Book of Mormon

Commentary on 1 Nephi 17, pt. 2

January 22, 2009 | 2 comments

Laman and Lemuel make their appearance in chapter 17 in verse 17, where they say: Read more »


December 9, 2008 | 17 comments

The Book of Mormon is a reliquary in prose. In some extensive sections and at some critical moments, what drives the narrative is the question: how did a set of golden plates, a steel sword, a ball of curious workmanship, a breastplate, and two translucent stones end up inside a stone box buried in a hill in the state of New York? For a religion that attaches little to no significance to relics, it’s striking that large sections of our distinctive book of scripture are concerned with the provenance—the origin and the later cultural significance—of a particular set of... Read more »


November 13, 2008 | 21 comments

One of the subterranean threads running throughout the Book of Mormon is the mystery of whose bones are heaped upon the land northward. Read more »

The Canonization of the Book of Mormon?

November 10, 2008 | 29 comments
The Canonization of the Book of Mormon?

Penguin Books has just published a “Penguin Classics” edition of the Book of Mormon edited by Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp. Penguin Classics, of course, are the paperback editions of literary staples like Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. They are printed and marketed largely as texts for college classes. The assumption is that a text included in the Penguin series has become a stable part of the high-brow diet of books, or at least ought to be. It is worth reflecting a little bit about what this edition of the Book of Mormon might or might not mean. The Penguin book... Read more »

The War Chapters

August 31, 2008 | 46 comments

And a great sleep did come over the land; yea, verily, there was much dozing and nodding of heads in all of the sabbath schools. Read more »

Korihor and the United States Reports

July 1, 2008 | 40 comments

Let’s read the Book of Mormon as a commentary on American constitutional law and vice versa. Alma 30:7-10 reads: Read more »

Egyptian Brass Plates and a naming contest

April 22, 2008 | 9 comments

If this is common knowledge I completely missed it. So I post this in memory of all those who also slept through indecent chunks of early morning Seminary. Read more »

Amazon’s take on the Book of Mormon

March 8, 2007 | 16 comments
By has an algorithm for noting the “Statistically Improbably Phrases” in any given book. The idea is to look for word combinations that are uncommon generally but common in the book in the hope that this provides potential buyers some insight into what the book is about. Here are the ones for the Doubleday edition of the Book of Mormon: Read more »

History and Scripture

June 24, 2006 | 65 comments

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Testifying of historicity

June 8, 2006 | 124 comments

As I was re-reading conference, I came across this closing statement by President Hinckley: Read more »

Prophecy vs. History

March 24, 2006 | 32 comments

Not too long ago, I stumbled across the PBS presentation of Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel (2d ed. 1999). It reminded me of dealing with the book at college and enjoying the ideas presented and the sweeping take of world history that it offered. But while watching the presentation and contemplating the message of the book itself, I was reminded about how much Diamond’s whole analysis depends solely on inference from extremely scant historical evidence. Read more »

Market Dominant Minorities in the Book of Mormon

March 16, 2006 | 42 comments

Market Dominant Minorities Read more »

Is Poverty Satanic?

February 9, 2006 | 79 comments

One of the most important scriptural texts for the theological consideration of poverty is to be found in Alma 32. This chapter discusses Alma’s mission to the Zoramites. During a sermon on the hill Onidah, Alma is approached by a group of impoverished individuals who were “poor in heart, because of their poverty as to the things of the world” (v. 4). In effect, because of poverty and social exclusion, these people had become an ideal audience for Alma’s missionary efforts. So the question arises: Is poverty therefore a virtuous force, bringing people to Christ who would otherwise reject... Read more »

Book of the Mormons

January 2, 2006 | 28 comments

OK, you finished it, or got close. Maybe you were done months ago, maybe you read 100 pages in the last day.* Read more »

Did Nephites ride horses?

