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

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  619 Ratings  ·  121 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
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Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 14th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Rex
Jan 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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Cindy
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
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Emily
Aug 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Desiree
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Wally
May 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
James
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
J.S.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
For some, The Book of Mormon is simply a humorous Broadway production. For others, it is taken as a threat to their religious beliefs, while members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints revere it as scripture alongside the Bible. Terryl Givens, who is a member of the LDS Church, has approached it from a scholarly perspective to examine just what it is and how well it stands up to the various claims made about it, both by those who believe its words and those who don't.

He begins by
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Summer Seeds
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not Mormon, nor ever desire to become Mormon, but I read this for class and actually found it rather interesting.

****

Terryl L. Givens’ By the Hands of Mormon is a comprehensive study of Mormonism, from its origins to its theology. Unlike many academic studies of the Book of Mormon, the of the main scripture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Givens, despite being a Mormon himself, does not try to defend the teachings of Mormonism or the traditional story of Joseph Smith and
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William
Jan 22, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mormon-studies
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
Tanya W
May 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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Brad Mclaws
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Good read. One of the more thoughtful analyses of what the Book of Mormon says and how likely it is to be real.

Jacob Lines
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-of-mormon
This is a history of the reception of the Book of Mormon. In this book, Givens attempts to explain “why the Book of Mormon has been taken seriously – for very different reasons – by generations of devoted believes and confirmed skeptics.” He tells the story of how the book came to be and then how it has been accepted, rejected, used, and ignored over the nearly two centuries since then.

Givens starts with background. Plenty in here that even knowledgeable Church members may have forgotten. The d
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Christopher
Aug 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Terryl Givens’s study gives one of the first full-length academic treatments of the Book of Mormon. He covers, briefly, the history of its production, dissemination, and reception. He explores how the book was utilized more as a sign, rather than for the content, directly. In part, because the content largely reflected the 19th century Protestant beliefs of the time. Givens notes that it does not contain many of the distinctively Mormon doctrines that came about in the decades following 1830. Th ...more
Samuel
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.

O
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Jeff
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found Terryl Givens' 'By the Hand of Mormon' to be a very interesting book about the Book of Mormon. Although he does present both sides of the issue, as a believer he does present the 'believing' side as fact (he explains in the introduction that he will do so to avoid the wordiness of saying 'Joseph Smith purported [insert event in coming forth of the Book of Mormon]' by just saying Joseph Smith did [insert event]. As a believe in the Book of Mormon myself I did not mind this approach, but c ...more
Liesl
Apr 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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Eric Lopez
Jan 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a fantastically articulated history of how both Mormons and non-Mormons viewed the Book of Mormon in an intellectual, spiritual, and even cultural way.

The first three chapters are a history of the coming of the Book of Mormon.

Chapters four and five talk about some of the debates surrounding the ancient history of arguments for the historicity of the Book of Mormon. These arguments range from the dissenting statements from the Smithsonian institution, scholarly responses from Hugh
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Jason
Jul 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: churchy-stuff
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
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Heidi
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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John
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
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
Lydia
Oct 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lds, non-fiction
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
Dave
Oct 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Brandon Byrd
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Aaron
Apr 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Stacy
Jul 22, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Rodney
May 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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Lisa Reising
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a different treatment of The Book of Mormon than I expected, but I enjoyed most of it. It deals more with the circumstances surrounding the coming forth of the book, and it's reception by believers and skeptics, than it does about the theological or doctrinal content of the book - which is a fascinating parallel to it's historical place in the LDS canon (although it has been greatly studied and focused upon since the presidency of Ezra Taft Benson). This would be a fascinating book to di ...more
Greg Diehl
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's difficult for me to give anything by Givens less than 4 stars. I'm a big fan and thus bring big expectations to everything he writes. That dynamic can be a double edged sword as there were definitely aspects of this work that felt a little disjointed as it was difficult at times for me to clearly see where it was Given's was trying to go with a couple of his points. Overall, however, this is a very insightful work if one is willing to invest a little effort and openness.

I really liked the q
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Zach
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Nate
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
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
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  • 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
  • Brigham Young: American Moses
  • The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power
  • The Mormon People: The Making of an American Faith
  • Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith
  • Approaching Zion (The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Volume 9)
  • The Politics of American Religious Identity: The Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle
  • Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball
  • Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet
  • Letters to a Young Mormon
  • Massacre at Mountain Meadows
  • An ancient American setting for the Book of Mormon
  • 1832-1839 (The Joseph Smith Papers: Journals, vol. 1)
  • In Heaven as It Is on Earth: Joseph Smith and the Early Mormon Conquest of Death
  • The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship
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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...