Book of Mormon

Week 2: Historicity, geography, and textual transmission of the Book of Mormon

12 September 2019


Notes and lesson materials will be posted after the class has been held.

PDF icon

Lesson 2 notes

PPSX icon

Lesson 2 slideshow (on‑screen version)

PDF icon

Lesson 2 slideshow (printable version)

Additional reading and links

On Book of Mormon historicity:

  • Dallin H. Oaks, “The Historicity of the Book of Mormon,” in Historicity and the Latter-day Saint Scriptures, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2001), 237–38. Elder Oaks’ 1993 talk was one of eleven essays in that book that argued for the historicity of the Book of Mormon and other Latter-day Saint scripture.
  • Stephen Smoot, “Et Incarnatus Est: The Imperative for Book of Mormon Historicity,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 30 (2018): 125-162. Some Latter-day Saints insist that the Book of Mormon should be read as “inspired fiction” written by Joseph Smith instead of as an authentic ancient text. In this paper, Stephen Smooth rejects this proposition as “not only logically incoherent but also theologically impotent.”

On Book of Mormon geography and demography:

  • John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1990, rev. 1992). BYU Professor Sorenson’s book cataloged all the Book of Mormon geographical models (up to that date), and also sets for the requirements in the Book of Mormon itself for constructing a geography of book.
  • John L. Sorenson, “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?”, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 1, no. 1 (Fall 1992): 1–34. Professor Sorenson reviews the evidence from the Book of Mormon that the Americas were already populated when Lehi₁’s family arrived, and that the Book of Mormon peoples coexisted among other groups.
  • Book of Mormon and DNA Studies,” Gospel Topics Essays. This article on the Church’s website discusses how to reconcile modern DNA evidence with the Book of Mormon’s claim that Israelites came to the Americas 2,600 years ago.
  • James E. Smith, “How Many Nephites? The Book of Mormon at the Bar of Demography,” in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, ed. Noel. B. Reynolds (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1997), 255–93.

On the textual transmission of the Book of Mormon:

  • Royal Skousen, “The Systematic Text of the Book of Mormon,” in Uncovering the Original Text of the Book of Mormon: History and Findings of the Critical Text Project (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002). BYU Professor Skousen reviews his suggested corrections to the text of the Book of Mormon, based on the findings of his multi-decade research project.
  • Royal Skousen, “Some Textual Changes for a Scholarly Study of the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies 51, no. 4 (2012): 99–117. This article presents thirty of the most significant changes Skousen recommends to the Book of Mormon text.
  • Book of Mormon Translation,” Gospel Topics Essays. This article on the Church’s website discusses how the Book of Mormon was translated, including Joseph Smith’s use of a seer stone in a hat to reveal the inspired text.


  • Where in the Americas did the events of the Book of Mormon take place? Were the Nephites and Lamanites spread throughout both North and South America or confined to a more limited area? Where did Lehi₁’s ship land? Where were the cities of Zarahemla and Bountiful, the narrow neck of land, and the hill Cumorah? And have any of these questions been answered by revelation? Book of Mormon Central examines these questions in KnoWhy #431.
  • In a video from the Church History Department, Mason Allred and Mark Ashurst-McGee discuss the various historical accounts of the translation of the Book of Mormon, including accounts of Joseph Smith using a seer stone to translate.