Questions related to the Book of Mormon and other items on Mormonism and Joseph Smith
- Why are Greek names such as Lachoneus, Timothy, Jonas, and Alpha & Omega in a book that should have absolutely no Greek influence?
- Why aren’t there other examples of “Reformed Egyptian” in Ancient America?
- Why doesn’t a linguistical relationship exist between any native American language and ancient Egyptian or Hebrew?
- Why does a linguistical relationship exist between native American languages and Asian (Siberian) languages?
- How did the Book of Mormon language evolve so rapidly into non-related Indian languages? Indo-European is much older than the Book of Mormon time period, yet vestiges of Indo-European exist through all of Europe and parts of Asia.
- Why are only four main types of Mesoamerican writing systems known (and none in pre-Columbus North America): (Aztec, Mixtec, Zapotec, and Maya)?
- Why can’t the Anthon transcript (which contains copies of the supposed Reformed Egyptian characters) be identified with any forms of Egyptian? The only three Egyptologists that have looked at it say it does not contain any Egyptian (Ferguson Collection, BYU)
- If the Book of Mormon took place outside of Mesoamerica (like in New York where the Hill Cumorah supposedly is), why are written languages of ancient America only found in Mesoamerica?
- Why haven’t any of the Book of Mormon proper names such as Nephi, Laman, Zarahemla, etc. been found in all of the many writings that have been found in Mesoamerica?
- Why aren’t any of the Indian tribes racially the same as Hebrews? American Indians are of Mongoloid origin. (See pages 190-199 of Patterns in Evolution : The New Molecular View for phylogenetic evidence and this message for my response to apologetics related to blood types.)
- Why did Joseph Smith send missionaries to the “Lamanites” if the American Indians at the time weren’t really “Lamanites”? (D&C 10:48, 28:8, 54:8, etc.) He certainly considered the Indians to be Lamanites (even if some of the current leaders of the church no longer believe them to be so). ‘The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians. By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph who was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them.’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 17). ‘He [Moroni] told me of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold, I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited, he said the Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham.’ (Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, Diary 1835-1836, pg. 76). (Note – this was one of Smith’s ‘founding visions’. Apparently, Joseph Smith’s Moroni was not aware that the American natives were non-Semitic.)
- Why were Martin Harris and David Whitmer only allowed to see the plates with “spiritual eyes”? (see Dialogue, Winter 1972, pp. 83-84) Even some of the eight witnesses, who were supposed to be “physical” witnesses of the plates, claimed the event was based on the supernatural. For instance, John Whitmer, in the History of the Church, claims that “they were shown to me by a supernatural power”.
- If the plates were real, why would it take faith to see them? (D&C 17:2) (How could he have translated without the plates, as his scribes said, if he was doing a literal translation of a physical object?)
- Why does the church now extol the witnesses when Joseph Smith condemned them? (Doctrine and Covenants 3:12-13) (“Such characters as McLellin, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them.” – History of the Church, Vol. 3, p. 232) (In History of the Church, Vol. 3, page 228 Joseph Smith calls David Whitmer a “dumb ass”.)
- Why would most of them leave the church?
- Why would many of them become Strangites? If Utah Mormons believe the witnesses’ testimonies of Joseph Smith’s claims shouldn’t they also believe the testimonies of James Jesse Strang’s very similar claims? (same for William E. McLellin’s movement)
- Why did Brigham Young say that the witnesses doubted and disbelieved in their experience? “Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel.” (JOD 7:164 1859).
- What sort of objectivity can the witnesses offer when all (except Martin Harris–who had a financial interest) were related to Joseph Smith or David Whitmer?
- If God was inspiring the translation process of the Book of Mormon, why were 4,000 changes necessary?
