Book of Mormon/Basics/Further Reading

Further reading

Further reading

FairMormon Answers articles

Book of Mormon basics

What is the Book of Mormon? This article orients new readers to the nature and content of this volume of scripture.

List of editions


Translation of the Book of Mormon

What do we know about the method used to translate the Book of Mormon? Were the plates sometimes not in the room while Joseph was translating them? It is claimed that each sentence and word in the 1830 Book of Mormon "had supposedly come directly from God."

Book of Mormon Translation method

Summary: We have a number of accounts of the translation process from the perspective of various contemporary second-hand witnesses who viewed the Prophet as he dictated to his scribes. The only person other than Joseph who attempted to directly translate was Oliver Cowdery. Oliver, however, did not record any details regarding the exact physical process that he employed during his attempt—we only have the spiritual aspect of the process.

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Joseph claimed that the Book of Mormon translation was performed by the "gift and power of God"

Summary: What was the precise method by which the Book of Mormon was translated? What roles do the Nephite interpreters, the spectacles, the seer stone, and the hat play in the process? Why did Joseph claim that the translation was performed by the "gift and power of God?"

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The lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript

Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith did not retranslate the 116 lost pages of the Book of Lehi because he knew that he could not reproduce the exact same text. They claim that alterations in a different handwriting to the stolen manuscript would have been readily apparent. Some suggest that the writing of the 116 pages served as an “apprenticeship” to allow Joseph to improve his writing skills.

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The Anthon transcript

Summary: What do we know about the Anthon transcript and the translation of the Book of Mormon? What is the current scholarly thought on the transcript? Didn't Charles Anthon deny having "validating" the characters?

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Eyewitness descriptions of the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated

Summary: A variety of persons who handled and/or saw the plates left descriptions. We list these descriptions in this sub-article.

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Were the gold plates too heavy for Joseph Smith to have run with them?

Summary: It is claimed that: 1) Gold plates of the dimensions described by the witnesses would be too heavy (on the order of 200 lbs) to be realistically lifted and carried as Joseph and others described. 2) Joseph could not have outrun those who sought to take the plates from him, nor carried the plates as he ran.

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Chronology of events

Summary: A chronology of events related to the Book of Mormon translation and publication.

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Modification of the italicized text in Book of Mormon Biblical passages

Summary: Some have claimed that the differences between the KJV and the Book of Mormon text (in, for example, the Isaiah passages in 2 Nephi) differ mainly in the italics of the KJV version.

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Artistic depictions of the Book of Mormon translation

Summary: People are sometimes troubled when they see artists' depictions of the Prophet and Oliver sitting at a table while Joseph views the plates as they sit in plain sight. Obviously, the plates never sat exposed in plain view, and these artistic interpretations originate purely in the mind of the artist. Some accounts indicate that the plates sat on a table covered with a cloth "in plain view," with Emma indicating that she actually moved them around in order to perform her household chores.[1]

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Location of the plates during translation

Summary: Some witness accounts suggest that Joseph was able to translate while the plates were covered, or when they were not even in the same room with him.[2] Therefore, if the plates themselves were not being used during the translation process, why was it necessary to have plates at all?

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Hiding the facts in plain sight using Church publications

Summary: Quite a few items that are claimed to have been hidden by the Church were actually published in Church magazines such as the New Era, the Ensign and the Friend.

Critical website MormonThink's "Translation of the Book of Mormon" page source quotes without critical commentary

Summary: The critical website "MormonThink" also has numerous source quotes related to the translation method. We provide here the "no spin" version: All of the complete primary and secondary source quotes while removing all of the anti-Mormon commentary.


Urim and Thummim and seer stones

Joseph Smith used the Nephite Interpreters as well as his own seer stone (both of which were later referred to as "Urim and Thummim") to translate the Book of Mormon.

Joseph Smith's use of seer stones as a youth

Summary: How did Joseph use his seer stone as a youth? Did he use it to look for treasure? Did he place it in his hat? Did he use it during the translation of the Book of Mormon?

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What was the "Urim and Thummim" used by Joseph to translate the plates? Was it the Nephite interpreters or the seer stone?

Summary: What physical aids were employed by the Prophet during translation?

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Joseph Smith used the same "rock in hat" seer stone for translating that he used for "money digging"

Summary: Joseph was given a set of Nephite interpreters along with the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was produced. In addition, Joseph already possessed and utilized several seer stones. Although Joseph began translating the Book of Mormon using the Nephite interpreters, he later switched to using one of his seer stones to complete the translation. Critics (typically those who reject Mormonism but still believe in God) reject the idea that God would approve the use of an instrument for translation that had previously been used for "money digging."

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Statements regarding instruments used by Joseph Smith to translate or receive revelation

Summary: Statements related to the Nephite interpreters, seer stones and Urim and Thummim

Book of Mormon translation method source quotes

Summary: A listing of quotes from both friendly and hostile primary sources, by date, discussing the translation process

The seer stone and Nephite interpreters were "apparently interchangable"

Summary: Critics of the Church imply that the use of a seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon is less "believable" than the use of the Nephite interpreters.

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Joseph Smith placed either the interpreters or the seer stone in a hat

Summary: We know that Joseph placed his own seer stone in his hat to block out the light. Did Joseph place the Nephite interpreters, commonly known today as the "Urim and Thummim," in his hat as well? There is evidence that he did.

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Witnesses to the Book of Mormon

The world was not left with Joseph Smith's testimony alone. The Book of Mormon provided multiple official and unofficial witnesses who corroborated aspects of Joseph's account. Critics have long tried to dismiss or destroy the witnesses' witness. This page links to subpages which discuss various attacks in detail.

A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia article "Three Witnesses"

Summary: Wikipedia's treatment of the Three Witnesses is controlled by a Protestant editor, and is crafted to discredit the Witnesses by emphasizing the negative and diminishing the positive.

Reliability of the Book of Mormon witnesses

Summary: It is claimed that the witnesses cannot be trusted, or are unreliable, because they were unstable personalities, prone to enthusiasm and exaggeration. Evidence amply demonstrates that the formal witnesses of the Book of Mormon were men of good character and reputation, and were recognized as such by contemporary non-Mormons.

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Skepticism of the Book of Mormon witnesses

Summary: Some claim that Martin Harris was a gullible believer in the supernatural. But, in fact, Martin repeatedly performed empirical tests to confirm Joseph Smith's claims. He came away convinced.

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The Book of Mormon witnesses and "folk magic"

Summary: Some have attempted to discredit the witnesses because they believed in "folk magic".

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Oliver Cowdery and the "rod of nature"

Summary: It is claimed that a revelation received by Joseph praised Oliver Cowdery's gift of using divining talents. It is claimed that the revelation was published in the Book of Commandments in its original form, then subsequently modified in the Doctrine and Covenants in order to hide the reference to the "rod of nature." Therefore, Joseph attempted to "cover up" Oliver Cowdery's work with a divining rod by changing a revelation.

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Martin Harris had five religions prior to Mormonism

Summary: Some claim that Martin Harris was unstable or flighty because he had five religions prior to the Church's restoration.

Martin Harris had five religions after Mormonism

Summary: Some claim that Martin Harris was unstable or flighty because he had five religions after he was excommunicated in 1838

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Description of the plates and stone box in which they were found.

Summary: A collection of all statements regarding the physical appearance, dimensions, and character of the plates and other items associated with them.

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Description of translation method and circumstances

Summary: Friendly and unfriendly accounts of those who witnessed and heard about the translation of the Book of Mormon

Did the Book of Mormon witnesses ever recant?

Summary: Some have tried to argue that some or all of the Witnesses recanted concerning their testimony. They were all faithful to their testimonies to the end of their lives, even though many of them had personal disagreements with Joseph Smith that caused them to leave the Church.

