Where does the Book of Mormon rank on your list of all time, top five greatest religious texts? Alan Wolfe over at Slate dives into a reader’s guide that attempts to revitalize the literary reputation of Mormonism’s founding text. He comes away a little unconvinced, though:
Mormonism's success suggests that a religion can flourish in spite of rather than because of its founding texts. I do not doubt that Mormons are inspired by the words associated with Joseph Smith. But if another reference to music is permitted, I simply cannot imagine anyone setting those words to music the way Handel did with the Bible in his oratorios. The Book of Mormon has a structure. It does not sing.
To be fair, Handel’s Messiah oratorio draws partly from the über-poetic King James Bible, and I can’t imagine Biblical translations more contemporaneous with the Book of Mormon would provide lyrics that were much better. Still, if the Book of Mormon isn’t the riveting beach read you and Alan Wolfe were hoping for, maybe you’d like to ponder another question Slate poses: Where is the great Mormon novel?