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Response to "Difficult Questions for Mormons: Book of Mormon Style and Inconsistencies"

A FairMormon Analysis of: Difficult Questions for Mormons, a work by author: The Interactive Bible
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Difficult Questions for Mormons
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Response to claim: "If God was inspiring the translation process of the Book of Mormon, why were 4,000 changes necessary?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "If God was inspiring the translation process of the Book of Mormon, why were 4,000 changes necessary?"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

God did not dictate the translation word-for-word. The language of the translation was Joseph Smith's and Oliver Cowdery's, which included many spelling and grammatical errors. This does not change the message of the book.



Question: Why were textual changes made to the Book of Mormon over the years after it was first published?

The few significant modifications were made by the Prophet Joseph Smith to clarify the meaning of the text, not to change it

The published text of the Book of Mormon has been corrected and edited through its various editions. Many of these changes were made by Joseph Smith himself. Why was this done?

The authenticity of the Book of Mormon is not affected by the modifications that have been made to its text because the vast majority of those modifications are minor corrections in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. The few significant modifications were made by the Prophet Joseph Smith to clarify the meaning of the text, not to change it. This was his right as translator of the book.

These changes have not been kept secret. A discussion of them can be found in the individual articles linked below, and in the references listed below, including papers in BYU Studies and the Ensign.

Joseph Smith taught "the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book."[1] As the end of the preceding quote clarifies, by "most correct" this he meant in principle and teaching. The authors of the Book of Mormon themselves explained several times that their writing was imperfect, but that the teachings in the book were from God (1 Nephi 19:6; 2 Nephi 33:4; Mormon 8:17; Mormon 9:31-33; Ether 12:23-26).

There are over 100,000 insignificant changes that have been made to the Book of Mormon

If one counts every difference in every punctuation mark in every edition of the Book of Mormon, the result is well over 100,000 changes.[2] The critical issue is not the number of changes that have been made to the text, but the nature of the changes.

Most changes are insignificant modifications to spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and are mainly due to the human failings of editors and publishers. For example, the word meet — meaning "appropriate" — as it appears in 1 Nephi 7:1, was spelled "mete" in the first edition of the Book of Mormon, published in 1830. (This is a common error made by scribes of dictated texts.) "Mete" means to distribute, but the context here is obvious, and so the spelling was corrected in later editions.

Some of these typographical errors do affect the meaning of a passage or present a new understanding of it, but not in a way that presents a challenge to the divinity of the Book of Mormon. One example is 1 Nephi 12:18, which in all printed editions reads "a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God," while the manuscript reads "the sword of the justice of the Eternal God." In this instance, the typesetter accidentally dropped the s at the beginning of sword.

The current (1981) edition of the Book of Mormon has this notice printed at the bottom of the page opposite 1 Nephi, chapter 1:

Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Some Book of Mormon changes were corrections of transcription or printing errors.

There are a few significant changes that have been made to the Book of Mormon

Changes that would affect the authenticity of the Book of Mormon are limited to:

  • those that are substantive AND
    • could possibly change the doctrine of the book OR
    • could be used as evidence that the book was written by Joseph Smith.

There are surprisingly few meaningful changes to the Book of Mormon text, and all of them were made by Joseph Smith himself in editions published during his lifetime. These changes include:

The historical record shows that these changes were made to clarify the meaning of the text, not to alter it.

Many people in the church experience revelation that is to be dictated (such as a patriarch blessing). They will go back and alter their original dictation. This is done to clarify the initial premonitions received through the Spirit. The translation process for the Prophet Joseph may have occurred in a similar manner.


Response to claim: "Why do the stories and the characters in the Book of Mormon repeat with only minor variations in content and different names given to the characters?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Why do the stories and the characters in the Book of Mormon repeat with only minor variations in content and different names given to the characters? Example: Nephi and Moroni sound and act like the same character. "There were other Anti-Christs among the Nephites, but they were more military leaders than religious innovators . . . they are all of one breed and brand; so nearly alike that one mind is the author of them, and that a young and undeveloped, but piously inclined mind. The evidence I sorrowfully submit, points to Joseph Smith as their creator. It is difficult to believe that they are the product of history, that they come upon the scene separated by long periods of time, and among a race which was the ancestral race of the red man of America." (B. H. Roberts - Studies of the Book of Mormon, page 271)."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The critics are using B.H. Roberts' Studies of the Book of Mormon as if it represented his position. Roberts was playing "devils advocate" and proposing attacks that critics might use against the book. This was one of them. However, one might make the exact same accusation against the Bible. How does one determine that two characters "act like the same character?".



Response to claim: "Why was the Book of Mormon cast into the KJV style?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Why was the Book of Mormon cast into the KJV style? "...there is a continual use of the 'thee', 'thou' and 'ye', as well as the archaic verb endings 'est' (second person singular) and 'eth' (third person singular). Since the Elizabethan style was not Joseph's natural idiom, he continually slipped out of this King James pattern and repeatedly confused the norms as well. Thus he lapsed from 'ye' (subject) to 'you' (object) as the subject of sentences (e.g. 'Mos. 2:19; 3:34; 4:24), jumped from plural ('ye') to singular ('thou') in the same sentence (Mos. 4:22) and moved from verbs without endings to ones with endings (e.g. 'yields . . . putteth,' 3:19)." (The Use of the Old Testament in the Book of Mormon, by Wesley P. Walters, 1990, page 30)."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The Book of Mormon emulates the language and style of the King James Bible because that is the scriptural style that Joseph Smith, translator of the Book of Mormon, was familiar with.



Question: Does the Book of Mormon plagiarize the King James Bible?

The Book of Mormon emulates the language and style of the King James Bible because that is the scriptural style Joseph Smith, translator of the Book of Mormon, was familiar with

Critics of the Book of Mormon claim that major portions of it are copied, without attribution, from the Bible. They present this as evidence that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon by plagiarizing the Authorized ("King James") Version of the Bible.

