The Book of Mormon is the keystone of the LDS religion. It is officially declared to be a literal record of the original inhabitants of the Americas, as recorded on gold plates. The thesis of the Book is that the American Indians are of Hebrew origin, descended from the lost tribes of Israel. The narrative contains numerous unique stories and fantastic claims, which are increasingly being tested against well established history and science.
Accepted by Mormonism today as the most important and perfect scripture, it contains very little actual doctrine, and Joseph Smith himself seldom if ever referred to the Book in his countless lectures. Few members are aware of the numerous 19th century books published prior to the Book of Mormon which bear striking resemblance to Joseph’s later work. While much speculation revolves around how the story actually came to light, the critical question remains – was it written by articulate, God fearing, sword wielding, chariot riding, Christian/Hebrew Indian sailors in an undiscovered language and location, using a method of inscription upon metal plates which also remains unknown in the old and new worlds?
LITERAL OR FICTION?
In the 1842 Wentworth letter, Joseph Smith suggested, “the history of ancient America is unfolded” in the Book of Mormon. Modern day LDS prophets continue to reiterate that the Book “…recounts the history of a group of Israelites that lived in Jerusalem…contains a history of the ancient inhabitants of the Western hemisphere.” (Todd Christofferson, Library of Congress, Dec 7, 2016)
While the RLDS Church conceded decades ago that the Book of Mormon is not an actual historical record, allowing members to derive value from inspirational stories, the LDS Church remains committed to an increasingly untenable literal interpretation. In light of the mounting evidence, faithful members must seriously consider if in fact sophisticated pre-Columbian Indians recorded the story.
TRUE OR FALSE?
“There are three ways in which the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. It is the keystone in our witness of Christ. It is the keystone of our doctrine. It is the keystone of testimony.” (The Book of Mormon – Keystone of Our Religion, Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, Oct 1986)
“The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon…so does our claim to priesthood keys, revelation and restored church… Either the Book of Mormon is what Joseph said it is or this Church and its founder are false, fraudulent, a deception from the first instance onward.”
(True or False, Jeffrey Holland, 1994)
“For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied…yet still it stands. None of these pathetic answers withstand examination. There is no other answer… if anyone is foolish enough to reject 531 pages…teeming with literary complexity…Such persons have been deceived…if they leave this Church, they must do so crawling over, under, around the Book of Mormon to make their exit.” (Safety For The Soul, Jeffrey Holland, LDS General Conference, Oct 2009)
“It is not necessary for me to suggest that maintenance of the truth of the Book of Mormon is absolutely essential to the integrity of the whole Mormon movement, for it is inconceivable that the Book of Mormon should be untrue in its origin or character and the Church be true.” (Studies of Book of Mormon, B. H. Roberts, p. 58)
Gregory Prince, LDS author and historian, has called for those who still believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon to “grow up.”
When Leonard Arrington was asked if there really were Lamanites, he replied “Well, let’s put it like this; that is part of the great Mormon myth that we all hold to and all benefit from.” (Leonard Arrington: The Writing of Mormon History p. 129)
CHURCH SPONSORED ART
Images help to create powerful mental visualizations. As one navigates a thoughtful exploration of the Book of Mormon, it is important to recognize that nearly every piece of Church promoted art is materially false, including the sailing ship, swords, armor, massive walled cities, horses, Joseph openly scrutinizing gold plates on a table, the 8 witnesses gathered together in one place, etc. Established history and the Church’s own records refute the images.
For example, there persists a cherished myth that this painting of Jesus, by Del Parson, was personally overseen by the LDS General Authorities and that modifications were requested to achieve an image closely resembling Jesus Christ – the implication being that the GAs have seen Christ. May this animated GIF contrasting Del with his final painting to shed additional light on the question. Who knew that Mormon Jesus was with us all this time in the form of an artist?
ORIGINS OF THE BOOK OF MORMON
If an author typically exhibits low skill, then suddenly delivers an impressive work, odds are it was inspired from God – or possibly plagiarized. If there are no citations to previous works, and the work contains parallel themes and/or exact matches to other works, the possibility of plagiarism increases.
