Occasional Papers Spotlights the Book of Mormon
The latest issue of the Maxwell Institute's Occasional Papers (number 5 in the series) focuses exclusively on what Joseph Smith called "the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion"—the Book of Mormon. As M. Gerald Bradford, editor of the series and associate executive director of the Maxwell Institute notes, "the papers in this volume show that the Book of Mormon can be studied and understood from a wide variety of scholarly disciplines."
The lead-off article is a Book of Mormon chronology offering a detailed view of the book's remarkable history, from the early visits of Moroni to the critical text project now in progress, from the Danish translation in 1851 to the Twi (a language spoken in Ghana) translation in 2005.
In " 'That Most Important of All Books': A Printing History of the Book of Mormon," David J. Whittaker surveys the printing history of the Book of Mormon in the English language, focusing on the first edition of 1830, as well as on other editions published before Joseph Smith's death in 1844. Throughout this printing history, Church leaders have sought to make the volume available in both an accurate and useful format but with the key concern being its role in bettering the lives of those who read it.
The next article, "The Golden Bible in the Bible's Golden Age," offers a perspective on the Book of Mormon from a prominent scholar who is not a Latter-day Saint—Paul Gutjahr, professor at Indiana University. As Gutjahr points out, many early converts to Mormonism frequently spoke of how they came to faith in Joseph Smith's teachings by reading the Book of Mormon and the Bible side-by-side. "It is obvious by the virtue of the place Mormonism holds as the world's fastest growing religion that the book which gave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints its popular name is one of the most important written texts ever to emerge in the United States."
In " 'His Secret is with the Righteous': Instructional Wisdom in the Book of Mormon," Alyson Skabelund Von Feldt shows that many writers in the Book of Mormon were familiar with the literary forms, themes, and vocabulary of Hebrew wisdom literature. What's more, Book of Mormon authors clearly understood the search for wisdom to be a quest for eternal life and the mysteries of God.
Occasional Papers number 5 is now available through the BYU Bookstore. For more information, call 1-800-253-2578 or visit the Web site at byubookstore.com.