...the Book of Mormon is the keystone of [our] testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.
...everything in the Church – everything – rises or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and, by implication, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of how it came forth...It sounds like a 'sudden death' proposition to me. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is or this Church and its founder are false, fraudulent, a deception from the first instance onward.
1769 KJV Errors
What are 1769 King James Version edition errors doing in the Book of Mormon? A purported ancient text? Errors which are unique to the 1769 edition that Joseph Smith owned?
17th Century Italics
When King James translators were translating the KJV Bible between 1604 and 1611, they would occasionally put in their own words into the text to make the English more readable. We know exactly what these words are because they're italicized in the KJV Bible. What are these 17th century italicized words doing in the Book of Mormon? Word for word? What does this say about the Book of Mormon being an ancient record?
The above example, 2 Nephi 19:1, dated in the Book of Mormon to be around 550 BC, quotes nearly verbatim from the 1611 AD translation of Isaiah 9:1 KJV – including the translators’ italicized words. Additionally, the Book of Mormon describes the sea as the Red Sea. The problem with this is that (a) Christ quoted Isaiah in Matt. 4:14-15 and did not mention the Red Sea, (b) “Red” sea is not found in any source manuscripts, and (c) the Red Sea is 250 miles away.
In the above example, the KJV translators added 7 italicized words to their English translation, which are not found in the source Hebrew manuscripts. Why does the Book of Mormon, which is supposed to have been completed by Moroni over 1,400 years prior, contain the exact identical seven italicized words of 17th century translators?
The Book of Mormon includes mistranslated biblical passages that were later changed in Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible. These Book of Mormon verses should match the inspired JST version instead of the incorrect KJV version that Joseph later fixed. A typical example of the differences between the BOM, the KJV, and the JST:
Christ's Sermon on the Mount in the Bible and the Book of Mormon are identical. But Joseph Smith later corrected the Bible. In doing so, he also contradicted the same identical Sermon on the Mount passage in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is “the most correct book” and was translated a mere decade before the JST. The Book of Mormon was not corrupted over time and did not need correcting. How is it that the Book of Mormon has the incorrect Sermon on the Mount passage and does not match the correct JST version in the first place?
DNA analysis has concluded that Native American Indians do not originate from the Middle East or from Israelites but rather from Asia. Why did the Church change the following section of the introduction page in the 2006 edition Book of Mormon, shortly after the DNA results were released?
...the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indiansto
...the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians
Horses, cattle, oxen, sheep, swine, goats, elephants, wheels, chariots, wheat, silk, steel, and iron did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times. Why are these things mentioned in the Book of Mormon as being made available in the Americas between 2200 BC - 421 AD?
Unofficial apologists claim victories in some of these items but closer inspection reveals significant problems. It has been documented that apologists have manipulated wording so that steel is not steel, sheep become never-domesticated bighorn sheep, horses become tapirs, etc.
There is absolutely no archaeological evidence to directly support the Book of Mormon or the Nephites and Lamanites, who were supposed to have numbered in the millions. This is one of the reasons why unofficial apologists have developed the Limited Geography Model (it happened in Central or South America) and claim that the Hill Cumorah mentioned as the final battle of the Nephites is not in Palmyra, New York but is elsewhere. This is in direct contradiction to what Joseph Smith and other prophets have taught. It also makes little sense in light of the Church’s visitor’s center near the Hill Cumorah in New York and the annual Church-sponsored Hill Cumorah pageants.
We read about two major war battles that took place at the Hill Cumorah (Ramah to the Jaredites) with deaths numbering in the tens of thousands – the last battle between Lamanites and Nephites around 400 AD claimed at least 230,000 deaths on the Nephite side alone. No bones, hair, chariots, swords, armor, or any other evidence of a battle whatsoever has been found at this site. John E. Clark, director of BYU’s archaeological organization, wrote in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies:
In accord with these general observations about New York and Pennsylvania, we come to our principal object – the Hill Cumorah. Archaeologically speaking, it is a clean hill. No artifacts, no walls, no trenches, no arrowheads. The area immediately surrounding the hill is similarly clean. Pre-Columbian people did not settle or build here. This is not the place of Mormon’s last stand. We must look elsewhere for that hill.
