- Written by Orson Scott Card
But I do think it is important for us to look at this book, not just as wisdom literature, but also as a genuine artifact from another time. Those of us who already believe it must study this book as the product of a culture, as the product of the minds and hearts of the individual writers. When we do that, we will much better understand what it's for and what it means.
That's part of what I'm trying to do in my Homecoming books, examine the Book of Mormon, not as a scholar because I'm not one, but as somebody whose business is making assumptions about the hearts and minds of individual human beings, and telling stories about them that try to be as honest as possible. There are thousands of other ways to approach this book, of obtaining important, useful information from it, and I hope we'll use those ways, because if we treat it, as many Mormons do, as nothing more than a source of proof texts, we are missing the point and cheating ourselves of most of the value of this great work of scripture.
Joseph Smith didn't write the Book of Mormon, though he did translate it, so that his voice is present when we read, including the flaws in his language and understanding. Those who wrote the original were also fallible human beings who will reveal their culture and their assumptions just as surely as the writers of I Love Lucy did. But unlike the writers of that TV show, the prophets wrote and translated under the direction of the Lord, out of love for us. It's well worth finding out who these men were, the culture from which they wrote, how it's different from ours, and how it's also very much the same.
Adapted from a speech given at the BYU Symposium on Life, the Universe, and Everything. February 1993. Copyright © 1993 Orson Scott Card.