With the Come Follow Me curriculum focusing on the Book of Mormon next year, I thought I put together what I consider the “essential” library for Book of Mormon study. It is not intended to be a list of the absolutely, very “best books” (D&C 88:118)—though I’ve generally tried to include books that I think are of a high quality—but to be a “starter library” that is representative of the variety of academic approaches Latter-day Saints have taken when studying the text.
As such, it includes:
- two academic editions of the text itself (1, 2), the key primary sources (3–5), a dictionary or encyclopedia like reference work (6), major commentaries (7–8), and a diverse set of secondary literature covering a broad range of topics, from the 19th-century setting of its translation and publication (9–11), to its ancient origins (12–16), to its literary features (17–21).
- It covers major themes found throughout the book, such as Jesus Christ (22), warfare (23), and law (24).
- It also includes studies of key sections and passages, such as King Benjamin’s speech (29), Christ’s sermon at the temple (28), and the Isaiah chapters (27).
- It tackles controversial issues, such as DNA studies (33) and other challenges to the book’s authenticity (34, 35).
- It includes works from some of the most influential scholars in the field of Book of Mormon studies, such as Hugh Nibley (14), John L. Sorenson (15), and John W. Welch (24, 28).
- It also includes some things from newer scholars, such as Joe Spencer (19) and Don Bradley (21), and examples of recent trends and new directions (30, 32)
- Many of the volumes included are multi-authored and multidisciplinary (e.g., 12, 23, 31), thus providing several different ways to approach major themes or sections of the text.
While this certainly does not include everything that could be included on a list like this, the goal is to provide the hypothetical beginner in Book of Mormon studies with the “essentials” they need to jump-in and get started; help them get a sense for what’s been done, who’s influential, and where things are headed. How well I accomplished that goal will, ultimately, be in the eye of the beholder, but quite naturally, I think I’ve done a mighty fine job.
Anyway, without further ado, here is my proposed list of 35 books for the “essential” Book of Mormon Studies library.
P.S. To avoid being self-serving and self-promotional, I’ve excluded the two Knowing Why books from Book of Mormon Central, of which I am a co-editor and major contributor; but obviously I think those are great and that everyone should buy them! (hint; hint)
P.P.S. I didn’t include any forthcoming works, but there is always new stuff to keep an eye out for. Among the things folks may want to keep on their radar is the Brief Theological Introductions series by the Maxwell Institute (first volume should be out soon, I suspect), and Brant A. Gardner’s Labor Diligently to Write, which is being released serially by Interpreter and should be available as a full book by the beginning of 2020. John W. Welch also a has forthcoming book on Alma 5 (with Covenant) and Donald W. Parry will be releasing a new book on the ancient Hebrew literary features of the Book of Mormon (with RSC, I believe). Book of Mormon Central will also feature weekly commentary from John W. Welch throughout the year 2020.
Editions of the Text
1. Royal Skousen, ed., The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (New Haven: Yale, 2009).
2. Grant Hardy, ed., The Book of Mormon: Maxwell Institute Study Edition (Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book, BYU Religious Studies Center, and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2018).
3. Royal Skousen, ed., The Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon (Provo: FARMS, 2001).
4. Royal Skousen and Robin Jensen, eds., The Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, Revelations and Translations, vol. 3, parts 1 and 2 (Salt Lake City: Church Historians Press, 2015).
5. Larry E. Morris, ed., Documentary History of the Book of Mormon (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).
6. Dennis Largey, ed., Book of Mormon Reference Companion (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2003).
7. Brant A. Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2008).
8. Robert L. Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4 vols. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1987–1992).
Translation, Publication, and History
9. Michael Hubbard McKay and Gerrit Dirkmaat, From Darkness unto Light: Joseph Smith’s Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City and Provo: Desert Book and BYU Religious Studies Center, 2015).
10. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981).
11. Terryl Givens, By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).
12. John W. Welch, David Rolph Seely, and JoAnn Seely, eds., Glimpses of Lehi’s Jerusalem (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2004).
13. Warren Aston, Lehi and Sariah in Arabia (Bloomington, IN: Xlibris, 2015).
14. Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake and Provo: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988).
15. John L. Sorenson, Mormon’s Codex: An Ancient American Book (Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2013).
16. Brant A. Gardner, Traditions of the Fathers: The Book of Mormon as History (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2015).
17. Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader’s Guide (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010).
18. Richard Dilworth Rust, Feasting on the Word: The Literary Testimony of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1997).
19. Joseph M. Spencer, An Other Testament: On Typology, 2nd ed. (Provo: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2016).
20. Bradley J. Kramer, Beholding the Tree of Life: A Rabbinic Approach to the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2014).
21. Don Bradley, The Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Book of Mormon’s Missing Stories (Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2019).
Studies of Major Themes
22. Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ in the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon (Provo: Deseret Book, 1997).
23. William J. Hamblin and Stephen D. Ricks, eds., Warfare in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990).
24. John W. Welch, Legal Cases in the Book of Mormon (Provo: BYU Press and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2008).
25. John A. Tvedtnes, The Book of Mormon and Other Hidden Books: Out of Darkness unto Light (Provo: FARMS, 2000).
26. LeGrand L. Baker and Stephen D. Ricks, Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord? The Psalms in Israel’s Temple Worship in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2010).
Studies of Major Sections
27. Donald W. Parry and John Welch, eds., Isaiah in the Book of Mormon (Provo: FARMS, 1998).
28. John W. Welch, Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount: An Approach to 3 Nephi 11–18 and Matthew 5–7 (Provo: FARMS, 1999).
29. John W. Welch and Stephen D. Ricks, eds., King Benjamin’s Speech (Provo: FARMS, 1998).
30. Shon D. Hopkin, ed., Abinadi: He Came Among them in Disguise (Salt Lake and Provo: Deseret Book and BYU Religious Studies Center, 2018).
31. Kerry Hull, Nicholas J. Fredrick, and Hank R. Smith, eds., Give Ear to My Words: Text and Context of Alma 36–42 (Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book and BYU Religious Studies Center, 2019).
32. Adam S. Miller, ed., An Experiment on the Word: Reading Alma 32 (Provo: Neal A. Maxwell Institute, 2014).
33. Daniel Peterson, ed., DNA Research and the Book of Mormon (Provo: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2008).
34. Donald W. Parry, John W. Welch, Daniel C. Peterson, eds., Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon (Provo: FARMS, 2002).
35. Noel B. Reynolds, ed., Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited (Provo: FARMS, 1997).