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An Insider's View of Mormon Origins Paperback – November 15, 2002

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An Insider's View of Mormon Origins + No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith + Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Signature Books; First Edition edition (November 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1560851570
  • ISBN-13: 978-1560851578
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,670 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


This book will be a good addition to your library. -- Association for Mormon Letters, Jeffery Needle

About the Author

 Grant H. Palmer (M.A., American history, Brigham Young University) is a three-time director of LDS Institutes of Religion in California and Utah, a former instructor at the Church College of New Zealand, and an LDS seminary teacher at two Utah locations. He has been active in the Mormon History Association and on the board of directors of the Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association. He is the author of An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins and The Incomparable Jesus. Now retired, his hobby is pigeon fancying. He has four children and eight grandchildren. He and his wife live in Sandy, Utah.

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Customer Reviews

This excellent book is extremely well documented and easy to read.
This was one of the first books I read when I began my study of the origins of Mormon church history and found it fascinating.
The critics of Palmer's book within the Mormon church have not admitted the strength of the historical evidence.
Merlin Douglas Larsen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

573 of 656 people found the following review helpful By Kent Ponder on November 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
The author of this exceptionally clear & thoroughly documented book is an active, fourth-generation Mormon, a 34-year professional historian and Mormon-studies director at college-level religious institutes.
From the Preface: "I, along with colleagues, and drawing from years of research, find the evidence employed to support many traditional [official Mormon] claims about the [Mormon] church to be either nonexistent or problematic."
Chap. 1 ("Joseph Smith as Translator/Revelator") concludes that Jos. Smith "mistranslated a number of documents" including the Book of Abraham, used the King James Bible extensively in constructing the Book of Mormon, also weaving in many 19th century concerns, and that the Book of Mormon is of "no value in trying to learn more about ancient America or the Middle East."
Chap. 2 ("Authorship of the Book of Mormon") concludes that the Book of Mormon is most likely a 19th-century production pieced together from sources demonstrated to be available to Smith, and therefore not a translation from ancient metal plates which, in any case, were not used and often not even present during dictation to scribes, done by looking not at plates but into a hat with a stone placed in it, often separated from his scribe by a blanket hung between them. This chapter also mentions DNA evidence demonstrating that the origin of Native Americans is not as claimed in the Book of Mormon.
Chap. 3 ("The Bible in the Book of Mormon") demonstrates the King James Bible as source for numerous reworked Book of Mormon stories, many anachronisms and King James translators' errors copied in this erroneous form into the Book of Mormon. Quote: "Why would God reveal to Joseph Smith a faulty [mistranslated] KJV text?
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203 of 242 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
Having just finished reading "An Insider's View of Mormon Origins" by Grant H. Palmer, all I can say is, Wow! This is an incredible book. One I, and many other hopeful Mormons, have been waiting a long time for. Palmer is a 34 year veteran of the Church Educational System and is a practicing member of the Mormon church. This is no expose' but he admittedly deals openly and frankly with his topic. "I feel good that I do not cloak the issues in ambiguities...qualifiers and disclaimers", he writes. He is obviously concerned about the way the church is presenting its history. The book is basically an attempt, and a call, to be honest and open with this history.
"An Insider's View..." is a survey of the last thirty+ years of research done by Mormon scholars. All the big hitters are referenced: Anderson, Quinn, Jesse, Hill, Van Wagoner, Allen, Murphy, Vogel, Anderson, Bushman, (I could go on). The book is very readable, unlike some previous (informative, but overwhelming) works on Mormonism. This book could (and perhaps should) be the lesson manual for the "real" church history course in Sunday School, Seminary and Institute.
I've encountered bit's and pieces of the information presented in Palmers book in various publications and documents, but Palmer brings it all together in a single book and presents additional new information to tie things together in an understandable and interesting way. To quote Palmer, this history, "rings true".
This is the first book on Mormon history that I've felt I could give to fellow Mormon family or friends (or leave laying around the house for that matter) to help them understand what went on during the founding years of the church.
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346 of 423 people found the following review helpful By Truthseeker on February 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
I'm an active LDS (Mormon) church-goer and I have found Grant Palmer's book to be simply the best LDS book that talks about problems with church history. I could not put it down and several others I told about the book have bought it as well. The first chapter on translation is the best. Very good source documentation as well.
Although much of what he says is not new, he says it in a very nice, diplomatic way. He does not offend when he states the facts. His career of service to the church in their education system and the fact that he is still a member gives him enormous credibility
He also reaches a very interesting conclusion. I found myself dying to know how he ends the book. He is still an active member and was not excommunicated (at least not yet). I completely agree with his conclusions.
I highly recommed this book to current, active members who wish to learn about the actual history of the church and not just the sugar-coated versions you get in Sunday School.
Perhaps if everyone in the LDS Church were aware of the issues with our history that Grant Palmer talks about, the leadership would be forced to address them and publicly acknowledge the errors of the past so we can save this church and move on. The RLDS Church has already done this. Are we next? Go Grant go. Please write a sequel.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Zeldock on September 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"An Insider's View of Mormon Origins" is a sober, scholarly work written by a Mormon for Mormons. Since I'm not myself a Mormon, I hesitate to stick my nose into something that doesn't concern me. How faithful Mormons react to the research presented here is none of my business. I offer this review for other non-Mormons who may be interested in this book and its topic.

"Insider's View" caught my attention because I had recently read the Book of Mormon and wanted to learn more about how it came to be written. I wanted to read something up-to-date and well sourced, written from a stance that was neither defensive nor hostile.

I think "Insider's View" meets that standard. In a measured, non-sensational, almost dry presentation, Grant Palmer surveys the research done over the past decades into a variety of issues that touch on the origins of the Book of Mormon and the founding of the LDS church. The topics he examines include apparent influences of the King James Bible and the Second Great Awakening on the content of the Book of Mormon, the worldview shared by Joseph Smith and the witnesses to the golden plates, and the ways in which Joseph's explanation of his call changed over time. Palmer generally lets the research speak for itself, rarely telling us what conclusions he has taken away from it. I appreciated that, because I wanted data more than analysis.

Several reviewers have taken issue with Palmer's statement, in his preface, that his goal is to increase faith, not diminish it. To understand what he means, one must read the book's conclusion, where he explains his hope that the church will (continue to) become more Christ-centered and less focused on Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.

Finally, I want to note that this book is beautifully designed and printed.
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