The Portrayal of Mormonism Criticism: Early Mormon Literature - Essay

Robert E. Nichols, Jr. (essay date 1969)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Beowulf and Nephi: A Literary View of the Book of Mormon,” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 4, No. 3, Autumn, 1969, pp. 40-47.

[In the following essay, Nichols focuses on the challenges faced by literary scholars of The Book of Mormon. The critic discusses the problems associated with evaluating the accuracy of the translation—emphasizing the lack of any source material—but also points out the value in studying the book's several complex personalities.]


In all the wide world, past and present, there is no greater body of literature than that which we call English. And in all the annals of English...

(The entire section is 4088 words.)

G. St. John Stott (essay date 1986)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Seer Stone Controversy: Writing The Book of Mormon,” in Mosaic, Vol. 19, No. 3, Summer, 1986, pp. 35-53.

[In the following essay, St. John Stott explains why—regardless of whether The Book of Mormon was a product of Smith's own imagination or not—it is perfectly understandable that Smith would claim that the words were indeed God's own.]

In June 1829 Joseph Smith, Jr. presented himself at the office of Richard Lansing (the clerk of the Northern District of New York) to register the title of the Book of Mormon and secure copyright for the work.1 He did so as the book's “author and proprietor,” even though the...

(The entire section is 10086 words.)

David J. Whittaker (essay date 1987)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The ‘Articles of Faith’ in Early Mormon Literature and Thought,” in New Views of Mormon History: A Collection of Essays in Honor of Leonard J. Arrington, edited by Davis Bitton and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher, University of Utah Press, 1987, pp. 63-92.

[In the following essay, Whittaker provides an overview of the literature produced during the early years of Mormonism, focusing primarily on “lists of belief” generated by early writers.]

Almost anyone familiar with Joseph Smith has heard of the letter he wrote to John Wentworth, editor of the Chicago Democrat, in 1842. He was answering a specific request from Wentworth to supply Wentworth's...

(The entire section is 11940 words.)