Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Book of Mormon as an Authentic Historical Document

One of our dinner guests a while ago was a professor at a local university who had specialized in studying historical documents. Her conversion story began with reading the Book of Mormon out of curiosity, and being impressed with the numerous details indicative of being an actual historical document as opposed to modern fiction. In fact, far more than the writers of the Bible, the Book of Mormon pays great attention to explaining the historical sources of its documents. We don't have an omniscient narrator who can read minds or describe events going on that he could not have known about. We have editors and authors who meticulously state who they are, what there sources are, and why we should care about what they have to say.

The abundance of internal evidence about the Book of Mormon's status as an authentic ancient document was an important starting place for the conversion of at least one non-LDS scholar. Maybe it's something you should keep in mind as you read the document for yourself.

Evening Update: I see we have someone raising the old canard about Tolkien's writings having just as much of a "historical" sense as the Book of Mormon - an argument that I think can be most sincerely offered by critics who have read neither Tolkien nor the Book of Mormon. Look, you don't have to accept the Book of Mormon and you're free to dismiss it as fiction. But for those who are interested in understanding its nature, I would ask this in response: Can anyone seriously fail to grasp the world of difference in these books, and genuinely think that they are somehow cut from the same literary cloth, or that a reference to them could possibly be relevant in a discussion of the Book of Mormon? If Joseph had instead written The Hobbit or The Silmarillion, with all their fascinating detail (and even with the epic language in The Silmarillion and the occasional "and it came to pass") would anyone fail to recognize right away that it was obviously a modern novel written with modern literary devices and conventions, no matter how old the story purports to be, and no matter how skillful Tolkien was in creating his own fictional world? Intricate and fascinating, but a modern creation of enjoyable fiction, not anything close to what could be seriously imagined as a historical document - much less a sacred historical document.

The entire nature of the Book of Mormon, with its complex but carefully described historical origins, its detailed and complex authorship, its varying styles and tones, its shifting but logically organized timelines reflecting different original texts edited together into a rich composite, is so unlike the typical literature in Joseph Smith's day. The critics would have us believe he was a sponge who soaked up and spilled out the material of his day. This doesn't come close to explaining the Book of Mormon, other than a small fraction of direct quotes from the Bible used by Book of Mormon authors. And it doesn't come close to explaining the internal evidences that this book is an authentic ancient document, not a modern novel written as if it were ancient.

For those unfamiliar with Tolkien, here two beginning pages from the beginnings of The Hobbit and The Silmarillion (first page of the "Quenta Silmarillion" section - it's what was easily pulled off of Google Books). Click to enlarge and read. Compare that with the matter-of-fact nature of a historical document that sets forth who is speaking, when, etc., and its concern about preserving information, etc., such as we find, for example, at the beginning of the Book of Mormon (see below) - not to mention the insistence on multiple eye-witnesses to substantiate its reality. For my professor guest, the strong historical flavor of the Book of Mormon, so unlike the fictional writings of the nineteenth century, convinced her that she was dealing with an authentic historical document that demanded attention, not immediate dismissal. This allowed her to open her mind and read sincerely - the last thing some of our critics want any of you to do.




Beginning of the Book of Mormon:
THE FIRST BOOK OF NEPHI, HIS REIGN AND MINISTRY

An account of Lehi and his wife Sariah and his four sons, being called, (beginning at the eldest) Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi. The Lord warns Lehi to depart out of the land of Jerusalem, because he prophesieth unto the people concerning their iniquity and they seek to destroy his life. He taketh three days' journey into the wilderness with his family. Nephi taketh his brethren and returneth to the land of Jerusalem after the record of the Jews. The account of their sufferings. They take the daughters of Ishmael to wife. They take their families and depart into the wilderness. Their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness. The course of their travels. They come to the large waters. Nephi's brethren rebel against him. He confoundeth them, and buildeth a ship. They call the name of the place Bountiful. They cross the large waters into the promised land, and so forth. This is according to the account of Nephi; or in other words, I, Nephi, wrote this record.
1 Nephi 1

[1] I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

[2] Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.