September 30, 2005 | 63 comments

In our recent tirades about the obvious evils of deer, it was noted , once again, that some scholars think that the horses mentioned in the Book of Mormon may not have been horses, but another hoofed animal. The common one that lives in the right place is similar to a deer. Unfortunately, such comments often are made in the context of how funny it is to think of riding deer into battle. Read more »

Kim Clark and the Book of Mormon

August 8, 2005 | 35 comments

A couple quick thoughts on recent prophetic moves. Read more »


March 26, 2005 | 10 comments

Yesterday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, here at Notre Dame, I attended a service of prayer and lamentation called “Tenebrae”, remembering the darkness of the night when Christ suffered in Gethsemane and was arrested, and anticipating his death. It closed with a final candle carried out, leaving us in complete darkness, and the congregation producing a loud noise, like the rolling of the stone to close the grave. Today I had a conversation with some friends, in which we reflected on the meaning of these events, and the difference in the darkness from a Mormon point of... Read more »

The Church Has Already Written a Modern English Version of the Book of Mormon

March 7, 2005 | 50 comments

The first installment of Phillip Barlow’s excellent 12 Questions raises the interesting question of whether the Church will ever produce a modern language edition of the Book of Mormon in English. The answer is that it already has. Read more »

Modern Gadiantons?

November 30, 2004 | 81 comments

One last post, before my non-philosophical blogging stint is done. One thing I’ve thought of with recent events in the middle east was the parallels to the Book of Mormon. I know that’s not exactly an original point to make, but I think the Book of Mormon has a lot of parallels both regarding our enemies as well as how we act towards our enemies. Dan Peterson has long written about the strong parallels between the Gadianton movement and various guerilla movements and insurgencies. I’ve listened to him describe extensive parallels, for instance, between Mao’s insurgency in China and... Read more »

Proof texts and Polynesians: Why Your Casual Dismissal of the War Chapters of the Book of Mormon is Hopelessly Ethnocentric, and You Should Be Ashamed

November 10, 2004 | 15 comments

I’ve been witness to many discussions, in and out of the bloggernacle, questioning the importance of some of the stories in the Book of Mormon. Read more »

Savior and Destroyer

October 25, 2004 | 23 comments

William Blake wrote two poems that are usually studied together. These two poems, titled “The Lamb” and “The Tyger” explore the idea that as the Lord God created these animals, He isolated his own (seemingly contradictory) characteristics of meekness and ferocity and imbued each of these creatures with one of them. William Blake is inviting us to ponder how the isolated characteristics of a lamb and a tiger can share the same space in the heart of divinity. I only mention these poems in order to recognize that the issues and questions I’m raising and discussing have been pondered... Read more »

12 Answers from Royal Skousen

October 13, 2004 | 34 comments

Professor Royal Skousen has gone far beyond what we asked of him and provided a full and fascinating response to our twelve questions. Read more »

Political Discourse

September 29, 2004 | 157 comments

During this election season in the U.S., I have been troubled repeatedly by the tone of political discourse among my friends, in my community, on the internet, and in the mainstream media. I have been astonished by the extent to which the dominant motivation for political action has become hate. Most people I know are voting against a candidate for president, not in favor of ideas that might improve our country or the world. Last night, while reading in Alma 43 with my family, I perceived in the portrayal of Zerahemnah elements of both major candidates for president, and... Read more »

Shameless Self-Promotion, or Thoughts on Writing an Apologetic Article

September 21, 2004 | 23 comments

The most recent issue of the FARMS Review has arrived, and it finally contains my article, “‘Secret Combinations’: A Legal Analysis”. I actually wrote this article two years ago, so it has been a while in coming. It is fun to finally see it in print. The article is essentially apologetic. I am trying to respond to the claim that the phrase “secret combinationâ€? was exclusively associated with Masonry in Joseph Smith’s time and that as author of the Book of Mormon Joseph was producing, among other things, an anti-Masonic pamphlet. The real question, of course, is why I... Read more »