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The Interpreter Foundation is a nonprofit educational organization focused on the scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, the Bible, and the Doctrine and Covenants), early LDS history, and related subjects. All publications in its journal, Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, are peer-reviewed and made available as free internet downloads or through at-cost print-on-demand services. Other posts on the website are not necessarily peer-reviewed, but are approved by Interpreter’s Executive Board.



Our goal is to increase understanding of scripture through careful scholarly investigation and analysis of the insights provided by a wide range of ancillary disciplines, including language, history, archaeology, literature, culture, ethnohistory, art, geography, law, politics, philosophy, statistics, etc. Interpreter will also publish articles advocating the authenticity and historicity of LDS scripture and the Restoration, along with scholarly responses to critics of the LDS faith. We hope to illuminate, by study and faith, the eternal spiritual message of the scriptures—that Jesus is the Christ.



Although the Board fully supports the goals and teachings of the Church, The Interpreter Foundation is an independent entity and is not owned, controlled by, or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or with Brigham Young University. All research and opinions provided on this site are the sole responsibility of their respective authors, and should not be interpreted as the opinions of the Board nor as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief, or practice.

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The Interpreter Foundation is a nonprofit educational organization focused on the scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, the Bible, and the Doctrine and Covenants), early LDS history, and related subjects. All publications in its journal, Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, are peer-reviewed and made available as free internet downloads or through at-cost print-on-demand services. Other posts on the website are not necessarily peer-reviewed, but are approved by Interpreter’s Executive Board.



Our goal is to increase understanding of scripture through careful scholarly investigation and analysis of the insights provided by a wide range of ancillary disciplines, including language, history, archaeology, literature, culture, ethnohistory, art, geography, law, politics, philosophy, statistics, etc. Interpreter will also publish articles advocating the authenticity and historicity of LDS scripture and the Restoration, along with scholarly responses to critics of the LDS faith. We hope to illuminate, by study and faith, the eternal spiritual message of the scriptures—that Jesus is the Christ.



Although the Board fully supports the goals and teachings of the Church, The Interpreter Foundation is an independent entity and is not owned, controlled by, or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or with Brigham Young University. All research and opinions provided on this site are the sole responsibility of their respective authors, and should not be interpreted as the opinions of the Board nor as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief, or practice.

    The Word of the Lord as a Metonym for Christ

    The Word of the Lord as a Metonym for Christ

    Abstract: The word of the Lord and the word of God are common expressions in the Bible. Frequently, these phrases refer to the written or spoken covenantal words of God to his people as given through the prophets. However, exegetical study of these expressions has revealed that they also serve as metonyms, or substitutions for the name of God himself. In this paper I explore these metonymous usages of the Word of the Lord and the Word of God as stand-ins for Christ in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon.



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    The word of the Lord and the word of God are important terms in the Old and New Testaments. In the New Testament the apostle John introduces us to the idea that the Word of God is metonymous1 with Jesus Christ. In the opening chapter of the gospel of John we read:



    In the beginning was the Word [ὁ λόγος, o logos], and the Word was with God [θεόν, Theou], and the Word was God. … And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14 KJV, emphasis added)



    In 1 John 5:7 we are told, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father [ὁ πατήρ, ho pater], the Word [ὁ λόγος, ho logos], and [Page 138]the Holy Ghost [τὸ Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα, to Hagion Pneuma]: and these three are one” (KJV, emphasis added).2 Also, in the introductory verses of the book of Revelation we are given:



    The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to him, to show to his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel [άγγελος, angelos] to his servant John: Who bore testimony of the word of God [τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, ton logon tou Theou], and of the testimony of Jesus Christ,3 and of all things that he saw.

    The Book of Mormon’s Complex Finite Cause Syntax

    The Book of Mormon’s Complex Finite Cause Syntax

    Abstract: This paper describes and compares the Book of Mormon’s 12 instances of complex finite cause syntax, the structure exemplified by the language of Ether 9:33: “the Lord did cause the serpents that they should pursue them no more.” This is not King James language or currently known to be pseudo-archaic language (language used by modern authors seeking to imitate biblical or related archaic language), but it does occur in earlier English, almost entirely before the year 1700. In the Book of Mormon, the syntax is always expressed with the modal auxiliary verbs should and shall. Twenty-five original examples of this specific usage have been identified so far outside of the Book of Mormon (not counting two cases of creative biblical editing — see the appendix). The text’s larger pattern of clausal verb complementation after the verb cause, 58 percent finite in 236 instances, is utterly different from what we encounter in the King James Bible and pseudo-archaic texts, which are 99 to 100 percent infinitival in their clausal complementation. The totality of the evidence indicates that Joseph Smith would not have produced this causative syntax of the Book of Mormon in a pseudo-archaic effort. Therefore, this dataset provides additional strong evidence for a revealed-words view of the 1829 dictation.