- Why do the stories and the characters in the Book of Mormon repeat with only minor variations in content and different names given to the characters? Example: Nephi and Moroni sound and act like the same character. “There were other Anti-Christs among the Nephites, but they were more military leaders than religious innovators . . . they are all of one breed and brand; so nearly alike that one mind is the author of them, and that a young and undeveloped, but piously inclined mind. The evidence I sorrowfully submit, points to Joseph Smith as their creator. It is difficult to believe that they are the product of history, that they come upon the scene separated by long periods of time, and among a race which was the ancestral race of the red man of America.” (B. H. Roberts – Studies of the Book of Mormon, page 271).
- Why was the Book of Mormon cast into the KJV style? “…there is a continual use of the ‘thee’, ‘thou’ and ‘ye’, as well as the archaic verb endings ‘est’ (second person singular) and ‘eth’ (third person singular). Since the Elizabethan style was not Joseph’s natural idiom, he continually slipped out of this King James pattern and repeatedly confused the norms as well. Thus he lapsed from ‘ye’ (subject) to ‘you’ (object) as the subject of sentences (e.g. ‘Mos. 2:19; 3:34; 4:24), jumped from plural (‘ye’) to singular (‘thou’) in the same sentence (Mos. 4:22) and moved from verbs without endings to ones with endings (e.g. ‘yields . . . putteth,’ 3:19).” (The Use of the Old Testament in the Book of Mormon, by Wesley P. Walters, 1990, page 30).
- Was there a room full of plates in a secret chamber in the hill near Joseph’s house as he and Brigham Young said?
- Why were cliched Indian phrases like “Nine Moons” in (Omni 1:21) or “Great Spirit” in (Alma 19:25-27) included?
- How did the Jaredites come up with the same rare idea of writing on plates 2,000 years before Lehi when such a record keeping system is virtually unknown?
- Why include the ridiculous prayer of the Zoramites in Alma 31?
- Why is the Passover mentioned 71 times in the Bible, but -0- times in the Book of Mormon?
- How did Book of Mormon characters get the priesthood when they weren’t from the tribe of Levi?
- Why was Shakespeare (as modified by Josiah Priest) used?
- What was the purpose in Moroni taking the plates back? Why couldn’t Joseph at least been able to copy down the characters on the plates so that future generations could hopefully verify the characters’ authenticity? Similarly, what ever happened to the parchment written by John of the New Testament and why would a translated document have to undergo a “re-translation” between its publication in the Book of Commandments and D&C 7? Why weren’t the supposed writings of Abraham (which were actually common funerary texts dating much later than the time Abraham was claimed to have lived) also taken similarly back?
- Why did Joseph’s own accounts confuse whether he was visited by Moroni or Nephi? “He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi.” (J. Smith – Times & Seasons Vol. 3, p. 753 1842) also (J. Smith 1851 PoGP p. 41). apologetic response
- Why are the prophecies in the Book of Mormon dealing with events that already occurred unrealistically specific?
Charles Anthon story.
Joseph Smith’s name given.
Smith called to be the translator of the Mormon record.
600 years until Jesus is born.
Virgin to be the mother of Jesus. (This is actually a copied translation error. The Bible should read “young woman” instead of “virgin”.)
Martin Harris and the lost manuscripts. (1 Nephi 9, Words of Mormon)
- Why do the unfulfilled prophecies in the Book of Mormon remain unfulfilled? Example: Jews becoming Christian in mass.
- Why is the Book of Mormon quite specific about Christ but does not add anything that the New Testament does not address (for example, what Christ did from age 12 – 30)?
- Why does the Book of Mormon prophesy that the Jews would be restored to the land of their inheritance if they believed in Christ (they are occupying it now w/o believing in Christ)? (2 Nephi 10:7)
- Why did Alma not know when Christ was coming (Alma 13:21-26) even though he possessed plates and Lehi and Nephi had written precisely when he would arrive?
- Why are themes of the revolutionary war and patriotism (liberty, freedom, country, religion, flags, etc.) woven throughout a book supposedly written over a thousand years before the revolutionary war?
