It’s become something of a communis opinio doctorum that Joseph Smith didn’t make use of the gold plates while translating the Book of Mormon.
Two attitudes about translation are on my mind. One is about Joseph Smith: “Seeing words appear in a seer stone is magic, not translation. Translation is when you have the equivalent text in a foreign language, like Google Translate.” The…
The Interpreter has recently published two reviews of William L. Davis’ Visions in a Seer Stone. The two reviews, by Brant Gardner and Brian Hales, exemplify what I think are positive trends in Latter-day Saint contributions to Mormon Studies.
Our unhappy political moment has unfortunately corrected a longstanding asymmetry in ideologically-driven exit options.
I’ve heard multiple people say how much they’ve enjoyed the last five months of home church. Studying the scriptures however they want, and worshiping each Sunday as a family? More, please. Now that my ward has resumed meeting, there’s a lot to miss about home church.
John Hammond’s Quest for the New Jerusalem: A Mormon Generation Sagastates that Sidney Rigdon, “by his own admission, ‘made up’ religious experiences in his youth,” which seems like something worth looking into.
Imagining the Book of Mormon as a complex work reflecting numerous steps of compilation and abridgment helps explain some curious features of the encounter with Sherem in Jacob 7.
Thinking of the Book of Mormon as the result of a series of textual accretions and combinations might help make sense of how curiously overdetermined the account of Nephite origins is.
Is philological deliberation useful for studying the Book of Mormon? Is it even permitted?
Why is 3 Nephi, which records the central event in the history of Nephite salvation and destruction, located between Helaman and 4 Nephi?
If you trace the history of a text from earlier manuscripts to later ones, it’s not unusual for the text to be extended in various ways.
The material culture of Nephite literacy is the one aspect of Nephite civilization about which we have any kind of historical evidence.
Unless someone gets lucky with a spade or a metal detector, the full extent of Mormon’s sources will remain unknown. To keep even tentative answers on the side of plausibility rather than fantasy, how we think about Mormon’s sources should be informed by any information we have about Nephite literacy and textual culture.
The logical place for a philological approach to the Book of Mormon to begin is with Mormon, its eponymous editor, and his sources. How much did Mormon know about the Nephites, and what kind of records did he have to work with?
When I look at recent studies of the Book of Mormon, the biggest deficit I see is the lack of instinct for philology.