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Must The Book Of Mormon Be A Historical Text?


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If there were no Jaredites, Lamenites, or Nephites can the Church still go on? Must the Book of Mormon be a historical account of early civilizations for the Church to survive or for Joseph Smith to have restored the gospel? Can Joseph Smith be a Prophet if the "factual claims" in the Book of Mormon were not fact?

Would the creation story, Job, Jonah, the 10 plagues, provide a basis that not everything of God or written under the inspiration of God is actual historical fact?

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Nothing needs to be anything for the Church to "go on." It's a historical record because the Prophet said so. Not because it needs or needs not to be anything. If he's mistaken about it being a historical record, then he could be mistaken about any/everything else. It's slippery slope which is why so many NOMs get sick of church and can even question the basic principles of the Gospel. I choose not to go down that road. I believe Joseph's account of what the Angel Moroni (a person from the book, mind you) told him. The lack of evidence in the earth isn't going to convince me otherwise.

Edited by iamse7en
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The very origins of the Book of Mormon demand it is either historical or not divine. Joseph Smith said he saw an angel, who identified himself as one of the ancient inhabitants of America. He had a physical record, on metal plates with a golden color, artifacts like a sword, breastplate, and interpreters. These were physical, tangible artifacts that others also reported as seeing or feeling or both.

 

Either Joseph Smith had these objects, or he didn't. If he didn't, he then he deceived a lot of people in making them think that he did have them. If he did have them, where did they come from if there are no real Nephites?

 

While I am entirely open to parts of the Book of Mormon being fiction, exaggerated history, or historically inaccurate, I don't see how anyone could maintain that there were no real Nephites and yet the book is scripture. If there are no Nephites, then there are no artifacts, at least no genuine artifacts for Joseph Smith have and show to others, and either he is deceiving others (who he shows them to, etc.), or they are collectively deceiving the world. 

 

This is why the Book of Mormon is the "keystone of our religion." Because unlike other revelations which can be recast as some vague "mystical" experience, the tangibility of the Book of Mormon forces us to chose. Real or not real? If not real, then neither is the rest of the religion built around it. 

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If there were no Jaredites, Lamenites, or Nephites can the Church still go on? Must the Book of Mormon be a historical account of early civilizations for the Church to survive or for Joseph Smith to have restored the gospel? Can Joseph Smith be a Prophet if the "factual claims" in the Book of Mormon were not fact?

Would the creation story, Job, Jonah, the 10 plagues, provide a basis that not everything of God or written under the inspiration of God is actual historical fact?

Those are a lot of conditional questions, and they seem to run in all directions at once.  You might want to focus on one issue at a time.

 

We could also ask whether the Presbyterian Church could go on if there really were Jaredites, Lamanites, and Nephites?  Could Methodism survive it the Book of Mormon where proven to be a historical account of early civilizations?  If Joseph Smith actually restored the lost Gospel of Jesus Christ, could Roman Catholicism survive?  If it turned out that extraordinary biblical events actually occurred, what would that do to the atheist community?

 

Are those the right questions?  Can they even be answered?  Would anybody notice?

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I supposed if Moroni or another angel appeared and presented an explanation that made sense (though I don't see there being one as why not simply present the doctrine by itself or as a parable if the context has no historicity to it), that could be acceptable....

Perhaps Joseph Smith as an angel appearing and saying "I wanted to make a book parallel to the Bible, so while God revealed to me the doctrine I taught, the rest is window dressing I put on it and convinced others to play along for the good of humanity" might work as well.... I don't see why God would go along with the charade though, continuing to send revelations to a prophet who had so little faith in the Spirit being able to convince many of the truth. I think he could have found someone more prone not to rely on the arm of flesh to teach his Word.

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What if buses were made of jell-o, would carrots refuse to ride on them?

 

No, but the jell-o would ride a cake bus with whipped cream on top =D.

 

jellocake.JPG

Edited by TAO
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It depends on what exactly historical means. The book of mormon does not seem a history text but a text with history in it. The book of mormon's stress is on how faith and lack of faith can influence a people. A book of history would have many more nuances in it. The book was abridged for a reason: to exclude less meaning facts that had not much to do with our salvation.

