Shakespeare found in the Book of Mormon or was it something an early 19th Century author wrote?
Shakespeare found in the Book of Mormon?
From Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s Mormonism : Shadow or Reality?
“The book by Josiah Priest throws new light upon a controversy regarding a quotation from William Shakespeare which is found in the Book of Mormon. Since Shakespeare was not born until 1564, we would not expect the Book of Mormon to quote from his words. Anti-Mormon writers, however, feel that they have identified a quotation from his works. This is a statement made by Lehi almost 600 years before Christ: “…from whence no traveler can return;…” (2 Nephi 1:14) Notice how similar this is to the words of Shakespeare: “…from whose bourn no traveller returns…” (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1, as quoted in Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, page 237)
The Mormon apologist Sidney B. Sperry made this statement:
“Joseph Smith has been charged by many of his critics as being an impostor…some of them,…claim that he quotes words of Shakespeare in a passage of the Book of Mormon… And, indeed, it would seem a bit strange to learn that Lehi could quote Will Shakespeare about 2140 years before the Bard of Avon was born!… The Mormon people have no objection to sholars finding parallels to Shakespeare… We hold that Joseph Smith translated the Nephite text of the Book of Mormon and that he used the best vocabulary at his command. If such a vocabulary demonstrated a knowledge of works of Shakespeare, so much the better. But we suggest that it would be very difficult to prove that Joseph Smith was familiar with the works of Shakespeare;…
In fairness to critics, and in anticipation of future discussions of the problem, we wish to call attention to a particular word used in the quotations by both Lehi and Shakespeare….
The word we have in mind is ‘traveller,’ It stands out like a sore thumb as far as Lehi is concerned….
We are led to the conclusion that the only word that Joseph Smith might have put into Lehi’s mouth from Shakespeare, assuming he was exposed to the lines from Hamlet, is ‘traveller.'” (The Problems of the Book of Mormon, pp. 123, 124, 128 and 129)
The reader will notice that although Dr. Sperry admits that the word “traveller” might have been “put into Lehi’s mouth from Shakespeare,” he states that it “would be very difficult to prove that Joseph Smith was familiar with the works of Shakespeare;…” Although we have shown that “Shakespeare’s works, 10 vols.” were sold at the Wayne Bookstore in Joseph Smith’s neighborhood (Wayne Sentinel, Jan. 26, 1825), we now have a much better idea of where Joseph Smith might have found these words. In examining Josiah Priest’s “The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed”, we found a story which quotes the words of Shakespeare. In quoting these words, however, they are in the wrong order, and this makes the end of the quotation almost identical to that in the Book of Mormon.
“…from whence no traveler returns.” (The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed, 1825, page 469)
“…from whence no traveler can return;…” (Book of Mormon, 1830, 2 Nephi 1:14)
The reader will notice how similar the two quotations are. While it is possible that this could be a coincidence, there is additional evidence which seems to show that Joseph Smith used Priest’s work in writing the Book of Mormon.”