Grant Shreve: I fell hard for the Book of Mormon but did not convert to the LDS Church

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  • Warbunny Puyallup, WA
    June 3, 2017 8:15 p.m.

    The Book of Mormon is indeed a literary masterpiece just from academic and literary perspective and YES, as Joseph Smith said, it is the "keystone" of the LDS religion...and a spiritual spark plug.. Yet, respectfully, it is important to not judge harshly and to understand, that a blind or illiterate or non reader or even a lazy person who cannot or does not read it "every day, every day, every day" can be, may be, a totally converted, congruent, stalwart, "true blue, dyed in the wool, through and through," faithful, Mormon who has a rock solid, personal testimony and witness of LDS doctrinal truths and is progressing spiritually and eternally.

  • EditorJack West Jordan, UT
    June 2, 2017 4:24 p.m.

    Whether or not you believe in the divine origin of Joseph Smith's works, if you're interested in their literary value, you should definitely look at the book "SIx Poems by Joseph Smith," by Colin Douglas.

    Joseph Smith was a contemporary of Whitman, Wordsworth, Hawthorne, Dickinson, Emerson, and Melville, and, from a literary perspective, his writings are just as important as theirs (although few people have bothered to read them in that way). In fact, as Colin Douglas says, Emerson is "Joseph Smith lite"--a profound observation.

  • ssev Maple Grove, MN
    June 2, 2017 3:27 p.m.

    Dr. Grant Shreve writes:

    "When I first picked up the Book of Mormon ... I didn’t expect to fall in love with it. But I did fall — and hard — although not into the arms of the church. I did not, in other words, become a Latter-day Saint. ... I am a full-throated advocate for this very strange book, but the conversations I long to have about it are best suited for the seminar table and the lecture hall."

    I am impressed with Deseret News (official publication of the LDS Church) for allowing viewpoints of the Book of Mormon other than as a witness that the Mormon Church is true. I too love the Book of Mormon, while having no interest in being a member of the Church.

    I look at the Book of Mormon as more than a seminar or lecture topic, however. The words in the book are so magical that I'm not unconvinced that Joseph received the words of the Book of Mormon in an otherworldly way, such as through the instrumentality of the Urim and Thummim ("lights and perfections").

    I am also very interested in the sealed part of the Gold Plates, which were not translated, and I desire to be open to the sealed part as it is revealed to the inhabitants of Earth.

  • p e RICHFIELD, UT
    June 1, 2017 3:39 p.m.

    I can't help but not care why professors and their students (who may not have, otherwise) are reading and studying the Book of Mormon. It's spiritual power will have its effect on 'those who have ears to hear and eyes to see'.
    I'm glad to know that there are some who are interested for non-traditional reasons and I welcome this author's largely positive perspectives.

  • Beart SAINT LOUIS, MO
    June 1, 2017 2:53 p.m.

    There seems to be a plethora of defenses and contradictions, which miss the point of Shreve's essay. To believers, there is sufficient spiritual proof of the divinity of the book. To non-believers, there is plenty of evidence of a fraudulent origin. ENOUGH! The essay addresses the literary value of the book, whether seen as recent or ancient text. There is value in such a study, as is evidenced in the time taken in Gospel Doctrine lessons over the last 20+ years to illustrate such devices as chiasmus, an ancient poetic form. The Bible isn't plagiarized. Every quotation is cited by the writers of each book. The point is that Shreve loves the book. We know that it is not given for everyone to be a believer. Our agency assures that. Yet exposure to the book in any manner will attract the "sheep" of whom Jesus spoke to hear his voice. I welcome Shreve's enthusiasm, and if there are a few of the savior's sheep enrolled in these classes, they will hear and, perhaps believe, just from the opportunity to be exposed to the excellent literary qualities contained in the BOM. Don't discount the methods or tools the Lord uses to move his work along, even unwitting instruments like Shreve.

  • KevinSim Springville, UT
    June 1, 2017 2:21 p.m.

    Pragmatistferlife posted:

    =The Spaulding theory offers reasonable solutions to other Book of Mormon
    =problems. Of course it completely solves the Joseph couldn't have done this
    =problem because Joseph didn't do it. He had nothing to do with the writing.
    =Spaulding, Rigdon, and Cowdrey wrote the book.

    The Spaulding theory is based on the idea that Rigdon gave Joseph Smith the Spaulding documents that he then read to his scribes. How did Smith read those documents with his face in a hat? Critics use both ideas, the Spaulding theory and the rock in a hat observance, but they really can't both be true.

    =It also accounts for why Cowdrey, and Rigdon, get upset with Jospeh (he's
    =getting all the credit) and yet they don't deny the original story.

    I don't think it accounts for that at all. I find it very hard to believe that Rigdon and Cowdery would both take the true story to their graves, when they could have taken credit for the book themselves instead.

  • KevinSim Springville, UT
    June 1, 2017 2:10 p.m.

    Manzanita posted:

    =The DNA evidence contradicts the Book of Mormon narrative.

    I think this observation is dated. Early DNA studies indicated the Native Americans didn't have any southwest Asian ancestry; later DNA studies did not.

  • KevinSim Springville, UT
    June 1, 2017 2:05 p.m.

    UtahTroutStalker posted:

    =I read it, prayed about it with sincerity after meeting with missionaries. The
    =Holy Spirit gifted to me through my evangelical Christian faith told me it was
    =a heretical work of fiction.
    =
    =I know that may offend some, but you have to accept there are believers of
    =other, older Christ based faiths that just don't receive that feeling in the
    =heart that many who have accepted the LDS position have.

    I am one of the group of people you labeled the "many who have accepted the LDS position." So God told you the Book of Mormon "was a heretical work of fiction," and God told me that book was an essential part of His message to the world. What's your point?

  • Vaughn Hughes Sandpoint, ID
    June 1, 2017 1:27 p.m.

    Grant, your editorial here is honest and welcome. Over eighty-four different religious sects now claim Joseph Smith as their founder (including the Brighamite/LDS Church, the largest), most of which also claim the Book of Mormon as theirs. But the Book of Mormon is the heritage of all Christians and belongs no more to one "Restorationist" sect, like LDS Mormons, than the Bible belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. The time is now arriving when neither the Book of Mormon nor Joseph Smith will be able to be claimed as the corporate, trademarked sole property of any of very wealthy corporate "Restorationist churches" that now greatly profit off them. The "Restoration Edition" of the scriptures will be a massive step forward: the never before fully published JST Bible, Joseph's corrected Book of Mormon, and an undoctored D&C (re-adding the removed-by-LDSs "Doctrine" half, and reverting the revelations to their original, undoctored form from the severely doctored LDS versions) In the 173 years since Joseph & Hyrum's murders, no institution, including the LDS Church, has thought it worth their while to make the investment in attempting to preserve them. Thank God some few finally are.

