Category Archives: Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon as a Second Witness to the Divinity of Jesus Christ

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“To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins”Acts 10:43 King James Version (KJV)

In this FairMormon Christmas Podcast, Neal Rappleye discusses the Book of Mormon as a second witness to the birth, atonement, and death of Jesus Christ –with an emphasis on the Christmas story. We begin with the Biblical witness of Christ, and then discuss prophets in the Book of Mormon who testify further of Christ’s mission: Nephi, King Benjamin, Alma, Samuel the Lamanite, and Nephi: descendant of Alma.

Music by Paul Cardall

Neal Rappleye has been doing ongoing research on the Book of Mormon for several years. His work has been published by Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, FairMormon, the Book of Mormon Archaeological Forum,, and Meridian Magazine. He presented at the 2014 and 2016 Book of Mormon Lands Conferences, and is the co-recipient of the 2013 John Taylor Defender of the Faith Award from FairMormon. As a Research Project Manager for Book of Mormon Central, Neal selects, writes, and reviews content for KnoWhys, and oversees the production of the accompanying social media products. As Operations Manager, Neal oversees the daily tasks and operations of the Book of Mormon Central staff. Neal maintains a personal blog, Studio et Quoque Fide (By Study and Also By Faith),

Julianne Dehlin Hatton has worked as a News Director at an NPR affiliate, Broadcast News Anchor and Airborne Traffic Reporter. She graduated with a Master’s degree from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University in 2008. Julianne and her husband Thomas are the parents of four children.

Book Review: Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones

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Joseph Smith's Seer StonesIn September 2015, photographs of one of Joseph Smith’s seer stones were published in the Joseph Smith Papers: Revelations and Translations: Volume 3.To go along with this, an article was published in the October 2015 Ensign [1] that gave a brief overview of seers, seer stones, and the translation of the Book of Mormon, and also included one of the photographs. This was significant because prior to that, it had been unseen, locked away in the First Presidency’s vault. As it turns out, there were many that were unaware that a seer stone had been used in the translation of the Book of Mormon, and for some this caused some surprise and confusion.

This book goes much further than the Ensign article to “provide a friendly introduction to seer stones,” as well as to “provid[e] an introduction to the historical sources in an accessible style for Latter-day Saints and others.” [2] In doing so, they include sources both friendly and unfriendly to the church (but unfortunately do not always differentiate between them for readers that may not be familiar with some of them). This is an important book in that it is the first fully devoted to the topic.

The introduction talks about “Mormon Paradigm Shifts.” This is for those that were taken by surprise to find out about seer stones, in spite of a multitude of references in church literature throughout the years. “WIth so many Latter-day Saint scholars acknowledging and studying Joseph Smith’s use of seer stones, it is clear the the Church has not been hiding this information. And yet, as with many historically specific topics, without direct references provided in Church teaching materials and curriculum, the average Latter-day Saint would not necessarily encounter the seer stones in the course of their devotional study. …That is why the latest appearance of the topic in the October 2015 Ensign (and Liahona) was so important: it underscores how, even while keeping a sacred relic private, the Church continues to be open about the miraculous process of the translation of the Book of Mormon.” [3] Continue reading

Translating with Seer Stones with Michael Hubbard MacKay

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Russell Stevenson of LDS Perspectives Podcast interviews Dr. Michael Mackay about the use of seer stones in the Book of Mormon translation process.

Some may not realize that Joseph continued to use seer stones after the Book of Mormon was translated. He used them while translating the Bible, when dictating revelations, and even when giving patriarchal blessings.

After his death, Joseph’s stones were passed down to succeeding presidents of the church and looked upon as sacred relics.

Dr. Mackay discusses how the seer stones were not simply a tool to give Joseph confidence to translate; they represent something much more significant.


Braving Nephi’s Isaiah with Joseph M. Spencer

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Join Laura Harris Hales from LDS Perspectives Podcast as she discusses with Joseph Spencer the daunting pursuit of studying Isaiah in the Book of Mormon.

Second Nephi has a reputation for being a bit dry. Missing is the drama of the Book of Mormon. Where the story line pauses, it is replaced with long passages containing interpolations of the words of Nephi into the Old Testament scripture of Isaiah.

Nephi tells readers this departure into deeper doctrine is the “more sacred” part of the small plates. However, modern readers often have difficulty connecting with its discourses pertaining to the gathering of the house of Israel.

Joseph Spencer has spent much of his academic career studying covenantal history, including within Book of Mormon contexts.

Some have coined Isaiah’s presence in the Book of Mormon as a problem; Joseph Spencer sees it more as an answer to questions that emerge within the narrative.

He maintains that making sense of Isaiah’s place in the Book of Mormon is the essential key to making sense of the Book of Mormon. He identifies three narrative hinges in the Book of Mormon that each begin with a quotation from Isaiah. Maybe, just maybe, you might be encouraged to give Isaiah in the Book of Mormon a second look.

To access the links referenced in this podcast, visit LDS Perspectives.



DNA Detective Work with Ugo Perego

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Last summer Russell Stevenson of the LDS Perspectives Podcast sat down with Dr. Ugo Perego to discuss his use of DNA research in historical studies.

