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Understanding the Book of Mormon: A…
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Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide

by Grant Hardy

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Engrossing narrative analysis of the Book of Mormon. I really liked this book, partly b/c it confirmed some of my own slightly heterodox readings of the BoM (such simple things as noticing that Nephi doesn't record his account until decades after the events he narrates actually happened, so maybe things didn't happen precisely as he claims . . .), and partly for the genuinely original insights into the larger narrative structure of the BoM.

I tend to agree with Hardy's basic premise that the BoM resists close reading for both LDS and non-LDS, and that the result has been a basic neglect of the text. This might come as a surprise to LDS readers, who have probably read the BoM dozens of times, but there is a difference between the kind of devotional reading that we generally do in the church and engaged close reading that Hardy does here. (Furthermore, there's a big difference between Hardy's close reading and the parallelomania FARMS scholars inherited from Hugh Nibley.)

The one thing I would say is that although Hardy has an ostensibly ecumenical approach to the text, his book is not for BoM neophytes. It assumes some familiarity with the text. That said, you (whoever you are) should read it. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
I heard a radio interview w/ Grant Hardy and his wife. They compared the Book of Mormon to V. Nabokov’s Pale Fire. That alone made me want to read it. And I did, and I'm in the middle of reading it again. This book will transform your understanding of the book -- that description's vague, I'll add more to it later.

04/2013: read it again. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
This is absolutely the most interesting book I have ever read concerning the Book of Mormon. Grant Hardy brings the text of the book of Mormon some of the tools used in the analysis of historical and literary texts. Specifically, Hardy is examining the work of the three editors of the Book of Mormon: Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni. Each of these three individuals had various texts available to them which they abridged and crafted into what is now the Book of Mormon (this according to the Book of Mormon itself). Grant's result is some most interesting insights into the minds of these men. I must admit that I felt the text grew tedious in the final sections examining Mormon's contributions, but otherwise Grant's analysis was very engaging. ( )
  bibliostuff | Mar 20, 2014 |
Approaches "The Book of Mormon" from a literary standpoint, setting aside the question of authorship to concentrate on structure and composition. Posits that Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni display different methods of both, disclosing different motives and distinct personalities.
Builds an impressive case for the deliberate use of sophisticated compositional techniques.
In the process, creates a very useful cross-referencing tool for study of "The Book of Mormon" as scripture.
I don't accept all of his psycho-bio conclusions, but they are interesting and well-argued.
(Reread 2015-05-05-2015-06-14)
This was my second reading (first when purchased in 2013). Hardy based his analysis on the research he did to write his "Book of Mormon: Reader's Edition" (some of the footnotes include information related to that work). He presents the LDS Scripture as a literary endeavor, without judging who actually wrote it, but rather accepting the internally identified authors at face value, and evaluates their literary style and authorial ambitions from that viewpoint.
A worthwhile study for Mormons and non-Mormons alike.
NOTES: p. 119, 295 ( )
  librisissimo | Apr 23, 2013 |
After a 180 year history, Hardy provides us with the first "literary critique" of the Book of Mormon. His commentary is insightful and helpful for the interested reader desiring to understand this self-proclaimed ancient sacred record. It will not be convincing to those who do not accept the book for what it purports to be, but it is a fresh look at how to appreciate the book in its own context. ( )
  bigmoose | Aug 13, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0199731705, Hardcover)

Mark Twain once derided the Book of Mormon as "chloroform in print." Long and complicated, written in the language of the King James version of the Bible, it boggles the minds of many. Yet it is unquestionably one of the most influential books ever written. With over 140 million copies in print, it is a central text of one of the largest and fastest-growing faiths in the world. And, Grant Hardy shows, it's far from the coma-inducing doorstop caricatured by Twain.

In Understanding the Book of Mormon, Hardy offers the first comprehensive analysis of the work's narrative structure in its 180 year history. Unlike virtually all other recent world scriptures, the Book of Mormon presents itself as an integrated narrative rather than a series of doctrinal expositions, moral injunctions, or devotional hymns. Hardy takes readers through its characters, events, and ideas, as he explores the story and its messages. He identifies the book's literary techniques, such as characterization, embedded documents, allusions, and parallel narratives. Whether Joseph Smith is regarded as author or translator, it's noteworthy that he never speaks in his own voice; rather, he mediates nearly everything through the narrators Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni. Hardy shows how each has a distinctive voice, and all are woven into an integral whole.

As with any scripture, the contending views of the Book of Mormon can seem irreconcilable. For believers, it is an actual historical document, transmitted from ancient America. For nonbelievers, it is the work of a nineteenth-century farmer from upstate New York. Hardy transcends this intractable conflict by offering a literary approach, one appropriate to both history and fiction. Regardless of whether readers are interested in American history, literature, comparative religion, or even salvation, he writes, the book can best be read if we examine the text on its own terms.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:11 -0400)

In "Understanding the Book of Mormon," Hardy offers the first comprehensive analysis of the work's narrative structure in its 180 year history. He identifies the book's literary techniques, such as characterization, embedded documents, allusions, and parallel narratives, and shows how the narrators--Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni--each has a distinctive voice woven into an integral whole.… (more)

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