  • Beart SAINT LOUIS, MO
    June 1, 2017 1:11 p.m.

    The irony of Shreve's position lies in the very fact that he sees literary excellence in a book "purportedly" produced by an young (23-24 year old) frontiersman, with insufficient sophistication or formal leaning to create such nuanced literary profundity without some real (possibly celestial) inspiration. It also reminds me of Paul's warning in 2 Tim. 3:7, in which he characterizes some people in the last days as " Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

  • Backtobasics Provo, UT
    June 1, 2017 12:39 p.m.

    I enjoyed professor Shreve's article on the academic contribution some are now making on the Book of Mormon from a literary perspective. I would disagree on his assessment that those encountering the Book of Mormon purely from an academic background i.e. an English class are not going to be influenced by it religiously. Many have approached the Book of Mormon merely as curiosity, as a book to be read and then criticized, to be read as fiction, etc. only to come away convinced of its truthfulness and thereby converted by it. The academic world should not be surprised when the students succumb to the book's purpose for being. As for its literary value: it's story is greater than that of Melville's Moby Dick or any of Shakespeare's works and much better than that of any of Hemmingway's works (Hemmingway dismissed it as boring and repetitive and he not having any knowledge of the chiasmus style employed by the ancients missed its importance and credence to its authenticity). I suspect Hemmingway was so impressed that he was jelous, especially when he learned that it was penned by an upstate farm boy with a grade three education.

    Ken McGowan

  • Follow The Prophet Salt Lake City, UT
    June 1, 2017 12:02 p.m.

    Willingness to act. The lord will not give us knowledge based simply on our curiosity, we have to know that when we pray to know of the book's truthfulness, the lord expects us to do something with that knowledge, and if we are currently unwilling to live his full restored gospel, he will not curse us by making us accountable for knowledge that he knows we are unwilling to follow. When you feel a witness of the Book of Mormon, you cannot deny it. It is so powerful, there is no possible way that our minds could conjure that feeling up. It is real. Plain and simple.

  • Aaron N. Cutshall Martinsville, IN
    June 1, 2017 11:25 a.m.

    I truly appreciate the author's comments and applaud his interest in the Book of Mormon even if only from a literary point of view. As an LDS member, I feel that the literary skills displayed by Nephi, Mosiah, Mormon, Moroni and other writers within the BoM have been largely ignored by members of the LDS church. While not necessary from a religious aspect, I feel that these literary characteristics add depth and enrich an already awesome book. I would certainly look forward to taking his course.

  • jsf Centerville, UT
    June 1, 2017 10:36 a.m.

    "all things common, neither rich nor poor - THAT, my conservative friends is socialism whether you like it or not." No Marxist there is a far cry difference from the Book of Mormon concept and socialism/ Communism.

    Notice in current modes of socialism where the state ownership of means of production and the state ownership of the workers, there is not "all things common, nor is there a lack of "neither rich nor poor." The party hierarchy take control of the property, and workers must work or they are disposed of.

    Notice all church presidents have told us there is no righteousness in socialism/ communism.

  • UtahTroutStalker Draper, UT
    June 1, 2017 8:50 a.m.

    @Follow The Prophet - Salt Lake City, UT

    " it is what Joseph said it was, and what Mormon, Nephi, and every other Book of Mormon prophet said it was, a historical account of the visit of Jesus Christ to the Americas. Any person can know that if they will read it, pray with sincerity to know if it's true, and with real intent, in other words, with a willingness to act upon what you have read if God answers your prayer. It is a true book translated through the Lord's prophet by the gift and power of God"

    I read it, prayed about it with sincerity after meeting with missionaries. The Holy Spirit gifted to me through my evangelical Christian faith told me it was a heretical work of fiction.

    I know that may offend some, but you have to accept there are believers of other, older Christ based faiths that just don't receive that feeling in the heart that many who have accepted the LDS position have.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    June 1, 2017 8:29 a.m.

    Secular scholars are at a loss to explain the BofM. Au uneducated farm boy is responsible for "writing it" in a few months with no first drafts, revisions or editor's reviews? This can't be. We must study it intensely, except for Moroni 10:4, 5.

  • Pops NORTH SALT LAKE, UT
    June 1, 2017 8:16 a.m.

    ["Yes, indeed, and how about the socialism the Nephites come to practice - all things common, neither rich nor poor - THAT, my conservative friends is socialism whether you like it or not."

    Well, no, actually, it isn't. Socialism is enforced at the end of a gun barrel. The communal society described in the Book of Mormon was purely voluntary. The two are diametrically opposed as to implementation, just as were the Father's plan to preserve agency and Satan's plan to override it, both presumably to achieve the same end of exalting the Father's children. Of course an important difference between the two plans is that only one of the two had any possibility of actually working, as is also the case between socialism and the voluntary communal society described in the Book of Mormon.]

    I appreciate the point about how many disparage the Book of Mormon without having ever read it. Of course it's obvious to those who are intimately acquainted with the book, but perhaps it will give pause to some who might otherwise embarrass themselves by repeating silly criticisms of the book.

  • gospeedbatushka Arlington, MA
    June 1, 2017 7:59 a.m.

    Nice, thoughtful article. I appreciate that Grant took the time to write this. Nice to see that non-LDS academics are becoming more willing to examine The BoM, even if only on its literary merits. It is disappointing, but not surprising that other members who've posted take it as an affront that the BoM could be appreciated for anything other than its religious merits.

  • CMTM , 00
    June 1, 2017 7:50 a.m.

    Joseph Smith “Don’t employ lawyers, or pay them money for their knojwledge, for I have learned that they don’t know anything. I know more than they all” (DHC V. 5 p. 467)

    The BOM –The book seems to be merely a prosy detail of imaginary history, with the Old Testament for a model; followed by a tedious plagiarism of the New Testament. The author labored to give his words and phrases the quaint, old-fashioned sound and structure of our King James's translation of the Scriptures; and the result is a mongrel--half modern glibness, and half ancient simplicity and gravity. The latter is awkward and constrained; the former natural, but grotesque by the contrast. Whenever he found his speech growing too modern--which was about every sentence or two—he ladled in a few such Scriptural phrases as "exceeding sore," "and it came to pass," etc., and made things satisfactory again. "And it came to pass" was his pet. If he had left that out, his Bible would have been only a pamphlet. Mark Twain- 1861

  • goosehuntr Tooele, UT
    June 1, 2017 7:38 a.m.