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 Must the Book of Mormon be a historical account of early civilizations for the Church to survive or for Joseph Smith to have restored the gospel?

 

 

Yes, absolutely.

 

If it's not, I'm outa here!

Edited by Alan
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I understand that it is not a history book, but wouldn't certain findings seriously bring to question 1)the validity of the prophet, and 2)the all important history of Christ and his appearances in the new world?

 

I ask out of pure ignorance because I don't know enough about the BofM or the Mormon faith to make this determination so please don't take this as any criticism, I genuinely want to know the answer.

 

Thanks.

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What if buses were made of jell-o, would carrots refuse to ride on them?

 

Maybe not carrots would not ride them but the ladies of the Relief Society would certainly capture them and serve them up in their meetings.

Edited by Darren10
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There are evidences that the Book of Mormon links to ancient things.  Dozens of previously unknown ancient Hebrew and Egyptian names. Locations found in the Arabian desert, such as Nahom. Ancient Hebrew teachings and rites being performed in the Book of Mormon. There are many small evidences, and some large ones.  None, however are proof.

 

We can say the same thing of the Bible.  Can we prove the history of Adam, Noah, or Abraham?  No, we cannot. We may find some evidences, but that is all.  That being the case, when we look at history from today's perspective, we are missing how history was done anciently.  History was described in its regard to religion and God.  The Israelites are about to be massacred, but then overnight the entire enemy camp is stricken and destroyed.  Was it God who did it, or some strange coincidence?  The Israelites claim God did it, yet how does such a thing fit into a history?  It doesn't.

 

So it is with the Book of Mormon.  We have a story of people fleeing to a new land, under God's guidance.  There is archaeological evidence of others having done this, but no direct evidence of Lehi and Nephi building a boat.  There are ancient stories of a white bearded god visiting the Incas and others, yet no direct evidence of Jesus Christ coming down to the Americas.  History becomes very messy, as different groups interpret it differently.  For many people, it is the Civil War, but for many in the Southern States, it is the War of Northern Aggression.

 

The person writing it, his purposes for writing, and his world view all make for interesting stories, which may or may not abide a historian's scrutiny.

 

Is the Book of Mormon a history? No.  Does it have historical events in it? Probably.  Did the Nephites once exist? Probably.  There are evidences for these things, but no proof.

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I understand that it is not a history book, but wouldn't certain findings seriously bring to question 1)the validity of the prophet, and 2)the all important history of Christ and his appearances in the new world?

 

I ask out of pure ignorance because I don't know enough about the BofM or the Mormon faith to make this determination so please don't take this as any criticism, I genuinely want to know the answer.

 

Thanks.

It depends on the findings. People believe that the book of mormon is a history book. It is not a history book. If it were a history book the book would be a couple of thousand pages long. For example, we know very little of the sexual life of these people. We also know very little of the cultural history and literary history of these people. And we know very little of eating habits, family habits and the little to do dealings with life.

 

The bible and the book of mormon have have at least one thing in common: the goal was the same: To increase faith. The New Testament is also not a history book. Neither is the Old Testament. The book of mormon fits well in with both books because of the intent of these books in creating a religious context for faith.

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Yes, because if it is not the foundation is a lie.

I have found one thing interesting when I compare the old testament with the book of mormon. Both are written rather alike in sentence syntax. Both are choppy and not free flowing in their sentences. Reading the old testament aloud can be rather trying. But so is the book of mormon. I find this comparison interesting and of course, my view is my own.

Edited by why me
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Sorta goes against the LDS Restoration, does it not?

The book of mormon is the foundation of the lds church. Without the book of mormon, the church falls like a house of cards regardless of its goodness.

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If there were no Jaredites, Lamenites, or Nephites can the Church still go on? Must the Book of Mormon be a historical account of early civilizations for the Church to survive or for Joseph Smith to have restored the gospel? Can Joseph Smith be a Prophet if the "factual claims" in the Book of Mormon were not fact?

