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How did the Book of Mormon Come About?


Rivers

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Critics of the Book of Mormon spend a lot of time showing how the Book of Mormon could not be a historical record by pointing to lack of archeological evidence, anachronisms, etc. My question for nonbelievers is this: How was the Book of Mormon written? I am familiar with some of the popular theories in the past such a the Sydney Rigdon hypothesis. Is there any one popular theory today? Did Joseph Smith really dictate all of it? Did somebody else write it? Is it possible that Joseph read from a previously written manuscript? I am curious, because I never really hear critics discuss these questions much. Is there any one popular explanation for the book's origin these days?

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Critics of the Book of Mormon spend a lot of time showing how the Book of Mormon could not be a historical record by pointing to lack of archeological evidence, anachronisms, etc. My question for nonbelievers is this: How was the Book of Mormon written? I am familiar with some of the popular theories in the past such a the Sydney Rigdon hypothesis. Is there any one popular theory today? Did Joseph Smith really dictate all of it? Did somebody else write it? Is it possible that Joseph read from a previously written manuscript? I am curious, because I never really hear critics discuss these questions much. Is there any one popular explanation for the book's origin these days?

The most comprehensive explanation i've seen attempted was by Criddle:

http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=ExmormonFoundation#p/u/3/utDU45lm210

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Critics of the Book of Mormon spend a lot of time showing how the Book of Mormon could not be a historical record by pointing to lack of archeological evidence, anachronisms, etc. My question for nonbelievers is this: How was the Book of Mormon written? I am familiar with some of the popular theories in the past such a the Sydney Rigdon hypothesis. Is there any one popular theory today? Did Joseph Smith really dictate all of it? Did somebody else write it? Is it possible that Joseph read from a previously written manuscript? I am curious, because I never really hear critics discuss these questions much. Is there any one popular explanation for the book's origin these days?

Hi Rivers,

I do not accept the Book of Mormon as Scripture. But I am unfamiliar with lack of archeological evidence, anachronisms, etc. Presumably LDS have answers to the critics on these questions? I don't have a theory for the Koran either. I find it interesting that both Mormons and Muslims are convinced of the divine origins of their respective religions based on the proposed impossibility that neither Joseph Smith nor Muhammed were capable of writing the literature in question.

What is your theory for the Koran? Have you used the same methodology to judge whether Muhammed was capable of writing the Koran as you have to determine that Joseph Smith was incapable of writing the Book of Mormon? Have you considered the Bahai Scriptures? I am not comfortable with the naturalistic arguments used against any of these remarkable writings. I don't have to believe that Joseph Smith, Muhammed, or Baha'ullah were deliberate frauds in order to dismiss their messages.

With that said, I would lean towards believing that the mechanics of the writing of the Book of Mormon took place in whatever way it was explained by Joseph Smith.

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Critics of the Book of Mormon spend a lot of time showing how the Book of Mormon could not be a historical record by pointing to lack of archeological evidence, anachronisms, etc. My question for nonbelievers is this: How was the Book of Mormon written? I am familiar with some of the popular theories in the past such a the Sydney Rigdon hypothesis. Is there any one popular theory today? Did Joseph Smith really dictate all of it? Did somebody else write it? Is it possible that Joseph read from a previously written manuscript? I am curious, because I never really hear critics discuss these questions much. Is there any one popular explanation for the book's origin these days?

I've had occasion to speak to a few biblical scholars about their opinion of the Book of Mormon. Generally speaking they consider the book to be an unremarkable 19th century American religious writing meant to imitate the KJV Bible that reflects ideas of the day and tells an anachronistic history of the Americas. The explanation for it's composition is unnecessary in their minds because the book doesn't require it.

Phaedrus

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I don't have a theory for the Koran either. I find it interesting that both Mormons and Muslims are convinced of the divine origins of their respective religions based on the proposed impossibility that neither Joseph Smith nor Muhammed were capable of writing the literature in question.

