Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Chapter 4

Table of Contents

Response to claims made in "Chapter 4: Smith's Golden Book"

A FairMormon Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods, a work by author: Richard Abanes
Claim Evaluation
One Nation Under Gods
Chart one nation under gods chapter 4.jpg

Response to claims made in One Nation Under Gods, "Chapter 4: Smith's Golden Book"

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Response to claim: 62 (HB,PB) - Were the Lamanites were cursed with a "skin of blackness"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Were the Lamanites were cursed with a "skin of blackness?"

Author's sources: Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 73 2 Nephi 5:21-24

FairMormon Response

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

That is what the Book of Mormon states. However, there is a spiritual element to this which is often overlooked by critics of Mormonism.



Question: What was the Lamanite curse?

The Book of Mormon talks of a curse being placed upon the Lamanites

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. 2 Nephi 5:21

It is claimed by some that the Church believed that Lamanites who accepted the Gospel would become light-skinned, and that "Mormon folklore" claims that Native Americans and Polynesians carry a curse based upon "misdeeds on the part of their ancestors."

One critic asks, "According to the Book of Mormon a dark skin is a curse imposed by God on the unrighteous and their descendants as a punishment for sin. Do you agree with that doctrine? (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 12:22-23, Alma 3:6, 2 Nephi 5:21-22, Jacob 3:8, 3 Nephi 2:15-16, Mormon 5:15; references to the "Lamanites" are taken to be referring to Native American "Indians".)" [1]

Although the curse of the Lamanites is often associated directly with their skin color, it may be that this was intended in a far more symbolic sense than modern American members traditionally assumed

The curse itself came upon them as a result of their rejection of the Gospel. It was possible to be subject to the curse, and to be given a mark, without it being associated with a change in skin color, as demonstrated in the case of the Amlicites. The curse is apparently a separation from the Lord. A close reading of the Book of Mormon text makes it untenable to consider that literal skin color was ever the "curse." At most, the skin color was seen as a mark, and it may well have been that these labels were far more symbolic and cultural than they were literal.


Response to claim: 62 (HB,PB) - Were the "so-called American Indians" considered a "filthy, and a loathsome people"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Were the "so-called American Indians" considered a "filthy, and a loathsome people?"

Author's sources: *Mormon 5:15

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 Book of Mormon never refers to "American Indians," "so-called" or otherwise.

Response to claim: 63, 510n15 (HB); 508n15 (PB) - Was a "dark-skinned appearance" actually a curse traceable to a failure to follow God?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Was a "dark-skinned appearance" actually a curse traceable to a failure to follow God?

Author's sources: Oliver Cowdery, "Letter VII," Messenger and Advocate, July 1835, vol. 1, no. 10, 158, reprinted in Vogel, Early Mormon Documents, vol. 2, 450.

FairMormon Response

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

Cowdery actually refers to the Indians as "red men," but he does not discuss the curse. In fact, he talks of the Nephites becoming more wicked than the Lamanites. The following is from the cited source Oliver Cowdery, Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 1:158.:

It was not the wicked who overcame the righteous; far from this: it was the wicked against the wicked, and by the wicked the wicked were punished.—The Nephites who were once enlightened, had fallen from a more elevated standing as to favor and privilege before the Lord, in consequence of the righteousness of their fathers, and now falling below, for such was actually the case, were suffered to be overcome, and the land was left to the possession of the red men, who were without intelligence, only in the affairs of their wars; and having no records, only preserving their history by tradition from father to son, lost the account of their true origin, and wandered from river to river, from hill to hill, from mountain to mountain, and from sea to sea, till the land was again peopled, in a measure, by a rude, wild, revengeful, warlike and barbarous race.—Such are our Indians.

Question: What was the Lamanite curse?