[3] And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.

[4] For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.
Right from page 1, we have the first author in the book of Mormon explaining who he is, who his parents are, when and where he lived, how he is preparing the text, and what the political situation is as the story begins. It's not the voice of an omniscient narrator or an entertaining novelist. It's the voice a Jewish man, Nephi the son of Lehi and Sariah, in Jerusalem in 600 B.C., writing a sacred historical record with his own hand. And we have this kind of flavor throughout the text - without a trace of the romanticism of Joseph's era or any of the conventions of the modern novel.

Read it, ponder it, take it seriously for at least a moment or two, and find out for yourself.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

If "details" are the criteria for whether a work is historical, your dinner guest would be quite impressed with Tolkien's "Middle Earth" as he created an entire fictional culture.

Wouldn't historical evidence outweigh any other criteria?

Anonymous said...

That's (intentionally, I'd argue) missing the point. Having details supports but doesn't encompass a claim to authenticity. But it seems that what Jeff is trying to say here is that the Book of Mormon is devoid of many of the distinguishing marks of fiction. Middle Earth, despite all its details that you mockingly point at for a counterexample, doesn't meet any of the other criteria mentioned one paragraph above your post. Sure, you've found one piece of fiction that meets one criterion. Can you find one that meets all of them? And if you can, does that even mean anything about the Book of Mormon?

Historical evidence is another matter that I should perhaps leave for others to address, except to say that this post wasn't meant to address it. Jeff has written quite a bit on that already, and continues to do so.

All we're trying to do here is honestly and scholarly find evidence that leaves the door open for a belief in the Book of Mormon. Sarcasm and mocking don't do any good for those seeking the truth.

jayleenb said...

LOL Anon 8:26

How silly! Hisrorical evidence for Tolkien's LOTR? Are you smoking something? Is there any evidence of any of the languages or battles or anything of 'Middle Earth' prior to Tolkien creating them? Did he ever claim his books were historical or fact? LOL

You are comparing apples and mushrooms...

I love LOTR btw.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Tolkien wrote very detailed and convincing....
being a professor and writing over a period of decades ;)

Anonymous said...

"Yes, Tolkien wrote very detailed and convincing....
being a professor and writing over a period of decades ;)"

And Joseph wrote his in 6-7 years, but he had the advantage of compiling his framework from existing publications.

But, the bottom line is Mormons make the claim the book is historical, so the burden of providing evidence lies with them. If you want to talk about "silly" statements, none are so great as the Book of Mormon being it's own testimony. DUH!

SomeGuy said...

So during 6-7 years, starting at about age 17-18, Joseph began writing the story of the Book of Mormon while drawing on the resources available to him as a poor farm boy working full-time to survive. Yes, even while working with the treasure hunters away from home, he wrote feverishly. Jeff has already posted about Joseph's vast frontier library that he must have carried about with him on his back, so there's your "other sources" right there.

Then, over the course of a few months, he recited the entire story from memory.

With his face in a hat.

Obviously, he did his best writing without being able to see his notes.

Anonymous said...

Even if the Book of Mormon were false (and it isn't) I can't imagine how any well informed adult could laugh at it--even if all you're laughing at is it's own claim to it's historical veracity. My challenge to those who would laugh at such an amazing document is to go find someone -- anyone who could reproduce a similar work under the same conditions as Joseph Smith did. You go do that--and then you can have the last laugh. But until you do I'd suggest that you learn from history--that you remember that great works of literature endure while those who criticize them are forgotten. Laugh away.

Jack

Bishop Rick said...

How about Muhammad and the Koran?

Anonymous said...

Bishoprick, said:

"How about Muhammad and the Koran?"


What about it?

Anonymous said...

Bishop Rick,

Nope. It took Muhammad 23 years to complete the Koran.

Jack

Ryan said...

And so we see that those who wish to dismiss the Book of Mormon have use for historians and archaeologists only as long as history and archaeology seem to fit the agenda.

