Book of Mormon, D &C, P of GP
1. Eternal progression
2. God was once a man
3. Building a temple like Solomon's
4. Book of Mormon geography
5. "Synagogues" in the Book of Mormon
6. Baptism for the dead
7. Original prophecy in Book of Mormon
8. Indians with no beards
9. The Mongolian spot
10. Indians failing to turn white
11. Precious ores in temple
12. Why "Sam" rather than "Samuel"
13. Chariots and wheels and scimitars
14. Using the word "church"
15. Italicized words in the King James Bible
16. The French word "adieu"
17. The Garden of Eden in Missouri
18. Weight of golden plates
19. Darkness covering the land; three days or three hours
20. Changes in the Book of Mormon
21. The Sensen manuscript and the Book of Abraham
22. Reformed Egyptian
23. Reformed Egyptian
24. Jesus Christ born at Jerusalem
25. System of coinage in Book of Mormon
26. Alteration occurring in Mosiah 21:28
27. Archeological findings
28. The Liahona
29. View of the Hebrews, Solomon Spaulding's manuscript, and Shakespeare
30. Destruction of the disobedient gentiles by converted Indians
31. Distinguishing between an angel of God, a Jehovah's Witness, and a Mormon Elder
32. The "familiar spirit"
33. How did Nephi use Peter's same words
34. Nephi refers to something Malachi said 100 years before he said it
35. The similarity between Moroni 10:9-17 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-11
36. The Book of Mormon and Jewish Holy days
37. Why did the angel take Nephi Plates back to heaven
38. Why are other inhabitants of American continent are not mentioned
39. The Book of Mormon implies a seven day week
40. What happened to original eleventh Article of Faith
41. Did Jesus die on a cross
42. The "true" Hill Cummorah
43. Jesus Christ just "a" son of God?
44. From whom did Alma get his authority to baptize?
45. A person can not baptize themselves
46. Revelation 22:18,19 forbids us to add anything to the scriptures
47. Did the Lord command the brother of Jared to make a hole at the bottom of the barge and use it as an air hole?(Ether 2:20)
48. What about the "Faith, Hope and Charity" passage by Mormon in Moroni 7:45 and its resemblance to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7?
49. Has anyone observed the ministry of the Apostle John upon the earth?
50. What are those "plain and precious" truths that were removed from the Bible, that can now be found in the Book of Mormon?
51. Why do Mormons insist that Ezekiel 37:15-22 is about two books instead of about two kingdoms?
52. Book of Mormon scripture uses same wrongly translated word as seen in Isaiah.
53. Contradiction in Book of Mormon and Isaiah scripture.
54. Book of Mormon scripture refers to a Bible scripture before it was written.
Paul (Churches in Book of Mormon)
Pinesolqueen(Horses in Book of Mormon)
Janis(Bible scriptures supporting Book of Mormon)
Bill(Witness's Testimony of Book of Mormon)
Mark(Book of Abraham)
Naval(Smithsonian statement on Book of Mormon)
Steve(Changes in Book of Mormon)
LL(DNA testing and Book of Mormon)
Fox(Greek words and errors in Book of Mormon)
Kenobi(Contradictions in Book of Mormon)
in Answers to Submitted Questions.
Note: Many critics' questions relate to quotations from the Journal of Discourses(J. of D.), which was a sixteen-page semimonthly subscription publication privately printed in Liverpool, England, in 1854-1886. It included articles written by twelve different authors who recorded the speeches, mostly in shorthand, as they were delivered from the pulpit. It has never served in the past as a source for official Church teachings or scripture. It reflects the personal feelings, opinions, and speculations of the writers and/or speakers of the time. Because of modern revelation and because of "line-upon-line, precept-upon-precept" progression, we now have information on some of the subjects that was not yet known when the Journal of Discourses was published. Though the First Presidency endorsed the publication of the Journal there was no endorsement as to the accuracy or reliability of the contents. There were occasions when the accuracy was questionable. The accounts were not always cleared by the speakers because of problems of time and distance. It was not an official Church publication nor has it ever been a source for official Church doctrine.
1. If the Book of Mormon really contains the fullness of the Gospel, why does it not teach the doctrine of "eternal progression"?
A: This argument rests on the erroneous premise that "fullness" means every point of doctrine relating to every conceivable gospel topic. Obviously no one book of scripture, or even all the Standard Works together, contain "every conceivable doctrine." In fact, the scriptures are clear that God will yet reveal many great truths (Amos 3:7, John 16:12). The Book of Mormon gives us a clear understanding of what is needed to truly follow the example of Christ and be "saved" in the Kingdom of God (3 Nephi 11:33). It is required that we have faith in Christ, repent of our sins, be baptized with water and the Holy Ghost and endure in righteousness to the end (see all of 2 Nephi 31 and 32). One might add that the fullness of the gospel, in addition to the above, embraces the atonement of Christ and the universal judgment. (3 Nephi 27:13-2l).(Stephen R. Gibson)
In order to understand what the scriptural phrase "fulness of the gospel" means, we must first know what is meant by the term gospel. While some people use the term in a broad sense to include all revealed teachings and truth, the scriptures employ the term in a more restricted sense to refer to the good news of Christ's atonement and resurrection—his triumph over sin and death that opened the door of salvation to mankind. This particular definition is found in the Book of Mormon as well as in the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price (see, for example, 3 Nephi 27:13–21; D&C 76:40–42; Abraham 2:11).
The "fullness" of the gospel refers to the essential gospel teachings and commandments required for salvation. Knowledge of the idea of eternal progression is something that is interesting to know about, but it is not necessary for us to completely understand it right now. By the way, some of the people back in Book of Mormon times were probably told about it and other things but weren't able to or allowed to explain it in words. (See 1 Ne. 14:28, 2 Ne. 4:25, Jacob 4:1, 3 Ne 26:11, 16, 18, 27:23, Ether 12:23-25, 13:13 , 15:33)
2. If the Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the Gospel, why doesn't it teach that God was once a man?
A: That concept is not part of the fullness of the gospel. See answer to question #1 above, and the "Note" just before Question #1 above.
3. How did Nephi with a few men on a new continent build a temple like Solomon's while Solomon needed 163,300 workmen and seven years to build his temple? (see I Kings 5:13-18 and 2 Nephi 5:15-17).
A: He never said it was the same size as Solomons temple; he said he built a temple "after the manner of the temple of Solomon" or following the same design as Solomon's but probably on a much smaller scale. "Wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon."(2 Ne. 5:16)
Archaeologists have found that Mesoamerican temples had an entrance with two pillars standing in the front on either side of the doorway and they bore no weight. They were just standing pillars that ended in a top. That's exactly the same as for the Temple of Solomon, where there were two pillars and their names are given in the account about the construction of that temple. The form of the temple in Mesoamerica, what are thought to be temples anyway, the form is similar to descriptions of the Temple of Solomon. The emphasis at the Temple of Solomon was not on the structure, (i.e. the enclosed space inside). Worshipers did not go inside. A priest occasionally went inside, but the large majority operated, carried on their sacrifices, did their worship outside in the court. That is exactly the case also with the Mesoamerican temples. Sacrifices were made on altars that look very Jewish look very Israelite and those were in front of temples. - John L. Sorenson
4. If the Book of Mormon is true, why hasn't a valid geography been established for the book?
A: The gospel and doctrines of Jesus Christ taught within the Book of Mormon are true. The geography has nothing to do with the purpose of the book. However, there have been some sites proposed for a possible setting for the Book of Mormon, namely the area including Mesoamerica where many ancient buildings have been found some of which resemble temples as mentioned in question #5 above.
One problem, that critics have in discussing supposed Book of Mormon anachronisims is that they assume the story took place throughout all of North and South America.
A careful reading shows that most of the events of the Book of Mormon are
restricted to a small geographical area in the New World, on the order of
200 or so miles in length (not thousands of miles), centered around a
"narrow neck of land." It is not a history of all the American Indians throughout the entire New World. Once we understand this, we see that most of the problems raised by critics concerning
language, culture, and other issues, have been misdirected.
5. If Lehi left Jerusalem before 600 B.C., how did he learn about synagogues? The word "synagogue" is a Greek and not a Hebrew word and did not come into usage until after the Babylonian captivity, a time after Lehi had left Jerusalem.(see 2 Nephi 26:26).
A: There are several other instances where the word "synagogue" is used throughout the Book of Mormon. (Alma 16:13; 21:4,5,11,16,20; 23:2, 26:29 etc.). In the scripture mentioned above, Nephi, not Lehi, is speaking. Lehi was a prophet. In this instance he is speaking about the future which does have synagogues and churches. Terms such as these which ordinarily would not be known by the people in the Book of Mormon, could have been learned by the prophets through revelation and prophecy and then incorporated into the existing language.
Also, it has been determined that the Greeks could have had some influence on the culture in Jeruselem at the time of Lehi. H.V. Hilprect noted that Greek mercenaries entered Egyptian service in large numbers about 600 B.C (H. V. Hilprect, "Explorations in Bible Lands," AJ Holman & Co., 1903, p. 647). W.H. Hale noted that by the 7th century BC the Greeks were establishing colonies and trading posts as far away as Syria, Thrace, Asia Minor, and to Egypt (W.H Hale, "Ancient Greece," 1965, p. 27, 117).
Another explanation for the use of the word relates to its definition. "Synagogue" is a term that can be used generally to describe a "house of worship". In translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith simply used the most appropriate word that he was familiar with and that people reading the Book of Mormon could relate to in describing the houses of worship refered to in the scriptures. The Book of Mormon was translated into words that the expected 19th and 20th century readers would understand and be able to relate to whether they be Hebrew words or Greek words or even French words(See question 18).
6. Why does the Book of Mormon (which claims to be the fullness of the Gospel), not mention baptism for the dead?
A: See the answer to Scriptures question #1.
7. If the Book of Mormon is from God, why does it have so little original prophecy?
A: Most of the prophesies important to mankind are in the Bible, especially the ones about Jesus Christ. Prophesies about Christ were very important to the Book of Mormon people as well(1 Ne. 25:19, Mos. 3:5-10). There aren't many more new things for the prophets in the Book of Mormon to prophesy about. But the people there needed to here them even if they are also found in the Bible. However, here is a list of some interesting "original" Book of Mormon prophesies:
Columbus - 1 Ne. 13:12
Pilgrims - 1 Ne. 13:13
Fate of the Indians - 1 Ne. 13:14
Growth of the United States - 1 Ne. 13:15
Revolutionary War - 1 Ne. 13:17-19
Spreading of religion in America and the Bible - 1 Ne. 13:19-25
Restoration of Gospel - Book of Mormon - 1 Ne. 13:39, 14:7
World Wars predicted - 1 Ne. 14:16
Joseph Smith and Book of Mormon - 2 Ne. 3:11-21
8. If Indians descended from the Jews, why do they have such sparse beards?
A: Actually, we do not really know for sure which of the present day Indians are descendants of the Lamanites of the Book of Mormon. There is the possibility that none of them are.
