Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


The Book of Mormon, restoration, Alexander Campbell, New Testament


The enigmatic relationship between the Book of Mormon and the Bible goes all the way back to one of its earliest reviewers, Restorationist Alexander Campbell, who noted inconsistencies between the two. Campbell addressed the Book of Mormon text's conflation of the Old and New Covenants, differing on details such as Jesus's birthplace and, in particular, how much the Book of Mormon's pre-Christian peoples anticipated New Testament events. The Book of Mormon prophet Lehi, Campbell wrote, "developed the records of Matthew, Luke, and John, six hundred years before John the Baptist was born." From the time of Campbell and into the present day, much of Book of Mormon scholarship has pivoted around this issue. How could a text that claims origins prior to the canonization of the New Testament interact so explicitly with the New Testament text? And what of the Old Testament content, in particular Isaiah, strewn throughout its pages? For many years, those who saw the Book of Mormon as purely the product of the mind of Joseph Smith interpreted these interactions as a sign of indirect influence at best and plagiarism at worst. In response, those who were willing to subscribe to divine origins developed several possible solutions, such as the ideas that Book of Mormon authors had access to "untainted" biblical manuscripts that have since disappeared; or that they had a level of prescience in writing. However, in recent years, this apologetic-or-critical sentiment of arguing why the Bible is present in the Book of Mormon has begun to wane in favor of further exploring how the Bible is present in the Book of Mormon. The intent of this literature review is to lay out the different scholarship trajectories related to the presence of the Bible in the Book of Mormon.