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stemelbow

Evidence That Bom Was Written By Js Or Some Other 19Th C Per

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In another thread, Rob Bowman said,

"The question that needs to be asked is not whether Joseph Smith could have written the Book of Mormon but whether the evidence shows that he, or someone close to him, did so. I'm afraid the answer to that question is Yes. And if Joseph or someone close to him (I am inclined to give Joseph the credit) wrote it, then of course he could have done so."

CFR. I'd like to see the evidence of which you speak.

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stemelbow,

You wrote:

In another thread, Rob Bowman said,

"The question that needs to be asked is not whether Joseph Smith could have written the Book of Mormon but whether the evidence shows that he, or someone close to him, did so. I'm afraid the answer to that question is Yes. And if Joseph or someone close to him (I am inclined to give Joseph the credit) wrote it, then of course he could have done so."

CFR. I'd like to see the evidence of which you speak.

Thanks for asking. You may realize that to present the evidence and address all of the factual controversies, objections, counter-objections, etc., would take several volumes. I answer your question fully aware of this limitation and also fully expecting that some will take deep offense at what I say.

First, looking at the matter from an evidential, historical perspective, the burden of proof is really on the claim that the Book of Mormon originated any earlier than the 1820s. No one seems to have known anything about it prior to Joseph's first announcements to other people that he had been given access to the gold plates on which this book was supposedly written. The gold plates are not extant and no manuscript copy of any identifiable portion of the Book of Mormon in its original language is extant, either. (The characters supposedly copied from the plates and shown to Anthon do not represent any sizable body of text, cannot be translated, cannot be identified with any part of the Book of Mormon, and in fact if they had been copied from the plates they would have come from the "Book of Lehi," not the Book of Mormon.) No one reported ever seeing the gold plates except Joseph and about a dozen of his supporters among his family and friends, and there are legitimate questions that can be asked about those testimonies (e.g., the witnesses saw the plates only under circumstances tightly controlled by Joseph himself). All of this is to say that from an outsider's perspective the evidential burden is on the Book of Mormon, not on those who claim it originated in the 1820s.

That having been said, there is plenty of evidence showing that the Book of Mormon in fact originated in the 1820s. The thread to which you refer discusses some of this evidence. Whoever wrote the Book of Mormon was familiar with the King James Version. We know this because the Book of Mormon quotes reams of Isaiah and other parts of the Bible, usually closely matching the KJV (even repeating its unusual and in some cases incorrect translations of specific passages). In many, many places it alludes to the KJV of the New Testament, i.e., it contains statements like the ones I quoted from Alma 5 that clearly show knowledge of such verses as Matthew 3:10 in the KJV. This evidence is sufficient to warrant the conclusion that the Book of Mormon was written between 1611 and 1829, and of course no one thinks it was written in the 1600s or 1700s.

Then there is the evidence that I mentioned in the previous thread that much of the material in the Book of Mormon reflects Joseph Smith's immediate cultural context of the Second Great Awakening in early America and especially in upstate New York in the first decades of the 1800s. I had mentioned and explained in that thread the evidence that the sermon in Alma 5 reflected both the English idiom and the style and genre of revivalist extemporaneous preaching by Methodists and other evangelical Protestants right at the time and place in which Joseph produced the Book of Mormon. As Grant Palmer shows in his book An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, an awful lot of the Book of Mormon exhibits this same revivalist context. There is a lot more evidence of differing kinds that points to the same conclusion about the Book of Mormon's early nineteenth-century cultural and religious context. The Book of Mormon addresses theological, pastoral, and practical concerns of Protestants in the early nineteenth century, such as questions about infant baptism, the age of accountability, the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit in modern times, and many other such questions.

The history of the "coming forth" of the Book of Mormon also provides some powerful evidence that it originated not only around the time of Joseph Smith but that it originated precisely in 1828-1829 when Joseph Smith dictated it. Probably the most crucial element of that history has to do with the lost 116 pages that Joseph Smith had to replace after they were lost, stolen, or destroyed while in Martin Harris's possession. An inspired prophet who knew the sorts of things that Joseph claimed to know, who had an angel leading him to the gold plates in the first place, would have been able to know what happened to those missing pages--but Joseph never did find out what happened to them. His claim that the pages were stolen and altered by people waiting for him to re-translate the same material so they could produce the altered manuscript to make him out to be a fraud was almost certainly false: it's been over 180 years and the pages have never turned up (among other problems with that claim). A genuine prophet would have been able to produce replacement pages without any trouble and would not have worried about what his enemies might do. Instead, after some anguish and passage of time during which he could contemplate how to solve the problem, Joseph came up with a most implausible and suspiciously convenient story about a second, partially parallel account having been produced in ancient times as a contingency because of God's foreknowledge of what would happen to the 116 pages. (Why God, armed with such foreknowledge, would not have warned Joseph of what would happen if Martin was allowed to take the pages home is just one of a thicket of questions that are troubling at this point.) That back-up account (1 Nephi through Omni) is noticeably skimpy on narrative, chronological data, personal names, etc., in comparison to the rest of the Book of Mormon, being filled largely with visions, prophecies, and extremely lengthy excerpts from Isaiah (again, largely matching the KJV word for word in most places). The sketchiness of the narrative in these books is most plausibly explained as a device to avoid inadvertently contradicting the narrative of the lost 116 pages.