Did Joseph hypnotize the Book of Mormon witnesses?

Summary: Some grant that the Book of Mormon witnesses may have been sincere in their testimony, but claim that they were actually the victims of 'hallucination' or 'hypnosis' induced in them by Joseph Smith. The accusation that Joseph Smith was somehow able to hypnotize the witnesses—not individually, but en mass—is simply too preposterous to be true. This accusation vastly overstates the nature of hypnotism and the abilities of those able to practice it.

Did God tell David Whitmer to leave the Church?

Summary: David Whitmer, one of the Book of Mormon's Three Witnesses, said "If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to "separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, should it be done unto them." Some argue that if members accept Whitmer's witness of the Book of Mormon, then they must also accept that God wanted David to repudiate the Church as false. Some distort the historical record to make it appear that David Whitmer left the Church because he was told to, when it fact he was excommunicated prior to claiming any revelation to do so. The command to leave, if it was a true revelation, involved David's physical safety and not his membership in the Church, which he had already renounced.

Eight witnesses

Summary: Some have tried to argue that the Eight witnesses only claimed a 'spiritual' or 'visionary' view of the plates, not a literal, physical one. The witnesses left concrete statements regarding the physical nature of the plates. There were others besides the eleven who saw and felt the plates, and testified that they were real.

Many witnesses were related

Summary: It is claimed that because many of the witnesses are related, this means they are not to be trusted.

John Whitmer states that the plates were "shown to me by a supernatural power"

Summary: Some critics of the Restoration have focused on a single statement reportedly made by John Whitmer in 1839 to make it appear as though the Eight Witnesses of the Book of Mormon did not have a physical encounter with the golden plates (as they so testified on the pages of the book itself), but rather a spiritual or visionary experience only.

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"Eye of Faith" and "Spiritual Eye" statements by Martin Harris

Summary: Martin Harris frequently told people that he did not see the golden plates and the angel with his natural eyes but rather with “spiritual eyes” or the “eye of faith.”

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Other Book of Mormon witnesses

Summary: Are there any other witnesses to the Book of Mormon plates besides the Three and Eight witnesses?

Strangite parallels

Summary: James Strang's break-off sect produced eyewitnesses of buried records. Does this indicate that Joseph's ability to do so is neither surprising nor persuasive? The Strangite witnesses were not all faithful, and some recanted and described the nature of the fraud perpetuated by Strang.

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The nature of the experiences of the Book of Mormon witnesses

Summary: It is claimed that the witnesses’ encounter with the angel and the plates took place solely in their minds. They claim that witnesses saw the angel in a “vision” and equate “vision” with imagination.

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Only handled when covered by a tow frock?

Summary: A frequent claim is that a Book of Mormon witnesses said that he only handled the plates while they were covered in a "tow frock." However, this report is from William Smith, one of Joseph's brothers who was not a Book of Mormon witness. In fact, William insisted in the same statement that he was convinced Joseph was not lying about the plates. William also dismissed the Spalding hypothesis as nonsense.

Does being a "treasure hunter" or believing in "second sight" make one an unreliable witness?

Summary: Some of Joseph's associates were "treasure hunters" and may have believed in "second sight." Does this make them unreliable witnesses?

Were the Book of Mormon witnesses not "empirical" or "rational" men because they lived in the 19th-Century?

Summary: Some accuse the Book of Mormon witnesses of not being "empirical" or "rational" because they lived in the 19th-Century.

Was it true the viewing the gold plates would result in death?

Summary: Did Joseph Smith state that the penalty for viewing the gold plates was death? Was this just a way for Joseph to hide the fact that the plates didn't actually exist?

Oliver Cowdery joined the Methodists after leaving the Church

Summary: Why did Oliver Cowdery join the Methodists if all other churches had been "condemned of God"?

All were "interested" since they followed Joseph Smith

Summary: It is claimed that because the witnesses are "interested"—i.e., they were members of the Church and believers in Joseph's mission—that they are therefore not reliable, since they cannot be "neutral" or "disinterested."

Statements

Summary: This page collects statements from the witnesses to the Book of Mormon plates in one convenient location. The same statements are often quoted elsewhere in the wiki under specific articles.

Signatures on the testimonies of the Three and Eight Witnesses

Summary: It is claimed that there are no actual signatures on the witness statements printed in the Book of Mormon.

Witnesses knew they would be ridiculed and not believed

Summary: The Witnesses understood that by giving their names to the witness statements, they would suffer social costs and rejection.

Witnesses persisted even in the face of persecution or death

Summary: The Witnesses stuck to their claim even in the face of threats or the risk of death.

Witnesses who left the Church continued to maintain their witness

Summary: Some witnesses were excommunicated and left the Church. However, they staunchly stuck to their witness accounts.

Witnesses had shared experiences which they could compare to confirm their reality

Summary: The Three and Eight Witnesses did not have merely internal, subjective experiences. These were shared experiences, which they could and did use to confirm their reality and objectivity.

Witnesses confirmed the faithfulness of other witnesses

Summary: The Three and Eight Witnesses often affirmed that others of their number had maintained their witness.

Witnesses reaffirmed published statements in the Book of Mormon

Summary: The Three and Eight Witnesses often reaffirmed their written statement and referred others to it.


Publication of the Book of Mormon

Author and proprietor listed as Joseph Smith

Summary: Joseph Smith is listed as the "Author and Proprietor" of the first edition of the Book of Mormon. Critics use this to claim that Joseph wrote the book himself, despite that fact that the following page clearly states that he translated the book.

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Attempt to sell Book of Mormon copyright in Canada

Summary: David Whitmer claimed that Joseph Smith received a revelation and prophesied that Oliver Cowdery and Hiram Page should go to Canada where they would find a man willing to buy the copyright to the Book of Mormon. When they failed to sell the copyright, Whitmer states that Joseph admitted that the revelation had not come from God.

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Printing timeframe

Summary: "I've heard that the rate at which the first edition of the Book of Mormon was printed could only have occurred miraculously. Is there anything to this claim?"

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Secular authorship theories for the Book of Mormon

An overview of secular authorship theories for the Book of Mormon

Summary: An overview of the various authorship theories that critics have created to explain the existence of the Book of Mormon.

Spalding manuscript

Summary: Some claim that Joseph Smith either plagiarized or relied upon a manuscript by Solomon Spaulding to write the Book of Mormon. There is a small group of critics who hold to the theory that the production of the Book of Mormon was a conspiracy involving Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and others. These critics search for links between Spalding and Rigdon. Joseph Smith is assumed to have been Rigdon's pawn.

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View of the Hebrews

Summary: Some claim that a 19th century work by Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews, provided source material for Joseph Smith's construction of the Book of Mormon. Critics also postulate a link between Ethan Smith and Oliver Cowdery, since both men lived in Poultney, Vermont while Smith served as the pastor of the church that Oliver Cowdery's family attended at the time that View of the Hebrews was being written.

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Epilepsy

Summary: Some have claimed that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon while under the influence of an "epileptic fit," thus perpetuating a fraud without knowing it.

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Automatic writing

Summary: Some attempt to explain the complexity of the Book of Mormon through appeals to "automatic writing" or "spirit writing."

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The Golden Pot

Summary: Former LDS Church Education System (CES) teacher Grant Palmer argues that Joseph Smith developed his story of visits by Moroni and the translation of a sacred book from The Golden Pot, a book by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann.

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B.H. Roberts and the Book of Mormon

B.H. Roberts and "Studies of the Book of Mormon

Summary: B.H. Roberts produced several critical examinations of the Book of Mormon. These were later published after his death under the title Studies of the Book of Mormon.

B.H. Roberts' testimony

Summary: It is claimed that B.H. Roberts lost his testimony of the Book of Mormon as the result of his work on the material contained in Studies of the Book of Mormon.


