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Americanist Approaches to The Book of Mormon$
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Elizabeth Fenton and Jared Hickman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190221928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190221928.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 April 2021

Book of Mormon Poetry

Book of Mormon Poetry

(p.420) 17 Book of Mormon Poetry
Americanist Approaches to The Book of Mormon

Edward Whitley

Oxford University Press

For years, scholars have identified elements of Hebraic poetry in the words of Book of Mormon prophets as evidence of the book’s ancient origins. This effort to make poetic forms proof of the book’s truth claims finds a parallel in the hundreds of poems that have been written about The Book of Mormon, a topic to which scholars have paid little attention. This essay shows how the logic behind Book of Mormon poetry runs counter to Lawrence Buell’s formulation of “American literary scripturism,” which argues that “the erosion of the Bible’s privileged status acted as a literary stimulus” for American writers. But poetry about The Book of Mormon does not rise from the ashes of a discredited sacred text. Rather, Latter-day Saint poets treat the book as generative of poetic genres such as epic and elegy, genres that provide their own commentary on The Book of Mormon and its relationship to US nationalism, indigenous peoples, and the nature of history in the Americas.

Keywords:   The Book of Mormon, poetry, epic, elegy, Moroni, Native Americans, Hill Cumorah

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