By The Hand Of Mormon: The American Scripture That Launched A New World Religion
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

By The Hand Of Mormon: The American Scripture That Launched A New World Religion

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  426 ratings  ·  96 reviews
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 Terryl Givens offers a full-length treatment of this highly influential work, illuminating many facets of this uniquely American scripture.
Givens examines the Book of Mormon's role as a divine testament of the Last D...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 14th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about By The Hand Of Mormon, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about By The Hand Of Mormon

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 864)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Thanks to my brother Tim for bringing this book to my attention. It was fascinating.
This is considered to be the first scholarly examination of the Book of Mormon. It was published by Oxford University Press - not by the Church or by one of the traditionally "anti-Mormon" publishers. Givens does present both sides, but it's obvious that he is more interested in defending the Book of Mormon than condemning it.
There is so much information in this book that I'm reluctant to even try to summarize....more
I am not Mormon, in fact I'm not a person of faith at all. But I am very interested in Mormonism, both its history and practices. I am amazed that an American religion that was started in New Jersey has become a global force. When I ordered this book I did so thinking that I was going to read a non-bias account of the Book of Mormon. I also thought I would receive some of the history behind it, along with the way The Book has shaped the Mormon church over time including how perceptions of The Bo...more
Jan 10, 2010 Rex rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: lds
Givens is a professor of religion and literature at the University of Richmond, Virginia and an active Mormon. Here, he devotes ~250 pages to the history, controversy, and the impact of the Book of Mormon. The book does not deal very closely with the text of the Book of Mormon. Nor is it a scholarly "Cliffs Notes"--providing a summary of the book. But Givens admirably covers the broader context surrounding the book. Here's my take on each of the nine chapters:

1. The first chapter deals with the...more
Interesting look at the Book of Mormon's role in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over its 180+ year history. Written by a faithful member of the Church for a non-member audience, I (a life-long member of the Church) learned quite a bit about this book of scripture that I've read a dozen times or more from By the Hand of Mormon.

Dr. Givens approaches the early history of the Church by putting Mormonism in the context of the times. It was eye-opening for me to learn that the early c...more
Givens' By the Hand of Mormon is a fascinating and scholarly book that examines the text's role as a divine testament of the Last Dispensation 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 ancient peoples of North America, and investigates whether new theology is contained therein. Ultimately he posits that the Book of Mormon is more valuable for its existence than its content: as evidence that Joseph Smith is a modern-day pro...more
We little realize some of the LDS distinctives. (Take Dialogic Revelation for example.) Yet these distinctives add up to significant differences.
Very insightful book--but also deep and philosophical. Not for all tastes.
Outside of school, I've never been a big non-fiction reader, but I had made the goal to change that a while ago. After reading a few pages for a couple of days, this books sat around for a few months before I finally got myself in the habit of reading some each day. And I am so glad I did! I really enjoyed this book, and it has strengthened by testimony of, and appreciation for the Book of Mormon. It was interesting to learn about some of the arguments for and against the Book of Mormon as a his...more
Looking over the other reviews, it appears a lot of people really enjoyed this book. But I found it very disappointing. As I first dipped into the text, I was pleasantly surprised with the high level of scholarly discourse. I thought this was going to be a book where Givens would address difficulties in the LDS past, offer up both sides of the arguments, and then propose new compelling insights and evidence to support an LDS perspective. Instead, I found a lot of tendentious and polemical argume...more
I enjoyed this scholarly look at the Book of Mormon's origins and impacts on Christianity. The target audience was non-Mormons, but lifelong members like me could find plenty of new material and insights.