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    Example: “… the Lord did cause the serpents that they should pursue them no more” (Ether 9:33)1

    In grammar, a complement is one or more words added to another to complete the meaning. Complementation is completion of the meaning by the addition of a complement. In this paper, we are interested in clausal complementation — specifically, where the complement that completes the meaning of the verb cause is another verb phrase. Finite complementation means that there is a tensed verb in the complement [Page 114]clause. In the Book of Mormon, these tensed verbs are very often auxiliary verbs, most often shall and should. Infinitival complementation means there is no tensed verb in the complement, only an infinitive. This will all become clear as we consider quite a few examples.

    In carrying out these syntactic studies, the issue I am primarily interested in is whether the Book of Mormon was the result of a revelation of ideas or a revelation of words.

    The Book of Moses as a Temple Text

    The Book of Moses as a Temple Text

    Abstract: In this fascinating article, Jeff Bradshaw details how the Book of Moses might be understood as a temple text, including elements of temple architecture, furnishings, and ritual in the story of the Creation and the Fall. Bradshaw shows how the second half of the Book of Moses follows a general pattern of a specific sequence of covenants that will resonate with members of the Church who have received the temple endowment. The story of Enoch and his people provides a vivid demonstration of the final steps on the path that leads back to God and exaltation.





    [Editor’s Note: Part of our book chapter reprint series, this article is reprinted here as a service to the Latter-day Saint community. Original pagination and page numbers have necessarily changed, otherwise the reprint has the same content as the original.

    See Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, “The Book of Moses as a Temple Text,” in Tracing Ancient Threads in the Book of Moses: Inspired Origins, Temple Contexts, and Literary Qualities, ed. Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, David R. Seely, John W. Welch and Scott Gordon (Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation; Springville, UT: Book of Mormon Central; Redding, CA: FAIR; Salt Lake City: Eborn Books, 2021), 421–68. Further information at https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/ancient-threads-in-the-book-of-moses/.]

    In this article, I will suggest how the Book of Moses might be understood as a temple text. I will begin by giving a brief summary of “temple theology” and what is meant by the term “temple text.” Distinctive aspects of Latter-day Saint temple teachings will be outlined. I will then outline how the Book of Moses reflects elements of temple architecture, furnishings, and ritual in the story of the Creation and [Page 64]the Fall. Like other scripture-based temple texts, the general structure of the second half of the Book of Moses follows a pattern exemplifying faithfulness and unfaithfulness to a specific sequence of covenants that is familiar to members of the Church who have received the temple endowment. I argue that the story of Enoch and his people provides a vivid demonstration of the final steps on the path that leads back to God and up to exaltation.

    Temple Theology

    The term “temple theology” has its roots in the writings of Margaret Barker.1 Over the course of the last twenty-five years, she has argued that Christianity arose not as a strange aberration of the Judaism of Jesus’s time but rather as a legitimate heir of the theology and ordinances of Solomon’s Temple. In this view, the loss of much of the original Jewish temple tradition would have been part of a deliberate program by later kings and religious leaders to undermine the earlier teachings. To accomplish these goals, some writings previously considered to be scripture are thought to have been suppressed and some of those that remained to have been changed to be consistent with a different brand of orthodoxy. While scholars differ in their understanding of details about the nature and extent of these changes and how and when they might have taken place,2 many agree that essential light can be shed on questions about the origins and beliefs of Judaism and Christianity by focusing on the recovery of early temple teachings and on the extracanonical writings that,

    Abraham’s Amen and Believing in Christ: Possible Applications in the Book of Mormon Text

    Abraham’s Amen and Believing in Christ: Possible Applications in the Book of Mormon Text

    Abstract: Following the discovery of delocutive verbs and their likely usage in the Hebrew Bible, Meredith Kline proposed that the verb האמין (he’emin) in Genesis 15:6 — traditionally interpreted as a denominative verb meaning “he believed” — should be understood as a delocutive verb meaning “he declared ‘amen.’” Rather than reading Genesis 15:6 as a passive statement — Abraham believed in Yahweh — Kline argued that we should interpret this verse in the active sense, that Abraham vocally declared his amen in Yahweh’s covenantal promise. In this light, I have analyzed various passages in the Book of Mormon that utilize similar verbiage — “believe in Christ,” for example — to examine how their meanings might be enhanced by interpreting the verbs as delocutives rather than denominatives.



