By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion
With over 100 million copies in print, the Book of Mormon has spawned a vast religious movement, but it remains little discussed outside Mormon circles. Now Terry L. Givens offers a full-length treatment of this influential work, illuminating the varied meanings and tempestuous impact of this uniquely American scripture. Givens examines the text's role as a divine testament of the Last Days and as a sacred sign of Joseph Smith's status as a modern-day prophet. He assesses its claim to be a history of the pre-Columbian peopling of the Western Hemisphere, and later explores how the Book has been defined as a cultural product--the imaginative ravings of a rustic religion-maker. Givens further investigates its status as a new American Bible or Fifth Gospel, one that displaces, supports, or, in some views, perverts the canonical Word of God. Finally, Givens highlights the Book's role as the engine behind what may become the next world religion. The most wide-ranging study on the subject outside Mormon presses, By the Hand of Mormon will fascinate anyone curious about a religious people who, despite their numbers, remain strangers in our midst.
A Genuinely Significant Book
By Louis Midgley - July 12, 2002
By the Hand of Mormon makes a fine contribution to Book of Mormon studies; Terryl Givens deftly surveys the twists and turns of the debate over the truth of the book. Givens, a Latter-day Saint scholar, has now made two extraordinary contributions to Mormon studies. If one wishes to understand the complex of interests and motivations-pecuniary, personal, and ideological-that fuel both sectarian and secular anti-Mormonism, Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy, published in 1997, is the book to consult. In By the Hand of Mormon, Givens examines the roles the Book of Mormon has played for both believers and detractors. He describes its coming forth, and the debate over its historical authenticity. This book is an extraordinary accomplishment. With subtle understatement and exceptional skill in analysis and argumentation, Givens examines how the Book of Mormon has served for some as a kind of barometer of gullibility and for others as solid evidence of... read more
Good book-- the side of the story that needs to be told
By joshua kyle chandler - April 6, 2004
For a long time, people who desire careful analysis of the Book of Mormon have had nowhere to turn. They were required to choose between three types of sources: 1) abrasively anti-mormon polemics; 2) "objective" accounts; and 3) official church accounts.There is no shortage of studies that fall into categorey 1. You can buy many or most of them here on Amazon. They are worse than useless, though, because they are designed to use as much evidence as possible to put Mormonism in a bad light. They are not very choosy about their sources, they ignore positive evidence and stories, and they follow what might be called Ed Decker's razor-- of competing interpretations of disputed historical fact, the one that make Mormons and Mormonism seem most outlandish must be true.Category 2 studies are more helpful. These studies are more (sometimes) selective in their choice of sources. The problem with them is their "interpretative" element. They apply a version of... read more
By A. Reader - August 16, 2005
In spite of the absurd things said in some of the reviews here, e.g. that the Bible boasts characters of Proustian complexity while the Book of Mormon is content with stock figures, that Givens somehow cleverly duped his Oxford editors, that Joseph Smith's claims are disproved by the oh-so-simple measuring rod of "common sense" (as if famous biblical stories, such as Moses turning a river to blood or Jesus rising from the dead, can be authenticated by everyday experience), that Givens's status as a believer disqualifies him somehow from writing a scholarly book (F.F. Bruce, anyone? C.S. Lewis?), etc. etc. etc., Prof. Givens's work is a model of precise, enjoyable, well-organized writing and thinking and is an ideal introduction to one of the seminal holy texts of the modern age.