The book starts with a look at Joseph Smith's history and society. When Joseph Smith was a teenager everyone in his life was searching for truth and trying to find the correct religion. The book talks about the tent revivals and Joseph's family history, and it also delves into the magic and myst...more
This is an impressive accomplishment. Maybe I'm just sensitive to sound rhetorical moves because I try to teach them to my students every week, but Givens lays down a beating to cultural Mormonism's attempts to demystify the Book of Mormon. And he does it so lightheartedly! "No hard feelings Dan Vogel, but allow to most respectfully eviscerate your bubble of smug intellectualism" [my words, not his:]. The great thing, though, is that that isn't even the point of Givens' book. He looks carefully...more
Nearly 600 books have been written about the Book of Mormon, but only a few dozen have taken a “scholarly” approach. Terryl Given’s By the Hand of Mormon is the first serious survey of the Book of Mormon’s place in the history of American thought and culture. It is an ambitious book, at times eloquent, at times pedantic (see the 62 pages of end notes), but always articulate in defense of the intellectual respectability of the Book of Mormon. Givens does a superb job of surveying the history of B...more
There are many interesting points made in this book that will interest those familiar with the Book of Mormon and those who are not. Although the Book of Mormon continues to be held sacred by Mormons and profane if not ridiculous by critics, Givens seeks to chronicle its legacy as the most successful composition of American scripture and interpret its cultural meaning to Mormons and Americans alike. Thus, he takes a scholarly approach to examining a book that too often is dismissed by scholars.

Apr 01, 2008 Liesl rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone searching for answers to Book Of Mormon authenticity questions.
Shelves: lds-non-fiction
You might want to have a dictionary handy when reading this book! A lot of the words I'd never heard of! This book is very informative on the LDS (Mormon) religion. It covers most of the anti- mormon accusations against the church, and their so called "Proof" that it is false. It gives informative, corroborated answers to these questions.
pg. 143 : 'The 1997 addres of Carl Mosser and Paul Owen at a regional meeting of the evangelical Theological Society was remarkable.... In addition, Mosser an...more
An excellent scholarly look at the Book of Mormon. Terryl Givens has done a lot to move forward the debate about the American scripture.

Givens's basic proposition is that, for both adherents and detractors, the Book of Mormon is more significant for its existence than for its content. For critics, the Book of Mormon represents an affront to the very notion of canonical Christianity or even to common sense. For devotees, the book presents an accessible God who still provides revelations to the fa...more
Tanya W
This is an amazing, must-read book. In a few parts it is too intellectual for anyone besides intellectuals (which I'm obviously not).

This comprehensive book about the Book of Mormon is considered by many LDS scholars to be one of the greatest books ever written about the Book of Mormon. It examines criticisms of the Book of Mormon and looks at the period of time in which Joseph Smith lived. It brings up many interesting points which lend credibility to the Book of Mormon... certainly confirming...more
Brandon Byrd
This was extremely fascinating! A few parts were a bit dense, but the good parts were excellent! It gives very detailed back story on the events behind the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. It's all written academically, and even though you know the guy is pro-Mormon, it's refreshing to read something that's not written like a squeaky-clean EFY skit.

He also talks about various evidences that have been found of the Book of Mormon. Some, like the archaeological site "NHM" that corresponds to the...more
Jul 29, 2008 Rodney rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the Book of Mormon.
Recommended to Rodney by: a freind
I would agree that this is likely the best book ever written about the Book of Mormon. Mr. Givens has researched not only the Book of Mormon, but it seems everything ever written about it.

This is not just another LDS book, but a scholarly examination of the Book of Mormon. Unlike most authors, Mr. Givens does not seem to have a heavy agenda. He seems to be a believer, but delves deeply into anti-Mormon criticism of the book. I have heard everything from the fact that the author is a bishop in th...more
There were two or three especially dense chapters, full of scholarly terms, that were tough to get through (especially when most of the erudite discussion conveyed concepts that really weren't all that complicated for someone who has read the Book of Mormon a few times and attends Sunday School every now and again), but as a whole this book was great. It's a study of how the Book of Mormon itself was received by Mormons and non-Mormons in the 18th century and how its treatment by both groups has...more
About a month ago I came across this book at our local community library in the new book section. I decided to check it out. I have heard of the author, Terryl Givens, but I am not familiar with any of his work; so I was basically stepping into something unknown. And I am glad I did. Givens' book gave me a historical perspective of the "Book of Mormon" which I had never considered much less known. I cannot begin to list the things I learned. One thing I love about this book is the precious doctr...more
Terry Earley
As a student of the Book of Mormon, I thoroughly enjoyed this in-depth study. Those unfamiliar with the narrative and origins, might find it confusing, however. For a book written to a more broad, general audience, I highly recommend Givens' more recent work, "The God Who Weeps".

