With over 100 million copies in print, the Book of Mormon has spawned a vast religious movement, but it remains little discussed outside Mormon circles. Now Terry L. Givens offers a full-length treatment of this influential work, illuminating the varied meanings and tempestuous impact of this uniquely American scripture. Givens examines the text's role as a divine testament of the Last Days and as a sacred sign of Joseph Smith's status as a modern-day prophet. He assesses its claim to be a history of the pre-Columbian peopling of the Western Hemisphere, and later explores how the Book has been defined as a cultural product-the imaginative ravings of a rustic religion-maker. Givens further investigates its status as a new American Bible or Fifth Gospel, one that displaces, supports, or, in some views, perverts the canonical Word of God. Finally, Givens highlights the Book's role as the engine behind what may become the next world religion. The most wide-ranging study on the subject outside Mormon presses, By the Hand of Mormon will fascinate anyone curious about a religious people who, despite their numbers, remain strangers in our midst.
Terryl L. Givens is Professor of Religion and Literature at the University of Richmond. He is the author of The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy, which won the Chipman Award from the Mormon History Association.