Faith

Defending the Faith: The unexpected Book of Mormon

Comments

Return To Article
  • MoreMan San Diego, CA
    April 25, 2017 10:21 a.m.

    "There are, a good job counselor might have suggested, better and less demanding career choices." D. Peterson.
    I'm assuming being an apologist for such people is an even harder road to travel.

  • CMTM , 00
    April 25, 2017 8:48 a.m.

    RE: Commentor . Book comparison:

    The Pearl of Great Price in comparison to the Bible: The first 6 chapters of Genesis (J ST)or The Book of Moses contains 311 verses, While the Septuagint and Masoretic texts contain 184 verses. JST adds “ 127” verses which are not supported by the Septuagint and Masoretic texts or Dead Sea Scrolls But over 123 N.T. quotes support the existing O.T.

    @: Abraham 3:26 “kept not their *first estate= (Jude 1: 6 KJV,JST,). ).JS misunderstood the KJV translation.
    Context, E.g…, “….the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority,..(Jude 1: 6 NIV)or,… the angels who did not stay within the limits of authority…( Jude 1:6 NLT)
    Context,”… angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell…”)) 2 Peter 2:4) actually Fallen angels(demons) Not pre mortality..

    ” In the very beginning the bible shows there is a plurality of Gods. Beyond the power of refutation”.(Hof C v. 6 p.476) JS. Wrong, Genesis 1:1 Greek LXX In the beginning God (*o Theos, Grk. 2316). Clearly God. *Nominative singular article

  • Commentor ,
    April 24, 2017 7:14 p.m.

    KarenR said: "If he isn't the author and is merely dictating words appearing on a magic rock, then he doesn't have a feat that distinguishes him from all of the other self-proclaimed prophets. They too claim the words of their books came directly from their god, don't they?"

    I ask, "What books?"

    I've had someone else tell me that... 'Abraham Lincoln was also a poor self-educated farm boy and just look at what he did!' So I went to Amazon.com and searched for books written by Abraham Lincoln. All I could come up with were "books" that were a collection of short writings gathered and bound into one book. Nothing comparable at all to the Book of Mormon.
    So I say, yes Joseph Smith does have a feat that distinguishes him from all other self-proclaimed prophets. The respect due Joseph Smith comes from the fact that he was called of God, that he answered the call at very great sacrifice on his part, including laying down his life.
    The Book of Mormon is not only literary complexity by the unlearned, it invites the Spirit of Heaven. I know of no other book that compares.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    April 24, 2017 5:11 p.m.

    " . . . . So "remarkable" is an understatement; for a farm boy with almost no formal education and no tools but a quill pen, inkwell, and paper, "pretty much impossible" would be more accurate. . . . "
    ______________________________
    Remarkable, yes. Impossible, no.

    The creative writing process has stages of struggling for words and extended periods of writer’s block, not unlike the period after the 116 pages disappeared. And there are bursts of creative energy when the words come faster than one can get them down on the page.

    The writing yeasts ferment over time in mysterious ways with the mind consciously and unconsciously mulling over the right way to tell a story. It has frequently been known to erupt with a writer pouring out a river of words of a volume that largely is already composed in his head over months or years.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    April 24, 2017 10:27 a.m.

    RE: Mhenshaw. “… I know more than they all” (DHC V. 5 p. 467)?

    3 Nephi 13:12, (Jesus)“ deliver us from evil”(KJV). Did Jesus teach the Nephites an abstract prayer in 34 A.D.? JS was unaware when he copied the KJV.

    The correct translation of Mt 6:13( NIV) is “deliver us from “the evil one”( Satan G,= tou ponerou). E.g…,
    William Hamblin. The evil one. This phrase is often understood by modern Christians as a prayer for protection from evil in an Abstract sense..) Mt 6:13: "The KJV wrongly renders this 'deliver us from evil,'

    @ “Telestial world.” There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial = (G.epouranial )is one, and the glory of the terrestrial=( G. epigeia )is another.(1 Cor 15:40 KJV ) Compare,

    (1 Cor 15:40 NIV )There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.

    The term “telestial” originated with Joseph Smith’s use of the Latin Vulgate in the KJV.; it appears that he took the first two letters of “(te)rrestrial” and added them on the ending of “ce(lestial)” to create the new word, “telestial.”.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    April 24, 2017 9:22 a.m.