9. If Navajos descended from the Jews, why do Navajo babies have the Mongolian spot?
A: Many believe that the Indians descended from Asians that crossed over a dry land bridge at the Bering Strait. However, Jacob Bronowski in his text "The Ascent of Man," Little, Brown
and Co., 1973, pp. 92f notes that the Indians do not have the same blood
types as people found in Asian(Mongolian) populations. The Indians in the Americas
have the blood types O and some A, but NONE have type B. According to Carlton Beals analysis of blood types;
"Few Indians have even 1 percent of B blood... though this is the most important characteristic
non-O ingredient of Asia... Here is a mystery that requires much pondering
and investigation." In other words, the Indians, that is, who are supposed
as we all know to have come from eastern Asia [via the Bering Strait] do
NOT have the Asiatic blood-type.
Interestingly the anthropologist Carol R. Ember, "Anthropology" 7th ed.,
Prentice Hall, 1993, p. 115 says that the Jewish race does not exist in
anthropological terms. All kinds of people may be Jews, whether or not they
descended from the Ancient Near Eastern population that spoke Hebrew.
"There are light skinned Danish Jews and darker Jewish Arabs."
The Mongoloid spot is "not limited to people traditionally classified as
Mongoloid...Caucasoids can have Mongoloid spots." (p. 116).
Commenting on this, John Sorenson, a Professor of Anthropology, said, "What is unclear is the extent and historical meaning of these facts. It is apparent that a major part of the Native
Americans' characteristics is a result of adaptation to New World
environmental conditions. Significant variation is found in the
distribution of various bodily traits; that is, some groups are much less
Mongoloid than others."
TheMongolian spot has also been found in Sephardi Jews who originated from Spain and Portugal.
These Jews are believed to have come to the Iberian Peninsula at the time of Nabucodonosor, King of the Chaleans (6th century) or even before, at the time of Solomon who reigned in Israel from 974B.C. to 937B.C. It has been ascertained that the Jewish presence in Iberia preceded and accompanied that of the Romans. The following links contain information that suggests that the Mongolian or Semitic spot has been found in the Sephardi Jewish population:
10. If the Book of Mormon is true, why do Indians fail to turn white when they become Mormons? (see 2 Nephi 30:6, prior to 1981 revision).
A: This scripture does not say that Indians will turn white when they become Mormons. It says that after some unknown number of generations have passed after the Book of Mormon has come forth and after the Gospel has been taken to them, that the Lamanites will become "a white and delightsome people". Perhaps the generation spoken of has not yet arrived. However, "white" need not refer to skin color, as is clear from the following passages from the biblical book of Daniel:
"And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed (Daniel 11:35).
"Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand (Daniel 12:10).
In both of these passages, the meaning of the word "white" is most obviously pure; to "make white" is to purify. When Joseph Smith first translated the Book of Mormon, he gave the literal rendering of "white" for the passage in 2 Nephi 30:6. For the 1840 edition, it was changed to "pure," which better reflected the meaning of the word used by Nephi. Subsequent editions, however, relied on the 1837 Book of Mormon, which still read "white." This oversight was not rectified until the 1981 edition. If the word "white" does mean pure, the scripture makes more sense and the prophecy is already being fulfilled
11. Were precious ores, such as Solomon used in his temple, available to Nephi or not? (2 Nephi 5:15, 16).
A: In verse 16, the precious things he is talking about are not the ores, gold, silver, etc. mentioned in verse 15. He is talking about other things(wood, gems, etc) that were used in Solomon's temple that were not found where they lived at that time. The phrase "precious things" mentioned in verse 16 is probably refering to the same Near Eastern expression in which "precious things" commonly referred to precious gems which Solomon used in his temple(2 Chron. 3:6)
Nephi did not mention that there were gems in abundance in verse 15 nor did he mention the same kind of wood that was used in Solomon's temple.
12. If Lehi was a devout Jew, why did he name a son "Sam" rather than Samuel, thus failing to honor God? (see I Samuel 1:20 and 1 Nephi 2:5).
A: In the first place Lehi was not necessarily a "devout" Jew. In fact he was fearful that the Jews would destroy him. After Lehi chastized the Jews for their wickedness and abominations we read:
"And when the Jews heard these things, they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out and stoned and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away."(1 Ne. 19-20)
Secondly, not all Biblical names give honor to God.
Thirdly, if Joseph Smith was smart enough to fraudulently write the Book of Mormon himself, he probably would have used the Jewish name Samuel instead of Sam. But "Sam" is how he interpreted it from the plates.
13. What kind of chariots did the Nephites have in 90 B.C. some 1500 years before the introduction of the wheel on the Western Hemisphere? (see Alma 18:9).
A: Actually, artifacts have been found which indicate that the ancient inhabitants knew about the wheel long before 1400 AD.
From "The Ancient American," Vol. 2, #12 Feb/Mar 1996 by Diane E. Wirth:
"The first wheeled objects found in the 1880's in Mexico and El Salvador
were given to European museums, and were not taken seriously by
anthropologists. In fact, some sixty years passed before students of
ancient Mesoamerican cultures acknowledged the existence of wheeled
statuettes in this part of the world. Since 1940 over seventy wheeled
terra-cotta figurines have been found.(1) The age of these objects date to
as early as 100 B.C., while most were constructed between AD 500 - 900.
The three areas where most of the wheeled pieces were discovered are
Western Central Mexico, Vera Cruz, and El Salvador.(2)
What is noteworthy is that besides the typical full-bodied animals with
attached wheels, some have a body that transforms into a flatbed or
platform. Why was this done if not intended to transport something or
1. Stanley H. Boggs, "Salvadoran Varieties of Wheeled Figurines,"
Contributions to Mesoamerican Anthropology, Pub. No. 1. Institute of Maya
Studies of the Museum of Science, Miami 1973, p. 3.
2. Stephan F. Borhegyi, "Wheels and Man," Archaeology, 23. January 1970, p. 24.
Regarding scimitars, some anti-Mormon publications have alleged that scimitars were unknown in Book of Mormon times, and were not invented until the rise of Islam in the 7th century. First of all the reformed Egyptian character on the gold plates was translated as scimitar, but how do we know that what the nephites called a scimitar looks the same as what is traditionally know as a scimitar. Secondly, If the term "scimitars" refers to a curved sword, such weapons were in use in the Middle East well before 600 B.C. For example, the Metropolitan Museum of New York has a curved Egyptian sword from the 23rd Dynasty, 893-870 B.C.. So they did exist and Lehi could very well have known about them before he left with his family to the American continent.
Evidence of scimitar-like weapons in Mesoamerica is presented by William J. Hamblin and A. Brent Merrill in "Notes on the Cimeter (Scimitar) in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, pp. 360-364.
14. How do Mormons account for the word "church" in the Book of Mormon about 600 B.C. which was centuries before the beginning of the Church on the day of Pentecost? (see 1 Nephi 4:26).
A: The concept of a church - a convocation of believers - was had among the House of Israel prior to the coming of Christ. Here is a quote from the outstanding Bible scholar, Alfred Edersheim, who is not LDS, as he discusses the meaning of Christ's statement to Peter about building His church (Matt. 16:15-18):
"Nor would the term 'Church' sound strange in Jewish ears. The
same Greek word [ecclesia], as the equivalent of the Hebrew
Qahal, 'convocation,' 'the called,' occurs in the Septuagint
rendering of the Old Testament, and in 'the Wisdom of the Son of
Sirach' (Ecclus, 24.2) and was apparently in familiar use at the
time. In Hebrew use it referred to Israel, not in their national
but in their religious unity"
In translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith used the most appropriate word he knew of to describe the group of "brethren" mentioned in the scripture.
Also, the "church" spoken of in Nephi was not established by Christ. The people knew of some of His teachings and looked forward to the day He would come, so they gathered themselves into a congregation and called it a church.
15. How do Mormons account for the italicized words in the King James Version (indicating their absence in the Hebrew and Greek) being found in the Book of Mormon? (A comparison of Mosiah 14 and Isaiah 53 will provide at least 13 examples).
A: Actually, italicized words in the KJV text usually represent words implicitly understood in the Greek or Hebrew(not the absence of them).
As Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon and came to the passages which are also found in Isaiah, if his translation appeared close enough to what the King James Version had, he simply copied it down from the Bible.
16. How did the French word "adieu" get into the Book of Mormon?
A: Hey! How did all those English words get in there too?
The Book of Mormon is a translation of an ancient text into a modern language(English or French), and the word that best fit the ending Jacob used - some parting expression commending his readers to God - was translated by Joseph Smith as "adieu" (I commend you to God"), an expression that is used and widely understood in the English speaking world). It is a borrowed word, certainly, but with a nuance that is not matched with "farewell" or "good-bye." Good-bye used to mean much the same - "God be with ye" - but now lacks that meaning. As a matter of fact, "adieu" has become part of the English language and was listed in common dictionaries in the 1800s and remains listed in most modern English dictionaries.
There is no single word in English that means quite the same thing as "adieu" but there is, in fact, a Hebrew word, "Lehitra’ot" that also means "I commend you to God." (See Daniel H. Ludlow’s "A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon", page 163.)
It interesting to note that a similar situation exists in the Bible, wherein the words, "tache"(Ex 26:6), "laver"(Ex 30:18) and "bruit"(Jer 10:22) (also derived from the French) were used. These words are no longer used by English-speaking people, although they evidently were understandable enough at the time the King James translators elected to use them.
17. How could the Garden of Eden have been in Missouri when the Pearl of Great Price declares that it was in the vicinity of Assyria and had the Euphrates and Heddekel Rivers on it? (see Pearl, Moses 3:14 and D & C 116 and 117; Genesis 2:8-15).
A: We do not know for sure exactly where the Garden of Eden was located. The D & C scriptures state only that Adam dwelt in the area of Missouri after He was cast out of the Garden. Where he dwelt may have been far removed from the Garden of Eden. Also, at the time of the Garden of Eden all the land was together in one spot on the earth (See Pangaea).. Assyria may have been close enough to the area now called Missouri to be accessible to Adam. Later the lands separated in the days of Peleg(Gen. 10:25).
Another thing to consider is that many christians and scholars today assume that the original garden was located somewhere in the Mesopotamian region (around present day Iraq) where the modern Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow. However, the Bible records a devastating worldwide Flood, many centuries after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden. The flood covered the entire earth, including those rivers. After the flood sedimentary layers sometimes miles thick may have buried forever the pre-Flood world, including the original Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Therefore, today's Tigris and Euphrates may have been named after the original pre-Flood rivers but may not be in the same place.
