Book of Mormon Problems – Are there any?
A Mormon writes:
>>>I’m curious; was this realization (that the Book of Mormon is not what it claims to be) spiritual or intellectual? If it was intellectual I would be interested to know how you dealt with some of aspects of the Book of Mormon that are not easilly attributed to a “contrived” theory, for example it’s literary style?<<<<P> A Former Mormon responds:
This question was not directed at me, but it could have been since I, too, left the church after serious problems became apparent.
Literary style? That’s one of the problems, J. It became apparent to me as I studied the Book of Mormon that it was unsophisticated, repetitious, and very much inconsistent with human behavior in general as compared to the rest of human history.
B. H. Roberts, an LDS General Authority and church historian, after a serious examination of the literary style of the Book of Mormon, concluded:
“In the first place there is a certain lack of perspective in the things the book relates as history that points quite clearly to an undeveloped mind as their origin. The narrative proceeds in characteristic disregard of conditions necessary to its reasonableness, as if it were a tale told by a child, with utter disregard for consistency.”
“…with the strong implication that they have their origin in one mind.”
“Does it not carry with it (“the proof”, crossed out, “evidence” handwritten above) that it is the work of a pious youth dealing with the very common place stock arguments clumsily put together…”
and so many more statements exposing an LDS historian’s view that the Book of Mormon’s literary style was that of a single, uneducated individual of 19th century New England. These are from “A Book of Mormon Study”, by B. H. Roberts.
LDS defenders point to the fact that Roberts consistently professed his faith in the Church and remained active all his days. HOWEVER, if one is really serious about understanding the Book of Mormon, including those things Roberts discovered, s/he would benefit considerably by examining Roberts’ work on the subject rather than relying on LDS apology to explain Roberts’s troubling statements.
I suggest Studies of the Book of Mormon, Signature Books, containing a series of manuscripts Roberts produced but didn’t publish, and the background material around their production. The originals are housed in the Marriot Library, U of Utah.
It is my personal opinion that no reasonable reader will be able to examine these manuscripts and afterward convince himself that Roberts believed Joseph Smith to be a prophet or the Book of Mormon to be a collection of ancient writings translated from plates given to Joseph by an angel.
This is not meant to be argument from authority, since anyone can examine the Book of Mormon personally, but it helps to have professional guidance on what kinds of things to look for. Many will have small “alarm bells” go off when they encounter such things as “adieu”, (Jacob 7:27) and “bow of steel”, “cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:19), and all those “Z” names, but these are only the tip of a very large iceberg.
Another helpful book is a collection of essays by LDS scholars, New Approaches to the Book of Mormon. Authorities will discourage the faithful from reading such things, counselling them instead to seek the rebuttal material from FARMS. But would you trust the defense to fairly provide both sides of the case in a trial when learning the truth has such significance to your own personal life? Some would, because they have been conditioned to trust their authorities, but this is circular reasoning, which works well only with those who are content to let others do their thinking for them.
I have personally encountered several LDS scholars who were so enveloped in LDS society that they couldn’t express their inner beliefs without destroying their lives, losing family, friends, social standing, employment. I have also met a few who did express their beliefs and lost same.
Religion is about love but there sure is a lot of hatred and resentment involved if people don’t agree on what they believe. It seems to be just human politics with a mask.
(Note that this page previously had three links to FARMS apologetic literature which attempted to defend the Book of Mormon. FARMS now charges internet viewers to see the articles previously linked from here so the links have been removed.)