Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Book of Mormon, Criticism, Authenticity as a Historical Record, Authorship, Sources, Translation, Modern Church, Culture, Joseph Smith


Beginning in the 1960s, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS [now Community of Christ]) has modified its understanding of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s prophetic charisms. Where the RLDS were earlier permitted to read the Book of Mormon as nineteenth-century fiction, they are now encouraged by their leaders to do so, though they are still permitted to find in it, if they wish, some inspiring passages. These changes have been resisted by a conservative minority that has lost the battle for control of the Reorganization and now tends to worship outside RLDS congregations. A few Latter-day Saints have also begun to read the Book of Mormon as fiction. Their efforts to turn the Book of Mormon into nineteenth-century fiction have been opposed by competent Latter-day Saint scholarship, though not without resistance from those who control independent and liberal publishing ventures.