173: Understanding the Book of Mormon (Gospel Doctrine Lesson 0)

Introduction to the Book of Mormon


Before we begin the Book of Mormon Sunday School year, I sit down (virtually) with Grant Hardy and McArthur Krishna (In North Carolina and India respectively) to review topics important to Book of Mormon Study.

We discuss: 

  • Personal experience reading the Book of Mormon
  • Approaches to the Book of Mormon
    • Devotional
    • Theological/Doctrinal
    • Literary
    • Historical
  • Reading the Book of Mormon from different perspectives
  • How did we get the Book of Mormon?
    • Translation process
    • Discernable sources
  • What is scripture?
  • What is inspiration?
  • Suggestions for teaching Book of Mormon in Sunday School
  • What is most important as we study the Book of Mormon?

Recurring Donation:

$10   $25   $50

One Time Donation:

$25   $50   $100

Bookmark this Amazon link to support the podcast


Reader’s Edition of The Book of Mormon

Understanding the Book of Mormon, Grant Hardy (or the Kindle edition for $3!)

Girls Who Choose God Set: Stories of Strong Women from the Bible; from the Book of Mormon (Deseret Book)

Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Course by Dr. Christine Hayes, Open Yale Courses


Thanks to Jonathan Cannon for helping with the discussion outline and to Trent Oliphant and William Newman for audio editing.

Latest Comments

  1. Mark Crego says:

    I was a bit taken aback by Grant Hardy’s insistence that the Book of Mormon people had to exist. I do not believe they do, although I don’t think it’s helpful to dismiss the potential for literal existence of Book of Mormon people.

    My experience in teaching the Book of Mormon in Gospel Doctrine was that by virtue of the book having no evidence of historicity, it was best to leave the entire question of historicity aside — and focus on the normative and spiritual content of the book.

    I’m sure that Grant would accept that world scriptures are often metaphorical. I’ve had a nearly forty year relationship with the Bhagavad Gita, a text that on initial blush seems to be a justification for kindred genocide. Many in India insist that the Mahabharata (from which the Gita is part) chronicles a literal history. Yet in one of its chapters, Krshna declares that the “Field” of battle is really the “self” or “body”. Once realizing that the gita was discussing a battle to be fought within ourselves, the meaning of the Gita becomes much richer.

    I sat in the first public meeting where Ezra Taft Benson presided as Prophet of the church — a stake conference in Northern Virginia where his daughter lived. In halting words, as if receiving revelation in situ, he declared his prophetic message, that the church is under condemnation for not taking the message of the Book of Mormon seriously. I felt, and still feel, that his words were prophetic and inspired.

    Yet the Church’s response to that prophetic message wasn’t to concentrate on the content of the book, but rather, the existence and historicity of the book as a litmus test and witness as to whether you are a true Mormon.

    What if we take a different approach? What if we look at the Book of Mormon as inspired scripture, which I believe it to be. What if we evaluate the battles, the Zoramites, the King-Men, and Gadianton Robbers, not as historical people, nor indeed as anyone other than ourselves: we realize that we fight battles inside ourselves, against our own spiritual arrogance (Zoramites), against our desire for power and authority as a solution to our problems (King-men), that we cover our pride in secret while appearing righteous (Gadianton robbers)?

    What if we came to realize that scripture is both that which comes by inspiration through the mind and heart of prophets in their language and time, and is received in turn by a faith community in its mind, heart, language, and time? Would that make the Book of Mormon less viable if it was not literally historical?

    Scripture is what we make of it. I choose to make of the book of Mormon divine scripture, and in so doing, have no need of its historicity. And while that works for me, I grant Grant his need to have it be literally historical. I can only hope there is room in our Church for both points of view, and we can share the scriptural content of the book without litmus tests of our beliefs in either its historicity or lack thereof.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s