Plagiarism accusations

Joseph Smith is often accused of creating the Book of Mormon by plagiarizing various contemporary sources such as the Spalding Manuscript or Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews.

Apocrypha

Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith created the story of Nephi and Laban by plagiarizing concepts and phrases from the story of Judith and Holofernes in the Apocrypha. It is also claimed that Joseph Smith copied the name "Nephi" from the Apocrypha.

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Benjamin based on Bishop M'Kendree, a Methodist revivalist?

Summary: Former LDS Church Education System (CES) teacher Grant Palmer argues that Joseph Smith used the speech of a revivalist preacher—Benjamin—as the source for his "King Benjamin" in the Book of Mormon.

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The Comoros Islands

Summary: Comoros is a small nation made up of three islands off the southeast coast of Africa. Its capital city is Moroni. Some critics have claimed that Joseph Smith created the Book of Mormon names Cumorah and Moroni by copying them from a map of the Comoros islands.

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The King James Bible

Summary: Critics of the Book of Mormon claim that major portions of it are copied, without attribution, from the Bible. They present this as evidence that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon by plagiarizing the Authorized ("King James") Version of the Bible.

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History of Mexico

Summary: Critics theorize that Joseph Smith could have used details from Ixtilxochitl's History of Mexico to write the Book of Ether.

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Joseph Smith, Sr.'s dream

Summary: Critics point to similarities between a Lucy Mack Smith's account of a dream Joseph Smith's father had and Lehi's dream of the tree of life as evidence that Joseph wrote the Book of Mormon based on his own experiences.

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The Westminster Confession

Summary: It is claimed that the content of Alma Chapter 40 derived from a Presbyterian document called The Westminster Confession

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The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed

Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith plagiarized Josiah Priest's The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed in order to write portions of The Book of Mormon. Critics also claim that Joseph Smith plagiarized Shakespeare.

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The Pilgrims Progress

Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith plagiarized John Bunyan's book "The Pilgrim's Progress"

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North American place names

Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith is clearly the author of the Book of Mormon because many Book of Mormon place names supposedly have clear evidence of "borrowing" from geographic locations in the United States and Canada.

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Was the Book of Mormon influenced by the language and themes of "The Late War" by Gilbert Hunt?

Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith was influenced by Gilbert Hunt's 1819 book "The late war between the United States and Great Britain from June, 1812, to February, 1815," which was written in Biblical style.

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Secular authorship theories for the Book of Mormon

An overview of secular authorship theories for the Book of Mormon

Summary: An overview of the various authorship theories that critics have created to explain the existence of the Book of Mormon.

Spalding manuscript

Summary: Some claim that Joseph Smith either plagiarized or relied upon a manuscript by Solomon Spaulding to write the Book of Mormon. There is a small group of critics who hold to the theory that the production of the Book of Mormon was a conspiracy involving Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and others. These critics search for links between Spalding and Rigdon. Joseph Smith is assumed to have been Rigdon's pawn.

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View of the Hebrews

Summary: Some claim that a 19th century work by Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews, provided source material for Joseph Smith's construction of the Book of Mormon. Critics also postulate a link between Ethan Smith and Oliver Cowdery, since both men lived in Poultney, Vermont while Smith served as the pastor of the church that Oliver Cowdery's family attended at the time that View of the Hebrews was being written.

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Epilepsy

Summary: Some have claimed that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon while under the influence of an "epileptic fit," thus perpetuating a fraud without knowing it.

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Automatic writing

Summary: Some attempt to explain the complexity of the Book of Mormon through appeals to "automatic writing" or "spirit writing."

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The Golden Pot

Summary: Former LDS Church Education System (CES) teacher Grant Palmer argues that Joseph Smith developed his story of visits by Moroni and the translation of a sacred book from The Golden Pot, a book by German author E.T.A. Hoffmann.

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Language used in the Book of Mormon

As a "familiar spirit"

Summary: Critics ask why, if the words "familiar spirit" in Is. 29:4 refer to the Book of Mormon (as used in 2_Ne. 26:16, why does "familiar spirit" always refer to occult practices such as channeling and necromancy everywhere else in the Old Testament?

Relationship of the Joseph Smith Translation to the Book of Mormon

Summary: Some passages from the Bible (parts of Isaiah, for example) were included in the Book of Mormon text. However, the same passages were later revised for the Joseph Smith Translation of the Holy Bible. In some cases these passages are not rendered identically. It is claimed that if the JST was an accurate translation, it would match the supposedly more 'pure' Isaiah text possessed by the Nephites.

Wordprint studies

Summary: What are wordprints? What do they have to do with the Book of Mormon?


Book of Mormon textual changes

The claim is often heard that there are more than 4000 changes to the Book of Mormon text. The majority of these are typographical. Few of the changes are significant. We examine the more noteworthy changes.

Why were textual changes made to the Book of Mormon over the years after it was first published?

Summary: Why have a number of textual changes been made to the Book of Mormon over the years?

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"the Son of" added to 1 Nephi 11:18, 1 Nephi 11:21, 1 Nephi 11:32, and 1 Nephi 13:40

Summary: The earliest edition of the Book of Mormon referred to Jesus as "God." Joseph Smith later changed some, but not all, of these to "the Son of God." It is claimed by some that this is evidence that Joseph Smith changed the Book of Mormon to conform to his changing beliefs about the Trinity, claiming that Joseph was originally a solid Trinitarian (perhaps even a Modalist), and as he later began to teach that the Father and Son were two separate beings, he had to change the Book of Mormon to support his new doctrine.

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"or out of the waters of baptism" added to 1 Nephi 20:1

Summary: The phrase "or out of the waters of baptism" was added to 1 Nephi 20:1 in the 1840 edition Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith.

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"white" changed to "pure" in 2 Nephi 30:6

Summary: The phrase "white and delightsome" was changed to "pure and delightsome" in the Book of Mormon. As a result, some accuse the Church of attempting to hide a racially offensive statement.

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"Benjamin" changed to "Mosiah" in Mosiah 21:28 and Ether 4:1

Summary: In the text currently found in Mosiah 21:28 of the Book of Mormon, the 1830 edition reads "Benjamin", while all subsequent editions read "Mosiah." Likewise, a reference to Benjamin in what is now Ether 4:1 was changed to "Mosiah" in 1849.

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"Words missing in Alma 32:30"

Summary: Thirty-five words at the end of Alma 32:30 in the original manuscript were omitted from previous editions of the Book of Mormon. The text was restored in the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon.

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Completeness of the Book of Mormon

Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was the "most correct of any book"

Summary: It is claimed that since Joseph stated that it was "the most correct book," that the Book of Mormon should not have contained any errors. Yet, Mormon himself states in the preface that any mistakes contained therein are the mistakes of men.

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The Book of Mormon contains the "fulness of the gospel"

Summary: If the Book of Mormon contains the "fulness of the gospel," then why are certain ordinances such as baptism for the dead and eternal marriage not mentioned?

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Book of Mormon statements about the practice of polygamy

Summary: Critics use the Book of Jacob to show that the Book of Mormon condemns the practice of polygamy, and then go on to claim that Joseph Smith ignored this restriction by introducing the doctrine of plural marriage.

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Archaeology and the Book of Mormon

It is a common claim by critics that there is "absolutely no archaeological evidence" to support the Book of Mormon. When they say "directly" support, they typically mean that they are looking for a direct corroboration, such as the presence of the name "Nephi" or "Zarahemla" in association with ancient American archaeological data. There is plenty of supporting evidence that anthropologically ties the Book of Mormon to ancient America.

