church advocates no official position on the origins of Amerindian populations. Critics and sup-porters of the Book of Mormon both attempt to bolster their own arguments with DNA evidence. This study reviews the properties of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), particularly pertaining to the origins of Native American populations. DNA studies are subject to numerous limitations.
Many critics deny that the first five books of the Old Testament were written by Moses and consider them to be childish myths. However, when Nephi and Lehi examined the brass plates, they found them to contain “the five books of Moses.” And in the Book of Mormon, the Savior himself confirms their authorship. The book of Ether also offers confirmation of the Tower of Babel story.
The Sermon on the Mount in 3 Nephi parallels the accounts in Matthew and Luke, although it is closer to Matthew. The sermon was addressed partly to a general audience and partly to the twelve disciples exclusively, although the crowd heard it. In many cases the account in 3 Nephi clarifies the New Testament accounts; in particular, the Joseph Smith Translation and Book of Mormon explain the Lord’s Prayer.
Hugh Nibley addresses issues that cause people to question the historicity of the Book of Mormon. He gives evidence to support the claim that people inhabited the American continent for centuries before the arrival of the Nephites, that the Hill Cumorah was not too far away for Moroni to reach, and that the “fulness of iniquity” described in the Book of Mormon has much evidence in extant art from that time.
Responses to the following questions appear here: “Did the Nephites have authority to sacrifice?” and “Did the Nephites sacrifice first-born animals contrary to the law of Moses?”
Responses to the following questions appear here: “Is the ‘fulness of the gospel’ in the Book of Mormon?” and “What is the meaning of ‘familiar spirit’ in Isaiah 29?”
Excerpts from a letter written in 1962 reveal how Jakeman’s interpretation of Stela 5 quickly stimulated a body of folklore among some Latter-day Saints.
Arnold Friberg is arguably the most influential artist on Latter-day Saint scriptural art. His depictions of the people and the landscape of the Book of Mormon are well known to Latter-day Saints. This article explains the genesis and completion of Friberg’s series of twelve Book of Mormon paintings and gives the author’s own observations on each painting.
This article discusses the evolution of book collecting, particularly by Latter-day Saints. Although the circle of book collectors used to be small, it has since expanded, probably because of the spread of the Internet. Latter-day Saints throughout the world are now able to locate and purchase old and rare books within minutes. While this innovation can be productive and beneficial, the easy access can be risky. Because people are so anxious to buy these types of books, they have the potential to be deceived by those who create fraudulent products, and unlike the older, more experienced buyers, newcomers often do not inspect books closely for authenticity and condition before purchasing them. Because of these potential mistakes, it is essential that book collectors be more aware of the risks and take the necessary precautions to avoid them.
Review of Scott C. Dunn. “Automaticity and the Dictation of the Book of Mormon.” In American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon.
Recent years have witnessed a growing recognition in the academy that the Book of Mormon deserves closer attention than it has received. Not surprisingly, adherents to the various Mormon faiths have long read the book with some care. But larger numbers of believing and nonbelieving academics have come to recognize that, despite its often didactic style and relative literary artlessness, the Book of Mormon exhibits remarkable sophistication. This is perhaps nowhere truer than in those passages where the volume interacts—whether explicitly or implicitly—with biblical texts (always in or in relation to the King James rendering). Close reading of the Book of Mormon makes clear that Mormonism’s founding text models a profoundly inventive biblical hermeneutic that deserves a place in the burgeoning field of reception history. How does Mormon scripture understand and react to particular biblical texts, and what might be learned about the potential meanings of those biblical texts in light of such interactions?
What constitutes great literature? What is it about the literature of the Book of Mormon that has such a profound effect upon its readers? Although perhaps not beautifully written, the Book of Mormon’s message or theme justifies its classification as great literature and accounts for its profound effect on the lives of millions.
Review of James T. Duke. The Literary Masterpiece Called the Book of Mormon.
This article discusses the meaning of the term recordand explains how it applies to the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon is a translation, containing details of the original language in which it is written. Very few of the writers would have had a working knowledge of Egyptian; the writing would more likely be a Hebraized Egyptian. The Book of Mormon contains many passages from Isaiah, more correctly translated than in the King James Version. Various examples of the Hebrew construct state are evident in Joseph Smith’s translation, together with direct translations of Hebrew idioms.
Editor’s introduction to a four-part series on the relationship of DNA studies to Book of Mormon origins.
Bibliography of publications on the Book of Mormon in 1989.
Bibliography of Publications on the Book of Mormon in 1988.
Review of John W. Welch. The Legal Cases in the Book of Mormon.
Review of Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon (1997), by Jeffrey R. Holland
Royal Skousen’s endeavor to recover the original text of the Book of Mormon is more complicated than it seems because it involves more than simply reproducing the original manuscript. Rather, what Skousen means by “original text” is the very language that appeared on the Urim and Thummim. Every subsequent step, such as Joseph’s reading, his scribes’ understanding and transcribing of that utterance, and Oliver Cowdery’s copying of the manuscript for the printer, exposed the text to the possibility of human subjectivity and error. This paper explains the nature and scope of Skousen’s monumental undertaking and presents some of the methods and reasoning he employs to resolve disputed textual variants in search the Book of Mormon’s original text.
Larry Draper describes his role in providing Royal Skousen with copies of various early editions of the Book of Mormon for use in the critical text project. Draper also describes the printing process of the Book of Mormon, which process was made clearer because of Skousen’s project. Draper explains the stereotyping method of printing that was used for the 1840 Cincinnati/Nauvoo edition and the 1852 Liverpool edition of the Book of Mormon.
Robert Smith works out a detailed chronology of events in Palestine and the surrounding area from 793-445 B.c. to show what was happening in the years prior to Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem and journey to and settlement of the New World. He also describes the topographical and climatic conditions of the land through which Lehi and his colony may well have traveled on their way to the Americas.