- Why is an agrarian society similar to the society Joseph was most familiar with described as the setting for the entire book?
- Why is a democracy after a monarchy described? (Mosiah 23, 29) – (Similar to the history of the U.S.)
- Is it purely coincidental that there was much speculation in Joseph Smith’s area about Indian Mounds and battles?
- Why does the Book of Mormon describe wood forts with pickets to protect people–much like the forts of frontier?
- Is it purely coincidental that Lehi had six sons as did Joseph Smith Sr.? (Sam/Samuel were sons of both; Nephi and Joseph Smith Jr. were similar)
- Why did Mormon, Nephi and other “heroes” of the Book of Mormon have so many common traits with Joseph Smith? (large in stature, had visions while a teenager, etc. — see The Refiner’s Fire by John Brooke and Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon for many more similarities)
- Why does the Book of Mormon repeatedly addresses 19th century readers?
- Why is the anti-Masonic excitement that arose near Smith’s home in 1827 reflected? (Gadianton Robbers / Secret Combos)
- Why is infant baptism (a much discussed issue in the early 19th century) condemned in Chapter 8 of Moroni?
Influenced by the KJV of the Bible
- Why is the Latin word “Lucifer” used in 2 Nephi 24:12 when that word clearly wasn’t used by Isaiah?
- Joseph Smith incorrectly included Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount” in 3 Nephi when Luke’s more accurately portrays what Jesus may have said. Words such as “mammon”, “synagogues”, and “raca” were also taken straight from Matthew. These words would have had no meaning to the Nephites. (See Ronald V. Huggins’ “Did the Author of 3 Nephi Know the Gospel of Matthew” from Dialogue Fall 1997 for a more detailed discussion of these issues and for an excellent introduction to the Gospel of Q.)
- Why does the Book of Mormon appear to paraphrase from the preface to the King James Version of the Bible in Helaman 5:31 and Alma 19:6?
- Why are portions of Isaiah quoted off of the plates of brass when these items weren’t written until after Nephi supposedly got the plates out of Laban’s treasury?
- Why was Paul referred to before his time? (Paul said, “Death where is thy sting”)
- Why is it that of the 350 names in the Book of Mormon, 100 are found in the Bible, others are place names found on early 19th century maps, and the rest are derivatives of Bible names?
- Why didn’t Joseph Smith ever acknowledge using the KJV of the Bible to “translate”?
- Why were the following phrases used out of the New Testament supposedly before the New Testament was even thought of–much less written?
1.”oh wretched man that I am” Romans 7:24 / 2 Nephi 4:17
2.”earthquake, rocks rent” Matt 27:51 / 1 Nephi 12:14
3.”old serpent, which is the devil” Rev 20:2 / 2 Nephi 2:18
4.”one faith, one baptism” Ephesians 4:5 / Mosiah 18:21
5.one man perish instead of a nation – John 11:50 / 1 Nephi 4:13
- Why is a Greek word like “Christ” used throughout the Book of Mormon?
- Why don’t the Book of Mormon quotes from out of the Old Testament agree to earlier Latin, Syriac, Coptic, or Patristic texts?
Example: Matthew 5:27 and 3 Nephi 12:27 “by them of old time” not included in earliest Greek (should have said “to them of old”)
Matthew 6:4, 6, 18 and 3 Nephi :4, 6, 18 “openly” added later
Matt 6:13 and 3 Nephi 13:13 “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” should have said, “and do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one”.
- Why does the phrase “the lamb of God” appear only in the New Testament portion of the Bible yet it appears in the Book of Mormon over 30 times–28 times in 1 Nephi alone?
- Why do the words of Malachi 4:1 appear in 1 Nephi 22:15 over a hundred years before Malachi wrote them?
- Why do so many stories seem like exaggerated borrowings from the Bible?