These are just some of the main lines of evidence that I find difficult to square with any other explanation but that the Book of Mormon was produced by Joseph Smith (and/or a close associate of his) in the late 1820s. Both external evidence concerning the process by which the Book of Mormon came to be published and internal evidence of the Book of Mormon's contents and sources (especially the KJV Bible) point directly and solidly to this conclusion. I am aware of the attempts by LDS scholars and apologists to respond to these problems or to counter with evidences supposedly authenticating the Book of Mormon, but I don't find them persuasive. I don't view this issue from the perspective of an agnostic or skeptic who doesn't believe in miracles, angels, or revelations. I believe in all those things. I simply find the factual evidence against the Book of Mormon compelling. I realize that Mormons will argue that similar criticisms have been made of the Bible, but honestly I don't agree. You will notice that I have not appealed to a lack of archaeological confirmation of specific details in the Book of Mormon, or imperfections and inconsistencies within its pages. I have not argued that Book of Mormon passages cannot be authentic because they claim miracles took place or because they purport to contain prophetic revelations about the future. In short, in my assessment of the Book of Mormon I don't use the kinds of arguments that skeptics use against the Bible. My academic training is as a biblical scholar, so I am very much aware of those sorts of issues. The Book of Mormon is in an altogether different evidential situation than the Bible.

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The Book of Mormon addresses theological, pastoral, and practical concerns of Protestants in the early nineteenth century, such as questions about infant baptism, the age of accountability, the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit in modern times, and many other such questions.

Not to mention the early 19th century belief that the Indians came from Israel, which Joseph Smith accepted fully, and to which we now know is absolutely false.

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Xander,

You wrote:

Not to mention the early 19th century belief that the Indians came from Israel, which Joseph Smith accepted fully, and to which we now know is absolutely false.

Yes, of course. I should have mentioned this point.

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Not to mention the early 19th century belief that the Indians came from Israel, which Joseph Smith accepted fully, and to which we now know is absolutely false.

How is it "absolutely false"?

Native American's as well as other peoples of the earth having the Lost Tribes of Israel within them are a well attested Religious FACT.

DNA has nothing to do with this, and certianly doesn't debunk it.

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A lot of assumptions.. A lot of them. But you know what, I think we have come to a point where after all this time, Pro-LDS will believe he didn't and Anti-LDS will believe he did. Just like Pro-Bible people believe the Bible was inspired, and Anti-Bible people will believe it was a creation of men.

This round robin hasn't budged for decades.

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jskains,

You wrote:

A lot of assumptions.. A lot of them.

I'd like to have you name for me just two "assumptions" you think I am making with which you disagree.

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Not to mention the early 19th century belief that the Indians came from Israel, which Joseph Smith accepted fully, and to which we now know is absolutely false.

[Yawn]

Lol, I am not aware of this. That all of the Indians came from Israel. We believe and the BoM teaches that some of the inhabitants of this continent were descendants of Israel. Which I will point out there seems to be some evidence that supports that.

Edited by Mola Ram Suda Ram

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jskains,

You wrote:

I'd like to have you name for me just two "assumptions" you think I am making with which you disagree.

This?
An inspired prophet who knew the sorts of things that Joseph claimed to know, who had an angel leading him to the gold plates in the first place, would have been able to know what happened to those missing pages-

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Mola,

You quoted the following statement I made as an example of an assumption with which you would disagree:

"An inspired prophet who knew the sorts of things that Joseph claimed to know, who had an angel leading him to the gold plates in the first place, would have been able to know what happened to those missing pages...."

I don't see any questionable assumption here. God talked to Joseph--many times, so we are told. God sent an angel to talk to Joseph--many times, we are told. The angel knew where the gold plates were. God knew what happened to the 116 pages. God could have told Joseph, or told Moroni to tell Joseph, what happened to the missing pages. The angel could have led Joseph straight to the missing pages. End of problem. The conclusion seems to follow logically from premises that you must accept to be a Mormon. Help me see the questionable assumption.

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"I am aware of the attempts by LDS scholars and apologists to respond to these problems or to counter with evidences supposedly authenticating the Book of Mormon, but I don't find them persuasive."

Gee, what a surprise. Guess what, I have closely examined the evidences, both internal and external, fr the BOM, and find them highly persuasive. Unless you are of the opinion that JS had a working knowledge of the Pentateuch, as well as other evidences that I suspect you would not find persuasive, either.