18. How did Joseph Smith carry home the golden plates of the Book of Mormon, and how did the witnesses lift them so easily? (They weighted about 230 lb. Gold, with a density of 19.3 weighs 1204.7 lb. per cubic foot. The plates were 7" x 8" by about 6".) (see Articles of Faith, by Talmage, page 262, 34th Ed).
A: Your calculations assume a solid block of pure gold. Talmage does not report a weight for the plates. Two factors make the expected weight of the gold plates fit into the range of reported weight (those who hefted them estimated the weight between 50 and 100 lb., with 60 seeming like a reasonable number based on the ability of Emma, Joseph's wife, to move them herself a time or two). Thin metal plates, when stacked, are not perfectly flat. There is some space in between them due to imperfections in manufacture, the effect of engraving and handling, etc. Even for carefully made sheets of thin metal, it is easy to have air space occupying 20% or more of the volume - with 50% void volume being a reasonable value. Further, the metal itself is described as gold in appearance, but is most likely to have been the Mesoamerican alloy tumbaga, which is gold alloyed with copper. It is much lighter than pure gold (about half the density). - Jeff Lindsay
19. When Christ died, did darkness cover the land for three days or for three hours? (see Luke 23:44 and 3 Nephi 8:19, 23).
A: Yes. The land of Jerusalem was dark for 3 hours and the land of the Nephites was dark for 3 days.
Interesting to note that the thunderings, lightenings and earthquakes lasted for exactly the same length of time(3 hours) in the Nephite land as the darkness did in Jerusalem. However, the thunderings, earthquakes, etc. in the Nephite land may have been caused by volcanoes.
The 3 day conditions described in 3 Nephi chapter 8 sounds like what one would expect from erupting volcanos darkening the air with vapor, ash, and smoke.
This is also evident in 3 Nephi 10:9
"And it came to pass that thus did the three days pass away. And it was in the morning, and the darkness dispersed from off the face of the land, and the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to rend, and the dreadful groanings did cease, and all the tumultuous noises did pass away." (3 Nep 10:9)
The darkness dispersing sounds like something is clearing itself out of the air (eg. ash, smoke, etc.)
By the way, when they say that these conditions existed over the whole earth, they are of course talking about the limited area of the world as they know it where they are living. How could anyone know what was happening on other remote parts of the world? Consider the following scripture from Exodus 10:14-15:
And the locusts went up over all the land of Egypt, and rested in
all the coasts of Egypt. . . . For they covered the face of the
whole earth, . . . and there remained not any green thing . . .
through all the land of Egypt.
Here the phrase whole earth is equated only with the land of Egypt and not the entire planet earth.
In another Book of Mormon scripture the whole earth is limited to the land bounded on four sides by seas:
They did multiply and spread . . . from the land southward to the
land northward . . . insomuch that they began to cover the face
of the whole earth from the sea south to the sea north, from the
sea west to the sea east. (Helaman 3:8)
20. If the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, why have the Mormons changed it? (see A Marvelous Work and A Wonder, by LeGrand Richards, page 73, revised edition 1971). (Jerald and Sandra Tanner have counted 3913 changes in the Book of Mormon, exclusive of punctuation changes). (One may check the original in Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 1, by Wilford C. Wood. Additions and/or deletions can be found in the following references: 1 Nephi 11:21; 19:20; 20:1 and Alma 29:4, as examples. See Deuteronomy 4:2 in the Bible).
A: The Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God. However, the translation was written down and printed by imperfect men. The Book of Mormon, like all the scriptures, has undergone a certain amount of grammatical improvement and textual change in successive editions. At the April 1974 general conference of the Church, Elder Boyd K. Packer commented on the changes made in our Latter-day Saint scriptures:
"Some have alleged that these books of revelation are false, and they place
in evidence changes that have occurred in the texts of these scriptures
since their original publication. They cite these changes, of which there
are many examples, as though they themselves were announcing revelation. As
though they were the only ones that knew of them.
"Of course there have been changes and corrections. Anyone who has done
even limited research knows that. When properly reviewed, such correction
become a testimony for, not against, the truth of the books."
Investigation discloses that the majority of such changes
are conceptually insignificant; they were made primarily to improve the
grammar or to clarify the meaning. Since the young Joseph Smith was not a
trained and polished writer, some of the language of his translation of
this ancient document needed refinement and improvement.
The text of the Book of Mormon was changed after the first edition by (1)
correction back to the reading of the manuscripts, (2) intentional revision
and clarification by the translator, and (3) some unauthorized printing errors."
By the way, Deut. 4:2 is Moses giving some specific instructions to his people as they were about to posses their new land. His words were meant for them specifically. If we are to take them seriously then how do you explain it when he says, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you". If this is true then the entire rest of the Bible is worthless right?
Here is a statement from the Tanners themselves:
"As we stated earlier, most of the 3,913 changes which we found were related to the correction of
grammatical and spelling errors and do not really change the basic meaning of the text." (Jerald and
Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism, Chicago: Moody Pres., 1980, p 131)
21. It has been established that the "Sensen" manuscript was simply a common Egyptian burial papyrus. Why do the Mormons still accept the Book of Abraham which was translated from that manuscript?
A: Because it was not translated from that manuscript. The few scraps of papyrus that exist today ("breathings text") have nothing to do with the Book of Abraham. In 1906, while visiting Nauvoo, President Joseph F. Smith related an experience as a child of seeing his Uncle Joseph in the front rooms of the Mansion House working on the Egyptian manuscripts. According to President Smith, one of the rolls of papyri when unrolled on the floor extended through two rooms of the Mansion House. The eleven fragments now in our possession can easily be spread out on the top of a small desk.
Another witness explained the the manuscripts had both red and black writings. The breathings text has no red rubrics. From this and other eye-witness accounts it is clear that Smith had a much more extensive collection of papyri that he took Abraham from, rather than from current "Sensen" fragments. The book of Abraham text was claimed to arise from these long rolls which have red rubrics (and not papyrus V). At least one Egyptologist now recognizes that the assertion that the breathings text was thought or is thought now to be the source of the book of Abraham is incorrect(Zondhoven, Annual Egyptological Bibliography 1977, 180-81).
There have been recently discovered ancient documents which seem to support many of the things written in the Book of Abraham; for example The Book of Jubilees".
According to the book "An Introduction to Early Judaism":
"Jubilees is a work that draws upon the early Enoch booklets (which it mentions) and Aramaic Levi. It is a retelling of the biblical stories from creation to the scene at Mt. Sinai, often reproducing parts of Genesis-Exodus but also adding to or substracting from them. The original language of the book was almost certainly Hebrew, since all of the fourteen or fifteen fragmentary copies of it found at Qumran are in that language. The Hebrew text of the book was translated into Greek and possibly Syriac and later lost until the Dead Sea Scrolls were found." (An Introduction to Early Judaism, p. 97)
The Book of Jubilees was first published in Latin in 1861 but dates to the second century B.C. or earlier, and was used by some of the writers of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The significance of the Book of Jubilees is that it contains things about the life of Abraham that aren't recorded elsewhere, particularly the Old Testament, but which do parallel some of the things written in the Book of Abraham. So we have two stories about the same man, which share common themes and even specific details. Here is a list of items unique to the Book of Jubilees(found at Jeff Lindsay's site), which Joseph Smith had no access to in the 1830s.
- Jubilees states that idolatry was prevalent in Ur, causing people to "commit sin and pollution." (11:3-6,16 - see Abraham 2)
- Abraham's ancestors practiced idolatry and learned astrology (11:7-10,16 - see Abr. 1:5).
- Abraham's father taught writing to Abraham (11:16). (Most Bible scholars have assumed that Abraham was an illiterate farmer who would not have written a book.)
- Abraham's father, Terah, worshipped idols, but Abraham rejected this (11:16).
- Abraham prays, seeking for God's help "that he might save him from the straying of the sons of men" (11:17 - cf. Abr. 2:12), and later prays seeking God and to be saved from evil (12:17-20).
- Abraham turns back a famine (11:18-22, cf. Abr. 2:17).
- Abraham preaches to his father against the evils of idolatry; his father knows Abraham is right, but has difficulty in giving it up (12:1-7, See Abr. 1:27)
- Terah warns Abraham that Terah would be killed if he stopped assisting the practice and idolatry, and warns Abraham that he could be killed if he does not stop speaking out against it (12:7).
- Abraham destroys idols (12:12).
- Abraham observes the stars to see what the nature of the year would be regarding rain, but then recognizes that "all of the signs of the stars and the signs of the sun and the moon are all in the hand of the Lord" (12:16)
- Abraham took his father's books and copied them and studied them, and he learned many things (12:27 - cf. Abr. 1:28,31); he later refers to knowledge obtained "in the books of my forefathers, and in the words of Enoch and in the words of Noah" (21:10).
- Abraham teaches his sons to reject idols (20:7-9; 21:2,3) and does the same with his grandson, Jacob (22:16-22).
- Abraham refers to pagan idols made of wood and stone (22:18 - see Abr. 1:11, which mentions "gods of wood or of stone").
- Abraham warns Jacob against marrying "any of the seed of the daughters of Canaan" (22:20) and warns that "because through the sin of Ham, Canaan sinned" (12:21), showing a possible relationship to Abraham 1:21-27, which indicates that the king of Egypt was a descendant of Ham and "a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth," and was "cursed ... as pertaining to the Priesthood" because of his lineage.
- Abraham's words were preserved in written form, for Jacob used to read the words of Abraham to Joseph (39:6).
22. Why is it that no reliable linguist or Egyptologist ever refers to "Reformed Egyptian?"
A: Because there are no reliable linguists or Egyptologists. Just kidding.
The phrase "Reformed Egyptian" is found only in the Book of Mormon. The fact that modern linguists and philologists don't know of a script known as reformed Egyptian is irrelevant, since Mormon tells us that the script was called reformed Egyptian "by us," that is, by the Nephites(Morm 9:32-33); they may have been the only people to use that descriptive phrase.
23. Why is it that no other writings have been found in the language of "Reformed Egyptian," the supposed language of the Book of Mormon plates? Is there evidence that such a language really existed?
A: Critics who raise the objection seem to be operating under the false impression that reformed Egyptian is used in the Book of Mormon as a proper name. In fact, the word reformed is used in the Book of Mormon in this context as an adjective, meaning "altered, modified, or changed."
Mormon 9:32 "And now behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge
in the characters, which are called among us the reformed Egyptian being
handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.
9:33 And if our plates had been sufficiently large, we should have written
in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could
have written in the Hebrew, behold, ye would have had none imperfection in
9:34 But the Lord knoweth the things which we have written, and also that
none other people knoweth our language; and because that none other people
knoweth our language, therefore he hath prepared means for the interpretation thereof."