The Book of Mormon talks of a curse being placed upon the Lamanites

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. 2 Nephi 5:21

It is claimed by some that the Church believed that Lamanites who accepted the Gospel would become light-skinned, and that "Mormon folklore" claims that Native Americans and Polynesians carry a curse based upon "misdeeds on the part of their ancestors."

One critic asks, "According to the Book of Mormon a dark skin is a curse imposed by God on the unrighteous and their descendants as a punishment for sin. Do you agree with that doctrine? (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 12:22-23, Alma 3:6, 2 Nephi 5:21-22, Jacob 3:8, 3 Nephi 2:15-16, Mormon 5:15; references to the "Lamanites" are taken to be referring to Native American "Indians".)" [2]

Although the curse of the Lamanites is often associated directly with their skin color, it may be that this was intended in a far more symbolic sense than modern American members traditionally assumed

The curse itself came upon them as a result of their rejection of the Gospel. It was possible to be subject to the curse, and to be given a mark, without it being associated with a change in skin color, as demonstrated in the case of the Amlicites. The curse is apparently a separation from the Lord. A close reading of the Book of Mormon text makes it untenable to consider that literal skin color was ever the "curse." At most, the skin color was seen as a mark, and it may well have been that these labels were far more symbolic and cultural than they were literal.


Response to claim: 63 (HB,PB) - Was Joseph inspired by the "mound builders" to write the Book of Mormon?

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

Was Joseph inspired by the "mound builders" to write the Book of Mormon?

Author's sources: Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 34. ( Index of claims )

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 author is simply repeating Fawn Brodie's speculation without any evidence to support it.



Question: Did Joseph Smith believe that the Book of Mormon explained local legends associated with the "Mound Builders" of the Eastern United States?

When the Book of Mormon appeared, it was a natural assumption by many that the book was the story of the mysterious "Mound Builders"

Joseph Smith himself initially believed that the presence of the mounds supported the story related in the Book of Mormon. In fact, as Zion's Camp passed through southern Illinois, Heber C. Kimball and several other participants claimed that Joseph identified a set of bones discovered in one of these mounds as "Zelph", a "white Lamanite." In a letter that Joseph wrote to Emma the day after this discovery, he stated:

The whole of our journey, in the midst of so large a company of social honest and sincere men, wandering over the plains of the Nephites, recounting occasionally the history of the Book of Mormon, roving over the mounds of that once beloved people of the Lord, picking up their skulls & their bones, as a proof of its divine authenticity, and gazing upon a country the fertility, the splendour and the goodness so indescribable, all serves to pass away time unnoticed.[3]

Statements made by Joseph Smith clearly indicate that his thinking regarding the actual location of Book of Mormon events evolved over time

Joseph felt that the presence of the mounds in North America and ruined cities in Central America supported the Book of Mormon. Since information about the ruined cities in Central America came to light after the publication of the Book of Mormon, it actually strengthens the theories and evidences which place the Book of Mormon in a Mesoamerican setting--Joseph was willing to consider a setting of which he apparently had no previous knowledge. The description of the ancestors of the American Indians as a highly civilized culture capable of building great cities was not a concept which would have been deduced from the contemporary beliefs regarding the Mound Builders.

The presence of numerous burial mounds in the eastern United States was the source of great speculation to those that settled there. The construction of such mounds was not considered to be within the ability of the Native Americans, who were considered to be savages. It was assumed that such sophisticated constructions constituted evidence of a long lost, highly civilized society which had long since vanished. Some even postulated the existence of separate civilized and a savage societies, with the highly civilized group eventually being destroyed by the savage one. After years of research, however, it was concluded that the mounds had indeed been constructed by the ancestors of the Indians that continued to live in the area.

Joseph clearly believed not only the region of the mounds to be part of Book of Mormon lands, but the entire continent, including Central America. The Book of Mormon itself, however, makes no mention of mounds.

In 1841, the Times and Seasons, of which Joseph was the editor at the time, commented on a popular book by John Lloyd Stephens called Incidents of travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan. This book described amazing ruined cities that had been found in Central America.

