2nd Nephi

a brief theological introduction

“I have seen a vision, in which I know that Jerusalem is destroyed . . .”

In the wake of epic cataclysm, Nephi launches a second book of writings. Inspired by the prophet Isaiah’s remark­able account of the scattering and gather­ing of God’s covenant people, Nephi aches to reassure his family by providing a clear understanding of their unbroken place in God’s designs. Interweaving history, theology, and prophecy, Nephi brings together the covenant’s ancient roots and its future fulfillment, orienting everything around the person of Jesus Christ.

In this brief theological introduction, Terryl Givens echoes Nephi’s invitation for readers to keep Christ front and center in their minds, hearts, and wor­ship. Givens finds clear emphasis on the Redeemer’s healing atonement, the promise of resurrection, the necessity of oppositional strife and of agency wisely employed, and other plain and precious truths lost or obscured by time. Above all, Nephi presents essential elements of the doctrine of Christ, emphasizing repentance as a lifelong process of heart reeducation, and of scripture as a re­source for spiritual succor and personal revelation.

Jerusalem is destroyed.

But all is not lost.


“Givens surprised me by revealing both the poignancy and the spiritual depth in 2 Nephi with fresh perspectives.”

"This volume provides some interesting framing for 2 Nephi that promises to provoke further insight as I wrestle with it in my return to the scriptural text. And that seems to be precisely what such books should do."

"There are so many gems to be found in this small book. In reading Givens's '2nd Nephi,' I know the next time I read the Book of Mormon I will study it with new eyes, a new heart, and a better understanding and appreciation for what Lehi's family was experiencing...Givens helps us drink deeply and experience the true spiritual power of the Book of Mormon."

Gerald Smith

Joel's Monastery

About the Author

Terryl Givens

For many years, Terryl Givens was the Jabez A. Bostwick Chair of English at the University of Richmond. Now a senior research fellow at Brigham Young University’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute, Givens is the author of several books on the Latter-day Saint tradition, including Wrestling the Angel, By the Hand of Mormon, and The Pearl of Greatest Price. With his wife, Fiona, he coauthored The Crucible of Doubt, The God Who Weeps, and The Christ Who Heals.  


Ph.D. (1988) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Comparative Literature
Sage Fellow Graduate Work (1983) Cornell, Intellectual History
B.A. (1981) Brigham Young University, Comparative Literature


2022 Stretching the Heavens, “Evans Best Biography Award”
2016 Visiting Fellowship, Harris Manchester College, Oxford
2016 Oxford HB to Mormonism, “Best Anthology Award,” John Whitmer Historical Association
2012 Parley P. Pratt, “Best Book Award,” Mormon History Association
2012 Pratt, “Best Biography Award,” Association of Mormon Letters
2012 Pratt, “Best Biography Award,” John Whitmer Historical Assoc.
2009 “Lifetime membership award, Association of Mormon Letters
2008 People of Paradox “Best Book Award,” Mormon History Assoc.
2008 Paradox, “Best Book in Criticism,” Association of Mormon Letters
2003 Outstanding Faculty Award Top 20 Finalist, Virginia State Council of Higher Education 
2002 Brigham Young University College of Humanities Alumnus of the Year
1998 Viper on the Hearth, Chipman Award for Best First Book
1997 University of Richmond “Distinguished Educator” Award


Into the Headwinds: Why Faith Has Always Been Hard, with Nathaniel Givens. Grand  Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2022.
Faith and Intellect. Salt Lake City: Deseret, 2022.
Yet to Be Revealed: Open Questions in Latter-day Saint Theology, ed. with Eric Eliason.  Provo: BYU Studies, 2021.
The Doors of Faith. Provo and Salt Lake City: Maxwell Institute and Deseret Book, 2021.
The Life of Eugene England and the Crisis of Modern Mormonism. Chapel Hill: UNC University Press, 2021.
“All Things New”: Rethinking Sin, Salvation, and Everything in Between. With Fiona Givens. Provo, UT: Faith Matters, 2020.
Mormonism: What Everyone Needs to Know (WENtK Series) New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.
2 Nephi: A Brief Theological Introduction. Provo: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2020.
The Pearl of Greatest Price: Mormonism’s Most Controversial Scripture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. Feeding the Flock: The Foundations of Mormon Thought volume 2: Church and Praxis. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017 The Christ Who Heals: How God Restored the Truth that Saves Us (with Fiona Givens). Salt Lake City: Deseret, 2017.
Oxford Handbook to Mormonism. Co-edited with Philip Barlow. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 
Wrestling the Angel: The Foundations of Mormon Thought volume 1. The Cosmos, the Human, the Divine. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.  
The Crucible of Doubt: Reflections on the Quest for Faith (with Fiona Givens). Salt Lake City: Deseret, 2014.
A Sourcebook of Mormons in America. Co-edited with Reid Neilson. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014.
The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life (with Fiona Givens). Salt Lake City: Deseret, 2012.
Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism. With Matthew Grow. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 
When Souls Had Wings: Pre-Mortal Life in Western Thought. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 
The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Joseph Smith: Reappraisals After Two Centuries. Co-edited with Reid Neilson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.
People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
The Latter-day Saint Experience in America. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2004.
By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy. Religion in America Series. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Second, revised edition published 2012.


