The question was put:
If I understand Kevin correctly, historicity is less important than whether or not the Book of Mormon gives us " better access to the divine". I could have directly communicated with Kevin about this, and my post is in no way intended to "intimidate" Kevin into "providing answers", which I think he does in his essay anyway, from his perspective.
The reviewed book can be found online: New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology
Note to Kevin: I welcome any clarifications or further thoughts you have to offer by way of explanation, lest I misunderstand your points or take anything out of context. Are you suggesting, for example, that it's very possible that the Book of Mormon may in fact not be historical, but still important to gaining "better access to the divine"? Perhaps you'll agree that historicity is still an open question? But it's just that you feel the way Metcalfe, et.al, have approached it does not "generate faith"? Which seems paradoxical and raises the question: Is historicity necessary to faith? Or just "faith in the Church"?"
To which I responded:
Historicity of the BoM is essential only to those who hang their testimony on the false dogma of church/prophetic infallibility or quasi-infallibility. Most members, even conservative ones, would concede that church leaders are fallible, but those member often do not go far enough to admit that the infallibility extends to official doctrinal pronouncements, even those spoken "by the prophet when he is acting as such." I call this approach "quasi-infallibility" because there is a recognition of general infallibility but a simultaneous insistence on some level of infallibility. From what I can tell, Joseph Smith held and taught, in his official capacity, that the BoM is a historically authentic document (and thus accurately translated, even if its purported authors (i.e., Nephi, Alma, Moroni, etc) erred in their accounts of their civilizations). In my opinion, if the BoM is not fully a historically authentic document, one need not conclude that the entire LDS faith is in error. One need only conclude that doctrine is not guaranteed error free merely because it is cloaked in the mantle of official prophetic utterance.