Joseph Smith himself, as editor of the Times and Seasons wrote and signed (as "ED[itor]") the following on July 15, 1842. Notice that he mentions both the mounds and the ruins in Guatemala as supporting the Book of Mormon:

If men, in their researches into the history of this country, in noticing the mounds, fortifications, statues, architecture, implements of war, of husbandry, and ornaments of silver, brass, &c.-were to examine the Book of Mormon, their conjectures would be removed, and their opinions altered; uncertainty and doubt would be changed into certainty and facts; and they would find that those things that they are anxiously prying into were matters of history, unfolded in that book. They would find their conjectures were more than realized-that a great and a mighty people had inhabited this continent-that the arts sciences and religion, had prevailed to a very great extent, and that there was as great and mighty cities on this continent as on the continent of Asia. Babylon, Ninevah, nor any of the ruins of the Levant could boast of more perfect sculpture, better architectural designs, and more imperishable ruins, than what are found on this continent. Stephens and Catherwood's researches in Central America abundantly testify of this thing. The stupendous ruins, the elegant sculpture, and the magnificence of the ruins of Guatamala [Guatemala], and other cities, corroborate this statement, and show that a great and mighty people-men of great minds, clear intellect, bright genius, and comprehensive designs inhabited this continent. Their ruins speak of their greatness; the Book of Mormen [Mormon} unfolds their history.-ED.[4]

A later Times and Seasons article, published on October 1, 1842 under Joseph's editorial supervision (though not signed by Joseph Smith as editor) stated:

It would not be a bad plan to compare Mr. Stephens' ruined cities with those in the Book of Mormon: Light cleaves to light and facts are supported by facts. The truth injures no one....[5]

If someone of that era were to attempt to write a book about a history of the North American Indians, they would not have written about advanced civilizations with advanced technology

One thing that critics do not consider is that if someone of that era were to attempt to write a book about a history of the North American Indians, he or she would not have written about advanced civilizations with advanced technology. The mysterious "Mound Builders" were not considered to be the ancestors of the current "savage" race that were inhabiting the land at that time.

Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon realized that there were going to be problems with this assumption after the publication of the Book of Mormon. In a interview, David Whitmer said:

When we [the Witnesses] were first told to publish our statement, we felt sure that the people would not believe it, for the Book told of a people who were refined and dwelt in large cities; but the Lord told us that He would make it known to the people, and people should discover evidence of the truth of what is written in the Book.[6]


Response to claim: 64, 511n24 (HB); 509n24 (PB) - Did Joseph's mother, Lucy Mack Smith, say that Joseph "skillfully composed yarns about Native Americans"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Joseph's mother, Lucy Mack Smith, say that Joseph "skillfully composed yarns about Native Americans while still just a teen; long before any golden plates had been found?" (HB) (emphasis added)
∗       ∗       ∗
Did Joseph's mother say that he "skillfully composed yarns about Native Americans while still just a teen; long before he obtained and translated any golden plates?" (PB) (emphasis added)

Author's sources: Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for many Generations [Liverpool: S.W. Richards, 1853), 85, reprinted in Dan Vogel, ed., Early Mormon Documents [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1996], vol. 1, 296.

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 paperback edition corrects the small technical error, but ignores the larger issue: Lucy Mack Smith's account clearly states, "From this time forth, Joseph continued to receive instructions from the Lord, and we continued to get the children together every evening, for the purpose of listening while he gave us a relation of the same" prior to her statement about Joseph's "amusing recitals."

Question: Was the young Joseph Smith a teller of "tall tales"?