Upon completing his extensive study, faithful B. H. Roberts reported to the Apostles that there was “a great probability” that Joseph Smith had a close encounter with View of the Hebrews. (Studies of Book of Mormon p. 243, 271)
“In light of this evidence, there can be no doubt as to the possession of a vividly strong, creative imagination by Joseph Smith…an imagination it could with reason be urged…the common knowledge…supplemented by such a work as Ethan Smith’s View of Hebrews, would make it possible for him to create a book such as the Book of Mormon. …The evidence I sorrowfully submit points to Joseph Smith as their creator.”
The Late War Between U.S. and Great Britain (1816)
This war narrative, written in scripture style and published in New York in 1816, furthers the notion that a righteous America is favored and protected by God. It is a manifesto of American exceptionalism so prevalent in the Book of Mormon and was required reading in local schools. It further demonstrates the ease with which works sounding like the Bible could be written and successfully marketed during the era.
The Late War is the source of the 2,000 stripling soldiers, the extremely unique term “curious workmanship,” the ubiquitous “it came to pass,” and hundreds of verses and phrases nearly perfectly mirrored in the Book of Mormon. The book mentions a “rod of iron,” elephants in America, and a cataclysmic earthquake followed by great darkness. Many argue that this work provided Joseph with style and theme queues.
• Chris & Duane Johnson: Side by side comparison
• History and Analysis of the Late War, Gilbert Hunt
• The Late War, 1819 – digitized original
The First Book of Napoleon (1809)
The First Book of Napoleon provides the phrasing, diction, imagery, linguistic style; there are hundreds of parallels to the Book of Mormon. Note that both The Late War and Napoleon were required reading in the New York school district where Smith lived. The first verse in the book is: “And behold it came to pass that in these latter days an evil spirit came…”
Tree of Life Dream
Even Joseph Smith Sr. reported at least seven significant visions, five of which Lucy Smith summarized in her memoirs. In 1 Nephi, two of his 1811 dreams are manifest in Lehi’s first dream and tree of life story. A number of other Smith family biographical facts were used by Joseph in the Book of Mormon. Remarkably, in the Book of Mormon, it is also Nephi’s father who has the same vision.
• LDS Living, Joseph Smith Sr. Saw Tree of Life Vision
• First Vision of Joseph Smith Senior
• No Man Knows My History p. 58
• Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches p. 58-59
1, 2 Nephi: Bible passages dominate the text in these two books, as half of the chapters in 2 Nephi alone are from the Bible.
Jacob, Enos, Mosiah, Alma 1-42: These books are dominated by evangelical Methodist Camp Meeting, terms, practices, patterns and doctrines of which Smith was so familiar. The eleven main Book of Mormon preachers between Jacob and Alma II reflect in every way, what one would expect to find when studying the Second Great Awakening preachers of Smith’s era.
Alma 43-63: These war chapters mirror the strategies of the American Indian Wars and the War of 1812, especially British/Indian fighting strategies used against the American soldiers in the War of 1812. Smith heard his relatives and neighbors recount stories of these wars. (See Mercy Otis Warren’s History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution, 1805; and David Ramsey’s, History of the American Revolution, 1789)
Helaman; 3 Nephi 1-7: The text in these “Gadianton” chapters reveal strong influences of the anti- Masonic terms/rhetoric/methodology/practice/fears and general sentiment widely held during the presidential election of 1828-29. They flooded the newspapers (the Smith’s subscribed to a newspaper) and were common talk of the day. Andrew Jackson was a Freemason, and the papers had a field day speculating as to what Jackson would do to the Executive and Judicial branches of government if elected.
3 Nephi 11-28: Bible passages again dominate this section of the Book of Mormon, specifically the King James Version, including errors. Of the 490 verses in these chapters, 246, or 50% contain recognizable KJV quotations or phrases.
Ether: This book is Joseph Smith’s essay on the central message of the Book of Mormon. The first half of Ether describes what happens to the Jaredites when they follow Christ, while the second half explains what happens when they don’t. Ether is a miniature Book of Mormon synopsis, including the annihilation of both the Jaredites and Nephites down to the last man. Much has been written on the extreme mirroring of two supposedly distant and distinct civilizations.