    >>Assuming 530 pages in 8 wks., that comes to reading less than 10 pages a day. Remarkable?

    Not just remarkable -- stunning.

    Authors (I am one) and publishers don't count pages, they count words. The BoM's total word count stands at 268,163.

    268,163/56 days (assuming JS took no days off) = ~4,700 words/day.

    Any published author will tell you that writing 2,000 words/day is a solid pace--that's Stephen King's daily writing goal, for example. 3,000/day is very impressive. 4,700/day would burn an author at pretty quickly. At that pace, you could crank out Les Miserables (655k words, one of the longest novels in the English language) in about 4.5 months (it took Victor Hugo 17 years).

    So "remarkable" is an understatement; for a farm boy with almost no formal education and no tools but a quill pen, inkwell, and paper, "pretty much impossible" would be more accurate. I would defy anyone to produce a book as complex as the BoM at a rate of 4,700 words/day, even with a laptop and a college education.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    April 24, 2017 8:27 a.m.

    >>Well, if all he's doing is reading off a rock, how is complexity relevant? And what's so remarkable about getting this done in a few months? Remarkable?

    It's relevant because JS obviously was not up to creating such a complex record in such a short period on his own (it's questionable whether anyone would be); so the complexity becomes supporting evidence for his claim that his "reading off a rock" was a method of divine inspiration.

    Am I missing something here? Your argument appears to be "divine revelation occurred, so the BoM's complexity and the extremely rapid pace of its production invalid as evidence of its veracity and Joseph Smith deserves no particular respect because the BoM was just given to him." If so, that argument astonishes me, since I would consider anything produced via divine revelation to be remarkable and the person who received it worthy of respect. Of am I missing something?

  • mike_m Scottsbluff, NE
    April 24, 2017 4:32 a.m.

    @ Central Texan

    The statement of his father-in-law Isaac Hale is very disturbing:

    "I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called "money diggers;" and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure."

    "The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods!"

  • mike_m Scottsbluff, NE
    April 22, 2017 6:53 p.m.

    @Ellis
    Lucile Taylor Hansen was not an archaeologist. Her book that you reference is not a credible scientific writing, nor are the claims about Quetzalcoatl made by you here valid. Reputable scholars including many who are LDS do not agree with the older idea of Quetzalcoatl being an ancient white prophet. The Book of Mormon is best believed and defended on faith. Claims of evidence inevitably fall short and can in fact harm one's faith.

  • Central Texan Buda, TX
    April 22, 2017 3:39 p.m.

    In dictating the Book of Mormon, If all Joseph Smith did was "read off a rock"... then he was a prophet. We don't marvel at his inventiveness and great writing ability, but we do recognize him as a prophet.

  • redhat Fairfax Station, VA
    April 22, 2017 9:58 a.m.

    Just a question- how long did it take JS to do the first 116 pages-answer months! After they disappeared it was a year or so before dictating began again- what did JS do in that period of time since he did not work according to sources. Just hung out?
    So the Nibley developed and Peterson appropriated rapid dictation schedule for the Book of Mormon is a bit deceiving. And when JS restarted the dication, guess where he began , Mosiah according to scholars! Why there? Then he "backfilled" the Nephi material after he completed the rest of the book-strange,just a little?
    As stated above given JS was simply reading from a rock or just dictating as the Spirit led, the 70 day rapid development of the BOM is not so sensational.

  • Ellis WEST JORDAN, UT
    April 22, 2017 9:33 a.m.

    @skeptic - Phoenix, AZ

    Archaeologist L. Taylor Hansen, not LDS, wrote a book called "He Walked the Americas: The Life, Legend, and Teachings of Quetzalcoatl"

    From Amazon, "Two thousand years ago, a mysterious white man walked from tribe to tribe among the Native American nations. He came to Peru from the Pacific, and then he traveled through South, Central, and North America. He came back to meet with the Mayans in ancient Tula, Mexico, before departing across the Atlantic to his land of origin.

    Who was this white prophet, who spoke a thousand languages, healed the sick, raised the dead, and taught in the same words as Jesus himself?