The Book of Mormon annals open in an ancient Near Eastern context. The archaeological-historical context is carefully outlined here within a systematic chronology that is tied to fixed, absolute dates of recorded astronomical events—particularly those from cuneiform eponym calendars. The resultant matrix allows those early Book of Mormon events to be understood in a rational, familiar, and meaningful way—that is, in a biblical context. In addition, an excursus is devoted to understanding the Arabia of the Book of Mormon as the Lehite exiles must have known it. Throughout it is clear that the world depicted by the Book of Mormon dovetails remarkably well with what we know of the ancient Near East.
A church member who has loved the Book of Mormon since childhood and who takes it for granted that the Book of Mormon is central to LDS class instruction, general conference addresses, and missionary discussions is likely to be surprised that we have only six Book of Mormon hymns in our 1985 hymnbook. Early hymn writers turned to the Book of Mormon itself for their texts. Twelve Book of Mormon hymns were introduced into Mormon hymnody by Emma Smith’s first hymnal, but the Book of Mormon as a theme almost disappeared from later hymnals. Only one hymn relating to the Book of Mormon was among the forty-nine new hymns added to the 1985 hymnal. In this article, Book of Mormon hymns are listed, discussed, and categorized. Most of the Book of Mormon hymns that have been written are narrative, rather than devotional. Each new hymnbook must meet the needs of its age. Devotional hymns are likely to be more forthcoming as literary appreciation of the Book of Mormon continues to grow.
In recent years, a large number of ancient writings have been found in and around Israel. While many of these include names found in the Bible and other ancient texts, others were previously unattested in written sources. Some of these previously unattested names, though unknown in the Bible, are found in the Book of Mormon. The discovery of these Hebrew names in ancient inscriptions provides remarkable evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and provides clear refutation of those critics who would place its origin in nineteenth-century America. This article explores several Book of Mormon proper names that are attested from Hebrew inscriptions. Names included are Sariah, Alma, Abish, Aha, Ammonihah, Chemish, Hagoth, Himni, Isabel, Jarom, Josh, Luram, Mathoni, Mathonihah, Muloki, and Sam—none of which appear in English Bibles.
Review of Geri Brinley. The Book of Mormon: A Pattern for Parenting.
Janne Sjodahl discusses how the Book of Mormon would have taken up less space on the plates than in its current translated and printed form. Because the plates were written in a language comparable to Hebrew, Sjodahl had fourteen pages of the English Book of Mormon translated into Hebrew and writ-ten out. This Hebrew text covered only one page. According to this finding, the Book of Mormon could be written using as few as twenty-one plates (or even forty-eight if written in larger characters). Sjodahl presents estimates of the size and weight of the plates.
Review of Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins (1997), edited by Noel B. Reynolds
Excerpts from the Deseret Evening News of 25 May 1903 report on a convention at which Book of Mormon geography was discussed.
Review of Terryl L Given. By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture That Launched a New World Religion.
The Protestant Bible wars were fought between fundamentalists, who initially claimed for the Bible the same "truth" that Enlightenment claimed for science, and liberals, who denied that historical "truth" could be achieved at all. In the present Book of Mormon wars the opposite seems to be true: the liberal camp appears deeply rooted in the Enlightenment paradigm, while the orthodox (but not fundamentalist) position often uses postmodernist arguments, claiming that absolute objectivity is a "noble dream" never achieved nor obtainable in historical studies. The article reviews the present Mormon controversies by comparing them to the discussions on biblical interpretation in the Roman Catholic Church, as summarized in the semiofficial 1993 document "The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church" by the Pontifical Biblical Commission.
Richard Anderson gives an overview of the secular and divine functions of witnesses and refers to the anticipation surrounding the revelatory calling of witnesses to view the plates. He describes the circumstances of their calling, details aspects of their lives, comments on their character traits, and answers several typical questions of skeptics. Anderson emphasizes that these witnesses were true to their testimonies.
The historicity of the Book of Mormon record is crucial. We cannot exercise faith in that which is untrue, nor can “doctrinal fiction” have normative value in our lives. Too often the undergirding assumption of those who cast doubt on the historicity of the Book of Mormon, in whole or in part, is a denial of the supernatural and a refusal to admit of revelation and predictive prophecy. Great literature, even religious literature, cannot engage the human soul and transform the human personality like scripture. Only scripture—writings and events and descriptions from real people at a real point in time, people who were moved upon and directed by divine powers—can serve as a revelatory channel, enabling us to hear and feel the word of God.
Concepts from the Book of Mormon contributed to how the church was built up and conducted. Oliver Cowdery was instructed to draw upon the Book of Mormon in formulating his vision of how the restored church should be organized and regulated. His 1829 Articles of the Church of Christ were a precursor to Joseph Smith’s 1830 Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ (now known as Doctrine and Covenants 20). Three key aspects of church organization that originated in the Book of Mormon include baptism and priesthood authority, the ordination of priests and teachers, and the administration of the Lord’s supper.
The Book of Mormon teaches faith in Christ, a message relevant for our time or any time. Believers progress from knowing the Savior, to loving and being obedient to him, and ultimately desiring to share the message about him. Our commitment to the gospel is reflected in our ability to be obedient.
Dale LeBaron counsels us to draw on the power of the Book of Mormon and the words of Christ’s representatives to discover the Lord’s pattern for preparing for the second coming. This preparation entails knowing the signs of the second coming, knowing the patterns of destruction, believing that despite persecution righteousness will prevail, heeding the counsels of the prophets, and studying the ministry of Christ and the teachings about his return.
Arnold gives personal reflections on the compatibility of scholarship and discipleship, the latter deepened by earnest study of the Book of Mormon. Neal A. Maxwell’s gift for words is illustrated. As an inex-haustible source of insight and delight, the Book of Mormon rewards close reading, as is apparent by a look at even the minor characters in the narrative. This Annual Neal A. Maxwell Institute Lecture was originally given on 10 March 2011 at Brigham Young University.
The Book of Mormon exhibits the intimate relationship between God and his people. The brother of Jared’s experience is a fine example. The driving force of the prophets was moral and religious, rather than economic and political. Social injustice was condemned by Nephi, Jacob, Alma, and Captain Moroni. Although little is said about the status of the family, respect for women and family affection are standard. Workers were well treated and friendship was promoted between Nephites and Lamanites. The Book of Mormon displays a high caliber of personal religion and brotherhood.
