Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


This article suggests that contemporary near-death research casts light on several episodes in the Book of Mormon. Alma’s conversion while “nigh unto death” fits a common pattern of experience. Modern researchers have noticed distinctive aftereffects among those who have experienced a near-death experience (NDE). In the Book of Mormon, both Alma and the resurrected Christ demonstrate these aftereffects. Lehi’s dream invites comparison with the otherworld journey literature of many nations. Nephi’s interpretation of Lehi’s dream casts light on the tension between the literal and the symbolic elements of visionary experience. Finally, just as accurate out-of-body observations made by NDErs argued for the reality of their experiences, so the testable aspects of the Book of Mormon give Joseph Smith a significance apart from others who may have experienced similar visions.