Compare this with the archaeological evidence of other hillside battle sites. Caerau Hillfort, in the Wales capital of Cardiff, was found to have abundant archaeological evidence of inhabitants and weapons of war dating as far back as 3600 BC in the form of stone arrowheads, tools, and pottery.
Compare the absent evidence of Book of Mormon civilizations to the archaeological remains of other past civilizations such as the Roman occupation of Britain and other countries. There are abundant evidences of their presence during the first 400 years AD such as villas, mosaic floors, public baths, armor, weapons, writings, art, pottery, and so on. Even the major road systems used today in some of these occupied countries were built by the Romans. Additionally, there is ample evidence of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations as well as a civilization in current day Texas that dates back at least 15,000 years. Another recent discovery has been made of a 14,000-year-old village in Canada.
Admittedly, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but where are the Nephite or Lamanite buildings, roads, armors, swords, pottery, art, etc.? How can these great civilizations just vanish without a trace? Latter-day Saint Thomas Stuart Ferguson was the founder of BYU’s archaeology division (New World Archaeological Foundation). NWAF was financed by the LDS Church. NWAF and Ferguson were tasked by BYU and the Church in the 1950s and 1960s to find archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon. After 17 years of diligent effort, this is what Ferguson wrote in a February 20, 1976 letter about trying to dig up evidence for the Book of Mormon:
...you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere – because it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of the dirt-archaeology. I should say – what is in the ground will never conform to what is in the book.
Many Book of Mormon names and places are strikingly similar to many local names and places of the region where Joseph Smith lived.
The following two maps show Book of Mormon geography compared to Joseph Smith’s geography.
The first map is the “proposed map,” constructed from internal comparisons in the Book of Mormon.
Throughout the Book of Mormon we read of such features as “The Narrow Neck of Land” which was a day and a half’s journey (roughly 30 miles) separating two great seas. We also read about the Hill Onidah and the Hill Ramah – all place names in the land of Joseph Smith’s youth.
We read in the Book of Mormon of the city of Teancum named for a warrior named Teancum who helped General Moroni fight in the Land of Desolation. In Joseph’s era, an Indian Chief named Tecumseh fought and died near the narrow neck of land in helping the British in the War of 1812. Today, the city Tecumseh (near the narrow neck of land) is named after this Chief.
We see the Book of Mormon city Kishkumen located near an area named, on modern maps, as Kiskiminetas. There are more than a dozen Book of Mormon names that are the same as or nearly the same as modern geographical locations.
|Modern Geographic Place||Book of Mormon Name|
|Alma||Alma, Valley of|
|Noah Lakes||Noah, Land of|
|Oneida Castle||Onidah, Hill|
|Ripple Lake||Ripliancum, Waters of|
Why are there so many names similar to Book of Mormon names in the region where Joseph Smith lived? Is this really all just a coincidence?
Off the eastern coast of Mozambique in Africa is an island country called “Comoros.” Prior to its French occupation in 1841, the islands were known by its Arabic name, “Camora.” There is an 1808 map of Africa that refers to the islands as “Camora.”
The largest city and capital of Comoros (formerly “Camora”)? Moroni. “Camora” and settlement “Moroni” were names in pirate and treasure hunting stories involving Captain William Kidd (a pirate and treasure hunter) which many 19th century New Englanders – especially treasure hunters – were familiar with.
In fact, the uniform spelling for Hill Cumorah in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon is spelled “Camorah.”