I suppose Jeff's professor friend, while normally a qualified and discerning reader of historical texts, has some congenital defect that cancels her scientific training for a few hours whenever the words "Book of Mormon" strike her retina. The fact that she eventually became LDS (or is becoming?) proves it!

Out of curiosity, if a sincere Christian historian ever became convinced on technical merits that the Book of Mormon is an authentic historical document, what should they do about it?

Oh, and BTW, claims of Book of Mormon authenticity are unlikely to ever be published because of a little thing called "peer review." Peer review is wonderful for weeding out quacks, but has the unfortunate side effect of delaying important new discoveries for years because the "old guard" can't let go of their preconceptions. The more entrenched the dogma, the longer the delay. Examples:

Rudolf Kalman - Kalman filter. Rejected because "if this were true it would change everything." It eventually helped send astronauts to the moon.

Barry Marshall and Robin Warren - Won a Nobel prize for discovering the link between H. pylori and peptic ulcers.

Rodney Brooks - Could not publish his seminal work in artificial intelligence until years after it had become the de-facto text for AI courses around the country.

Mor Harchol-Balter - Pareto distributions in Unix job times. Rejected three times because "there must be some methodological error" before winning best paper award (unmodified).

Bookslinger said...

Book of Mormon apologists seem to be caught in a bind.

If the apologists don't respond to and address the critics' charges against the Book of Mormon, it's taken as conceding the critics' points.

If the apologists do respond to the critics' charges, such as with linguistic, historical, and archealogical evidences ("evidences for plausibility" of course), then the apologists are accused of the "sin" of trying to prove spiritual matters with mundane (worldly/temporal) evidence.

It just can't be said often enough, that proponents of the veracity of the Book of Mormon (and I am one) are not trying to get people to believe in the Book of Mormon (or Joseph Smith, or the LDS church, etc.) based merely on linguistic, literary, historical, or archealogical observations or evidences.

We (proponents of the Book of Mormon) put forth these linguistic, literary, historical and archelogical observations and evidences merely to point out that the critics don't have justification for their claim that the Book of Mormon can't possibly be true.

The aim of apologists is to "make room" for sincere seekers to exercise a little faith and seek spritiual confirmation of the veracity of the Book of Mormon.

Making a committment to the Restored Gospel (as put forth by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) solely on the basis of mundane evidence is unwise and risky, because the pattern of apologetic response is that it's always lagging the claims made against it. Therefore one will almost always find "new" evidence against the apologists.

At any given moment, if you look at only the current dialogue, it seems that the critics are winning. It's only when you look at the history do you see the trend where the apologists have knocked down charge after charge.

Looking at the trend, I see how every past point against the Book of Mormon has turned into a point for the Book of Mormon.

I hope that seeing that trend would give a sincere seeker room to think "This might be true" and to use that mere possibility to then seek further into the spiritual side of the matters, perhaps even uttering conditional type prayers

Anonymous said...

George Lucas says he mostly constructed Star Wars as a kid watching cowboy movies. By the time he was the age at which Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon Lucas had the outline of a 9 story cycle that has diverse people with their own cultures and history, great battles, new technologies and, at it's core, a very moral message.

If he had not used film instead of paper and if he had had the intention to convince rather than to entertain, he might have written something very similar to the Book of Mormon.

L. Ron Hubbard had the intention of convincing. He constructed a very elaborate organization and "technology" but he also wrote quite an involved interplanetary history as well. More impressive still, he came up with the mechanism to get people to fork over money for it and to be willing to be compelled by the rather extraordinary and laughable conclusion to all of it.

The actual production of these elaborate mythos is, in fact, within the abilities of exceptional people. It follows then that verification is a worthwhile if not important pursuit. I'm sure there are Scientologists who have signed contracts for several lifetimes who would have benefited from investigating the veracity of Scientology's claims to truth.

Anonymous said...

"not to mention the insistence on multiple eye-witnesses to substantiate its reality."

What eye witnesses?

SomeGuy said...