- 2% = It came to pass
- 11% = Straight from KJV Bible
- Gadianton Robbers – Freemasonry, secret combinations
- Nephi brothers are named Joseph and Samuel – just like Joseph Smith’s brothers
- Lehi – see Judges 15:9, 14, 19
- Nephi – see King James Version of the Apocrypha, II Maccabees 1:36
- Enos – see Genesis 4:26.
- Samuel on the Wall – see View of Hebrews, which describes a prophet standing on a wall in Jerusalem, exhorting, while the people shoot arrows at him.
- Aminadi, like the Bible’s Daniel, deciphered handwriting on a wall. Alma was converted in the exact fashion of St. Paul. Daughters of Lamanites were abducted like daughters of Shiloh. Ammon, the American counterpart to David vs. Goliath, slew sheep-rustlers with his sling.
- King Benjamin – see Pastor Benjamin’s camp revival (Insiders View p.95-98)
- Smith is known to have read Dick’s work, Philosophy of a Future State, which proposes that matter is eternal and indestructible, stars were peopled by “various orders of intelligences…progressive beings” in various stages of evolution toward perfection.
- Eidetic imagery – (see Natural Born Seer p. 410)
- Non-Uniqueness – (see Natural Born Seer p. 413)
• Exploring Mormonism – Possible sources of plagiarism
19th century religious fervor, so well represented throughout the Book of Mormon, is unlikely to have occurred in Pre-Columbian Indian cultures. Alexander Campbell, Sidney Rigdon’s mentor immediately prior to his affiliation with Joseph Smith, dismissed the Book of Mormon, recognizing how it “decides all the great controversies” of the day. Of the secret combinations throughout Helaman, he observed that “Masonry was invented about this time.” (Millennial Harbinger, Feb 1831)
Theological debates and sectarian division raged in colonial America, as numerous sects jockeyed for superiority. Joseph Jr. experienced the discord of religious difference within his family, as Joseph Sr. embraced Universalism, while Lucy and her three oldest children joined the Presbyterians in the fall of 1824.
Joseph Smith conveniently addressed every issue, including infant baptism, eternal punishment, the sacrament and nature of God, free agency, eternal progression, the state of matter and intelligence, etc. Dan Vogel observed “That the Book of Mormon confronts Universalism was noticed by friend and foe.”
Mormonism Unvailed deemed the Book of Mormon a “cursory account of the popular doctrines which have been agitated since the Reformation… Who can be credulous enough to believe, that a preacher, 550 years before the ministry of the Savior…did preach and instruct not only the same principles, but the very words and phrases were used to convey the sentiments which are found in the evangelical writings? …The author doubtless had some knowledge of the revivals of religion, in the different churches; for he represents the whole congregation prostrated, crying for mercy through the atoning blood of Christ.”
Joseph Smith was accused of a good many things, but suffering from a lack of ambition was seldom his challenge.
• Revival Sermons in the Book of Mormon
THE BIBLE IN THE BOOK OF MORMON / D&C
The Book of Mormon presents a host of challenges which biblical scholars struggle to reconcile.
The first five books of the modern Bible, traditionally ascribed to Moses, are often referred to by their Jewish name, the Pentituke. The Book of Mormon asserts that these works of Moses were contained on Laban’s brass plates, which Lehi’s family carried to the New World. Yet portions of that material did not exist at the time, and certainly had not yet been compiled into the form we find in today’s Bible. A related problem surrounds the fact that Moses’ death is recounted in Deuteronomy, making him an unlikely author.
Another primary obstacle is the Book of Mormon’s mirroring of scribal errors unique to the King James Bible – despite supposedly predating those translators by ten centuries. This is no small hurdle, as we are talking about branches of translation and oral tradition spanning many rewrites, over centuries. It is highly unlikely that the texts linguistically evolved to the same English translation through different branches of transcribing. Far more likely, Joseph copied these segments nearly word for word, errors and all.