    While the Book of Mormon is studied and lauded or hated, it has one purpose only... That is to bring those who will hear to the Lord Jesus Christ; To bring about a mighty change of heart, and to prepare a people for the 2nd advent of Christ to this planet.

    It is the most remarkable spiritual treasure on the face of this earth and truly the pearl of great price for which a man would sell all he owned to obtain it.

    Much of what the article verified was that, as prophesied, "it shall be as if the fruit of thy loins ( loins of Joseph of Egypt ) had cried unto them (us) from the dust; "

    And from the last writer in the book....

    And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?

    And so it is. The invitation is to open the mind and give it a try if you have not. Discover the book, and you will discover yourself and He who made you.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    June 1, 2017 1:50 a.m.

    @ eastcoastcoug

    I don't believe gods exist outside the human imagination, so that leaves JS as the author.

    I keep coming to the DN for a number of reasons. The primary one is to pay a gift forward - one from nonbelievers who spoke up in the past and helped me survive.

    @ David

    Why is JS' writing skill relevant if he's merely reciting words that appear on a rock - words written long ago by others?

  • Kevin Surrey, BC
    May 31, 2017 10:06 p.m.

    Whether or not the B of M is studied by scholars for non religious reasons makes no difference to me. Go ahead I say. I also don't pay any attention to the nay-sayers of JS and his testimony of the First Vision and all that transpired afterwards. Nothing they say, make up, find, claim etc will take away the experiences I have had as a result of the B of M and my journey from birth in the LDS church. We are in a war with the adversary and his greatest tool is deception. Religion is a matter of faith and a change of heart. Everyone is free to believe how they want to but believing something does not make it true. Truth only comes from Heaven Father and the great thing about mortality is that everyone will leave this Earth some day and return to heaven and discover the one and only truth. A lot of jaws will be dropping in heaven me thinks.

  • Bro. Bob Melbourne, FL
    May 31, 2017 9:39 p.m.

    If you think about the entire higher learning approach to the BOM and what to do with this strange book, why not just place it under Mathematics 101. Does not really matter, does it? But what really matters is when you have to classify the book: Is it filed under fiction or non-fiction?

    For the humans that classify the BOM = Fiction, I admire your intellectual but casual interest. I especially thank you for at least reading the strange book with it's life changing words.
    For those of us that classify the BOM = Non-Fiction, see you in the spirit world - classified = Paradise.

    Well it's getting late and I am trying to decide: Moby Dick or Book of Mormon?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 31, 2017 9:34 p.m.

    @Commenter88 - the point is that everyone comes to research or study with a bias. Even the most "critical" observer has a belief system, even it it isn't the one that is being observed. True objectivity is almost impossible.

    It amazes me where a presumption exists that there has not been like "critical" study of other texts of other faiths... even the Koran. Hardly the case, all have been studied over and over again... including the Koran and Torah. I wouldn't conclude that the Book of Mormon is yet mainstream, but it is now widely known, and as such, if obviously going to be the subject of more research and review. Nothing that the other scripts haven't been subjected to.

  • David Centerville, UT
    May 31, 2017 6:47 p.m.

    Karen,

    I believe Joseph was translator when he translated the Book of Mormon. The fact that he was poorly educated is evident in many of his writings, as found in the Joseph Smith Papers, original documents from that time period. Anyone can access this research and papers online. He was a poor writer--spelling, word usage, sentence structure. And yet, the Book of Mormon remains a beautiful, poetic scriptural testament of Jesus Christ, who Joseph Smith spent his life (literally) testifying of.

    The fact that Joseph was a poor writer, and yet we have the fruits of Joseph's labors in the Book of Mormon, serves as a witness to many of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    May 31, 2017 6:05 p.m.

    Sorry Commentor 88 but the point of critical theory is to look at something outside the realm of faith, to look at it critically from a non faith based perspective.

    Of course the faithful will reject that approach, but to criticize it as not legitimate because it is not faithful is completely dishonest.

    You can attempt to hide your bigotry in sophistry but it is apparent.

    Your bias is you expect all investigation to support belief because the stated intent is belief and you reject all investigation that does not support belief as not valid...and in your case politically leftist.

    Well you're perfectly allowed to reject no faith promoting investigation, but it is not legitimate to reject it as false simply because it is not faith promoting.

  • hbeckett Colfax, CA
    May 31, 2017 5:44 p.m.

    IMO the BOM is the read of a lifetime and is being read by many Lives and changing lives for the better,It did mine.thank you Mormon for the compilation of all the records in your care, and js for being part of the restoration of the church of Jesus Christ of latter day Saints

  • Glen Danielsen Yorba Linda, CA
    May 31, 2017 5:13 p.m.

    Re: post by Commenter88 - Salt Lake City, Utah, May 31, 2017 4:55 p.m:

    Wow. Incisive, inciteful, piercingly true. Thank you, Commenter88.

  • Commenter88 Salt Lake City, Utah
    May 31, 2017 4:55 p.m.

    Critical theory is overwhelmingly applied to texts to subvert meaning and deconstruct belief. Re-appropriating the scripture is not an inclusive move to tolerate faithful adherents, but one that may actually contain veiled bigotry. If you have read much critical theory, you will find that only those applications that lead to leftist-political homogeneity are accepted by academics.

    These approaches to scripture strip it of context of faith and parse it in ways that show how it is "problematic." One of the tacit goals of these applications is to "demystify" texts, which would seek to undermine the significance of many faithful expressions. This probably would not be tolerated in the broader academic community for the Torah or the Koran, but since Mormons have always been fair game for otherwise prejudicial behavior, it is not surprising that many academics might take it up. I am not saying this about the author of this editorial, who seems sincere, but I think he misjudges the intentions of his peers.

  • Glen Danielsen Yorba Linda, CA
    May 31, 2017 3:16 p.m.

    Not really impressed with what any secularist thinks about the Book of Mormon. The book doesn't pander to them.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    May 31, 2017 2:56 p.m.

    The Book of Mormon, “ A Marvelous Work and Wonder“. (3 Ne. 21:9,,KJV) VS, A Modern translation.. “Therefore once more I will astound these people with “Wonder Upon Wonder”; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish. (Isaiah 29:14 NIV)

    VS the Septuagint. “Therefore behold I will proceed to “*Remove this people, and I will *Remove them”: and I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will hide the understanding of the prudent.” ( Isaiah 29:14 LXX). A condemnation of Israel Not the BoM.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    May 31, 2017 2:41 p.m.