Book of Mormon archaeology compared to that of the Bible

Summary: It is often claimed by other Christians that the Bible is completely supported by archaeological evidence, while the Book of Mormon is supported by none. Neither claim is true. The main article compares and contrasts the archaeological "state of the art" between the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Book of Mormon "anachronisms"

Summary: It is claimed that a specific concept or item was not present in ancient America even though mentioned in the Book of Mormon. However, time and discovery have resulted in greater convergence rather than divergence between the Book of Mormon and what is known about ancient America.

Human sacrifice during 4 Nephi time period

Summary: Some have pointed out that there was human sacrifice taking place in Mesoamerica during the period during which Christ's visit resulted in great peace and righteousness among Book of Mormon peoples. The argument is that Christ destroyed all the wicked cities (3 Ne 8-9) and left the more righteous part of the people. He established his church, which stood up a society of common good and peace that prospered greatly and multiplied across the continents. But there are archeological evidence suggesting the biggest cities practiced human sacrifice and polytheism during the time of great peace.

Book of Mormon geography

Summary: Successful archaeology requires an appreciation of how the Book of Mormon situates and relates various places to each other.

Hill Cumorah archaeology

Summary: If Mormon chapter 6 is a literal description of the destruction of the Nephites by the Lamanites — approximately 100 thousand were killed by swords and axes — why hasn't any evidence of the battle been found at the site that was traditionally identified as the hill Cumorah in western New York state? If Joseph Smith returned the gold plates to a cave in the Hill Cumorah, why is there no evidence of this cave?

DNA evidence and the Book of Mormon

Summary: DNA samples taken from modern Native Americans do not match the DNA of modern inhabitants of the Middle East. Critics argue that this means the Book of Mormon's claim that Native Americans are descended from Lehi must be false, and therefore the Book of Mormon is not an ancient record as Joseph Smith claimed.

Warfare in the Book of Mormon

Summary: Much of the geographical and cultural information in the Book of Mormon is included in accounts of war. Thus, comparing ancient American and Book of Mormon warfare is enlightening. How does the manner in which war is depicted in the Book of Mormon match up with what is known about ancient American warfare?

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Thomas Stuart Ferguson

Summary: Thomas Stuart Ferguson went to search for Book of Mormon lands. When he could not confirm their existence, it is said that he lost his belief. Ferguson and the New World Archaeological foundation are often used by critics to demonstrate that there is no "Book of Mormon archaeology."

Smithsonian statement

Summary: The Smithsonian Institution sends a form letter to those who inquire about their use of the Book of Mormon for archaeological purposes. The National Geographic Society has a similar letter. Critics trot out this letter as proof that the Book of Mormon has no archaeological support and is therefore false. One critic even claims that "generations of youth" in the Church have been taught that the Smithsonian uses the Book of Mormon to guide their research.

Izapa Stela 5 ("Tree of Life" stone)

Summary: Advances in our understanding of Mesoamerican art and iconography have led most LDS researchers with knowledge of the relevant disciplines to be very skeptical about a direct link between the stela and the Book of Mormon.


Anachronisms claimed to exist in the Book of Mormon

"Anachronism" = out of time; something which is not in its proper historical context. It is claimed that a number of items or concepts in the Book of Mormon are not consistent with what is known about ancient American geography, history, or anthropology. These "errors" used as evidence that the Book of Mormon is a 19th century work rather than an ancient record.

Basic principles related to potential anachronisms

Summary: Translated documents (which the Book of Mormon claims to be) have many potential sources of anachronism. When trying to decide if something is a true anachronism, and when making judgments about the Book of Mormon's truth based on an assessment of anachronisms, we must take all these factors into account. Critics rarely do so.

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Animals alleged to be anachronistic in the Book of Mormon

Was the story of the Jaredites added to the Book of Mormon in order to explain New World animals?

Summary: It is claimed by some that the story of the Jaredites, as described in the Book of Ether, was added by Joseph Smith as an "afterthought" in order to account for the variety of animals present in the New World at the time of arrival of Lehi's group. Critics suggest that the Book of Ether was simply an "afterthought" added by Joseph Smith to the Book of Mormon in order to explain the presence of a wide variety of animals in the New World at the time of the arrival of Lehi's party.

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Horses

Summary: According to the most scientists, the mention of "horses" in the Americas during Book of Mormon times presents an anachronism--something that doesn't fit the time frame for which it is claimed. Is this a death-knell for the Book of Mormon?

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The ass (donkey)

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Bees

Summary: Among the supposed Book of Mormon anachronisms is the mention of “bees” (Ether 2:3)...It should be noted firstly that the Book of Mormon's use of the term "bees" occurs in an Old World (Jaredite) setting, it is never used in connection with the New World.

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Cattle

Summary: Bones of domesticated cattle (Bos taurus) have been reported from different caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. In one instance these bones were found with those of an extinct horse, Equus conversidens.

Elephants

Summary: Elephants are only present in Jaredite times in the Book of Mormon. Both mammoths and gomphotheres are elephant-like creatures that are plausible candidates which may have lived up until Jaredite times.

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Sheep

Goats

Silkworms

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Swine (pigs)

Summary: It is claimed that swine were unknown in the ancient New World. In addition, some have ridiculed the Book of Mormon’s suggestion that swine would be used for food (due to dietary constraints of the Mosaic law).

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Cureloms and cumoms

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Serpents and drought

Summary: In the Book of Mormon, the Book of Ether contains an account of a drought accompanied by a sudden increase in 'poisonous serpents'. Some claim that this is biologically implausible.

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Alleged biblical anachronisms in the Book of Mormon

Malachi text in the Book of Mormon

Summary: It is claimed that the Book of Mormon cannot be an ancient work because it quotes Malachi hundreds of years before Malachi was written (i.e, they claim that Mal. 4:1 is quoted in 1 Nephi 22:15). However, the Book of Mormon claims to be a "translation." Therefore, the language used is that of Joseph Smith. Joseph could choose to render similar (or identical) material using King James Bible language if that adequately represented the text's intent. The translation language may resemble Malachi, but the work is not attributed to Malachi. Only if one presumes that the Book of Mormon is a fraud at the outset is this proof of anything. If one accepts that it is a translation, then the use of Bible language tells us merely that Joseph used biblical language.

New Testament text in the Book of Mormon?

Summary: It is claimed that the Book of Mormon cannot be an ancient work because it contains material that is also found in the New Testament. In the Book of Mormon, Jesus quotes a paraphrase of Moses' words found in Acts 3:22-26.

Deutero-Isaiah

Summary: The "Deutero-Isaiah" theory is the claim that parts of Isaiah were written later than others. This theory claims that there were three individual authors, whose works were later compiled together under the name of the first author Isaiah (referred to as "Proto Isaiah"). The critical issue raised is that the Brass Plates of Laban quote from sections of Isaiah that this theory ascribes to Deutero-Isaiah, so how could the Nephites have these writings if they weren't written until after they left Jerusalem?

Firstling sacrifices

Summary: It is claimed that the Book of Mormon report that Nephites offered burnt offerings of the firstlings of their flocks is not consistent with Jewish law or practice. While firstlings were not used for every sacrifice, they certainly did have a role in the sacrificial practices of Israel. The critics have misunderstood the Bible on this point.

Holy Ghost

Summary: Why is the Holy Ghost mentioned so many times in the Book of Mormon prior to the time of Christ (e.g., 1 Nephi 10:17) and yet in the Old Testament there is hardly any mention of the Holy Ghost, especially with regard to his mission of bearing witness of the truth?

Jeremiah in prison

Summary: It is claimed that Nephi's mention of Jeremiah being put into prison (1 Nephi 7:14) is anachronistic, since Jeremiah would not have been in prison when Lehi left Jerusalem.

Jerusalem as site of Jesus' birth

Summary: Critics point out that Alma 7:10 says that Jesus would be born "at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers." Yet, every school child knows that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. They claim that this is a mistake, and evidence that Joseph Smith forged the Book of Mormon. However, it is important to note what Alma's words were. He did not claim Jesus would be born in the city of Jerusalem, but "at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers." Bethlehem is located only five miles from Jerusalem. Thus, the Book of Mormon makes a distinction here between a city and the land associated with a city.