Have you ever *seen* the early concepts for Star Wars? Filmmaking is a very iterative process. Star Wars didn't exactly spring fully grown from the head of Zeus.

There is a world of difference between mythos-building in film or literature and the Book of Mormon.

Greg said...

"And so we see that those who wish to dismiss the Book of Mormon have use for historians and archaeologists only as long as history and archaeology seem to fit the agenda."

That's a very sweeping and inaccurate statement on the whole. You're assuming that anyone who dismisses the Book of Mormon has an agenda. Do you really believe that? If you do, it's a bias just as unfair as anti-Mormons.

As someone else stated, archaeologists and historians aren't the ones claiming that something is true before it has been proven so. The vast majority don't have an "agenda" trying to bring down the Mormon church, no matter what you think. They would consider it a waste of time when they see no reason to look into it further - no evidence. Most academics and researchers simply don't investigate or assume something to be true until they encounter solid evidence. I think Jeff's friend should certainly be taken seriously for his expert opinion on the BoM, but he still remains one of the few and the burden of proof remains squarely on BoM believers. Can you really fault people for not believing it to be true outside of faith grounds?

"Peer review is wonderful for weeding out quacks, but has the unfortunate side effect of delaying important new discoveries for years because the "old guard" can't let go of their preconceptions."

There's a double-standard in this statement. You're dismissing peer review as though it's holding up proving the BoM true, yet I'm sure you would tout the greatness of a peer review that vindicates Mormon belief. In fact, the "delay" of important discoveries is simply the skeptical scientific approach. They don't make great claims unless they have great evidence to support them.

That said, I'm perfectly aware that some scientists do have preconceptions and their careers staked on them, but that's why peer review exists - to weed these people out, as you said. It's unreasonable to think that there must be some conspiracy trying to block evidence of the BoM.

Just as anti-Mormons are accused of taking cheap shots, the same can be true for TBMs. If you want to criticize the non-believing archaeologists or peer reviews, criticize them on legitimate substantive points rather than some sweeping generalization that supports a faith-based belief.

Mormanity said...

What eye witnesses? The three official witnesses who saw the plates and an angle, the eight official witnesses who saw and handled the plates, and several other witnesses who saw or felt the plates. Very basic to the LDS story - perhaps the most important aspect of evidence for the reality of the ancient gold plates - and the issue that is most ignored and downplayed by our critics.

One example article" Richard L. Anderson on the Witnesses.

Anonymous said...

Didn't the eye witnesses who actually stayed in the church say they saw the evidence with their "spiritual" eyes?

Zelph said...

I just brought up this subject on my own blog. Of course the Book of Mormon is a historical document! The Book of Mormon is a historical document of 19th century American religious history. THAT is the only historical part of the historical document.

MG said...

Greg/Zelph/ryan/etc.,

I've come to think very little of these debates of late. They are practically pointless. They are more an investigation in the psychology of evidence than evidence itself. Falling into a scriptural mode using the New Testament and Book of Mormon, it is interesting to note that all the unbelievers in those works were capable of holding fast to their positions in light of incredible supernatural evidence. The Pharisees didn't budge when Lazarus was raised from the dead, they just tried to kill Lazarus. Korihor didn't budge in spite of incredible arguments. When finally struck dumb, Alma told him he would go back to his old ways if the curse was removed.

In more modern circles, the "peer review" argument is itself subject to "peer review." The question is, who are the peers? How much are they a product of group think. There is safety in numbers, but often new discoveries come from those who go a past the "peers." Do not confuse skeptical rejection "until further evidence comes in" as a statement of correctness. The medical field, for example, is very slow to accept new information. Eggs are good, then eggs are bad, then eggs are good. Fat is good, then fat is bad, then some fat is good. Stay out of the sun it causes cancer. Now they say, "Well, get some sun, because some sun prevents cancer." This is evident in every field.

The problem with some folks is not that they have doubts, it's that they don't have enough doubts. They posit their criteria of evaluating truth claims as absolute, when it is as much in the air as the claims that they purport are in question.