One of the book’s earliest verses demonstrates biblical mirroring, and how Lehi’s journey closely resembles Exodus. (See Insiders View, p. 46-47 re: D&C 4. See p. 48-54, 74-75). Some of Joseph Smith’s neighbors asserted that the Bible was a prominent source of material. “A quarto Bible now in this village, was borrowed and nearly worn out and defaced by their dirty handling. Some seven or eight of them spent many months in copying, Cowdery being principal scribe.” (Letter from Palmyra, N.Y., Mar 12, 1831)
Even the earliest critics, as far back as Mormonism Unvailed in 1834, suggested it to be a “miserable attempt to imitate the style of KJV…that no one can be left in doubt in identifying the whole with one individual author…another miracle in choosing the exact language of King James’ translation, more than 2,000 years before it was arranged…a remarkable coincidence that the author of our book should be a stone placed in a hat! We are truly inclined to accuse him of plagiarism.”
The official LDS Book of Mormon Translation Essay states that Joseph “read aloud the English words that appeared on the instrument,” affirming that Joseph was reading English words directly from the stone. Does this not mean that any wording errors in the Book of Mormon suggest that either God erred or Joseph Smith introduced the words? Even if one suggests that the scribe may have misheard the inconvenient words, how did Joseph replicate the exact same 16th Century King James errors if God was literally causing the English words to appear before him?
THE ISAIAH PROBLEMS
Deutero-Isaiah refers to the widely held belief that one man named Isaiah did not write the entire book of Isaiah, but rather multiple authors wrote various parts, later compiled into a single book with one name. The problem is particularly vexing to LDS doctrine because the Book of Mormon narrative depends upon there being a sole author; even as history and chronology work against the notion. As a result, many apologists refuse to acknowledge that a problem even exists.
Isaiah’s authorship is not a new theory or a singularly Mormon issue, as the problem dates back to at least 1100 AD, when a Jewish commentator named Moses ben Samuel Ibn Gekatilla contested Isaiah’s authorship of parts of the book of Isaiah. Later, in 1167AD, Ibn Ezra also questioned the authorship of certain sections of the book of Isaiah.
BYU Religious Studies acknowledges that “The majority of biblical scholars divide the book of Isaiah into multiple authorship.” The few still arguing against Deutero-Isaiah are often apologists who are compelled to defend theologies that require a single Isaiah. The Book of Isaiah did not exist in King James form until 515 B.C. The later author(s) would have been writing in 550-539 BC, long after Lehi departed with his brass plates in 600 B.C. Whether there is a third Isaiah or more is totally irrelevant, as a second Isaiah alone is sufficient to discredit the Book of Mormon.
The Book of Mormon directly quotes no less than 425 verses and paraphrases many others from the book of Isaiah. How could Laban’s brass plates contain KJV Bible language from before the original was even written? A sampling of verses supposedly copied from the brass plates includes: Isaiah 48 = 1 Nephi 20 Isaiah 49 = 1 Nephi 21 Isaiah 53 = Mosiah 14 Isaiah 54 = 3 Nephi 22).
Chapters 40-46 clearly could not have been written before the Babylonian captivity, as the situations described do not reflect pre-captivity circumstances. The Persian King Cyrus – the same one who ordered the release of Israel in 539 – is actually named in Isaiah 44:28. The gold plates could not have included these post-exodus chapters.
• Natural Born Seer, Van Wagoner p. 408
• By Common Consent, Nephi and the Deutero-Isaiah Problem, Michael Austin
• Patheos, Deutero Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, David Bokovoy
• LDS Discussions: Deutero Isaiah
• Encyclopedia Britannica: Isaiah
THE APOLOGISTS’ DILEMMA
One of the major “proofs” put forward by apologists of the Book of Mormon is that there is no eye witness of Joseph having any text available to him during the “translation.” They suggest that it would have been impossible for young Joseph to come up with the story under these conditions.
But then, apologists flip-flop in response to the awkward Isaiah problems, suggest that “Instead of translating Nephi’s quotations of Isaiah, Joseph, deferred to the KJV translation of those chapters. This may have been done to save time and to respect the quality of the KJV Bible. The chapters of Isaiah that we find in the Book of Mormon were taken largely by Joseph Smith from the KJV Bible, instead of being translated from Nephi’s version of that text. In other words, why reinvent the wheel when the work has already been done?”