Ammon killed six sheep rustlers with a sling (Alma 17:36) vs. David’s killing of Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:50)
Pillar of Fire. (Exodus 13:21) vs. (1 Nephi 1:6)
Lord instructs Noah to build the Ark (Genesis 6:14) / Lord instructs Nephi to build ship (1 Nephi 17:8) / Lord instructs Jaredites to build barges (Ether 2:16)
Jaredites brought flocks, two of a kind, seeds. (Ether 2:1) vs. Noah doing the same in (Genesis 7:9)
Raising dead. (Matthew 10:8) vs. (3 Nephi 19:4)
Temple of Solomon supposedly took 180,000 people seven and a half years to build (1 Kings 5, 6) / The few in number Nephites supposedly did it in less than 20 years after arriving (2 Nephi 5).
Calming Storm (1 Nephi 18:8-21) vs. (Matthew 8:23-27).
Men in Fire (Helaman 5:22-24) vs. (Daniel 3).
Feeding Multitude (3 Nephi 20:3-7) out of nothing / In Bible, Christ multiplied existing food (Matthew 14).
Christ heals masses in Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 17:9) / in Bible Jesus healed as he encountered (Luke 9:42).
Multitude feels wounds in Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 11:13) / In Bible, Thomas felt wounds (John 20:27).
Book of Mormon prophecies of Christ specific / Bible prophecies veiled (actually non-existent unless scripture misquoted or “prophecies” stretched to have two meanings).
Book of Mormon Christ is completely accepted / In Bible he is rejected.
Aminadi deciphered writing on the wall (Alma 10:2-3) like Daniel (Daniel 5).
Daughter of Jared danced before the king (Ether 8) like the daughter of Herodias (Matthew 14) (decapitation followed in both cases).
Daughters of Lamanites abducted like the daughters of Shiloh.
Jews of Old Testament were monotheists / Pre-Christ Jews of Book of Mormon were not.
- Why does the Book of Mormon confuse the Old and New Covenants? It stresses that before Christ, the faithful kept the Law of Moses (2 Nephi 5:10; 25:23-25, 20; Alma 30:3), yet they also established churches, taught and practiced Christian baptism, and were conversant with New Testament doctrines and events (e.g. 2 Nephi 9:23; Mosiah 18:17). In the Bible, the Old Covenant is taken away to establish the New according to Paul and his followers (Heb. 10:9). The Book of Mormon intermingles the covenants. Paul was the man who first tried to reconcile the Old to the New convenant–not anyone during Old Testament times.
- Why does the Book of Mormon discuss the concept of infinite sins paid by an infinite being? (Alma 12) This idea was originated by Anselm of Canterbury and was a raging debate during the time of Joseph Smith.
- Why does the Book of Mormon’s teachings reflect the religious conflicts of the early 19th century including: grace, infant baptism, ordination, authority, repentance, resurrection, eternal punishment, fall of man, nature of man, fasting, etc.? As Thomas W. Murphy noted in Dialogue 30:2 p. 114, “The American biological, physical, political, and religious environment of the nineteenth centruy was posited by the author of the Book of Mormon to have existed for at least 1,000 years in pre-Columbian America.”
- Why were there missionaries in the Book of Mormon before Christ? That certainly wasn’t the case in the Old World.
- Why is King Benjamin’s oratory like a 19th century camp meeting?
Revival gathering (Mosiah 2)
Guilt ridden falling exercise (4:1-2)
Petition for spiritual emancipation (4:2)
Absolution and ecstasy (4:3)
Born again (5:7)
Take name of Christ (5:8-15)
- Why do other works early in Joseph Smith’s lifetime teach that the Indians were descended from the Hebrews?
- Was “View of the Hebrews” one of the sources? B. H. Roberts (Studies of the Book of Mormon pp.240,242) said, “But now to return . . . to the main theme of this writing — viz., 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 . . .”
- Where some of the contents in response to Thomas Paine?
- Was Josiah Priest’s book “The Wonders of Nature and Providence”, copyrighted by him June 2nd, 1824, and printed soon afterwards in Rochester, New York, only some twenty miles distant from Palmyra a source?