The Book of Mormon is very unlike the Koran in at least one very important way: The Koran is, ostensibly, an account of a (series) of dictations given through an angel (Gabriel). It has no "story" and does not portray events, only concepts.

The Book of Mormon is a history. It derived from an artifact (the Golden Plates). It tells the story of a people, and its doctrinicity is almost secondary to the history it relates.

This difference makes all the difference because no one can test the contents of the Koran but we can test the contents of the Book of Mormon. If there is a NHM, a Bountiful, a River Laman and a Valley Lemuel, a Zarahemla, and a Hill Cumorah, then the Book of Mormon is true, which means the whole Restoration is true, and all other Christian sects are incomplete.

Mohamed may not have been able to write the Koran, but for very different reasons than those for which Joseph could not have written the Book of Mormon. Neither was a great writer, may not have been able to create the work in question in a mechanical way, but Joseph was working against another barrier, too: he could not know there was a NHM, a Bountiful, a Laman/Lemuel or a Zarahemla. The fact that the first three of these have most likely been located vindicates the account of Lehi's trek in Arabia. When we find the last, no one will be able to say that Joseph (or any XIX writer) made any of it up, the hits just keep on comin'.

Comparing Joseph to Mohamed, the Koran to the Book of Mormon, is not very useful because the differences are too great.

Lehi

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Critics of the Book of Mormon spend a lot of time showing how the Book of Mormon could not be a historical record by pointing to lack of archeological evidence, anachronisms, etc.

And that has been a very successful endeavor, without any really good answers. Why would a critic need to go any further than that?

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How was the Book of Mormon written?

It was engraved on plates by dozens of prophets, it covers the history of three groups of people (Jaradites, Nephites, and Lamanites) from the time periods of 2000 BC and 600BC to 421 AD. These engraved records were abridged and complied into the plates called the Book of Mormon, by the Prophet-Historian Mormon and his son Moroni. This is how the Book of Mormon was written, this record was buried in Palmyra NY around 421 AD, in 1827 these plates were retrieved by the Prophet Joseph Smith and translated by the power of God into English.

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Mohamed may not have been able to write the Koran, but for very different reasons than those for which Joseph could not have written the Book of Mormon. Neither was a great writer, may not have been able to create the work in question in a mechanical way, but Joseph was working against another barrier, too: he could not know there was a NHM, a Bountiful, a Laman/Lemuel or a Zarahemla. The fact that the first three of these have most likely been located vindicates the account of Lehi's trek in Arabia. When we find the last, no one will be able to say that Joseph (or any XIX writer) made any of it up, the hits just keep on comin'.

If we do find Zarahemla, that would also be proof that God and angels exist, because there would be no other explanation for the Book of Mormon's origin. I don't think we're supposed to have that sort of proof.

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Hi Rivers,

I do not accept the Book of Mormon as Scripture. But I am unfamiliar with lack of archeological evidence, anachronisms, etc. Presumably LDS have answers to the critics on these questions? I don't have a theory for the Koran either. I find it interesting that both Mormons and Muslims are convinced of the divine origins of their respective religions based on the proposed impossibility that neither Joseph Smith nor Muhammed were capable of writing the literature in question.

What is your theory for the Koran? Have you used the same methodology to judge whether Muhammed was capable of writing the Koran as you have to determine that Joseph Smith was incapable of writing the Book of Mormon? Have you considered the Bahai Scriptures? I am not comfortable with the naturalistic arguments used against any of these remarkable writings. I don't have to believe that Joseph Smith, Muhammed, or Baha'ullah were deliberate frauds in order to dismiss their messages.

I don't know whole lot about the Koran, but I know that it has been source of inspiration for millions of people. And so has the Book of Mormon. I think we determine scripture based on the enlightenment that it gives us. The Book of Mormon does a pretty good job at that for me so I consider it scripture. Even though it doesn't make a whole lot of sense as a historical record. Maybe more evidence will come. Maybe not.