Josephites and Jerusalem

Summary: It is claimed that the fact that Lehi was not of Judah, but of the tribe of Joseph, makes it absurd for him to have been living in Jerusalem before the Babylonian captivity: "The tribe of Joseph at Jerusalem! Go, study scripture-geography, ye ignorant fellows, before you send out another imposition, and make no more such foolish blunders."

Book of Mormon plagiarized from Bible?

Summary: Critics of the Book of Mormon claim that major portions of it are copied, without attribution, from the Bible. They present this as evidence that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon by plagiarizing the Authorized ("King James") Version of the Bible.

Mainly altered italics in the KJV?

Summary: It is claimed that in the Book of Mormon material which parallels the KJV, Joseph Smith generally modified the italicized text.

Book of Mormon "translation errors" from KJV?

Summary: Critics wonder why many of the quotes from Isaiah in the Book of Mormon are identical to the King James version. The Book of Mormon incorporates text which seems to be taken from the King James Version, including passages which are now considered to be mistranslations in the King James Version. If the Book of Mormon is an accurate translation, some claim that it shouldn't contain these translational errors.

Dead Sea Scrolls and their relationship to the Book of Mormon

Summary: Mistranslations of the King James version of Isaiah have been corrected using the Isaiah version found with the Dead Sea scrolls. Why is it that the quotes from Isaiah contained in the Book of Mormon have the same translation errors contained in the King James version instead of matching the original ancient text?


Climate in the Book of Mormon

Snow

Summary: In 1 Nephi 11:8, Nephi says Lehi describes the Tree of Life by saying "the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow." Since Nephi and Lehi were desert folk from Jerusalem, and then likely lived in tropical Central America, why would they have used "snow" as a description?

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Cultural issues in the Book of Mormon

Calendar

Summary: The Book of Mormon calendar is not identical to the calendar used by modern peoples. Learn about Nephite calendar(s) here.

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Olive horticulture

Summary: Does the Book of Mormon's account of olive horticulture in Jacob 5 match what we know about this subject?

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Legal codes and concepts

Summary: Do the legal concepts in the Book of Mormon better match Joseph Smith's day, or the ancient world?

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The Book of Mormon and DNA evidence

Responding to critical claims regarding DNA evidence and the Book of Mormon

Summary: DNA samples taken from modern Native Americans do not match the DNA of modern inhabitants of the Middle East. Critics argue that this means the Book of Mormon's claim that Native Americans are descended from Lehi must be false, and therefore the Book of Mormon is not an ancient record as Joseph Smith claimed.

Geography issues

Summary: A variety of geographic models have been suggested for the Book of Mormon. Some geographic models introduce other difficulties for the DNA attacks.

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Haplogroup X2a

Summary: Some have tried to use a genetic group called haplotype X2a as proof of the Book of Mormon, but the science at present cannot support this.

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What is Lehi's ancestry?

Summary: Genetic attacks on the Book of Mormon focus on the fact that Amerindian DNA seems closest to Asian DNA, and not DNA from "the Middle East" or "Jewish" DNA. However, this attack ignores several key points, among which is the fact that the Book of Mormon states that Lehi and his family are clearly not Jews.

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How does one identify "Jewish" or "Middle Eastern" DNA?

Summary: Identifying DNA criteria for Manasseh and Ephraim may always be beyond our reach. But, even identifying markers for Jews—a group that has remained relatively cohesive and refrained from intermarriage with others more than most groups—is an extraordinarily difficult undertaking.

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Lemba and Cohen modal haplotype

Summary: Some critics use the "Lemba" as an example of a group proven to be Jewish via DNA testing as proof that such a testing should be possible for Book of Mormon people. But, this example is misleading. The Lemba were identified as Jewish because of a marker called the "Cohen modal haplotype." This marker is carried by about half of those who claim descent from Aaron, Moses' brother, and only 2-3% of other Jews. But, the Book of Mormon does not suggest—and in fact seems to exclude—the idea that Levites (the priestly family of Aaron) were among the Lehi party.

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What methods of DNA tests are available?

Summary: DNA issues can be complex for the non-specialist (especially those who were in high school more than twenty years ago, before much of the modern understanding of DNA was available). In this article we review the methods of DNA testing that are available, along with their strengths and their limitations.

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New World death rate after European contact

Summary: Approximately ninety percent of the Amerindian population died out following contact with the Europeans; most of this was due to infectious disease against which they had no defense.[3] Since different genes likely provide different resistances to infectious disease, it may be that eliminating 90% of the pre-contact gene pool has significantly distorted the true genetic picture of Lehi's descendants.

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Jaredite influence

Summary: Critics often over-look the Jaredites, and assume (as in the hemispheric models that the Jaredites can have contributed nothing of consequence to the Lehite DNA picture. But, it is not clear that this must be the case. Some LDS have believed in a total eradication of the Jaredites, others have argued that Jaredite remnants survived and mixed with the Lehites. Bruce R. McConkie, while believing that the majority of Amerindian descent was from Israel (i.e. Lehi, Ishmael, and Mulek) nevertheless wrote: "The American Indians, however, as Columbus found them also had other blood than that of Israel in their veins. It is possible that isolated remnants of the Jaredites may have lived through the period of destruction in which millions of their fellows perished."

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Fundamentalist "suicide bombing"

Summary: It should be remembered too that many sectarian critics use DNA science in a sort of "suicide bombing" attack on the Church.[4] The fundamentalist Christian critics are happy to use DNA as a stick to beat the Book of Mormon, but do not tell their readers that there is much stronger DNA evidence for concepts which fundamentalist Christian readers might not accept, such as evolutionary change in species, or human descent from other primates.

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Geography

Alleged Book of Mormon anachronisms related to geography.

Bethabara

Summary: Alexander Campbell, an early Book of Mormon critic, complained that the Book of Mormon "makes John [the Baptist] baptize in the village of Bethabara." The Book of Mormon, however, uses the same term as the King James Bible: "These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing." (John 1:28)

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River runs into a fountain

Summary: Is the description of "a river’s running into a fountain" in 1 Nephi absurd?

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Government

Alleged anachronisms in the Book of Mormon related to government

Legal codes and concepts

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Items alleged to be anachronistic in the Book of Mormon

Chariots

Summary: The Book of Mormon mentions "chariots," which are assumed to be a "wheeled vehicle." No draft animals existed to pull such chariots. 3 Nephi 3:22 notes that the Nephites "had taken their horses, and their chariots" to a central fortified area for protection against robbers. It should be noted that we are not told if these chariots served a purpose in riding, or if they were for transport of goods, or if they had a ceremonial function. One assumes some sort of practicality or ritual importance in war, since they brought chariots to the siege. Conspicuously absent is any role of the chariot in the many journeys recorded in the Book of Mormon. Nor do horses or chariots play any role in the many Nephite wars; this is in stark contrast to the Biblical account, in which the chariots of Egypt, Babylon, and the Philistines are feared super-weapons upon the plains of Israel.

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Cimeters/Scimeters

Summary: Contrary to the claims made by some, the precolumbian New World had many examples of curved bladed weapons ("scimeters" or "cimeters").

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Coins

Summary: Does the Book of Mormon make references to Nephite coins? Coins were not used either in ancient America or Israel during Lehi's day. However, the word "coins" was only added to the chapter heading of Alma 11 much later, and the text of the Book of Mormon itself does not mention coins. The pieces of gold and silver described in Alma 11:1-20 are not coins, but a surprisingly sophisticated system of weights and measures that is entirely consistent with Mesoamerican proto-monetary practices.