- Was James Adair’s “A History of the American Indians” a source? On pages 377-378, he wrote the following about the Indians: “Through the whole continent, and in the remotest woods, are traces of their ancient warlike disposition. We frequently met with great mounds of earth, either of a circular, or oblong form, having a strong breast-work at a distance around them, made of the clay which had been dug up in forming the ditch on the inner side of the inclosed ground, and these were their forts of security against an enemy… About 12 miles from the upper northern parts of the Choktah country, there stand…two oblong mounds of earth…in an equal direction with each other… A broad deep ditch inclosed those two fortress, and there they raised an high breast-work, to secure their houses from the invading enemy.” In Alma it states, “Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort: throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies…the Nephites were taught…never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy… they had cast up dirtround to shield them from the arrows…the chief captains of the Lamanites were astonished exceedingly, because of the wisdom of the Nephites in preparing their places of security…they knew not that Moroni had fortified, or had built forts of security in all the land roundabout …the Lamanites could not get into their forts of security…because of the highness of the bank which had been thrown up, and the depth of the ditch which had been dug round about…they (the Lamanites) began to dig down their banks of earth…that they might have an equalchance to fight…instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead…And (Moroni) caused them to erect fortifications that they should commence laboring in digging a ditch round about the land…And he caused that they should build a breastwork of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch: and they did cast up dirt out of the ditch against the breastwork of timbers”.
- Why are there other direct word parallels between Adair and the Book of Mormon such as Omni 1:21 and page 125 of Adair which says, “…for the space of four moons…” or page 122 which says “for the space of three days and nights…” and Alma 36:10.
- Why isn’t Elohim (God) being the father of Jehovah (Jesus) and being once a mortal man discussed? (In fact, God and Jesus appear to be one in the same being in the Book of Mormon–especially in the first edition).
- What about God having a body of flesh and bones, God being married, men becoming Gods, temple participation necessary for exaltation, baptism for the dead, Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood, word of wisdom, and 3 degrees of glory?
- Why is polygamy condemned in the Book of Mormon, but condoned in portions of the D&C (condemned in others) and still believed to be necessary in church doctrine for exaltation in the after-life?
- Where are such doctrines as a man having to marry in order to be exalted, member having to wear sacred undergarments, official doctrine being voted upon by the general membership, God being the offspring of another God, etc.?
Treasure Hunting and Magic
- Why was Joseph Smith arrested for “money digging” and convicted of being a disorderly person? He admitted to being a money digger, though he said it was never very profitable for him (History of the Church, V. 3, p. 29). He and his father’s money digging continued until at least 1826. On March 20th, 1826, Joseph was arrested, brought before a judge, and charged with being a “glass-looker” and a disorderly person. The laws at that time had what was known as the “Vagrant Act.” It defined a disorderly person as one who pretended to have skill in the areas of palmistry, telling fortunes or discovering where lost goods might be found. According to court records Justice Neely determined that Joseph was guilty, though no penalty was administered, quite possibly because this was a first offense (Inventing Mormonism, Marquardt and Walters, pp. 74-75).
- Why did Joseph Smith have to use a seer stone both before and after being called as a prophet?
- Why did the Book of Mormon have to be translated while he looked into the seer stone placed in a black top hat? D. Michael Quinn writes: “During this period from 1827 to 1830, Joseph Smith abandoned the company of his former money-digging associates, but continued to use for religious purposes the brown seer stone he had previously employed in the treasure quest. His most intensive and productive use of the seer stone was in the translation of the Book of Mormon. But he also dictated several revelations to his associates through the stone” (Early Mormonism and the Magic World View P. 143). Richard S. Van Wagoner writes: “This stone, still retained by the First Presidency of the LDS Church, was the vehicle through which the golden plates were discovered and the medium through which their interpretation came” (Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess, p. 57).