The Prophet's mother's account of her son telling "amusing recitals" about the ancient inhabitants of the American continent occurred during the years that Joseph was being prepared to receive the plates

Lucy's 1853 autobiography, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for many Generations was considered inaccurate by Brigham Young and was ordered to be rewritten. The reasons for this had nothing to do with Lucy's account of her son Joseph's "amusing recitals." The 1853 autobiography and the 1845 manuscript upon which it was based still exist, and both confirm that the "amusing recitals" mentioned by Lucy were done during the period during which Joseph was being instructed by the angel as he waited to retrieve the gold plates. Lucy Mack Smith said the following in her 1853 autobiography:

During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of travelings, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.[7]

The quote from Lucy Mack Smith is used by critics of the Church to show how Joseph Smith told "yarns" about Native Americans "long before any golden plates had been found." The chronology found in Lucy Mack Smith's history, however, tells just the opposite story, and puts this quotation in its proper context. Lucy says that the angel Moroni told her son (during his first appearance) about the existence of the plates and informed him where they were buried (see Lavina F. Anderson, ed., Lucy's Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith's Family Memoir [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001], 335-36). Lucy then states that Joseph (the evening after he had seen the Nephite record in their place of deposit) told his family all about "the plates" (ibid., 343).

Lucy Mack Smith: "From this time forth Joseph continued to receive instructions from time to time and every evening we gathered our children"

Lucy Mack Smith's account of her son telling "amusing recitals" about the ancient inhabitants of the American continent occurred during the years that Joseph was being prepared to receive the plates. The stories that he was telling related to information that he was receiving from the angel Moroni: These were not "tall tales" that he fabricated for his family's amusement.

From Lucy's 1845 manuscript, we read:

Now said he[,] Father and Mother the angel of the Lord says that we must be careful not to proclaim these things or to mention them abroad For we do not any of us know the wickedness of the world which is so sinful that when we get the plates they will want to kill us for the sake of the gold if they know we had <have> them...by sunset [we] were ready to be seated and give our atten undivided attention to Josephs recitals...From this time forth Joseph continued to receive instructions from time to time and every evening we gathered our children togather [together]...In the course of our evening conversations Joseph would give us some of the most ammusing [amusing] recitals which could be immagined [imagined]. he would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent their dress their man[n]er of traveling the animals which they rode The cities that were built by them the structure of their buildings with every particular of their mode of warfare their religious worship as particularly as though he had spent his life with them...The angel informed him at one time that he might make an effort to obtain the plates <on> the <22nd of the> ensueing september....[8]

Clearly, Joseph Smith told his stories after he learned about, and saw, the golden plates. Indeed, it is known that Moroni showed Joseph visions and gave him information regarding the people whose stories were found on the Nephite record (see Times and Seasons, vol. 3, no. 9, 1 March 1842, 707-708), so the young man undoubtedly had quite a few stories to tell. Lucy Mack Smith simply said in her autobiography that her son told the family about information connected with the angel and the Book of Mormon plates.[9] Lucy told the same information to Wandle Mace about seven years prior to producing her 1845 autobiography and clarified that this information was connected with the Book of Mormon "Nephites" and was shown to her son by vision.

In Joseph Smith's own official history he confirmed that he learned this information through the power of visions[10] and Oliver Cowdery made note of the same thing.[11] Thus, the origin of the stories mentioned by Joseph's mother in her autobiography was a heavenly one—she was not even remotely implying that her son was a teller of tall tales.


Response to claim: 66, 511n31 (HB); 509n31 (PB) - According to Alexander Campbell, the Book of Mormon "commented on nearly 'every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years.'"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

According to Alexander Campbell, the Book of Mormon "commented on nearly 'every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years.'"

Author's sources: Alexander Campbell, "The Mormonites," Millennial Harbinger, February 1830, 93.

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

Such was Campbell's opinion as an opponent to the Book of Mormon. Hugh Nibley notes:

Now if all this was so perfectly obvious, then as now, why on earth did the critics forsake such a neat and comfortable explanation to wander for a hundred years in a wilderness of speculation and contradiction [e.g., the Spalding theory? It was because the theory of the local origin collapsed at a touch. No sooner had Mr. Campbell's explanation been received with cries of joy and relief than it was seen that the picture had not been clarified by it at all, but made much messier. [12]





Response to claim: 68, 512n41-43 (HB); 510n41-43 (PB) - Joseph copied text from other contemporary works into the Book of Mormon, such as Josiah Priest's The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Joseph copied text from other contemporary works into the Book of Mormon, such as Josiah Priest's The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed."

