(via email and Peripetia)
Phyllis M. Baker via the Internet writes:
“Why aren’t the historical persons and events in the additional Mormon books of the Bible recognized by scholars? They talk about how we were all spirit children in a spirit world before we were born, how our families must be “sealed” in the temple, so that they can stay together when we die and hopefully go to heaven. Have biblical scholars the world over researched these and other Mormon issues and, obviously, not accepted them? There are some brilliant men presiding over the Mormons at this time and it bothers me that they accept all the Mormon doctrines. I am constantly involved with Latter Day Saints persons and find them to be wonderful people and devoted friends but I just can’t accept all of the history and teachings of Joseph Smith. Maybe you could direct me to some reading material to clarify this problem. ”
I think you have answered your own question. There is no debate going on in academic circles about the validity or truthfulness of the narratives in the Book of Mormon because the consensus is universal that these books are not history and they are certainly not part of the original biblical tradition. That does not mean they are not edifying to Mormons and treasured by Mormons. They are simply not recognized as authoritative for the larger Christian community. This puts them in the same status as many other Christian writings.
I might add that scholars during the last 200 years of biblical scholarship have taken away much of the aura that once hung over the Bible and I regard that as good. It is the God pointed to by the Bible that we worship not the Bible. That is a lesson that many who call themselves members of the religious right, or fundamentalists of both a Catholic and Protestant variety need to understand and accept. No sacred writings whether they are by Joseph Smith or in the Bible itself are either inerrant or absolutely authoritative. One can be idolatrous about both the Book of Mormon and the Bible. The time has come to stop such idolatry.
— John Shelby Spong