Charity as an Exegetical Principle in the Book of Mormon

Scott Stenson, Brigham Young University - Provo


Abstract: In this study, I demonstrate how faith, hope, and especially, charity, serve as exegetical principles in the Book of Mormon for both Nephi and Moroni. This effort is of interest in part because such principles were generally not in fashion in the post-Enlightenment, nineteenth century among biblical critics. My method is to briefly review Augustinian hermeneutics and then to suggest that charity for Nephi and Moroni can be connected to textual production and reception. One of the contributions of this article is to provide an alternative reading of certain passages of scripture, including Moroni 7. Another contribution is to demonstrate that Moroni 7 (and other of Moroni’s intended endings for the overall Nephite record) may be apprehended as a reflexive, meta-text, or as self-referential. Finally, this article acknowledges the nearly infinite possibilities inherent in even sacred literature.