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i've been meaning to read given's book, but haven't gotten around to it yet. i think that it is interesting that most mormon doctrine (the doctrine that sets us apart from other christian churches) isn't found in the book of mormon. the book of mormon is far more mainstream christian in its teachings than is the D&C or PoGP. i think that it is so important to mormonism because if it is true, it is a sign of the divine calling of JS and lends credibility to the later works that he would bring forth. but if you want to understand why mormons believe the things they do you would still be wondering after reading the book.

looking forward to part ii, and perhaps later you could create a thread about studies of the book of mormon since i've actually read that book and found it fascinating.

Mike, I don't own a copy of Studies of the Book of Mormon, but it's on my list for my next Signature order, along with Southerton's book and possibly Vogel's biography of Joseph Smith. I've promised myself I won't put in a new order until I've finished reading the last batch.

As for B.H. Roberts . . . well, not reading the book wouldn't necessarily stop me from blogging about it. Signature generally posts a chapter from each of their books at their website, by the way. For The Essential B.H. Roberts they posted the editor's introduction, which is a biographical essay on Roberts. You might find it interesting. Maybe I'll read it tonight and make it my online essay of the week tomorrow.

Dave, I confess I've never read Givens, simply because I always assumed it was a very well written summary of apologetic positions. Since I'm already familiar with most of the apologetics it seemed unlikely to say much I was unaware of. (Well, at least to the state of affairs up to a few years ago when I became bored with apologetics) Is this the case?

Clark, it's certainly the case that someone who has been actively reading the apologetic literature or who has read a fair sampling of New Mormon History would find most of the material Givens covers to be familiar. Givens' book, however, is not itself an apologetic work.

I think what he was trying to do was cover much of the BoM topical terrain defined by critical treatments and associated apologetic responses, but present that material (1) in a more digested and synthesized narrative that is (2) directed to the educated reader not familiar with apologetic discussions or even familiar with the Book of Mormon at all. As such, it also makes an excellent review for the interested LDS reader of the whole apologetic debate of the last 40 years, from a perspective that is highly sympathetic to orthodox LDS claims but discusses and references critical viewpoints and articles.

You might consider browsing through the twenty pages in the book that I noted above as a "search for the middle ground," which devoted several pages to Ostler's depiction of the BoM as a modern expansion of an ancient text.

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