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The better question is what the Book of Mormon does not have....a true history of the people in the Americas. Of course the Book of Mormon has some 500 paragraphs of direct quotes from the true word of God...the Bible...I respect Criddles work and believe he is spot on. It was a colaboration between the Rigdon, Spaulding, and Oliver Cowdery. Ask yourself this key question, why did Joseph Smith spend aprox 20 miniutes at the first printing press, when Oliver Cowdery was there daily? There is also an entry in a diary where these men were seen together, with "many books scatered on a table"..or something to the effect. I will try and dig up the exact quote.

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The better question is what the Book of Mormon does not have....a true history of the people in the Americas. Of course the Book of Mormon has some 500 paragraphs of direct quotes from the true word of God...the Bible...I respect Criddles work and believe he is spot on. It was a colaboration between the Rigdon, Spaulding, and Oliver Cowdery. Ask yourself this key question, why did Joseph Smith spend aprox 20 miniutes at the first printing press, when Oliver Cowdery was there daily? There is also an entry in a diary where these men were seen together, with "many books scatered on a table"..or something to the effect. I will try and dig up the exact quote.

Tango, you should read Bruce's new piece out on Criddle's analysis method. Spaulding got attributed to one chapter, in it, I believe, which means statistically none. 95% of the chapters were attributed to 'other', and so that means that most likely, the BoM was not written by Rigdon, Spalding, Cowdery, Smith, or any of those others in his data analysis.

You could probably talk to Uncle Dale about it too though - he knows a bit about it.

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If joseph would have presented the BoM and said i wrote this, would everyone have said that is not possible because it it to inspiring and full of prophecy for someone like you to have written it , it must have come from an angel?

We tend to look at the BofM through preconceived notions. We are told it is divine so when we read it we look for the divine and generally find it. If you have the ability try reading it as though it is just a book someone wrote. You will generally find it much less inspiring. Or read Lord of the Rings with the notion that this is divine truth from God and you will find great meaning in it.

I do not know how the BofM came to be, but I generally go with the most simple explanation unless there is verifiable proof to the contrary. In this case Joseph or others wrote it.

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Tango, you should read Bruce's new piece out on Criddle's analysis method. Spaulding got attributed to one chapter, in it, I believe, which means statistically none. 95% of the chapters were attributed to 'other', and so that means that most likely, the BoM was not written by Rigdon, Spalding, Cowdery, Smith, or any of those others in his data analysis.

You could probably talk to Uncle Dale about it too though - he knows a bit about it.

Hey TAO, I was looking forward to hearing about Bruce's paper. Has there been a thread on this subject in the past?

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If we do find Zarahemla, that would also be proof that God and angels exist, because there would be no other explanation for the Book of Mormon's origin. I don't think we're supposed to have that sort of proof.

I agree with you in principle, but even with that proof, there would still be people so wedded to the "Marmunz is rong" meme that they would still reject it as the word of God. We have seen some of them here on this forum.

I am reminded of the Jewish scholar who told me and my missionary companion that she had never read a more "Jewish" book than the Book of Mormon, but that she had no interest in studying the Church it engendered. It just wasn't part of her life to be religious, and even if there were angels and so on involved in its production, she couldn't be bothered.

Lehi

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Critics of the Book of Mormon spend a lot of time showing how the Book of Mormon could not be a historical record by pointing to lack of archeological evidence, anachronisms, etc. My question for nonbelievers is this: How was the Book of Mormon written? I am familiar with some of the popular theories in the past such a the Sydney Rigdon hypothesis. Is there any one popular theory today? Did Joseph Smith really dictate all of it? Did somebody else write it? Is it possible that Joseph read from a previously written manuscript? I am curious, because I never really hear critics discuss these questions much. Is there any one popular explanation for the book's origin these days?

Personally I think the BofM was written (mostly by Rigdon) on small peices of paper that were fairly easy to conceal but then

viewed through Joseph's hat which was a crude but very functional type of "pinhole camera" or "camera obscura".

The hole in the hat is literally the size of a pin (un-noticeable unless you were looking very closely for it) and yet can afford one a focused view of things that are some distance away.

