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Aug 23, 2013 09:10 AM EDT

Utah Students to Analyse Book of Mormon as Literature

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The University of Utah has introduced a course on the Book of Mormon for fall 2013 that mainly focuses on the unique literary qualities of the book. Students will be examining the book as an 'impressive work on literature.'

The course, which will take a secular and academic look, differs from the other Mormon studies courses that usually concentrate on the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"While other programs have had Mormon studies programs up and running for the past few years, when classes have been taught, they've focused on Mormon history," said David Bokovoy, instructor and postdoctoral fellow in Mormon studies. "This course is the first of its kind because it provides an academic look at the Book of Mormon as an impressive work of literature."

Bokovoy said that the semester-long academic course will be available to graduate, undergraduate and continuing education students.

According to the university officials, the objective of the class will be to help students appreciate the text as 19th century American religious literature and as a work with deep literary ties to the Bible.

They'll gain "an appreciation for the complexity and beauty of this text that's had an impact on millions of people," said Bokovoy. "It doesn't matter whether the person considers the claims for ancient authenticity are legitimate."

The class will not be concentrating on the controversial issues such as questions about authorship and translation, and it will not attempt to take a devotional standpoint of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints itself.

At the end of the semester, students enrolled in this course will have increased their general knowledge of the religion and folk literature.

Taking a secular look at religion, Bokovoy said, "can tear down tribalism and create greater understanding."

The Book of Mormon was first published in 1830 in language similar to the King James Version of the Bible.

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