Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


A well-defined trend over the past two hundred years in secular biblical scholarship has been to sunder spiritual from historical, relegating events such as miracles and the resurrection to the category of “sacred stories.” This trend has also crept into some circles of LDS Book of Mormon scholarship, with adherents claiming an “expansionist” view of the Book of Mormon. They contend that the core of the text is historical but that so-called anachronisms in the text—references to the fall, atonement, resurrection, or new birth prior to the time of Christ—are due to Joseph Smith’s own interpolations. Because Book of Mormon writers and Joseph Smith himself clearly state that the text is entirely historical, this logically leaves expansionist advocates in the precarious position of claiming either that Joseph did not know the truth or that he lied. In contrast to this view, certain well-defined truths such as the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, the reality of the First Vision, and the atonement and resurrection of Christ must stand as the foundation of the LDS faith.