The book of Mosiah is a cultic history of the reign of Mosiah2, structured around three royal ceremonies in 124, 121, and 92–91 BC. On each of these occasions, newly discovered scriptures were read to the people, stressing the dangers of monarchical government and celebrating the deliverance of the people and the revelation of Jesus Christ. This book existed independently hundreds of years before Mormon engraved it onto the gold plates. The most likely occasion for the writing of such a book was in the aftermath of Mosiah’s death when Alma the Younger needed to undermine the Amlicite bid to reestablish the monarchy.
Review of In the Footsteps of Lehi: New Evidence for Lehi\'s Journey across Arabia to Bountiful (1994), by Warren P. Aston and Michaela Knoth Aston.
Review of ?Apologetic and Critical Assumptions about Book of Mormon Historicity? (1993), by Brent Lee Metcalfe.
Review of New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology (1993), edited by Brent Lee Metcalfe.
Review of New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology (1993), edited by Brent Lee Metcalfe.
Review of Little Known Evidences of the Book of Mormon (1989), by Brenton G. Yorgason.
Review of Little Known Evidences of the Book of Mormon (1989), by Brenton G. Yorgason.
Review of How Wide the Divide: A mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation (1997), by Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson
The Book of Mormon includes a narration of the Jaredites and records that this people brought honey-bees with them from the Old World to the New World. A study of the history of beekeeping in the ancient Near East supports the plausibility of the Jaredites’ story.
Brigham Young studied the text of the Book of Mormon for approximately two years before he decided to be baptized. This article discusses how his family life prepared him to receive the teachings of the Book of Mormon and the influence his testimony had on him throughout his life, as second president of the church, and as the first governor of the state of Utah. Despite his conversion to the Book of Mormon, Brigham did not often refer to its teachings in his sermons. This seemingly strange practice was likely a result of the cultural dependence on the Bible at that time and of Brigham’s careful attention to the prophet Joseph Smith Jr.’s teaching style, which did not include a large number of Book of Mormon references. Even though Brigham did not incorporate direct references in his teachings, he was greatly influenced by the principles taught in the Book of Mormon.
With characteristic energy, Hugh Nibley describes the character of Brigham Young and discusses his teachings. The issues explored in this essay include the problem of evil and the power of the devil, temptation and necessary opposition, consequences of sin, and truth obtained by the light of Christ.
Until now, nearly all commentaries on the Book of Mormon have focused mainly on issues of doctrine rather than beginning with the text itself. Royal Skousen’s critical text project does the opposite by treating the text itself on the word and phrase level. Skousen weighs nearly all possible evidence to deduce the events that may have led to the variations seen in the texts and to draw conclusions about which readings are most likely original. Some conclusions may surprise readers, but Skousen is more interested in candidly documenting what the texts reveal than in interpreting all the implications. Several lengthy excerpts from Skousen’s work show the scholarly depth and rigor of his analysis. In the end, Skousen may have produced the seminal work of Book of Mormon textual criticism that scholars and students will still be using hundreds of years from now.
Review of Doctrines of the Book of Mormon: The 1991 Sperry Symposium (1992), edited by Bruce A. Van Orden and Brent L. Top
Review of The Messiah in Ancient America (1987), by Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson.
Review of Fingerprints of God: Evidences from Near-Death Studies, Scientific Research on Creation, and Mormon Theology (1999), by Arvin S. Gibson
Review of “Book of Mormon Chrstology” (1993), by Melodie Moench Charles
Review of About the Three Nephites (1992), by C. Douglas Beardall and Jewel N. Beardall.
Review of Gavin Menzies. 1421, the Year China Discovered America.
The lengthy sojourn of Lehi’s family in the Arabian desert invites the almost inevitable question whether circumstances forced family members to live in the service of tribesmen either for protection or for food. In my view, enough clues exist in the Book of Mormon—they have to be assembled—to bring one to conclude that the family lived for a time in a servile condition, a situation that apparently entailed suffering and conflict.
The discovery of Babylonian, Assyrian, and Egyptian ritual prescriptions for creating and enlivening divine statues ranks among the more important in providing depth and context for reading biblical texts, and it is one that has only relatively recently begun to bear fruit. As the most recent and sustained study of these texts and their significance for understanding the Hebrew Bible, Catherine L. McDowell’s The Image of God in the Garden of Eden demonstrates the gains in understanding made possible, with all due caution, by bringing the mīs pî pīt pî (mouth-washing, mouth-opening) ritual instructions from Mesopotamia and the wpt-r (mouth-opening) texts from Egypt into conversation with the Genesis creation stories. The work under consideration is both an excellent distillation and critique of the relatively recent work done on the animation of divine statues in the ancient Near East as well as a compelling analysis of what it means for understanding the Garden of Eden narrative of Genesis 2–3.2 A revision of her 2009 Harvard dissertation directed by Peter Machinist and Irene Winter, McDowell’s work displays the comprehensiveness, attention to detail, and clarity of exposition that make this indispensable for understanding both the rituals involved and the conceptual context informing the Genesis account. Scholars will find reasons to dispute some of the claims and conclusions made in the volume, but McDowell has herewith advanced the conversation in a systematic and reasonable manner.
Review of A Reader's Book of Mormon Digest: Condensed from the Book of Mormon: A New Witness for Christ. A Monthly Reading Program and Study Guide of the Doctrines of the Book of Mormon (1997), by Robert H. Moss
It has been 100 years since George Reynolds published his massive work, A Complete Concordance of the Book of Mormon. Reynolds worked on this project, begun while serving a prison sentence for polygamy, over 21 years of his life. He tabulated virtually every word used in the Book of Mormon except a few of the most common words, and gave a portion of the sentence in which each cited word appeared. He himself paid all the printing costs.
Review of Grant H. Palmer. An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins.