Author's sources:
  • Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, June 1, 1842, vol. 3, no. 15, 813-14.
  • Josiah Priest, The Wonders of Nature, 598, 469, 524.
  • Book of Mormon (1830), 560, 61, 471-472.

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

There is no evidence to support this assertion.



Question: Did Joseph Smith plagiarize Josiah Priest's The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed?

There is so little of The Wonders of Nature that has parallels with the Book of Mormon that it would provide a forger with little help

It is claimed that Joseph Smith plagiarized Josiah Priest's The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed in order to write portions of The Book of Mormon.

Matthew Roper makes several observations regarding this claim:

  1. There is no evidence that Joseph Smith ever read Priest's book before he translated the Book of Mormon.
  2. That there are very few ways to describe an isthmus. Roper states, "In his 1828 dictionary, Noah Webster defines the word neck as 'a long narrow tract of land projecting from the main body, or a narrow tract connecting two larger tracts; as the neck of land between Boston and Roxbury.' "[13]

Narrow neck

The Wonders of Nature(1825) Book of Mormon Other similar phrases
For instance, in many places, such as the isthmus of Darien, a narrow neck of land is interposed betwixt two vast oceans. (p. 598) And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land. (Ether 10:20) A long narrow tract of land projecting from the main body, or a narrow tract connecting two larger tracts; as the neck of land between Boston and Roxbury. (Webster's Dictionary (1828)

Vapour and darkness

The Wonders of Nature(1825) Book of Mormon Other similar phrases
"Darkness which may be felt.... vapours ... so thick as to prevent the rays of the sun from penetrating an extraordinary thick mist. ... no artificial light could be procured ... vapours would prevent lamps, etc. from burning. ... [T]he darkness lasted for three days." (p. 524) "[They] could feel the vapour of darkness, and there could be no light ... neither candles, neither torches, ... neither the sun ... for so great were the mists of darkness ... [I]t did last for the space of three days." (3 Nephi 8:20-23) They saw not one another. So deep was the obscurity, and probably such was its nature, that no artificial light could be procured; as the thick clammy vapors would prevent lamps, &c., from burning, or if they even could be ignited, the light through the palpable obscurity, could diffuse itself to no distance from the burning body. The author of the book of Wisdom, chap. xvii. 2-19, gives a fearful description of this plague. He says, "The Egyptians were shut up in their houses, the prisoners of darkness: and were fettered with the bonds of a long night. They were scattered under a dark veil of forgetfulness, being horribly astonished and troubled with strange apparitions; for neither might the corner that held them keep them from fear; but noises as of waters falling down sounded about them; and sad visions appeared unto them with heavy countenances.

No power of the fire could give them light-only there appeared unto them a fire kindled of itself very dreadful; for being much terrified, they thought the things which they saw to be worse than the sight they saw not. For though no terrible thing did scare them, yet being scared with beasts that passed by, and hissing of serpents, they died for fear: for whether he were husbandman, or shepherd, or a labourer in the field, he was overtaken; for they were all bound with one chain of darkness. Whether it were a whistling wind, or a terrible sound of stones cast down, or a running that could not be seen of tripping beasts, or a roaring voice of most savage wild beasts, or a rebounding echo from the hollow mountains, these things made them to swoon for fear." See Psalms 78:49.

To this description nothing need be added except this circumstance, that the darkness, with its attendant horrors, lasted for three days. ("Commentary on Exodus X: The Ninth Plague - Thick Darkness, Verse 23" Clarke's Commentary, Vol. 1


Response to claim: 68-70, 512n44-45 (HB); 510n44-45 (PB) - The Book of Mormon contains parallels to Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon contains parallels to Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews.