Quotations from the Bible in the Book of Mormon are sometimes uncited quotes from Old Testament prophets on the brass plates, similar to the many unattributed Old Testament quotes in the New Testament; others are simply similar phrasing emulated by Joseph Smith during his translation.

Critics also fail to mention that even if all the Biblical passages were removed from the Book of Mormon, there would be a great deal of text remaining. Joseph Smith was able to produce long, intricate religious texts without using the Bible; if he was trying to deceive people, why did he "plagiarize" from the one book—the Bible—which his readership was sure to recognize?


Response to claim: "Was there a room full of plates in a secret chamber in the hill near Joseph's house as he and Brigham Young said?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Was there a room full of plates in a secret chamber in the hill near Joseph's house as he and Brigham Young said?"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The description of the room full of records in the Hill Cumorah is likely a vision of the actual Hill Cumorah that is described in the Book of Mormon. The drumlin called "Hill Cumorah" in New York is geologically incapable of supporting a cave such as the one described.



Question: Is there a cave in the Hill Cumorah containing the Nephite records?

Brigham Young related a story about how the plates were returned to Moroni in a cave in the Hill Cumorah

On June 17, 1877, Brigham Young related the following at a conference:

I believe I will take the liberty to tell you of another circumstance that will be as marvelous as anything can be. This is an incident in the life of Oliver Cowdery, but he did not take the liberty of telling such things in meeting as I take. I tell these things to you, and I have a motive for doing so. I want to carry them to the ears of my brethren and sisters, and to the children also, that they may grow to an understanding of some things that seem to be entirely hidden from the human family. Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates. Joseph did not translate all of the plates; there was a portion of them sealed, which you can learn from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: "This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ." [4]

The geologic unlikelihood of a cave existing within the drumlin in New York called "Hill Cumorah" suggests that the experience related by the various witnesses was most likely a vision

There are at least ten second hand accounts describing the story of the cave in Cumorah, however, Joseph Smith himself did not record the incident. [5] As mentioned previously, the Hill Cumorah located in New York state is a drumlin: this means it is a pile of gravel scraped together by an ancient glacier. The geologic unlikelihood of a cave existing within the hill such as the one described suggests that the experience related by the various witnesses was most likely a vision, or a divine transportation to another locale (as with Nephi's experience in 1 Nephi 11:1). John Tvedtnes supports this view:

The story of the cave full of plates inside the Hill Cumorah in New York is often given as evidence that it is, indeed, the hill where Mormon hid the plates. Yorgason quotes one version of the story from Brigham Young and alludes to six others collected by Paul T. Smith. Unfortunately, none of the accounts is firsthand. The New York Hill Cumorah is a moraine laid down anciently by a glacier in motion. It is comprised of gravel and earth. Geologically, it is impossible for the hill to have a cave, and all those who have gone in search of the cave have come back empty-handed. If, therefore, the story attributed to Oliver Cowdery (by others) is true, then the visits to the cave perhaps represent visions, perhaps of some far distant hill, not physical events.[6]

Given that the angel Moroni had retrieved the plates from Joseph several times previously, it is not unreasonable to assume that he was capable of transporting them to a different location than the hill in New York. As Tvedtnes asks, "If they could truly be moved about, why not from Mexico, for example?"[6]


Response to claim: "Why were clichéd Indian phrases like "Nine Moons" in (Omni 1:21) or "Great Spirit" in (Alma 19:25-27) included?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Why were clichéd Indian phrases like "Nine Moons" in (Omni 1:21) or "Great Spirit" in (Alma 19:25-27) included?"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Out of over five hundred pages, the appearance of two "clichéd Indian phrases" in the book is more likely be coincidence than design.



Response to claim: "How did the Jaredites come up with the same rare idea of writing on plates 2,000 years before Lehi when such a record keeping system is virtually unknown?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "How did the Jaredites come up with the same rare idea of writing on plates 2,000 years before Lehi when such a record keeping system is virtually unknown?"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The use of metal plates to record information among ancient cultures is not the anachronism that critics once claimed that it was.



Question: Is Joseph Smith's report of finding an ancient record on inscribed on metal plates plausible?

There are numerous examples of ancient writing on metal plates

When it first appeared, the Book of Mormon was attacked for the alleged absurdity of having been written on golden plates and its claim of the existence of an early sixth century B.C. version of the Hebrew Bible written on brass plates. Today, however, there are numerous examples of ancient writing on metal plates. Ironically, some now claim instead that knowledge of such plates was readily available in Joseph Smith's day. Hugh Nibley's 1952 observation seems quite prescient: "it will not be long before men forget that in Joseph Smith's day the prophet was mocked and derided for his description of the plates more than anything else." [7]

Pyrgi gold plates. Photo (C) 2014, William J. Hamblin, used with permission. These plates are religious texts dating to around 500 BC in Italy; one is written in Phoenician (= Paleo-Hebrew), and two in Etruscan. They are now in the Etruscan Museum in the Villa Giulia in Rome. The Phoenician text is in the middle. (Click to enlarge)
Pyrgi gold plates. Photo (C) 2014, William J. Hamblin, used with permission. This is a close-up of the middle plate (in Phoenician/Paleo-Hebrew). (Click to enlarge)

The Book of Mormon's description of sacred records written on bronze plates fits quite nicely in the cultural milieu of the ancient eastern Mediterranean

Recent reevaluation of the evidence now points to the fact that the Book of Mormon's description of sacred records written on bronze plates fits quite nicely in the cultural milieu of the ancient eastern Mediterranean.

