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My daughter converted to Mormonism. This work helped me understand their belief system so I can dialog with her more fully.
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"The Book of Mormon likewise shatters familiar religious paradigms and reconfigures them with a totality that is resistant to compromise."
- Terryl L. Givens, The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction.
Terryl Givens' Very Short Introduction (VSI #219) to The Book of Mormon is my third selection of Oxford's Very Short Introduction series. I read it 1) because I'm a bit obsessed with the series, 2) I've been following Givens for some time and respect the work he has done and the rigor he uses when writing about LDS topics and the Book of Mormon for Oxford and others. I wanted to examine this because it was a topic I was very familiar with having studied the Book of Mormon and much of the literature surrounding it the last couple decades. I wasn't expecting to find much new in the book, and since it WAS written as an introduction to a general audience, I didn't find much new. But that doesn't mean I didn't find anything new. I rather enjoyed Givens' focus on the change of audience throughout the Book of Mormon and appreciated his analysis of the limitations of the Book of Mormon as literature. So, obviously, this is the issue with VSIs. To the reader very familiar with the subject, the books, no matter how carefully written end up being a bit of a disappointment and a retread. So, read this if you aren't familiar with the BOM, read it if you aren't familiar with the origin, narrators, structure, themes, stories, teachings of the BOM. But if you are, you might try some of Givens' more academic pieces that delve deeper.
Reading this reminds me that I still need to finish By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture That Launched a New World Religion and start Givens' other Oxford published books: People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture and Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought: Cosmos, God, Humanity. I really have neglected my LDS theology shelf the last four or five years.
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