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Book of Mormon Day Reading

The Book of Mormon first went up for sale on March 26, 1830, at the E.B. Grandin Bookstore in Palmyra, NY. Tomorrow will mark the 187th anniversary of that occasion. In those intervening years, the book has had a major impact on countless lives—including my own. I love the Book of Mormon, and have a firm testimony of its truth. I can personally tell you that research into all kinds of questions about the book has only served to strengthen my testimony. It is a remarkable book, which will wear you out long before you make a dent in it, as Hugh Nibley said (pretty sure that is a direct quote, but too lazy to double check).

For those who would like to reflect on the Book of Mormon’s coming forth and long term impact in the last (almost) two centuries, I’ve compiled the following list of KnoWhys from Book of Mormon Central.
Moroni’s Visits to Joseph Smith

Why Did Moroni Quote Isaiah 11 to Joseph Smith?Why Did Moroni Deliver the Plates on September 22?

Translation

Why Did the Book of Mormon C…
Recent posts

Some Thoughts on Scribes and Smelters

I will apologize up front for the general lack of documentation in the this post. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on scribes, writing, and literacy in ancient Israel (and its ancient Near Eastern context) and wanted to hammer out some thoughts that have been jumbling around in my head. Something more refined (with sources cited) will be coming later as part of a larger work.
If there is one thing we know about Lehi and Nephi, it’s that they could read and write. Nephi, we know, could write very well. 1 and 2 Nephi is an impressively crafted text which accomplishes various narrative goals whilst employing a variety of literary conventions and all kinds of subtle allusions. It is, in a word, brilliant. Whether Lehi was such a skilled writer, we don’t know. We lack any samples of his direct writing, but we know he read and wrote because Nephi tells us about it. And Nephi’s own learning came from Lehi, but did his own skill and learning exceed Lehi’s? We don’t know (but as assumed below…

Was the Mayan Tun a “Year”?

LDS Mesoamerican scholars John L. Sorenson, John E. Clark, Brant A. Gardner, and Mark Alan Wright have all discussed various ways Nephite years might actually be 360-day tuns of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar.[1] In his article on dating the death of Jesus Christ, ancient Near Eastern archaeologist Jeffrey R. Chadwick disputed this suggestion. Chadwick asserted, “There is no indication that the Maya thought of their tun count as a ‘year,’” and that “[Michael D.] Coe does not refer to the tun as a ‘year’ anywhere in his discussion of the Mayan calendar system.”[2]

Designation, Demonstration, and Confirmation: Nephi and the Three-Stage Process of Gaining Power in Israel

While reading in Iain Provan, V. Philips Long, and Tremper Longman III, A Biblical History of Israel (Louisville, KY: Westminister/John Knox Press, 2003) last night, I came across some interesting remarks about the process by which Saul came to power. According to Long, et al. (Long is the primary author of the chapter on the early monarchy), “the process by which leaders in early Israel came to power seems to have entailed three stages: designation, demonstration, and confirmation” (p. 210). Long, et al. are drawing the work of Baruch Halpern here, which I have not read (though I have read other things by Halpern, and I find him to be a rather good scholar).
Long, et al. further explained, “First, an individual would be designated by some means for a particular role. Next, the new designee would be expected to demonstrate his status and his prowess by engaging in some feat of arms or military action. Finally, having thus distinguished himself and come to public attention, the design…

King Noah and Maya Kingship

I’ve recently enjoyed reading about the expeditions and adventures of John Lloyd Stephens and Fredrick Catherwood in the recently published Jungle of Stone: The True Story of Two Men, Their Extraordinary Journey, and the Discovery of the Lost Civilization of the Maya (William Morrow, 2016), by William Carlson. The narrative of their travels in Central America is interrupted three times; first, for a brief biography of Stephens; second, for a brief biography of Catherwood; and finally, for an overview what is now known about the Maya. It is during this third excursus that Carlson describes Maya Kingship as follows: For the ruling classes, especially the kings, a great deal is known because of the record left in Maya art and hieroglyphs. We know the holy lords lived polygamous lives surrounded by wives and courtiers in royal palaces. They sat on thrones covered with jaguar pelts, commanding their subjects, dispensing justice, greeting emissaries, royal allies, and foreign merchants. In…

Warfare and the Book of Mormon: A Bibliography

For most Latter-day Saints attending Gospel Doctrine, the infamous “war chapters” are approaching (or some have perhaps already begun to cover them in Sunday School). There is, unfortunately, only two lessons dealing with the war chapters, and those do not even cover all of the war chapters.
So, if you are interested in spending more than just two weeks on the topic and taking an in-depth look at warfare in the Book of Mormon, I’ve put together the following bibliography. This is not a comprehensive bibliography, but represents some of the major resources me and my colleagues at Book of Mormon Central drew upon while writing KnoWhys on the war chapters, which will be coming out in the coming weeks. Some additional resources I found after we finished those KnoWhys are also included in this list.
I have included more than just books specifically on warfare in the Book of Mormon, but also books on warfare in the ancient Near East and pre-Columbian America (mostly Mesoamerica), so those in…

“The Dominant Narrative is Not True”: Some Thoughts on Recent Remarks by Richard Bushman

The following is making its rounds on Facebook (from this video):Questioner: In your view do you see room in Mormonism for several narratives of a religious experience or do you think that in order for the Church to remain strong they would have to hold to that dominant narrative?
Richard Bushman: I think that for the Church to remain strong it has to reconstruct its narrative. The dominant narrative is not true; it can’t be sustained. The Church has to absorb all this new information or it will be on very shaky grounds and that's what it is trying to do and it will be a strain for a lot of people, older people especially. But I think it has to change. As I have seen this quote flash across my Facebook news feed and thought about how to make sense of it, I have been reminded of the short essay response questions I would often have on tests or assignments in college or even high school. It would not be uncommon for these questions to be built around a quote from an important schola…