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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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“A Standard Unto My People”: The Book of Mormon as Cultural Touchstone

“A Standard Unto My People”: The Book of Mormon as Cultural Touchstone

Chapter:
(p.240) Nine “A Standard Unto My People”: The Book of Mormon as Cultural Touchstone
Source:
By the Hand of Mormon
Author(s):

Terryl L. Givens (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/019513818X.003.0010

Many facets of Mormon history have shaped the Church's history and identity. Unlike polygamy or pioneer migrations, the Book of Mormon will always be a constant in the faith group, and thus is a prime factor in defining Mormon culture, ethnicity, or religiosity. Assent to Smith's story of its origins is the foundation of faith in the religion itself. Since the Book of Mormon received renewed emphasis under Ezra Taft Benson in the 1980s, the scripture increasingly found a cultural vocabulary that gives cohesion and distinctness to the Mormon people. Heroes, villains, plots, motifs, and objects – from Captain Moroni to Lemuel to the stripling warriors to Rameumpton to the Liahona – provide members with a private language that shapes and defines their collective experience while helping maintain the cultural distinctness that has always been a hallmark of Mormonism.

Keywords:   Ezra Taft Benson, culture, ethnicity, Liahona, pioneers, polygamy, vocabulary

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