An Imperfect Book
What the Book of Mormon Tells Us about Itself
by Earl M. Wunderli
Paperback / 396 pages / 978-1-56085-230-8 / $32.95
A major theme in the Book of Mormon is the depiction of Native Americans as descendants of ancient Hebrews. Other prominent ideas are the restoration of pure Christianity to an apostate world, the visit of Jesus to the western hemisphere, and recurring cycles of ruin and renewal. All of this raises the question: “Is all of this true?” Wunderli has made an avocation of examining this and related questions by digging deeply into the Book of Mormon and surveying the large body of research generated by scholars of various disciplines. He succinctly summarizes his own findings and this mass of often conflicting information, then adds his own trenchant analysis to the mix. Fascinating reading due to how Wunderli has structured the book as his own personal quest for answers, An Imperfect Book is an accessible but thorough overview of major controversies involving authorship, use of idiom, anachronisms, contrived names, borrowed passages, and prophecies made and fulfilled within the book’s own narrative frame. Wunderli includes a discussion of dozens of curiosities such as the relative absence of polygamists in a culture where one would expect it and sons named after their fathers (Alma junior), which one would not expect among ancient Israelites. Wunderli has examined the arguments and reduced the data to a collection of informative observations and reasoned arguments in an altogether readable work.
“Wunderli provides a reader-friendly discussion of evidence surrounding the issue of whether or not the Book of Mormon is an ancient work. He deals lucidly and insightfully with issues such as biblical citations in the Book of Mormon, anachronistic ideas and language, the limited inventory of Book of Mormon name -types, contradictions and inconsistencies across the text, the unity of narrative voice and style, and the prophetic horizon of the book centering in the time of Joseph Smith. Wunderli also provides a solid critique of some of the major arguments raised in defense of an ancient Book of Mormon. It is a wonderful contribution to the topic.” —David P. Wright, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient near East, Brandies University.
Earl M. Wunderli has degrees in philosophy and law from the University of Utah. He retired in 1993 as Associate General Counsel for IBM in Connecticut. As a young man, he studied hoteliery in Lausanne, Switzerland, worked as a chef in the Bahamas, and was trained as a navy pilot before settling down to study law in Utah. He is a member of the board of directors of the Sunstone Foundation. He has presented aspects of his research at the annual Sunstone Theological Symposium in Salt Lake City and has published on Book of Mormon chiasmus and Book of Mormon geography in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.