It’s a classic!

POSTED BY: holzapfel


Book of Mormon

Book of Mormon

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines a classic as “having lasting significance or worth; enduring” or “a work recognized as definitive in its field.” Until the second half of the twentieth century, anyone interested in building a library of classic books from the past would expect to find them in expensive bookstores. Such books were usually bought by academics, book collectors, or wealthy individuals who could afford not only leather-bound books but also a library to house them.

In 1946, the owner of Penguin Books, Allen Lane, decided to release the first book in a new series, “Penguin Classics.” Translated by E. V. Rieu, the book was truly a classic, Homer’s Odyssey. The series produced modern translations of the classics in paperback editions, making them affordable and readable for a new generation of people. Over the years more than 1,300 titles have become part of the now world-famous series.

The most recent addition to the Penguin Classics series is The Book of Mormon (New York: Penguin Books, 2008), with an introduction by Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, a well-known academic observer of Mormonism and associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Penguin Books chose to republish the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon because it “was the last of three revision undertaken by Joseph Smith Jr. . . . before his death in 1844” (vii). This reader-friendly edition replicates the 1840 edition, which had no verses, few chapter divisions, and none of the student helps in modern editions, such as footnotes and chapter summaries. As I began reading it today, I felt like one of the early Saints who read the book in full-page narrative style, which provided a different kind of experience.

Since 1830, the story of the book’s origins, the historical and cultural context of the narrative itself, and the book’s message have become part of a large and rather sophisticated discussion at all levels. Scholars–both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and those of other faith traditions–have read it, studied, and written about it.

The BYU Religious Studies Center, established in 1975 by Jeffrey R. Holland, has been involved in that discussion, sponsoring conferences and publishing articles and books on the Book of Mormon that have helped many appreciate in new ways this “marvelous work and a wonder.” I hope you will join us in a journey of discovery as we continue to fulfill Elder Holland’s vision, which he recalled in 1986, “When the Religious Studies Center was established at Brigham Young University in 1975, it was intended to facilitate not only the University’s commitment to religious studies but was also to serve those same interests among the general membership of the Church.”


  1. Wow! I am very excited to read what are sure to be some excellent posts on this blog.

    Comment by Steve Smoot — October 21, 2008 @ 5:05 pm

  2. Congratulations Richard on your new blog page! Kudos to Penguin Classics for publishing The Book of Mormon. This will provide an opportunity for many to read about the ancient American prophets testifying of Jesus Christ. These prophets also saw our day and knew of our doing. The Book of Mormon was written for us in these modern times and reveals events, calamities and triumphs that will occur before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Again,thank you Penguin Classics for publishing The Book of Mormon.

    Comment by Kelly Bridenstine — October 21, 2008 @ 10:59 pm

  3. Hi Richard

    thanks for letting me know about 1. your blog and 2. the Penguin BoM. I’m really pleased they’ve included this in their Classics series. Long overdue.
    Look forward to seeing further content on your blog.
    I hope you are all well. My best regards to you.
    Peter Fagg

    Comment by Peter Fagg — October 22, 2008 @ 4:43 am

  4. I’m pleased to see that the Penguin edition lists Joseph as “translator” rather than “author.” Do you know if there was any discussion about that among the editors? As I understand it, the Book of Mormon is in the public domain, so the church wouldn’t have any control of the edition. Do you happen to know if the church was involved in this publication as they were with the Doubleday edition (2004)?

    Comment by Gary Hatch — October 22, 2008 @ 6:51 am

  5. Can’t wait to read some great stuff here!

    Comment by Brigham Taylor — October 24, 2008 @ 10:47 am

  6. I look forward to checking your blog.

    Comment by BHodges — October 27, 2008 @ 2:59 pm

  7. As a follow-up to the comment left by Gary it would be interesting to know how the book sells and how the double day edition has been accepted in the marketplace.

    Comment by Steve Gottfredson — October 27, 2008 @ 10:26 pm

  8. Very excited to read


    Comment by Raja — November 22, 2008 @ 9:45 pm

  9. Yes! The Book of Mormon is a classic, and I am glad to see that it is receiving the recognition that it deserves (although I believe it deserves far more than ever this). Oh, The Book of Mormon brings such joy to my life!!

    Comment by Laurel Cummins — December 7, 2008 @ 11:46 pm

  10. Whether at a lectern or pulpit; whether in published or unpublished writings; whether on tour in Israel or at Church history sites; whether in friendly discussions — you continue to edify, enlighten and enrich our lives. Thank you for sharing your recent contributions through your blog at the RSC website.

    Comment by VICTOR WALCH — January 1, 2009 @ 2:08 pm

  11. It is fascinating to see the spread of The Book of Mormon as it continues to become recognized around the world. I hope that this new form of The Book of Mormon will allow it to be more accessible as people search for quality books to read. This is an exciting time to be a member of the church!

    Comment by Scott Johns — January 8, 2009 @ 6:17 pm

  12. Its excellent and correct that this issue shows that the translator is Joseph and not listed as the author. I’m a stickler for detail there.

    Comment by peoplefinder — January 17, 2009 @ 12:17 pm

  13. I am glad to see the book or mormon to receive the recognition it deserves. Keep up the good work guys.
    .edu backlink

    Comment by Oscar — January 24, 2009 @ 11:14 pm

  14. very good

    Comment by jeims — February 5, 2009 @ 6:18 am

  15. Very beautiful site we got here – sincerely, phim online.

    Comment by phim online — February 7, 2009 @ 12:05 am

  16. I had no idea that that the Book of Morman was being republished.

    Thanks for the info.

    Jesse James

    Comment by Jesse James — February 21, 2009 @ 12:24 am

  17. Superb site and what a classic – recommended!


    Comment by sarah — February 24, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

  18. This appears to be one of the most comprehensive sites on LDS material and other secular texts that I’ve seen. Great compilation!

    Comment by Susan — March 20, 2009 @ 9:21 am

  19. thanx for documentt

    Comment by aöf — April 9, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

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