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Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, First Nephi Hardcover – December 18, 2007
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Gardner has taken the best aspects of nearly all previous commentary attempts into account, incorporating an impressive amount of former studies with his own insights as a scholar of early Mesoamerica and believer in the Book of Mormon. He sees Book of Mormon commentaries as falling in two "rough" categories of approach:
Those that concentrate on the devotional aspects of religion (and which tend to be ahistorical) and those that attempt to deal with the text in its historical context. Most LDS commentaries have been necessarily heavy on the devotional and light on the historical because there is no official geography of the Book of Mormon. I wanted to brave the wilds and use the best current description of where the Book of Mormon took place to see if that cultural background and time could increase our understanding of the events in the text.
He is quick to point out at the outset of volume one that he accepts the Book of Mormon "as a translation of an ancient text" and that he intended "to inquire into the process of Joseph Smith's translation or how the text fits into the ancient Old and New Worlds.Read more ›
The format of the book is very interesting and useful. He goes through the BofM verse by verse and has commentary after each verse or group of verses. He groups the commentary into various sub-topics or dimensions. Some verses have only one type of commentary, but others have several. Typical examples are as follows:
He usually begins with the "devotional" type of commentary as is typical of most BofM commentaries that have been published. He has some very good insights and I personally benefited greatly from these. These sections are usually unlabeled.
Culture: These sections take the verse and compare it with current scholarship's ancient Mesoamerican or circa 600 BC Israeli cultural understanding. One of Garder's purposes of this book is to show that the BofM could very well fit into the cultural milieu of Mesoamerica.
Reference: Here he usually compares BofM verses with Bible verses, and discusses the similarities and differences. I'm impressed with how he has done such a thorough job of finding so many cross-references that I hadn't seen before.
Literature: Here he discusses themes in literature that the given verse corresponds to.
Internal Reference: In this section he usually discusses other parts of the BofM that discuss the same things.Read more ›
While I do take exception with a few things here and there (for instance, I accept John Sorenson's take on the naming conventions of material culture and flora and fauna in the Book of Mormon representing loan-shifting on the behalf of the Nephite scribes and not by Joseph Smith as a translation level), Brant offers many insights into this volume of scripture, discussing historicity, literary structure, and many other pertinent elements.
For those who are interested in Book of Mormon studies, regardless of whether one accepts the text as historical (as I do) or not, this is a must-have in any Mormon library.
Brant Gardner includes the entire text of the BofM by printing a short excerpt, then giving an explanation about it. He gives information on many areas such as: Translation of the BofM, Comparison with the KJV, History/Culture of ancient Americans, Symbolism, Geography, and Apologetics.
This book is not primarily a doctrinal commentary, though it includes insights that are relevant to doctrine.
Second Witness is a wonderful book that gathers together much information that has been learned by scholars of ancient scripture.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have several books and commentaries on the Book of Mormon, and this one is by far my favorite. Very informative and well-written. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Abe S.
This is a bit pricey but after purchasing it I am convinced it was well worth the price. This is a WONDERFUL resource. Read morePublished 5 months ago by David Sorensen
It's a decent book with some interesting insights into cultural themes and ideas. It's a good place to start, and does encourage really looking at the text and uncovering some more... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Evan
Further explores the validity of the Book of Mormon. Excellent read on understanding why so many consider this a sacred book of scripture.Published 14 months ago by fun but difficult I love this app though it was very hard.
This book is really enlightening for the most part. There are places where it seems like the author overdoes it-giving far more detail than I really ever ant d to know. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Jeneen Haven
Reading this book began as an intellectual pursuit for me, but by the time I had read the first handful of chapters it had become a spiritual pursuit as well. Read morePublished on June 12, 2014 by Justin Coulson
Excellent condition and it arived on time, this will be an great read that i will value for a long timePublished on May 11, 2014 by chidogsclub
Gardner uses the best in LDS and Christian scholarship to make a commentary on the Book of Mormon. Some understanding and scriptures make for good companions to this commentary.Published on February 11, 2014 by Jeremy Tarbush
All of Gardner's book in this series are thought provoking. While I might not always agree with his analysis, I do appreciate that he gets me to thinking.Published on December 16, 2013 by "The Book Crone"