Announcing Experiment Upon the Word

Last year, when we announced the Essays in Mormon Literature, we proudly crowed that we were unveiling “something big—really big.”  Since then, we have issued the second volume in the series—Mormonism and the Movies—to rave reviews and enthusiastic applause. Today, we are releasing our third volume, Experiment Upon the Word, Frederick Kleiner’s expansive analysis of the Book of Mormon that began life, not merely as a dissertation, but as a German dissertation.  Let us tell you more.

Though the German-born scholar’s name, Kleiner, technically means “smaller,” there is nothing small about Experiment Upon the Word. At 506 pages, it may well pack the most scholarly insight for your money anywhere in the Mormon-Studies world. And it comes with a hefty analytical rigor of the sort that the German academic system demands.

And even at 506 pages, it is surprisingly full of insights. Through careful analysis and exegesis, Kleiner surprises readers with a very long list of things we haven’t understood before, haven’t ever considered, perhaps haven’t even noticed about the foundational text of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Kleiner lets us know right away that the question of historicity is not a productive one in his view, and instead makes a beeline for his position that the text itself provides a guide for how it wants the reader to engage with it, and will generously repay careful examination.

Bruce Young, Emeritus Professor of English at Brigham Young University, says that “as someone who has read the Book of Mormon dozens of times, I can testify that Kleiner has helped me see clearly things of significance of which I was previously at best only vaguely aware.” And also, “perhaps the greatest contribution of Kleiner’s dissertation is his general approach: his insistence on taking the book on its own terms and noticing details and patterns that work together to produce a powerful vicarious experience for attentive readers.”

Here is just a taste—a small morsel that, we are pretty sure, will only leave you wanting more.


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