In the end, we all are backed up against the wall of faith. Every historical document was written by a human being, and at some point we have to decide whether we accept what that person said or not. This is true for any subject. If one believes Plato, at some point he makes a faith decision that Plato got it right. If Christ Himself could not convince the masses, surely the apologists will fare no better.

As a believing LDS, what is my opinion of the Koran? I won't give one. I am not educated enough in it to make a fair assessment. I refuse to make blanket statements about a work that I've never read myself from cover to cover. (I started reading it but got sidetracked). I hope to finish it someday.

I do have an opinion on seekers vs. critics. This life is not a test of the intellect, but a test of the heart. Within any faith tradition, there are those who seek God and have little interest in tearing down others. They may have their truth claims, but they are more interested in sharing their world view and demonstrating what they have to offer than in looking for ways to tear down other views. They are the true seekers. It is my firm belief that God sees those hearts and will bless them for their pure desires.

There are also those who use religion, science, or whatever tool they have at their disposal to seek to tear down the faith of others while offering little uplifting in return except training in their pessimistic ways. They set themselves up as a light (called priestcraft in the Book of Mormon) and are more interested in showing off their so-called intellectual prowess than lifting others up. They have little to offer for the person in a personal crisis, seeking for answers to prayers, or trying to get more in tune with the Spirit. "They have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof."

Regardless of your position on the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Koran or anything else, I would suggest that we evaluate our hearts to see where they are. Are they full of resentment, skepticism, pride and arrogance, or are they full of humility, realizing that our myopic view is extremely limited and none of us has all the facts. Even though I believe the Book of Mormon is true, I don't know if I want to go head-to-head with Mother Teresa. I think she is far ahead of me in her dedication to God, and I have much to learn from her and those like her. In the end, I believe a loving Father will take into account our backgrounds and opportunities for correct information and we will be judged justly and mercifully. For those who make a career of looking for the faults of Mormonism, I would invite them to look into their hearts and ask themselves why. In the end, what's in our heart will speak much more than what book we hold in our hands.

Anonymous said...

Mormonity,

According to documents and even LDS scholors, the three witnesses did NOT see the plates as you represent. As another stated, it was by "spiritual sight". Please don't mislead people.

Anonymous said...

It seems worth pointing out that Tolkien wrote what we can guess he meant to be a thought provoking work but also one which was offered as entertaining fiction. He could have chosen to write essays on the nature and consequence of war but he made a deliberate decision to write a series of novels weaving those themes into a captivating narrative that would engage people's imaginations. Therefore, we can guess that he wrote forthrightly in a contemporary literary style.

Joseph Smith may have had the revelation he purported to or he may have written what he pretended was revelation. In any case, his specific point was to convert people to a new religion based on it. If it was his intent to deceive it stands to reason that he would not adopt colloquial literary style but cloak the language in what he hoped would give it special impact.

I respect anyone's right to believe it was revelation and Joseph Smith spoke and wrote or translated truly. But to say that a proof of the authenticity of a book that has no other validation is that the language is not that of literature is pretty hollow.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 4:52:

http://farms.byu.edu/pdf.php?filename=MzU5MTk1MDQ3LTE0LTEucGRm&type=amJtcw==

Please don't mislead people cuts both ways.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Mormanity said...

According to documents and even LDS scholors, the three witnesses did NOT see the plates as you represent. As another stated, it was by "spiritual sight". Please don't mislead people.

What you're implying is simply wrong. Some witnesses touched the plates, and many saw the exposed plates with their own eyes. They were witnesses to the physical reality and divinity of the plates. Read their statements. Read the numerous interviews.

Martin insisted that he had seen them with his own eyes and that they were real. At the same time, he often used scriptural language to describe the majestic experience of seeing an angel who showed the plates, using the term "spiritual eyes" and also saying it was with an "eye of faith." The two perspective are not contradictory.

