Question: Was Joseph Smith too ignorant, unlearned and foolish to have authored the Book of Mormon?


Question: Was Joseph Smith too ignorant, unlearned and foolish to have authored the Book of Mormon?

From the very beginning, critics had difficulty accounting for the Book of Mormon

It is claimed the Book of Mormon was clearly not something that Joseph Smith could have authored unaided—he was too ignorant, unlearned, and foolish.

The style is a close imitation of the scriptural, and is remarkably free from any allusion that might betray a knowledge of the present political or social state of the world.—The writer lives in the whole strength of his imagination in the age he portrays. It is difficult to imagine a more difficult literary task than to write what may be termed a continuation of the Scriptures, that should not only avoid all collision with the authentic and sacred word; but even fill up many chasms that now seem to exist, and thus receive and lend confirmation in almost every book. To establish a plausibly-sustained theory that the aborigines of our Continent are descendants of Israel without committing himself by any assertion or description that could be contradicted, shows a degree of talent and research that in an uneducated youth of twenty is almost a miracle in itself....

—“The Book of Mormon,” The New-Yorker (New York) (12 December 1840): n.p.. off-site

This entry exists mainly for historical reasons. It demonstrates that, from the very beginning, critics had difficulty accounting for the Book of Mormon. Some insisted that its production was beyond Joseph's capabilities (see the "critical sources" link for examples) while others insisted that Joseph was plainly the author.


To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here

Notes