The Book of Mormon also states that the "reformed Egyptian" script was much more condensed than the Hebrew and was the language system the Nephite scholars and priests learned for working with sacred texts. It was tough to use, but the only way to go when characters have to be engraved one by one in precious metal plates. The fact that they were writing on metal plates forced them to develop the peculiar language.
Many Egyptologists agree that the Egyptian language has been modified through time. W.V. Davies, "Reading the Past: Egyptian Hieroglyphs," Univ. of California Press, 5th print, 1993, pp. 23f, shows examples of how Egyptian has certainly been "reformed" through time.
24. The Book of Mormon teaches that Jesus Christ was born at Jerusalem (Alma 7:10). Of course, the Bible teaches He was born at Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1). Since Bethlehem is five or six miles from Jerusalem, and is a distinct town how do the Mormons explain this contradiction?
A: Alma 7:10 does not even mention the city of Jerusalem. Rather, the text reads: "And behold, he [Jesus] shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers." The Jerusalem at which Jesus was to be born is thus quite clearly called a land, not a city. Alma did not give a more precise location for the birth of Jesus, probably because he was talking to people some five centuries removed from any direct knowledge of the geography of Judea. Bethlehem is never mentioned in the Book of Mormon, and its exact location would almost certainly have been unknown to the average non-scholarly Nephite. A prophetic reference to a small unfamiliar village near Jerusalem would, therefore, likely have been meaningless to Alma's audience. Jerusalem, by contrast, was well known and frequently mentioned.
This would also have been consistant with how locations of cities were identified in the Book of Mormon. Many times smaller cities were identified as being within the land of another major city:
"And it came to pass that Amalickiah marched with his armies to the land of Nephi, to the city of Nephi, which was the chief city."(Alma 47:20)
Here the armies marched to the city of Nephi which was the chief city within the Land of Nephi.
"And it came to pass that Moroni had thus gained a victory over one of the greatest of the armies of the Lamanites, and had obtained possession of the city of Mulek, which was one of the strongest holds of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi; and thus he had also built a stronghold to retain his prisoners.(Alma 53:6)
Here it talks about the city of Mulek being in the Land of Nephi.
This also happens within the Bible where it says, for example, that "king Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee." (1 Kings 9:11,26, See also Gen 33:18, 2 Kings 23:33, 1 Chron. 2:22, 6:55)
Even if you only look at the Book of Mormon as a work of fiction, the way Alma describes the birth place of Christ is completely correct and consistent, according to his circumstances and within the context of the Book of Mormon. Even if Bethlehem was not identified in this way anywhere in the Bible, with it being only a few miles away from Jerusalem, it would have been the best way to describe the place to the people that Alma was talking to on the other side of the earth.
Critics like to argue the fact that, since the Brass plates contained the "prophecies of the holy prophets, from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah"(1 Nephi 5:13), and the prophet Micah fits into this time period, then Alma and the Nephites must have already known about Micah's prophecy in the Old Testament of Christ being born in Bethlehem(Micah 5:2). However, the Old Testament was of course not yet compiled at the time Lehi learned of the contents of the Brass plates. And neither Lehi, nor anyone else in the Book of Mormon, ever mentioned anything about the prophet Micah, nor did they even refer to anything that Micah might have said. So we have no way of knowing if Micah's prophecy or if any of Micah's writtings were even included in the Brass Plates. And even if they were, this information may not have been known by the general Nephite population.
It makes more sense to believe that, since Alma was talking to a large group of people who already knew about Jerusalem, he was simply providing a general reference to Christ's birthplace in the same way that the people were already accustomed to; refering to a "land" rather than a specific city. And since they were so far removed from the birthplace of Jesus, why would they even care to know or need to know the exact city He was to be born in?
The phrase "land of Jerusalem" was not known at the time Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. But lately the phrase has been discovered in newly translated portions of the Dead Sea scrolls(The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered, 1993. Rockport, Mass.: Element, 1992, 57-58).
And even though, in this case, it could also be refering to just the city and not the surrounding area, and does not mention Bethlehem nor the birth of Jesus, at least the phrase "land of Jerusalem" has been shown to have been in usage during the time of Jeremiah, a fact not known by people living at the time of Joseph Smith.
If critics condemn the Book of Mormon for stating that Christ would be born "at Jerusalem, which is the land of our forefathers," then they must also reject the Bible because it says that Amaziah "was buried at Jerusalem with his fathers in the city of David" (2 Kings 14:20), and the city of David is Bethlehem (see Luke 2:4, 1 Samuel 20:6).
Some time ago the so-called Amarna letters were found and in them is a reference to a place that W. F. Albright, probably the greatest American archaeologist of the twentieth century, has identified as Bethlehem. And it's referred to as being in the land of Jerusalem. So here's a reference to Bethlehem as being in the land of Jerusalem, just as the Book of Mormon describes it. (Walter Harrelson, "Shechem in Extra- Biblical References," The Biblical Archaeologist 20 (1957): 4, 6-7)
To suggest that Joseph Smith, who knew the precise location of Jesus' baptism by John ("in Bethabara, beyond Jordan," 1 Nephi 10:9; cf. John 1:28), but hadn't a clue about the famous town of Christ's birth, is inconsistent. It is highly improbable that the Book of Mormon's author or authors missed one of the most obvious facts about the most popular story in the Bible. As one anti-Mormon author has pointed out, "every schoolboy and schoolgirl knows Christ was born in Bethlehem." Exactly! It is virtually certain, therefore, that Alma 7:10 was as foreign to Joseph Smith's preconceptions as it is to those of anti-Mormon critics. He is hardly likely to have twisted the Christmas story in so obvious a way, to have raised so noticeable a red flag, if he were trying to perpetrate a deception. Neither Joseph Smith nor the LDS Church has ever claimed that Jesus was born in the city of Jerusalem.
And if there were so many errors that needed to be corrected in the Book of Mormon, as many critics claim, why then did Joseph Smith not correct what would would seem to be a very obvious error? (Some sources of this information: FARMS; Daniel C. Peterson, Matthew Roper, and William J. Hamblin)
25. Alma chapter 11 describes a complex system of coinage. Needless to say, no such coins have ever been found. Archaeologists have so far concluded that the people who lived on this continent did not use a system of coinage.
A: Alma chapter 11 mentions a measurement system of the Nephites, with units of gold and silver being related to various amounts of grains, but the system appears to be one of standardized weights rather than a coinage system. A recently added chapter heading for Alma 11 - not part of the text and unrelated to Joseph Smith's translation - says "Nephite coinage set forth." The inappropriate term "coinage" in the chapter heading is an error due to nineteenth century editing, not a part of the ancient text.
If Joseph Smith had written the Book of Mormon, discussing coins would have been an easy mistake to make. Worse yet, he might have mentioned paper money. But the system described is one in which units of precious metals are related to measures of grain, and the relationship between the metallic units can easily be understood as based on weight, with no hint at the minting of coins.
26. How do Mormons explain the alteration occurring in Mosiah 21:28 where Ammon tells Limhi of the translation gifts possessed by Mosiah, yet the name appears as Benjamin in the 1830 edition. Who had this gift was it Benjamin or Mosiah? In the 1830 edition Mosiah 6:5 reads, 'And King Benjamin lived three years and he died. Fifteen chapters later, however, he is alive and well.
A: Both Benjamin and Mosiah had the gift of translation.
It is not really known why the name Benjamin was there instead of Mosiah in the first edition. This same switch also occurred in Ether 4:1. Perhaps Mormon and/or Moroni got the names mixed up as they were writing on the final set of plates (From title page in the Book of Mormon "--And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.").
It is believed that someone other than Joseph Smith (Oliver Cowdery for example) may have made the changes when he noticed what he thought was a problem. It could be the changes never needed to be made in the first place. We don't know for sure exactly when Benjamin died. The scriptures say that after he handed the kingdom over to his son Mosiah he lived for three more years before he died(Mos. 6:5). About 3 years after Mosiah became king, Ammon was sent out to look for the people who were living at Lehi-Nephi(Mos. 7:1-3). At the time Ammon left, Benjamin may still have been living. So when Ammon met with Limhi he would have told him that Benjamin was the one who could translate(Mos.21:28). When Ammon returned with the people of Limhi, Benjamin could still have been alive. We don't know exactly how long Ammon was gone. It took him 40 days to get to Lehi-Nephi(Mos. 7:4). He was in prison for 2 days(Mos. 7:8). Then, after "being many days in the wilderness", Ammon, along with Limhi and his people, were finnally received by Mosiah(Mos 22:13). The total time Ammon was gone may have been only 2 or 3 months. After the records were given to Mosiah(Mos. 22:14), they could have been turned over to Benjamin, who could have kept charge of the records(Ether 4:1) at least for a short time until he died. (Note: The large gap in Mosiah, Chapters 9 through 21:22, contains the Record of Zenniff).
In my opinion, the story does seem to make more sense if the name Mosiah replaces the name Benjamin, as it appears in our modern editions, at least in the case of the Ether 4:1 scripture. Even if these changes are because of "the mistakes of men", they certainly have no impact whatsoever on the primary and most important message and purpose of the Book of Mormon.
27. Science has proven that there could not have existed any of the civilizations talked about in the Book of Mormon because of the lack of any archeological findings.
A: In the first place, you can not prove a negative. You can not say that nothing exists that can prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon unless every square inch of land on the American continent has been dug up in search of it. Many ruins are still hidden, and it is possible we may not have found the peoples of the Book of Mormon as of yet. And of the ruins found, many do not fit the time frame of the Book of Mormon (many date from after it), so can be definitely determined as other races or forgotten remnants of the Book of Mormon nations.
Many books have been written detailing dozens of archaeological parallels between the Book of Mormon and the history of ancient America. The Book of Mormon's claims regarding wheeled vehicles, great walled cities with prayer towers, baptismal fonts, the use of cement, the presence of horses and elephants, etc. seemed absurd in 1830 when it was published. Yet these claims have been vindicated by archaeological discoveries since that time.
For example, one particular artifact (Stela 5 Izapa from Chiapas, Mexico) contains a large and detailed drawing of the Tree of Life which appears to be a direct connection with the Book of Mormon. Competent scholars have found over 50 elements in Stela 5 which correspond to parts of a long and involved vision given by God to the prophet Lehi in the 8th chapter of 1st Nephi. This artifact was discovered by a Smithsonian dig in 1941, and to date no non-LDS scholar has offered a viable alternative interpretation of the inscription.
A team of LDS researchers in Arabia have discovered significant new evidence which links the area with the Book of Mormon. The group, led by Warren Aston, Lynn Hilton, and Gregory Witt, located two stone altars in Yemen dating to 1000 BC. The altars contain an inscription which confirms that the place name Nahom pre-dated Lehi’s arrival.
