Having been a Mormon for all my life, I can say with a fair amount of confidence that this is more or less the way that most Mormons read the Book of Mormon:
Nephi has obnoxious, cartoonishly evil brothers who try to kill him all the time but God loves him more than Jesus and they always fail. They are both wicked and losers. Nephi’s only flaws are telling it like it is and being perfectly obedie–wait, those aren’t flaws, Nephi is a god whom the Holy Ghost constantly worries will replace him. God finally curses the brothers and their posterity with black skin (apparently these 6th century BC Middle Easterners were all white) but this isn’t a problem because as soon as they become righteous, they’ll get their white skin back.
Then Isaiah says a ton of stuff that’s an incoherent mess. We’ll usually skip this while confidently agreeing it’s the most important part of the Book of Mormon.
Then Ammon goes shock and awe on some sheep thieves. Limb mutilation now morally acceptable and way cool. No one steals another sheep ever again.
Then God punishes a wicked people and saves Alma and Amulek by burning women and children to death. That’ll show ’em. God’s will be done. Never mess with a prophet of God.
Big long war, proving that war is probably always the right answer. War is unfortunate, but also the best. All Nephite soldiers are the equivalent of Navy Seals and all generals have the military mind of Patton. They kick serious Lamanite ass all up and down southern Mexico/northern Guatemala.
Captain Moroni achieves peak Nephite and becomes basic masculinity template for American white boys from the Great Salt Lake region 1500 years in the future. Even so, Mormon girls experience constant disappointment that they didn’t marry a Captain Moroni.
Ignore the part where Jesus sends natural disasters to kill most of the population. Open on Jesus arriving to explain to all the Nephites how they’re still chosen but they could probably up their righteousness game. Passive aggressively point to injunction to not be contentious.
Nephites finally get the righteousness formula right and have peace for two centuries.
However, everyone dies in the end trying to keep all the commandments so they can get rich because they fail to avoid the pride cycle.
Lesson: Obey the commandments to get rich, just tone down the pride a little and you’ll stay rich.
Jacob, are you going to publish a follow-up article in which you reveal how YOU read the Book of Mormon?
Fools mock, but they shall mourn. . .
Southern Mexico and Northern Guatemala is speculation on your part.
Please, can you re-write the BM your “way”?. This is more “fun”
Jacob, I am somewhat at a loss, not having your confidence in knowing what most Mormons think. However, I can say that as a lifetime member of the Church, and being probably twice your age, I can’t come up with the name of one person who has expressed any of the above nonsensical descriptions of the Book of Mormon, not even the 16-year olds I used to teach in Sunday School. Who are you hanging out with?
You’re obviously a smart guy to be in the program you are in. Don’t think yourself out of the Church; I’ve seen it happen too often. I have a Master’s degree in Religious Studies from Boston University. I often found more support from the faculty than from the students. The former were curious, the latter dismissive. After one lecture by a guest scholar who was encouraging a new direction for scholarly understanding of the apostle Paul, I told him the direction he was advocating was pretty much the way I had received it as a Latter-day Saint. He responded with some fervor that Mormons needed to be better listened to about the Bible. I was gratified and surprised. I hope you are defending the Church at Claremont.
I especially like the part about how Mormons skip Isaiah while simultaneously claiming it to be the most important scripture.
You forgot how we read the first 2 verses of Jacob 5 and then skip it knowing in our hearts that if we ever need to grow olives, we have a perfect guide.