Two Hour Book of Mormon: A Book of Mormon Primer
Cedar Fort , 2000. Trade Paperback:
Suggested retail price: $12.95 (US)
My, what a curious book this is. The title raises an eyebrow -- whatis a "Two Hour Book of Mormon"? It's a book of 197 pages thatsummarizes nearly every chapter of the Book of Mormon (with notableexceptions, see below), and claims that an average adult can read thewhole thing in two hours.
Is comprehension possible when reading at this rate? I, for one,can't do it. It took me a great deal longer than two hours to readthe book.
The motive is noble: take the story of the Book of Mormon, present it,chapter-by-chapter, in a readable, understandable manner. Folksunfamiliar with the story can then breeze through the storyline, andthen read the actual Book of Mormon to get the real thing.
The question here isn't motive, it's how well Anderson pulls it off.The result is something of a mixed bag.
Anderson displays several levels of writing skills. When narratingevents, like battles (plenty of them in the Book of Mormon), he doesquite well. But when recounting the many chapters, particularly earlyon, that deal only in teaching, his writing style is stilted,repetitive and difficult.
His compression of an entire chapter into a single paragraph offers anexample. Here is the entire entry for 2 Nephi 32:
The Holy Ghost will show you all things you should do. The Spirit teaches people to pray. The devil teaches people to not pray. I say you must pray always and not faint. You should not do anything for the Lord until you pray to the Father in the name of Christ for him to bless your work. (p. 36)
I thought, at times, that these entires looked a bit like acombination of section headings, all run together. It may be just me,but I find reading this kind of writing tiresome.
Throughout the book there are grammatical errors that have a jarringeffect on the reader --
"Laman and Lemuel were angry with Sam and I." (p. 6)
"Your joy and your faith has been wasted." (p. 139)
"The eyes of all the crowd was on him." (p. 147)
You get the idea.
Omitted entirely are the Isaiah chapters (reasonable) and, for somereason, the Olive Tree parable. The Sermon in the Temple is included,though. I didn't quite understand the exclusion of one and theinclusion of the other.
On the positive side, such a book could easily find a helpful place inthe Mormon literary spectrum. There have certainly been re-workingsof the Book of Mormon, even as early as George Reynolds. Recent yearshave seen scholars producing helpful publications and insightfulrenderings of the book.
Unfortunately, "Two Hour Book of Mormon" succeeds only in giving thereader a very brief, and tedious, summary. I cannot see any personactually becoming interested in the Book of Mormon based on thisvolume.
Perhaps Anderson will re-work it and re-release it, edited for grammarand enlivened with more creative prose.
-------------- Jeff Needle firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2002 Jeff Needle < email@example.com >