“Devices of the Devil”: The Book of Mormon as Cultural Product or Sacred Fiction

Terryl L. Givens

in By the Hand of Mormon

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780195138184
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834211 | DOI:
 “Devices of the Devil”: The Book of Mormon as Cultural Product or Sacred Fiction

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Critics and cultural historians have proposed a variety of explanations for the Book of Mormon's origin. Outright fabrication, automatic writing, and plagiarism of either Solomon Spaulding or Ethan Smith were early theories (the latter two still having defenders). Environmental explanations have proliferated in recent years. Scholars have alleged parallels with masonry, an early American magical worldview, and nineteenth‐century religious controversies. Under pressure to accommodate naturalistic models of authorship, some scholars propose a model of inspirational fabrication – but such a compromise would necessarily entail the loss of the Book of Mormon's scriptural status.

Keywords: environmental explanations; magical worldview; masonry; naturalistic models; Ethan Smith; Solomon Spaulding

Chapter.  13695 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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