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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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The Book of Mormon and the Bible

The Book of Mormon and the Bible

(p.107) 4 The Book of Mormon and the Bible
Americanist Approaches to The Book of Mormon

Grant Hardy

Oxford University Press

The Book of Mormon appeared in American history at a time of religious turmoil. As it attempted to answer questions posed by Christians and skeptics alike, it did so through narrative rather than direct exegetical commentary or doctrinal exposition (though such genres were at times incorporated into its narrative). Moreover, Joseph Smith’s book was presented as a newly revealed ancient scripture, equal in authority to the Bible. Consequently, while it shared many characteristics with the emerging genre of biblical fiction and reflected shifts in political culture from Old Testament inflected nationalism to a New Testament emphasis on individual salvation, The Book of Mormon was nevertheless an unusual literary and religious work. From a theological perspective, it affirmed many elements of conservative Christianity, including angels, prophecy, divine providence, and spiritual gifts, yet its very existence as extra-biblical scripture challenged notions of the uniqueness and sufficiency of the Bible. The Book of Mormon was clearly intended to be a companion to the Bible, and the connections between the two include not only thematic elements, but also archaic diction, shared phrasing, allusions, and subtle modifications of familiar biblical expressions that recontextualize and explain theological concepts and ambiguities.

Keywords:   biblical diction, biblical fiction, The Book of Mormon, Lawrence Buell, Deuteronomistic History, intertextuality, literary scripturism, David Reynolds, skepticism, Eran Shalev

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