Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Isaiah, The Book of Mormon, literature, text


The unique role and function of the book of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon has rightly been of interest to a variety of readers, both scholarly and popular. A quick review of a portion of the literature reveals something of its ongoing appeal. For the most part, these studies have focused on explaining the reason for the extensive quotations of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon and/ or offering a rationale for the numerous differences between the text(s) of Isaiah cited in the Book of Mormon and the text(s) of lsaiah found in a variety of other places including the King James Version of the Bible. Often these studies have been related to the larger issue of Joseph Smith's involvement in the production of the Book of Mormon. Though a number of these studies are fascinating and merit careful reading, what has been missing, in my estimation, is a sustained treatment of the topic from the perspective of a close theological reading of the text. In other words, most of these studies have focused on the production end of the question-What did Joseph Smith or Nephi use and what may be learned by the actions of the author?-while much less attention has been focused on the product end of the question-specifically, What theological role and function do the Isaiah quotes (and their variants) play in the Book of Mormon, and what might be learned by a careful literary and theological examination of them? Thanks to the work under discussion, considerable progress has been made toward filling this lacuna.