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By the Hand of MormonThe American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion$
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Terryl L. Givens

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195138184

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/019513818X.001.0001

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(p.3) Introduction
By the Hand of Mormon

Terryl L. Givens (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Scripture is a function of the ways in which texts become sacred through their employment or status in a religious community. To understand a scripture, one must understand the ways in which that work has exerted its authority over the lives of believers. The Book of Mormon has served in a variety of roles, for both detractors and believers, which have shifted over the years. Four principal roles have been: 1) sacred sign of the last days, and of Joseph Smith's divine calling; 2) a factual account of the pre‐Columbian peopling of the Western hemisphere by Israelite migrations around 600 bc; 3) the imaginative creation of a nineteenth‐century religion maker; and 4) a new American Bible. The unprecedented growth of this potentially new world religion is making an understanding of its core scripture increasingly imperative.

Keywords:   American Bible, Book of Mormon, Israelite migrations, sacred sign, Joseph Smith, scripture

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