Consider the Book of Mormon, first published in 1830. The nature of this volume—in particular its claim to antiquity—is the theme of nine ground-breaking essays in American Apocrypha. Thomas W. Murphy discusses the Book of Mormon’s view that American Indians are descendants of ancient Hebrews. In recent DNA tests, Native Americans have proven to be of Siberian ancestry and not of ancient Jewish or Middle Eastern descent. Nor is the Book of Mormon a traditional translation from an ancient document, writes David P. Wright, as indicated by the underlying Hebrew in the book’s Isaiah passages. Other contributors to American Apocrypha explore the evolution of ideas in the Book of Mormon during the course of its dictation.
Editors Dan Vogel and Brent Metcalfe have chosen essays by authors who represent a wide range of disciplines and perspectives: Robert Price edits the Journal of Higher Criticism; Thomas Murphy chairs the anthropology department at Edmonds Community College; David Wright teaches Hebrew Bible at Brandeis University. They are joined by Scott C. Dunn; Edwin Firmage, Jr.; George D. Smith; and Susan Staker—all of whom explore what can be reasonably asserted about the Book of Mormon as scripture.
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Scott Dunn's essay, "Automaticity and the Dictation of the Book of Mormon," is also a weak link, applying 1970s-era research on automatic writing (a phenomenon that many scholars and psychologists have dismissed) to Joseph Smith's purported translation of the Book of Mormon.| Read Full Review of American Apocrypha: Essays on...
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