With over 140 million copies in print, and serving as the principal proselytizing tool of one of the world's fastest growing faiths, the Book of Mormon is undoubtedly one of the most influential religious texts produced in the western world. Written by Terryl Givens, a leading authority on Mormonism, this compact volume offers the only concise, accessible introduction to this extraordinary work.
Givens examines the Book of Mormon first and foremost in terms of the claims that its narrators make for its historical genesis, its purpose as a sacred text, and its meaning for an audience which shifts over the course of the history it unfolds. The author traces five governing themes in particular--revelation, Christ, Zion, scripture, and covenant--and analyzes the Book's central doctrines and teachings. Some of these resonate with familiar nineteenth-century religious preoccupations; others consist of radical and unexpected takes on topics from the fall of Man to Christ's mortal ministries and the meaning of atonement. Givens also provides samples of a cast of characters that number in the hundreds, and analyzes representative passages from a work that encompasses tragedy, poetry, sermons, visions, family histories and military chronicles. Finally, this introduction surveys the contested origins and production of a work held by millions to be scripture, and reviews the scholarly debates that address questions of the record's historicity.
Here then is an accessible guide to what is, by any measure, an indispensable key to understanding Mormonism. But it is also an introduction to a compelling and complex text that is too often overshadowed by the controversies that surround it.
"Taking the Book of Mormon on its own terms, Terryl Givens offers a complex, reverent analysis of a powerful epic history." --Daniel Walker Howe, Pulitzer-Prize Winning author of What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848.
"For all who need to have an accurate account of what Mormons believe-and they are a faith community that now spans the globe-familiarity with the message of the Book of Mormon is the basic starting point. And there is no better guide to that text than Terryl Givens, a marvelous scholar who has now given us this highly readable and insightful introduction." --Richard J. Mouw, Professor of Christian Philosophy and President, Fuller Theological Seminary
"If you have the slightest interest in the Book of Mormon for any reason you should read this book. Those unfamiliar with the Book of Mormon will find an excellent supplement here. If you are already familiar with the Book of Mormon, this re-introduction will make it seem like you're meeting again for the first time." --Association of Mormon Letters