“Mormon and Moroni’s Rhetoric”

“Mormon and Moroni’s Rhetoric” May 10, 2024


The new Rome Italy Temple
The Rome Italy Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(Image from LDS Media Library)

Fair warning, so that you can avoid these places on the dates indicated below.  In company with others, I will be speaking in the following locations during the first half of June:

Tonight, though, I’ll be in Provo, Utah, at a 7 PM event honoring George L. Mitton.  You are also invited to it.  But remember and beware:  I’ll be there, too.

s,.dmfamfa,fma,f Richmond VA Temple
The Richmond Virginia Temple, located in the city’s western suburbs, was dedicated almost exactly a year ago.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

As critics long ago predicted, the website of the Interpreter Foundation continues to slumber.  To illustrate its unchanging hibernation, I share three new items that have recently appeared on it:

“Mormon and Moroni’s Rhetoric: Reflections Inspired by Grant Hardy’s Understanding the Book of Mormon,” written by Val Larsen

Abstract: Grant Hardy has shown that Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni have distinctive personalities, rhetorical strategies, implied readers, and thematic concerns. Mormon lived within history and wrote as a historian. He focused on the particulars of time and place and person, on political and military matters. But, Hardy says, Mormon lacked audience awareness. I argue Mormon’s historiography was well adapted to the needs of his initial envisioned audience, the Alma family. Moroni, who lived most of his life outside of history, wrote intertextually, in dialog with voices speaking from the dust. And he wrote as a theologian especially attuned to the tragedy of human existence without God. Unlike his father, Moroni was a reluctant and, initially, untrained writer. His initial lack of confidence and competence and his growth as a writer and as a person are apparent in the five different endings for the Book of Mormon that he successively inscribed over the course of his life. Moroni’s ultimate model as he so effectively closed the large-plates record was Amaleki, last author of the small plates. This article critiques Hardy’s assessment of Mormon’s and extends his account of Moroni’s rhetorical effectiveness.

“Interpreting Interpreter: Mormon and Moroni’s Rhetoric,” written by Kyler Rasmussen

This post is a summary of the article “Mormon and Moroni’s Rhetoric: Reflections Inspired by Grant Hardy’s Understanding the Book of Mormon” by Val Larsen in Volume 61 of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship. All of the Interpreting Interpreter articles may be seen at https://interpreterfoundation.org/category/summaries/. An introduction to the Interpreting Interpreter series is available at https://interpreterfoundation.org/interpreting-interpreter-on-abstracting-thought/.

The Takeaway: Larsen critiques and extends the literary profile of Mormon and Moroni offered by Grant Hardy, suggesting that, like other Alma-family writers, Mormon initially aimed his narrative at the young men of the Alma family, who were destined to be Nephite leaders, eventually modifying the text to address modern readers. Larsen also shows how Moroni matured as a person and a writer as he composed five separate endings for the Book of Mormon, suggesting that the final ending in Moroni 10 is an expansion of the ending Amaleki wrote for the Small Plates in the book of Omni.

Hugh Nibley Observed: “Hugh Nibley and Classical Scholarship,” presented by
Eric D. Huntsman

“Let me begin by telling you a little bit about myself via Brother Nibley. I have come to understand that has become somewhat part of the genre of speaking about Brother Nibley—to share Nibley anecdotes and how you know him. Now, here I am considerably handicapped because I’m a little bit younger than some of my colleagues who were his students. I started BYU in 1983 when Professor Nibley was already emeritus. But I did get one class with him in the fall of 1984. At the time I was in a period of academic crisis. I had had a head-on collision with calculus, my dreams of becoming a medical doctor were crumbling around me, and I had to do something else.”

Part of our book chapter reprint series, this article originally appeared in Hugh Nibley Observed, edited by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Shirley S. Ricks, and Stephen T. Whitlock. For more information, go to https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/hugh-nibley-observed/.

Mexico City Temple, Mexico
Evening at the Mexico City Mexico Temple

Here’s something of which you might want to be aware:  “Interpreter Foundation Mesoamerica Tour: Operated by Book of Mormon Tours: October 22, 2024 — November 4, 2024”

And there’s this, as well:  “Church History and Britain’s Victorian Century with the Interpreter Foundation: Operated by Bountiful Travel: May 15, 2025 — May 27, 2025”

the temple in Le Chesnay, France
The Paris France Temple by night (LDS Media Library)

Those of you who have access to the New York Times might enjoy this just-published article:  “For Mormon Missionaries, Some ‘Big, Big Changes’: The church has loosened its strict rules for those evangelizing. And many members of Gen-Z are loving it.”  For once, the article is a positive one!

Also in the media, there’s this thought-provoking piece: “Religious ‘Nones’ Have Soared In Recent Years, But Why Not The Number Of Atheists?”  It turns out, rather intriguingly, that atheism tends to be a luxury connected with what is often denigrated as wealthy white privilege.

A pre-fab temple!
The Helena Montana Temple (Intellectual Reserve image [Fair Use, I hope])
In conclusion, though, I share five chilling stories from the ever-horrific Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File™.  Sit down, read them, and weep:

“Helena Food Share receives $1.3 million donation from Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints”

“Church Unites With Traditional Leaders in West Africa to Promote Peace and Social Cohesion: Collaboration blesses individuals and communities in the Africa West Area”

“Church of Jesus Christ Responds to Major Flooding in Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil: Twenty-one meetinghouses are being used as shelter as flood waters close the Porto Alegre airport and force thousands from their homes”

“Service Can Be Contagious: JustServe Clubs Are Growing in Numbers in Southern California: More than 57 JustServe high school clubs are spreading from Ventura to San Diego to Riverside”

“Thousands of Youth Serve Their Communities for Global Youth Service Day and Month: With the help of JustServe, youth follow the teachings of Jesus Christ to help those in need”



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