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Americanist Approaches to The Book of Mormon$
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Elizabeth Fenton and Jared Hickman

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190221928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190221928.001.0001

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An American Book of Chronicles

An American Book of Chronicles

Pseudo-Biblicism and the Cultural Origins of The Book of Mormon

Chapter:
(p.136) 5 An American Book of Chronicles
Source:
Americanist Approaches to The Book of Mormon
Author(s):

Eran Shalev

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190221928.003.0006

By the time Joseph Smith published The Book of Mormon, Americans had been producing and consuming faux biblical texts for close to a century. Imitating a practice that originated as a satirical literary genre in eighteenth-century Britain, Americans began producing pseudo-biblical texts during the Revolution. This essay demonstrates how the prism of pseudo-biblicism allows us to view The Book of Mormon as emerging from a larger biblico-American world. The genre demonstrates how pervasive the Bible was in the cultural landscape of the Republic and the ease with which Americans lapsed into biblical language. As this essay points out, however, pseudo-biblical discourse also sheds new light on The Book of Mormon. The similarities between The Book of Mormon and other pseudo-biblical texts provide a significant context to understanding the creation and reception of Smith’s text, the culture of biblicism in the nineteenth century, and the intellectual history of the early American Republic.

Keywords:   The Book of Mormon, pseudo-biblicism, King James Bible, hieroglyphic Bibles, typology

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