Some critics of the Book of Mormon reject the ancient text on account of its supposedly racist commentary. In response to these critics, this article incorporates biblical examples and traditions to show how certain words and phrases that could be seen as racist were used to illustrate a larger message
Review of Ashamed of Joseph: Mormon Foundations Crumble (1993), by Charles Crane and Steven Crane.
This book is a collection of more than 175 visual aids that promote deeper understanding and appreciation of the Book of Mormon. Designed for multiple use as study guides, handouts, and masters for creating projectable images, the charts convey a wealth of information that will enrich personal study and teaching.
Arranged in 15 sections, these charts consist of tables, diagrams, chronologies, flowcharts, bar graphs, pie charts, maps, and other effective schematics that represent Book of Mormon data in new and thought-provoking ways. General topics range from the history, doctrine, structure, and chronology of the Book of Mormon to its literary, cultural, and geographical features. Many charts highlight evidences for the authenticity of the record. Each chart is explained in a manner that will facilitate personal study and guide a teacher in what might be said when displaying the chart for group instruction or discussion.
Review of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Book of Mormon (1992), by John Ankerberg and John Weldon.
This bibliography lists most of the books and articles I am aware of dealing with or utilizing chiasmus. These entries come primarily, but not exclusively from the field of biblical studies. This list has been supplemented by the research of Don Parry, and has been prepared through the clerical assistance of DeeAnn Hofer.
By John W. Welch and Daniel B. McKinlay, Published on 01/01/99
John Welch displays the overall chiastic structure of Alma 36, suggests a detailed analysis of the text, traces the strands of repetition that weave paired sections tightly together, assesses the chapter\'s degree of chiasticity, and compares the words and phrases of Alma 36 with the two other firsthand Book of Mormon accounts of Alma\'s conversion. He suggests that there are many spiritual and intellectual implications to this study.
Research into literary forms in ancient scriptures led John Welch to the original discovery in 1967 of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon. In this lecture, he discusses chiasmus, a poetic form in which the first stanzas descend to a crucial midpoint and the rest of the passage parallels the first part in a mirror-like fashion. This artistic convention, although found in Greek, Latin, and English writings, was more highly developed in Semitic or Hebrew literary works. It was largely undetected until about the middle of the nineteenth century. Welch explains that for the trained eye the Book of Mormon abounds in chiasms ranging from simple to quite complex.
Review of Tennis Shoes among the Nephites: A Novel (1989), by Chris Heimerdinger.
Review of Tennis Shoes and the Feathered Serpent (1995), by Chris Heimerdinger
Review of Gadiantons and the Silver Sword: A Novel (1991), by Chris Heimerdinger.
John Welch proposes that the mission of Christ and the significance of temples intersect in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon teaches the surpassing importance of the temple. There are twenty-seven explicit references to the temple in the Book of Mormon, as well as allusions to the temple found in words and phrases. Temple themes in the Book of Mormon can be better appreciated through an understanding of the law of Moses, including festivals and ritual observances.
Susan Easton Black discusses insights into the nature and mission of Jesus Christ that can be gained by examining the 101 names the Book of Mormon uses to describe him, such as Lord, Messiah, and Eternal Judge. She describes the book’s focus on the atonement and bears powerful testimony of its effects in her life and in the lives of others.
Review of Christopher Columbus: A Latter-day Saint Perspective (1992), by Arnold K. Garr.
Review of Margaret Barker. Christmas: The Original Story.
Many interpretations exist about who the “suffering servant” in many of Isaiah’s writings might be. Interpretations for this figure include Isaiah himself, the people of Israel, Joseph Smith, and Jesus Christ. Without arguing against these understandings of the servant, this paper claims that Christ, in 3 Nephi 20–23, personifies the servant as the Book of Mormon. Both the servant and the Book of Mormon are portrayed as filling the same “great and marvelous” works in the gathering of Israel, reminding the Jews of their covenants with God, and bringing the Gentiles to Christ.
Although chapters 8 and 9 of the book of Moroni (Mormon’s epistles to Moroni) were placed with Mormon and Moroni’s abridgment by Moroni sometime between the years ad 401 and 421, these chapters were not written at that time. The insertion into the text of these epistles was done for doctrinal reasons; however, mixed in with the doctrinal message are certain facts and phrases that deal with their historical-chronological setting. By analyzing the specific chronological clues contained within Mormon’s epistles and comparing them with his abridged record of the final years of the Nephite nation, we can create a set of chronological time frames which then can be compared to construct a reasonable historical setting of ad 375 to 376.
Review of William E. Evenson and Duane E. Jeffery. Mormonism and Evolution: The Authoritative LDS Statements.
Hugh Nibley assembles statements by non-LDS scholars on the identity of Jesus, the rediscovery of the church, eschatology (the study of last things), authority, revelation, Israel, liturgy, the survival of the church, and the Vatican excavations.
Five-year citation index.
The practice of naming lands by a chief city of the land correlates well with authentic Old World practices.
Samuel, Moroni's Young Warrier (1993), by Clair Poulson.
Responding to an inquiry from a member of a different faith about why the Book of Mormon was translated into the English of the King James Version of the Bible, Nibley discusses the use of biblical language in contemporary society, citing in particular the language of prayer and the use of King James English in the translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This article also serves as a platform for Nibley to discuss other issues raised about the Book of Mormon, especially in reference to the King James version of the Bible.
Nibley’s response to a query was printed in the Church News section of the Deseret News, 29 July 1961, 10, 15. It was reprinted in Saints’ Herald 108 (9 October 1961): 968–69, 975.
Responding to an inquiry from a member of a different faith about why the Book of Mormon was translated into the English of the King James Version of the Bible, Nibley discusses the use of biblical language in contemporary society, citing in particular the language of prayer and the use of King James English in the translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This article also serves as a platform for Nibley to discuss other issues raised about the Book of Mormon, especially in reference to the King James Version of the Bible.
Review of Pope Fictions: Answers to 30 Myths and Misconceptions about the Papacy (1999), by Patrick Madrid
Review of Frank B. Salisbury. The Case for Divine Design: Cells, Complexity, and Creation.
