The ten scholarly studies collected in this volume represent a harvest of almost two decades of close and careful reading of the Book of Mormon. In these studies, Kent Brown draws on his training and experience in biblical studies, applying methodologies long used in the reading of biblical texts to the texts of the Book of Mormon with surprising and satisfying results. He asks questions of the Book of Mormon and finds that the text often contains much evidence that has previously been overlooked. The answers Brown finds are always insightful.
Six of the studies were previously published in various places and appear here significantly revised with updated bibliographies. These include a discussion of Lehi’s record; the now-classic study of the Exodus pattern in the Book of Mormon; a study of six elements of Alma’s conversion story, traceable throughout his sermons; the identification and analysis of prophetic lament forms in the words of Samuel the Lamanite; an article on Jesus’ visit to the Americas; and a comparison of Moses and Jesus. Readers will appreciate having these articles together in one volume.
The four new studies will undoubtedly lead to further discussion. Readers of the Book of Mormon will find here new and sometimes unexpected insights about important issues: the nature of the sacrifices offered by Lehi in the wilderness, why Nephi chose to include Isaiah in his writings, the possible legal aspects of the abducted Lamanite daughters in Mosiah 20, and the meaning of the terms “sojourn,” “dwell,” and “stay” in relation to Lehi’s journey in the wilderness. For example, through a detailed word study of the pertinent terms used in 1 Nephi, Brown comes to the surprising conclusion that Lehi and his family experienced a “period of servility” (59) in their experience in the wilderness. Such studies raise a very important issue regarding the proper usage of Hebrew word studies in Book of Mormon scholarship. Some readers may disagree with Brown’s conclusions in this study, but then again, they might not ever read this section in the same way again.
This collection deserves careful attention. As described by the author, these studies “set out the dimensions and complexities of the Book of Mormon record” without being “attempts to finalize what can or cannot be known about a subject” (x). They invite us to read the Book of Mormon more closely, and they provide useful models for future scholarly work in Book of Mormon studies.