Pomeroy Tucker was born in Palmyra, New York in 1802, three years before Joseph Smith. He is considered to be a contemporary source. This is what he said about Joseph Smith:
Joseph ... had learned to read comprehensively ... [reading] works of fiction and records of criminality, such for instance as would be classed with the ‘dime novels’ of the present day. The stories of Stephen Buroughs and Captain Kidd, and the like, presented the highest charms for his expanding mental perceptions
Some apologists say that Tucker’s Mormonism: Its Origin, Rise, and Progress is “anti- Mormon” and thus anything in the book cannot be trusted. If this is true, why then did LDS scholar and Church History compiler B.H. Roberts quote Tucker for background information on Joseph Smith? Also, FairMormon has an article in which they quote Tucker’s book 4 times as support for Joseph, and they even refer to Tucker as an “eyewitness” to Joseph and his family. Is Tucker’s peripheral information only useful and accurate when it shows Joseph and the Church in a positive and favorable light?
We are sorry to observe, even in this enlightened age, so prevalent a disposition to credit the accounts of the marvellous. Even the frightful stories of money being hid under the surface of the earth, and enchanted by the Devil or Robert Kidd [Captain Kidd], are received by many of our respectable fellow citizens as truths.
Notice that this is considered “prevalent” and “received by many of our respectable fellow citizens as truths.” The above contemporary newspaper quote from Palmyra, New York, in 1825 was not tainted by any desire to damage Joseph Smith. This article provides a snapshot of the worldview of 1825 New England.
The Hill Cumorah and Moroni have absolutely nothing to do with Camora and Moroni from Captain Kidd stories? Stories that Joseph and his treasure hunting family, friends, and community were familiar with? The original 1830 Book of Mormon just happens to have the uniform “Camorah” spelling? This is all just a mere coincidence?
View of the Hebrews
There was a book published in 1823 Vermont entitled View of the Hebrews. Below is a chart comparing the View of the Hebrews to the Book of Mormon:
View of the HebrewsOnline Source
Book of MormonOnline Source
1823, first edition |
1825, second edition
|1830, first edition|
Poultney, Rutland County
NOTE: Oliver Cowdery, one of the Book of Mormon witnesses, lived in Poutlney when View of the Hebrews was published.
Sharon, Windsor County
NOTE: Windor County is adjacent to Rutland County.
|The destruction of Jerusalem|
|The scattering of Israel|
|The restoration of the Ten Tribes|
|Hebrews leave the Old World for the New World|
|Religion a motivating factor|
|Migrations a long journey|
|Encounter “seas” of “many waters”|
|The Americas an uninhabited land|
|Settlers journey northward|
|Encounter a valley of a great river|
|A unity of race (Hebrew) settle the land and are the ancestral origin of American Indians|
|Hebrew the origin of Indian language|
|Lost Indian records|
A set of “yellow leaves” buried in Indian hill. Elder B.H. Roberts noted the “leaves” may be gold.
Joseph Smith claimed the gold plates were buried in Hill Cumorah.
|Breastplate, Urim & Thummim|
|Prophets, spiritually gifted men transmit generational records|
|A man standing on a wall warning the people saying, “Wo, wo to this city...to this people” while subsequently being attacked.|
✔Jesus, son of Ananus, stood on the wall saying “Wo, wo to this city, this temple, and this people.”
✔Samuel the Lamanite stood on the wall saying “Wo, wo to this city” or “this people”.
|The Gospel preached in the Americas|
|Quotes whole chapters of Isaiah|
|Good and bad are a necessary opposition|
|Sacred towers and high places|
|Messiah visits the Americas|
Quetzalcoatl, the white bearded “Mexican Messiah”
|Idolatry and human sacrifice|
|Hebrews divide into two classes, civilized and barbarous|
|Civilized thrive in art, written language, metallurgy, navigation|
|Government changes from monarchy to republic|
|Civil and ecclesiastical power is united in the same person|
|Long wars break out between the civilized and barbarous|
|Extensive military fortifications, observations, “watch towers”|
|Barbarous exterminate the civilized|
|Discusses the United States|
Elder B.H. Roberts noted: “Ethan is prominently connected with the recording of the matter in the one case, and Ether in the other.”