So which was it; did Joseph borrow from contemporary literature of his day or not? This question matters greatly. If he copied portions the KJV Bible available to him, which seems evident, without any eyewitness seeing it, is it not equally likely that he borrowed from other contemporary texts available to him? If he indeed leveraged additional works, the theory that it could not have been transcribed in 60 days goes out the window? Never mind for a moment that Smith actually had years to devise the story. And what does “respect the quality of the KJV Bible” even mean, given that Smith promptly attempted to revise the KJV Bible?
NARRATIVE / WRITING STYLE
“The narrative proceeds in characteristic disregard of conditions necessary to its reasonableness, as if it were a tale told by a child, with utter disregard for consistency….The whole atmosphere of the book is miracle!…Sometimes it takes on almost childish expression…” (Studies of Book of Mormon p. 263)
“Do we have here a great historical document, or only a wonder tale, told by an undeveloped mind, living in a period and in an environment where the miraculous in history is accepted without limitation and is supposed to account for all inconsistencies and lapses that challenge human credulity in the thought and in the easy philosophy that all things are possible with God?” (Studies of Book of Mormon p. 258)
“Nephi, together with sundry other prophets, had the whole Christian system developed to them, many centuries before the twelve apostles…and preaching it to a set of Jews.” (Mormonism Unvailed)
“There are the many contemporary insertions. Are we to believe that pre-Columbian American Indians struggled with infant baptisms (more aptly aligns with popular anti-Catholic sentiments of Josephs day). The Title of Liberty better fits late American patriotism. “Realities are no longer a subject worthy his attention…he is guided by the whims of his imagination.” (Mormonism Unvailed)
The unique term, curious workmanship, gained popularity and usage in the early 19th century, but remains totally unknown in any American Indian records.
The original Book of Mormon edition contained numerous passages which demonstrate awkward 1800s grammar usage. Do the verses read more like Joseph Smith telling a story, or the careful inscriptions of sophisticated Hebrew Indians?
•Alma 10:7-8 – “As I was a journeying to see a very near kindred…, as I was a going thither…”
• Mosiah 10:15 – “had arriven to the promised land”
• Mosiah 2:12 – “have not sought gold nor silver, nor no manner of riches of you”
• 1 Nephi 4:4 – “they was yet wroth”
• 3 Nephi 3:5 – “I have wrote this epistle”
• Alma 10:8 – “I was a going thither”
• Helaman 7:8 and 13:37 – “in them days”
• Ether 9:29 – “they done all these things”
It was this unmodified edition which prompted Mark Twain to declare Joseph’s work “chloroform in print.” Recognizing that such language conflicted with his assertion that each word carefully appeared through his peep stone, Joseph Smith corrected God’s text in the 1837 edition.
When attempting to reconcile things, LDS apologists merely compound the problem by suggesting, “What now seems bad grammar was once entirely acceptable English…” (Editing out the ‘bad grammar’ in the Book of Mormon, Dan Peterson) That’s the entire point…it was in fact just bad English rather than reformed Egyptian.
An anachronism is a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it is referenced.
1 Nephi 1:4: Nephi establishes a timeframe by giving us, “in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, King of Judah”, followed up by, “and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.” Yet by the time Zedekiah became king, installed by the Babylonian conqueror Nebuchadnezzar, the city of Jerusalem had already been destroyed.
The Bible establishes that the Babylonians removed all the rich people into captivity: “none remained except the poorest people in the land.” It is problematic for the Book of Mormon to suggest that nobody believed the prophets foretelling a great destruction, despite it having just been sieged and conquered within the last year. Are we to contradict the Bible and historical records to believe that both Lehi and Laban’s wealth somehow bypassed the pillaging? Would Nephi not mention the recent sacking of Jerusalem by the Babylonians? It’s as if Joseph did not realize that Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem twice (ten years apart) when he narrated the Book of Mormon story into his hat.