I think as the scribe created the new manuscript, the smaller version was destroyed which accounts for Joseph's extreme distress at having lost the 116 manuscript pages with the Martin Harris fiasco.

Deciding to continue the translation (which they already had script for) was an effective decision which gave them time to re-frame and re-write the missing pages.

See Illustration for how a pinhole viewer or camera works.

pinhole_todo_5.gif

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If we do find Zarahemla, that would also be proof that God and angels exist, because there would be no other explanation for the Book of Mormon's origin. I don't think we're supposed to have that sort of proof.

Lack of imagination isn't the same as a "proof".

Suppose, for example, that Joseph really did find a trove of ancient plates and artifacts in the nearby drumlin. Then, he discovers he has a unique ability to look at the ancient language and decipher word patterns and meanings. He proceeds to "translate" the plates, and produces the Book of Mormon.

People do amazing things all the time (or, in the words of Oscar Hammerstein,

).

I suspect that ultimately the most reasonable theory for the Book of Mormon's origin is the "I don't know" theory, since all other suggested theories have serious deficiencies that require shelving before they become convincing.

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Hey TAO, I was looking forward to hearing about Bruce's paper. Has there been a thread on this subject in the past?

Yah, it's somewhere in the serious discussion forum... it has all the stats and stuff. I believe I posted a link to an excel chart I made... the statistics are rather different than Criddles, but he started with a slightly different base. You can probably read about it in the thread... or contact Dale or Bruce, they'd be able to tell you alot about it I think.

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It was engraved on plates by dozens of prophets, it covers the history of three groups of people (Jaradites, Nephites, and Lamanites) from the time periods of 2000 BC and 600BC to 421 AD. These engraved records were abridged and complied into the plates called the Book of Mormon, by the Prophet-Historian Mormon and his son Moroni. This is how the Book of Mormon was written, this record was buried in Palmyra NY around 421 AD, in 1827 these plates were retrieved by the Prophet Joseph Smith and translated by the power of God into English.

Please enlighten the world Mr. LDS Guy-

The central problem facing the Book of Mormon

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Personally I think the BofM was written (mostly by Rigdon) on small peices of paper that were fairly easy to conceal but then

viewed through Joseph's hat which was a crude but very functional type of "pinhole camera" or "camera obscura".

The hole in the hat is literally the size of a pin (un-noticeable unless you were looking very closely for it) and yet can afford one a focused view of things that are some distance away.

I think as the scribe created the new manuscript, the smaller version was destroyed which accounts for Joseph's extreme distress at having lost the 116 manuscript pages with the Martin Harris fiasco.

Deciding to continue the translation (which they already had script for) was an effective decision which gave them time to re-frame and re-write the missing pages.

See Illustration for how a pinhole viewer or camera works.

pinhole_todo_5.gif

I don't get it. :P

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We tend to look at the BofM through preconceived notions. We are told it is divine so when we read it we look for the divine and generally find it. If you have the ability try reading it as though it is just a book someone wrote. You will generally find it much less inspiring. Or read Lord of the Rings with the notion that this is divine truth from God and you will find great meaning in it.

I do find great meaning in reading Lord of the Rings. As well as the movies. That speech that Samwise gives at the end of Two Towers was just beautiful.

I agree that great meaning comes from all sorts of places.

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With that said, I would lean towards believing that the mechanics of the writing of the Book of Mormon took place in whatever way it was explained by Joseph Smith.

I agree. I think it happened just the way all the eyewitnesses described it: Joseph Smith sitting at a table without any manuscript to look at, dictating the book word for word.

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Now there is plenty of evidence to support the Book of Mormon, if one simply looks for it, it can be found. The only way someone doesn't find any evidence for the Book of Mormon is because they are no looking at all.

You can find evidence of men on the moon if you wan to. The whole concept if look hard enough you will find evidence is bogus. Evidence is not found it is more likely discovered, generally when you were not looking for it, at least specifically.

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