Author's sources:
  • Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews, 172.
  • Persuitte, 107, 122.

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 alleged parallels between the Book of Mormon and View of the Hebrews are much less impressive when one actually reads View of the Hebrews. Because of the unavailability of the book, BYU actually republished it in order to make it more widely available.



Question: Could Joseph Smith have used Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews as a guideline for creating the Book of Mormon?

Criticisms related to View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon

  • It is claimed that a 19th century work by Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews, provided source material for Joseph Smith's construction of the Book of Mormon.
  • Some also postulate a link between Ethan Smith and Oliver Cowdery, since both men lived in Poultney, Vermont while Smith served as the pastor of the church that Oliver Cowdery's family attended at the time that View of the Hebrews was being written.

Many of the criticisms proposed are based upon B. H. Roberts' list of parallels, which only had validity if one applied a hemispheric geography model to the Book of Mormon

The View of the Hebrews theory is yet another attempt to fit a secular origin to the Book of Mormon. Many of the criticisms proposed are based upon B. H. Roberts' list of parallels, which only had validity if one applied a hemispheric geography model to the Book of Mormon. There are a significant number of differences between the two books, which are easily discovered upon reading Ethan Smith's work. Many points that Ethan Smith thought were important are not mentioned at all in the Book of Mormon, and many of the "parallels" are no longer valid based upon current scholarship.[14]

Advocates of the Ethan Smith theory must also explain why Joseph, the ostensible forger, had the chutzpah to point out the source of his forgery. They must also explain why, if Joseph found this evidence so compelling, he did not exploit it for use in the Book of Mormon text itself, since the Book of Mormon contains no reference to the many "unparallels" that Ethan assured his readers virtually guaranteed a Hebrew connection to the Amerindians.


Question: What are the similarities and differences between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon?

Examples of parallels and differences

Some parallels do exist between the two books. For example, View of the Hebrews postulates the existence of a civilized and a barbarous nation who were constantly at war with one another, with the civilized society eventually being destroyed by their uncivilized brethren. This has obvious similarities to the story of the Nephites and the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon.

"Parallels" that actually aren't parallels

Many of the "parallels" that are discussed are not actually parallels at all once they are fully examined:

Both speak of... View of the Hebrews Book of Mormon
...the destruction of Jerusalem... ...by the Romans in A.D. 70. ...by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.
...Israelites coming to the American continent... ...via dry land across the Bering Strait. ...via the ocean on board a ship.
...colonists spread out to fill the entire land... ...from the North to the South. ...from the South to the North.
...a great lawgiver (whom some assume to be associated with the legend of Quetzalcoatl)... ...who is identified as Moses. ...who is identified as Jesus Christ.
...an ancient book that was preserved for a long time and then buried... ...because they had lost the knowledge of reading it and it would be of no further use to them. [15] ...in order to preserve the writings of prophets for future generations.
...a buried book taken from the earth... ...in the form of four, dark yellow, folded leaves of old parchment.[16] ...in the form of a set of gold metal plates.
...the Egyptian language, since ...an Egyptian influence is present in hieroglyphic paintings made by native Americans.[17] ...a reformed Egyptian was used to record a sacred history.

Parallels that are everywhere

Some "parallels" between the Book of Mormon and View of the Hebrews are actually parallels with the Bible as well:

The Book of Mormon View of the Hebrews The King James Bible
The Book of Mormon tells the story of inspired seers and prophets. View of the Hebrews talks of Indian traditions that state that their fathers were able to foretell the future and control nature. The Bible tells the story of inspired seers and prophets.
The Book of Mormon was translated by means of the Urim and Thummim, which consisted of two stones fastened to a breastplate. View of the Hebrews describes a breastplate with two white buttons fastened to it as resembling the Urim and Thummim. The Bible describes the Urim and Thummim as being fastened to a breastplate (Exodus 28:30).