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Compass

Summary: Critics charge that the description of the Liahona as a "compass" is anachronistic because the magnetic compass was not known in 600 B.C. However, believing it was called a compass because it pointed the direction for Lehi to travel is the fault of the modern reader, not the Book of Mormon. As a verb, the word "compass" occurs frequently in the King James Version of the Bible; and it generally suggests the idea of surrounding or encircling something

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"Gold" plates?

Summary: Could Joseph Smith, Jr. have manufactured some metal plates out of tin, copper, or some other metal in order to trick witnesses into thinking he had gold plates? Gold plates of the dimensions described by the witnesses would be too heavy (on the order of 200 lbs) to be realistically lifted and carried as Joseph and others described. This assumption, however, assumes a solid block of gold in the dimensions described, and does not account for the fact that pure gold would have been too fragile to form the thin leaves necessary for engraving.

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Gunpowder

Summary: Some have even claimed that the Book of Mormon mentions "gunpowder," and "pistols and other firearms," which are clearly anachronisms. The claim is false. There is no mention of "gunpowder" or firearms, or anything like them, in the Book of Mormon.

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Temple in the New World

Summary: It is claimed that Israelites would not have built a temple in the New World outside of Jerusalem. This ignores Israelite temples built in the Old World outside Jerusalem.

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Windows

Summary: Does the mention of "windows" imply the existence of glass in Book of Mormon times?

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Language

Claimed anachronisms related to language used in the Book of Mormon.

"Adieu"

Summary: Jacob 7:27 ends with the phrase, "Brethren, adieu."

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And it came to pass

Summary: Some have often complained about the frequent repetition of "and it came to pass" in the Book of Mormon.[1] Mark Twain famously joked that if the phrase were omitted, Joseph would have published a pamphlet instead of a book. As it turns out, however, this much-maligned phrase is actually evidence of the Book of Mormon's authentic antiquity.

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Greek words in the Book of Mormon

Summary: It is claimed that the Book of Mormon cannot be an ancient work because it contains "Greek words" ("alpha and omega"). However, the Book of Mormon claims to be a translation. Therefore, the language used is that of Joseph Smith. Joseph could choose to render similar (or identical) material using King James Bible language if that adequately represented the text's intent.

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Modern phrasing

Summary: Critics maintain that Book of Mormon phrases or language is too "modern" to be of ancient origin. The Book of Mormon is a translation. As such, it may well use phrases or expressions that have no exact ancient counterpart. Modern Bible translations use similar expressions or phrases, and yet remain translations of ancient documents.

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Hebrew and Native American languages

Summary: Is there any evidence that Old World languages (such as Hebrew) had an influence on the languages of the New World? It is claimed that the Book of Mormon provides too short a time for the disappearance of the Nephite/Lamanite Hebrew language.

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Reformed Egyptian

Summary: It is claimed that Jews or Israelites (like the Nephites) would not have used the language of their slave period — Egyptian — to write sacred records, that there is no evidence in Egyptology of something called "reformed Egyptian," and that the Book of Mormon's claim to have been written in this language is therefore suspect. However, the claim that Israelites would not use Egyptian is clearly false. By the ninth to sixth centuries before Christ, Israelites used Egyptian numerals mingled with Hebrew text. The Papyrus Amherst 63 contains a text of Psalms 20:2-6 written in Aramaic (the language of Jesus) using Egyptian characters. This text was originally dated to the second century B.C., but this has since been extended to the 4th century B.C.

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Egyptian would not be shorter than Hebrew on the plates

Summary: It is claimed that Egyptian would be too lengthy and bulky on the plates to account for the Book of Mormon [Egyptian would take] "perhaps four times, or even more than four times, as much room as the English, and it is quite certain that, as the Book of Mormon is 600 pages thick, it would take at least a thousand plates to hold in the Egyptian language, what is there written."

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Freemasonry and the Book of Mormon

Gadianton Robbers as Masons?

Summary: Some claim that the Gadianton robbers are thinly disguised references to the anti-Masonic panic of Joseph Smith's era. Joseph's contemporaries did not embrace the "obvious" link between the Book of Mormon and masonry. Proponents or opponents of Masonry simply tended to blame their opponents for Mormonism. Given Joseph Smith's long family involvement with the institution of Freemasonry and the fact that he would, in 1842, become a Mason himself, it seems unlikely that anti-Masonry was the "environmental source" of the Gadianton robbers found in the Book of Mormon. The members of his day likewise had little enthusiasm for anti-Masonic sentiments.

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Materials alleged to be anachronistic in the Book of Mormon

Cement

Summary: The Nephites in the land northward built buildings out of cement in Helaman 3:7-11 (circa 47 B.C.). As author John L. Smith put the claim, "There is zero archaeological evidence that any kind of cement existed in the Americas prior to modern times."[5]In this case, however, an attack on an 'absence of evidence' backfired. Cement is not anachronistic. The Book of Mormon places it in exactly the right spot and time period for Mesoamerican use of this building material.

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The use of metals in the Book of Mormon

Some attack the Book of Mormon's mention of metal and metalworking in the Americas: 1)It is claimed that no metal use occurred in the Americas prior to A.D. 900. 2) It is claimed that certain metals mentioned in the Book of Mormon were not available in the Americas. Metal and metallurgy was more common and of earlier date in Mesoamerica than has been assumed. Critics also sometimes read the text anachronistically, inserting 21st century ideas about metals (such as steel) into Joseph Smith's 19th century context, and the Book of Mormon's pre-Christian context. Not every issue concerning metals can at present be correlated with archeological data, but the case has been strengthened considerably even in the last 50 years. Given the linguistic evidence for metal at an early date, it is premature to suppose that no physical evidence of metal will turn up for those periods still in question. Rejecting the Book of Mormon on these grounds commits a fallacy in which the absence of evidence is turned into evidence of absence.

Metallurgy and use of metals in the Book of Mormon

Summary: It is important first of all to realize that the Book of Mormon tends to use metals as sources of wealth and for ornamentation, and relatively rarely for 'prestige' weapons (e.g. sword of Laban) or items (e.g. metal plates for sacred records). It does not appear that Nephite society had as extensive a use of metal as the Middle East of the same time period. Attempting to insist otherwise misrepresents the Book of Mormon.

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Brass

Summary: "Brass" is an alloy of copper and zinc. It is a term used frequently in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Some occurrences in the Bible have been determined by Biblical scholars to actually reflect the use of bronze (an alloy of copper and tin), rather than brass.

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Copper

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Gold

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Iron

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Silver

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Steel

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Ziff

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Metal Plates

Summary: Is Joseph's report of finding a record on metal plates plausible?

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Plants alleged to be anachronistic in the Book of Mormon

Some plants mentioned in the Book of Mormon are not known to exist in the New World. Is this evidence that Joseph fabricated the text based upon his own cultural background? Not at all: None of the Book of Mormon's plant species causes a problem — Spanish conquerors described pre-Columbian products in exactly the terms used by the Book of Mormon. Barley, silkworms, and grapes were known. One of the terms unknown to Joseph's day (the Akkadian sheum) is impressive evidence for the Book of Mormon's antiquity.

Barley

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Flax and linen

Summary: Flax for linen.

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Neas

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Sheum

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Silk

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Wheat

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Wine

Summary: Plants used to make wine.

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Alleged anachronisms related to population and demographics

Demographics

Summary: Critics charge that the initial Lehite colony is too small to produce the population sizes indicated, and that Lehi's group was sent to a land which was kept from the knowledge of other nations, therefore, according to the Book of Mormon, there could not have been "others" present. A superficial reading of the Book of Mormon leads some to conclude that the named members of Lehi's group were the only members of Nephite/Lamanite society. However, the Book of Mormon contains many mentions of "others" that made up part of both societies; indeed, many Book of Mormon passages make little sense unless we understand this.