    Really 2bits.." Just don't come here saying there's iron clad evidence. There isn't. "

    Just where did I even infer there is iron clad evidence? I said "It is the one theory that accounts.........". I also said.."Believers will of course say it's not a credible choice, but sorry folks it is for the non believer, complete with evidence." So to complete the logic for you it's a theory, with credible evidence...not iron clad.

    I referred to a 2008 study that showed strong correlation between Spaulding writings and the Book of Mormon. Guess what try scrolling down in Wikipedia to the section on computer analysis, and walla..the 2008 Jockers study.

    You flirt with discrediting those who claim to have seen the Spaulding doctrine that later disappears...pretty dangerous territory for someone who I would guess believes the three witnesses concerning the plates that later disappear.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    May 31, 2017 2:32 p.m.

    I appreciate and applaud Mr. Shreve's examination of the BofM and view as positive others examining the book as literature or as scripture.

    That said, I can't subscribe to the notion that examination of the book as literature somehow constitutes a search to understand it at a deeper level.

    My personal belief is that the book, properly understood and utilized, gives the reader the opportunity to commune with Deity. Hard to imagine a meaning deeper than that.

  • Manzanita Las Vegas, NV
    May 31, 2017 2:07 p.m.

    The Church has publicly disavowed the "two Cumorahs" theory regarding the location of important Book of Mormon events. Therefore, the Hill Cumorah in New York, according to the Book of Mormon itself, was the site of a large ancient battle where millions were slain. And yet, not a single shred of archaeological evidence exists to support this. The DNA evidence contradicts the Book of Mormon narrative. The anachronisms extant in the Book of Mormon (e.g., steel, horses, etc.) evince that it is not a historical record. And yet, the apologists still proclaim that the Book of Mormon has never been disproven, when it fact it has been disproven, over and over again, by experts within several different fields. I used to be a believer, but when I committed myself to learning the truth (and that means reading sources authored by those both within and outside of the Church), it became clear as day to me that the book, however helpful it may be to some, is simply not what it claims to be. I encourage all seekers of truth to make an honest inquiry of its origins.

  • Straitpath PROVO, UT
    May 31, 2017 2:05 p.m.

    I am 79 years old and have been reading books, articles, opinions, newspapers, magazines for at least 70 years. I doubt anyone my age has read more than I have. The Book of Mormon is unique. No author has ever had the ability to touch me like the Author of the Book of Mormon. And I am a cynic. The Book is the word of God.

  • DonO Draper, UT
    May 31, 2017 2:04 p.m.

    Unless or until a person reads the Book of Mormon as a religious text that testifies of Jesus Christ, and then prays about its veracity, it will remain to that person little more than "just another book"; perhaps an interesting book, as it is to Mr. Shreve, but little more. The book itself "exhorts" readers to ask God about its truthfulness as scripture. Their choosing not to do so does not make it any less the word of God.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 31, 2017 1:45 p.m.

    pragmatist,
    Spaulding writing the BofM is a classic conspiracy-theory. There's some second-hand circumstantial evidence (there always is) same as there's evidence the US government brought WTC down not terrorists in planes. It's the same here. People believe what they want to believe.

    I don't dismiss it out of hand. I studied it years ago. And I researched it again since you brought it up.

    I would recommend people use a source without anti-LDS agenda though. Like WikiPedia. No agenda, and they verify before posting. "Non Believer" websites have an agenda. Going there for info is like going to 9/11 Truth page for info on 9/11 (and ignore all real sources of info on 9/11).

    Look up Solomon Spaulding's page on Wikipedia if you want a fair source (not an agenda driven source).

    In the end we believe what we want to believe. No problem. Just don't come here saying there's iron clad evidence. There isn't. There's urban-legend (people who say they heard somebody saw something. That's how urban-legends & conspiracy-theories start you know. Same with the 9/11 Truthers, Pres Bush dynamited levies in New Orleans to kill black people, moon landing faked by NASA, etc.

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    May 31, 2017 1:19 p.m.

    The Book of Mormon has value as American literature in a historical context. But not when viewed as literal history, but as fictional stories. And it does not mean it is great literature. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1852) was very significant in our history, but is considered rather poor in literary quality. H.B. Stowe was not an accomplished writer, used language that would never be used by slaves, perpetuated racial stereotypes, romanticized slaves, vilified slaveholders in general, and having never visited the South, inaccurately portrayed the general nature of slavery. The Book of Mormon has fanciful stories, references to a multitude of things that did not exist in ancient America, sections that quote the King James version of the Bible word for word, much simplistic language, Shakespearean phrases (likely due to Cowdery's input) and certain phrases used over and over again from different authors. "It came to pass" is used 1,476 times by 13 different "authors." The Book of Mormon is important as fictional literature, good, average, or poor, for its significance in American history.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    May 31, 2017 10:53 a.m.

    Follow the Prophet.."The Solomon Spaulding theory is absolutely and completely disproven" Says you.

    Like I said.."Believers will of course say it's not a credible choice, but sorry folks it is for the non believer, complete with evidence."

    Try reading the 2008 Stanford study..quite a different take than the JS story.

    The Spaulding theory offers reasonable solutions to other Book of Mormon problems. Of course it completely solves the Joseph couldn't have done this problem because Joseph didn't do it. He had nothing to do with the writing. Spaulding, Rigdon, and Cowdrey wrote the book. Rigdon and Cowdrey were the brains behind the church and Joseph was the front, like the lead singer in a band.

    It also accounts for why Cowdrey, and Rigdon, get upset with Jospeh (he's getting all the credit) and yet they don't deny the original story.

    For most people who leave the Mormon church the truth of the church falls apart long before they struggle with the issues of this post. The Sapulding theory just fills in the gaps in what is all ready a false claim.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    May 31, 2017 10:21 a.m.

    @Karen R.

    I appreciate your many thoughtful comments over the years. What do you think of the Book of Mormon - was JS author or translator? What is it that makes you come back to these boards every week?

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    May 31, 2017 10:17 a.m.

    I am happy that college kids (or anyone else) are coming into contact with this book on a more serious literary, academic level. This book has been pilloried as plagiarism (but no real correlation to Spaulding's or other works I've read), pulling from the Bible (Ok, it quotes swathes of Isaiah but out of 528 pages, it's not a lot), 19th century fiction (it really doesn't resemble any other 19th century book), and a host of other caricatures which fail to give the Book of Mormon its due.