“A Latter-day Saint Theology of Art,” in Amanda Beardsley and Mason Allred, ed. Mormon Art from the Beginning to the End. New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming.
“The Tree of Life: Cacophony, Risk, Discernment,” in Ben Keough and Joseph Spencer, ed., Approaching the Tree: Interpreting 1 Nephi 8. Provo: Maxwell Institute, forthcoming.
“Understandings of the Relationships Between Grace and Works,” in Eric Eliason and Terryl Givens, ed., Yet to Be Revealed: Open Questions in Latter-day Saint Theology, ed. with Eric Eliason. Provo: BYU Studies, 2021.
“How Limited is Postmortal Progression?,” in Eliason and Givens, Yet to Be Revealed.
“The Book of Mormon and Covenant Theology,” in Americanist Approaches to the Book of Mormon, ed. Elizabeth Fenton and Jared Hickman. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2019.
“Mormons at the Forefront,” First Things, June 2016.
“The Global Church,” in The World-Wide Church: Mormonism as a Global Religion. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2015.
“Epilogue,” Standing Apart: Mormon Historical Consciousness and the Concept of Apostasy, eds. Miranda Wilcox and John D. Young. New York: Oxford, 2014. 
“Foreword,” John Sorenson, Mormon’s Codex. Salt Lake City: Deseret, 2013.
“Foreword,” Boyd Peterson, Dead Wood and Rushing Water. (Salt Lake City: Kofford Books, 2013.
“Mormonism and the Family,” Journal of Religion and American Culture, 23.1 (Winter 2013).
“No Small and Cramped Eternities,” introduction to A. Scott Howe and Richard L. Bushman, eds., Parallels and Convergences: Mormon Thought and Engineering Vision. Salt Lake City: Kofford Books, 2012.
“Joseph Smith,” Oxford Encyclopedia of American Social History, ed. Lynn Dumenil. New York: Oxford University Press, 2012
“How Mormons Became American,” Religion and Politics, 14 November 2012, http://religionandpolitics.org/2012/11/14/how-mormons-became-american/ 
“Response to Panel of Reviewers, When Souls had Wings,” BYU Studies 50.4 (summer 2012): 136-165.
“The Heavenly Logic of Proxy Baptism,” First Things, on-line edition, 8 March 2012.
“Romney, Mormonism, and the American Compromise,” Sightings, University of Chicago Divinity School on-line journal, 16 February 2012.
Joseph Smith, Romanticism, and Tragic Creation, Journal of Mormon History 38.3 (summer 2012): 148-162.
“Preface” to Mormons and Monsters, eds. William Morris and Theric Jepson.  Mediaworx, 2011.
“Latter-day Saints, Church of Jesus Christ of, and its Theology,” “Mormon, Book of,” “Mormon Worship,” “Joseph Smith,” “Brigham Young.”  In Daniel M. Patte, ed., Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity.  Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 2010.
“The Book of Mormon,” in Encyclopedia of Religion in America. Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2010.
“The Book of Mormon,” in A New Literary History of America. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2009. 
“‘Common-Sense’ Meets the Book of Mormon: Source, Substance, and Prophetic Disruption,” in Revisiting The Mormons: Persistent Themes, and Contemporary Perspectives. Eds. Cardell K. Jacobson, John P. Hoffmann, and Tim B. Heaton. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2008
"Mormons." In American History through Literature, 1820-1870, ed. Janet Gabler-Hover and Robert Sattelmeyer. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006), 759-761.
“Joseph Smith: Prophecy, Process, and Plenitude,” BYU Studies 44.4 (2005): 55-68. Republished in The Worlds of Joseph Smith: A Bicentennial Conference at the Library of Congress, ed. John Welch. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University Press, 2006.
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” in Eugene V. Gallagher and William M. Ashcraft, eds. Introduction to New and Alternative Religions in America, vol. 2, 34-51. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2006 “Mormons.”  In Christianity: A Complete Guide.  London: Continuum, 2005.
“’Adjectives of Mystery and Splendor’: Byron and Romantic Religiosity.”  In Recent Perspectives on European Romanticism, ed. Larry Peer,  Lewiston, NY: Mellon Press, 2002;  Originally published in Prisms: A Journal of Studies in Romanticism.  (Winter 2000): 29-47.

Table of Contents

  • Series Introduction
  • Introduction
  • The New (and Very Old) Covenant
  • They Are Not Cast Off
  • To the Convincing of Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ
  • More Plain and Precious Things
  • Backmatter

  • Editions of the Book of Mormon
  • Index
  • Colophon
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Publication Information

  • Subject: Book of Mormon
  • Publication Month: April
  • Publication Year: 2020
  • Language: English,
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-8425-0008-1
  • Page Count: 115
  • Binding: Paperback, eBook
  • 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)