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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.”
“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.
By Robert F. Smith
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.
By Five Solas
1. Read the Book of Mormon
2. Ask God
3. With a sincere heart
4. With real intent
5. Having faith in Christ
Failure is not an option, if you believe Moroni. First, you must read. Next, you must follow with prayer while meeting his remaining 3 prerequisites. Then the truth of the Book of Mormon will be manifested to you. Full stop.
Therefore if the truth is not manifested, the reason is as plain as the nose on your face: One or more of the prerequisites were not met. There is no alternate possibility. "It’s very simple"—as President Trump is fond of saying in his press conferences.
5 possible ways to fail, and only 5. So here is a question: With LDS Church growth stalling and 70+% of millennials going inactive/leaving the LDS Church by age 20 (courtesy of Mormonleaks), which of the 5 do you think represents the greatest challenge? Or are they all equally challenging? Or do you think it's some combination of them that present difficulty?
And while we’re on the question, how exactly does one go about achieving the last three prerequisites? Would any LDS seriously admonish an investigator to read the Bible first in order to attain “faith in Christ” prior to attempting the Book of Mormon?
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
Where did the Book of Mormon come from. I constantly hear this idea argued from both apologetic and critical sides. All in an attempt to explain how Joseph could have produced the Book of Mormon. Yet, when it comes right down to it, both sides should be able to agree on some pretty basic historical facts from the evidence.
Joseph Smith dictated the content of the BoM to some scribes Nearly everyone should be able to agree on that statement, and I think that really explains it in a nutshell. I was thinking about other figures in history that are revered for things they produced. Newton, Einstein, Beethoven, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, etc. Do anyone else spend so much time asking where they came up with their masterpiece works? Where did Einstein get that amazing theory of relativity? Where did Michelangelo get that amazing statue of David. How could they have possibly produced these things? Where did they come from?
I think we spend so much time looking for evidence, trying to find parallels, seeking to understand where the BoM came from, that we are missing the answer right in front of our faces and we should all be able to agree on. The BoM came from Joseph Smith. This is the clear and straightforward answer that both believers and nonbelievers should be able to agree on, and its the simple answer to a highly debated question.
By Robert F. Smith
Annalee Newitz, “Most scientists now reject the idea that the first Americans came by land,” Ars Technica, Nov 4, 2017, online at https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/11/majority-of-scientists-now-agree-that-humans-came-to-the-americas-by-boat/ , with map,
Todd J. Braje, et al., “Finding the first Americans,” Science, 358/6363 (3 Nov 2017):592-594, online at http://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6363/592 ,
It now appears that coming to America by boat was normal even from earliest times. There is no longer any reason to credit the Beringia Land Bridge hypothesis, except in a much later period.