    The book has many brilliant literary moments and vehicles. It features narrative, compelling oratory, battle strategies unlike anything in the early 19th century.

    If Joseph Smith had wanted to write a book establishing himself as a Prophet or add more scripture, he could have done so with far fewer pages. Instead, this book covers 1,000 years, several cultures and migrant groups, but rather than cover EVERY aspect of their history and culture, it covers the spiritual narrative. So we get a slice of how they lived and what they observed, but not a comprehensive history. It reads like what it says it is.

  • Lew Scannon Provo, UT
    May 31, 2017 10:15 a.m.

    As many of the comments suggest, this author's take on the Book of Mormon rubs a lot of Mormons the wrong way, but I've found that approaching the book with the attitude "It's true, therefore" actually prevents readers from understanding the book very well and certainly prevents them from asking questions of the text that they really should be asking. The book is extremely complex, sometimes in ways that push against the assumption that it is a historical document. I think we're just beginning to scratch the surface of the text. Personally, I applaud Shreve and other scholars who are taking the book seriously in an effort to understand it at a deeper level.

  • Follow The Prophet Salt Lake City, UT
    May 31, 2017 9:09 a.m.

    The Solomon Spaulding theory is absolutely and completely disproven. I would encourage anyone who wants to know the truth of the matter to read the essays about it on lds.org and fair mormon. The fact is that nothing has disproven the truth of the Book of Mormon. It is not inspired fiction, it is not a 19th century document, it is what Joseph said it was, and what Mormon, Nephi, and every other Book of Mormon prophet said it was, a historical account of the visit of Jesus Christ to the Americas. Any person can know that if they will read it, pray with sincerity to know if it's true, and with real intent, in other words, with a willingness to act upon what you have read if God answers your prayer. It is a true book translated through the Lord's prophet by the gift and power of God

  • Glen Danielsen Yorba Linda, CA
    May 31, 2017 8:50 a.m.

    " For nearly two centuries, the LDS Church has set the terms for the Book of Mormon’s reception and interpretation. "

    As it should be.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    May 31, 2017 8:04 a.m.

    illuminated.."So, basically according to Mr. Shreve the BoM could have been written by any good writer, which it is what BoM detractors have been saying all along."

    Without naming a single good contemporary candidate as that author..."

    The most likely candidate is Solomon Spalding...Yes most Mormons dismiss this out of hand, and cite early studies to show no correlation, but later modern studies show a strong correlation.

    It is the one theory that accounts for the quality of the BOM, and the educational state of Joseph Smith.

    It's also the one theory that leaves a credible binary choice.

    Believers will of course say it's not a credible choice, but sorry folks it is for the non believer, complete with evidence.

  • EastCoastM Amherst, NH
    May 31, 2017 6:36 a.m.

    @Baccus0902 "So, basically according to Mr. Shreve the BoM could have been written by any good writer, which it is what BoM detractors have been saying all along."

    "Detractors" don't know where it came from. That's a question that is generally ignored or given only cursory thought. Some people start with the assumption that it is a product of Joseph Smith and/or someone around him (i.e., "modern"). Some people start with the assumption it's an ancient text. There is much (and building) evidence it's an ancient book. There is almost no evidence it's just a product of Joseph Smith or those around him. There really isn't. If it's just a form of plagiarism of the Bible, it's done in such a compelling way as to be brilliant, in many ways surpassing the Bible. There are intricacies of people and plot, character and culture, language and location that are amazing. It has an internal consistency that's remarkable.

    This is what Dr. Shreve sees and should be encouraged in his appreciation.

    I'd add, if it's an ancient book, then people have to start thinking about content and implications rather than just its beauty as American literature.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    May 31, 2017 6:23 a.m.

    @ David

    "Joseph Smith was hardly a good writer at age 24 when he translated the Book of Mormon."

    This sentence captures the contradiction I often hear among LDS. JS is simultaneously author and translator.

    But he can't be both. If the BoM is the history of an ancient people documented by those people, then the literary credit goes to those ancient writers, not JS.

    If JS is the author, then there is no need for the translating device of the magic rock. (The golden plates also become irrelevant.)

  • Bob K Davis, CA
    May 31, 2017 5:45 a.m.

    It is not far-fetched to wonder if this article is a bit of a puff piece to please the readers of the DN and the members of the LDS Church.
    If next week we see an article saying that architecture schools are studying all the Mormon temples, we will say that a trend has started

  • Bob K Davis, CA
    May 31, 2017 5:40 a.m.

    For those feeling hurt that the Book of Mormon until recently was ignored by Universities et cetera: may I point out that study of the book might have been considered a religion class not a literature class especially before the play came out?

  • Bob K Davis, CA
    May 31, 2017 5:40 a.m.

    I visited a friend who was staring in a Marriott Hotel the other day period I miss my opportunity to steal the Book of Mormon out of the nightstand now I'm sorry

  • Middle of the road Mormon South Jordan, UT
    May 31, 2017 1:14 a.m.

    This is a fascinating examination of the BOM as a piece of American literature. I think the point the author of the article is making is that you don't have to believe it to be a Holy text in order to appreciate it.

    Is it Church doctrine that Joseph Smith was illiterate? I think this is more a myth than fact. Joseph could read the Bible, and was in High School up until the age of 20. According to fairmormon.org the Church's stance is that he was uneducated. But many of us also believe that he had read a great deal of books, including the Bible.

    Since he dictated the work to another it was not necessary for him to be able to write as he could verbally tell the stories while dictating to Oliver Crowdy, who may have edited the work as he was writing or made corrections as they went.

    As for it being an accurate account of any historical reference to people that lived in N. America, well the evidence strongly points to it not being so. There are lessons and truth in the BOM to help all, but I don't think we need to make it into a history text or use it for scientific proof of ancient civilizations. Doing so only weakens our position.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    May 30, 2017 9:09 p.m.

    That was a lot of words to say he liked the book. But it's only his opinion, every one should have their freedom to express their opinion. There isn't any debate there.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 30, 2017 8:54 p.m.

    Sounds like a good class for college kids. Glad they are teaching it.

    While they are studying it, if they are impressed with it as a work of literature, they may ask themselves if a teen with limited education in English Lit could write a work like that.

    I'm impressed with Oliver Cowdry's observation that while he was scribe and they would take a break for food or work and they would go back the translation would start right from where it left off without asking for anything to be read back and translating would continue for hours.