Source: Source: B.H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.240-242,324-344
Reverend Ethan Smith was the author of View of the Hebrews. Ethan Smith was a pastor in Poultney, Vermont when he wrote and published the book. Oliver Cowdery – also a Poultney, Vermont resident – was a member of Ethan’s congregation during this time and before he went to New York to join his distant cousin Joseph Smith. As you know, Oliver Cowdery played an instrumental role in the production of the Book of Mormon.
This direct link between Joseph and Oliver and View of the Hebrews demonstrates that Joseph is very likely to have been aware of the theme and content of that book. It gives weight to all the similarities described in the preceding comparison chart. Apologists may point out that the Book of Mormon is not a direct, word-for-word plagiarism of View of the Hebrews, and indeed that is not the claim. Rather, the similarities should give any reader pause that two books so similar in theme and content would coincidentally be connected by Oliver Cowdery.
LDS General Authority and scholar Elder B.H. Roberts privately researched the link between the Book of Mormon and the View of the Hebrews, Joseph’s father having the same dream in 1811 as Lehi’s dream, and other sources that were available to Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and others before the publication of the Book of Mormon. Elder Roberts’ private research was meant only for the eyes of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve and was never intended to be available to the public. However, Roberts’ work was later published in 1985 as Studies of the Book of Mormon. Based upon his research, Elder B.H. Roberts came to the following conclusion on the View of the Hebrews:
Did Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews furnish structural material for Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon? It has been pointed out in these pages that there are many things in the former book that might well have suggested many major things in the other. Not a few things merely, one or two, or a half dozen, but many; and it is this fact of many things of similarity and the cumulative force of them that makes them so serious a menace to Joseph Smith’s story of the Book of Mormon’s origin.
While this does not prove that the Book of Mormon was plagiarized from the View of the Hebrews, it does demonstrate that key elements of the story of the Book of Mormon – i.e. Native Americans as Hebrew descendants, ancient records of natives preserved, scattering and gathering of Israel, Hebrew origin of Native American language, etc. pre-dated the Book of Mormon and were already among the ideas circulating among New England protestant Americans.
With these ideas already existing and the previously cited issues with KJV plagiarism, errors, anachronisms, geography problems, and more issues to come, is it unreasonable to question Joseph Smith’s story of the Book of Mormon origins as Church Historian B.H. Roberts did?
The Late War
The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain: This book was an 1819 textbook written for New York state school children. The book depicted the events of the War of 1812 and it was specifically written in a Jacobean English style to imitate the King James Bible. This affected scriptural style was calculated to elevate the moral themes, characters and events depicted in the narrative to inspire the readers to “patriotism and piety.” Readers already accustomed to revere scriptural sounding texts in the ancient Bible would be predisposed to revere this history book which employs the same linguistic style.
The first chapter alone is stunning as it reads incredibly like the Book of Mormon:
In addition to the above KJV language style present throughout the book, what are the following Book of Mormon verbatim phrases, themes, and storylines doing in a children’s school textbook that was used in Joseph Smith’s own time and backyard – all of this a mere decade before the publication of the Book of Mormon?
- Devices of “curious workmanship” in relation to boats and weapons.
- A “stripling” soldier “with his “weapon of war in his hand.”
- “A certain chief captain...was given in trust a band of more than two thousand chosen men, to go forth to battle” and who “all gave their services freely for the good of their country.”
- Fortifications: “the people began to fortify themselves and entrench the high Places round about the city.”
- Objects made “partly of brass and partly of iron, and were cunningly contrived with curious works, like unto a clock; and as it were a large ball.”
- “Their polished steels of fine workmanship.”
- “Nevertheless, it was so that the freeman came to the defence of the city, built strong holds and forts and raised up fortifications in abundance.”
- Three Indian Prophets.