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I'd like to have you name for me just two "assumptions" you think I am making with which you disagree.

Here are my candidates for assumptions you are making:

First, "That anyone one here cares about your opinion."

Second, "That anyone here takes your 'scholarship' more seriously than the reporting in the National Enquirer."

Now that I've answered your question, I'd like to offer the following criticism:

Then there is the evidence that I mentioned in the previous thread that much of the material in the Book of Mormon reflects Joseph Smith's immediate cultural context of the Second Great Awakening in early America and especially in upstate New York in the first decades of the 1800s. I had mentioned and explained in that thread the evidence that the sermon in Alma 5 reflected both the English idiom and the style and genre of revivalist extemporaneous preaching by Methodists and other evangelical Protestants right at the time and place in which Joseph produced the Book of Mormon.
You offer us your opinion as though it were indisputed fact.

That reflects both of the assumptions I offered above, but more seriously is simply poor scholarship.

One of the many valid criticisms of the repeated "Quests for the Historical Jesus" is the tendency of the questors to rewrite the historical record in their own flavor and to support their own assumptions.

Or as the Irish modernist and Roman Catholic George Tyrrell commented, those who had written a putative historical work on Jesus had merely peered down the well of history and seen the reflection of their own faces.

You efforts invariably fall into the same trap.

You start from the assumption that Smith was a fraud and confront (and contort) the evidence to meet that assumption. (This would, I think, qualify as the third assumption you are making in this thread).

This has been pointed out numerous times and in numerous threads- and your only response has been a variation on the theme of, "Who, me? Nobody here but us chickens."

Rather than an objective, scholarly approach to the evidence, you invariably and inextricably shadow the evidence through the lens of your narrow anti-Mormon ideology.

You assume that the only way the Book of Mormon might reflect King James-style words, phrases, and history is if Joseph (or someone else) liberally borrowed from it.

To the contrary, your assumption rejects the possibility that the true author of the Book of Mormon (God himself) is both intimately aware of all of the extant texts and constructed the Book of Mormon translation to meet the needs and weaknesses of his disciples.

This is ironic primarily because so much of your own sacred text fails the same test with which you purport to discredit the Book of Mormon.

It is equally ironic because you (as a fundamentalist evangelical) are using a minimalist/materialist line of attack to undermine a religious text.

In short, you are employing the very same materialistic/atheistic arguments used against the Bible- and then turn around and accuse us of attacking Scripture.

Because of this methodology, your "scholarship" is invariably a carnival-mirror of the evidence, replete with distortion, innuendo, ad hoc arguments, and theological and philosophical bias.

When this is pointed out, your response begins with righteous indignation (as evidenced by the very post to which I am responding), degenerates into "Mormons do it too", and then commences into either pitying moderators providing you with an escape hatch by closing the thread, or the oh-so-convenient "real-life emergency" which takes you away from the boards until the heat dies down.

I am curious which will be the case in this thread. My money is on the moderators.

You are indeed the penultimate Teflon critic- "immune and immutable to logic or reason, steadfast and unmovable in your course and desires.:

T'would be admirable were the cause not so pitiable.

Edited by selek1

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A question for our critics who speak with such certainty: Those witnesses -- were they dupes, or co-conspriators

  • Now eight calimed testify that they saw the physical plates "with the appearance of gold", hefted them and viewed the characters. They made it pretty clear that these were not pure gold, since some ascribed the weight to about 50 pounds.
    Several of them saw other angels who laid their hands on them to give them the priesthood.
    A couple of them, including witness twelve, claimed to have a joint vision with Joseph Smith who saw Christ.
    Three claimed to see an angel and heard the voice of God.

So, of these twelve witnesses, which were duped, which were co-conspirators.

Edited by cdowis

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I know everyone's going to pile on Rob, but it should be noted that sensible LDS scholars like Terryl Givens, Richard Bushman, Philip Barlow, Grant Underwood, Blake Ostler, Brant Gardner, etc., recognize that the Book of Mormon contains material that appears to reflect Joseph Smith's cultural environment.

Givens, for example, writes: "It is undeniably the case that folk magic, slippery treasures, and emotionally extravagant reactions to conversion all make their appearance in the Book of Mormon and in the popular culture of Joseph Smith's day" (Terryl L. Givens, The Book of Mormon: A Very Short Introduction [New York: Oxford University Press, 2009], 115).

After noting the evidences adduced for an ancient origin, Given's observes: "None of these items, of course, taken singly, constitutes decisive proof that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text. Even their cumulative weight is counterbalanced by what appear to be striking intrusions into the Book of Mormon text of anachronisms, nineteenth-century parallels, and elements that appear to many scholars to be historically implausible and inconsistent with what is known about ancient American cultures" (Givens, 122).

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"An inspired prophet who knew the sorts of things that Joseph claimed to know, who had an angel leading him to the gold plates in the first place, would have been able to know what happened to those missing pages...."