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    In Genesis 15 we are told of a covenantal dialogue that took place between Jehovah and Abraham. A key verse in this chapter, Genesis 15:6, is foundational for Jews1 and Christians alike: “And [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (KJV).2 The apostle Paul viewed this verse as doctrinally significant and employed its [Page 38]use in his epistles to both the Romans (Romans 4:1–5) and the Galatians (Galatians 3:6–9). The passage in Romans reads:

    What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed3 God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly,

    Personal Relative Pronoun Usage in the Book of Mormon: An Important Authorship Diagnostic

    Personal Relative Pronoun Usage in the Book of Mormon: An Important Authorship Diagnostic

    Abstract: This study compares personal relative pronoun usage in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon with 11 specimens of Joseph Smith’s early writings, 25 pseudo-archaic texts, the King James Bible, and more than 200,000 early modern (1473–1700) and late modern (1701–1800+) texts. The linguistic pattern of the Book of Mormon in this domain — a pattern difficult to consciously manipulate in a sustained manner — uniquely points to a less-common early modern pattern. Because there is no matching of the Book of Mormon’s pattern except with a small percentage of early modern texts, the indications are that Joseph Smith was neither the author nor the English-language translator of this pervasive element of the dictation language of the Book of Mormon. Cross-verification by means of large database comparisons and matching with one of the finest pseudo-archaic texts confirm these findings.



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    “All they which fight against Zion shall be cut off ” (1 Nephi 22:19)1

    Syntactostylistics is the study of the stylistic implications of syntactic variation. One of the most important areas of syntactostylistics in relation to the Book of Mormon, with clear authorship implications, is the systematic use of relative pronouns in the original text, in particular when these pronouns refer to persons. This kind of syntax is one of the most important pieces of evidence that the Book of Mormon is formulated with nonbiblical, archaic syntax. At this point, I have completed quite a few other studies of a similar nature that indicate or suggest the same. It is my aim to publish some of these studies in the near future. Among them, the Book of Mormon’s verb complementation pattern, though archaic, stands out clearly as nonbiblical and non-pseudo-archaic. [Page 6]I currently know of no external textual evidence that might suggest that Joseph Smith would have formulated the Book of Mormon’s clausal complementation patterns in the way we find them in the text (more than 500 instances: sustained, heavy finite usage).a id="footnote2anc" href="#footnote2sym" title="2. See Royal Skousen,

    A Sympathetic but Flawed Look at Book of Mormon Historicity

    A Sympathetic but Flawed Look at Book of Mormon Historicity

    Review of Terrence J. O’Leary, Book of Mormon: A History of Real People in Real Places (Pennsauken, NJ: BookBaby, 2020). 274 pages. Softcover, $20.

    Abstract: Terrence O’Leary enters the field of books attempting to describe a geographical and cultural background to the Book of Mormon. Placing the action of the text in Mesoamerica, O’Leary explains the Book of Mormon against his understanding of the geography and therefore culture of the Book of Mormon peoples. He begins with the Jaredites, then moves to the Nephites and Mulekites. Along the way, he uses historical data to back up his ideas. While I agree with much of what he has written in principle, his lack of expertise in the cultures of Mesoamerica leads to times when he incorrectly uses some of his sources.





    For Latter-day Saint scholars of the Book of Mormon from the Utah-based church, it becomes too easy to forget that we are not the only children of the Restoration who are interested in the text. In particular, the Community of Christ has scholars who continue to approach the Book of Mormon as a historical record, even though the Community of Christ itself has institutionally moved away from an emphasis on historicity. It is a welcome addition to the literature on the historicity of the Book of Mormon to have Terrence J. O’Leary write his findings. He grew up in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and continues through the 2001 name change to Community of Christ. He attended Graceland College (now Graceland University) which is affiliated with the Community of Christ.

    The chance to have more serious scholars working on the Book of Mormon is wonderful, and it is important to cooperate in [Page 2]examining the text that is important to both traditions. Unfortunately, there appears to be an invisible wall separating the Book of Mormon scholars in the two traditions. Latter-day Saint writers seldom cite Community of Christ writers, and at least in O’Leary, there seems to be the reciprocal for Community of Christ writers not citing Latter-day Saint scholars. A simple but glaring example is that O’Leary places the Book of Mormon in Mesoamerica but has no bibliographic entry for John L. Sorenson. Anyone looking at a Mesoamerican background for the Book of Mormon who does not at least acknowledge, let alone engage, Sorenson is immediately lacking research depth and perhaps unwittingly attempting to cover ground well-covered before without necessarily adding anything new.1

    I find myself agreeing, in principle, to perhaps 80 percent of what O’Leary has written, but my hesitations come from the lack of scholarly discernment he shows in using his sources. This occurs very early when he cites Ether 5:30–31 about the brother of Jared moving the mountain Zerin. O’Leary cites a Chinese legend, then another author who suggests the miracle occurred in a pass through the Altai mountain range known as the Dzungarian Gate (pp. 6–7). I miss any solid analysis of why O’Leary elects to send the Jaredites eastward (though it is not an unusual suggestion in the literature), and then why it would be possible to associate the mountain Zerin’s absence with the Dzungarian Gate. While interesting, O’Leary has not built a strong case.

    He has the Jaredites arrive in Olmec territory in Mesoamerica, a very common connection in the literature on Book of Mormon historicity. However, one of his evidences is the use of Chinese characters on Olmec celts.

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