    These are true Native American legends, gathered during 25 years of research by famed archaeologist L. Taylor Hansen, featuring many different tribes. By consulting museums, libraries, and other experts on folklore, Hansen's extensive findings were successfully correlated into this fascinating book. "

  • sharrona layton, UT
    April 21, 2017 1:57 p.m.

    Tyler. (Isaiah 6:1)… I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple .

    St. John explains,” Isaiah said these things because he saw ‘Jesus' glory ‘and spoke about Him.” (John 12:41)

    Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Christ’s glory was revealed to Isaiah in a vision, and therefore he spoke of it. The glory of the Son before the Incarnation, when He was ‘in the form of God’ (Php 2:6), is to be understood.

    The seven annual feasts of Israel were spread over seven months of the Jewish calendar, at set times appointed by God.
    They are still celebrated by observant Jews today. But for both Jews and non-Jews who have placed their faith in Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, these special days demonstrate the work of redemption(From Adams fall) through God’s Son.

    E.g…, 1) Passover (Lev 23:5) – Pointed to the Messiah(Jesus) as our Passover lamb (1 Cor 5:7) whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover at the same hour that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening (John 19:14).

  • CMTM , 00
    April 21, 2017 12:14 p.m.

    RE: Tyler D. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word(Jesus) was God.. (John 1:1 NIV) What is the origin of the things that are made? Refers to – “In the beginning.” (Gen 1:1 LXX).

    John is pointing his Jewish readers back to the O. T. where the Logos or “Word” of God is the personification of God’s revelation. Jesus as the Logos is drawing upon a familiar word and concept that both Jews and Gentiles of his day would have been familiar with which He introduces them to Jesus Christ.

    But John goes beyond the familiar concept of Logos that his Jewish and Gentile readers would have had and presents Jesus Christ not as a mere mediating principle like the Greeks perceived, but as a personal being, fully divine, yet fully human. “

    John 1:1,The Greek scholars agree with the exception of *Ehrman because a 8th-century MS that has an additional Greek article in front of God,” 1, E.g…,

    Justin Martyr (100-166 AD )refers to Jesus as the Logos (or Word, see John 1:1) ". . . the teachings of the Logos, because he is divine." In reference to the Logos, he writes, "It is only reasonable that we worship him .

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    April 21, 2017 11:59 a.m.

    @ mhenshaw

    "Instead, [Dr. Peterson is] noting that JS's education and circumstances narrow the plausible range of BoM origin theories..."

    Dr. P notes no such thing. Not here. His premise here is that JS did/produced things that other self-proclaimed prophets didn't. Ex. A: the BoM. Complex, lengthy, yet JS dictated it in a "stunningly short period" of time.

    Well, if all he's doing is reading off a rock, how is complexity relevant? And what's so remarkable about getting this done in a few months? Assuming 530 pages in 8 wks., that comes to reading less than 10 pages a day. Remarkable?

    Re: what he was willing to endure is a testament to something: Did he have any better prospects? I mean, given the beliefs and values of his culture, could he do any better than a prophet of a god? One authorized to lead his own crew and make all the rules (including some rather advantageous to a young man's appetite)? Jim Jones and David Koresh thought this was worth it, too, didn't they?

  • Tyler D Prescott, AZ
    April 21, 2017 11:25 a.m.

    @CMTM

    There’s a story in India that basically goes like this:

    Had Jesus been born in India and eventually came to realize (after, say, spending 40 days meditating in the desert) his true nature - “I and the Father are One” - the Indian sages would have replied “that’s great Jesus that you’ve realized this truth. Now go teach others how to realize this same truth in themselves.”

    But instead Jesus was born into a culture so superstitious and spiritually unsophisticated (e.g., still sacrificing animals to appease deity) that rather than see his enlightened state for what it truly was, his followers incorporated him into all their own primitive beliefs and “prophecies” and created an entire religion out of him.

    PS - the evolution of this religion can be seen from the start - in how Jesus progressed from a mysterious teacher in Mark (earliest gospel) to the “proclaiming everywhere he went” God and Savior of humanity in the Gospel of John (Bart Ehrman does a good job of laying out this progression in his book “How Jesus Became God”).

  • CMTM , 00
    April 21, 2017 10:18 a.m.

    RE: Tyler D, in the long history of gods being worshipped by human beings, only one of those gods was veridical and determined to propagate the “one true faith.”

