There are 4 thoughts on “Overwriting Ether: Moroni’s Transfiguration of Jaredite Scripture”.

  1. This book looks like it is a lot of fun–getting down in the mud and wrestling with Moroni’s editorial choices.

    This line from Moroni, of course, is the key:

    Mormon 8:35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

    Moroni isn’t trying to write a history of the Jaredites, he’s holding up a mirror to the modern LDS, or as he calls us, “gentiles”.

    I would extend this line of reasoning to the other major authors; all of them are writing about us rather than writing a history of their peoples. Why don’t they just write more explicitly about us? Nephi explains: (1 Nephi 14:28) And behold, I, Nephi, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard; wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me; and I have written but a small part of the things which I saw.

    Nephi is forbidden from writing more of his vision…so that’s why Nephi turns to Isaiah. I would assert that the other major writers were similarly forbidden, and turned to repurposing the writings of others. Jacob uses Zenos, Mormon uses Nephite history, and Moroni uses Jaredite history. All of them are doing it to write about the modern gentiles.

    I think I might buy this book.

    • Hi Lemuel,
      Thanks for your insightful comments. I agree that it’s important to remember that Moroni and other Book of Mormon authors were writing for our time.
      And I also agree that you should buy Welch’s book. It’s an important exploration of the text from a perspective that you won’t find anywhere else.

  2. David, thank you, I am delighted and grateful for your insightful review of the book! It is such a gift to have one’s writing read carefully, and I thank you for this. You’ve grasped the most important points I hoped to make, and you’ve certainly found valid places to push back. I knew that my exploration of Moroni’s treatment of Jaredite scripture might provoke some objection from some careful readers. It seems I could have done more to underscore that fact that I don’t condemn Moroni personally (or his editorial project) in any sense–which would be uncharitable at best, and unfair to impose modern ethics of reading on him. In fact, the rest of chapter 3 is my defense of Moroni’s “translation” of the Jaredite record, building on the story of the tower of Babel that opens the book. In the end, I find that Moroni’s approach to the sacred word is not only justified but necessary to renew scripture for each generation.

    As for the question of the authority of scripture, I’m not sure our positions are so far apart. Like you, I certainly affirm that the ultimate authority of scripture lies in God’s blessing of grace. I suppose that if there is a difference between us, it might lie in *when* we see that blessing being fully realized. I read Moroni as suggesting that this moment occurs in the hands and heart of the reader — though that is not to take away from the inspired prophetic gifts of the writers.

    Thanks again for giving me the thrill of reading a review of my own book. And thanks for your evident devotion to the gospel and to the Book of Mormon, which we share. Cheers!

    • Hi Rosalynde,

      I apologize for the delayed response to your gracious comment. I hope that it was clear from my review that I did thoroughly enjoy reading your book. I think it would be easier to show that appreciation and also demonstrate, as you suggest, that “our positions are [not] so far apart” if we were discussing the book in person. It’s easy to find things to criticize or disagree with when you are simply reviewing someone’s writing and not debating ideas and comparing thoughts openly.

      I did find what seemed to me an abundance of criticism of Moroni’s approach to be a bit frustrating. Perhaps that was due to my love of the book and my belief that the authors were inspired prophets of God. But I can tell, from your writing, that you clearly share that love and belief. There is no doubt that Moroni and other BoM writers readily admit that they were fallible human beings whose decisions and efforts are open to criticism.

      I want to make sure I emphasize that, despite the few points that I thought I should push back on, I found the book to be beautifully written and an important contribution to the academic conversation on the Book of Mormon and, specifically, the Book of Ether. Beyond Nibley, there haven’t been many extensive attempts to look at the content, message, and editorial work that we find in Moroni’s take on Ether’s record. So, I definitely recommend that people take a look at your book and join in this important conversation. And I look forward to seeing future contributions from you to the field of Book of Mormon studies!

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