The number of questionable assumptions here are legion- but also feed into your attempted thread-jack.

This, therefore, will be my final response on this topic in this thread.

If you wish to discuss your legion of errors, start another thread.

I don't see any questionable assumption here. God talked to Joseph--many times, so we are told.
Gotta love the absolutely unbiased, not-even-remotely-cynical-or-snarky qualifier. And you wonder why we consider you a less than academically honest observer?
The angel knew where the gold plates were.
Accepted without challenge.
God knew what happened to the 116 pages.
Accepted without challenge.
God could have told Joseph, or told Moroni to tell Joseph, what happened to the missing pages.
Emphasis mine.
The angel could have led Joseph straight to the missing pages.
Emphasis mine.
End of problem. The conclusion seems to follow logically from premises that you must accept to be a Mormon. Help me see the questionable assumption.

You assume that God/the angels/Moroni failed in their efforts to lead Joseph to the missing manuscript.

That assumption is predicated on the idea that God or Moroni wanted the missing pages found.

Yes, God or the angel could have led Joseph to the lost manuscript- IF that was the mind and will of the Lord.

The events themselves, however, provide both plausible and reasonable evidence that this was not the case.

Joseph, as a prophet, learned several valuable lessons about his duties and responsibilities from this episode, and the wisdom and foresight of the Lord was shown forth.

All of your arguments rest on the sandy foundation that the Lord wanted the manuscript found. Remove that assumption (as the evidence requires) and the entire house of cards collapses.

Ironically, at least one of your own revered prophets fails the self-same test.

Was Jonah any less a prophet because Ninevah was not destroyed?

Were we to hold Jonah to the same standard you hold Joseph (and engage in the same willful ignorance of context) the answer must be "Jonah was a false prophet".

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I know everyone's going to pile on Rob, but it should be noted that sensible LDS scholars like Terryl Givens, Richard Bushman, Philip Barlow, Grant Underwood, Blake Ostler, Brant Gardner, etc., recognize that the Book of Mormon contains material that appears to reflect Joseph Smith's cultural environment.

The difference, of course, is that these noted scholars all concede that there are a number of reasonable explanations for these apparent "inclusions", and are open to the possibility that such "inclusions" are part of the dramatic harmony of the Scriptures.

Bowman, by contrast, can sing only one note in that symphony, and off-key, at that.

Edited by selek1

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selek,

You wrote:

Here are my candidates for assumptions you are making:

First, "That anyone one here cares about your opinion."

Second, "That anyone here takes your 'scholarship' more seriously than the reporting in the National Enquirer."

........

When this is pointed out, your response begins with righteous indignation (as evidenced by the very post to which I am responding), degenerates into "Mormons do it too", and then commences into either pitying moderators providing you with an escape hatch by closing the thread, or the oh-so-convenient "real-life emergency" which takes you away from the boards until the heat dies down.

Look, a Mormon in this forum asked me for my opinion. If you don't care about my opinion, just ignore it.

I consider it highly offensive that you would ridicule me for saying at times that I have had emergency situations arise that temporarily limited or delayed my participation here. You are in effect accusing me of lying. I assure you, having two family members hospitalized for a week each within a period of two months (for example) does tend to take one's attention away from answering people like you. The moderators can and will do as they see fit. For my part, I will simply refuse to answer any posts from you until you retract your awful insinuations and show at least a modicum of decency.

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First, looking at the matter from an evidential, historical perspective, the burden of proof is really on the claim that the Book of Mormon originated any earlier than the 1820s.

This is true.

The gold plates are not extant and no manuscript copy of any identifiable portion of the Book of Mormon in its original language is extant, either. (The characters supposedly copied from the plates and shown to Anthon do not represent any sizable body of text, cannot be translated, cannot be identified with any part of the Book of Mormon, and in fact if they had been copied from the plates they would have come from the "Book of Lehi," not the Book of Mormon.)

True as well, but the Bible would fail this test. We lack the original manuscripts. Indeed, there's a lot of evidence they never existed (as well as evidence they existed). The earliest possible reference to Jesus' ministry was Paul's writings, and we lack even his original holographs. Indeed, Paul never quotes the Gospels, but when he does quote Jesus (it is better to give than to receive) he quotes a source not evident in the Gospels. For whatever reason, God did not seem it compelling to preserve the original holographs. Perhaps had He done so, they would have been venerated like a relic.

No one reported ever seeing the gold plates except Joseph and about a dozen of his supporters among his family and friends, and there are legitimate questions that can be asked about those testimonies (e.g., the witnesses saw the plates only under circumstances tightly controlled by Joseph himself). All of this is to say that from an outsider's perspective the evidential burden is on the Book of Mormon, not on those who claim it originated in the 1820s.

