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The Book of Mormon:
A Biography
Paul C. Gutjahr

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"America is experiencing something of a Mormon moment. . . . But much remains unknown about this faith, including the circumstances surrounding its primary sacred text. Paul C. Gutjahr's well-written and erudite account of the history of the Book of Mormon fills much of this void. . . . Gutjahr's account leaves one with considerable appreciation for the enduring value of the Book of Mormon."--Wade Clark Roof, Pacific Standard Magazine

"Gutjahr has read widely in both Mormon and non-Mormon sources, and he has taken the trouble to get the basic facts right. . . . The Book of Mormon: A Biography is a quick read that Latter-day Saints will find enjoyable and thought-provoking. It would also be perfect for non-member friends who are curious about the Book of Mormon but are looking for something more neutral or balanced than materials published by the Church, yet are perhaps not quite interested enough to take on a thick monograph like By the Hand of Mormon or Understanding the Book of Mormon."--Grant Hardy, Meridian Magazine

"[I]t's refreshing to read a nonpartisan book about Mormonism."--Justin Moyer, Washington Post Book World

"Gutjahr's biography is an easy-to-read overview of the Book of Mormon's life, a reminder that the Book of Mormon is the world's text, not merely the text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in spite of the Church's careful efforts (through copyright measures and other means) to maintain the text's integrity. And even within the LDS tradition itself, the book shapeshifts as it traverses landscapes of differing historical contexts and rhetorical objectives. Such is the life of books, such is the life Gutjahr ably recounts."--Blair Hodges, Dialogue

"Book of Mormon: A Biography takes readers on a quick journey through Mormon history from past to present focused on the Book of Mormon. The topics covered include Joseph Smith, the translation of the Book of Mormon, how the book was used in early church history, the death of Joseph Smith, the church's move to Utah, missionary work, further growth of the church, and the influence of the Book of Mormon on movies, music, theater, art and culture."--Ryan Morgenegg, Deseret News

"Gutjahr tells the story of this very strange book . . . with courage and verve."--Jon Sweeney, Tablet

"Gutjahr's contribution to the 'Lives of Great Religious Books' series is a concise and eminently teachable history of the most important American-made world scripture. In a welcome departure from most such accounts, Gutjahr gives as much space to the Book of Mormon's 20th-century life as he does to its ancient or 19th-century origins, presenting in a compact, readable form a great deal of relatively recent history about its cultural and religious significance. . . . Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general readers."--Choice, Editor's Picks

"The Book of Mormon: A Biography is overall a delight. . . . Gutjahr's . . . book is a terrific example of a work typifying legitimate academic study, particularly as compared with most of the poor mistreatments of Mormon studies. It is balanced and engaging enough to give non-LDS readers a clear insight into what members consider a truly divine work and, perhaps more importantly, accurate and honest enough to satisfy LDS readers."--Tod R. Harris, BYU Studies Quarterly

"Gutjahr succeeded in writing an informative account of the history of the Book of Mormon. His style provides enough information for those who are just curious about the Book of Mormon and Mormonism while at the same time satisfying a more interested reader's curiosity by providing a platform for further research."--Ingrid Sherlock-Taselaar, International Journal for the Study of New Religions

"Gutjahr has produced a valuable biography of an American apocrypha for a general audience. He provides a valuable summary of various editions and translations of a sacred text that has made an indelible impact on religion in America and beyond. The overview of scholarly debates about the historical claims of the scripture is fair, accessible and concise. His outline of the illustrations in the Book of Mormon and its life on the stage and in the cinema is original and will be of value even to specialists in Mormonism."--Thomas Murphy, Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions

"The Book of Mormon: A Biography is very readable and portrays the Mormon position well."--Eric Johnson, Christian Research Journal


"Paul Gutjahr has written the perfect book on the Book of Mormon: fascinating, forthright, empathetic, critical, and discerning. Gutjahr employs his sheer intellectual curiosity to produce a lively, enlightening history that deftly circles among Joseph Smith, Mormons, and critics as though they were themselves engaged in an intelligent civil conversation. The result is an ideal guide to the life of a now-iconic American religious text."--Jon Butler, Yale University

"There can be no doubt that the Book of Mormon is among the most influential books in American history. Gutjahr's clear, compelling narrative traces this influence from the book's American beginnings through translations, migrations, and cultural adaptations into its global twenty-first century. Gutjahr treats his subject with respect, thoughtfulness, appreciation, scholarly rigor, and intellectual curiosity. Mormons and non-Mormons alike will find his book fascinating, freshly informative, and a pleasure to read."--Joanna Brooks, author of The Book of Mormon Girl

"With impressive command of detail rendered in lucid, accessible prose, Paul Gutjahr has produced a marvelously informative account of the Book of Mormon from its origins to the present. This is a very useful book for understanding American religious history."--Randall Balmer, author of The Making of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond

"This probing and engaging study surveys the history, use, translation, and adaptation into other media of the Book of Mormon. I know of nothing else quite like it. Religious traditions change over time, and controlling a sacred text plays an important role in the self-identity of the community. Gutjahr explains not simply how changes in the text took place, but why."--Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, editor of American Scriptures: An Anthology of Sacred Writings

"Paul Gutjahr's book offers a well-written, balanced summary of much of the scholarship on the Book of Mormon, and presents new insights and lesser-known information as well."--Richard Lyman Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling

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File created: 4/24/2017

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