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Scientific questions related to the Book of Mormon

Sweat and skin pores

Summary: It is claimed that the reference to blood coming from a pore is anachronistic, since Nephite authors would not have known about skin pores. Joseph Smith, it is claimed, would have known about pores, and so the Book of Mormon's addition of the word "pore" to the Bible's account in Luke 22:44 of Christ's suffering reflects Joseph Smith's 19th century worldview, and not an ancient author's.

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Shiz struggles to breathe

Summary: In Ether 15:31, a final showdown occurs between two warriors, Shiz and Coriantumr. Coriantumr "smote off the head of Shiz...[and] after he had smitten off the head...Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died." Critics insist that this would not, or could not, happen.

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Three days of darkness

Summary: Critics argue that the "three days of darkness" in the New World following Christ's death is implausible.

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Alleged anachronisms related to the Book of Mormon text

Chapter divisions

Summary: Is the fact that the Book of Mormon has chapters evidence that it is a modern production? The table of contents was a modern insertion; it had no counterpart in the dictated text of the Book of Mormon. It was added just as it is in modern Bibles. However, the first edition of the Book of Mormon did contain chapters (though much longer than the modern chapters), and chapter markers were part of Joseph's dictated text.

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Warfare and weapons

Warfare in the Book of Mormon

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Cimeters/Scimeters

Summary: Contrary to the claims made by some, the precolumbian New World had many examples of curved bladed weapons ("scimeters" or "cimeters").

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Swords

Summary: Are Book of Mormon swords anachronistic? Have New World swords answering to the Book of Mormon's description been found?

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Doctrinal issues related to the Book of Mormon

Plain and precious doctrines

Summary: It is claimed that the Book of Mormon is nothing more than a "bad copy of the Bible"; that anyone could have churned out such pedestrian, warmed-over ideas by borrowing liberally from the Bible and his own personal experiences.

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Great and abominable church

Summary: What is the "great and abominable church" referred to in the Book of Mormon? It is claimed that Latter-day Saints believe that the scriptural terms "church of the devil," the "great and abominable church," and the "whore of all the earth" refer to a specific religion. It is claimed that the Book of Mormon teaches that "all mainstream Christians fall into the world system know as the devil's church (or Satan's kingdom)."

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Nephi's killing of Laban

Summary: How can Latter-day Saints point to Nephi's killing of Laban as an example of a positive example of a Book of Mormon character? Wasn't this cold-blooded murder? And doesn't this passage then justify the killing of "the wicked" by anyone who feels that God has told them to do so?

Modalism

Summary: Does the Book of Mormon teach the trinitarian heresy of modalism or Sabellianism? This reading misinterprets some Book of Mormon verses, and ignores Book of Mormon texts which clearly contradict this reading.

Pre-Christian Christianity

Summary: Is it is an anachronism that the Book of Mormon teaches that Christians existed before Christ’s birth?

Where did Alma get the divine authority to baptize at the waters of Mormon?

Temple in the New World

Summary: Some attack the presence of an Israelite temple built by the Nephites. They do so on one or more of the following grounds: 1) They claim that Israelites considered the Jerusalem temple the sole legitimate site of worship, and so would not have reproduced it. 2) They claim that the Nephite population would have been too small to match the work required to built a temple "like unto Solomon's temple" (2 Nephi 5:16). 3) They claim that the temple built was "similar in splendor" to Solomon's temple. 4) They claim that the sacrifices and rituals as presented are not consistent with Jewish ritual.


Book of Mormon Geography

The geographical setting of the Book of Mormon has been the subject of serious study and casual speculation since before the book was first published. The Church has been neutral when it comes to issues relating to Book of Mormon geography, as is FairMormon. The articles linked below will describe the various theories and examine the strengths and weaknesses of each.


Historicity of the Book of Mormon

Calendar

Summary: The Book of Mormon calendar is not identical to the calendar used by modern peoples. Learn about Nephite calendar(s) here.

Was the idea of a "week" unknown in the Americas?

Summary: Despite claims to the contrary, there is evidence for a seven-day week among the early Maya, though the Book of Mormon does not require such a correlation.

Warfare in the Book of Mormon

Summary: Some criticisms of Book of Mormon warfare are anachronistic; other elements of Book of Mormon warfare contain authentic ancient elements about which Joseph Smith could not have known.

Evidences

Summary: Summary page for evidences supporting the Book of Mormon

Olive horticulture

Summary: Does the Book of Mormon's account of olive culture in Jacob 5 match what we know about this subject? The Book of Mormon provides a remarkably accurate portrait of olive horticulture. There are two points at which the allegory/parable deviates from the known principles of growing olives; in both cases, the allegory's characters draw the reader's attention to these deviations with some amazement. Thus, these 'mistakes' play a dramatic role in demonstrating the allegory/parable's meaning.

Book of Mormon geography in the Old World

Summary: A discussion of the Arabian, or Old World, geography of the Book of Mormon enjoys many advantages over discussion of New World matters. Chief among these is the fact that we know we certainty where the story begins—in Old World Jerusalem. The details of Lehi's desert travels had been extracted from the text by the 1970s. It is important to note how early these models were developed; current-day critics sometimes charge that LDS scholars have "retrofitted" their models to accommodate chance discoveries like "Nahom," but this is false.

Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon

Summary: The Book of Mormon does indeed have authentic Semitic constructions in it, but LDS need to tread cautiously in establishing them. Each must be evaluated on its own merits. Hebraisms that could have been known to Joseph Smith may still be authentic, and may still enhance our appreciation of the text, but they are weak evidence for Book of Mormon antiquity.

If-and conditionals

Summary: The first edition of the Book of Mormon contained several examples of a grammatical structure not known in English, but common in Hebrew: the so-called if/and conditional.

Names: authentic Old World names in the Book of Mormon

Chiasmus

Summary: A literary structure known as "chiasmus" exists in the Book of Mormon. It is claimed that the presence of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon is either coincidental, an artifact of the observer, or not impressive since examples of chiastic patterns have been found in the Doctrine and Covenants or other 19th century writing.

Sami Hanna on the Book of Mormon

Summary: I have read a talk written by Elder Russell M. Nelson in which he discusses a friend of his who translated the Book of Mormon back into Arabic. What are the facts behind this story and the talk?



Relationship of Amerindians to "Lamanites"

Who are the Lamanites?

Summary: Who are the Lamanites? When asked about the Church’s official position on this matter by a writer, a Church spokesman said: "As to whether these were the first inhabitants…we don't have a position on that. Our scripture does not try to account for any other people who may have lived in the New World before, during or after the days of the Jaredites and the Nephites, and we don't have any official doctrine about who the descendants of the Nephites and the Jaredites are. Many Mormons believe that American Indians are descendants of the Lamanites [a division of the Nephites], but that's not in the scripture."[6] Note that this reply pre-dates any publication of DNA criticism.

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Is Lehi the exclusive ancestor or among the ancestors of Amerindians?

Summary: LDS leaders have expressed a variety of opinions regarding whether or not all Amerindians are literal descendants of Lehi. Population genetics indicate that Lehi can likely be counted among the ancestors of all native Americans—a position that the Church has reinforced by changing the 1981 Book of Mormon introduction from "principal ancestors" to "among the ancestors."

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Relationship of the Maya and the Olmec to the Lamanites and the Jaredites

Summary: A common criticism is that LDS associate the Nephites and/or Lamanites with the Maya, and the Jaredite civilization with the Olmec. It is easy, based upon typical artistic representations used by the Church, to see why LDS typically associate the Nephites or Lamanites with the Maya. The assumption by critics that LDS associate the Nephites and the Lamanites with "the Maya" is an oversimplification of the facts. Most Church members view "the Maya" as a single, homogeneous group of people whom they associate with the magnificent ruins of the Classic Mayan civilization found in Mesoamerica. However, the Classic period occurs after Book of Mormon times. LDS research has focused on identifying the characteristics of the Preclassic Mayan culture, which does indeed cover the time period addressed by the Book of Mormon.