Many saw the plates. Indeed, in John Whitmer's case, he recanted his testimony of the plates on the ground that when he turned the leaves he could not read the language. A backhanded authentication of the plates much more convincing than the testimony of an acolyte. We have no holographs of persons who can say that the Gospels were written by their putative authors.

That having been said, there is plenty of evidence showing that the Book of Mormon in fact originated in the 1820s. The thread to which you refer discusses some of this evidence. Whoever wrote the Book of Mormon was familiar with the King James Version. We know this because the Book of Mormon quotes reams of Isaiah and other parts of the Bible, usually closely matching the KJV (even repeating its unusual and in some cases incorrect translations of specific passages). In many, many places it alludes to the KJV of the New Testament, i.e., it contains statements like the ones I quoted from Alma 5 that clearly show knowledge of such verses as Matthew 3:10 in the KJV. This evidence is sufficient to warrant the conclusion that the Book of Mormon was written between 1611 and 1829, and of course no one thinks it was written in the 1600s or 1700s.

True, and perhaps the best indictment against the Book of Mormon today. However, its translator did have the KJV of the Bible, and the only he had. It seems likely that the translator, when trying to get Biblical passages right, would refer to the KJV, even as to concepts in the Book of Mormon which predated the Bible.

Then there is the evidence that I mentioned in the previous thread that much of the material in the Book of Mormon reflects Joseph Smith's immediate cultural context of the Second Great Awakening in early America and especially in upstate New York in the first decades of the 1800s. I had mentioned and explained in that thread the evidence that the sermon in Alma 5 reflected both the English idiom and the style and genre of revivalist extemporaneous preaching by Methodists and other evangelical Protestants right at the time and place in which Joseph produced the Book of Mormon. As Grant Palmer shows in his book An Insider's View of Mormon Origins, an awful lot of the Book of Mormon exhibits this same revivalist context. There is a lot more evidence of differing kinds that points to the same conclusion about the Book of Mormon's early nineteenth-century cultural and religious context. The Book of Mormon addresses theological, pastoral, and practical concerns of Protestants in the early nineteenth century, such as questions about infant baptism, the age of accountability, the manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit in modern times, and many other such questions.

True, but if the Book of Mormon was "written for our day" than perhaps it might refer to these topics. The most significant affront to Evangelicalism, in my view, is the Book of Mormon's assertion of free will. Ever since Augustine the doctrine of free will has been in decline.

A genuine prophet would have been able to produce replacement pages without any trouble and would not have worried about what his enemies might do. Instead, after some anguish and passage of time during which he could contemplate how to solve the problem, Joseph came up with a most implausible and suspiciously convenient story about a second, partially parallel account having been produced in ancient times as a contingency because of God's foreknowledge of what would happen to the 116 pages. (Why God, armed with such foreknowledge, would not have warned Joseph of what would happen if Martin was allowed to take the pages home is just one of a thicket of questions that are troubling at this point.)

You might think, but do Biblical prophets (or apostles) work that way? Would Joshua have been deceived by the Gibeonites? Would Nathan have told David to build the temple when God didn't want that? Wouldn't the apostles have figured out that Judas was the traitor? Wouldn't Paul have figured out early that his missionary companions were going to fail him?

You will notice that I have not appealed to a lack of archaeological confirmation of specific details in the Book of Mormon, or imperfections and inconsistencies within its pages.

Might as well not. There is no contemporaneous proof, either in archaeology or in writings, of Jesus Christ. The earliest is Josephus, and his statements are likely emendations.

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Bob,

Regarding the evidential burden resting on the Book of Mormon, you wrote:

This is true.

I appreciate your saying so.

Regarding the lack of the gold plates for the Book of Mormon, you wrote:

True as well, but the Bible would fail this test. We lack the original manuscripts. Indeed, there's a lot of evidence they never existed (as well as evidence they existed).

The issue is not the lack of the autographs or original manuscripts. The problem is the lack of any manuscript evidence whatsoever for the Book of Mormon other than the English manuscripts produced in 1829. As for the Bible, I don't even know what you might mean in saying there's a lot of evidence the original manuscripts never existed. We have thousands of Greek manuscripts for the New Testament, including hundreds of copies of each part of it, dating from the early second century and throughout every century thereafter. Those manuscripts all must go back to some original. Absolutely no historian or textual scholar disputes this conclusion. Perhaps you meant to say something other than what came out?

You wrote:

The earliest possible reference to Jesus' ministry was Paul's writings, and we lack even his original holographs. Indeed, Paul never quotes the Gospels, but when he does quote Jesus (it is better to give than to receive) he quotes a source not evident in the Gospels.

Paul (assuming you acknowledge Paul as the author) does quote Luke 10:7 in 1 Timothy 5:18. We would not expect Paul to quote the Gospels until the very end of Paul's life in the mid-60s because as best we can tell the earliest Gospel or Gospels were written in the 60s. Most of Paul's epistles were written between 49 and 60.

