from the publisher:
When Joseph Smith presented the Book of Mormon for sale in early 1830, questions surfaced regarding its claim to be an authentic ancient history of the Americas. In this much-anticipated ten-essay compilation, Brent Metcalfe outlines the broad contours of contemporary scholarship as it continues to examine issues of antiquity. Drawing from a variety of disciplines, contributors discuss historicity from the standpoint of physical and cultural anthropology, geography, linguistics, demographics, literary forms, liturgical context, theology, and evolution of the original manuscript to published work.
The message of the Book of Mormon is one of socio-economic equality and divine intervention. That message can sometimes be obscured by polemical use of the book for institutional agendas over personal religious experience. The Book of Mormon has become something of an icon for some--revered and prooftexted more than understood, according to the contributors. Furthermore, attempts to make the book relevant to Sunday School audiences often gloss over context. Returning to a nineteenth-century understanding restores the book's spiritual rather than its symbolic importance.
Among contributors are Edward H. Ashment, Melodie Moench Charles, Anthony A. Hutchinson, John C. Kunich, Stan Larson, Deanne G. Matheny, Mark D. Thomas, Dan Vogel, and David P. Wright. Their studies modify, even transform, previous theories regarding the nature of Mormon scripture. Painstaking research undergirds these ten essays. Contributors share a wealth of fresh perspectives and offer an array of new directions for future investigation.
"Some readers may find these essays too 'secular,' while others may find them too 'religious.' However, those with less partisanship should find them thought-provoking and absorbing whether their interests are academic or theological. As with any revisionist study, traditional assumptions are challenged, but many faith-affirming perspectives will endure," writes the editor.
Brent Lee Metcalfe works in the computer industry. He is the editor of New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology and a contributor to The Word of God: Essays on Mormon Scripture. He has moderated panels on related topics for the B. H. Roberts Society and Sunstone symposia and is currently editing another anthology of Book of Mormon essays. He lives with his wife and family in Salt Lake City.