a brief theological introduction

“Whosoever should believe that Christ should come . . . might receive remission of their sins, and rejoice with exceedingly great joy.”

The prophet Mormon faces the monumental task of abridging Nephite history for future generations. He looks back hundreds of years to discern God’s hand amid the people’s divisions and conversions. Multiple records recount multiple migrations to lands where different kings organize competing societies. A righteous monarchy ends, and a reign of judges begins.

In this brief theological introduction to the book of Mosiah, philosopher and theologian James E. Faulconer untangles a complicated timeline. Mormon transports readers back and forth through time—King Benjamin’s sermons provide a backdrop for the earlier speeches of the prophet-martyr Abinadi and the later conversion of the renegade Alma. What might we learn about covenant and community from a history of Nephite division?

Faulconer presents the book of Mosiah as a fragmentary history about a fragmented people, written by a record keeper obsessed with unity. According to Mormon, destruction can be avoided only if we understand the mysteries of Christ’s atonement and perform the service God calls us to do together.

"Another solid entry in what’s proving to be an essential resource for digging deeper into the theological messages of The Book of Mormon."

"Faulconer does here what he does best: shows you how to read the scriptures more closely, more expertly, and more charitably."

About the Author

James E. Faulconer

James E. Faulconer is a professor of philosophy at Brigham Young University and a senior research fellow at the Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. Faulconer’s area of expertise is twentieth-century and contemporary European philosophy, especially the philosophy of religion. In addition to writing scholarly books and articles, he is the author of the Made Harder series of scripture study questions and Scripture Study: Tools and Suggestions.

Table of Contents

  • Series Introduction
  • Introduction
  • Why This Structure?
  • Good Kings and Bad Kings: The Futility of Politics, the Necessity of the Atonement
  • Salvation as Creation from Nothing
  • Are We Not All Beggars?
  • God Himself Shall Come Down
  • Conclusion
  • Backmatter

    Appendix: The Original Chapter Divisions
  • Further Reading
  • Endnotes
  • Editions of the Book of Mormon
  • Index
  • Colophon
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Publication Information

  • Subject: Book of Mormon
  • Publication Month: July
  • Publication Year: 2020
  • Language: English,
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-8425-0012-8
  • Page Count: 146
  • Price: $ 9.95
  • Imprint: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship

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The views expressed here and in Maxwell Institute publications are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Maxwell Institute, Brigham Young University, or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” (D&C 88:118)