    In Acts 17, Paul meets the Epicureans were followers of Epicurus (341—270 BC), who taught that happiness was the ultimate goal in life. The Stoic thinkers regarded Zeno (340—265 BC) Epicurus and Zeno believed in many gods.

    Paul knew the Athenians were very religious, having seen their many objects of worship. But one altar among the many caught his attention. On it were inscribed the words “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.”
    In their ignorance, the Greeks had erected an altar to whatever god they might have inadvertently left out of their pantheon. Paul uses this to share the one true God.

    The Greeks didn’t know who this god was, Paul explains that this “unknown god” was the biblical God, the Creator of heaven and earth, who does not dwell in temples made with hands. Actually, God is the Source of life for all nations, and He is really the One they were unwittingly seeking. Paul says God is near; in fact, “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27–28).

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 21, 2017 9:25 a.m.

    @Nonamesaccepted,

    your self proclaimed knowledge of there being a great Hebrew nation here on the American continent less than two thousand years ago and that the American Indian is among the remnants of that Hebrew colony is remarkable and provides you one of the greatest of all explorer, pioneer and discover opportunities of all time. Just go show the world where the place is. And convince the Native Americans that they are of Hebrew decent. You will be the most famous, admired, respected person in the world. Until then you are a dreamer. Happy thoughts to you.

  • Tyler D Prescott, AZ
    April 21, 2017 8:47 a.m.

    Reading the first half of this article (along with a fair amount of biographical material on prophets, seers, sages and the like) one thing becomes crystal clear:

    Visionaries experience visions that conform to their own culture, preconceptions and beliefs – Joseph saw Jesus, the Hindu sage see Vishnu (or another god of the Hindu pantheon), the Native American sees his animal guide… the list goes on and on.

    I think the conclusions we can draw from these facts are obvious, but one thing we can say for certain is that this would be a pretty strange state of affairs if, in the long history of gods being worshipped by human beings, only one of those gods was veridical and determined to propagate the “one true faith.”

    If that were the case he/she/it has unquestionably been working against his [sic] own interests for eons.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    April 21, 2017 7:58 a.m.

    >>I continue to be puzzled about why JS gets credit for the substance of the BoM if all he did was dictate what appeared on a magic rock.

    Dr. Peterson isn't giving JS authorial credit. Instead, he's noting that JS's education and circumstances narrow the plausible range of BoM origin theories to a point where "JS made it up" isn't a viable explanation.

    >> ...the amount of time it took doesn't seem particularly remarkable either.

    Complexity of project / (Level of education + academic resources + time) = difficulty of production.

    As time, resources, and level-of-education decrease and complexity increases, the difficulty of production increases to the point that the book can't be produced without outside help. The question is whether that help was divine.

    >>And why is the alleged complexity of the content noteworthy if it's the history of a people recorded over time. Don't we expect complexity from human history?

    Yes, we do; and the BoM is not simplistic, leaving open the possibility that it is a real historical record.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    April 21, 2017 7:27 a.m.

    RE: Craig Clark. “If you can get enough local folks to believe it.” True, E.g..,

    (D&C 84:13)” Esaias was also a prophet who lived in the days of ‘Abraham”? Actually,
    “ Isaiah who lived in the days of ‘Uzziah,..and Hezekiah, kings of Judah…” (Isaiah 1:1)
    Same Israelite prophet, Esaias is the Greek O. T.(LXX) name for Isaiah. Greek #2268=Isaiah is Transliterated Esaias in KJV. The Israelite prophet. JS was unaware.

    RE: “who knows … Isaiah’s vision of God enthroned in the temple”, actually it was a Christophany.
    (Isaiah 6:1). In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple .

    St. John explains,” Isaiah said these things because he saw ‘Jesus' glory ‘and spoke about Him.” (John 12:41)

    Also 1 Sam 3,“ the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD=(YHWH) before Eli. And the word of the LORD= (YHWH)was precious in those days; there was no open vision. E.g…,

    “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known(John 1:18 NIV)

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    April 21, 2017 6:52 a.m.

    "But what happened at first, rather, was the dictation of a lengthy, complex book within the stunningly short period of just two or three months."

    I continue to be puzzled about why JS gets credit for the substance of the BoM if all he did was dictate what appeared on a magic rock. Under this scenario the amount of time it took doesn't seem particularly remarkable either.

