Highlight on Kristian Heal’s Article: How the Book of Mormon Reads Ancient Religious Texts

01.10.2023 | The Maxwell Institute

In the latest edition of BYU Studies Quarterly, scholar Kristian S. Heal and his research assistant Zachery Stevenson published an article titled “How the Book of Mormon Reads Ancient Religious Texts”. The article offers value insight into how the Book of Mormon points Latter-day Saints towards the Bible and the connection between the two books.

The coming forth of the Book of Mormon not only shattered the notion of a closed canon but also signaled the imminent arrival of other texts, other voices, and other unknown chapters of world and sacred history. This article contends that the Book of Mormon is not only aware of its situation within a vast library of similar records, but also that it teaches its readers how to receive and attend to the records of which it prophesies.

In both what it says and what it models, the Book of Mormon establishes a series of methods for engaging with ancient texts. First, the Book of Mormon asks that we attend to the production history of a text by acknowledging those who wrote it, those who preserved it, and those who transmitted it. Second, it asks that we mine a text for historical significance before we read it theologically. Third, it demands we recognize the limited perspective of any single text—that we respect the reality of fracture, without reifying that fracture. Fourth, the Book of Mormon encourages us to not lose sight of the eschatological gathering of all texts into one, but to recognize that, eventually, texts will be gathered and the divisions between them healed.