Here is an excerpt from FairMormon.org (references omitted):
Joseph Smith was an eyewitness to what Martin Harris said at the exact moment that the manifestation took place. He reported that Martin's words were: "Tis enough; mine eyes have beheld". Another eyewitness, named Alma Jensen, saw Martin Harris point to his physical eyes while testifying that he had seen both the angel and the plates. One of the other Three Witnesses (David Whitmer) explained how the physical and spiritual worked together during this experience. He said, "Of course we were in the spirit when we had the view, for no man can behold the face of an angel, except in a spiritual view, but we were in the body also, and everything was as natural to us as it is at any time." And to leave absolutely no doubt about the nature of the manifestation Whitmer explained, "I was not under any hallucination . . . . I saw with these eyes."

Choice of phrase

The only question that remains, then, is why Martin Harris used the particular phraseology that he did in describing his experience. Perhaps the answer lies in another passage found in the book of Eth. 12:19 (created by June 1829). Here it is noted that those people who have "exceedingly strong" faith can see things "within the veil." But even though they see things in the spiritual realm "with their eyes" it is described as beholding things with "an eye of faith."

Another possibility can be seen in the text of Mos. 1:11 (created in June 1830). It reads:

"But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face."

This dovetails nicely with the description of David Whitmer who "explained that he saw the plates, and with his natural eyes, but he had to be prepared for it—that he and the other witnesses were overshadowed by the power of God."

When Martin Harris said that he had seen the angel and the plates with his "spiritual eyes" or with an "eye of faith" he may have simply been employing some scriptural language that he was familiar with. Such statements do not mean that the angel and the plates were imaginary, hallucinatory, or just an inner mental image. But rather they were seen by physical eyes that had been enhanced by the power of God to view more objects than a mortal could normally see (cf. D&C 76:12; D&C 67:10-13).

Critics who insist otherwise do not provide their readers with all of Martin's statements, distorting the historical record.

Anonymous said...

I was a convert member for over 30 years and without seeing the plates I know that the statements of the wittness are true. Your may be right that I am arrogant, self righteousness and you might also like to call me a liar but althought I had my name removed from the LDS Church I know that it is true. If you do not know this then I feel sorry for you only because it is the greatest news and spiritual experiences I have ever had. The Mormons have converted me to Jesus Christ so darn them. Don't know what to tell you other than ask your self what are you willing to give up to know if it is true. However, if you don't want to know then becareful about asking and becoming accountable for that knowledge.

Anonymous said...

"Tis enough; mine eyes have beheld".

These were the feelings when the Holy Spirit first let it be known to me that Joseph Smith vision was true. Tis enough, Tis enough. Christ also answered my prayer.

Anonymous said...

"In the end, we all are backed up against the wall of faith. Every historical document was written by a human being, and at some point we have to decide whether we accept what that person said or not. This is true for any subject. If one believes Plato, at some point he makes a faith decision that Plato got it right. If Christ Himself could not convince the masses, surely the apologists will fare no better. ...Regardless of your position on the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Koran or anything else, I would suggest that we evaluate our hearts to see where they are."

The problem with this, of course, is that if you're Middle Eastern you look into your heart and see the truth of the Koran. If you're European you look into your heart and see the truth of the Bible. If you're a Utahn you look into your heart and see the truth of the BOM. And if you were an ancient Greek you looked into your heart (well, actually, your mind) and saw the truth of Plato.

Aren't Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit more universal and timeless than that?

Anonymous said...

>Aren't Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit more universal and timeless than that?

That's exactly why scripture *exists*. The fact that your "Utahns" (why does living in Utah automatically make you a Book of Mormon reader? No idea, I'm from Seattle) read the Book of Mormon and the Bible shows you just how universal those teachings are.

Scriptures are a reminder of the permanence and timelessness of truth. As someone who has brought the Book of Mormon into the homes of people from many countries (Japan, Korea, Iran, Germany, Cambodia, Peru, Brazil), I'm glad the scriptures are such a timeless gift. They are God's gift to help lift us out of our cultural shortsightedness and see the forest from the trees.