- “Rod of iron.”
- War between the wicked and righteous.
- Maintaining the standard of liberty with righteousness.
- Righteous Indians vs. savage Indians.
- False Indian prophets.
- Conversion of Indians.
- Bands of robbers/pirates marauding the righteous protagonists.
- Engraving records.
- “And it came to pass, that a great multitude flocked to the banners of the great Sanhedrim” compared to Alma 62:5: “And it came to pass that thousands did flock unto his standard, and did take up their swords in defense of their freedom...”
- Worthiness of Christopher Columbus.
- Ships crossing the ocean.
- A battle at a fort where righteous white protagonists are attacked by an army made up of dark-skinned natives driven by a white military leader. White protagonists are prepared for battle and slaughter their opponents to such an extent that they fill the trenches surrounding the fort with dead bodies. The surviving elements flee into the wilderness/forest.
- Cataclysmic earthquake followed by great darkness.
- Elephants/mammoths in America.
- Literary Hebraisms/Chiasmus.
- Boats and barges built from trees after the fashion of the ark.
- A bunch of “it came to pass.”
- Many, many more parallels.
The parallels and similarities to the Book of Mormon are astounding. This web page outlines very clearly and simply just how phenomenally unlikely it is that so many common rare phrases and themes could be found between these books without the Late War having had some influence on the Book of Mormon.
Former BYU Library Bibliographic Dept. Chairman and antique book specialist Rick Grunder states in his analysis of The Late War (p.770):
The presence of Hebraisms and other striking parallels in a popular children’s textbook (Late War), on the other hand – so close to Joseph Smith in his youth – must sober our perspective.
The First Book of Napoleon
Another fascinating book published in 1809, The First Book of Napoleon:
The first chapter:
...and it continues on. It’s like reading from the Book of Mormon. When I first read this along with other passages from The First Book of Napoleon, I was floored. Here we have two early 19th century contemporary books written at least a decade before the Book of Mormon that not only read and sound like the Book of Mormon but also contain so many of the Book of Mormon’s parallels and themes as well.
The following is a side-by-side comparison of selected phrases the Book of Mormon is known for from the beginning portion of the Book of Mormon with the same order in the beginning portion of The First Book of Napoleon (note: these are not direct paragraphs):
The Book of Mormon taught and still teaches a Trinitarian view of the Godhead. Joseph Smith’s early theology also held this view. As part of the over 100,000 changes to the Book of Mormon, there were major changes made to reflect Joseph’s evolved view of the Godhead.
ORIGINAL 1830 EDITION TEXTView Online
CURRENT, ALTERED TEXTView Online
1 Nephi 3 (p.25)
And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.
1 Nephi 11:18
And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
1 Nephi 3 (p.25)
And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!
1 Nephi 11:21
And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father
1 Nephi 3 (p.26)
And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world;
1 Nephi 11:32
And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world;
1 Nephi 3 (p.32)
These last records...shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world;
1 Nephi 13:40
These last records...shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world;
In addition to these revised passages, the following verses are among many verses still in the Book of Mormon that can be read with a Trinitarian view of the Godhead:
Boyd Kirkland made the following observation:
The Book of Mormon and early revelations of Joseph Smith do indeed vividly portray a picture of the Father and Son as the same God...why is it that the Book of Mormon not only doesn’t clear up questions about the Godhead which have raged in Christianity for centuries, but on the contrary just adds to the confusion? This seems particularly ironic, since a major avowed purpose of the book was to restore lost truths and end doctrinal controversies caused by the “great and abominable Church’s” corruption of the Bible...In later years he [Joseph] reversed his earlier efforts to completely ‘monotheise’ the godhead and instead ‘tritheised’ it.
Assuming that the official 1838 first vision account is truthful and accurate, why would Joseph Smith hold a Trinitarian view of the Godhead if he personally saw God the Father and Jesus Christ as separate and embodied beings a few years earlier in the Sacred Grove?