One: Recapitulation and Roadmap
We’re collectively on the brink of realizing that the Book of Mormon is a temple book. Plain and Precious Things set out a paradigm for studying the Book of Mormon as temple literature, which is to say an overarching idea that the Book of Mormon was written by temple worshippers for temple worshippers, in the imagery of the temple, and teaching temple doctrines. Without seeing the temple in it, we can’t fully understand the Book of Mormon. Think of the paradigm as a map that needs testing and more detail. We pick up the trail in Matthew 6.
Earlier this year, I published a short book about the Book of Mormon, called Plain and Precious Things: The Temple Religion of the Book of Mormon’s Visionary Men. This essay, The Goodness and the Mysteries, is the follow-up to that earlier work. If you haven’t already done so, go read Plain and Precious Things first. It will be hard to understand anything that follows without taking that step. Also, and I know it’s blowing my own horn, but I think Plain and Precious Things is a revolutionary book.
The Revolution Is Now
I’ll soften the harshness of my trumpet: I’m not unique in seeing that the Book of Mormon has temple connections. The ground is shifting under our feet as I write, and more and more people are spotting those links. Here are a few of the initial tremors of the temple earthquake that I think is about to hit us.
Just recently (I’m writing in Fall 2012), the new periodical Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture launched with an article by David E. Bokovoy arguing that the exchange between Nephi and the Spirit of the Lord in 1 Nephi 11 “follows an ancient configuration reflected in Israelite ritual performances”—in other words, it’s a temple text.
In early 2013, Greg Kofford Books plans to publish Don Bradley’s work on the lost 116 pages. As Bradley explained at the 2012 conference of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, analysis of the existing text of the Book of Mormon together with nineteenth century accounts of what was contained in the 116 pages indicates rich veins of temple content.