    I've tried writing small things (like opinions), and I've had to go back over and over to make things link up correctly and proceed in a logical manner. Not only does the BofM link up correctly with other things happening in the Book of Mormon, but the story also aligns correctly with people and events occurring at the same time in the Old Testament (Josiah and his era which overlaps with the time Nephi and Lehi left Jerusalem).

    It's really quite amazing, even if you assume Joseph Smith wrote it (which he didn't)

  • Commenter88 Salt Lake City, Utah
    May 30, 2017 8:06 p.m.

    @bass679
    Actually academia is very much like a monolith when it comes to the lack of diversity in politics, traditions, societal values, and language application. Try to find peer-reviewed articles that show linguistic deconstruction and textual subversion of popular leftist slogans or creeds. You won't find them. But you will find the converse. Academic levers can be down-right wolfish in enforcing conformity.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    May 30, 2017 8:04 p.m.

    "...the Book of Mormon went against just about every grain I knew. Its strangeness, its audacity, its rebuke to the tacit creeds structuring everyday life in antebellum (and contemporary) America, utterly thrilled me."

    Yes, indeed, and how about the socialism the Nephites come to practice - all things common, neither rich nor poor - THAT, my conservative friends is socialism whether you like it or not.

  • mominthetrenches South Jordan, UT
    May 30, 2017 7:32 p.m.

    I think this is a great article! I also think it's really wonderful that other circles in the academic world are studying the book for its literary qualities. I think professors who teach this book would be short-sighted if they weren't mentioning that this is a sacred book to those in the LDS faith. I agree with the above post that those who are touched and recognize the truths within this book will do what they need to do to move forward. This book is a gift for all, and no matter how it is presented, it is great that there are those who are not of our faith who are promoting and defending it to others in their own way. I believe they will be blessed for this. We all know who is ultimately in charge of this show.

  • Rockyrd Gilbert, AZ
    May 30, 2017 7:04 p.m.

    Studying The Book of Mormon for literary purposes is quite legitimate. Not everyone who reads it will necessarily have a spiritual experience, but that it can be appreciated on many levels is part of its mission as a scripture.

  • byufootballrocks Salt Lake City, UT
    May 30, 2017 6:23 p.m.

    There is just no explanation for the origin of the Book of Mormon that holds up or makes any real sense other than the one Joseph Smith gave. The tight, documented circumstances of his life and the history of it's coming forth further attest that his story is true.

    The book is of heavenly origin, and no man could have written it. It's also telling that it's been in the public sphere for 187 years and no equivalent to it has appeared in spiritual or secular writings. It's been attacked and has held up under all kinds of scrutiny.

    I've studied it for years and am continually amazed by its sweep of Christian doctrine and teachings. I've studied the Old Testament and found both the Old and New Testaments to be in perfect conformity with the Book of Mormon.

    And I'm grateful I've had the witness of the Holy Ghost let me know in very real ways that the book is true, which is the same way I obtained a knowledge and testimony of the truthfulness of the Bible.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 30, 2017 5:38 p.m.

    @JRL in AZ - thanks for the input... will look it up.

  • Michael_M Scottsbluff, NE
    May 30, 2017 4:36 p.m.

    @LivinLarge
    Is there some reason why you didn't mention the convincing of the Lamanites?

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    May 30, 2017 3:56 p.m.

    Grant Shreve: I fell hard for the Book of Mormon but did not convert to the LDS Church

    ----

    OMM: I fell hard for the Old Testament but did not convert to Judaism

    OMM: I fell hard for the Quran but did not convert to Islam

    It's possible...

  • Frozen Fractals Salt Lake City, UT
    May 30, 2017 3:52 p.m.

    @David
    "Joseph Smith was hardly a good writer at age 24 when he translated the Book of Mormon. "

    Do we know that? By which I mean are there other writings of his that are so basic they make that obvious?

  • rsnyder Draper, UT
    May 30, 2017 3:50 p.m.

    Having read the Book of Mormon many times, I have considered it to be scripture (the word of the Lord), a compilation of stories, a family history, a political history and some pretty nifty literary forms which were known anciently (parallelism, chiasmus). I have felt the Spirit of the Lord testify to me of many principles set forth in the Book of Mormon. The Great Plan of Happiness is described in detail in this book. However, I NEVER looked at the Book of Mormon as literature for literature's sake. This article gave us an interesting perspective: How does a young man with an elementary education write a book which, 200 years later, is being looked at as literature which challenges beliefs and has such an impact on American literature as well as American literature? I think I would like to take one of those classes to hear the explanations.

  • JRL in AZ Tucson, AZ
    May 30, 2017 3:31 p.m.

    @UtahBlueDevil: "How do you do a literary study of the book without insulting those who believe in it?"

    Very carefully. Look at Understanding the Book of Mormon by Grant Hardy. It is an excellent example of how it is done. Hardy is LDS, but he examines the Book of Mormon as a literary work written by the main narrators - Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni. It is excellent stuff. I learned a ton of new things about the Book, and I have been reading it every day for 30 years.

  • illuminated Kansas City, MO
    May 30, 2017 2:56 p.m.

    "So, basically according to Mr. Shreve the BoM could have been written by any good writer, which it is what BoM detractors have been saying all along."

    Without naming a single good contemporary candidate as that author...

  • a_voice_of_reason Woods Cross, UT
    May 30, 2017 2:53 p.m.

    While I really appreciate his healthy, inquisitive approach he (and as he points out) other academics cannot approach it's existence from an academic perspective. It is a wonderfully good read - objectively, and is quite interesting structurally and artistically. However, where did it come from? Academics struggle with this - why? Because the origins as told by Joseph Smith are too fantastic for academics to believe - or at least teach. However, if not that, then where? Where did it come from? How did Joseph Smith end up with such a complex work exhibiting so many evidences of it's origins as explained by Joseph Smith - from Jewish literary structures, to "strange" English phrases that are excellent direct translations of common Egyptian phrases. You can't talk about it's origins because there is no "logical" explanation for it. All that said - a very interesting article.

  • bamafone Salem, UT
    May 30, 2017 2:42 p.m.

    Moreman,
    For you, it would be fiction. Some of the rest of us non fiction. And to the author of the article, seems you missed the main point of the book with all your study, an all to common occurrence in academia. As the saying goes, you missed the forest for the trees.

  • 1Reader Sunnyvale, CA
    May 30, 2017 2:26 p.m.

    Very interesting.

  • UtahTroutStalker Draper, UT
    May 30, 2017 2:11 p.m.

    @birder - Salt Lake City, UT

    "The true value of the Book of Mormon will never come to light through a purely academic approach. The faith-based approach is the only way that really works."