Would the creation story, Job, Jonah, the 10 plagues, provide a basis that not everything of God or written under the inspiration of God is actual historical fact?

I used the BoM for many years in order for me to believe in biblical historicity. As long as the BoM was historically literal, so was the Bible. When the BoM "fell" to the level of inspired fiction, so too did the Bible. I had suspected for a long time that history wasn't all that known or fixed in place: that it was almost entirely constructed by those with an agenda. How could religious history be any different? But I did keep religious history separate from "corrupt" secular history for a long time: the logic I used said that God-inspired history was the real deal, not manipulated by men enough to worry about. I was mistaken. The organized religions all support themselves with "history" to validate their positions. I am reading "The Life of Muhammad" right now and the parallels with JS, while allowing for cultural differences, are striking. Followers always validate the prophet, that is first priority in the face of criticism and opposition. Jesus Christ was accused of being illegitimate, his mother was asserted to be a commoner of loose morals. That is why the "virgin birth" and immaculate conception stories got started up: to refute the rumor mill that discredited Jesus Christ from the getgo. The earliest "sayings of Jesus" documents do not have much if any "christological" language in them, i.e. Jesus seems to have not taught that he was "the Christ". That seems to have been asserted later by followers. And so it goes: JS was an adulterer, a sexual predator, or worse if possible: so his followers must of course defend his character with opposite exaggeration. The process is inescapable.

 

"Scripture" is inspired literature. It is often grounded in facts. But the "facts" themselves are dependent on earlier "facts", which as I have mentioned, are already distorted or even concocted with a purpose, then passed down the generations as "the truth" of history. But anytime we tell stories to teach what happened and why it happened, we already put our slant/understanding on them, or even alter them to be more "true" and useful. Human beings can't help improving the originals. Remember Hinckley's departures into histrionics when speaking of Mormon Pioneer exploits? But he was inspired by the stories, so his versions come across almost as scripture. And they are....

Edited by Questing Beast
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The Old and New Testaments are NOT the keystones of Judeo-Christianity, because they are both acknowledged to be written down and passed along through the ages. Whatever their content may be, their provenance is as certain as ancient documents can be.

The Book of Mormon, due to the way it came forth, is much more of an either/or proposition. While some events are obviously told from the point of view of the writer (I wonder what the book of Alma would sound like if written from a Lamanite perspective), the basic facts have to be truth, or the book and our religion inevitably fall.

One more reason I am glad for my utter conviction of the truth of that book.

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If there were no Jaredites, Lamenites, or Nephites can the Church still go on? Must the Book of Mormon be a historical account of early civilizations for the Church to survive or for Joseph Smith to have restored the gospel? Can Joseph Smith be a Prophet if the "factual claims" in the Book of Mormon were not fact?

Would the creation story, Job, Jonah, the 10 plagues, provide a basis that not everything of God or written under the inspiration of God is actual historical fact?

All these things are historical enough, restored enough, true enough, factual enough, basic enough and inspired enough for the Church to still go on, to survive, and for Jospeh Smith to be a Prophet. But not all written revelation is historical, either: some is commandment, some is precept, some is principle, some is "what is real" and some is what we become.

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Having never really questioned whether it is historically accurate, I would not know.where to start on the "what if" of it not being historical.

Edited by foster
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The Old and New Testaments are NOT the keystones of Judeo-Christianity, because they are both acknowledged to be written down and passed along through the ages. Whatever their content may be, their provenance is as certain as ancient documents can be.

This is not true at all. When we look at the New Testament, it is definitely not history. And the gospels do not give a picture of the historical jesus. Just the opposite. What the gospels do is to give a piece together narrative written from the perspective of the writers. But it is not history. And this is why when historians write about the historical jesus the gospels give very little information. Historians must look at the time that the gospels are about and review the history for that time in other documents and then they attempt to piece together aspects of jesus' life from that history.

 

The new testament was written purely for faith promotion so that the early saints had something to hold on to to increase their faith.

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