Funny, you'll notice the same effect when you read Plato because there are truths that are universal. Otherwise you'd probably never have heard of Plato in the first place. You'd be reading People magazine. ;-)

Mormanity said...

Anon. @ 5:36: But to say that a proof of the authenticity of a book that has no other validation is that the language is not that of literature is pretty hollow.

Wait, I recognize that voice. Aren't you the guy that said that the presence of chiasmus and numerous Hebraisms in the text, with no other validation, is pretty hollow evidence of plausibility? And also the guy who said that the presence of a handful of coincidences in the Arabian Peninsula, like remarkable candidates for Nahom, Bountiful, Shazer, and the Valley of Lemuel, in the absence of other validation, is pretty hollow? And didn't you also say that verifying the use of metal plates in ancient times for recording sacred texts, in the absence of other validation, is pretty hollow? Ditto for the use of stone boxes in the Americas to bury sacred relics? (I have to admit that even in the presence of other validation, stone boxes are pretty hollow.)

And didn't you also say that the modern scientific validation of ancient volcanism in Mesoamerica, consistent in scope and time with the description of apparent volcanic activity around 33 A.D. in Third Nephi, is, in the absence of other validation, pretty hollow?

In fact, didn't you say that no matter what evidence has been or ever will be found for anything you don't believe in, that it will undoubtedly be pretty hollow in the absence of other validation, and that any other validation offered can be dismissed as hollow for similar reasons?

I hope I'm not confusing you for someone else.

Ryan said...

That's a very sweeping and inaccurate statement on the whole. You're assuming that anyone who dismisses the Book of Mormon has an agenda.

If someone claims there is not a shred of evidence to support the Book of Mormon as an authentic historic document, then stubbornly dismisses any and all evidence apologists bring forward, I assume they have a bias. Doubly so if they, having decided the Book of Mormon is a complete waste of their time, "prove" it by hanging around apologist web sites taking pot shots.

The vast majority of people with any interest in the Book of Mormon are looking at primarily its doctrinal claims. The history part serves only to reinforce their [dis]belief in the doctrine. Very few people claim to have weighed just the historical aspect of the Book of Mormon in the balance and found it wanting -- most couldn't care less. Of those who do make the claim, very, very few turn out to have done what they claimed. The process is usually closer to putting the book in a floating bucket, then tossing in rocks until it sinks.




If you want to criticize the non-believing archaeologists or peer reviews, criticize them on legitimate substantive points rather than some sweeping generalization that supports a faith-based belief.

The Book of Mormon as history is a topic that *really* ticks off some people to even mention, and that nearly everyone else couldn't care less about. You honestly believe public research in this area would have a shot under the current system of research funding and peer review? Look at stem cell research, with its small group of rabidly opposed detractors. It's had a rocky enough time even with the rest of the community convinced it's terribly important.

To be honest, I'm not convinced the research community is doing anything wrong. From a purely secular perspective there are probably more pressing things to investigate. However, if that's true then there is no basis for citing a lack of evidence from that community as a good reason not to believe the Book of Mormon's claim to authenticity.




[Most researchers] would consider it a waste of time [to investigate Book of Mormon authenticity] when they see no reason to look into it further - no evidence.

Now there's a chicken and egg problem! Don't look for evidence because there is no evidence available yet.

If nobody bothers to investigate a lack of evidence says very little IMHO.




You're dismissing peer review as though it's holding up proving the BoM true, yet I'm sure you would tout the greatness of a peer review that vindicates Mormon belief.

Since when is an archaeologist supposed to prove the Book of Mormon is true (as in teaching the pure doctrine of salvation)? Even if archaeology/history/whatever makes a strong case that the Book of Mormon is authentic (translated from ancient Nephite writings) the question of its truthfulness remains. For the umpteenth time, the apologist's job is to make room for faith, not replace it.

If Nature, Time Magazine and Popular Mechanics all came out tomorrow and said the Book of Mormon is an authentic history, very little would change in the LDS camp. We still need Moroni 10. Very little would change in the anti-Mormon camp, either. They would just shift to some other topic. Until then, however, the apologists will hang around this topic to counter the antis.

