Book of Mormon Commentaries
Author: Peterson, H. Donl
Because the Book of Mormon is the best known and most widely circulated LDS book, many commentaries on and reference books about it have been written to assist readers. Inasmuch as its historical timeline spans from c. 2200 B.C. to A.D. 421 and its doctrinal content is extensive, it is difficult for a one-volume work to meet the many needs and interests. The references cited herein contain bibliographies that will provide readers with additional sources.
George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl coauthored a Commentary on the Book of Mormon (1955-1961), a seven-volume work (published posthumously to both authors) that has been widely circulated. Hugh Nibley's Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites (1952; rev. 1988) provides insightful historical material on the travels of Lehi's party from Jerusalem, which occurred about c. 600 B.C., through the Arabian Peninsula, to the Western Hemisphere, and also on the journey of the Jaredite colony at about c. 2200 B.C. from the Near East to the Western Hemisphere. Francis W. Kirkham wrote a two-volume work entitled A New Witness for Christ in America (rev. ed. 1959-1960) that discusses the coming forth and the translation and printing of the Book of Mormon and non-LDS explanations of the same topics. B. H. Roberts authored a three-volume work titled New Witnesses for God (1909). Volumes 2 and 3 addressed four topics: the Book of Mormon as a witness of the Bible; the discovery, translation, and people of the Book of Mormon; evidence of its truth; and Roberts's responses to various objections to the book. Sidney B. Sperry authored Our Book of Mormon (1947); The Book of Mormon Testifies (1952); and Book of Mormon Compendium (1968). Daniel H. Ludlow wrote a popular one-volume work, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon (1976).
The Religious Studies Center at Brigham Young University sponsors an annual symposium on the Book of Mormon. Beginning in 1985, it has published a volume of selected lectures for each symposium. Both doctrinal and historical materials are included. Other volumes are planned as additional symposia are held. A volume entitled A Book of Mormon Treasury (1959), taken from the pages of the Improvement Era, contains thirty-six articles by General Authorities and other respected students of the Book of Mormon on historical, geographical, and doctrinal matters, as well as biblical relationships. Following a similar format, Kent P. Jackson compiled a two-volume work, Studies in Scripture Volume Seven -1st Nephi-Alma 29 (1987) and Studies in Scripture Volume Eight-Alma 30-Moroni (1988). Jackson also edited a special Book of Mormon issue of BYU Studies 30 (Summer 1990):1-140. Other scholarly materials related to Book of Mormon topics are available through F.A.R.M.S. (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies).
Others who have contributed to the literature about the Book of Mormon are Paul R. Cheesman, whose works include The World of the Book of Mormon (1984), and Monte S. Nyman, whose publications include An Ensign to All People: The Sacred Message and Mission of the Book of Mormon (1987).
Church headquarters publishes materials for use in weekly priesthood quorum meetings, Relief Society meetings, Sunday School classes, and Institute and Seminary classes to assist members in better understanding the Book of Mormon.
Several authors have written on Book of Mormon archaeology and geology. Two popular books with an archaeological approach are Dewey and Edith Farnsworth, The Americas Before Columbus (1947), and Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon (1950). More recent studies on Book of Mormon geography include John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (1985); F. Richard Hauck, Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon (1988); and Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon (1989). The Nephites, Lamanites, Mulekites, and Jaredites were historical cultures that occupied time and space; however, Church leaders have declared no official position as to where the Book of Mormon civilizations were situated other than that they were in the Western Hemisphere. [See also other Book of Mormon entries.]