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Two months ago someone from my extended family, Richard (not his real name), left the church. “I believe Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon,” he said. I spent an hour or so pushing back on this point. I brought up the complex geography of the BOM (“Fiction writers very rarely invent geography, and when they do it’s a very simple geography”); the language (“Who invents something like Reformed Egyptian? If you’re inventing a story about Jews from 600 BC you have them speaking Hebrew”); the various plates (“Someone could write a whole book on the various plates in the BOM alone, the abridgments, the abridgments of abridgments, the large plates, the small plates, what happened to these plates over the course of a thousand years”); the messiness yet internal consistency of the narrative (“Fiction is not messy, it is tidy, organized. But the BOM is untidy, messy, and there are loose ends everywhere. Why? Because it is not fiction"); etc., etc. But it was all to no effect. Richard has never been a reader, and most of what I said––well, it just didn’t register with him. But what I said next, did. “The Book of Mormon was originally rendered in a language Joseph Smith didn’t know.” “What?” “The Book of Mormon, the original text that Joseph Smith dictated, was not written in the English of that day. It was not the King James English of the Bible, nor was it the English of Joseph’s day. It was written in Early Modern English, a language which had been out of use for 200 years by 1827. This was a language Joseph Smith did not know and could not have known.” Long pause. I’d finally hit on something that Richard could grasp. "The presence of Early Modern English in the Book of Mormon is proof that Joseph Smith did not produce the book himself," I said. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that it is a different kind of proof, one that is easily grasped by someone like Richard, who is not going to respond to other proofs. Not that Richard is suddenly going to return to the church. I doubt that he will. But the presence of EModE in the BOM, when taken with all of the other proofs, makes it extremely unlikely, really impossible, that JS wrote the BOM. P.S. - Tried to edit headline but can't.
A symposium on "EGYPT AND THE OLD TESTAMENT" will be held at the Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer Kunst, Gabelsbergerstr. 35, Munich/München, Germany, on 6-7 Dec 2019.The proceedings will be published as ÄAT (AEGYPTEN UND ALTES TESTAMENT) volume 100.More on the symposium can be found at https://www.freunde-abrahams.de/aegypten-und-altes-testament/ . ÄAT's spectrum covers the philological, art historical, and archaeological branches of Egyptology, as well as Old Testament exegesis, the archaeology, glyptics and epigraphy of Israel/Palestine and neighboring regions such as Sinai and Transjordan, literature and history of religions, from the Bronze Ages up to Greco-Roman and early Christian periods, as well as relevant aspects of research history.