Anonymous said...

"Wait, I recognize that voice. Aren't you the guy that said ...

I hope I'm not confusing you for someone else."

Yes, I'm afraid you are. I hadn't read those other comments and suppose you're speaking of other entries.

Latter-Day James said...

I guess he wasn't the "pretty hollow anti" then? :-)

Anonymous said...

"The problem with this, of course, is that if you're Middle Eastern you look into your heart and see the truth of the Koran. If you're European you look into your heart and see the truth of the Bible. If you're a Utahn you look into your heart and see the truth of the BOM. And if you were an ancient Greek you looked into your heart (well, actually, your mind) and saw the truth of Plato."

You are correct if you look at all this from the perspective that all the religions and their writings are man made. If you believe the Bible and you look in a general way you see the same pattern over and over again where God is rejected and a lesser religion is put in place of His true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Although this started in the Garden of Eden, Tower Babble, Sodom and Gomorrah, Flood, and from a LDS view the Tablets of Moses were first the Gospel of Jesus Christ but was rejected by the people then again rejected when Christ came. We do not know for sure but it is generally believed that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been offered to other cultures but rejected and replaced with a lesser religion. God can only work with people that wish to live His Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus:

John 10
The Shepherd and His Flock
3The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." 6Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
7Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

This is not to sound arrogant or self righteous but how do you think Christians would be welcome in other countries? I will not go into detail but look at the examples in the Bible, Joseph Smith, the three witness, or the eight witness. Although, some like to dispute the three or eight witness they mostly do this because they left the church. As a convert and others I know that have left the church that still know that it is true just like the 12 witnesses. Many leave for different reasons and it is just as true today as the day it happened to the 12 witness. You either struggle with Christ to gain a spiritual testimony and respond to his voice or you do not.
John 10
"16I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

The greatest words for me in modern times next to Joseph Smith's words about the first vision then the 12 witnesses is the
“And it came to pass that he commanded that their little children should be brought. So they brought their little children and set them down upon the ground round about him, and Jesus stood in the midst; and the multitude gave way till they had all been brought unto him…
“And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them. And when he had done this he wept again; And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones. And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about, and they were encircled about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them” (3 Nephi 17:11-12, 21-25).
We pray that you will hear (feel) the voice of the Our Father and Christ.

Darion Alexander said...

BUT WHAT in the Sam Hill does this all have to do with the 13 Crystal Skulls??!! Dang it, will someone please tell me where they are?? I swear the BoM tells us where they are!

Maybe in the Middle of the Earth..ahem Middle Earth...

Darion Alexander said...

Could someone please explain to me, because I am interested in knowing, seriously, how does one actually plagiarize the Bible? I mean, who has the copyright on it? I have seen a few posts here and there explaining that Joseph basically copied or plagiarized the Bible. So I am just curious about the idealogy behind these comments.

Mormanity said...

Plagiarism! Just like Micah plagiarized a big chunk of Isaiah 2, and the New Testament authors plagiarized numerous Old Testament passages without attribution.

Darion Alexander said...

That's nonsense! They didn't have plagiarism back then? Who kept control of copyrights and all that back then? Jeff, you astound me once again. I mean, even your website has plagiarized many verses from the Holy Scrit, I think I need to bring in the CIAA on you, yeah, the Copyright Infringment Association of Anonymity...yeah...that's it...

schex said...

What's frightning here is that we have apparently becomes so indoctrinated with the corporate ideology of copyright law, that we think of everything in those terms, even the scriptures.

The greatest ideas and writings of humanity, those giants upon whose shoulders we stand, were all generated copyright free. And I'm quite sure that the great ideas yet to come will share that same characteristic

Anonymous said...

"The greatest ideas and writings of humanity, those giants upon whose shoulders we stand, were all generated copyright free."

Iam sure it was call by a different term but some of Paul's letters were showing up with parts cut out of it. Not plagiarizing but maybe copyright concerns.