American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon
Dan Vogel and Brent Metcalfe, eds.
Paperback. 288 Pages. / 1-56085-151-1 / $21.95
A fine line divides scripture from non-scripture, writes Robert M. Price in American Apocrypha. There are books that are not in the Bible that are as powerful and authoritative as anything in the canon. At the same time, much of the Bible was written centures after the events it narrates by scribes using fictitious names. Clearly, the hallmark of scripture is not historical accuracy but rather its spiritual impact on individuals; exclusion from the canon is not reason to dismiss a book as heretical.
Consider the Book of Mormon, first published in 1830. The nature of this volume—in particular its claim to antiquity—is the theme of nine ground-breaking essays in American Apocrypha. Thomas W. Murphy discusses the Book of Mormon’s view that American Indians are descendants of ancient Hebrews. In recent DNA tests, Native Americans have proven to be of Siberian ancestry and not of ancient Jewish or Middle Eastern descent. Nor is the Book of Mormon a traditional translation from an ancient document, writes David P. Wright, as indicated by the underlying Hebrew in the book’s Isaiah passages. Other contributors to American Apocrypha explore the evolution of ideas in the Book of Mormon during the course of its dictation.
Editors Dan Vogel and Brent Metcalfe have chosen essays by authors who represent a wide range of disciplines and perspectives: Robert Price edits the Journal of Higher Criticism; Thomas Murphy chairs the anthropology department at Edmonds Community College; David Wright teaches Hebrew Bible at Brandeis University. They are joined by Scott C. Dunn; Edwin Firmage, Jr.; George D. Smith; and Susan Staker—all of whom explore what can be reasonably asserted about the Book of Mormon as scripture.
Dan Vogel is the editor of The Word of God: Essays on Mormon Scripture and the award-winning series Early Mormon Documents; author of Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, and Religious Seekers and the Advent of Mormonism; and a contributor to The Prophet Puzzle: Interpretive Essays on Joseph Smith.
Brent Metcalfe is the editor and host of Mormon Scripture Studies: An E-Journal of Critical Thought, editor of New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology, and a contributor to other anthologies and journals. Professionally, he is a technical editor in the computer industry.