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ePub feed of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship

ePub feed of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship

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A nonprofit educational journal focused on the scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, the Bible, Doctrine and Covenants, early LDS history, and related subjects. All publications are peer-reviewed and are made available as free internet downloads or through at-cost print-on-demand services.
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Abstract: The identity of “the people of Nephi who were spared, and also those who had been called Lamanites, who had been spared” (3 Nephi 10:18) as “a remnant of the seed of Joseph” (3 Nephi 5:23; 10:17; compare Alma 46:23–27; Ether 13:6–10) or “a remnant of the house of Joseph” (3 Nephi 15:12) is key […] The post “I Shall Gather In”: The Name Jo…
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Abstract: While, for understandable reasons, Protestant Christendom tends to downplay the question, the more ancient Christian churches have historically placed considerable weight on what is often termed “apostolic succession.” The Catholic church, for instance, strongly affirms the “primacy of Peter” and the status of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope…
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Abstract: New faith traditions often modify existing religious tenets to accommodate the particulars of their membership’s needs. A specific example is how different faith communities have modified the Ten Commandments both inside and outside the historic Jewish community. This paper argues that Joseph Smith received a Latter-day Decalogue that was…
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Abstract: Students of the Book of Mormon have long mined the Old Testament as a rich source of influence on Nephite writers. However, surprising recent finds suggest that an ancient text related to the Book of Moses may have been an especially significant influence as well. That possibility was raised in Noel Reynolds’s early analytical […] The pos…
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Abstract: In this study, three intersecting images are traced through the small plates until Jacob 5, where they directly (or by implication) culminate in the final section of Zenos’s allegory. The three images appear fused together in Nephi’s and Jacob’s writings. Specifically, this literary study tracks the images of the olive vineyard, the sheep…
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Abstract: With the popularity of social media growing exponentially, prominent critics of the Church are leveraging the platforms, particularly YouTube, as a key resource to produce thousands of negative videos about the Church. The accusations made in the videos about Church history, leadership, doctrine, and culture are so numerous that it could …
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Abstract: Nephi saw in vision that in the latter-days “the saints of the church of the Lamb” and “covenant people of the Lord” who, though scattered across the earth, “were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Nephi 14:14). Nephi’s prophetic statement is loaded with meaning. This study explores […] The post “Armed w…
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Abstract: Nephi laboriously copied many of the words of Isaiah in hopes that his readers would rejoice in Christ. While Isaiah 4:1 (2 Nephi 14:1) is generally not viewed as Messianic, there may be an allegorical interpretation that would place this verse among Isaiah’s other Messianic writings. A pre-Nicene patristic writer, Victorinus of Poetovio,…
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Abstract: This paper views the sacrament prayers and rituals of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the broader context of Christian eucharistic worship, focusing on how the Latter-day Saint observances both resemble and differ from those of other Christian communities. It argues that, contrary to what is often supposed, the Church h…
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Abstract: An early Christian text called the Revelation of the Magi presents itself as a history of the Magi before and after the birth of Jesus Christ. This text offers important insights into how the early Christian world may have conceptualized how other nations outside of Israel similarly looked forward to the advent of the […] The post “One Dr…
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Abstract: Grant Hardy has shown that Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni have distinctive personalities, rhetorical strategies, implied readers, and thematic concerns. Mormon lived within history and wrote as a historian. He focused on the particulars of time and place and person, on political and military matters. But, Hardy says, Mormon lacked audience awa…
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Abstract: In Words of Mormon 1:8, Mormon declares, “And my prayer to God is concerning my brethren, that they may once again come to the knowledge of God, yea, the redemption of Christ; that they may once again be a delightsome people.” The expression “that they may once again” plausibly reflects the Hebrew idiom wayyôsipû […] The post “That They M…
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Abstract: T. J. Uriona has offered two new theories about the meaning of Nephi’s term “skin of blackness” in 2 Nephi 5:21. He suggests that Nephi’s term may indicate impending death and/or it may be a literal reference to diseased or deathly skin. Both theories are based on a motif in an ancient Neo-Assyrian treaty […] The post Review of Two New Th…
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Review of Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Emer Harris & Dennison Lott Harris: Owner of the First Copy of the Book of Mormon, Witness of the “Last Charge” of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2023). 235 pages, 67 illustrations, appendix, references, $29.00 (paperback). Abstract: Jeffrey Bradshaw has, in a single well-researched volume, provided a gift…
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Abstract: Moroni1’s letter in Alma 60 is not simply an angry and intemperate screed against the government; it also responds to arguments about just tactics (what modern readers would call ethics) taking place among Nephite leaders at this time. Moroni1’s letter argues for his preferred strategies of active defense and ambush, while interpreting de…
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Abstract: Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s speech (Alma 24:7–16) reveals multiple allusions to significant texts in Nephi’s small plates record. Thus, when he declares “I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach unto us,” he appears to allude to an inclusio that bookends […] The p…
