Buried Words: Recovering the Nonviolent Message of the Book of Mormon


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By Joshua Madson


Part of our Contemporary Studies in Scripture series

Book Description:

At face value the Book of Mormon offers complex and often competing perspectives on war and violence. On one hand you have the Anti-Nephi-Lehites who buried their weapons and covenanted to never again engage in violence; on the other you have the Nephite captain, Moroni, who actively proclaims a form of just war theory and is praised by the warrior-prophet Mormon. While the former is often admired but looked-over as an idealized but impractical approach, it is the latter—the heroic Captain Moroni—who is repeatedly made the exemplar of righteous militarism in the Latter-day Saint tradition.

In Buried Words: Recovering the Nonviolent Message of the Book of Mormon, Joshua Madson argues that the record of the Nephites should not be read as a collection of proof-text-ready passages and isolated moral narratives, but that it should instead be read as an entire epic narrative that acts as a warning to those who would put their trust in violence. Madson shows how the Nephites’ own self-understanding is one built on a foundation of bloodshed—a self-understanding that continually perpetuates itself until it results in their ultimate demise. Rather than a justification for participating in violence, Madson argues that, as a whole, the Book of Mormon acts as a voice and warning against warfare and pleads for all its readers to seek peace without bloodshed.

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