One of the earliest known surviving examples of writing on "copper plates" are the Byblos Syllabic inscriptions (eighteenth century B.C.), from the city of Byblos on the Phoenician coast. The script is described as a "syllabary [which] is clearly inspired by the Egyptian hieroglyphic system, and in fact is the most important link known between the hieroglyphs and the Canaanite alphabet."[8]

It would not be unreasonable to describe the Byblos Syllabic texts as eighteenth century B.C. Semitic "bronze plates" written in "reformed Egyptian characters."[9]

Walter Burkert, in his study of the cultural dependence of Greek civilization on the ancient Near East, refers to the transmission of the practice of writing on bronze plates (Semitic root dlt) from the Phoenicians to the Greeks. "The reference to 'bronze deltoi [plates, from dlt ]' as a term [among the Greeks] for ancient sacral laws would point back to the seventh or sixth century [B.C.]" as the period in which the terminology and the practice of writing on bronze plates was transmitted from the Phoenicians to the Greeks.[10]

Students of the Book of Mormon will note that this is precisely the time and place in which the Book of Mormon claims that there existed similar bronze plates which contained the "ancient sacred laws" of the Hebrews, the close cultural cousins of the Phoenicians.

Burkert also maintains that "the practice of the subscriptio in particular connects the layout of later Greek books with cuneiform practice, the indication of the name of the writer/author and the title of the book right at the end, after the last line of the text; this is a detailed and exclusive correspondence which proves that Greek literary practice is ultimately dependent upon Mesopotamia. It is necessary to postulate that Aramaic leather scrolls formed the connecting link."[11]

It would be counterintuitive in the 19th century to place the "title page" at the end of the book, yet this was an authentic ancient practice

Joseph Smith wrote that "the title page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated."[12]

This idea would have been counterintuitive in the early nineteenth century when "Title Pages" appeared at the beginning, not the end, of books.

Why, then, did Joseph claim the Book of Mormon practiced subscriptio—writing the name of the author and title at the end of the book? If the existence of the practice of subscriptio among the Greeks represents "a detailed and exclusive correspondence which proves that Greek literary practice is ultimately dependent upon Mesopotamia [via Syria]," as Burkert claims, cannot the same thing be said of the Book of Mormon—that the practice of subscriptio represents "a detailed and exclusive correspondence" which offers proof that the Book of Mormon is "ultimately dependent" on the ancient Near East?


William J. Adams Jr. (1994): "These incidences raise the question: Did others in Lehi's Jerusalem inscribe records on metal plates?"

William J. Adams Jr.,

Lehi sent his sons back to Jerusalem to obtain scriptures engraved on "brass plates" (1 Nephi 3 and 4). Later we read that Lehi and his son, Nephi, kept records on metal "plates" (1 Nephi 6 and 9). These incidences raise the question: Did others in Lehi's Jerusalem inscribe records on metal plates?

The use of metal plates upon which records are inscribed is fairly well attested throughout the Middle and Far East from many centuries before to many centuries after Lehi, but none so far appear to be from Lehi's seventh-century BC Judea.

This lack of metal inscriptions from Judea could be interpreted to mean that (1) Judeans did not write on metal plates, or (2) archaeology has not found artifacts which would support the practice of writing on metal plates in seventh-century BC Jerusalem. Alternative 2 seems to have been the problem, for inscribed silver plates have been excavated only recently.[13]


Sidney B. Sperry (1995): "Questions arise as to how Jeremiah's prophecies appeared on the brass plates"

Sidney B. Sperry,

Most contemporary Old Testament scholars question whether Moses wrote the Pentateuch, but the Book of Mormon affirms Moses' authorship. Questions arise as to how Jeremiah's prophecies appeared on the brass plates and what the nature of the Book of the Law was. According to the brass plates Laban and Lehi were descendants of Manasseh. How then did they come to be living in Jerusalem? The brass plates, on which may be found lost scripture, may have been the official scripture of the ten tribes.[14]


Question: What examples exist of writing on gold or other metal plates from around the ancient world?

Majority of references in this section courtesy of researcher Ted Jones.

Burma

  • gold plate in Burma, 6th century AD[15]

China

  • King of Wu found a writing on golden tablets but could not read it. He sent it to Confucius. It was a text of Ling Pao, given by Celestial Officials to the early sage. It dealt with the method of obtaining a long life.[16]
  • An example from China circa 300 BC:
"How do we know that the former sage Six Kings personally practiced it [the Tao]? Master Mo-Tzu says: It is not that I was alive in their time and personally heard their voices, saw their faces; I know it by what they wrote on bamboo and silk, inscribed on metal and stone, carved on vessels, to pass down to their descendants of future generations." [17]

India

There are many examples from India:

  • President Anthony W. Ivins said:
A few days ago I received a letter from Dr. John A. Widtsoe who at present presides over the European mission. Among other things he says:
"Last fall as I was leaving London I spent an hour in the British museum almost at random. I entered the large room devoted to oriental manuscripts. I noticed at once in the first case to the right a series of very fine silver plates, perhaps three inches wide and eight inches long, held together by a silver ring. The plates were beautifully engraved with characters which the legend said gave Buddha's first sermon. In the next case was a sheet of extremely thin gold likewise engraved on both sides, which according to the legend was a letter from one ruler to another."[18]
  • "Copper and gold plates were early and often used" in India.[19]
  • Multiple references to copper plates contained in Indian Historical Quarterly[20]
  • Taxila silver plate inscription; found in chapel near a stupa (ca 50 AD); one foot below floor, steatite vessel with silver vase inside; with silver scroll in vase and gold casket with relics in vase; heavy stone placed over deposit.[21]
  • Taxila gold plate inscription: 'Do not fear....The mind (cittam) that is for a long time saturated/invigorated/enlivened by faith (saddhaparibhavitam), by morality, learning, renunciation and wisdom (sila, suta, caga, panna), goes upwards, goes to distinction (uddhagami, visesagami)'[22]
  • single gold leaf from Taxila, 14 lines of 100-132 aksaras [letters] each 'which seems improbable'; dated to first half of first century AD. 'The most serious problems in reading arise not from the scribe's mistakes, but from the damage done to the gold leaf where it was folded.'[23]
  • "Buddhist tradition records that the Canon was inscribed on sheets of gold in Ceylon in 88 BC....None of these has survived."[24]
  • Losty describes and shows a photo of a treaty between Zamorins of Calicut and the Dutch East India Company of 1691, on a gold strip 2.03m long. [25]
  • "A treaty between the King of Ava and the Portuguese was written on a leaf or plate of gold enclosed in an ivory box."[26]
  • The largest copper plate so far found is 55 plates weighing 216 pounds, over 2500 lines, dated AD 1024 (copper plates are very common in India).[27]
  • The Buddha's teachings were inscribed on gold plates.[28]
  • Prajnaparamita sutra (Buddhist Mahayana text) written on gold plates and placed in a box in a stupa (large burial mounds).[29]
  • woman writes letter to her lover on gold plates (pattrikama­likhya)[30]
  • says this term can refer to gold plate says this term can refer to gold plate inscribed with invitations to his annaprasana ceremony (first feeding of a newborn) by Gangagovinda Simha, for his grandson, ca. 1800 AD.[31]
  • Buddhist monk Bimbisara sent king Tissa the paticcasamuppada text on a gold plate. Tissa renounced his kingdom and went to the Buddha.[32]
  • 8 questions written during Kassapa Buddha's time; to see if Gotama (the historical Buddha) would give the same answers.[33]
  • King writes dhamma (Buddhist doctrines) for a friend, as a gift. Enclosed in many caskets.[34]
  • Bimbisara sent Pukkhasati a gold plate inscribed with the Satipatthana, the 8 fold path, 37 factors of enlightenment, the importance of taking faith in the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha (community). Pukkhasati was converted.[35]
  • A translation of the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta (S 5.420) 'foundation of the kingdom of Righteousness' on a silver plate.[36]
  • "A book of 24 thick golden leaves bound together by a copper wire was found from the Dhamdoha tank and melted down.'[37]
  • "The Buddhists mention here and there the writing, not only of documents, but also of verses and maxims, on gold plates. A gold plate with a votive inscription has also been preserved to us."[38]
  • The king of Ceylon in the tenth century AD had the Dhamma­samgani engraved, and taken to vihara (temple) where he worshiped it.[39]
  • found under floor of temple; 'in pure massive gold' (298); with burnt bones of a human being; Pali text (early Buddhist), but in modern characters (308); 'gold leaf scroll;' 'golden scroll' (299); 'inscription on the gold band' (302); offerings made to aid release and attainment of nibbana (nirvana); places trust 'in the excellent god' (i.e. Buddha); 'May my wife be together with me after I become a Buddha.' (303)[40]
  • Jambuka inscribed the Buddhist dharma on a gold plate.[41]
  • Chinese Buddhist monk Hieun Tsiang (600AD) says King Kaniska (100AD) caused sacred scriptures to be engraved on sheets of copper, and enclosed in a stone box in a stupa.[42]
  • Buddhist jataka tales (of the Buddha's previous lives) refer to inscriptions of important family records of wealthy merchants, royal edicts, poetic verses and moral maxims, on gold plates (suvannapatta: Jat 4.7; SnA 228, 578; DhA 4.89).[43]
  • Buddhist monk Buddhaghosa of Sri Lanka (Ceylon: 5th century AD translator) gives a description of a stupa built by and during reign of King Ajatasatru (contemporary of the historical Buddha; 500 BC) for hoarding relics. Included was a 'prophecy inscribed on a gold plate to the effect that King Asoka (250 BC) would in time to come spread these relics far and wide.'[44]

Laws of Manu, states that land grants were to be written on copper plates.[45]

  • A Copper-plate Hoard of the Gupta Period form Bagh. 27 copper plates found July 1982, “in huge copper container covered with a copper lid” “neatly arranged copper sheets”, covering an 87 year span, and five rulers (ix-v) Plate # 8, year 55, refers to forgery of previous grant and editors suggest the hoard may have been hidden together to prevent future forgeries (xviii) “Having heard of the forged grant deed, this charter was produced in sequel and got written. [The King’s] own order” (19, line 9) This grant is to last “permanently, until moon, sun and stars last” Also hereditary from son to grandson and so on Plate 1: Bhulunda grant year 47 King Bhulunda has great compassion towards all living beings; great love, devotion and attachment to Visnu, Lord of suras and asuras ; Visnus arrows spill blood of enemies of the gods; broke the pride of Bali, Namauci, Ravana et al; and the boar avatara…. Plate 11 Bhulunda, year 57 Village given to [authorities of the four vedas] of various families and clans; and are performing voews, austerities, studying…Appendix Plate 1, Bhulunda year 38 “… the order was recounted at the request of the assembly of the brahmanas, on our own verbal direction was put down on the copper plate” (61-2)Plate 25, year 127 Grant is given “for the growth of my merit”, 54, line 4 “The original writing in ink must have contained the usual word samanumantavyam [instead of satamuvanu]. Parts of the writing must have got inadvertently erased and the engraver must have engraved upon the preserved portions of the letters leading to the present reading.” (13, note 1).[46]

Persia

  • gold tablet of Darius[47]


Response to claim: "Why include the ridiculous prayer of the Zoramites in Alma 31?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Why include the ridiculous prayer of the Zoramites in Alma 31?"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The "ridiculous" prayer of the Zoramaties was included specifically to illustrate that it was ridiculous.



Response to claim: "Why is the Passover mentioned 71 times in the Bible, but -0- times in the Book of Mormon?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Why is the Passover mentioned 71 times in the Bible, but -0- times in the Book of Mormon?"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The Passover is mentioned so many times in the Bible not only because the Bible tells the story about how the event came to be, but also because it is also an important event to the Jews. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, is documenting an entirely different people. If they practiced the Passover (as would be required by the Law of Moses), the writers did not see any need to discuss it.



Response to claim: "How did Book of Mormon characters get the priesthood when they weren't from the tribe of Levi?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "How did Book of Mormon characters get the priesthood when they weren't from the tribe of Levi?"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The priesthood described in the Book of Mormon is not the Aaronic Priesthood, but the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Book of Mormon does not state how the priesthood was received. As we know from the description of how Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery obtained the priesthood, it is entirely possible that certain individuals received it through angelic ministration and then passed it down through the laying on of hands.



Question: Where did Alma the Elder get the legitimate priesthood authority to baptize at the waters of Mormon?

There were none of the tribe of Levi among them, therefore it was by virtue of the Melchizedek Priesthood that they officiated

In Mosiah, Alma the Elder teaches the words of Abinadi, and assembles a small group of believers, whom he baptizes:

And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart. And when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world. And after Alma had said these words, both Alma and Helam were buried in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit. And again, Alma took another, and went forth a second time into the water, and baptized him according to the first, only he did not bury himself again in the water (Mosiah 18:12–15).

Since Alma had been a wicked priest of King Noah, where did he receive the legitimate priesthood authority to baptize?

President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

We should take into consideration in the study of the Book of Mormon the fact that it is an abridgment taken from the records or history that had been kept by the prophets among the Nephites. Therefore, many of the details are lacking. This is equally true of the history of Israel as it has come down through the years to us in the Bible. We are left to accept the fact that Lehi, when he left Jerusalem, held divine authority and that this divine power was handed down from generation to generation until the time of the visitation of the Savior. Moreover, while the detail is lacking, the evidence is very clear that the Melchizedek Priesthood was possessed by the Nephites.

There were none of the tribe of Levi among them, therefore it was by virtue of the Melchizedek Priesthood that they officiated. There are many passages in the Book of Mormon in which reference is given to the Holy Priesthood. We should also remember that the record that we have received is an abridgment, and therefore many of the details are of necessity missing. Moreover, we are informed that many important things have been withheld from us because of the hardness of our hearts and our unwillingness, as members of the Church, to abide in the covenants or seek for divine knowledge.

In the case of Alma and his priesthood, we are left to surmise that he legally and divinely received it before the days of King Noah. We read that Zeniff, the father of Noah, was a righteous man. Alma evidently received the priesthood in the days of Zeniff, and at no time did he fully accept the teachings nor with full purpose follow the counsels and procedure of Noah and his wicked priests…

Just at what time Alma received the priesthood is not clearly stated, but we may presume that it occurred before Noah came to the throne. Moreover, we must also conclude that Alma at no time truly entered into the wickedness of this wicked king…

Where did Alma get his authority? Evidently he obtained it when he received the priesthood, which through his repentance he had not lost. There can be no serious question in relation to his authority, for it is written – “And it came to pass that Alma; having authority from God, ordained priests; even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to teach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Mosiah 18:18).[48]

LDS author Daniel C. Peterson wrote in a similar vein:

The case of Alma brings up at least two interesting questions: (1) Were the priests of Noah legitimate holders of legitimate priesthood, and (2) Where did Alma get his authority? We have to assume Alma and his one-time colleagues were ordained validly by Noah (Mosiah 11:5), who was also ordained validly by his father, Zeniff. The fact that Noah was not righteous after he was ordained and that Alma himself was part of Noah’s priestly group during his early ministry has nothing to do with Alma’s priesthood authority. Until superior priesthood authority withdraws permission to exercise priestly functions, a legitimately ordained holder of the priesthood continues to hold valid priesthood-however unrighteous he may be, however dead to spiritual promptings, and however unlikely it may be that he will ever actually exercise his priesthood.[49]

Alma, in fact, claimed to have authority from God (Mosiah 18:13), a claim which Mormon implicitly acknowledges as valid (Mosiah 18:18). Alma was a descendant of Nephi (Mosiah 17:2), a fact which may or may not be significant in discussing his priesthood authority since we do not know precisely how the priesthood functioned or was apportioned among the Nephites. Certainly most, if not in fact all, of the priests and kings of whom we know anything in the Book of Mormon up to this point were of the lineage of Nephi. Furthermore, in the power vacuum left by the absence of king Noah, the people implored Alma to assume the royal title and prerogatives (Mosiah 23:6). He turned down the title, but out of necessity, he did carry out some kingly duties. Alma ordained priests and teachers for his outcast people, among whom he was in fact the sole human source of authority (Mosiah 18:18; 23:17).[50]


Response to claim: "Why was Shakespeare used?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Why was Shakespeare used?"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Shakespeare wasn't "used" in the writing of the Book of Mormon. The passages which suggest Shakespeare are better explained by other ancient parallels.



Question: Did Joseph Smith plagiarize Shakespeare?

Book of Mormon Central, KnoWhy #26: Did Lehi Quote Shakespeare? (Video)

The passages which suggest Shakespeare are better explained by other ancient parallels

It is claimed that Joseph Smith plagiarized Shakespeare in order to write portions of The Book of Mormon. However, there is no evidence that Joseph had read Priest's book. Even so, there is so little of it that has parallels with the Book of Mormon that this would provide a forger with little help. The passages which suggest Shakespeare are better explained by other ancient parallels; in any case, these passages provide very little that would assist in writing the Book of Mormon.

Whence no traveler returns

The Wonders of Nature(1825) Book of Mormon Other similar phrases
I then requested him to leave me, as my time was short, and I had some preparation to make before I went hence to "that bourne from whence no traveller returns." (p. 469) "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. " (2 Nephi 1:14)
  • "That undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns." (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1)
  • He is gone to that bourne from whence no traveller returns. (Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, (1838-1839)
  • Let me alone that I may take comfort a little, before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death." (Job 10:20-21.)
  • When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return. (Job 16:22.)

The phrase "from whence no traveller returns" quoted by Josiah Priest is from Shakspeare's Hamlet. Therefore, an alternate criticism is the Joseph Smith plagiarized this line from Hamlet.

B.H. Roberts

B.H. Roberts notes that the critic "fairly revels in the thought that he has Lehi quoting Shakespeare many generations before our great English poet was born; and indulges in the sarcasms which Campbell and more than a score of anti-Mormon writers have indulged in who have mimicked his phraseology." Roberts notes that the Book of Job, contained in the Jewish scriptures that Lehi certainly would have been familiar with, contains two passages "which could easily have supplied both Shakespeare and Lehi with the idea of that country 'from whose bourn no traveler returns.'" In other words, Lehi could have obtained his idea from the same source from which Shakespeare obtained the inspiration for his phrase. Roberts concludes:

It will be observed that the passage from the Book of Mormon follows Job more closely than it does Shakespeare both in thought and diction; and this for the reason, doubtless, that Lehi had been impressed with Job's idea of going to the land whence he would not return, and Joseph Smith, being familiar with Job, and very likely not familiar with Shakespeare, when he came to Lehi's thought, expressed it nearly in Job's phraseology...Lehi lived in Judea in the seventh and sixth century, B.C. He was acquainted with the Hebrew scriptures, including the book of Job, and when he departed from Jerusalem for the western world his colony took with them those same scriptures. Through them he became familiar in the Hebrew with Job's--"Let me alone, that I may take comfort a little before I go whence I shall not return." Also Job's--"When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return." When Lehi's own hour of departure hence had come, impressed with this solemn thought of Job's, he gave expression to it in Hebrew. The saying was recorded by his son Nephi in the Egyptian characters employed by him in making his record. Observe that we have traced these ideas of the "land whence I shall not return" into the Nephite records without the aid of the English Bible or Shakespeare.[51]

Hugh Nibley

Wrote Hugh Nibley:

No passage in the Book of Mormon has been more often singled out for attack than Lehi's description of himself as one "whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return" (2 Nephi 1:14). This passage has inspired scathing descriptions of the Book of Mormon as a mass of stolen quotations "from Shakespeare and other English poets." Lehi does not quote Hamlet directly, to be sure, for he does not talk of "that undiscovered country, from whose bourne no traveler returns," but simply speaks of "the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return." In mentioning the grave, the eloquent old man cannot resist the inevitable "cold and silent" nor the equally inevitable tag about the traveler—a device that, with all respect to Shakespeare, Lehi's own contemporaries made constant use of. Long ago Friedrich Delitzsch wrote a classic work on ancient Oriental ideas about death and afterlife, and a fitting title of his book was Das Land ohne Heimkehr—"The Land of No Return." In the story of Ishtar's descent to the underworld, the lady goes to the irsit la tari, "the land of no return." She visits "the dark house from which no one ever comes out again" and travels along "the road on which there is no turning back." A recent study of Sumerian and Akkadian names for the world of the dead lists prominently "the hole, the earth, the land of no return, the path of no turning back, the road whose course never turns back, the distant land, etc." A recently discovered fragment speaks of the grave as "the house of Irkallu, where those who have come to it are without return. . . . A place whose dead are cast in the dust, in the direction of darkness . . . [going] to the place where they who came to it are without return."
This is a good deal closer to Lehi's language than Shakespeare is. The same sentiments are found in Egyptian literature, as in a popular song which tells how "the gods that were aforetime rest in their pyramids. . . . None cometh again from thence that he may tell of their state. . . . Lo, none may take his goods with him, and none that hath gone may come again." A literary text reports: "The mockers say, 'The house of the inhabitants of the Land of the West is deep and dark; it has no door and no window. . . . There the sun never rises but they lie forever in the dark.' "
Shakespeare should sue; but Lehi, a lover of poetic imagery and high-flown speech, can hardly be denied the luxury of speaking as he was supposed to speak. The ideas to which he here gives such familiar and conventional expression are actually not his own ideas about life after death—nor Nephi's nor Joseph Smith's, for that matter, but they are the ideas which any eloquent man of Lehi's day, with a sound literary education such as Lehi had, would be expected and required to use. And so the most popular and obvious charge of fraud against the Book of Mormon has backfired.[52]


Response to claim: "What was the purpose in Moroni taking the plates back?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "What was the purpose in Moroni taking the plates back? Similarly, what ever happened to the parchment written by John of the New Testament? (D&C 7) Why weren't the supposed writings of Abraham (which were actually common A.D. funerary texts) also taken similarly back?"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Moroni took the plates back in order to preserve the sealed portion of the record, which would be revealed at a later time. The parchment written by John was never physically in the possession of Joseph Smith, so we do not know its location or status - it was viewed in a vision. The Joseph Smith papyri fragments that have been discovered to date do not contain the writings of Abraham, therefore there is no reason to "take them back."



Response to claim: "Why did Joseph's own accounts confuse whether he was visited by Moroni or Nephi?"

The author(s) of Difficult Questions for Mormons make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: "Why did Joseph's own accounts confuse whether he was visited by Moroni or Nephi. "He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi." (J. Smith - Times & Seasons Vol. 3, p. 753 1842) also (J. Smith 1851 PoGP p. 41)."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Joseph wasn't "confused". This change in name occurred to a typographical error that was propagated through several documents until it was corrected. The name "Moroni" predates the usage of the name "Nephi."



Question: Did Joseph Smith originally identify the angel that visited him as "Nephi" instead of "Moroni"?

The text in question

The text in question reads as follows:

While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in the room which continued to increase untill the room was lighter than at noonday and <when> immediately a personage <appeared> at my bedside standing in the air for his feet did not touch the floor. He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. It was a whiteness beyond any <thing> earthly I had ever seen, nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceeding[g]ly white and brilliant, His hands were naked and his arms also a little above the wrists. So also were his feet naked as were his legs a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open so that I could see into his bosom. Not only was his robe exceedingly white but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. When I first looked upon him I was afraid, but the fear soon left me. He called me by name and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me and that his name was Nephi....(emphasis added)[53]

Orson Pratt would later observe:

The discrepency in the history … may have occurred through the ignorance or carelessness of the historian or transcriber. It is true, that the history reads as though the Prophet himself recorded [it, that he] was [doing the] writing: but … many events recorded were written by his scribes who undoubtedly trusted too much to their memories, and the items probably were not sufficiently scanned by Bro. Joseph, before they got into print.[54]

The identity of the angel that appeared to Joseph Smith in his room in 1823 was published as "Moroni" for many years prior to the erroneous identification of the angel as "Nephi"

The Church teaches that Moroni was the heavenly messenger which appeared to Joseph Smith and directed him to the gold plates. Yet, some Church sources give the identity of this messenger as Nephi. Some claim that this shows that Joseph was 'making it up as he went along.' One critic even claims that if the angel spoke about the plates being "engraven by Moroni," then he couldn't have been Moroni himself.

The identity of the angel that appeared to Joseph Smith in his room in 1823 and over the next four years was known and published as "Moroni" for many years prior to the publication of the first identification of the angel as "Nephi" in the Times and Seasons in 1842. Even an anti-Mormon publication, Mormonism Unvailed, identified the angel's name as "Moroni" in 1834—a full eight years earlier. All identifications of the angel as "Nephi" subsequent to the 1842 Times and Seasons article were using the T&S article as a source. These facts have not been hidden; they are readily acknowledged in the History of the Church:

In the original publication of the history in the Times and Seasons at Nauvoo, this name appears as "Nephi," and the Millennial Star perpetuated the error in its republication of the History. That it is an error is evident, and it is so noted in the manuscripts to which access has been had in the preparation of this work. [55]

Joseph F. Smith and Orson Pratt understood the problem more than a century ago, when they wrote in 1877 to John Taylor:

"The contradictions in regard to the name of the angelic messenger who appeared to Joseph Smith occurred probably through the mistakes of clerks in making or copying documents and we think should be corrected. . . . From careful research we are fully convinced that Moroni is the correct name. This also was the decision of the former historian, George A. Smith." [56]

The timeline of events related to the "Nephi/Moroni" error

The following time-line illustrates various sources that refer to the angel, and whether the name "Moroni" or "Nephi" was given to them.

As can be readily seen, the "Nephi" sources all derive from a single manuscript and subsequent copies. On the other hand, a variety of earlier sources (including one hostile source) use the name "Moroni," and these are from a variety of sources.

Details about each source are available below the graphic. Readers aware of other source(s) are encouraged to contact FairMormon so they can be included here.

Nephi or Moroni Timeline.PNG

This is not an example of Joseph Smith changing his story over time, but an example of a detail being improperly recorded by someone other than the Prophet, and then reprinted uncritically. Clear contemporary evidence from Joseph and his enemies—who would have seized upon any inconsistency had they known about it—shows that "Moroni" was the name of the heavenly messenger BEFORE the 1838 and 1839 histories were recorded.