The discovery of these altars may be the first archeological evidence ever produced to corroborate a Book of Mormon place name. The altar has been dated to the 7th or 8th century BC by non-LDS archaeologists.
Nephi’s account indicates that Ishmael was “buried in the place which was called Nahom.”(1 Nephi 16:34) This suggests that Nahom was a place name already in use when Lehi and his family arrived on the scene in about 600 BC.
The name Lihy(Lehi) is found on inscriptions throughout the al-Ula valley in Arabia – the valley in which the Lihyanite capital city Dedan was located. Dedan was along the part of the frankincense trail that was known from the time of Ramasees II (2nd Millennium B.C.) to Mohammed (6th Century B.C.) as the “fertile parts.” Nephi wrote that they traveled in the “fertile parts” (1 Nephi 16:14).
The Lihyanties used the personal name ‘Nafy.’(Nephi). The name appears in Lihyan script on a 3rd or 4th century tomb marker near al-Ula.
Lihyanite inscriptions in the al-Ula Valley include the name ‘Sam.’ This is interesting because the common Hebrew pronunciation is ‘Samuel,’ and the Arabic traditional pronunciation is ‘Sami,’ yet the Book of Mormon pronunciation is exactly the same was the Lihyanite articulation Sam. Joseph Smith could not have known about the Lihyanite names of Lehi, Nephi and Sam. No westerner visited the land of the Lihyanites until it was discovered by Charles Doughty in 1876.
The Nephites were Hebrews. South of Albuquerque, and west of Los Lunas, in the state of New Mexico, an ancient inscription is carved into the face of a boulder, containing the text of the Ten Commandments. It is written in Paleo-Hebrew, which is the form of Hebrew writing that was used for approximately a one-thousand-year period, which ended about 500 BC.
There are many Native American Indian customs that confirm the fact of
their Hebrew origins. The old customs of the American Indian people included many observances which were the same, or somewhat modified, from the equivalent Hebrew observances of the Mosaic law. Examples include:
circumcision in some tribes; ritual purification after touching a dead
body; laws of unclean meats [many Indian tribes followed the Mosaic dietary
laws]; cities of refuge [to which a person who inadvertently had committed
a crime could flee for safety from retribution]; levirate marriages [the
obligation of a brother to 'raise up seed' to a deceased brother who left a
childless widow]; laws of separation for menstruating women; ritual
purification before and following warfare; manner of marriage, divorce, and
punishment for adultery; their lunar-based calendar; animal sacrifices; and
Indian legends and events which are remembered as part of the oral history include: an original homeland across the oceans, the story of migration to America, the division of a single family into warring tribes, and a visitation of the Messiah to this land. Of special interest is a tradition that the Native American
people once had a holy book of scripture, which they said was much like the
Bible, but that, because of their many wars and falling away from godly
ways, the holy book had been buried in the ground long ago! The legend
further stated that, at some future, the Indian people would once again
have that holy book, and would once again be a peaceful and righteous
people. Native People of both North and South America remember in their oral
history a time when a person, recognized as the Son of God, descended from
Heaven, and visited their ancestors for a short time.
Early American explorers heard natives speak words that have the same sounds and meanings in Hebrew as they do in Indian languages, namely: man, wife, the heavens, prayer, winter, as well as numerous verbs and phrases. Among the words which were nearly identical to the Hebrew were Yo-he-wah (corresponding to Jehovah or Yahweh), and ha-le-lu or ha-le-lu-yah.
Still, some may wonder whether we will ever have "irrefutable physical proof" of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Scholars working on research projects avoid such phrases. Instead, they tend to follow the admonition contained in the title of a chapter in Hugh Nibley's Since Cumorah that, in these kinds of studies, we should remain "Forever Tentative . . ."
For example, John Sorenson has pointed out that despite "many, often remarkable, ways the events and circumstances in the scripture have parallels with what archaeological and historical sources tell us about ancient America . . . no number of them would unequivocally establish the book as an authentic pre-Columbian document."
On the other hand, a lack of physical evidence does not invalidate a written history. As Nibley reminds us, "the possibility that a great nation . . . could actually get lost and stay lost, in spite of every effort of men to discover its traces, has been demonstrated many times since Schliemann found the real world of the Mycenaeans." Scholars have studied civilizations successfully for centuries before finding "so much as a button or bead that could be definitely assigned to them."
Perhaps it is worth mentioning that most people tend to approach archeology
with a "common sense" mind set. This approach is dangerous, because
archeology is not like other sciences in terms of how it evaluates its
evidence and derives its conclusions.
Physical evidence can inform us about the world in which the scriptures were written and thus help us understand the scriptures' messages. It can also give support to testimonies already established and provide opportunities for the Spirit to bear witness. But we should not expect physical proof in spiritual matters where faith is required.
The Book of Mormon was not intended to be only a history of an ancient American culture. Its primary purpose is to testify of Jesus Christ and teach us His gospel. It is something that should be accepted by faith and not by scientific proof. This may sound like a major cop-out, but I believe that God will never allow enough physical evidence to be found to scientifically prove the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. If that should happen, there would no longer be a need for us to exercise our faith in it.
28. Nephi is described as having a compass when they made the trip to America circa 600 BC. Compasses were not invented at that time.
A: The Liahona was only referred to as a compass in that it showed direction. In no way was it ever considered to be a conventional compass invented by man. Actual words would appear and disappear according to what was needed at the time. The Liahona was given by the Lord to Lehi for two basic purposes. First, it functioned as a communications device--pointing the direction of travel and providing written instructions from the Lord that were plainly visible to everyone in Lehi's party. Second, it functioned as a physical representation of the Lord's presence, just as the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day led the children of Israel as they traveled in the desert under the leadership of Moses (Exodus 13:21). It is the only mechanical device, of which we have knowledge, ever constructed "by the hand of the Lord" for use by mortal man.
29. How do Mormons explain the charge that Joseph Smith took ideas from
the sources he had at the time to write the Book of Mormon(B of M) ( e.g. View of the Hebrews(VH), Solomon Spaulding's manuscript, and Shakespeare)?
A: View of the Hebrews:
First of all it may never be proven that Joseph Smith ever even saw a
copy of "View of the Hebrews"(VH). This must be done first in order to lend any
credit to the belief that he may have plagiarized from it. View of the Hebrews apparently was not considered as a probable source for the Book of Mormon by critics in the 1800's, and with good reason: it's apparent similarities are too vague and its differences too great. Richard L. Bushman in his text "Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism" noted that it wasn't until Riley's psychological study in 1902 that anyone had
thought of linking up the VH and the BofM.
When considering supposed parallels, VH does talk about the destruction of
Jerusalem, as does the BofM. However, VH is talking about the destruction
in 70 AD by the Romans, a completely different time from what the B of M
talks about. VH says people migrated from the Bering Strait, that the
people got here on "dry land". Also that as they moved they spread from
north to east and then to the south, all of which are critical since VH
uses Amos 8:11-12 which prophesies that the tribes would go from North to
East. Population migrations in the BofM, however, came across the ocean and
traveled from South to the North. None of the names in VH have any
similarities to those in the B of M. Similarities between the two books are
only in the context of a few vague loose generalities, the main one being
to explain the origins of the American Indians, and even that is not one of
the main purposes of the BofM.
It's important to realize that parallel between stories and documents are easy to find. There are many dozens of parallels between the story of the Pilgrims coming to the New World and the
Book of Mormon. One could find at least 75 equally good
parallels between the BofM and any other book. You can do this with any two
books, but that hardly proves one was dependent on the other. In every case where the Book of Mormon might have borrowed from VH, it might much more easily have borrowed from the Bible or prevailing popular beliefs.
To establish any connection at all between the two books, it is absolutely imperative to find something perfectly unique and peculiar in both of them. Yet there is not one single thing in common between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon that is not also found in the Bible.
Many believed Solomon Spaulding's manuscript to be a source of the Book of Mormon.
After the manuscript was found to have no significant similarities people
began to believe there was a second lost manuscript which was a closer
match to the Book of Mormon. D.P. Hurlbut, an ex-Mormon who heard rumors
about an educated minister named Solomon Spalding, went to
Spalding's widow, and got permission to borrow his manuscript to expose the
Mormons. When he got back to Ohio, he and E.D. Howe (his co-author and
editor of the Plainsville Telegraph) examined the manuscript and found it
to contain only a romantic story dealing with a Roman Ship blown off course
and landing in North America. Hurlbut and Howe postulated the existence of
yet another manuscript and then carelessly lost the manuscript which they
had borrowed from Spalding's widow. However, Spalding's widow and daughter
didn't know anything about a second manuscript. In a series of widely
published interviews they insisted that there was only one manuscript which
Hurlbut took and never returned. The manuscript was eventually found.
Remarks scribbled by Hurlbut on the back of the manuscript (apparently at
the time that he had first received it, but before he had examined it),
strongly suggest that he had no inkling of any other manuscript and that he
fully expected it to be the source of the BofM. Anyone who takes the time to
actually read VH and Spaulding will immediately be able to see the lack of
similarity between them and the Bof M.
One of the most common objections to the Book of Mormon is
the claim that Joseph Smith plagiarized from Shakespeare when writing
(translating) 2 Nephi 1:14, where elderly Lehi poetically pleads with his
rebellious children, knowing that he will soon die. In this passage from
550 B.C., Lehi says:
"Awake! and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a
trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold
and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return; a few more
days and I go the way of all the earth."
Critics note that this is similar (they often claim that it is nearly
identical) to Hamlet, Act III, Scene I, where Hamlet speaks of
"...the dread of something after death, -
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveler returns...."
Certainly the phrasing is similar in this isolated case, though Lehi does not express fear of death nor does he speak of death as being a country. But the poetical idea of not returning from death has been expressed in similar ways for thousands of years by poets and writers, including many from Lehi's time and before. For example,
the ancient book of Job in chapter 10, verse 21 says "...I go whence I
shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death."
Later Job writes "I shall go the way whence I shall not return" (Job
16:22). If Lehi is borrowing from Job, do we really have a problem? Lehi
surely had read and studied Job and other more ancient Old Testament
writers. In another Old Testament passage, Bathsheba mourns the loss of her
son, saying "he shall not return to me" (2 Sam. 12:23).
Lehi uses the ideas and terminology which any eloquent man of his day, would be expected and required to use.
By the way Shakespear can also be found in the Bible. Look at Psalms 46. Count 46 words from the beginning of the chapter, and 46 words from the end; put those two words together, shake - spear :-)
30. The Book of Mormon predicts the future destruction of the disobedient gentiles by converted Indians (3 Nephi 16:8-16). This may have been thought possible in the early 1800s when Joseph Smith was working on the Book of Mormon. But what are the chances of this prophecy be fulfilled now?