Because clothing has a social function by which we define ourselves in relation to others, the rites of investiture and divestiture are often used within a given community as the individual moves from one social environment to another. These two rites can be used to examine the social progression of Adam and Eve via the fall, the symbolic movement from the mortal sphere to the divine sphere as represented with the veil, as well as the Christ-like nature of Tabitha who, like Christ himself, clothed others, thus giving them meaning and place within the community of believers.
Recognizing that individual languages use certain conventions or codes to communicate messages, Chauncey Riddle looks at language used in the Book of Mormon to illuminate what might be hidden meanings. The code language of the Book of Mormon points toward Jesus Christ. His calling and his attributes can be found in the names used in scripture, in words used in ordinances, and in words of worship and blessing. All of this was done so that the trace of the true Savior would not become lost among the children of Israel, try as they might to avoid it.
Review of “Scripture” (1988), by Norman L. Geisler
Review of “A Hard Day for Professor Midgley: An Essay for Fawn McKay Brodie” (1999), by Glen J. Hettinger
Revisions of Nephite chronology in the Book of Mormon occur as scholarship on various issues improves.
Critics of the Book of Mormon frequently claim that some of the Book of Mormon witnesses later doubted or denied their testimony of the Book of Mormon. They also claim that the activities of the Three Witnesses while out of the church cast doubt upon the reliability of their earlier written testimony. I review evidence for these claims and also discuss the issue of what may constitute a witness of the Book of Mormon and whether the witnesses ever doubted or denied their testimony of the Book of Mormon. Evidence for later disbelief in the Book of Mormon by the witnesses is unpersuasive. I detail several miscellaneous issues relating to Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s criticisms of the Book of Mormon.
This essay challenges criticism of the alleged origins of the Book of Mormon and argues a common-sense approach to support the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
Review of Douglas J. Davies. An Introduction to Mormonism.
Over the last twenty years, various objective author-attribution techniques have been applied to the English Book of Mormon in order to shed light on the question of multiple authorship of Book of Mormon texts. Two methods, one based on rates of use of noncontextual words and one based on word-pattern ratios, measure patterns consistent with multiple authorship in the Book of Mormon. Another method, based on vocabulary-richness measures, suggests that only one author is involved. These apparently contradictory results are reconciled by showing that for texts of known authorship, the method based on vocabulary-richness measures is not as powerful in discerning differences among authors as are the other methods, especially for works translated into English by a single translator.
Within the corpus of psalms in the Hebrew Bible is a group known as the communal laments. Characterized by their use of the first person common plural pronoun, some type of calamity experienced by the community, and a petition to God, these psalms incorporate similar imagery, terminology, and structure. This study explores these psalms and suggests that they relate closely to the Hittite treaty-covenant formula found elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, yet differ in that they reflect an ongoing covenantal relationship rather than the establishment of such. Thus, these psalms enphasize Israel’s expectation that God, as the senior covenantal party, will fulfill his covenantal obligations if Israel remained worthy. These psalms, therefore, are representative of the unique relationship that Israel had with her God, a relationship reflected in Latter-day Saint theology as well.
Roy Johnson examines the rituals and formulas of oaths, types of oaths, and the use of oaths in both the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon. Johnson compares the use of oaths, curses, and covenants in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon to show that the relationship among those three acts is the same in both books.
By Donald W. Parry, Jeanette W. Miller, and Sandra A. Thorne, Published on 01/01/96
Hugh Nibley has gathered a collection of statements from Church Fathers and modern scholars that acknowledge that views concerning God changed. The early church was based on the Hebrew Bible but churchmen were later influenced by the arguments of different philosophers.
Review of Robert A. Pate. Mapping the Book of Mormon: A Comprehensive Geography of Nephite America.
Royal Skousen explains what a critical text is and discusses his own critical text of the Book of Mormon.
Review of Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon Life (1998), by John L. Sorenson
Review of Behind the Mask of Mormonism (1992), by John Ankerberg and John Weldon
The parable of the laborers in the vineyard in Matthew 20:1–6 demonstrates the possibilities and limitations of constructing metaphoric models of salvation. It also exposes the inadequacy of applying human economic analogies to divine relations and invites its audience to consider the function and purpose of using metaphors to understand spiritual concepts. An anonymous fourteenth-century Middle English poem called Pearl retells this parable and questions whether terrestrial concepts of value and exchange should frame salvation as a transaction based on merit. The poem demonstrates in metaphoric models that heavenly relationships, particularly salvation and grace, operate on a different scale, not one of terrestrial binary or comparative value but of celestial fulness.
Robert J. Matthews was influenced by the Book of Mormon to pursue his studies of the Joseph Smith Translation. He was intrigued by what the Book of Mormon said about the Bible. To further one’s understanding of the Book of Mormon, Matthews recommends further study on the Near East and an analysis of the internal structure of the book. Royal Skousen’s work on the comparative text, Hugh Nibley’s Book of Mormon writings, and articles in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism on the Book of Mormon are sources for increasing one’s knowledge of that book.
Shortly after arriving in New York and beginning employment as a schoolteacher in 1828, Oliver Cowdery first learned about Joseph Smith and the gold plates through rumors and gossip. Through the sincere investigations of Oliver and his newfound friend, David Whitmer, and his time as a boarder with the Joseph Smith family in Palmyra, Oliver continued to learn about Joseph and the plates. He received a personal witness and traveled with Samuel Smith to visit Joseph in Harmony. Several events involving Martin Harris, David Whitmer, Joseph Knight Sr., and the Smith family all played a role in Oliver’s conversion, and on April 7, Joseph and Oliver began the translation of the Book of Mormon.
Although Nephi’s tools were most likely made of iron or steel, bronze remains a possibility. The making of brass or bronze requires the creation of a copper alloy, and examples of such alloys are found in both the Old World and the New World. The nature of the alloys differed depending on the minerals available.
