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Printed JournalWelcome to Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, a nonprofit, independent, peer-reviewed educational journal focused on the scriptures of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its publications are available free of charge, with our goal to increase understanding of scripture. Our latest papers can be found below.

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Where in Cincinnati Was the Third Edition of the Book of Mormon Printed?

Abstract: The third edition of the Book of Mormon was stereotyped and printed in Cincinnati in 1840. The story of the Church’s printer, Ebenezer Robinson, accomplishing this mission has been available since 1883. What has remained a mystery is exactly where in Cincinnati this event took place; there is no plaque marking the spot, no walking tour pamphlet, no previous images, and its history contains conflicting documentation. This article will attempt to untangle the mystery by using old descriptions, maps of the area, and images. I also honor the printer, Edwin Shepard, whose metal and ink made this edition a reality. Continue reading

Whoso Forbiddeth to Abstain from Meats

Abstract: The double negative phrase “forbiddeth to abstain” as found in D&C 49:18 can be confusing and syntactically challenging for readers. While some have argued that the phrase should be read and understood literally, the Doctrine and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints indicates that a literal reading is not correct. In this article I demonstrate that the phrase “forbid to abstain” was an accepted English idiom prior to and for a few decades following the receipt of D&C 49, even though it has vanished from contemporary usage completely. The meaning of this idiomatic expression was “command to abstain,” in opposition to its literal meaning. The probable origin of this expression is the Greek text of 1 Timothy 4:3, which in English partially reads “commanding to abstain from meats.” However, in Greek the phrase “commanding to abstain” would be rendered more correctly as “forbidding to abstain.” I conclude that the proper reading of “forbiddeth to abstain” in D&C 49:18 is the idiomatic rather than the literal one and that it should be understood as “commandeth to abstain.” Continue reading

Who Was Sherem?

Abstract: The Book of Mormon’s first anti-Christ, Sherem, “came among” the Nephites before their first generation was ended. Because he was an eloquent believer in the Law of Moses, there has been a variety of surmise as to his background. Was he a Lamanite, or a Jaredite or Mulekite trader? Was his presence among the separated Nephites evidence of early interaction between the Nephites and other civilisations in Nephite lands from the time of their first arrival? This short article reviews the various suggestions about Sherem’s identity and suggests he was most likely a descendant of the original Lehite party but that his identity was purposely suppressed so as not to give him more credibility than he deserved. Continue reading

An Exhortation to Study God’s Two “Books”

From the birth of modern science at the end of the sixteenth century, Galileo famously believed that God had written two books — the scriptures and the Book of Nature. The scriptures, he contended, should be interpreted by scholars and theologians, whereas the Book of Nature was the province of scientists: Continue reading

What Command Syntax Tells Us About Book of Mormon Authorship

Abstract: The variety of command syntax found in the Book of Mormon is very different from what is seen in the King James Bible. Yet it is sophisticated and principled, evincing Early Modern English linguistic competence. Interestingly, the syntactic match between the 1829 text and a prominent text from the late 15th century is surprisingly good. All the evidence indicates that Joseph Smith would not have produced the structures found in the text using the King James Bible as a model, nor from his own language. The overall usage profile of command syntax seen in the Book of Mormon strongly supports the view that the Lord revealed specific words to Joseph Smith, not simply ideas. Continue reading