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

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  704 ratings  ·  128 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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Summer Seeds
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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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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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LaDon
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Givens so will always rank him very high; Chapter 5 is the best logical explanation for any issues with the Book; not written defensively at all - seems very open, honest, and clear. Chapter 8 does an incredible job talking about the power of the book, its powerful and unique messages. Great book.
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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Hannah Crowther
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As of its publication by the Oxford University Press, this is the most extensive and scholarly book on The Book of Mormon published from outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint circles. Though written by a believer, it looks at The Book of Mormon from the perspective of both believers and critics, and is very well documented.

For example, it discusses the relatively poor success believers have had placing the Book of Mormon in a specific geographical setting. In contrast, there ha
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Anson Cassel Mills
Terryl Givens (b. 1957), a professor of English literature at the University of Richmond and an LDS scholar, here walks a tightrope between apologia and scholarly analysis. Mormons and Gentiles will differ as to how successfully he manages these disparate aims, but publication by Oxford University Press rightly suggests that this book is not simply a tract for the faithful. Givens wants the Book of Mormon (BOM) to be taken seriously by secular academics, and he agreeably assimilates and cites ma ...more
Hank Hoeft
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the past, when discussing the Book of Mormon, most (but not all) writers fell into one of two camps: believers ("Mormons") who accept wholesale the story of how the BoM came to be, or else anti-Mormons who think Joseph Smith was at best misguided and at worst a charlatan and a fraud. As an active, practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was surprised to see a book published by the Oxford University Press that seriously examines the Book of Mormon as legitimate ...more
P
Dec 28, 2020 rated it liked it
Readers should know that this a scholarly work which takes a lot of brain power to get through. Givens is a professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond, Virginia. His written narrative is dense with facts, examining different angles and points of view, and includes extensive footnotes. I often could only get through 5 or 6 pages at a time. Givens defends the authenticity of The Book of Mormon by addressing various criticisms of the work. He doesn’t just refute and dismiss ...more
Rob
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While for me, Givens wrote “By The Hand Of Morton” as if writing a college textbooks, despite the challenge for me to get through it, Givens did bring some very interesting thoughts about the Book of Mormon. He was able to show the faults on a number of critics’ explanation of the Book of Mormon. Finally he documented the fact that for much of Church history the Book of Mormon has been simply a symbol of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling and not used as a book of scripture. This, for me, was a bi ...more
Willynillyster
I love Terryl Givens' insights into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He draws from a vast background in literature, philosophy and religion as he writes and I always find gem after gem of insight and mind-popping ideas. This book was no different, although I slogged through the middle of the book, skimming most of it; the discussion was way too erudite for me. However, the beginning and the end of this book is well worth reading. ...more
Zachary Ibarra
Terryl Givens is an incredible scholar and I would never dispute that. I gained new insights about the Boom of Mormon that I’ll probably think about for years to come, and it strengthened my testimony of the Book of Mormon which is exactly what I wanted. However, it was undoubtedly dry and dense. A book I had to tell myself I was reading to better myself, not so much for enjoyment.
Doug
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The presentation is much more academic than otherwise, but I think it's an excellent presentation - acknowledging alternative points of view while hewing strongly to it's central topic of the book of mormons place both for the world and of course predominantly within the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints. ...more
Danielle
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice overview of a massive amount of scholarship and issues regarding the Book of Mormon! Probably of little interest to all but us nerds, but I enjoyed it very much!
Camille
The quality of the writing and the research stands on its own merits--thorough and directed.
Ruth
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's about what it means, not just what it says. ...more
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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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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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
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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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
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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

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