We construct a detailed geographical model of the Nephite homeland areas of Manti, Zarahemla, and the river Sidon using the Book of Mormon text of around 80 BC. This model assumes that these areas are located in Mesoamerica, that the names of their surrounding seas do not necessarily correspond to local compass directions, and that the directions stated in the text are to be understood in the nontechnical normal English sense. We then describe the southern end of the Grijalva river basin, located across the southern part of the Mexico–Guatemala border. We nominate this area as a possible candidate for the ancient Nephite homeland because it corresponds to the text’s topography from the most general to the most detailed parts of the description. Furthermore, significant geographical and climatic changes in this area over the last 2,000 years are unlikely. The number and detail of the topological matches encourage further careful study.
The Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price depicts the creation, including the motifs of the divine council, primeval chaos, and creation from preexisting matter. This depiction fits nicely in an ancient Near Eastern cultural background and has strong affinities with the depiction of the cosmos found in the Hebrew Bible and other ancient Near Eastern texts (especially Egyptian and Mesopotamian).
Review of “God” (1998), by Francis J. Beckwith
The regular occurrence of things occurring ten times in the scriptures tends to relate to perfection, especially divine completion. Welch approaches this phenomenon through ten topics: perfection, worthiness, consecration, testing, justice, reverence, penitence, atonement, supplication, and ascension into the holy of holies or highest degree of heaven. The significance of the number ten in the ancient world relates to the tenfold occurrences in the Book of Mormon.
The literary sophistication of the Book of Mormon is manifest at all levels of the text: vocabulary, rhetoric, narrative, and structure. A prime example of this craftsmanship is the concept of ethnicity, that is, how different social groups are defined and distinguished in the record. Nephi defines ethnicity by four complementary concepts: nation (traditional homeland), kindred (descent group), tongue (language group), and people (covenant community). While all four concepts are relevant to the Nephite record, people predominates. The term people is by far the most frequently used noun in the Book of Mormon and is the basis of a distinctive covenant identity given by God to Nephi. Following God’s law was the essential condition of this covenant and the basis of most of the sermons, exhortations, commentary, and other spiritual pleas of this sacred record. The covenant of the chosen people accounts for much of what befalls the Nephites and Lamanites, positive and negative, in this history. Mormon and Moroni follow Nephi’s covenant-based definition of ethnicity in their respective abridgments of the large plates of Nephi and the plates of Ether.
The symbolism of land and its covenantal associations are viewed as guiding structural elements in the Book of Mormon narrative. Involving “existential space” more than “geometric space,” the concept of land is central to an understanding of the book as a sacred, covenant-based record.
Victor Ludlow shows that covenants are prominent in the scriptures. He distinguishes between horizontal covenants, which take place between individuals, and vertical covenants, which take place between God and mortals. He discusses what it means to “cut a covenant” and its various applications. He notes how covenants entail requirements that find expression in obedience or disobedience with the consequences of blessings or punishments. He comments on how in 3 Nephi the Savior devotes significant time to speaking about covenants directly or dealing with subjects that are rooted in covenants, such as the teachings found in the Sermon at the Temple, which corresponds to the Sermon on the Mount. Charts and graphs are included.
Review of Douglas E. Cowan. Bearing False Witness? An Introduction to the Christian Countercult.
Review of How Wide the Divide: A mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation (1997), by Craig L. Blomberg and Stephen E. Robinson
Review of Trent D. Stephens, D. Jeffrey Meldrum, with Forrest B. Peterson. Evolution and Mormonism: A Quest for Understanding.
This article defines fifteen criteria one can use to measure the strength or weakness of a proposed chiastic pattern in a given text. The need for rigor in such studies depends primarily on how the results of the proposed structural analyses will be used. Ultimately, analysts may not know with certainty whether an author created inverted parallel structures intentionally or not; but by examining a text from various angles, one may assess the likelihood that an author consciously employed chiasmus to achieve specific literary purposes.
John Welch argues that all possible chiasms are not equal. It is necessary for commentators on the Bible and other texts to recognize that degrees of chiasticity exist from one text to the next. To further that end, Welch proposes fifteen criteria for appraising examples of chiasmus in literature.
A critical edition of the Book of Mormon has two main objectives. The first is to determine the original text of the Book of Mormon to the extent that it can be determined. The second is to determine the history of the text, as it has changed over the many editions of that book that have been published. Royal Skousen describes the history of the early manuscripts and editions of the Book of Mormon in order to better understand this book of scripture.
According to the Book of Mormon, men must obey the commandments of God in order to gain eternal life. And yet men are incapable of yielding full obedience to God because of the carnal nature they inherit from the fallen Adam and Eve. To overcome this carnal nature, God has provided a way, through the atonement of his Son, whereby men may be redeemed from the carnal state to a spiritual state. If men are to be redeemed, they must call upon the Lord in the spirit of true humility, faith, and repentance. If they do so, God will redeem them by the power of the Holy Ghost. A covenant of obedience is frequently associated with the redemption process.
Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica was populated by scores of distinctive cultural groups. Such groups are identified archaeologically by their stylistically unique material cultures, from small, portable ceramic objects to large-scale monumental architecture, as well as through distinctive artistic, religious, and linguistic evidence. Significant interaction took place between these distinctive peoples and cultures, and some major metropolitan areas were home to different ethnic groups. This paper offers a brief glimpse at some of the cultures that inhabited the major geographical regions of Mesoamerica throughout its threethousand-year history and explores the cultural diversity that existed within and between regions.
Review of Cultures in Conflict: A Documentary History of the Mormon War in Illinois (1995), edited by John E. Hallwas and Roger D. Launuis
The significance of the Hill Cumorah in the restoration of the gospel goes beyond its identification as the ancient repository of the metal plates known as the Book of Mormon. In the second half of the 19th century, a teaching about a cave in the hill began surfacing in the writings of several leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In their view, the hill was not only the place where Joseph Smith received the plates but also their final repository, along with other sacred treasures, after the translation was finished. This article cites ten different accounts, all secondhand, that refer to this cave and what was found there. The author includes a comparison of the accounts that discusses additional records in the cave, God’s dominion over Earth’s treasure, miraculous dealings of God, and the significance of the presence of the sword of Laban.