1 Nephi 22:20: “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all those who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.” How is it that Nephi was quoting in 580 B.C. the words of Peter (Acts 3:22-23) from around 60 A.D?
Alma 5:52: “…the ax is laid at the root of the tree; therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire…” This verse in Alma, written around 83 BC, is quoting John the Baptist (Matthew 3:10) from around 30 A.D.
2 Nephi 9:39: “…to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.” Nephi, around 555 B.C., is quoting the Apostle Paul (Romans 8:6) from around 68 A.D.
Christ / Anti-Christ / Messiah
Needless to say, the Christian movement began with Jesus Christ. The word ‘Christ’ is used 186 times in the Book of Mormon during the Old Testament era. Yet the word “Christ” never appears in the Hebrew Old Testament, and the word Messiah is only used twice. The word ‘anti-Christ’ is used in the Book of Mormon 76 years before the birth of Christ.
How is it that the Book of Mormon peoples were calling themselves Christians when Christ is the Greek equivalent of Messiah, and would not have been known to Nephi? How is it that Native Americans, living hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, knew His name, and His mother’s name, while being baptized in His name, while the the actual Jews from which Jesus originated did not have that information?
Even Mormonism Unvailed recognized this problem in 1834, suggesting “To give credit to the pretense that Nephi, living 600 years before the Christian era, could, or would, have had the name of Jesus and John revealed in preference to any other prophet, is repugnant to common sense…” (Mormonism Unvailed, ch. 3)
MOSAIC LAW OBSERVANCE
The Book of Mormon describes America’s first inhabitants as devout Jews, observing the Law of Moses as elaborated upon the brass plates. (1Nephi 1:2, 4:15, 5:9; Mosiah 1:1-4; Alma 26:15, 3 Nephi 1:24; Ether 1:33) Yet the book makes almost no reference to the observance of Mosaic law, or implies any accurate knowledge of it.
The Hebrew clan had scarcely disembarked from their remarkable sailing ship before talk of the Lamb of God and Protestant-style exhortations and 19th century Christian doctrines expanded. Recognition of the contradictions dates at least as far back as E.D. Howe’s 1834 exposé. “Our author being ignorant on this subject…offering sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord. And to cap the climax of absurdity, after preaching faith and repentance as the only way of salvation, from the very commencement of the campaign, Nephi tells us, ‘Notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the Law of Moses…'” (Mormonism Unveiled).
Although there is an account of Nephi’s small tribe somehow constructing a temple after the manner of Solomon (it too remains undiscovered), there are no subsequent references to animal sacrifices, ceremonies and national festivals so common in Hebrew culture. It appears that Jews in America were enjoying redemptive faith in Christ, before Christianity existed, while their brethren in the Old World were being chastised to obey the Law of Moses.
There are countless additional problems with the near total lack of Mosaic law observance, as it makes no sense to preach salvation through Christ while offering burnt animal sacrifices according to the old law. Nevertheless, Christ himself discontinues the practice in 3 Nephi 9:17-19.
MANIFEST DESTINY / AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM
Christian clergy frequently supported the notion of the American Indian as a Lost Tribe during the 1800s because it not only validated the Biblical tale, it encouraged their perceived right to colonize America while Christianizing or relocating Native Americans.
The theory was widely circulated during this era, not just within Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews. American Antiquities, Discoveries in the West, published in 1833, reminded readers, “The opinion that the American Indians are descendants of the lost ten Tribes, is now a popular one, and generally believed.” Native Americans represented a fertile mission field to be harvested before Jesus could usher in his glorious return.
B.H. Roberts said, “Such common knowledge existed throughout New England and New York in relation to American Indian origins and cultures.” (see Natural Born Seer p. 376 for an extensive listing of contemporary books propagating the notion that the Indians were Hebrew, of one race, divided by savages.)
