Post contributed by Neal Rappleye

Neal Rappleye

A Great Book of Mormon Scholar Passes Away

June 12, 2018

LDS scholar John A. Tvedtnes (1941–2018) passed away on June 3, 2018. Tvedtnes had a broad education, with advanced training in anthropology, archaeology, and history to go along with background in several languages, including French, Arabic, Hebrew, and Egyptian. He earned degrees in anthropology (BA), linguistics (MA), Middle East Studies (MA), and did further graduate work in Egyptian and Semitic languages.

The early part of Tvedtnes’ career was spent teaching Hebrew, linguistics, anthropology, archaeology, and historical geography at the University of Utah, BYU Salt Lake Center, and BYU Jerusalem Center. Eventually he became a resident scholar at FARMS, later renamed the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.

For over 40 years, Tvedtnes utilized his expertise to elucidate the Book of Mormon—and produced fascinating results. He was the author of The Most Correct Book: Insights from a Book of Mormon Scholar (Horizon, 1999), The Book of Mormon and Other Hidden Books: Out of Darkness unto Light (FARMS, 2000), and co-author (with David Bokovoy) of Testaments: Links between the Bible and the Book of Mormon (Heritage, 2003), each full of interesting and informative insights into the Old World background of the Book of Mormon. He also wrote and co-wrote dozens of articles on the Book of Mormon and other topics.

Some of his most lasting contributions include his work on Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon,1 and the Hebrew origins of Book of Mormon names.2 Tvedtnes presented and published on these topics in prestigious non-LDS venues, such as the World Congress of Jewish Studies and the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics.3

Today, Tvedtnes is recognized as one of the most prolific Book of Mormon scholars of the late 20th century. In 2016, Tvedtnes was among the five most frequently cited scholars in Book of Mormon Central’s KnoWhy series, attesting to his continuing impact and influence on Book of Mormon studies today.

We express gratitude for all that Tvedtnes did to advance our knowledge and understanding of the Book of Mormon and other parts of LDS history and scripture. He will be greatly missed.

Many of Tvedtnes’ works can be accessed through the Book of Mormon Central Archive.

  • 1. John A. Tvedtnes, “Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon: A Preliminary Survey,” BYU Studies 11, no. 1 (1970): 50–60; John A. Tvedtnes, “The Hebrew Background of the Book of Mormon,” in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon: Insights You May Have Missed Before, ed. John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City and Provo, UT: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1991), 77–91.
  • 2. John A. Tvedtnes, “A Phonemic Analysis of Nephite and Jaredite Proper Names,” Newsletter and Proceedings of the SEHA 141 (December 1977): 1–8; John A. Tvedtnes, “What’s in a Name? A Look at the Book of Mormon Onomasticon,” FARMS Review of Books 8, no. 2 (1996): 34–42; John A. Tvedtnes, John Gee, and Matthew Roper, “Book of Mormon Names Attested in Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9, no. 1 (2000): 40–51, 78–79.
  • 3. John A. Tvedtnes, “Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon,” presented at the 13th World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem, August 2001; John A. Tvedtnes, “Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon,” in Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, 4 vols., ed. Geoffrey Khan (Boston, MA: Brill, 2013), 195–196; John A. Tvedtnes, “Names of People: Book of Mormon,” in Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, 4 vols., ed. Geoffrey Khan (Boston, MA: Brill, 2013), 787–788.
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