A: In verses 13 and 14 of 3 Nephi chapter 16 Jesus Christ states the following:
13. But if the Gentiles will repent, and return unto me, saith the
Father, behold, they shall be numbered among my people, O house of Israel;
14. and I will not suffer my people, which are of the house of Israel, to
go through among them, and tread them down, saith the Father.
Apparently enough of the Gentiles are repenting and returning to Christ. Therefore, no need for the "converted Indians" to destroy them.
31. How can one using the test in Doctrine and Covenants 129:4, 5 distinguish between an angel of God and a Jehovah's Witness missionary (or a Mormon Elder)?
A: You can't. I guess you'll just have to talk with them a while and listen to their message. If he's constantly flipping through his bible and trying to win arguments by quoting scriptures, he's a JW. If he looks like he's fresh out of high school, smiles and bears his testimony a lot, he's an Elder. If he doesn't have to open the door to come in the house, he's an angel.
Actually, this "test" that Joseph Smith describes was meant to be used only in the context of some sort of obvious super-natural type of visitation of a being from the "other side". It was not intended to be used for just anyone who comes knocking at your door or that you meet on the street. The preface of this revelation states:
"Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet at Nauvoo, Illinois, February 9, 1843, making known the three grand keys by which good or bad angels or spirits may be distinguished. --Two kinds of beings besides mortals--Resurrected personages having bodies of flesh and bones--Disembodied spirits and spirits that have never been embodied--Means of detection. (D&C 129)
32. Mormons use the often quoted scripture in Isaiah 29:4 and claim the "familiar spirit" refers to the Book of Mormon. How do you explain the fact that in all other Old Testament scriptures the term "familiar spirit" is used to describe something evil.(See 1 Chron. 10:13, 2 Chron. 33:6, Deut. 18:11-12, Isa. 8:19-20, Isa. 19:3, 2 Kings 21:6, 2 Kings 23:24, Lev. 19:31, Lev. 20:6,27, 1 Sam. 28:3, 7-9)
A: The phrase "familiar spirit," found in the Old Testament scriptures mentioned above, is indeed found in context with derogatory words such as witchcraft, wizards, charmers, enchantments, etc., and is described as an "abomination". The dictionary describes the term "familiar spirit" as the "spirit of a demon or a dead person invoked by a medium to advise or prophesy". However a careful reading of this scripture along with further explanation by Nephi, found in 2 Ne 26:16, indicates that the term "familiar spirit" in this particular case means that the record would speak with a voice that is familiar to those acquainted with the Bible.
On the other hand, If the term was intended to have the same meaning as it does in all other places in the Old Testament, another explanation would be that it might describe what many future unbelieving people might think about the Book of Mormon. The scripture does not say "thy voice shall be of one that hath a familiar spirit". It says, "thy voice shall be, "as" of one that hath a familiar spirit". In other words, to many non-believers the Book of Mormon may sound like something that is connected with "familiar spirits", as refered to in other places in the Bible. The Book of Mormon's words came from dead people and was brought forth by a type of medium (Joseph Smith) and does "advise and prophesy". Therefore, because of this people, might identifiy it "as" of one that hath a familiar spirit."
33. Why and how did Nephi use Peter's same words from the New Testament when Peter
(100's of years later) was only paraphrasing what Moses said in Deuteronomy?
1 Ne 22:20
And the Lord will surely prepare a way for his people, unto the fulfilling of the words of Moses, which he spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that all they which will not hear that prophet, shall be cut off from among the people.
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
ACT 3:23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst
of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;
DEU 18:19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my
words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.
A. Comparing the scriptures above, the wording in the Acts verses sounds more like Peter is quoting actual scripture rather than just paraphrasing what Moses said in Deuteronomy. Peter most likely had access to other writings of Moses
and was quoting from them. Moses is talking about the same thing in the Deut. scripture,
but he probably talked about it again in other scripture not found in our Bible today.
Nephi of course had access to the brass plates which contained the writings of Moses.
Both Nephi and Peter could have been quoting the same scripture found in both the brass
plates and in some other source available to Peter.
Note about the brass plates:
Nephi Said in 1 Ne 13:23:
"And he saith, Behold, it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew, and I,
Nephi, beheld it; and he saith unto me, The Book which thou beholdest, is a
record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord which he hath
made unto the House of Israel; and it also containeth many of the
prophesies of the Holy Prophets; and it is a record like unto the
engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many;
nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made
unto the House of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the
Here Nephi is told that the Bible(record of the Jew) will be like the plates of brass but
will not contain as many prophesies. He undoubtedly therefore had access to more of the
writings of Moses than are in the Old Testament now.
34. How could Nephi refer to something Malachi said 100 years before he said it?
(See Mal. 4:1 and 1 Ne 22:15)
MAL 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the
proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that
cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them
neither root nor branch.
1 Ne 22:15 For behold, saith the prophet, that the times cometh speedily, that
Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men: for
the day soon cometh, that all the proud and they which do wickedly, shall
be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned.
A: Nephi does not identify the prophet and the words are not exactly the same.
So, Nephi is probably quoting from some other prophet from the brass plates
who is talking about the same thing (Zeniff or Isaiah). (See note about the brass plates above)
Isaiah said something similar:
ISA 47:14 Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they
shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be
a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.
So he could have been quoting Isaiah which would have been recorded in the brass plates that Nephi had
35. If Joseph Smith did not plagiarize anything from the Bible while writing the Book of Mormon, how do you account for the similarity between Moroni 10:9-17 and 1 Corinthians 12:8-11?
A: The Savior could have given a sermon on the manifestations or gifts of the spirit on both the eastern and western continents. Thus both Paul and Moroni would have been acquainted with the teachings of this sermon. One reason why this sermon would not be mentioned in the Book of Mormon at the time Jesus visited the western continent is due to the fact that the Book of Mormon states that the "more part" of the teachings of the resurrected Christ were not included on the plates of Mormon(3 Nephi 26:6-11). Another possibility is that these teachings may have been recorded in both the brass plates for Moroni's access or in Old Testament manuscripts that Paul would have had access to. (D. H. Ludlow)
36. If the Nephites were of Jewish decent why does the Book of Mormon not mention the celebration of any of the Jewish Holy days?
A: Although Lehi and his family descended from the Jews, they had apparently decided to distance themselves from them as evident in a number of scriptures. For example, following Lehi's prophecy:
1 Ne. 1:19 "And it came to pass that the Jews did not mock him because of the
things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their
wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which
he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the Book, manifested
plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.
1:20 And when the Jews heard these things, they were angry with him; yea,
even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out and stoned and
slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away."
1 Ne 4:36 "Now we were desirous that they should tarry with us for this cause: that the Jews might not know concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue us and destroy us."
Nor did they want to continue much of the Jewish teachings among their people:
2 Ne 25:2 "For I, Nephi, have not taught them many things concerning the manner of the Jews; for their works were works of darkness, and their doings were doings of abominations.
25:5 yea, and my soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah, for I came out
from Jerusalem, and mine eyes hath beheld the things of the Jews, and I
know that the Jews do understand the things of the Prophets, and there is
none other people that understand the things which were spoken unto the
Jews, like unto them, save it be that they are taught after the manner of
the things of the Jews.
25:6 But behold, I, Nephi, have not taught my children after the manner of
the Jews; but behold, I, of myself, have dwelt at Jerusalem, wherefore I
know concerning the regions round about; and I have made mention unto my
children concerning the judgments of God, which hath come to pass among the
Jews, unto my children, according to all that which Isaiah hath spoken, and
I do not write them."
Aside from this there are scriptures through out the book that suggest that some of the Jewish Holy days were indeed observed. For example:
"And thus ended the eighteenth year of the reign of the judges
over the people of Nephi....
Behold, now it came to pass that the people of Nephi were
exceedingly rejoiced, because the Lord had again delivered them
out of the hands of their enemies; therefore they gave
thanks unto God; yea and they did fast much and pray much,
and they did worship God with exceeding great joy. And it
came to pass in the nineteenth year of the reign of the judges
over the people of Nephi..."
To the Jewish reader, the transition of the new year accompanied by
rejoicing, giving thanks to God, fasting, praying and worshipping God
because he had given deliverance, points quite clearly to the celebration
of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the Ten Days of Awe.
And in another scripture:
"And now, surely this was a sorrowful day; yea, a time of
solemnity, and a time of much fasting and prayer. And thus
ended the fifteenth year of the reign of the judges..."
The habit of the Nephites to observe the transition of the year
with a "time of fasting and prayer" again points clearly to the observance
of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
It is apparent that the occasion of King Benjamin's sermon (Mosiah
1-6) was that of Sukkot (the Festival of Booths/Tabernacles see Lev. 23).
Both the Yuchi tribe of American Indians and the ancient Hebrews celebrate:
1) an eight-day festival.
2) starts on 15th day (or full moon) of holy harvest month.
3) live in temporary "booths"
4) at the cultic center where:
5) they nurture a sacred fire.
6) form processions in which foliated branches are shaken.
Some parallels to these practices found at King Benjamin's sermon:
Mos.1:10, 1:18, 2:1 - "...the people gathered themselves together throughout
all the land that they might go up to the Temple..." Pointing to one of the
three pilgrimage feasts (Dt. 16:16).
Mos. 2:3 "...the firstlings of their flocks..." At the Sukkot "fourteen lambs of
the first year" were to serve as a burnt offering (Num. 29:13).
Mos. 2:4 "...to keep the commandments of God, that thereby they might
rejoice..." This indicates that an actual Torah commandment was being
fulfilled by the gathering. This included a commandment to "rejoice."
This fits Sukkot, about which the Torah commands: "... and you shall
rejoice before YHWH your God seven days." (Lev. 23:40). "Rejoicing" is an
important theme throughout Benjamin's sermon.
Mos. 2:5 "...pitched their tents..." one of the Hebrew words for "tent" is
"sukkah" which can be translated "tent, booth or tabernacle." During this
festival Hebrews dwelt in "sukkot" (plural of "sukkah") (Lev. 23:42).
37. Why did the angel take Nephi Plates back to heaven? Would not their existence prove once and for all that Mormonism is truth?
A. No. It would only prove that some golden plates were found. Chances are that people would still not believe they were delivered by an angel to Joseph Smith and that they were translated by the power of God. And, since the language on the plates was in a "reformed egyptian", known only by the Nephites, no modern day linguist would be able to translate them correctly and verify the translation given by Joseph Smith. One of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is to encourage the development of faith among those who read it and believe in it. We have faith that the plates exist, somewhere. If we had them before our eyes now, there would no longer be any need for faith.
38. When the Nephites landed in the Americas there were already millions
of inhabitants in the land with large cities and infrastructure. Why
are these people not mentioned? The Book of Mormon seems to indicate
that the continent was empty at the time. (2 Nephi 1:8)
2 Ne. 1:8 And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the
knowledge of other nations: for behold, many nations would overrun the
land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.
