Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

70% off for SBL-members!

Journal of the Bible and its Reception

Managing Editor: Kraemer, David / Marsengill, Katherine

Ed. by Black, Fiona C. / Oekland, Jorunn / MacDonald, Nathan / Ocker, Christopher

Together with Strawbridge, Jennifer R.

See all formats and pricing
More options …

John 11 in the Book of Mormon

Nicholas J. Frederick / Joseph M. Spencer
Published Online: 2018-09-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jbr-2016-0025


In a 1978 study, Krister Stendahl traced the use of Johannine theology in the Book of Mormon’s most central narrative: the climactic story of the resurrected Jesus visiting the ancient Americas. According to Stendahl, the reproduction of the Sermon on the Mount with occasional slight variations suggests an attempt at deliberately recasting the Matthean text as a Johannine sermon. Building on Stendahl’s work, this essay looks at the use of John earlier in the Book of Mormon, in a narrative presented as having occurred almost a century before the time of Jesus. In an inventive reworking of the narrative of John 11, the story of the raising of Lazarus, the Book of Mormon suggests that it bears a much more complex relationship to the Johannine theology than its unhesitant embrace at the book’s climax indicates. Broad parallels and unmistakable allusions together make clear that the Book of Mormon narrative means to re-present the story from John 11. But the parallels and allusions are woven with alterations to the basic structure of the Johannine narrative. As in John 11, the reworked narrative focuses on the story of two men, one of them apparently dead, and two women, both attached to the (supposedly) dead man. But the figure who serves as the clear parallel to Jesus is unstable in the Book of Mormon narrative: at first a Christian missionary, but then a non-Christian and racially other slave woman, and finally a non-Christian and racially other queen. But still more striking, in many ways, is the fashion in which the Book of Mormon narrative recasts the Lazarus story in a pre-Christian setting, before human beings are asked to confront the Johannine mystery of God in the flesh. Consequently, although the Book of Mormon narrative uses the basic structure and many borrowed phrases from John 11, it recasts the meaning of this structure and these phrases by raising questions about the meaning of belief before the arrival of the Messiah. The Book of Mormon thereby embraces the Johannine theology of a realized eschatology while nonetheless outlining a distinct pre-Christian epistemology focused on trusting prophetic messengers who anticipate eschatology.

Keywords: Book of Mormon; Gospel of John; Lazarus; Realized Eschatology; Intertextuality; Women in Scripture; Christology; Religious Epistemology

Works Cited

  • Alter, Robert. 1981. The Art of Biblical Narrative. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar

  • Barlow, Philip L. 2013. Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Brant, Jo-Ann A. 2011. John. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.Google Scholar

  • Brodie, Thomas L. 2003. The Gospel According to John: A Literary and Theological Commentary. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Brown, Raymond E. 1966. The Gospel according to John I-XII. Garden City, New York: Double Day.Google Scholar

  • Charlesworth, James H. 1978. “Messianism in the Pseudepigrapha and the Book of Mormon.” In Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels, edited by Truman G. Madsen, 99–137. Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center.Google Scholar

  • Dodd, C. H. 1961. The Parables of the Kingdom. Rev. edn. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar

  • Fortna, Robert Tomson. 2004. The Fourth Gospel and its Predecessor: From Narrative Source to Present Gospel. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.Google Scholar

  • Frederick, Nicholas J. 2015. “Evaluating the Interaction between the New Testament and the Book of Mormon: A Proposed Methodology.” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 24: 1–30.Google Scholar

  • Frederick, Nicholas J. 2016. The Bible, Mormon Scripture, and the Rhetoric of Allusivity. Madison, NJ: Farleigh Dickinson University Press.Google Scholar

  • Givens, Terryl L. 2009. The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Keener, Craig. 2003. The Gospel of John: A Commentary. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson.Google Scholar

  • Köstenberger, Andreas. 2004. John. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.Google Scholar

  • Hardy, Grant. 2010. Understanding the Book of Mormon. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Hickman, Jared. 2014. “The Book of Mormon as Amerindian Apocalypse.” American Literature 86/3: 429–61.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • McGuire, Ben. 2009. “Nephi and Goliath: A Case Study of Literary Allusion in the Book of Mormon.” Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture 18/1: 16–31.Google Scholar

  • Michaels, J. Ramsey. 2010. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing.Google Scholar

  • Newsom, Carol A., and Sharon H. Ringe, eds. 1992. The Women’s Bible Commentary. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press.Google Scholar

  • Pearson, Carol Lynn. “Could Feminism Have Saved the Nephites?” Sunstone Magazine (March 1996): 32–40.Google Scholar

  • Ridderbos, Herman. 1997. The Gospel according to John: A Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing.Google Scholar

  • Skousen, Royal, ed. 2009. The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar

  • Spencer, Joseph M. 2013. “Notes on Novelty.” Square Two 6/1 (Spring). http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleMillerSymposiumSpencer.html.

  • Spencer, Joseph M. 2014. “Mormon Conversion, Christian Conversion: Comparing Conversion Narratives in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament.” Unpublished paper presented at the Pacific Northwest regional meetings of the American Academy of Religion, University of Calgary, May 9–11.Google Scholar

  • Spencer, Joseph M. 2016. An Other Testament: On Typology. 2nd ed. Provo, Utah: Neal A. Maxwell Institute Press.Google Scholar

  • Spencer, Joseph M., and Kimberly Berkey. Forthcoming 2019. “‘Great Cause to Mourn:’ The Complexity of Gender and Race in The Book of Mormon.” In The Book of Mormon: Americanist Approaches, edited by Elizabeth Fenton and Jared Hickman. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Stendahl, Krister. 1978. “The Sermon on the Mount and Third Nephi.” In Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels, edited by Truman G. Madsen, 139–154. Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center.Google Scholar

  • Szink, Terrence L. 1991. “Nephi and the Exodus.” In Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, edited by John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne, 38–50. Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah: Deseret Book and FARMS.Google Scholar

  • Tanner, Jerald, and Sandra Tanner. 1979. The Changing World of Mormonism. Chicago: Moody Press.Google Scholar

  • Thomas, Mark D. 1999. Digging in Cumorah: Reclaiming Book of Mormon Narratives. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books.Google Scholar

  • Thomas, John Christopher. 2016. A Pentecostal Reads the Book of Mormon: A Literary and Theological Introduction. Cleveland, Tennessee: CPT (Centre for Pentecostal Theology) Press.Google Scholar

  • Von Wahlde, Urban C. 2013. “C.H. Dodd, the Historical Jesus, and Realized Eschatology.” In Engaging with C. H. Dodd on the Gospel of John: Sixty Years of Tradition and Interpretation, edited by Tom Thatcher and Catrin H. Williams, 149–162. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

About the article

Corresponding author: Joseph M. Spencer, Assistant Professor, Department of Ancient Scripture, Brigham Young University, 270R JSB, Provo, UT 84602, USA

Published Online: 2018-09-05

Published in Print: 2018-09-25

Citation Information: Journal of the Bible and its Reception, Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 81–105, ISSN (Online) 2329-4434, ISSN (Print) 2329-440X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jbr-2016-0025.

Export Citation

©2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in