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Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism: Shadow or Reality
Response to Mormonism: Shadow or Reality
A FairMormon Analysis of:A work by author: Jerald and Sandra Tanner
'Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?'
|The Changing World of Mormonism|
About this work
The point is, we're trying to be accurate. We want to be straightforward, we want to have the research we put out be reliable so that people can go look it up for themselves and see that in fact is what the case is. So we're upset when we see people stretching things on either side.
— Sandra Tanner, taped interview by Scott Faulring, 10 February 1982, in Faulring, "An Oral History of Modern Microfilm Company," Special Collections Library, Brigham Young University, 297.
Reviews of this work
The first edition of Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? was published by the Tanners in 1963 under the title, Mormonism: A Study of Mormon History and Doctrine.2 Since that time the Tanners' magnum opus has been published in no less than five editions, the most recent being in 1987.3 In 1980, in an attempt to facilitate wider distribution of their work, they published a condensed version through Moody Press.4 Since their debut as vocal anti-Mormons in the early 1960s, the Tanners have produced and distributed numerous other works attacking various aspects of Mormon history, scripture, and doctrine.5
There are several reasons why this book merits review. First, the Tanners are considered by their fellow critics to be among the foremost authorities on Mormonism and the Book of Mormon. Their arguments are central to most anti-Mormon attacks on the Book of Mormon today. One recent critic describes Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? as "the heavyweight of all books on Mormonism."6 Even some of the more sophisticated Book of Mormon critics will often repeat methodological errors exemplified in the Tanners' work. Second, since virtually none of the criticisms raised by the Tanners is new, their work supplies us with a useful reference point in showing how far Book of Mormon scholarship has come in the last thirty years. This review will focus only on the Tanners' criticisms of the Book of Mormon in chapters five and six of Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? (pp. 50-125). We will notice four general areas: criticisms of the Book of Mormon witnesses, nineteenth-century parallels with the Book of Mormon, alleged biblical influences, and criticisms related to archaeology.