    I imagine the same can be said about the Torah, the Koran, the Holy Bible, The Tripiṭaka, the Vedas, and The Akilattirattu Ammanai and Arul Nool.

    All claim to hold that special truth for the their faithful.

  • UtahTroutStalker Draper, UT
    May 30, 2017 2:06 p.m.

    If reviewing it only as a piece of American Literature then I am curious what Grant Shreve's thoughts are on the theories that Joseph Smith Plagiarized the King James Bible, and other texts to create the Book of Mormon.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 30, 2017 1:59 p.m.

    That the literary quality of the Book of Mormon has gone largely unexplored is due to two primary factors. First, it was not presented as a literary work but as an ancient record written two millennia ago. Secondly, those who like Grant Sheve find it compelling as literature are far and few between. The Mormon faithful for whom the tome is sacred writ espouse it primarily for the gospel truths they find in it.

    Finally, the Book of Mormon eludes closer literary assessment because isolating the text from the raging controversies of its origins into a published work is no easy task.

  • Gildas LOGAN, UT
    May 30, 2017 1:45 p.m.

    I don't care why the Book of Mormon is studied; I am just glad that it is read in any college, university or school, or anywhere else. The sheep hear the voice of the shepherd, follow his instructions and are safely enfolded.

    I look at it as scripture but also as history. It has been said, with some truth, that a civilization lasts about four hundred years. If so we ought to be reminded that it is four hundred years from 1620 (the Pilgrims, Mayflower etc) to 2020. As that year looms we ought to be watching what transpires and if applicable to Book of Mormon historical cycles.

    The first Nephite settlement lasted approx. 400 years, and a new one began (Mosiah and remnant merged with Mulekites). English history had to be renewed about every 400 years. Anglo-Saxon settlements about 400 AD to the Viking invasions and Alfred's union of Angl-Saxon kingdoms. Then the Norman invasion & conquest, balanced by the establishment of Magna Carta. Then the English Revolution under the Puritans in the 1640's. England may survive, under such impetuses, til about 2040 maybe. We shall see. Isaac Newton placed the Second Coming at 2060; he didn't give the day or the hour.

  • MoreMan San Diego, CA
    May 30, 2017 1:44 p.m.

    @ Johnny Triumph... wouldn't that also mean a study of Joseph and His-story?

  • Johnny Triumph Lahaina, HI
    May 30, 2017 1:15 p.m.

    Just as one would study an author's background or the social/cultural things that were happening at the time of its writing so a study of the Book of Mormon is incomplete without an understanding of when it was written and how it came to light ~1400 years later.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    May 30, 2017 1:14 p.m.

    Thank you Professor Shreve. I think I would enjoy taking your class. Best of luck.

  • MoreMan San Diego, CA
    May 30, 2017 1:00 p.m.

    So where should it be found in a Library? Fiction or non-fiction? And if it really is such a great read... verily, why hasn't it come to pass that more people haven't read it?

  • delasalle Sandy, UT
    May 30, 2017 12:53 p.m.

    I don't find it odd at all that it has taken this much time for the book to be studied academically. Religious books are being written everyday, some by crazy nuts and others by educated university professors (no I am not repeating myself). Our church as well has books that are being written everyday by its leaders, BYU professors, and so on. Only books that stand the test of time should or will be included in any academic curriculum. The Book of Mormon may have taken longer than some would expect but the reality is it has not been around for even 200 years. Many other religious texts have existed for many centuries, and therefore warrant study from an academic perspective.

  • blackattack Orem, UT
    May 30, 2017 12:48 p.m.

    There is so much to learn and gain from studying the Book of Mormon. Like all rich intellectual, and especially spiritual literary works, one can read it over and over and learn/feel something new each time.

  • David Centerville, UT
    May 30, 2017 12:33 p.m.

    Baccus,

    "So, basically according to Mr. Shreve the BoM could have been written by any good writer, which it is what BoM detractors have been saying all along."

    Was the Book of Mormon written by "any good writer"? What was Joseph Smith's age? His educational attainment when he "wrote"/translated the Book of Mormon?

    Joseph Smith was hardly a good writer at age 24 when he translated the Book of Mormon. He was a laborer that was at best self taught by reading in his family cabin after long days of work. But he was magnified by the gift of God, enabling him to provide us this remarkable book of scripture today.

    In fact, Joseph's lack of education makes it difficult to dismiss the Book of Mormon when you consider the work in literary and/or spiritual sense.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    May 30, 2017 12:11 p.m.

    And by the way, Jesus Christ is mentioned exactly zero times in this article.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    May 30, 2017 12:08 p.m.

    I'm singularly not impressed with this article. So my question is, and we care why?

    The Book of Mormon may have some excellent literary qualities, but it's aim is to testify of Christ.

  • IAlaw Malvern, IA
    May 30, 2017 12:06 p.m.

    I loved this article. Very well written. And yes, the Book of Mormon is remarkable even in isolation; so I can appreciate the author's love even if it's only from a secular perspective, but I have to say that I love the Book of Mormon for all that its existence implies.

    The Book of Mormon is a marvel, which I realize is a serious understatement. But even more marvelous are all the other truths for which the book is a collective keystone. It thrills me to know that because the Book of Mormon is a true historical/scriptural record, there is a God, who sent a Savior, who has called prophets and who has restored His gospel and His priesthood authority in these latter days.

  • KellyWSmith Sparks, NV
    May 30, 2017 11:47 a.m.

    Ever since President Benson urged the members to take the Book of Mormon seriously at the April 1986 General Conference, I have read this wonderful book every day since, missing only 55 days in 31 years. Its the greatest book on the face of the earth. It has produced within me a testimony that is unshakable, as long as I keep my covenants and repent every week with the Sacrament. I am so grateful for this amazing book! I can always tell how in tune I am with the Lord when I read it. If I find it boring or uninteresting, I need only look to myself as to the reasons why. But when I feel the Spirit coursing through my whole soul, when I feel love and power poured down from above, when I feel enlightened and uplifted and encouraged, infused with faith and hope and testimony, then I know I am on the right path.

    I love this book and count my time with it every morning as the best part of my day. I just want the world to know how powerful it can be in their lives if they will just read it, ponder its message and pray with sincerity to find out it is true. I KNOW the Book of Mormon is true! You can too!

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    May 30, 2017 11:38 a.m.

    "Both Princeton and Johns Hopkins now offer regular courses on American scriptures, which read the Book of Mormon in conjunction with other scriptural works published in the United States (like "Science and Health" and "Dianetics") as well as works that have scriptural aspirations (like "Moby-Dick" and "Ben-Hur")."