- Why would a prophet need to send members to seek for treasure seen in a vision? See D&C 111. Why wasn’t any found when the revelation states they would?
- Did the Jaredites magic stones have anything to do with Joseph’s acquaintance with magic stones?
- Why does the Book of Mormon discuss “slippery treasure” (and other similar fascinations with stones and riches) so much?
- Why do the accounts differ with respect to who was in the vision? See The New Mormon History : Revisionist Essays on the Past for more on this.
- Why doesn’t Jesus show up (separate from God) until after the God doctrine had evolved into a plurality of Gods? (i.e., 1835 and thereafter)
- Why don’t the early “prophets” even know the story accurately? “The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven…But he did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith jun…and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong” (B. Young – JOD Volume 2 p.171 1855).
“How did it (the organization) come? By the ministering of an holy angel from God, out of heaven, who held converse with man, and revealed unto him the darkness that enveloped the world…He told him the Gospel was not among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world.” (Wilford Woodruff – JOD Volume 11 p.196 1855).
“How did the state of things called Mormonism originate? We read that an angel came down and revealed himself to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him in a vision the true position of the world in a religious point of view. He was surrounded with light and glory while the heavenly messenger communicated these things to him.” (John Taylor – JOD Volume 10 p.127 1863).
“When the holy angel appeared, Joseph inquired which of all these denominations was right and which he should join, and was told they were all wrong.” (George A. Smith – JOD Volume 12 p.334 1863).
- Why doesn’t any published source mention the “official” first vision account until 1842–22 years after the “official” event supposedly happened?
- Why doesn’t the 1st vision play an important role in Mormon history until the 1860s? No one seems to mention it before then even though it is now deemed by Mormons to be the most important event in almost 2,000 years.
- Why isn’t there evidence to support the revival described by Joseph Smith in early 1820–yet there is evidence to support revivals several years later? Joseph Smith’s neighborhood experienced no revival in 1820 such as he described, in which great multitudes joined the Methodist, Baptist, and Presbyterian churches. According to early sources, including church conference reports, newspapers, church periodicals, presbytery records and published interviews, nothing occurred in 1820-21 that fits Joseph’s description. There were no significant gains in church membership in the Palmyra-Manchester, New York area, during 1820-21 such as accompany great revivals. For example, in 1820, the Baptist Church in Palmyra only received 8 people through profession of faith and baptism, the Presbyterian church added 14 members, while the Methodist circuit lost 6 members, dropping from 677 in 1819 to 671 in 1820 and down to 622 in 1821 (see Geneva area Presbyterian Church Records, Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, PA; Records for the First Baptist Church in Palmyra, American Baptist Historical Society, Rochester, NY; Minutes of the [Methodist] annual Conference, Ontario Circuit, 1818-1821, pp. 312, 330, 346, 366).
- Why does Lucy Smith (his mother) indicate that the revival occurred around 1824? Her son, Alvin died on November 19, 1823, and following that painful loss Lucy Smith reports that, “about this time there was a great revival in religion and the whole neighborhood was very much aroused to the subject and we among the rest, flocked to the meeting house to see if there was a word of comfort for us that might relieve our over-charged feelings” (First draft of Lucy Smith’s History, p. 55, LDS Church Archives). Church records from that time period show outstanding increases in membership due to the reception of new converts. The Baptist Church received 94, the Presbyterian 99, while the Methodist work grew by 208. “You will recollect that I mentioned the time of a religious excitement, in Palmyra and vicinity to have been in the 15th year of our Brother J. Smith Jr’s, age that was an error in the type- it should have been the 17th…This would bring the date down to the year 1823.” (Oliver Cowdrey – Times & Seasons Vol. 2, p. 241 1840). For further details see, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1969, pp. 59-100.
- Why does his first autobiography not even mention the “first vision”?
- Why does Joseph Smith have Lehi make such a statement as 1 Nephi 8:2? Is he equating a dream to an actual, physical vision or visitation from God?