You wrote:

For whatever reason, God did not seem it compelling to preserve the original holographs. Perhaps had He done so, they would have been venerated like a relic.

Again, the lack of an "original" manuscript is not the issue.

More later.

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If you pay attention to what I said, I was specific to mention that Joseph Smith's view contradicts current LDS claims, which has been largely shaped by apologetic reactions to the DNA evidence. Apologists have no recourse except to state Joseph Smith was wrong, that he was just a fallible man who had a bad opinion, etc.

Joseph smith clearly believed the American Indians were Lamanites, which was my point. In light of DNA evidence the Church has taken measures to make sure this traditional LDS view is marginalized as much as possible. For example, the move to change the preface of the Book of Mormon to say Lamanites are "among the ancestors" of the American Indians, as opposed to the long lived view that they were the "principal ancestors."

But relating to the purpose of this thread, I said it was a common myth among early 19th century Americans that the Indians came from Israel. Joseph Smith clearly believed this as well, as did many LDS leader since that time. Spencer W. Kimball believed the Indians were cursed with a dark skin that was becoming literally lighter in shade, the more they became affiliated with the LDS Church. He stated this in conference and joked about how the missionaries said they were thinking of donating blood to speed up the process. When an Indian skeleton was unearthed Joseph Smith didn't hesitate to identify it as Lamanite. In fact, he went into detail explaining that his name was Zelph, and of course, like all ancient artifacts that came his way, this one belonged to a "famous" person. Typical hallmark of a storyteller.

Edit: I should also add that Joseph Smith claimed the Angel Moroni told him that "the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham." This presents a huge hurdle for apologists because now that have to explain how the Angel Moroni got it all wrong. For critics, it is just further evidence that Joseph Smith was not a true prophet, and that he was just making things up and pandering to an audience that was interested in these socio-religious issues. In a "Special Lamanite Section" of a 1971 issue of the Ensign we find:

"As we attempt to solve the complex puzzle we call life, there is a constant search for elements that will clarify the picture. For [Mormons] one of the keys to this great pattern of existence is the group of people known as Lamanites. Those not of the church call these people Indians, although the term actually refers to a broader group than that. Most members of the church know that the Lamanites, who consist of the Indians of all of the Americas as well as the islanders of the Pacific, are a people with a special heritage."

Edited by Xander

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Bob,

You wrote:

Many saw the plates. Indeed, in John Whitmer's case, he recanted his testimony of the plates on the ground that when he turned the leaves he could not read the language. A backhanded authentication of the plates much more convincing than the testimony of an acolyte. We have no holographs of persons who can say that the Gospels were written by their putative authors.

This is so much apples and oranges. Non-Christian historians do not deny or even doubt the existence of Jesus, for very good reasons. Non-Mormon historians universally deny the existence of Mormon and Moroni, also for very good reasons. Did Joseph Smith have some plates? Maybe, maybe not. If he did, would that prove that the Book of Mormon was written on it? No, it would not even be good evidence for that claim. Assuming the men saw and handled actual metal plates, all that tells us is that Joseph had some metal plates with funny markings on them. As for the Gospels, our lack of "holographs" of persons who say the Gospels were written by their traditional authors troubles no historians. Only one Gospel actually claims to be written by an eyewitness (John), and even if we had affidavits signed by Papias, Ignatius, and Polycarp swearing that John wrote the Fourth Gospel and carbon-dated to AD 101 some people would still balk at accepting his authorship (for ideological, not historical, reasons). Liberals who deny Johannine authorship nevertheless agree with the traditional date of John's Gospel to the 90s, so the time frame of its writing remains the same even if apostolic authorship is denied. You cannot say the same for the Book of Mormon! The credibility or, for some people, lack of credibility for the Gospels is not in any reasonable manner a function of the lack of the autographs. Skeptics deny the historicity of the Gospels because they present Jesus as walking on the sea, raising the dead, claiming to be deity, and rising from the dead himself, not because they cannot get past the lack of an autographic text.

Regarding the use of New Testament passages from the KJV in the Book of Mormon, you wrote:

True, and perhaps the best indictment against the Book of Mormon today. However, its translator did have the KJV of the Bible, and the only he had.

Something seems to have gone wrong with the last clause. You continued:

It seems likely that the translator, when trying to get Biblical passages right, would refer to the KJV, even as to concepts in the Book of Mormon which predated the Bible.

This doesn't explain why Nephite prophets in another hemisphere were quoting the Gospels, Paul's epistles, and the Book of Revelation before any of their authors (whoever they were!) were even born.

Regarding the Book of Mormon's addressing theological issues of the nineteenth century, you wrote:

True, but if the Book of Mormon was "written for our day" than perhaps it might refer to these topics. The most significant affront to Evangelicalism, in my view, is the Book of Mormon's assertion of free will. Ever since Augustine the doctrine of free will has been in decline.