    So, basically according to Mr. Shreve the BoM could have been written by any good writer, which it is what BoM detractors have been saying all along.

  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    May 30, 2017 11:35 a.m.

    The true value of the Book of Mormon will never come to light through a purely academic approach. The faith-based approach is the only way that really works.

  • deseret pete robertson, Wy
    May 30, 2017 11:33 a.m.

    The author has failed to see or sense what the Book of Mormon really is and it's purpose.Which is another witness ( the Bible being one ) to convince the world that Jesus is the Christ or the Messiah and the Redeemer of the world . Apparently he skimmed over the Title page which was written by the Prophet who concluded the record .

  • LivinLarge Bountiful, UT
    May 30, 2017 11:28 a.m.

    "And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God", one truth seeking reader at a time...

  • Common Sense Guy Richfield, UT
    May 30, 2017 11:24 a.m.

    @ TMR .
    I get the gist. It suits me fine. The Book of Mormon has been around for nearly 200 years.
    @ bass679. " Academia is not some giant monolith, it's made up of hundreds if not thousands of smaller communities. Especially in literature there are trends and fads in what is popular to study."

    My point exactly! Apparently The Book of Mormon must not have met the criteria to be included in the trend or fad. ( Come up with your own ideas why, I did!) I don't think there is a great conspiracy by academia or the media, but I do think too many members of the respective groups fall into the trap of following the herd. For the most part they are just lazy. However, some choose not to consider it because the issue is taboo. I also am not sure it is positive for the faith that it be studied as a work of literature. However, it should stand on it own merits both as scripture and as literature.

    @ TMR . I did make a political point, but maybe not as Republican as you are thinking. Propaganda comes from all sides. Everyone has a spin or a narrative including me. The trick is seeing through it, which is extremely difficult.
    Everyone should own their own crazy!

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 30, 2017 10:53 a.m.

    Re: "The Book of Mormon gripped me in the same way Herman Melville’s "Moby-Dick" and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s "Dred" had years earlier"...
    ---
    The Book of Mormon doesn't convert anybody. The spirit does the real conversion (not the book).

    If you haven't experienced a spiritual conversion, only an academic one... you have a ways to go.

    If you read the Book of Mormon the same way you did Moby Dick... you need to read it again. And follow the promise in the book, and ask if it's true.

    If it's not... it's just another good book (like Moby Dick and many others). But if it's true... then your understanding of many things in this life changes. It's not just a good book, it can change your life.

    And academic understanding is ok, but you really need a second witness. One you can look back on later when the going gets rough. One you feel in your whole being, not just your head.

    If you just read the book and don't take the challenge, it is just like Moby Dick or some other good book. But it can be more.

  • bass679 Novi, MI
    May 30, 2017 10:46 a.m.

    @Traveller
    Perhaps no suitable body of text for discussing it? It might be that it's not covered under "fair use" to use the Church's copy.

  • sashabill Morgan Hill, CA
    May 30, 2017 10:37 a.m.

    Any way you look at it, the prophecy states that the LDS church (and the Book of Mormon) will "come forth out of obscurity." This is happening, and will continue to happen, even in ways that we cannot predict or control.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 30, 2017 10:23 a.m.

    I am not sure academia had been ignoring the Book, but has rather viewed it in other light rather than in literature. The others obsession that this book somehow be viewed as "literature" is a bit confusing to me. In what light does the author want it categorized in to? Should it be compared with "Lord of the Rings", "Aesop's Fables", "iliad and odyssey"... ? Should it be considered early American Non-Fiction? How do you do a literary study of the book without insulting those who believe in it?

    So I don't think people have avoided it the way the author claims to have. But I am more than wiling to be wrong. I know here at Duke we have a couple of copies of the original that the university has made available to those that seek to see it, or study it in it's original form. I would prefer the book to be looked at in an anthropological context.. the stud of a people.

    But that is just my bent....

  • Traveller Farmington, UT
    May 30, 2017 10:02 a.m.

    "Many factors have contributed to this reversal of the Book of Mormon’s fortunes within the academy, but two of the most important are the availability of editions of the book from reputable trade and academic presses..."

    Is he saying that one of the major factors for disinterest in the Book of Mormon in academia was that no textbook company could make money selling it until recently?

    Really, what would be the advantage of a $40+ academic press version over the Church's current version, which is basically fee?

  • TMR Los Angeles, CA
    May 30, 2017 9:55 a.m.

    @Common Sense Guy: in your rush to make a political point, perhaps you missed the gist of the article. Academia is no longer ignoring the Book of Mormon. The context of its embracement may not suit you, but it is no longer being ignored.

  • bass679 Novi, MI
    May 30, 2017 9:56 a.m.

    @Common Sense Guy
    Academia is not some giant monolith, it's made up of hundreds if not thousands of smaller communities. Especially in literature there are trends and fads in what is popular to study. Myself, I've always been uncomfortable with the BoM being used in literature studies. Sure, I'm glad that it's being considered alongside other scriptures for the sake of literature. But I'm less enthused about it being considered along side Moby Dick.

  • John Brown 1000 Laketown, UT
    May 30, 2017 9:52 a.m.

    Thanks DN and Mr. Shreve. Interesting article!

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    May 30, 2017 9:36 a.m.

    "Many factors have contributed to this reversal of the Book of Mormon’s fortunes within the academy..."
    ========

    I wonder if Mr. Shreve would consider the overwhelming popularity of the Broadway play as one indication of the change in fortunes he's talking about.

    However, it is arguable that the mocking treatment in the play of both the book and the church whose doctrines rely on its veracity were actually indications of a reversal in fortunes. To most it would probably seem to be a continuation of the snide bigotry both have been treated to since their beginnings.

    I don't wish to speak for any LDS members, but, to be frank, I imagine that to anyone who holds the Book of Mormon to be more than simply a "very strange book" and singular example of American literature, Mr. Shreve's almost breathless praises in this article might seem suspiciously more like cleverly contrived left-handed compliments than indications of authentic admiration.

    But, I also admit that genuine changes in fortune can be too easily dismissed after such a long history of denigration. So, I hope Mr. Shreve's seemingly optimistic appraisal is accurate and a corner has actually been turned.

  • Common Sense Guy Richfield, UT
    May 30, 2017 9:25 a.m.

    Good article! Very telling how The Book of Mormon can basically be ignored by academia. Honestly makes me think how else are we misled by academia and the media. How many of us are just buying into the narratives put out by Academia, the Media, Hollywood ect. ?