The Book of Mormon added to its early role as proof of the restoration, particularly during the time of Ezra Taft Benson's presidency, as living scripture, where LDS members came to read and know its actual contents more...more
The book is not a doctrinal commentary on The Book of Mormon which seeks to explain the teachings found within the book. (However, there are some insightful explanations regarding certain teachings found in The Book of Mormon, e.g., justice.) The author objectively analyzes many subjects relative to The Book of Mormon: its historical authenticity; its role as a sacred sign; how it has been treated by Mormons throughout history; its contribution to the understanding of revelation; apologetics and...more
I have read a lot of books about the Book of Mormon. This one is the one I always recommend first to those interested in Book of Mormon scholarship.

This book is unique in that it is not published by Deseret Book, Beehive, Cove Fort, or any of the other LDS publishers. It was published by Oxford University Press and is designed with members of the LDS church and nonmembers alike.

Givens takes the reader through a fairly comprehensive history of the Book of Mormon, including how it came to be trans...more
This was a very interesting book. I read it a few years ago at the recommendation of a family member. I thought it was a very fair look at the impact of the Book of Mormon including some of the arguments for and against its veracity as scripture. It was so fair, that even after I read it, I wasn't sure whether or not the author was LDS (turns out that he is a respected scholar from the University of Richmond & a practicing Mormon.) That is quite a feat, in my opinion. Most things written abo...more
Terryl Givens is a thoughtful author, and his insights into the effects of the Book of Mormon on the Saints and others is compelling reading. It does feel a bit dated because of the new challenges offered up as evidence (DNA particularly) aren't mentioned in the book and because of some organizational changes (FARMS, for example). He has an interesting technique of alternating between history and philosophy. I was especially engaged about the story of the Book of Mormon from the time Joseph rece...more
I read this book a long time ago and enjoyed it then, but I decided to read it again and was not disappointed.

This book is incredible and a must-read for anyone with any interest whatsoever in the Book of Mormon.
Jakob Hansen
Basically, if you want to know what has been written and said (and is worth reading and hearing) about the Book of Mormon, this is the place to start.
It has taken me 3 months to finish this book; by finished, I mean that I have been through it once. It is the type of book that will require me to go back and re-read several chapters. It is a scholarly work published by Oxford University Press. Givens delves deep into examining the Book of Mormon with as many as 100-150 references per chapter. His defense of the Book of Mormon is done by examining both non-Mormon sources and Mormon sources. He is willing to cite criticisms of the Book and then...more
I agree with many of the reviewers on GR that this would be a great recommendation for either believers, uninformed, or skeptics. Givens does a phenomenal job of outlining objections to the Book of Mormon on the grounds of the skeptics (reminds me a little of what was said about Lincoln, that he often understood the position of his opponents better than they did), and then responding to those objections with both reason and faith. If you only read one chapter of this book, make sure its Chapter...more
Chris Condie
Excellent book! Terryl L. Givens is the B.H. Roberts of our generation.
Daniel Hadley
The structure of this book is sort of a BoM sandwich: between chapters on the text's history and concluding chapters on its theology and place in modern Mormonism, Givens rehashes the debates over its historicity. I paid the most attention to the creamy middle. At times, I became frustrated with Givens' treatment of the critical arguments against the BoM. For example, he quickly dismissed the Isaiah problem, and never really engaged David Wright's arguments. He did not do justice to the critical...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 28 29 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide
  • David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism
  • Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism
  • Approaching Zion (The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Volume 9)
  • Brigham Young: American Moses
  • Massacre at Mountain Meadows
  • Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet
  • Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith
  • The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power
  • Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball
  • The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith
  • In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith
  • The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1: 1832-1839
  • The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, Book 1 (Mortal Messiah)
  • Carthage Conspiracy: The Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith
  • The Mountain Meadows Massacre
  • Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows
Terryl L. Givens was born in upstate New York, raised in the American southwest, and did his graduate work in Intellectual History (Cornell) and Comparative Literature (Ph.D. UNC Chapel Hill, 1988), working with Greek, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and English languages and literatures. As Professor of Literature and Religion, and the James A. Bostwick Professor of English at the University of Rich...more
More about Terryl L. Givens...
The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture Parley P. Pratt: The Apostle Paul of Mormonism The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy

Share This Book