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Patrick Mason, “The Book of Mormon”

REL 365, Claremont Graduate University 2019

Course Description

With over 150 million copies printed since it first appeared in 1830, and with the runaway success of the eponymous Broadway musical, the Book of Mormon is arguably the most successful book of scripture to have its origins in the modern West.  Yet until quite recently the book has been largely ignored or dismissed by scholars.

Designed for students with any level of previous familiarity with the book (ranging from considerable to none), this course will introduce students to the Book of Mormon’s origins, content, reception history, and influence.  In so doing, we will consider a number of broader themes, including the possibilities and limits of historical and religious studies methodologies; the influence of historical context and reading practices on the formation and maintenance of a scriptural community; scripture as literature (or literature as scripture); and the way that scripture produces gendered, racial, and ethical formations.


Students in this course will gain a sophisticated understanding of the origins and content of the Book of Mormon; will investigate the relationship between a text and its reception; will consider the processes and implications of scripturalization; and will develop critical reading, writing, and speaking skills by participating in seminar, working in small groups, and producing and presenting their own original research.


The gold plates and history; Religious studies approaches; Reading the Book of Mormon; The Book of Mormon in American literature and history; Race; Book of Mormon Studies as an emergent field; Gender; War and Peace


  • Grant Hardy, ed., The Book of Mormon: Maxwell Institute Study Edition (Maxwell Institute, 2019)
  • Terryl Givens, The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2009)
  • Terryl Givens, By the Hand of Mormon: The American Scripture that Launched a New World Religion (Oxford University Press, 2002)
  • John Christopher Thomas, A Pentecostal Reads the Book of Mormon: A Literary and Theological Introduction (CPT Press, 2016)
  • Journal of Book of Mormon Studies vol. 27 (2018)