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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Understanding Nephi with the Help of Noah Webster

Abstract: Dictionaries, especially Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, can be useful and informative resources to help us better understand the language of the Book of Mormon. This article compares definitions of words and phrases found in the book of 1 Nephi, using Webster’s 1828 dictionary and the New Oxford American Dictionary as references. By comparing these two dictionaries, we can see how word usage and meanings have changed since the original publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830. We can also gain a greater appreciation of the text of the Book of Mormon in a way that its first readers probably understood it. Continue reading

“War of Words and Tumult of Opinions”: The Battle for Joseph Smith’s Words in Book of Mormon Geography

Review of John L. Lund. Joseph Smith and the Geography of the Book of Mormon. The Communications Company, 2012. 209 pp. + xviii, including index.

In the midst of this war of words and tumult of opinions, I often said to myself: What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together? If any one of them be right, which is it, and how shall I know it?

–Joseph Smith Jr.1

Over the years, a plethora of theories have been advanced regarding the geography of the Book of Mormon.2 No doubt that many Latter-day Saints who have inquired on the subject have felt much like the young Joseph Smith: caught between a “war of words and tumult of opinions,” he or she wonders “What is to be done? Who of all these parties are right; or, are they all wrong together?” And how is one to know; how does one go about trying to judge between the competing views? Continue reading

Getting into the Meat of the Word of Wisdom

Abstract: In verse 13 of the Word of Wisdom, the Lord tells us, “it is pleasing unto me that they [flesh of beasts and fowls of the air] should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine” (D&C 89:13). Judging from the variety of interpretations this single verse has inspired, it would appear to be deeply enigmatic. Interestingly, most interpretations have been put forward with little supporting evidence. This article is the first comprehensive analysis of the diverse explanations for D&C 89:13 that have been suggested since 1833. In this article, I attempt to analyze these various interpretations in light of the available evidence. Continue reading

Reading the Scriptures Geographically: Some Tools and Insights

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to provide several examples of how meaning, understanding, and interpretation of scriptures may be enhanced when scriptures are read in their geographical context.  Many scholarly articles seek exclusively to break new ground in meaning and meaning-making, to essentially produce new knowledge.  This article hopes to break new ground both in terms of new knowledge (insights) as well as in the pragmatics of giving readers additional tools and opportunities for exploring the scriptures in fresh ways.  In particular, this article will also highlight several free geographical tools that can improve one’s learning with the scriptures, with particular focus on Google Earth and the BYU scriptures.byu.edu/mapscrip tool (hereafter referred to as Google Earth Bible or GEB).  The hope is that this article will, through the tools discussed, create opportunities for others to create new knowledge for themselves through scripture study. Continue reading

Some Notes on Faith and Reason

Philosophers and theologians, believers and unbelievers, friends to faith and enemies, scientists, historians — these and many others have devoted a very great deal of time and attention for centuries to the relationship between faith and reason.

There is little if any general consensus on the matter, and I have no intention, in just a few pages here, of trying to settle things. I’m inclined, though, to share a few thoughts on the topic from my Latter-day Saint perspective. Continue reading