Early in his career, Ugo used genetic studies in genealogical research. Lately he has expanded his studies to shed light on historical mysteries.

Dr. Perego shares his findings on three topics: Joseph Smith’s posterity, DNA of North American peoples, and victims of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.

Ugo’s youngest son thinks he gets invited to lecture because of his really cool accent. We agree his accent is cool, but his insights are what keep us hanging on every word.

To access the links referenced in this podcast, visit LDS Perspectives.


Book of Mormon Central with Neal Rappleye

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Welcome to the first podcast in the LDS Perspectives’ Young Scholars Series. In these episodes, listeners are introduced to young scholars who are presenting scholarship that belies their ages and formal educational training.

This week Blake Dalton interviews Neal Rappleye.

Neal is the office manager at Book of Mormon Central. Like most of his co-workers, he is a Millennial. His team is young and talented.

Five days a week they pump out KnoWhys on some aspect of Book of Mormon scholarship. Each KnoWhy includes a one-minute video, a short essay, references, and an audio version of the essay.

But Book of Mormon Central is much more than a collection of KnoWhys. Neal shares some of the other resources it provides and introduces us to a new and exciting tool that may just change the way we study the Book of Mormon.

LDS Artwork Revisited with Dr. Anthony Sweat

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Artwork depicting the Book of Mormon translation process

In this fascinating and enlightening episode, Russell Stevenson of LDS Perspectives Podcast interviews Dr. Anthony Sweat, who is an artist, BYU religion professor, and illustrator of the recent publications From Darkness into Light and Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones. In recent years, LDS artwork found in church curriculum and magazines has been criticized because it does not portray the Book of Mormon translation process historically accurate.

Dr. Sweat shares that the first place his students often learn that Joseph Smith put stones into a hat when translating is through the television show South Park. He seeks to provide artwork that not only portrays the process more accurately but also respectfully.

Russell Stevenson and Anthony Sweat discuss how artists — from Arnold Friberg to the creators of South Park — have helped shape perceptions of LDS scriptures and historical events over the past seventy years.

To access the links referenced in this podcast, visit the LDS Perspectives website.

The featured cover art is “By the Gift and Power of God” by Anthony Sweat. Used by permission of Anthony Sweat.

What is Grace? with Brad Wilcox

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In this episode, Dr. Brad Wilcox joins Nick Galieti to discuss the grace of Christ.

Grace is a term often misunderstood. Dr. Wilcox sheds clarity on the concept and shows how the LDS Church proclaims a gospel of grace. The term can be found in hymns, in conference talks, and throughout the Book of Mormon.

By demystifying and destigmatizing the concept of grace, he invites us to explore how this important doctrine relates to how we may use Christ’s gift in our lives — not just once, but continually.

Find links to the articles referenced in this podcast at LDS Perspectives.


Yongsung Kim painted the featured cover art. You may purchase this picture at Foundation Arts.


Book Review: A Reason for Faith: Navigating LDS Doctrine & Church History

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Available from the FairMormon bookstore at 20% off

Available from the FairMormon bookstore at 20% off

In the prologue of A Reason for Faith, the editor, Laura Hales, lays out the purpose of the book. Members of the church sometimes come across new information in an unfriendly setting that damages their faith. This book is a compilation of articles about many of the topics that are not often discussed in a church or family setting, and can be difficult to understand. They are laid out by scholars in an honest but faithful manner, and while they can’t possibly cover the topics completely in the amount of space given, they are meant to be a springboard for further study where necessary.

The first chapter is by Richard Bushman, on “Joseph Smith and Money Digging.” He recounts the history of scholarship in this area, where it was originally denied by those inside the church due to being based on accounts thought to be unreliable published by critics of the church. As he began his own research, he found evidence that convinced him that Joseph was indeed involved with folk magic and seer stones, and that these things were too common in the 19th century to invalidate Joseph’s prophetic claims or be scandalous. Continue reading

Book Review: The Joseph Smith Papers: Documents Volume 4, April 1834 – September 1835

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Available from the FairMormon bookstore at 20% off

Available from the FairMormon bookstore at 20% off

This is the fourth in a projected twelve volumes in the Documents series of the Joseph Smith Papers. The Documents series is the core of the JSP project, containing documents that Joseph Smith was personally involved in producing in chronological order. The documents in the book are also available online, but the annotations and introductions – which are very valuable in understanding the documents – are not put online until 18 months after each volume is published.

The main events covered in this volume are Zion’s Camp; the publication of the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants; financial difficulties (particularly those related to publishing and the building of the Kirtland Temple); the formation and operation of the Kirtland high council; the call of Joseph Smith, Sr., to patriarch, and the calling of 12 apostles; and the beginning of the writing of the early history of the church.

The main body of the book consists of documents directly involving Joseph Smith, and then there are a series of appendices with documents for which Joseph Smith’s involvement is questionable. Such documents include the first Lecture on Faith, “Letter to the Saints Scattered Abroad”, “Statement on Marriage”, “Declaration on Government and Law”, and patriarchal blessings given to Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith, Hyrum Smith, Samuel Smith, and William Smith. Continue reading