“We Believe the Bible to Be the Word of God, as Far as It Is Translated Correctly”: Latter-day Saints and Historical Biblical Criticism


Bible, Translation, Christianity, Word of God


This study presents the basic Latter-day Saint beliefs about the Bible and documents the relationship between these beliefs and the approach and results of historical biblical criticism. Latter-day Saints believe the Bible is the word of God but do not believe it is inerrant or sufficient and thus is supplemented by other revealed ancient texts—most notably the Book of Mormon. Latter-day Saints believe in the pursuit of truth through “study and faith” and are thus not opposed to intellectual examination of scripture. In fact LDS scholars selectively use biblical critical methods in defending of their scripture. At the same time Mormons are defensive about the historicity of the Bible and the Book of Mormon—and thus find themselves with a tradition of conflict with the results of modern biblical criticism that challenge these assumptions. A growing number of LDS scholars in the church who are trained in the historical critical approach to scripture has resulted in renewed discussions and studies about the relationship between faith and scholarship. These discussions are enhanced by a greater openness in the church regarding the critical study of its history, and the results of this approach have also generated biblical and Book of Mormon studies relating to historical critical issues.

Original Publication Citation

“‘We Believe the Bible to Be the Word of God, as Far as It Is Translated Correctly’”: Latter-day Saints and Historical Biblical Criticism.” Pages 64-88 in Studies in the Bible and Antiquity, Volume 7 (2016).

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor