Book of Mormon Basics
Approach to the Book of Mormon, pg. 16; “The Book of Mormon can and should be tested. It invites criticism, and the best possible test for its authenticity is provided by its own oft-proclaimed provenance in the Old World.” – Hugh Nibley
I wrote an article a few months ago giving a synopsis on the Book of Mormon that you can read here http://www.lifeafter.org/cametopass.asp
My purpose in this article is to look at each of the claims I made in the in the previous one and provide the reader with the references of each. As the quote above says, the Book of Mormon should be tested so that’s what we’re doing here.
I can still remember sitting on my bed as a child and reading my Book of Mormon. I, like thousands of other Mormon children, wanted so badly to know the stories it held, believing it would draw me closer to the Mormon Heavenly Father.
However, the more I read my Book of Mormon, the more my mind became clouded with confusion and fatigue. Please, pray for the Mormons with us! Share with them the things you’ve learned here and ask them for their opinion about it! This way you’re planting seeds through sharing the truth of what God says in His word and the comparison of things like this.
Even the LDS Church agrees with this and to date there hasn’t been one single shred of any archaeological evidence found regarding the Book of Mormon. The quote below is only one of dozens of references from Mormon experts who’ve made the same public confession.
Dialogue, op. cit. Summer 1969, pp. 77-78; “The first myth we need to eliminate is that the Book of Mormon archaeology exists…If one is to study the Book of Mormon archaeology, then one must have a corpus of data with which to deal with. We do not…no Book of Mormon location is known with reference to modern topography. Biblical archaeology can be studied because we do know where Jerusalem and Jericho were and are, but we do not know where Zarahemla and Bountiful (nor any location for that matter) were and are…a concentration on geography would be the first order of business, but we have already seen that twenty years of such an approach has left us empty handed.” Mormon Archaeologist Professor Dee. F. Green
Whoever wrote the Book of Mormon had horrible grammar and didn’t know how to spell correctly. Proof of this can be found in the following examples. We’re giving it an “F”. For the sake of brevity I’ve only listed nine verses.
1 N 22:4; “…the more part of all the tribes have been led away…”
2 N 4:14; “…for a more history part are written upon mine other plates.”
Jacob 5:47; “…I have digged about it…”
Alma 51:33; “…sleep had overpowered them because of their much fatigue…”
Helaman 2:4; “…who was exceedingly expert in many words…”
3 N 7:26; “…thus the more part of the year did pass away.”
4 N 1:27; “…they did deny the more parts of his gospel…”
Mormon 6:11; “…and we having survived the dead of our people…”
Ether 14:7; “…which he did receive great strength to his army.”
The only reliable timeframe with real people in a real situation is at the beginning when Jerusalem was under siege c. 600 BC. Notice how this is diametrically opposed to what God said in Jeremiah 42:10-18.
1 Nephi 7:15; “Now behold, I say unto you that if ye will return unto Jerusalem ye shall also perish with them. And now, if ye have choice, go up to the land, and remember the words which I speak unto you, that if ye go ye will also perish; for thus the Spirit of the Lord constraineth me that I should speak.”
Sadly, this is a story of a god who only provides based on conditions and his conditional, short lived love is evidence he has no patience.
Alma 36:30; “But behold, my son, this is not all; for ye ought to know as I do know, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land; and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence. Now this is according to his word.”
The Book of Mormon habitually gives the reader a quick thrill of hope for the good guy only to be let down by the end of the chapter that their faith and works were all for naught. It seems no one knows how to keep a promise. (Alma 50:21)
The “Jesus” of the Book of Mormon promises that his church will always survive. This is obviously a lie since it died out by 421 AD.
Alma 34:10; “For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.”
Alma 45:22-23; “Therefore, Helaman and his brethren went forth to establish the church again in all the land, yea, in every city throughout all the land which was possessed by the people of Nephi. And it came to pass that they did appoint priests and teachers throughout all the land, over all the churches.23 And now it came to pass that after Helaman and his brethren had appointed priests and teachers over the churches that there arose a dissension among them, and they would not give heed to the words of Helaman and his brethren.”
3 Nephi 11:39; “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.”
Holy Spirit’s departure
The authors (Joseph Smith and friends) seem obsessed by giving repetitive, simplistic accounts of murderous bloodshed and venomous hatred between two sets of people groups who can’t seem to behave more than a half dozen verses. Each war is more violent than before and the promise of the Holy Spirit being with them vanishes into thin air on several occasions.
Moroni 9:4; “Behold, I am laboring with them continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it; wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them.”
And it came to pass…
Just when you think you might gain further insight into one of the wars or travels by the Nephites or Lamanites, you’re met with the overused phrase “And it came to pass”; meaning no further light will be shed on that subject.
Mormon 2:25-26; “And it came to pass that we did contend with an army of thirty thousand against an army of fifty thousand. And it came to pass that we did stand before them with such firmness that they did flee from before us. 26 And it came to pass that when they had fled we did pursue them with our armies, and did meet them again, and did beat them; nevertheless the strength of the Lord was not with us; yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren.”
Sin is necessary
2 Nephi 2:25; “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”
Man is from dust of the earth
Mosiah 2:25; “And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.”
One of their prophets had to remind God how to build a ship properly so they could sail here to the Jewish “promised land” of America. This supposedly took place c. 2240 BC, which is the same timeframe of the Tower of Babel. Mind you this was before the Israelites were in existence. Abraham was born around 1800 BC.
Ether 2:20; “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.”
River Sidon, dead bodies and baptisms
There are times when the authors give you cryptic insights as to their location without divulging any geographical clues. Bodies were dumped “into the river” more than once.
Alma 2:34; “And thus he cleared the ground, or rather the bank, which was on the west of the river Sidon, throwing the bodies of the Lamanites who had been slain into the waters of Sidon, that thereby his people might have room to cross and contend with the Lamanites and the Amlicites on the west side of the river Sidon.”
Alma 4:4; “And they began to establish the church more fully; yea, and many were baptized in the waters of Sidon and were joined to the church of God…”
God stops communications
Many times one of the “authors” of a book will tell the reader that what God has shared with them is too holy or sacred to share with others, or they’ll let us know that someday maybe someone will be able to share the great things of their god with everyone.
2 Nephi 32:7; “And now I, Nephi, cannot say more; the Spirit stoppeth mine utterance, and I am left to mourn because of the unbelief, and the wickedness, and the ignorance, and the stiffneckedness of men; for they will not search knowledge, nor understand great knowledge, when it is given unto them in plainness, even as plain as word can be.”
Told to write because of his father – not inspired
On numerous occasions one of the “prophets” from the Book of Mormon will tell everyone it is through his own insight or the insight of his father he is writing the story he’s about to share. Obviously if it’s the idea of the author, it is not God-inspired.
1 Nephi 6:3; “And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of my father, for they cannot be written upon these plates, for I desire the room that I may write of the things of God.”
Omni 1:1; “Behold, it came to pass that I, Omni, being commanded by my father, Jarom, that I should write somewhat upon these plates, to preserve our genealogy—”
Jarom 1:1-2; “Now behold, I, Jarom, write a few words according to the commandment of my father, Enos, that our genealogy may be kept.”
Jacob 1:2; “And he gave me, Jacob, a commandment that I should write upon these plates a few of the things which I considered to be most precious…”
Moroni 10:1; “Now I, Moroni, write somewhat as seemeth me good; and I write unto my brethren, the Lamanites…”
Mormon 8:5; “Behold, my father hath made this record, and he hath written the intent thereof. And behold, I would write it also if I had room upon the plates, but I have not; and ore I have none, for I am alone.”
Not enough materials available to write “scripture”
Jarom 1:2; “And as these plates are small, and as these things are written for the intent of the benefit of our brethren the Lamanites, wherefore, it must needs be that I write a little; but I shall not write the things of my prophesying, nor of my revelations. For what could I write more than my fathers have written? For have not they revealed the plan of salvation? I say unto you, Yea; and this sufficeth me.”
Mormon 9:32-33; “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. 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 Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.”
Bereft of details
Unlike many bibles, there are no reputable concordances or dictionaries provided that could shed light on the meaning of names or places. Missing are the important stories of Jewish traditions of feasts or festivals in the Book of Mormon. Detailed accounts of how the priests performed sacrifices in any of the synagogues or temples are glaringly non-existent. Passover is nowhere to be found in the Book of Mormon. The sound of chirping crickets comes to mind when I think about detailed information in the Book of Mormon.
There is nothing to suggest anyone was keeping an orthodox covenant relationship with the One True God of the Bible. You will not read of one single account where the righteous Nephites were offering an animal sacrifice to God to cover for anyone’s sins.
Most of the fictional names for its cast of characters are not Hebrew. One has a Yankee name of Sam, at least two have Greek names (Timothy and John) and the rest are the product of Joseph Smith’s wild imagination.
Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni, Mormon, Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, Ether, Moroni, Seth, Sam, Samuel, Laman…for a complete list of names see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Book_of_Mormon_people
Words/phrases used at inappropriate times
Words and phrases are used inappropriately for the timeframe they’re supposedly living in, or they’re used excessively. An example of the latter is the word “exceedingly” being used 327 times and the Greek word Christ being used in the BC era 191 times. http://www.lifeafter.org/greeklatin.asp
2 Nephi 31:10; “And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?” – BC 559
Mosiah 5:9; “And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ.” – BC 124
Not a god of comfort
“And thus we see that except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him.”
That verse my friend, is a reflection of the kind of god they are worshipping. He’s a vindictive, malcontent, legalistic, brute of a god. The longer I’m out of Mormonism the more grateful I am for the One True God who saved me! I can’t see where any Mormon could find hope for themselves in any of the books, nor am I convinced they could stay awake while reading it.
Don’t worry about accuracy or history
The Church will tell you this is not a book about historical accuracy or figures.
Ensign, Jan. 1997, pgs 38; “Our primary focus in studying the Book of Mormon should be on the principles of the gospel anyway, not on the process by which the book came forth.” – Neal A. Maxwell
Boyd K. Packer, “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect”, 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259-271; “Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer… “There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not…Some things that are true are not very useful.”
They’ll tell you it’s a book that points more to the message of believing in Christ. If you can’t trust or believe in the historical aspect of this writing, how in the world could anyone believe in its message of redemption from the sinless, perfect God of the Bible?
“And it came to pass”
Below you’ll find a list of each time the phrase “and it came to pass” occurs.
See the article here http://www.lifeafter.org/cametopass.asp
We found it was used 1,384 times in 1,341 verses. And in case you’re wondering…there are 6,604 verses in the Book of Mormon*. Yeah, that means twenty percent of the verses in the Book of Mormon contains the phrase “and it came to pass”. Maybe Mark Twain was on to something…
For more interesting facts on words used in the Book of Mormon, see our article on Greek and Latin words, demonic names in the Book of Mormon and archaeological evidences in the Book of Mormon here:
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor. 1:18