Review of “The Word of God Is Enough: The Book of Mormon as Nineteenth-Century Scripture” (1993), by Anthony A. Hutchison.
Review of Dan Vogel. Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet.
Review of Origins and the Book of Mormon (1986), by Dan Vogel.
Review of The Word of God: Essays on Mormon Scripture (1990), edited by Dan Vogel.
Review of Richard Abanes. One Nation under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church.
Review of How to Get the Most from the Book of Mormon (audio cassettes, 1987), by Daniel H. Ludlow.
Review of The Encyclopedia of Mormonism (1992), edited by Daniel H. Ludlow
While on assignment from the LDS prophet Joseph Smith to visit Jerusalem in 1840, Elder Orson Hyde of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles suggested opening a mission in Germany and translating the Book of Mormon into German. By April 1852, the new prophet, Brigham Young, had sent Daniel Carn to Germany to be the mission president and to help with the translation, and by May of the same year, Das Buch Mormon had been published. However, when East Germany was created and placed behind the “Iron Curtain,” matters grew worse for the Latter-day Saints. Because they were unable to print anything themselves, they relied on missionaries and members of the church in West Germany to smuggle copies of Das Buch Mormon into East Germany so they could have the scripture that was so central to their beliefs. Members still had to burn all manuals and church material that had been published after 1920 to avoid arrest, but since Das Buch Mormon had been published in 1852, the Saints were able to keep their copies of that scripture.
Review of Mormons Answered Verse by Verse (1992), by David A. Reed and John R. Farkas.
David Bokovoy’s most recent book, Authoring the Old Testament: Genesis–Deuteronomy, represents a fresh and much-needed perspective on how Latter-day Saints can simultaneously embrace both scholarship and faith. This book is the first in what is anticipated to be a three-volume set exploring issues of authorship in the Old Testament published by Bokovoy with Greg Kofford Books. Bokovoy uses current scholarship on the Pentateuch as a springboard for discussing LDS perspectives on scripture, revelation, and cultural influence. To my knowledge, this is the first book-length attempt to popularize the classical Documentary Hypothesis among Latter-day Saints, and Bokovoy does an exemplary job of tackling this issue head-on and taking an unflinching view of its implications for how we understand Restoration scriptures such as the Book of Moses, the Book of Abraham, and the Book of Mormon.
Review of A Reading Guide to the Book of Mormon (1989), by David H. Mulholland.
Review of Isaiah Made Easier (1991), by David J. Ridges.
Review of Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon (1985), by David Persuitte.
Review of Truths from the Earth, vol. 2: The Story of the Creations to the Floods (1996), by David T. Harris.
Assistant Church Historian James B. Allen shares his remarks that he made at Davis Bitton’s funeral on Bitton’s scholarly work.
Review of Sam Harris. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason.
Many Latter-day Saints are interested in and familiar to some extent with the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), and a few Latter-day Saint scholars have participated in the study and publication of scroll fragments. This essay suggests answers to the question, where can or should Latter-day Saints go from here regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls? Directed to Latter-day Saint readers, the essay assumes there are still impoartant things to learn about and benefit to be gained from further interaction with the DSS. After reviewing the general value of the DSS and Latter-day Saint interest in them, suggestions are provided in five broad categories of consideration, among which are the need to overcome ignorance and misinformation about the scrolls among church members, keeping up-to-date by utilizing current publications on the DSS, and emphasizing and illustrating the value of the DSS for studying the Bible.
The Dead Sea Scrolls constitute a seminal resource for understanding the context of the early Christian community and several New Testament texts. Soon after their discovery, some very sensational claims were made about the Qumran community and its literature (the scrolls) in terms of their connection to Jesus and his followers. While these have largely been dismissed, and serious and persistent scholarship over the years has shown that there were differences between the Qumran community and early Christianity, significant similarities do exist. These similarities line up largely according to the following categories: common scripture and its interpretation, theological ideas, vocabulary and practices, importance of the temple, eschatological and apocalyptic orientation, and the centrality of messianic expectations. This essay attempts to highlight some of the most significant of these parallels to show that both the New Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls are products of the same roots, that we should expect to find certain commonalities, and that to fully understand one corpus of writings, we have to know something about the other.
This paper examines various significant aspects of what may be designated the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: its contents and description, scribal conventions, variant readings, use by modern English Bible translations, as well as parabiblical texts and their possible affiliation with the DSS Bible, canonicity, scriptural commentaries, tefillin, and mezuzot. An examination of the DSS biblical texts, which date to nearly a thousand years earlier than previously known texts of the Hebrew Bible, demonstrates a high degree of accuracy in the transmission of our Bible texts. Most variants offer only minor corrections to our biblical texts. Thus the scribe’s professionalism overall should give us, as modern readers, confidence that biblical scripture has come down to us in excellent order.
Since their initial discovery in 1947, the ancient scrolls found in caves near the Dead Sea have stirred public curiosity. For Latter-day Saints, whose scriptural tradition speaks of sacred records to come forth in the last days, the Dead Sea Scrolls naturally give rise to questions such as:
— Are there references to Christ or Christianity in the scrolls?
— Do the scrolls contain scripture missing from the Bible?
— Is the plan of salvation attested in the scrolls?
— Do the scrolls refer to Joseph Smith or other latter-day figures?
The Dead Sea Scrolls: Questions and Responses for Latter-day Saints succinctly deals with these and other questions on topics of particular interest to LDS readers. These topics are based on actual questions that Latter-day Saints have asked the authors as they have taught classes at Brigham Young University, shared their research at professional symposia, and spoken in other settings.
Select bibliography of LDS research on the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Review of “Does the Bible Teach Salvation for the Dead? A survey of the Evidence Part I” (1995), and “Did Jesus Establish Baptism for the Dead?” (1997), by Luke P. Wilson
Review of The Use of the Old Testament in the Book of Mormon (1990), by Wesley P. Walters.
This article approaches the narrative of Laban’s death using literary criticism and studies how Nephi’s use of specific words and phrases offers additional insight to this story.
