The past two decades have seen an explosion of research on the Book of Mormon by faithful LDS scholars. For many years a regular feature of the FARMS newsletter has been a Research Update reporting on some aspect of this research. Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch and Melvin J. Thorne, presents the FARMS Research Updates of the 1990s, plus some similar short notes from the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, in a handy new collection.
Aimed at a general audience, these Updates are brief, easy-to-read reports of new research on the Book of Mormon. As the new book's introduction explains, Updates set forth the essence of a research topic and new discoveries from a variety of fields that bear on it. They tell of intriguing ideas and developments that have emerged from exploring the Book of Mormon from many perspectives.
Many of these Updates are the result of collaboration between scholars, and no FARMS Research Update has been released without close scrutiny by several scholars. In many cases the Updates have been the leading edge of new discoveries that were subsequently developed further and published in scholarly articles and books. Not all scripture research projects lend themselves to short treatment as an Update, of course, but in many cases a complex project can be opened up to the public through this avenue. And many times these Updates remain the most useful, concise statements available on a topic or issue.
In many ways, the Updates have changed the face of Book of Mormon research. No longer are new scholarly insights into the Book of Mormon held in remote corners of cluttered file cabinets. This commitment to making Book of Mormon research available to the general public has always been one of the missions of FARMS and can be seen in the new format of the last two issues of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies.
Pressing Forward will interest all people who want to know what's new in Book of Mormon research. The Updates it contains will be informative to inquisitive mindsboth old and youngwho want to know the questions that scholars are asking and answering. They will appeal to people who enjoy thinking about novel approaches and prospecting for new information. They will appeal to all who believe the Book of Mormon and want to know more about its messages, language, and setting; its astonishing details, miraculous origins, and incomparable mission.
Most people who study the Book of Mormon, including the scholars who study it intensively, believe that they have barely scratched the surface. The richness and complexity of that book offer an inexhaustible wealth of understanding that rewards "pressing forward" with continuing research. The ultimate goal of sharing this research with the world is to help all students of the scriptures to "press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ" (2 Nephi 31:20).