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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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Turning to the Lord With the Whole Heart: The Doctrine of Repentance in the Bible and the Book of Mormon

Abstract: Repentance is considered one of the foundational principles of the gospel. As demonstrated in this article, there is a harmony in how repentance is portrayed in the Old Testament, New Testament, and Book of Mormon. In all three books the principle of repentance is shown to be a two-part process of turning away from sin and returning to the Lord through good works. Just as faith has been called “active belief,” repentance could be called “active remorse,” and must be accompanied by good works to be effective in our lives. The goal and end result of sincere repentance is a turning to the Lord with the whole heart, enabling us to return to the presence of God. Continue reading

Reading 1 Peter Intertextually With Select Passages From the Old Testament

Abstract: Literary studies, especially intertextual approaches, are relevant for exploring how scriptures are constructed and interpreted. Reading 1 Peter intertextually reveals the thoughtful way that Peter selected suitable, relevant, and applicable Old Testament scripture to encourage faithfulness for his audience. Peter draws from Isaiah 40 in 1 Peter 1:24-25 to preach comfort; Isaiah 40 is one of the hallmark Old Testament chapters focused on comfort. 1 Peter 2:2-3 quotes from Psalm 34 which is a hymn dedicated to the salvation that God’s servants experience when they faithfully turn to Him during times of distress and persecution. And when 1 Peter 1:16 invites people to be holy, that call is grounded in the meaning and significance of a portion of the ancient Israelite Holiness Code, Leviticus 19. In summary, Peter demonstrates his scriptural mastery by dipping his pen into some of the most appropriate Old Testament passages available to support his message of faith and encouragement to his audience. Continue reading

Now That We Have the Words of Joseph Smith, How Shall We Begin to Understand Them? Illustrations of Selected Challenges within the 21 May 1843 Discourse on 2 Peter 1

Abstract: In this article, I explore some of the opportunities and challenges that lie before us as we try to reach a better understanding of the prophetic corpus that has come to us from Joseph Smith. I turn my attention to a specific instance of these opportunities and challenges: the 21 May 1843 discourse on the doctrine of election, which Joseph Smith discussed in conjunction with the “more sure word of prophecy” mentioned in 2 Peter 1:19. Continue reading

The Scalp of Your Head: Polysemy in Alma 44:14–18

Abstract: The fear that Moroni’s soldier’s speech (Alma 44:14) aroused in the Lamanite soldiers and the intensity of Zerahemnah’s subsequently redoubled anger are best explained by the polysemy (i.e., multiple meanings within a lexeme’s range of meaning) of a single word translated “chief” in Alma 44:14 and “heads” in Alma 44:18. As editor of a sacred history, Mormon was interested in showing the fulfilment of prophecy when such fulfilment occurred. Mormon’s description of the Lamanites “fall[ing] exceedingly fast” because of the exposure of the Lamanites’ “bare heads” to the Nephites’ swords and their being “smitten” in Alma 44:18 — just as “the scalp of their chief” was smitten and thus fell (Alma 44:12–14) — pointedly demonstrates the fulfilment of the soldier’s prophecy. In particular, the phrase “bare heads” constitutes a polysemic wordplay on “chief,” since words translated “head” can alternatively be translated “chief,” as in Alma 44:14. A similar wordplay on “top” and “leader” in 3 Nephi 4:28–29, probably again represented by a single word, also partly explains the force of the simile curse described there. Continue reading

“Idle and Slothful Strange Stories”: Book of Mormon Origins and the Historical Record

Abstract: From the very beginning, Joseph’s story about the origins of the Book of Mormon seemed wild and unbelievable. Today, however, Joseph’s account enjoys a high degree of corroboration from (1) eyewitness accounts confirming Joseph’s possession of actual metal plates and other artifacts, with some even corroborating the involvement of an angel in providing access to the record; (2) eyewitness reports on the process of producing the text; and (3) evidence from the original manuscript. This evidence is reviewed here, and the implications it has for the Book of Mormon’s origin are considered. Continue reading