Deflected agreement is a grammatical phenomenon found in Semitic languages—it is ubiquitous in Arabic and found occasionally in Classical Hebrew. Deflected agreement is a plausible explanation for certain grammatical incongruities present, in translation, within the original and printer’s manuscripts and printed editions in the Book of Mormon in the grammatical areas of verbal, pronominal, and demonstrative agreement. This finding gives greater credence to the plausibility of the authenticity and historicity of the Book of Mormon. Additionally, the implications of this finding on Book of Mormon scholarship are discussed.
Review of Deification and Grace. (2007), by Daniel A. Keating.
Norman’s study of Athanasian soteriology was written as a dissertation for Duke University in 1980 and was previously available only through University Microfilms International or private photocopies. In this study, Norman examines St. Athanasius’s views of deification, or the doctrine that “God became man in order that man might become God.” Many scholars have dismissed this doctrine as a euphemism for humanity’s im mortality and fleshly incorruptibility in the resurrection. Norman argues, however, that Athanasius’s idea of deification was that individuals could become like God in every way.
Review of The Land of the Nephites (1988), by Delbert W. Curtis.
As a missionary in the Eastern States Mission, Crawford Gates participated in the Hill Cumorah Pageant in 1941. Although he loved the music and considered it appropriate to the Book of Mormon scenes of the pageant, he thought then that the pageant needed its own tailor-made musical score. Twelve years later he was given the opportunity to create that score. Gates details the challenge of creating a 72-minute musical score for a full symphony orchestra and chorus while working full time as a BYU music faculty member and juggling church and family responsibilities. When that score was retired 31 years later, Gates was again appointed to create a score for the new pageant. He relates further experiences arising from that assignment.
Review of Fingerprints of God: Evidences from Near-Death Studies, Scientific Research on Creation, and Mormon Theology (1999), by Arvin S. Gibson
Review of Sally Denton. American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, September 1857.
One approach to reconstructing the Prophet Joseph Smith’s pronunciation of the proper names in the Book of Mormon is to determine how his close associates in the early days of the church later pronounced the names. In the Deseret Alphabet we have a record of the pronunciation in vogue in 1869. It is plausible that pronunciation of the names did not change much between 1830, when the scripture first appeared in English, and the publication of the Deseret Alphabet Book of Mormon in 1869. This article includes a table of pronunciation of eighteen names from the Book of Mormon according to the phonetic Deseret Alphabet characters compared with the sounds recommended in the “Pronouncing Guide,” which appears in all English-language editions today.
Insights can be gained by considering the eight-year wilderness sojourn of Lehi’s company through the eyes of the women who were there. Leaving the comforts of civilization for the difficulties of the desert would have been very challenging. While the record in 1 Nephi mentions nine women, Sariah was the only one identified by name. Nephi records Sariah’s struggles as well as her testimony. The record of the women in 1 Nephi communicates much about the need to seek and receive one’s own witness of truth.
The Liahona was given by the Lord as a communicationsdevice for Lehi to determine the appropriate direction of travel. This device contained two pointers, only one of which was necessary to provide directional information. But the Liahona was more than just a simple compass in function, for it additionally required faith for correct operation. Since a single pointer always "points" in some direction, the additional pointer was necessary to indicate whether or not the first pointer could be relied upon. This proposed purpose for the second pointer conforms to a well-established engineering principle used in modern fault-tolerant computer systems called "voting," in which two identical process states are compared and declared correct if they are the same, and incorrect if they are different. Hence the second pointer, when coincident with the first, would indicate proper operation, and when orthogonal, would indicate nonoperation.
The costume design for the Hill Cumorah Pageant reflects a strong understanding of the physical and artistic needs of the production as well as a good grasp of the historical setting of the Book of Mormon. Through a rich blending of theatrical techniques, the pageant dramatically re-creates scriptural episodes to underscore the wisdom of human agency based on moral choice—a message made poignantly relevant by the historical realism conveyed in large part by authentic costuming. This article explores the physical challenges of creating costumes for an outdoor drama and the historical research that influences the costume construction while staying true to the message of the script.
Robert Millet defines the terms Israel, Jew, and gentile and recommends avoiding a narrow definition of these terms when reading about Israel and the gentiles in the Book of Mormon. He explains that the Jews are the descendants of those who lived in the kingdom of Judah, and that the remnant of Jacob spoken of in the Book of Mormon is not limited to the Lamanites. Millet further relates that the Book of Mormon plays a role in the gathering of Israel, and that the scattering and gathering of Israel typify the fall and the atonement.
David A. McClellan provides a basic understanding of some biological principles that would be helpful to one studying the question of DNA evidence of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. After a discussion of these fundamental principles, McClellan concludes that DNA tests can neither prove nor disprove the existence of ancient Israelites in the New World
Review of Melodie Moench Charles. “The Mormon Christianizing of the Old Testament.” In The Word of God: Essays on Mormon Scripture
Review of Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Revolution, 1830-1915 (2000), by Kurt Widmer
Pages 35-38 revised as of June 30, 1986
Although the beginning of Nephi’s record only mentions sons, Joseph Smith says the record of Lehi in the 116 missing manuscript pages refers to at least two of Ishmael’s sons marrying Lehi’s daughters. Nephi himself mentions his sisters at the end of his record. As no mention is made of further births to Lehi and Sariah after Jacob and Joseph, the assumption can be made that these sisters are the daughters who married Ishmael’s sons.
Frederick G. Williams, a counselor to Joseph Smith, wrote that Lehi and his family landed in Chile. The author of this paper, a great-great-grandson of the original Williams, assesses the likelihood of the accuracy of this proposition. He addresses the question of whether this statement was a revelation, discusses the nature of the original document on which the statement was written, and compares other early documents on the subject.
Using different methodological approaches and considerations, Thomas Wayment and John Gee each approach the question of whether Paul was speaking to his spouse in Philippians 4:3; their intent is to determine if the question can be answered with any degree of confidence. The related question of whether Paul was ever married is not addressed here, although that issue has been of intere