This highlights the fact that general parallels are likely to be found between works that treat the same types of subjects, such as ancient history. In what ancient conflict did one side not see themselves as representing light and civilization against the dark barbarism of their enemies?

"Unparallels"

Critics generally ignore the presence of many "unparallels"—these are elements of Ethan Smith's book which would have provided a rich source of material for Joseph to use in order to persuade his contemporaries that the Book of Mormon was an ancient history of the American Indians, and that they were descended from Israel. Yet, the Book of Mormon consistently ignores such supposed "bulls-eyes," which is good news for proponents of the Book of Mormon's authenticity, since virtually all of Ethan's "evidences" have been judged to be false or misleading.

The lack of such "unparallels" is bad news, however, for anyone wanting to claim that Joseph got his inspiration or information from Ethan Smith.

Scripture use in View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon

If the View of the Hebrews served as the basis for the Book of Mormon, one would think that the Bible scriptures used by Ethan Smith would be mined by Joseph Smith for the Book of Mormon. Yet, this is not the case.

Why was this only discovered later?

No contemporary critic of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon pointed out the supposedly "obvious" connection to the View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon. It is only with the failure of the Spaulding theory that critics began seeking a new naturalistic explanation for Joseph's production of a 500+ book of scripture. As Stephen Ricks notes:

Beyond these "unparallels," there is a further question that must be answered by proponents of the View of the Hebrews hypothesis: why do none of the early critics of the Book of Mormon mention Ethan Smith in their attacks on it? If the parallels are so evident, why weren't they noticed by individuals who were not only acquainted with Ethan Smith's book, but were also existentially interested in its claims? Why wasn't it prominently mentioned as a source for the Book of Mormon until the beginning of the twentieth century, when the book itself had only an antiquarian interest and its contents were no longer so widely a part of popular discussion? My suspicion is that what appear today to be "distinctives" of View of the Hebrews, eschatological and otherwise, seemed less so in the early part of the nineteenth century, when these ideas flowed freely in published and unpublished forums.[18]


Response to claim: 70-71 (HB,PB) - Joseph Smith plagiarized the Apocrypha

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith plagiarize the Apocrypha.

Author's sources:
  • Reed C. Durhap, "A History of Joseph Smith's Revision of the Bible," BYU, 1965, 25
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Joseph Smith's Use of the Apocrypha," Salt Lake City Messenger (#89), December 1995.

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

There isn't any actual evidence to support this assertion.



Question: Did Joseph Smith create the story of Nephi and Laban by plagiarizing concepts and phrases from the story of Judith and Holofernes in the Apocrypha?

Oliver Cowdery purchased a Bible containing the Apocrypha in October 1829, after the Book of Mormon was already at press

In order to support these claims, it would have been necessary for Joseph to have obtained a Bible containing the Apocrypha during the period of translation. It is known that Oliver Cowdery purchased a Bible in October 1829, however, the Book of Mormon was already at press by this time, with the copyright being registered on 11 June 1829.[19] We do know that Joseph had a Bible containing the Apocrypha in 1833 during the time he produced the "Joseph Smith Translation." Doctrine and Covenants Section 91 was given to Joseph specifically in response to his question as to whether or not he ought to revise the Apocrypha.

