In this sample from CHAPTER FIVE [Excerpt_CulturalHistoryBoMVol1ch5] of Volume One of the Cultural History of the Book of Mormon, I analyze how the history of “the Restored Church” has been reconstructed by missionaries and BYU historians who inherited the traditions of Alexander Campbell and his preachers of Restoration.
In short, a break off from Campbell’s movement saw in the Book of Mormon the doctrines of Restoration they had preached for centuries, and they proceeded to ignore the actual text of the book, deciding they would interpret it for others. As a movement called the Disciples of Christ took up the Book of Mormon, they layered what I call “metatext” over the book, giving new converts to what Campbell termed “Mormonism” (in early every way a version of Campbellism) a way to be a Mormon without actually having read the new book they claimed as their own. The historians discussed in this chapter inherited these traditions, and no matter the chronological difficulties, they insist that the Book of Mormon really was part of Joseph Smith’s plan to restore the New Testament church. As you’ll see in this first volume, neither Joseph Smith nor the Book of Mormon seem terribly interested in that kind of restoration (a matter discussed in detail in chapter two).
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(NOTE: The PowerPoint Presentation Files of the Cultural History are linked to the book cover below)