A. The scripture could easily mean that it would be a good idea to keep knowledge of the particular area of land they were in, from the "other nations" that were already there, so their own people would not be overrunn. It depends on your definition of "land". Was it talking about the entire western continent or just the small area of land they were now in?
Many Latter-day Saints, both past and present, have perhaps incorrectly assumed that the Americas were totally unpopulated
prior to Lehi's arrival, and that Lehi's decendents are represented by all tribes of the Native Americans.
However, Church leaders have for a long time warned us not to make this assumption.
For example, in 1929 Anthony W. Ivins of the First Presidency told Latter-day Saints:
"We must be careful in the conclusions that we reach. The Book of Mormon
teaches the history of three distinct peoples, or two peoples and three different
colonies of people, who came from the old world to this continent. It does not tell
us that there was no one here before them. It does not tell us that people did not
come after. And so if discoveries are made which suggest differences in race
origins, it can very easily be accounted for, and reasonably, for we do believe
that other people came to this continent." (Ivins, 1929, p. 15) Ivins, Anthony W., LDS Conference Report, April 1929, p. 15.
Two years earlier, LDS scholar Janne Sjodahl wrote that “students should be cautioned
against the error of supposing that all the American Indians are the descendants of Lehi,
Mulek, and their companions” (Sjodahl, 1927, p. 435).Sjodahl, Janne M., An Introduction to the Study of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City:Deseret News Press, 1927).
From BH Roberts:
“Moreover, there is the possibility that other peoples may have inhabited parts of the great continents of America, contemporaneously with the peoples spoken of by the Book of Mormon, though candor compels me to say that nothing to that effect appears in the Book of Mormon. A number of our Book of Mormon students, however, are inclined to believe that Book of Mormon peoples were restricted to much narrower limits in their habitat on the American continents, than have generally been allowed; and that they were not in South America at all.” ---Letter to William E. Riter, February 6, 1922. Studies of the Book of Mormon, pp. 53-54.
Now, years later, some critics would have others believe that the Book of Mormon requires
that all Indians descend solely from Jewish founders, and that this is the official
teaching of the Church. But it is not.
Nowhere in the Book of Mormon does it say that no one else was there when the Nephites came and inhabited the land. The other inhabitants that were probably already there were not specifically mentioned because the story is not about them. The Book of Mormon is not a history about the entire land and who was on it, it is a history of a particular family. There are, however, several instances that occur in the book that would indicate that the Nephites were not the only people there. One of these occurs during the visit by Alma and his seven companions
to the Zoramites. "Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites"
(Alma 31:8). As Alma prayed about this group, he said, "O Lord, their souls
are precious, and many of them are our brethren" (Alma 31:35). One would ask, who are those whom they considered not their "brethren." Apparently he
was speaking of those who were neither Nephites, Lamanites, nor
"Mulekites" since these three groups had been refered to as "brethren" in the past.
The antichrist Sherem (Jacob 7) may have been an outsider. Jacob wrote of him,
"there came a man among the people of Nephi" (Jacob 7:1). Does this mean
that he was not a Nephite? Jacob further notes "that he had a perfect
knowledge of the language of the people" (Jacob 7:4). Don't all native
speakers? This would have been remarkable only if the man were not a
At the time of Sherem's visit, the entire population of Nephites decended from Lehi could not have exceded a hundred adults. Any Nephite among such a small population would not have been a stranger. So if he was not a Nephite where did he come from?
A few years later, some of the Nephite men began desiring “many wives and concubines” (Jacob 1:15). How many women could there have been if there were no others besides the original Lehite party?
Also, statisticians have calculated that it would be nearly impossible for the population of the Nephites to have grown to the large numbers in the time allowed without taking in others into their society who were already there.
39. Q. Why does the Book of Mormon imply a seven day week (Mosiah 13:18) when
it was not known to Ancient Americans? The Mesoamericans used a
variety of calendars, none of which match the Old World calendar.
A. In this scripture, Abinadi is implying no such thing. He is merely repeating one of the Ten Commandments, which could be found in the plates of brass that Lehi brought from Jerusalem. It is true that the Mesoamericans used a variety of calendars. However, how do we know that the archaeologists have found all the variations yet?
40. Joseph Smith prepared fourteen Articles of Faith. Why has the original No. 11 been omitted and why have other word changes been made in the others? (Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 2, three pages after page 160, among the photos.)
A. The Articles of Faith were not received by revelation, but were merely a summation of some of the beliefs of the Church. Small changes may have been made to better explain a particular principle or to make the meaning more clear. There are only 13 of them in the letter Joseph Smith wrote to John Wentworth in 1842. The fourteen were published from a later source, a pamphlet published in England in April, 1849(five years after Joseph's death), by James H. Flanigan. It is therefore incorrect to associate Joseph Smith's name with that list.
41. According to the following verses in the Book of Mormon, (1 Nephi 11:33,
Jacob 1:8, 3 Nephi 12:30, 3 Nephi 27:14, & Ether 4:1) Jesus was prophesied
to and subsequently shown to have died on the cross.
Most Bible translators agree on one thing--the King James Version of the Bible contains a
mistranslation of the word "cross". A correct translation should render the
word to be pole, upright pale, or stake. (See Herbert Cutner's "Jesus: God,
Man, or Myth" for more information).
So where does this leave the Book of Mormon "prophets"? Either they were making some false prophecies which Jesus later came and told the Nephites he falsely fulfilled or someone who was familiar with the KJV of the Bible made up the Book of Mormon...
A. The Book of Mormon was translated from a language described as "reformed Egyption" that no one in Joseph Smith's day or our day could understand. When Joseph came to the word describing the instrument of Christ's death he may have decided to use the word "cross" so that all the Bible reading Christians of his day and our day could relate better to what was being said.
If it makes you feel better, let's insert the "correct" translation of the word into the Book of Mormon verses referred to and see how it sounds:
1 Ne. 11:33 And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the pole, and slain for
the sins of the world.
Jacob 1:8 --Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men not to
rebel against God, to provoke him to anger, but that all men would believe
in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his upright pale, and bear the shame of
3 Ne. 12:30 --for it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things,
wherein ye shall take up your pole, than that ye should be cast into hell.
3 Ne. 27:14 and my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the upright pale; and
after that I have been lifted up upon the upright pale, I might draw all men unto
How about some Bible verses:
Matthew 10:38 And he that taketh not his pole, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Luke 9:23 And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his upright pale daily, and follow me.
1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the pole of Christ should be made of none effect.
Philippians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the upright stake.
Be it a pole or a cross, there is archeological evidence that has been found that suggests the cross was used in executions of others at the time of Christ.
In 1968 a discovery was made in a dig in Jerusalem as explained In the book, Archaeological Commentary on the Bible. Gonzalo Baez-Camargo reports:
"...36 skeletal remains were uncovered. One of them was the first remains
of a crucified man ever found anywhere.... This took place sometime during
the first half of the first century A.D., perhaps at the very time of
"Both heals had been pierced by a single large and crude iron nail. His
open arms had been nailed in the way shown in the traditional crucifixion
paintings" (p. 211).
42. It is stated in several books now that the "true" Hill Cumorah is in Central America and not where Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ have stated, (viz., near the Smith farm in upper state New York). Various Prophets have addressed this question and have stated that the hill where Joseph Smith found the plates is and was "THE Hill Cumorah" as mention in the Book of Mormon, by Moroni and by Joseph Smith. How do you explain this controversy?
A. One thing to remember when we talk about what prophets might say on any given subject, is whether or not they are expressing an opinion, or are in fact revealing an inspired truth. In my opinion, the geography of the Book of Mormon has no bearing on our eternal salvation. If that is true then why should any of the prophets need to receive inspired revelation on the subject?
We may never find out for sure exactly where the story of the Book of Mormon took place. And I don't think it is necessary that we do. The most important thing to know is that it did indeed happen and that we should read the scripture and live by its principles.
Now, if you want my opinion on the unimportant subject of Book of Mormon geography, here it is. I believe it is possible that there are two hills that are or were called Cumorah; the one in New York that we traditionally recognize as Cumorah, and another one somewhere else, perhaps in Central America, that was also called Cumorah by the Nephites. Consider the following scripture:
" And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to
the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to
be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord
that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our
fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for
the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the
plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had
been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates
which I gave unto my son Moroni."
Here Mormon specifically states that he hid up all the records in the hill Cumorah EXCEPT "these few plates" he gave to his son Moroni, which were the gold plates that the Book of Mormon was translated from. References to this scripture specify these "few plates" as the gold plates(D&C 17:1) that Joseph Smith recovered from the angel Moroni. The scriptures never tell us specifically where Moroni hid the plates that his father gave him. Most people assume it was in the same hill. Remember, Moroni wandered around with those "few plates" for about 35 years before he finished his writings and then hid them in the earth(Ether 4:3, Mormon 8:14). In those 35 years he could have wandered up from Central America(or somewhere else) to the area where New York is now.
There is no doubt that all the records Mormon used to compile his set of gold plates are hidden in a hill called Cumorah close to where most of the history took place. But did Moroni hide his father's record in the same hill 35 years later? Or did he hide it in a different hill thousands of miles away that we now also call Cumorah?
43. How can Latter-day Saints be Christians when the Book of Mormon
states that Jesus Christ is just "a" son of God and not "the" son of God (Alma
A. It is amazing what great lengths critics of the church will go to when they nit pick at a single word in the Book of Mormon to try to prove a point. This scripture is the only place in the entire Book of Mormon that refers to Christ as "a" son of God. There are at least 50 other places where he is refered to as "the" son of God. In the spiritual sense everyone, including Christ, can be considered "a" son of God. We are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father, inluding Jesus. But Jesus is the "only begotten Son" (that is in the flesh)(John 3:16) which, among many other things, does make him special over everyone else. Since Alma is talking about Jesus before He was "begotten" by the Father in the flesh, he is no doubt refering to Him as a son of God in the spiritual sense.
Consider a scripture in the Bible where it says: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David "a" Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11) Does this mean that someone who believes in the Bible is not a Christian since he believes Christ is just "a" Savior, not "the" Savior? I don't think so. Another example from the Bible referring to Christ as "a" son is found in Hebrews 5:8, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered."
Consider this for one good reason why Mormons can be called Christians based on the Book of Mormon. In the 531 pages of the Book of Mormon there are 3,925 references to the Savior. That calculates to one reference every one and one-half verses.
44. If someone needs to be ordained by another to receive priesthood authority, from whom did Alma get his authority to baptize? (Mosiah 18:13) . Alma could not have been ordained by Abinadi. He could not have been ordained by the apostate priests of Noah.