First, almost all evangelicals believe in free will or human responsibility--even most Calvinists do. Second, what you're missing is that the Book of Mormon addresses lots of topics that were hot in the early nineteenth century but misses the hot topics of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. There's nothing in the Book of Mormon about relations between Christianity and other world religions; nothing about contraception, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, and other hot-button ethical issues; no emancipatory insights into race relations (quite the opposite, the Book of Mormon is stuck morally in the early nineteenth century on this issue); etc., etc. It misses the hot issues of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It seems to have been written specifically and only for Protestants in early nineteenth-century America!

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If you pay attention to what I said, I was specific to mention that Joseph Smith's view contradicts current LDS claims,

BOM DNA is a scientific issue, subject to modern research and discovery.

which has been largely shaped by apologetic reactions to the DNA evidence.

Largely shaped by scientific investigation and analysis of the data -- this is called the "scientific method". For example, this research is rife with sampling error, which has been examined extensively in other threads. Do you wish to open a thread specifically on "BOM DNA:"? If so, may I humbly suggest that you look at the previous threads on this subject. Do your homework rather than threashing around and wasting our time with uneducated arguments. For example, give us a specific answer to the question, "What is Israelite (Lehite) DNA?" against which those samples were compared. Please be very specific. Since you claim that your conclusions are "obvious", you should have no problem giving that answer...... unless you are full of baloney and just blowing smoke.

That is just one of several quesions, so be prepared when you open that thread with your claims.

Apologists have no recourse except to state Joseph Smith was wrong, that he was just a fallible man who had a bad opinion, etc.

Open the thread, be prepared to prove your assertions with specific facts, instead of blowing hot air.

Let's see what you got.

Edited by cdowis

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The assumption or hypocrisy in question if you will, is that one holds the evidence of the Book of Mormon to a significantly higher level of proof than one holds the Bible. In other words the Bible may be accepted on faith, but the Book of Mormon cannot be. The dodge being "we are talking about the Book of Mormon, not the Bible", which is the historical equivalent of saying, "Don't do as I do, only do as I say." To me, it holds the taint of hypocrisy.

The Book of Mormon has thousands of copies that show its authentication from a contemporary that did the translation in the 1800's. Yes it is several centuries after the oribinal documents were written. But wait, isn't it true that manuscripts of the Bible are equally limited? Not only that, early tests (except in limited form of one or two words) don't agree with each other.

Imagine of the Book of Mormon printings did not agree with each other. Would there be howls of derision and claims of fraud? Are the standards equally held by Bowman? Of course not, he would not be able to defend the Bible with the same level of proof he would expect for the Book of Mormon. Then again, one is forced to wonder, which copy or interpretation of the Bible would he defend and which would he burn as heretical?

I am very happy we have the Book of Mormon, which does not contradict itself, whose writings are not lost in time, and whose works and words are not in dispute among us. We do not wonder at the various contradictory and distinct interpretations, we do not wonder if the Book of Mormon we hold important and true is not contradicted by another Book of Mormon elsewhere. Bowman cannot honestly claim the same. He can only assume that greater evidence must somehow be necessary for the Book of Mormon, and such levels should never touch upon his sacred Bible (whichever interpretation he decides is his favorite er... accurate one).

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Jeff,

I am a participant on this forum and in this thread. Would you like to address your comments and questions to me? Are you interested in a discussion with me, or do you only want to tell your fellow Mormons why you regard my position as hypocritical?

The assumption or hypocrisy in question if you will, is that one holds the evidence of the Book of Mormon to a significantly higher level of proof than one holds the Bible. In other words the Bible may be accepted on faith, but the Book of Mormon cannot be. The dodge being "we are talking about the Book of Mormon, not the Bible", which is the historical equivalent of saying, "Don't do as I do, only do as I say." To me, it holds the taint of hypocrisy.

The Book of Mormon has thousands of copies that show its authentication from a contemporary that did the translation in the 1800's. Yes it is several centuries after the oribinal documents were written. But wait, isn't it true that manuscripts of the Bible are equally limited? Not only that, early tests (except in limited form of one or two words) don't agree with each other.

Imagine of the Book of Mormon printings did not agree with each other. Would there be howls of derision and claims of fraud? Are the standards equally held by Bowman? Of course not, he would not be able to defend the Bible with the same level of proof he would expect for the Book of Mormon. Then again, one is forced to wonder, which copy or interpretation of the Bible would he defend and which would he burn as heretical?

I am very happy we have the Book of Mormon, which does not contradict itself, whose writings are not lost in time, and whose works and words are not in dispute among us. We do not wonder at the various contradictory and distinct interpretations, we do not wonder if the Book of Mormon we hold important and true is not contradicted by another Book of Mormon elsewhere. Bowman cannot honestly claim the same. He can only assume that greater evidence must somehow be necessary for the Book of Mormon, and such levels should never touch upon his sacred Bible (whichever interpretation he decides is his favorite er... accurate one).