Notes

  1. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 2:139. ISBN 0941214133. Quoted in Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 4:461. Volume 4 link See also Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 194. off-site
  2. Royal Skousen, "Changes In the Book of Mormon," 2002 FAIR Conference proceedings.
  3. Daniel K. Judd and Allen W. Stoddard, "Adding and Taking Away 'Without a Cause' in Matthew 5:22," in How the New Testament Came to Be, ed. Kent P. Jackson and Frank F. Judd Jr. (Provo and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, 2006),159-160.
  4. Brigham Young, "TRYING TO BE SAINTS, etc.," (June 17, 1877) Journal of Discourses 19:38.
  5. Cameron J. Packer, "Cumorah's Cave," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 13/1 (2004): 50–57. off-site wiki
  6. 6.0 6.1 John A. Tvedtnes, "Review of Little Known Evidences of the Book of Mormon by Brenton G. Yorgason," FARMS Review of Books 2/1 (1990): 258–259. off-site
  7. Hugh W. Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, the World of the Jaredites, There Were Jaredites, edited by John W. Welch with Darrell L. Matthew and Stephen R. Callister, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), 107.
  8. See Byblos is only about 170 miles north of Jerusalem.
  9. Hugh W. Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, the World of the Jaredites, There Were Jaredites, edited by John W. Welch with Darrell L. Matthew and Stephen R. Callister, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988),105–6. Nibley mentions these plates, which were not deciphered until 1985.
  10. Walter Burkert, translated by Walter Burkert and Margaret E. Pinder, The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age (Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1992), 30. ISBN 0674643631.
  11. Walter Burkert, The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age, 32.
  12. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:71. Volume 1 link (emphasis added)
  13. William J. Adams Jr., "Lehi's Jerusalem and Writing on Metal Plates," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3:1 (1994)
  14. Sidney B. Sperry, "Some Problems of Interest Relating to the Brass Plates," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 4:1 (1995)
  15. Sircar, Select Inscriptions, 493-5; cf. Epigraphica Indica 5: 101
  16. JAOS 106 (1986): 72 ff.
  17. A. C. Graham, Disputers of the Tao: Philosophical Argument in Ancient China (Open Court (1989): 52. Also available in Sources of Chinese Tradition, compiled by Wm. Theodore de Bary, Wing-tsit Chan, Burton Watson (Columbia University Press 1960): 45.
  18. Anthony W. Ivins, Conference Report (April 1929), 14.
  19. Thomas W. Rhys Davids, Buddhist India, 123-4
  20. Vol. 2 (1926): 77, 313; Vol. 3 (1927): 89; Vol. 4 (128): 31, 637, 425, 203; Vol. 6 (1930): 45, 60; Vol. 8 (1932): 305; Vol. 9 (1933) : 282, 943; Vol. 10 (1934): 54, 100, 473; Vol. 11(1935): 300, 611; passim. cf. Epigraphica Indica, passim.
  21. Sten Konow, "Taxila Inscription of the year 136," in Epigraphica Indica xiv (1917-8): 284-295
  22. Sutta Nikaya 5.369-70; cf. Louis de laValle Poussin, L'Abhidharmakosa 1.971; II 95, note 1 cf. Franklin Edgerton, "The Hour of Death," Annals of the Bandarkar Oriental Research Institute 8 (1927): 225, 227; referred to in Gregory Schopen, "On the Buddha and his Bones," JAOS 108 (1988): 532; cf. Richard Salomen, "The Inscription of Senavarma, King of Odi," Indo-Iranian Journal 29 (1986): 261-93; cf. JRAS 1980.
  23. BEFEO 1982.
  24. Jeremiah P. Losty, The Art of the Book in India (1982): 9-10.
  25. Losty, Art of the Book in India, 10.
  26. A. C. Burnell, Elements of South Indian Paleography, 93, note 1.
  27. Losty, The Art of the Book in India, 10.
  28. CAF Rhys Davids, Psalms of the Brethren, 90 ff., and note 1
  29. Edward Conze, translator, The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand lines and its verse Summary (Calif. 1973), 288.
  30. Dandin, Dasakumaracaritam, 35.
  31. Monier Williams, Sanskrit English Dictionary 581b; cited in Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 8 (1966): 243
  32. Thag 97; ThagA 1.199.
  33. SnA 1.228, on Alavaka Sutta
  34. SnA 2.575 ff., on Katthavahana.
  35. MA 2.979 ff.
  36. TW Rhys Davids, Buddhist Suttas (Harvard Oriental Series): 139.
  37. NK Bhattasali, Iconography of Buddhist and Brahmanical Sculptures in the Dacca Museum, Dacca (1929): x.
  38. Morice Winternitz, History of Indian Literature I (1962): 33.
  39. Winternitz, History of Indian Literature II: 167, quoted in CAF Rhys Davids, Buddhist Manual of Psychology and Ethics: xxv.
  40. Colonel Sykes, "Account of some Golden Relics discovered at Rangoon....," Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 17 (1860): 298-308
  41. Tesakuma Jataka (#521) (5.109-25; cf. 1.177; 6.94)
  42. George Buhler, Indian Paleography: 115; also in Edward Thomas, The History of Buddhist Thought: 175; and in TW Rhys Davids, Buddhism (1887): 239; such was found in a stupa erected at site of the Buddha's death, in George Malalasekhera, Dictionary of Pali Proper Names 1: 655 (from CAGI 1.714)
  43. Ruru jataka; Kurudhamma jataka; Tesakumjataka; in Pandey, Indian Paleography: 78
  44. Sumangala Vilasini, in B.M. Barua, "Stupa and Tomb," in Indian Historical Quarterly 2 (1926): 26.
  45. Recent translation is by Wendy Doniger (O’Flaherty) in Penguin Classics
  46. Madhya Pradesh, ed. K. V. Ramesh and S. P. Tewari (Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 1990).
  47. D.C. Sircar, Select Inscriptions Bearing on Indian History and Civilization, Vol. I (1965), 8; cf. JAOS 51: 229-30; JRAS (1926): 433-6; S. Sen, Old Persian Inscriptions, 114.
  48. Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols., (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1957–1966), 4:161–162. ISBN 1573454400. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  49. Peterson inserts a footnote here, writing: The ancient Christian church faced this problem in the form of the Donatist schism, which was finally declared heretical in AD 405. The Donatists held that unrighteousness in a bishop or priest invalidated any and all ordinances that he might have performed. However, the Synod of Aries determined in AD 314. that the validity of baptisms and ordinations and the like did not depend upon the worthiness or merit of the officiator. (On the Donatists, and the related Novatianist and Meletian movements, see Christie-Murray 96–97.) Granted, the Christian church at this period was essentially apostate, but Latter-day Saints take basically the same position, and for good reason. If serious sin, as such, invalidated priesthood ordinances, we could never know whose marriage was legal, or who was really a member of the Church. Did the man who ordained you to the priesthood have a secret, unrepented sin? If he did, your ordination is invalid. Your mission was illegitimate, any converts you baptized are actually non-members, and you are living in adultery since you should never have been admitted to the temple. Any of your converts who served missions and baptized are similarly fraudulent, and the consequences ripple onward and outward in utterly unforeseeable ways. How could we ever be sure of anything?"
  50. Daniel C. Peterson, "Priesthood in Mosiah," in The Book of Mormon: Mosiah, Salvation Only Through Christ, edited by Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr. (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1991), 187–210.
  51. Brigham H. Roberts, "A Brief Debate on the Book of Mormon," in Defense of the Faith and the Saints, 2 vols. (1907), 1:333. Vol 1 GL direct link Vol 2 GL direct link
  52. Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), 276–277.
  53. JS, History, 1838–1856, vol. A-1, created 11 June 1839–24 Aug. 1843; handwriting of James Mulholland, Robert B. Thompson, William W. Phelps, and Willard Richards; 553 pages, plus 16 pages of addenda; CHL, p. 5; also reproduced in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 1:62.
  54. Orson Pratt to John Christensen, 11 March 1876, Orson Pratt Letterbook, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah; cited in Dean C. Jessee (editor), The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Vol. 1 of 2) (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1989), 277n1. ISBN 0875791999 and Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 1:62n28.
  55. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:11–12, footnote 2. Volume 1 link
  56. Letter, Orson Pratt and Joseph F. Smith to John Taylor, 18 December 1877; cited in Dean C. Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith: Autobiographical and Historical Writings (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989), 1:277, nt. 1.