    And why is the alleged complexity of the content noteworthy if it's the history of a people recorded over time. Don't we expect complexity from human history? And again, why does JS get credit for this complexity if he's merely dictating an already written story?

    It just sounds like someone trying to have it both ways. If JS is the author, then this isn't previously recorded history. If he isn't the author and is merely dictating words appearing on a magic rock, then he doesn't have a feat that distinguishes him from all of the other self-proclaimed prophets. They too claim the words of their books came directly from their god, don't they?

  • Lbone Salt Lake City, UT
    April 20, 2017 11:52 p.m.

    Harmony, Pennsylvania and Fayetteville, New York. These two obscure places are where the Book of Mormon was produced in roughly 70 days. I have visited both locations twice within the past three years. One glaring observation for me was how remote these places were/are. I can only imagine how it was back in the 1820's.

    Producing such a work as the Book of Mormon out of thin air with no revisions by an uneducated person in a very short time in very remote places is impossible unless the person receives divine guidance.

    I accepted the challenge to read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover in the amount of time it was translated. I'm into it two weeks now and I am now thong but astounded

  • who knows Lehi, Ut
    April 20, 2017 10:56 p.m.

    Great article. Thanks for your thoughtful and accurate analysis and contribution to the truth.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    April 20, 2017 7:31 p.m.

    @Craig Clark: "If you can get enough local folks to believe it, that makes you a pretty big man in town."

    With the exception of the pastors of mega or TV churches who are paid very well and live extravagant lifestyles, or perhaps ancient Popes who were truly kings, I'm just not seeing the attraction.

    I think most who claim to be prophets must be either sincere or nuts.

    For example, most LDS general authorities leave prosperous careers to then spend their productive working careers earning a stipend that is in the low professional range. Those called to the 12 forego any chance of retirement.

    Joseph and Emma spent most of their married life without a home of their own. Save for the religious work, simple labor would have at least provided a modest place to call their own.

    Ancient prophets including John the Baptist, Jesus, and many others often lived in poverty and died unpleasant, premature deaths.

    A guy who lives higher from the donations of his flock than he could have lived from his own work might be a fraud. Otherwise, he is either sincere or crazy. He might be a false prophet in either case. But probably not a deliberate fraud.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    April 20, 2017 4:44 p.m.

    " . . . . There are, a good job counselor might have suggested, better and less demanding career choices."
    ______________________________
    If the pain is little, the reward is little. If the pain is high, might the reward make it all worthwhile? The job may come with a lot of headaches. But to be a prophet means that God has chosen you to be his personal messenger. If you can get enough local folks to believe it, that makes you a pretty big man in town.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    April 20, 2017 4:35 p.m.

    Self proclaimed skeptic is nothing of the sort. His mind is made up.

    There have been several notable societies in the Americas over the millennia. Some came and disappeared before Europeans settled the continent including the Anasazi. Others were destroyed, decimated, or assimilated by various European conquests (Incas, Mayans, various American Indian tribes).

    Did any if these have roots into ancient Israel (not Jewish as Lehi was not Jewish, but lived among the Jews at Jersulem)? How would we know?

    Some of these ancient American societies left nothing but buildings, no DNA testing possible. Even where DNA samples can be gathered (modern AmerIndians), we still don't have good comparative from the bold world. Where is the DNA from the tribe of Manasseh?

    What are the origins of the various peoples of the Americas? We simply don't know.

    Which means no honest man can say definatively they none of them have origins in the middle east.

    I appreciate Dr. Peterson's insights and comparisons to other prophets.

    What a shame some to devote such time and energy to tearing down rather than to something uplifting.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    April 20, 2017 1:22 p.m.

    First: There are other books similar to the BOM during the time of JS. Second: because events and things are the way they are must make them valid or true is a circular argument; if things were different it would be the same, that that case justified its validity. Third: There never was a great Hebrew nation in the Americas, so the story has to be fiction. Fourth: JS lived a good, exciting, rich live; although his end came too soon, but that is true with many great and lesser people. It is a good story it just is not true to fact or reality. One may garnish it with all kinds of trinkets, but it won't change. Truth of fact can't be faked because it is truth, the only reality. Unless, of course one accepts alternative facts. And then, one may suppose that anything goes.