To my knowledge, every sect that traces back to the religion founded by Joseph Smith Jr. claims the Book of Mormon (BOM) as one of its standard books of scripture.  The variance lies in how it’s regarded; some positions stated officially and otherwise.  I hope this will pique your interest enough to accept a challenge I will present later.

In 1988 I took a home-correspondence study course on the BOM available through the RLDS church. The following year I was qualified to teach it in a class setting. Students were asked to select one of 4 “Views” of the BOM as closest to their own.

A. The Historical View     Real people/places/events etc.

B. The Inspired Fiction View     Allegorical, but with degrees of inspiration

C. The Canonization View    Retained as scripture for its contribution in church history, heritage, etc.

D. The 19th Century View   A product of Pioneer-American culture and of questionable worth today.

And of course, there was the optional Other View

I was surprised by the class majority selecting B. Personally, I was an “Other”.  But as a teacher, I respected their choices as long as they continued to read it to confirm their viewpoint.

Making your preference known within the church could cause problems. If you’re LDS and relate to View B or D (and maybe C), things could get uncomfortable.  If you’re RLDS (CofChrist) and ally with View A, ditto.

I’ve read 4 versions of the BOM that are all currently available.

4 editions were published during the lifetime of Joseph Smith

1830 Replica     I love imagining I’m in 1830 being handed this book by a traveling Elder.

1908 RLDS Edition     My first BOM to read at age 18. Instead of praying for the truth after reading it, I prayed before. Glad I did.

1966 RLDS Edition    This, like the 1830 and 1908 versions, has VERY LONG chapters, but the text is modernized somewhat.  The best feature is the print differentiation whenever a prophet is quoting another prophet back and forth.

1981 LDS Edition     Much shorter chapters, lots of references, and illustrations in some copies.

So here’s my challenge as we near 2016.  With the LDS version, a person could read just one chapter per day (2-3 pages) and still have over 100 days in the year to skip for whatever reason. So, get a new copy (they’re Free) and a highlighter (they’re not Free) and as you read, mark the verses that appeal to you for future review.

What are your thoughts on this “very strange book”?  Do you agree with any of the categorized Views?