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Referenced in the Doctrine and Covenants

Summary: Since in the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord refers to American Indians in North America as "Lamanites" (e.g., DC 28:8-9,14, DC 30:6, DC 32:2, DC 54:8), does this cause problems for the Limited Geography Theory (LGT) or issues of Amerindian genetic data?

Statements by Church leaders related to the identity of the Lamanites

A collection of all known statements made by Church leaders regarding the identity of the Lamanites

19th century statements

Summary: A collection of statements made by 19th-century Church leaders regarding the identity of the Lamanites.

20th century statements

Summary: A collection of statements made by 20th-century Church leaders regarding the identity of the Lamanites.

21st century statements

Summary: A collection of statements made by 21st-century Church leaders regarding the identity of the Lamanites.


Relationship to Polynesians

Polynesians as descendants of the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon

Summary: It is claimed that the Church has expanded the definition of "Lamanite" to Polynesians. Modern day prophets have repeatedly declared that Polynesians are Lamanites. The patriarchal blessings of Polynesians often state that they are of the tribe of Manasseh (through Lehi).

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Statements from Church leaders about Polynesian origins/identity

Summary: A collection of various statements from Church leaders about Polynesian origins/identity


The Lamanite curse

What was the Lamanite "curse?"

Summary: It is claimed that the Church believed that Lamanites who accepted the Gospel would become light-skinned. "Mormon folklore" claims that Native Americans and Polynesians carry a curse based upon "misdeeds on the part of their ancestors."


The Book of Mormon and DNA evidence

Responding to critical claims regarding DNA evidence and the Book of Mormon

Summary: DNA samples taken from modern Native Americans do not match the DNA of modern inhabitants of the Middle East. Critics argue that this means the Book of Mormon's claim that Native Americans are descended from Lehi must be false, and therefore the Book of Mormon is not an ancient record as Joseph Smith claimed.

Geography issues

Summary: A variety of geographic models have been suggested for the Book of Mormon. Some geographic models introduce other difficulties for the DNA attacks.

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Haplogroup X2a

Summary: Some have tried to use a genetic group called haplotype X2a as proof of the Book of Mormon, but the science at present cannot support this.

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What is Lehi's ancestry?

Summary: Genetic attacks on the Book of Mormon focus on the fact that Amerindian DNA seems closest to Asian DNA, and not DNA from "the Middle East" or "Jewish" DNA. However, this attack ignores several key points, among which is the fact that the Book of Mormon states that Lehi and his family are clearly not Jews.

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How does one identify "Jewish" or "Middle Eastern" DNA?

Summary: Identifying DNA criteria for Manasseh and Ephraim may always be beyond our reach. But, even identifying markers for Jews—a group that has remained relatively cohesive and refrained from intermarriage with others more than most groups—is an extraordinarily difficult undertaking.

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Lemba and Cohen modal haplotype

Summary: Some critics use the "Lemba" as an example of a group proven to be Jewish via DNA testing as proof that such a testing should be possible for Book of Mormon people. But, this example is misleading. The Lemba were identified as Jewish because of a marker called the "Cohen modal haplotype." This marker is carried by about half of those who claim descent from Aaron, Moses' brother, and only 2-3% of other Jews. But, the Book of Mormon does not suggest—and in fact seems to exclude—the idea that Levites (the priestly family of Aaron) were among the Lehi party.

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What methods of DNA tests are available?

Summary: DNA issues can be complex for the non-specialist (especially those who were in high school more than twenty years ago, before much of the modern understanding of DNA was available). In this article we review the methods of DNA testing that are available, along with their strengths and their limitations.

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New World death rate after European contact

Summary: Approximately ninety percent of the Amerindian population died out following contact with the Europeans; most of this was due to infectious disease against which they had no defense.[7] Since different genes likely provide different resistances to infectious disease, it may be that eliminating 90% of the pre-contact gene pool has significantly distorted the true genetic picture of Lehi's descendants.

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Jaredite influence

Summary: Critics often over-look the Jaredites, and assume (as in the hemispheric models that the Jaredites can have contributed nothing of consequence to the Lehite DNA picture. But, it is not clear that this must be the case. Some LDS have believed in a total eradication of the Jaredites, others have argued that Jaredite remnants survived and mixed with the Lehites. Bruce R. McConkie, while believing that the majority of Amerindian descent was from Israel (i.e. Lehi, Ishmael, and Mulek) nevertheless wrote: "The American Indians, however, as Columbus found them also had other blood than that of Israel in their veins. It is possible that isolated remnants of the Jaredites may have lived through the period of destruction in which millions of their fellows perished."

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Fundamentalist "suicide bombing"

Summary: It should be remembered too that many sectarian critics use DNA science in a sort of "suicide bombing" attack on the Church.[8] The fundamentalist Christian critics are happy to use DNA as a stick to beat the Book of Mormon, but do not tell their readers that there is much stronger DNA evidence for concepts which fundamentalist Christian readers might not accept, such as evolutionary change in species, or human descent from other primates.

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Truthfulness of the Book of Mormon

Moroni's promise

Summary: It is claimed that praying about the Book of Mormon is not an objective standard for determining if the book is true or not, and should therefore not be trusted. They claim that many people have read and prayed about the Book of Mormon and have either received no answer, or that they have received an answer from God that it is false.

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Stick of Ephraim

Summary: How is it that the prophesy of the sticks found in Ezekiel 37 is fulfilled in the Book of Mormon if Lehi and Nephi are descendants of Manasseh and not of Ephraim?

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FairMormon web site

Book of Mormon FairMormon articles on-line
  • Brant Gardner, "A Real People, Time, and Place: Contextualizing the Book of Mormon" FairMormon link

See also: AuthorshipDNA issuesGeography issuesHebraic influenceWitnesses

External links

Book of Mormon on-line articles
  • Donald B. Doty, "I Have A Question: Why is the Book of Mormon the ‘most correct of any book on earth’?," Ensign (August 1988), 28–29. off-site
  • Monte S. Nyman, "The Most Correct Book," Ensign (June 1984), 21. off-site
  • Monte S. Nyman, "Why is the Book of Mormon the 'most correct book,' and how does it contain the fulness of the gospel?," Ensign (September 1976), 87. off-site

See also: ArchaeologyAuthorshipDNA issuesGeography issuesHebraic influenceWitnesses

Printed material

Book of Mormon printed materials
  • Free copy of the Book of Mormon with no obligation.

See also: AuthorshipDNA issuesGeography issuesHebraic influenceHistoricityWitnesses

  1. Interview of Emma Smith by her son Joseph Smith III, "Interview with Joseph Smith III, 1879," Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 1:541–542.
  2. Interview of Emma Smith by her son Joseph Smith III, "Interview with Joseph Smith III, 1879," in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 1:539.
  3. Suzanne Austin Alchon, 'A Pest in the Land: New World Epidemics in a Global Perspective,' Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, c2003.
  4. The expression "suicide bombing" in this context comes from Stewart, "DNA and the Book of Mormon."
  5. John L. Smith, "What about those Gold Plates?" The Utah Evangel 33/6 (September 1986): 8.
  6. Stewart Reid, LDS Public Relations Staff, quoted by William J. Bennetta in The Textbook Letter (March-April 1997), published by The Textbook League (P.O. Box 51, Sausalito, California 94966).
  7. Suzanne Austin Alchon, 'A Pest in the Land: New World Epidemics in a Global Perspective,' Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, c2003.
  8. The expression "suicide bombing" in this context comes from Stewart, "DNA and the Book of Mormon."