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Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion (Religion in America) Paperback – February 27, 1997

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Editorial Reviews


"It would be difficult to think of a better book for non-Mormons to read on Mormonism than Barlow's. He places Mormonism in a comparative context as few others have."--Religious Studies Review

"A model of what other cultural studies of scripture might be....Goes well beyond existing literature in both its breadth of research into actual Mormon practice and its subtlety of interpretation about the place of Mormon scripturism in American cultural life....The book, in sum, is a treasure."--Modern Theology

"Gives non-Mormons a scholarly and incisively written look at the tradition Joseph Smith set in motion. Further, it creates for Latter-day Saint readers an opportunity for enlightened and enlightening self-analysis."--Journal of Mormon History

"One of the most interesting books I have read on Mormonism in recent years....This is a persuasive and well-written book that offers a fresh approach to understanding the saints within a larger context of American religion."--American Historical Review

"An important seminal work, among the five or six most significant works examining Mormonism's rich and varied past to appear over the course of the past 20 years. As such, it is highly recommended as essential reading for all students of Mormon studies and the American West generally."--Journal of the West

"As both a former employee of the LDS church's religious educational system and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Barlow brings a sure-footed competence to his discussion of Mormonism, Biblical studies, and religion in America generally."--Pacific Historical Review

"There can be no question that as a work of Mormon intellectual history this is a seminal--and eminently readable--work....Mormons and the Bible has all the markings of a Mormon classic."--Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought

"Mormons and the Bible is one of the most stimulating books to come on the Mormon market for years--stimulating because it presents a fresh, delightful new path through the rut-worn field of Mormon history and doctrine. Disarmingly simple in its major thesis, yet profound in its insights and scholarly to the core, it is effortlessly readable."--Sunstone

About the Author

Philip L. Barlow is Associate Professor of Theological Studies at Hanover College.


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Product Details

  • Series: Religion in America
  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (February 27, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195109716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195109719
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,787,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
The Mormon view of the Bible is often misunderstood both in and out of the LDS church, which in contrast to Protestant Christianity professes additional books of scripture as well as reverencing the Old and New Testaments.
Dr. Barlow traces the origins and historical development of Mormon attitudes towards the Bible by focusing on a number of leaders and lay members who have influenced Mormon attitudes, often with surprising diversity. Additionally, he also deals with some of the 'outside' vectors, particular american conservative protestant scholars who have helped to shape the views of particular LDS church leaders.
Barlow organizes his thesis well and writes with an uncommon fluidity. His focus on specific individuals representing different attitudes in the church is particular effective. Due to the narrow subject matter, Barlow is necessarily abrupt on some interesting lines of thought. He does however provide a large bibliography and adequate references. The effect though is not an impression that the work is incomplete, but rather that the reader should consider following some of the paths he points out, to see where they lead. I would have like to have seen more references to conservative protestant works to provide more insight into the tantalizing Protestant influences in Mormon thought.
While there have been a number of articles in various Mormon journals on aspects of Mormon's attitudes towards the Bible, particularly the church's attachment to the Authorized, or King James Version, Barlow has, in my opinion, created the definitive work on the subject, at least to date. I would recommend the book to any serious student of Mormonism as a "must-read".
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Missing in Action on July 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent book. Period. Philip Barlow uses the life and teachings of several prominent Church leaders to demonstrate the evolution of biblical thinking in the Mormon Church, and raises some important spectres along the way. Most significant to me was the powerful influence that the ultra-conservative Bruce R. McConkie has had on the contemporary LDS understanding of the bible. His personal bias toward the "literal bible" has been incorporated in both his "Mormon Doctrine" (considered by most faithful members to be THE LAST WORD on all doctrinal points), as well as his subtle influence in the brief synopsis at the first of each chapter in the most recent correlated Old and New Testaments used by the LDS church. Contrast that with the "open canon" of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, and you have a case for bonafide doctrinal evolution in the Mormon Church. Barlow points out that it is was the very ability of Joseph Smith to question the bible in the first place that led him to found a new religion.
This books gets the highest recommendation I could possibly give to anyone genuinely interested in understanding the genesis and growth of Mormon thought. Barlow writes about complex things in a manner that is easily consumed by the lay reader, without sacrificing scholarship. This is an excellent book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on June 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of the best books about Mormonism to appear in the last 20 or so years. Its real subject is not just the way LDS people regard the Bible, but the way the Mormons look at truth and the world. Non-Mormons should be fascinated by the LDS concept of an "open (scriptural) canon." The quiet arguments within the LDS church about how doctrine is revealed can shed illuminating light on the "culture wars" of the larger American ethos.
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