The ideology carried great significance in the 1800s because it served to supplant the rich history of Native Americans with a largely white, old world view. It also fostered the ongoing cultural genocide; it was much easier to kill and displace a people that “loved murder and would drink the blood of beasts.” (Jarom 1:6) The Book of Mormon fostered the colonial perception of Indians “led by their evil nature that they became wild, ferocious, blood thirsty…full of idolatry and filthiness…continually seeking to destroy…” (Enos 1:20)
On May 26, 1830, mere weeks after Joseph Smith printed his book and founded his church, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, forcing all Native Americans west of Mississippi. LDS Saints, along with most other whites, viewed their displacement as “God’s work,” fulfilling prophecy regarding their gathering.
W. W. Phelps declared, “It is not only gratifying, but almost marvelous to witness the gathering of the Indians. …through the instrumentality of the Government of the United Stated.” (The Evening and The Morning Star, Dec 1832)
NEPHITE / JAREDITE PARALLELS
The Book of Mormon expounds upon the history of two vastly separate colonies. Yet somehow, the Nephite and Jaredite experiences are strikingly parallel, sharing epic sea voyages, battles, grandiose leaders and scoundrels, migrations, conversion methods and 19th century thinking.
B. H. Roberts did not mince words when confronted the alarming parallels of the two supposedly distant civilizations.
• “It supplies evidence that the Book of Mormon is the product of one mind, and that, a very limited mind, unconsciously reproducing with only slight variation its visitations.”
• “I shall not apologize for giving the story at so great length. It is instructive. The two Anti-Christs, Sherem and Korihor, the stories of their unbelief and the treatment of them, how alike they are! In both the denial of the Christ; the charge against the ministry, mislead the people, that they could not know of things yet future; denial of Christ, and of the scriptures; the same method of attack by the prophets, same hesitancy on the part of anti-Christs, same demand for a sign, same hesitancy on part of prophet to invoke power of God. In both cases stricken, confession of being deceived by the devil, both vain repentance.”
• “Does it not carry with it the proof that it is the work of a pious youth dealing with the very common place stock arguments clumsily put together for the belief in the existence of God.” (see Studies of Book of Mormon, p. 259-308)
The Book of Ether pre-dates the brass plates, and had been a part of the Nephite society from the days of Mosiah, yet they make NO specific reference to them whatsoever?
Laban’s brass plates receive regular attention and specific mention throughout the narrative. Yet despite possessing the Jaredite plates for centuries, the Nephites never specifically refer to them until Moroni is ready to bury the entire record.
Dan Vogel summarizes, “No Nephite prophet besides Moroni quotes from the Jaredite record or refers to Jared and his brother, nor does Jesus when he appears in America.” (Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, p. 347) Douglas Salmon’s examination of Hugh Nibley’s “parallelomania” attempts to reconcile the astonishing parallels in Mormon scripture. (See Parallelomania and The Study of LDS Scripture)
Q: Why do Mormons so easily believe that ancient Indians wrote the Book of Mormon, yet refuse to consider how such a feat was well within the capabilities of a brilliant 19th Century evangelist, sourcing from well established documents of his day?
Q: Did Mormon, Moroni, Nephi, Captain Moroni and other famous characters ever physically live, or are they mere figures of Joseph Smith’s imagination?
Q: Why were the first vision and priesthood restoration completely missing from the early Church formation, missionary work and family histories – it was all about selling the Book?
Q: Why are there hundreds of 17th Century KJV Bible phrases and scribal errors in the Book of Mormon “translation”?
Q: Are we to believe that Nephi’s people simultaneously observed the Law of Moses – which they appear not to have (brief Solomon temple building episode aside) – while preaching Christianity and Protestant salvation themes, interspersed with 19th century Methodist revival conversion dramas?
Q: It is suggested that Nephi needed to kill Laban to obtain the plates so that his people wouldn’t dwindle in unbelief. Didn’t his people promptly dwindle into unbelief anyway, eventually being completely exterminated?
Q: Why did Joseph so seldom, if ever, refer to the Book of Mormon in his many sermons and instruction?
Q: Why were the sacred Book of Abraham papyri dragged around by a mummy salesman, sold to Joseph, placed on full public display, only to be sold again and abandoned in a warehouse, while the gold plates were purportedly buried in the earth like treasure, revealed by an angel, never seen (with physical eyes) by anyone but Joseph, before ultimately being whisked away to heaven?