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The issue is not the lack of the autographs or original manuscripts. The problem is the lack of any manuscript evidence whatsoever for the Book of Mormon other than the English manuscripts produced in 1829.

The issues are the same. The Gospels, according to traditional scholarship, were not written by their putative authors. The Gospels were not written until perhaps 50 to 75 years after the crucifixion. Just as it is plainly evident that Moses didn't really write the Books of Moses, so did Mark not write Mark. Criticism of the Christian myth abound with these challenges.

By contrast, we have attesting eyewitnesses to the gold plates, including apostates. At least from a lawyer's standpoint, eyewitness testimony by an apostate is far, far superior to the spurious notion that the Gospels derived from a hypothetical Q manuscript, a theory developed by 20th century contextualists.

As for the Bible, I don't even know what you might mean in saying there's a lot of evidence the original manuscripts never existed. We have thousands of Greek manuscripts for the New Testament, including hundreds of copies of each part of it, dating from the early second century and throughout every century thereafter.

That is no evidence at all. Your argument could equally apply to Homer's The Odyssey. The existence of many manuscripts of the Odyssey is no proof that there was a Helen, or even a Homer. It is evidence, however, of a Homerian school, just as the Gospels are evidence of various schools of Christian thought.

By contrast, there are eyewitnesses to the Gold Plates as well as the translation process itself. Even the way the manuscripts were delivered to the printer suggest that the Book of Mormon was not an edited piece.

Those manuscripts all must go back to some original. Absolutely no historian or textual scholar disputes this conclusion. Perhaps you meant to say something other than what came out?

Yes. A school of thought. Or so the critics say.

Paul (assuming you acknowledge Paul as the author) does quote Luke 10:7 in 1 Timothy 5:18. We would not expect Paul to quote the Gospels until the very end of Paul's life in the mid-60s because as best we can tell the earliest Gospel or Gospels were written in the 60s. Most of Paul's epistles were written between 49 and 60.

You see nothing wrong with that? The standard Christian thesis is that the Markan School composed, eventually, the Gospel of Mark. Why wouldn't Paul have known about the life of Christ, the miracles, his journeys?

1 Timothy 5:19 may appear to quote from the NT, but these are actually quotes from OT sayings. Remarkable, isn't it, that nowhere does Paul quote from the Gospels? A critic would say, and they do, that Paul is the source of Christianity, and that it is compelling that the most expert of all Christians can't bring himself to reference even a single aspect of Christ's life except one saying not recorded in the NT and, of course, the cross itself.

Non-Christian historians do not deny or even doubt the existence of Jesus, for very good reasons.

Of course they do. As Robert Eisenman says, a lot of ink has been spilled debating the historical Jesus. Eisenman, James the Brother of Jesus, p. xxii. Standard liberal scholarship would hold that perhaps a historical Jesus did exist, but we don't know much about him once the myth has been stripped away. But the reason I point out this material is that, by contrast, there are eyewitnesses to the miracles accompanying the Restoration.

As for the Gospels, our lack of "holographs" of persons who say the Gospels were written by their traditional authors troubles no historians.

Then I guess the Jesus Project has little meaning for you. The development of the Q manuscript theory attests to the very thing you dispute exists.

This doesn't explain why Nephite prophets in another hemisphere were quoting the Gospels, Paul's epistles, and the Book of Revelation before any of their authors (whoever they were!) were even born.

As I have pointed out, this is perhaps the best argument against the Book of Mormon. But, if the Book of Mormon was truly written for our day, wouldn't a combination of Mormon, writing in the Christian era and Joseph Smith, possessed of the KJV Bible, infuse it with Biblical principles? I mean, your example above of a quotation from Timothy is proof itself that thematic quotes and sayings transcend the centuries in Christianity and Judaism.

First, almost all evangelicals believe in free will or human responsibility--even most Calvinists do.

Not really. Mormons believe that the assertion of free will and endurance to the end are critical to the attainment of God's grace. Most Protestants, as does Augustine, dismiss this as a Pelagian heresy.

the Book of Mormon addresses lots of topics that were hot in the early nineteenth century but misses the hot topics of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. There's nothing in the Book of Mormon about relations between Christianity and other world religions; nothing about contraception, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, and other hot-button ethical issues;

And, four hundred years ago the hot buttons were the divine right of kings, the supremacy of the papacy, the meaning and importance of the sacraments, and the authority of the dissidents. No, I assert that the Book of Mormon tackles the most important heresy of all, and that is that free will and obedience are not essential to meriting God's grace. (Along with the inerrant and sole authority of the Bible and the lack of God's continuing revelation.) That, being taught in the beginning of the 19th century, was a smack in the face to Protestantism. That led to the conversion of thousands in England and Scandinavia, and is leading to the conversion of millions in Lamanite American today.

Edited by Bob Crockett

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