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Abstract: Repetition is a feature of all ancient Hebraic narrative. Modern readers may misunderstand this quality of biblical and Book of Mormon narrative. Biblical and Book of Mormon writers believed that history repeated, with what happened to the ancestors happening again to their posterity. Fawn Brodie and her acolytes misapprehend Book of Morm…
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Abstract: There is no more important message than that of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It’s life-transforming and world-transforming. It is also the most joyous news imaginable. What Jesus did on our behalf leaves us forever in his debt and should put him at the center of our lives. Easter Sunday,” President Russell […] The post …
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Abstract: To more permanently unify the Mulekites and the Nephites as a reunited kingdom of Israel, King Benjamin gathered his people at the temple, and in his role as a king and priest after the order of Melchizedek, imparted teachings that bear resemblance to the Latter-day Saint temple endowment ceremony first introduced in Nauvoo. Several […] T…
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Abstract: Bodily weakness, along with the varied circumstances into which we were born, provide the essential initial and ongoing conditions that shape the challenges and opportunities of our mortal probation. In life, we are not expected merely to preserve our innocence in defiance of worldly tendencies, nor are we compelled to cede to cynicism in…
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Abstract: The word “truth” has for practical purposes lost one of its original English-language meanings, and this has significant implications for understanding scriptures. The obvious, well-understood meaning is that which is real or factual. However, the earliest meaning in English is that which is true in an entirely different way, in the sense…
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Abstract: The Book of Mormon contains examples of phonemes in character names that resemble Semitic root words. The possible meanings of the names and their timing in the Book of Mormon narrative provide a deeper level of context to the Nephite political challenges in the books of Mosiah through 3 Nephi. Specifically, the English phonemes for […] T…
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Abstract: Mormon’s overwhelmingly dominant rhetorical purpose is to testify of Christ, which he and his protagonists often directly do. But he also communicates his testimony more subtly through carefully crafted historical narratives. His use of frame narratives is especially artful. In the Book of Mosiah, Mormon frames the dispiriting account of …
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Abstract: Trees play real and metaphorical roles in the beliefs and holy scriptures of many world religions, and believers and non-believers throughout the world are uplifted spiritually by trees. In the Book of Mormon, a tree with delicious, sweet fruit appeared in two visions and one parable. Respectively, the tree represents the love of God […] …
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Abstract: Considering conventions of the ancient Near East, 2 Nephi can be understood as a legal document or legal archive. Factors supporting this view include 1) Nephi’s allusions to sealing the record and to a bar of judgment, 2) discussion of the law of witnesses and reference to Isaiah and Jacob as witnesses, 3) components […] The post Second …
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Abstract: This article explores issues with past suggestions concerning the etymology of the name Cumorah and suggests a slightly updated etymology, “Rise up, O Light of the Lord.” It then suggests that Book of Mormon references to the Hill Cumorah appear to confirm the proposed etymology, thus becoming an apt description of the Restoration. No […]…
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Abstract: The Book of Abraham is replete with temple themes, although not all of them are readily obvious from a surface reading of the text. Temple themes in the book include Abraham seeking to become a high priest, the interplay between theophany and covenant, and Abraham building altars and dedicating sacred space as he sojourns […] The post Tem…
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Review of Grant Hardy, The Annotated Book of Mormon (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023). 912 pages; $37.95 (hardcover). Abstract: Oxford University Press has published an annotated edition of the Book of Mormon. This represents a significant event and provides a useful study resource. At the same time, the author’s determination to follow the…
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Abstract: When Nephi quotes Isaiah 9:1 in 2 Nephi 19:1, Isaiah’s the “way of the sea” (KJV translation) becomes “the way of the Red Sea” in the Book of Mormon, a change that is often said to reflect an egregious blunder by Joseph Smith or a scribal error. However, there may be a scenario in […] The post Joseph Smith and the “Red Sea” in 2 Nephi 19:…
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Abstract: Heavenly ascent describes the process of an individual (or community) returning to the presence of God. Though various elements exist within heavenly ascent literature, general patterns can be discerned. This project uses one such pattern as a hermeneutical tool to examine what can be learned about how Book of Mormon prophets may have und…
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Abstract: This article is an analysis of the literary structure of Alma 17–20. These four chapters in the current Book of Mormon were originally a single chapter in the first edition of the Book of Mormon (originally, chapter 12). The current article describes a process and rationale that was used to identify several major literary […] The post The…
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Abstract: For decades, several Latter-day Saint scholars have maintained that there is a convergence between the location of Nahom in the Book of Mormon and the Nihm region of Yemen. To establish whether there really is such a convergence, I set out to reexamine where the narrative details of 1 Nephi 16:33–17:1 best fit within […] The post The Naho…
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Abstract: Publishing an article in Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Faith and Scholarship involves a process of which many people are not aware. I’m sure it is obvious to all that articles don’t just spring from the mind of an author and onto the printed page. In this essay I draw back the curtain just […] The post A Long and Winding Road first…
