The Book of Mormon as a really interesting, well, piece of literature

Grant Hardy became intrigued with world religions, especially those of East Asia, as a young missionary. He has reasearched and written widely on various topics, but his study of the Book of Mormon led him to publish two landmark books that share important insights.

In his brief overview to Understanding the Book of Mormon, Hardy gives us ten observations about the Book of Mormon:

  1. It is a long book.
  2. It is written in a somewhat awkward, repetitious form of English.
  3. It imitates the style of the King James Version.
  4. It claims to be history.
  5. It presents a complicated narrative.
  6. It is a religious text.
  7. It is basically a tragedy.
  8. It is very didactic.
  9. It is a human artifact.
  10. Its basic structure is derived from the three narrators.

It is this last observation that forms the thesis for the majority of his work. Hardy contends that “If you’re not seeing the narrators at every turn, you’re not really reading the Book of Mormon–because that’s how the book is constructed, regardless of who the author(s) may have been.”

The three main narrators (Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni) each had distinct approaches as they presented history and revelation in their writings.

Join Laura Harris Hales of LDS Perspectives Podcast as she has an enjoyable back-and-forth with an outstanding Book of Mormon scholar.

Check out LDS Perspectives for links to materials referenced in this podcast.

Stop the Contention

fightingI’m one of the Gospel Doctrine teachers in my ward. It’s a calling l love, but am terrified of all at the same time. Teaching the gospel to adults is very hard, especially when I feel like I’m the least experienced in the room. But it’s good to feel inadequate sometimes. It pushes me to rely on the Lord a lot more to do my calling the right way.

This year’s course of study has been The Book of Mormon and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Over the last few weeks as we’ve wound our way thru the chapters in the Book of Alma and Helaman there are stark patterns that emerge that parallel our day. Some people call it “The Pride Cycle”, but basically it’s the story of the human condition since the beginning of time. People are good, they are blessed, then become prideful and wicked. They fall, and become enslaved – either to their own vice and are destroyed , or are literally taken away as slaves to be humbled. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Sometimes the cycle repeats itself several times in the course of a year.

Right before the Savior’s visit to the Nephites in 3 Nephi, this cycle becomes particularly vicious, with the people dividing themselves up into tribes and with the Gadianton Robbers bearing down on everyone they can. At the death of the Savior, the land is broken up, there is great destruction and the Nephite civilization is destroyed, with “the more righteous part” of the people being left to pick up the pieces and start over. Continue reading

And Still It Stands: The Truth About the Book of Mormon

And Still It Stands: The Truth About the Book of Mormon
By Kathy Penrod

[Originally posted at Deliberate Discipleship]

I am sure you have heard of it. Whether through the infamous Broadway Musical or the missionaries who travel the world sharing its message, chances are, you have heard of the Book of Mormon. So, my question to you is, what have you heard? What are your questions about the Book of Mormon? As you think about that, let me offer my thoughts on the Book of Mormon.book-of-mormon

Before the Broadway Musical, this sacred work of scripture had already seen great controversy (JS-H 1:59-65). I am not here to argue about that controversy and I am not here to debate the rightness or wrongness of such a musical, nor do I want to give it any more fame that it already seems to have. One of the glorious freedoms we have in this country is the right to free speech, even if that speech is degrading, incorrect, irresponsible and hurtful. So, I completely recognize that Broadway performers and producers have the right to belittle things that others may hold sacred. I DO want to discuss what the Book of Mormon actually is – from one who holds this book so close to her heart. Continue reading

Recommended Reading for CES Instructors, in light of Elder Ballard’s recent remarks

If you follow any Mormon topics on any form of social media, it’s likely you’ve heard about Elder Ballard’s recent remarks:

“Gone are the days when a student asked an honest question and the teacher responded, ‘Don’t worry about it.’ Gone are the days when a student raised a sincere concern and a teacher bore his or her testimony as a response intended to avoid the issue.”

What I hope to do in this post is list a few resources that a seminary/institute (or even a really dedicated Sunday School teacher) could read to help them get the knowledge to either give good answers to these questions or to know where to look and find the answers. Continue reading

Crowned With Sheaves Like Nephi of Old: Devotional Usage of the book of Mormon Among the Early Saints

Terry Givens in his prodigious and highly regard work, By the Hand of Mormon: An American Scripture That Launched a New World Religion, advances a thesis that has since become commonly accepted among Mormon Scholars and bloggers. In it, he discusses the importance of the Book of Mormon to the early members of the Church and describes how the book was primarily used as a symbol and tangible manifestation of the restoration, rather than for its theological or devotional value. I have great regard for Terryl Givens, having been a Mormon Summer Scholar in the program that he runs. And I think his thesis has been very valuable in helping Mormons understand the changing role of the Book of Mormon and to more seriously dedicate ourselves to study of the text itself.

Nevertheless, while I do believe that Terryl Givens offered very valuable insights and is largely accurate, I also think his thesis glosses over the various devotional ways that the Book of Mormon was used by the early Saints. Moreover, although his theory acknowledges nuance and counter examples, it has since been spread and amplified in a more exaggerated fashion to suggest that early leaders completely ignored the spiritual value of the Book of Mormon.

In this post, I want to offer a couple of prominent examples that I have found in early church history that illustrate the ways that the Book of Mormon was used not only as a symbol, but as a source of inspiration and spiritual guidance.

D&C 33:8

Of course, one of the most prominent examples of devotional usage of the Book of Mormon comes from the Lord himself through the Prophet Joseph Smith. In D&C 33, the Lord calls missionaries to gather his elect from the four corners of the earth, and promises them that if they open their mouths they will “become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness.” This is an unusual reference to Nephi, because of all of the characters of the Book of Mormon Nephi does not come to mind as a great or successful missionary. And yet, Nephi had incredible visionary experience and was at times filled with such greater power that his message literally shook the listeners to their core. And Nephi was a great teacher expounding on the scriptures, another theme from this section of revelation (See D&C 33:16). And some have even speculated that additional missionary exploits of Nephi might have been contained on the 116 lost pages and that these stories might have been told by early members of the church. Regardless of whether that theory has any truth in it, it is clear that these words would have had meaning to those inspired to go out a serve, and that Nephi served as an exemplar of a man of vision and courage.
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