A. Alma could have been ordained by his righteous father or grandfather or anyone else before he became a priest of Noah and before he heard Abinadi preach. Alma was born during Zenniff's righteous reign and was thirteen years old before the kingdom was passed on to the wicked Noah. Since Alma was born and raised in a righteous family, among a righteous people for at least the first 13 years of his life, he was probably ordained to the priesthood by one of them before Abinadi began preaching. The prophet Joseph F. Smith said, "Alma...held the priesthood before the coming of Abinadi..."(Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 2, pg 366).
45. According to Mormon doctrine, a person can not baptize themselves. How do you explain Mosiah 18:14-55 where it says that when Alma baptized Helam he immersed himself in the water at the same time?
A. Alma was not baptizing himself. According to LDS doctrine, a person cannot receive the priesthood without having first been baptized. Alma held the priesthood at the time of Helam's baptism and therefore had already been baptized, probably by someone during the reign of the righteous King Zenniff(See question 44 above). Also, In the prayer before the baptism Alma mentions only Helam's name and not his own. Why then did Alma immerse himself in the water at the same time he baptized Helam? According to the prophet Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., "Alma was baptized and held the priesthood before the coming of Abinadi, but he became involved with other priests under the reign of the wicked King Noah, and when he baptized Helam, he felt he needed a cleansing himself so he buried himself in the water as a token of full repentance." (Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, Pg.336 - Pg.337) Alma's immersion should not be mistaken as the ordinance of baptism, but rather as a personal gesture on his part that he had repented of his sins and had recommitted himself to the Lord.
46. How do you explain Revelation 22:18,19 where it forbid us to add anything to the scriptures?
Rev: 18. For I testify unto every man that hearth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
Rev: 19. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
A. First of all the word "Bible" means a collection of books, not one book. John is not talking about the entire book of scriptures we call the Bible, he is only talking about the words and prophesies of "this" (his) book that he wrote. The plagues he is talking about are those found in the Book of Revelation.(See Rev. 9:20, 11:6, 15:1, 15:6).
A similar scripture appears in Deut. 4:2, where Moses says:
"Ye shall not add unto the word I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."
Does this mean that everything written after this scripture is worthless or wrong? Also, some of the New Testamant books were written after Revelation. In fact, the entire cannon of Bible scriptures was not completely complied, as we have it now, at the time John wrote his scripture. The earliest known listing of New Testament books is the Muratorian Cannon, ca AD 160-170 which omits 2 Peter and 3 John. It was not until 365 AD that all 27 books as we have them now were officially listed in the New Testament by Arthanasius, Bishop of Alexandria
Moses and John were correct when they imply that no man has authority to add or subtract from the word of God. However, they did not mean that God could give no more revelation or scripture, but that the inspired words of God given to his apostles and prophets should not be altered by men.
I am not sure why people complain about this. There have been many new translations of the Bible that have been published recently, that have things missing or added compared to the King James translation. Consider, for example in Luke 17:36 of the King James version we read:
"Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left."
And Acts 8:37:
"And Philip said, If thou abelievest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."
In the New International Version(NIV), the New Living Translation(NLT), and the English Standard Version(ESV), these scriptures have been completely removed.
Another example: In Luke 17:36 of the King James version Jesus mentions some of the ten commandments including, "thou shalt not bear false witness".
But this phrase is missing from the New International Version(NIV), the New Amercian Standard Bible(NASB), the New Living Translation(NLT), and the English Standard Version (ESV).
These are Bibles that are used by the same people who claim we violate the Deut. 4:2 and Rev.22:18-19 scriptures because we have additional scripture.
47. In the Book of Mormon there is a strange verse from the second chapter of the Book of Ether. It says the following:
"And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air. And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood." (Ether 2:20)
Did the Lord command the brother of Jared to make a hole at the bottom of the barge and use it as an air hole?
A: Many critics have used this verse to conclude that Joseph Smith wasn't paying attention to what he was writing about. And many Book of Mormon scholars have come up with various ways to interpret exactly what was meant in this scripture.
The easiest explanation I have for it, is that there was a hole in the top of the ship and a hole in the bottom of the ship as the verse describes. During normal sailing the bottom hole would be plugged and the top one open to provide air. During the rough times at sea, when there was danger of water coming into the ship, both holes would be plugged up, as in the case described in verse 24:
"For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; "( Ether 2:24)
Being as "a whale in the midst of the sea", they would need to have both holes plugged up to prevent water from getting in. When they came back to the surface again, they could unstop one of the holes to get air. If the ship happened to be floating upside down when it came up they could unstop the hole in the bottom of the ship (which would now be the top) to get air.
Another possibliity is that the hole in the bottom of the ship may not have been at the very bottom. It may have been near the bottom but still just above the water line. This way they could open both holes as needed to to get a flow of fresh air in one hole while the bad air escapes through the other hole.
48. What about the "Faith, Hope and Charity" passage by Mormon in Moroni 7:45 and its resemblance to 1 Corinthians 13:4-7?
A. Moroni 7:45
"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
1 Cor 13. 4-7
"Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
This particular passage, recently singled out for attack, is actually one of those things that turn out to be a striking vindication of the Book of Mormon. For the whole passage, which scholars have labeled "the Hymn to Charity," was shown early in this century by a number of first-rate investigators working independently (A. Harnack, J. Weiss, R. Reizenstein) to have originated not with Paul at all, but to go back to some older but unknown source that perhaps both Paul and Mormon had access to. Paul and Mormon are merely quoting from the record.
49. Has anyone observed the ministry of the Apostle John upon the earth during the last 100 years? (see D & C 7:1-3).
A: D&C 7:1 And the Lord said unto me: John, my beloved, what desireth thou? For if you shall ask what you will, it shall be granted unto you.
D&C 7:2 And I said unto him: Lord, give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee.
D&C 7:3 And the Lord said unto me: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, because thou desirest this thou shalt tarry until I come in my glory, and shalt prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues and people.
We don't know where or who the apostle John is. It's possible he ministers among us now but people are unaware of who he is.
50. What are those "plain and precious" truths that were removed from the Bible, that can now be found in the Book of Mormon? Does the Book of Mormon contain any doctrines that are unique to Mormonism?
A. The "plain and precious" things that were taken away from the scriptures (1 Ne. 13:26-27) have caused many questions to be asked by people of all religions about unclear, missing, and contradictory teachings and doctrines found(or not found) in the Bible. It is probably the most important reason for the diversity found in the many Christian religions today. Many of these questions are answered by the Book of Mormon, such as:
- The mode of and reasons for baptism (2 Ne. 31; 3 Ne. 11:23-26);
- The proper way to administer the Sacrament (Moro. 4-5);
- The nature of the Resurrection (Alma 40);
- The effects of the Fall of Adam, and the reasons for evil and suffering in the world (2 Ne. 2);
- The nature of God and the Holy Ghost(Ether 3:6-16, 1 Nephi 11:11);
- The "other sheep" that Jesus said would also hear his voice(John 10:16, 3 Nephi 15:17-21).
The Book of Mormon reinforces the LDS doctrine that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been revealed to prophets throughout time and that revelation did not stop after Jesus came. All these and many more can be found in the Book of Mormon and most of these concepts are unique to Mormonism.
51. Why do Mormons insist that Ezekiel 37:15-22 is about two books instead of about two kingdoms as God Himself explained in verse 22?
A: Because it is. In verses 15-17 he is talking about books or scripture. He gives the explanation in verses 19-20. In verse 22 he is talking about two kingdoms that will be united together because of the two "sticks" which will be "before their eyes "(verse 20).
Verse 16: "Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, (how would someone "write" upon a nation? this is about a record) For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and [for] all the house of Israel his companions:
17. And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. (how does a nation become one in someone's "hand"? ...yet a book HAS become one in our hand, and it is the Book of Mormon and Bible which literally has been bound together in our scripture, in literal fulfillment of prophecy).
18. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou [meanest] by these?
19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which [is] in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, [even] with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. (how would a "nation" be in the "hand" of Ephraim, and the tribes?)
20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. (If a stick was a nation, then how could they be written upon, be in someone's hand, and see themselves before themselves in someone else's hand?)
21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: (an obvious reference to the gathering now taking place, and just before the Millennial reign of Christ)
22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:" (and who will this King be, other than Jesus Christ?)
Bible: In the King James version of the bible, Isaiah 4:5 uses the word "defence" where it should use "canopy". It was incorrectly translated by King James scholars from the word "chuppah".
Book of Mormon: II Nephi 14:5 plagiarizes this verse and makes the same mistake, saying "defence" instead of "canopy".
A. People get upset at us because we claim that the Bible is not completly translated correctly but then they turn around and use the same argument to try and refute the Book of Mormon.
Here is the scripture in question:
"And the LORD will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence."(Isaiah 4:5)
Defence or canopy, both words can mean the same thing in the context of this scripture. According to the dictionary both canopy and defence are described as a covering or structure used for protection or defense. The Isaiah scriptures found in the Book of Mormon came from records on the Brass plates that Lehi brought with him, which may not have had the exact same wording as the original records the Bible was translated from. After the brass plate rendering of Isaiah was then translated by the Nephite prophets to a reformed Egyptian language the word may have ended up being best translated as defence. Also, Joseph Smith was no doubt relying on existing scripture when it came to translating the Isaiah verses. In any case the word "defence" fits in just as well as "canopy".
Bible: Isaiah 3:6-7 "When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, saying, Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let this ruin be under thy hand: In that day shall he swear, saying, I will not be an healer; for in my house is neither bread nor clothing: make me not a ruler of the people."
Book of Mormon: II Nephi 13:6-7 "When a man shall take hold of his brother of the house of his father, and shall say: Thou hast clothing, be thou our ruler, and let not this ruin come under thy hand- In that day shall he swear, saying: I will not be a healer; for in my house there is neither bread nor clothing; make me not a ruler of the people."
So in the Bible, the man asks his brother to be the ruler and take responsiblity for the ruin. However, in the Book of Mormon, the man asks his brother to be the ruler, but NOT to take responsiblity. Does that make sense?
A. No. The man is begging his brother to be their ruler so he can prevent the ruin from happening, but the brother responds by saying No I don't want to be your ruler. This makes more sense.
In Helaman 12:25-26 said to be written about 6 B.C. states "...But we read that in the great and last day...fulfilling the words which say: They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and they that have done evil shall have everlasting damnation. And thus it is. Amen."
This verse is referring to a scripture which the reader apparently has before him. But the scripture which he reads is actually from John 5:29 which states,"they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
The Book of John was not written until decades after Helaman was supposedly written.
A. It does sound like the John 5:29 scripture, but actually it is refering to a scripture in Daniel which says:
"And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt." (Dan. 12: 2).
This scripture was probably available to Helaman from the Brass plates.
Jesus was probably also thinking of the same scripture in Daniel when He said this.