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Abstract: What would it have been like to be among the shepherds who heard the angelic announcement of Jesus’s birth? Their story has special meaning for many of us because we feel a kinship with those shepherds through shared anonymity and shared hope and witness. By means of two favorite hymns, “Angels We Have Heard […] The post Glory to God in t…
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Abstract: Video games represent an innovative medium for entertainment and artistic expression with potential for fostering deeper engagement with religious texts such as the Book of Mormon. Over the past three decades, developers have produced dozens of video games based on the Book of Mormon. This paper provides a comprehensive history of these v…
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Review of Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith’s Gold Plates: A Cultural History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023). 264 pages, $34.95 (hardback). Abstract: The gold plates were only a physically present artifact for a brief time and only for a select few people. Then they were gone, but the effect of their original presence echoes […] The po…
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Review of Joshua Gehly, Witnessing Miracles: Historical Evidence for the Resurrection and the Book of Mormon (Monongahela, PA: The Church of Jesus Christ, 2022). 172 pages. $14.95 (paperback). Abstract: Joshua Gehly, an ordained Evangelist of the Church of Jesus Christ, offers a compelling case for the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Geh…
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Abstract: While David is frequently held up as the standard for great kings in the Old Testament, examination of Nephi’s writings shows that he sought to imitate Moses the prophet rather than David the king. In fact, he never even mentions David. Relative to two major theological movements in Jerusalem in his day, “Zion theology,” […] The post Neph…
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Abstract: Some students of the Book of Mormon have claimed that chapter 36 of the book of Alma is structured as a chiasm. Some of the proposals depart from perfect symmetry, presenting elements of the suggested chiasm seemingly out of sequence. This has often been pointed to as a weakness in the proposed chiasm or […] The post Asymmetry in Chiasms,…
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Abstract: The prophet Mormon’s editorial skill brings the narrative of the Zeniffites alive with a complex tumble of viewpoints, commentary, and timelines. Mormon seems to apply similar narrative strategies as those used in the Bible in his approach to abridging the history of his people. A comparative reading of the various accounts in the Zeniffi…
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Review of Ronald V. Huggins, Lighthouse: Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Despised and Beloved Critics of Mormonism (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2022). 392 pages. $39.95 (hardback), $24.95 (paperback). Abstract: Jerald and Sandra Tanner have had a long ministerial career trying to convince people that the truth claims of the Church are wrong. Even th…
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Abstract: This study builds upon Hugh Nibley’s insightful observation that several Book of Mormon passages reflect “the ritual embrace that consummates the final escape from death in the Egyptian funerary texts and reliefs” as expressing the meaning of Christ’s Atonement. This study further extends Nibley’s observations on Jacob’s “wrestle” as a di…
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Abstract: While references to heaven in the Old Testament are sparse, non-explicit, and predominantly cosmological, the New Testament reveals a more complex concept of the afterlife that reflects a rapidly evolving understanding of Heaven. The Jewish apocalyptic literature of the late Second Temple period describes a heaven of multiple degrees that…
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Review of Avram R. Shannon and Kerry Hull, eds., A Hundredth Part: Exploring the History and Teachings of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2023). 374 pages, $29.99 (hardback). Abstract: This volume collects papers published in multiple venues over a wide time span. A diligent researcher might find a…
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Abstract: This article examines the treatment of several personages identified as Hamites in the Book of Abraham. It proposes that, in contrast to traditional readings of the text, Hamites are featured positively in the Book of Abraham. This is particularly true of the daughters of Onitah and of Pharaoh himself, both of whom are presented […] The p…
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Abstract: Although Joseph Smith has been credited with “approximately seven full school years” of district schooling, further research supports that his education consisted of basic instruction in “reading, writing and the ground rules of arithmetic” comprising “less than two years of formal schooling.” The actual number of terms he experienced in …
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Abstract: Hints of a different and better world — sometimes dimly remembered, often intuited, and commonly hoped for — and of a glorious, mighty power behind the world in which we currently live, are all around us. They are not so powerful that they cannot be missed or even ignored, but they have been and […] The post “Signals of Transcendence” fir…
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Abstract: The book of Enos is considered to be a short, one-chapter treatise on prayer, yet it is more. Close examination of its text reveals it to be a text structurally centered on Christ and the divine covenant Enos seeks and obtains from Him a covenant to preserve the records of the Nephites for the […] The post Centered on Christ: The Book of …
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Abstract: This article examines Mormon’s comparison of Moroni, the Nephite military leader, to Ammon, the son of Mosiah, in Alma 48:18 and how Mormon’s use and repetition of ʾmn-related terminology (“faithful,” “firm,” “faith,” “verily [surely]”) in Alma 48:7–17 lays a foundation for this comparison. Ammon’s name, phonologically and perhaps etymolo…
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Abstract: Although unable to write more than a hundredth part of his people’s history, Mormon seemingly found the time and plate-space to deliver literary justice on behalf of Gideon, who suffered a martyr’s death at the hand of the wicked Nehor. This article applies a literary approach buttressed by evidence from the Book of Mormon […] The post Mo…
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