The story of Judith and Holofernes and the story of Nephi and Laban actually have more dissimilarities than parallels

The two stories actually have more dissimilarities than parallels, with the similarities being very superficial.[20]

The story of Nephi and Laban The story of Judith and Holofernes
Laban resides in Jerusalem and has possession of the brass plates. Holofernes is sent by King Nebuchadnezzar to conquer the rebellious Jews. The city of Bethulia is under siege by the Assyrians.
Nephi tells his father that he will return to Jerusalem to obtain the Brass plates of Laban. Judith, a Jewish resident of the city of Bethulia, tells the people that she will deliver them from their oppressors.
Nephi enters Jerusalem under cover of darkness. He does not intend to kill Laban. Judith enters the camp of the Assyrians with the intent to kill Holofernes.
Nephi finds Laban drunk and lying in the street. Nephi resists the idea of killing Laban even after he is told to do so. Judith impresses Holofernes with her charms and gets him drunk. He passes out on his bed.
Nephi holds up Laban’s head by the hair and cuts if off with his own sword. Judith holds up Holofernes’ head by the hair and cuts it off with his own sword.
Nephi leaves Laban lying in the street, but takes and puts on his armor and sword. Judith takes Holofernes’ head with her back to the city to prove what she has done.
Nephi obtains the records from Laban’s house and leaves the city. The Jews, upon learning of the death of Holofernes, leave the city and plunder the Assyrians camp.

The relationship between the story of Laban and the story of Judith is superficial at best. It has even been pointed out by LDS scholars that if one were to look for potential parallels with the story of Nephi and Laban, that the story of David and Goliath would be a much better fit than the story of Judith.[21]


Question: Did Joseph Smith copy the name "Nephi" from the Apocrypha?

The name “Nephi” may be derived from the names “Nfr” (meaning “good”) or “Nfw,” (meaning “captain”), which are both attested Egyptian names appropriate to the time and place in which Nephi existed

It is certainly possible that Joseph may have encountered the name Nephi as a place name in the King James translation of the Apocrypha (2 Maccabees), however, the Book of Mormon also includes many names that are present in the King James Bible itself. The inclusion of one additional name in this list does not make a significant difference in accusations that Joseph acquired names in the Book of Mormon from other sources. With regard to the name “Nephi,” the important question that must be considered is whether the name “Nephi” is an appropriate name for the time and place to which it is attributed in the Book of Mormon?[22]

Nephi acknowledges an Egyptian connection when he states, “Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.” 1 Nephi 1:2

The name “Nephi” may be derived from the names “Nfr” (meaning “good”) or “Nfw,” (meaning “captain”), which are both attested Egyptian names appropriate to the time and place in which Nephi existed.[23] Therefore, the inclusion of the name "Nephi" in the Book of Mormon in the timeframe of 600 B.C. does not constitute an anachronism.

The presence of the name "Nephi" is appropriate for the time and place described by the Book of Mormon. Existing evidence indicates that an Apocrypha was not even available to Joseph Smith at the time that he was translating the Book of Mormon. If anything, the presence of the name "Nephi" in the Apocrypha further validates it as an authentic name in the Book of Mormon.


Response to claim: 70, 513n52 (HB); 511n52 (PB) - Were several Bible stories reworked for the Book of Mormon?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Were several Bible stories reworked for the Book of Mormon?

Author's sources:

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

This is simply the Tanner's attempt to explain the Book of Mormon.



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: 72, 514n61 (HB); 512n61 (PB) - Could the "wicked character" named "Lemuel" have been derived from the name of the Smith's landlord, Lemuel Durfee?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Could the "wicked character" named "Lemuel" have been derived from the name of the Smith's landlord, Lemuel Durfee?

Author's sources: Vogel, [Early Mormon Documents] vol. 1, 321, footnote #128.

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 author simply repeats an idea posited by author Dan Vogel in one of his footnotes: It is not supported by primary sources.



Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Probability—The author assumes that because something is theoretically possible that it is therefore inevitably true.

Question: Could Joseph Smith have modeled the "wicked character" named "Lemuel" in the Book of Mormon upon the Smith's landlord, Lemuel Durfee?

The Smiths saw Lemuel Durfee as a "gentleman" who helped them out of a difficult situation -- not as a villain

Here are some facts to consider in evaluating these interpretations of the past: About the time that the Smiths made arrangements with their new land agent to make the final payment on their farm (in December of 1825) one of their neighbors offered to buy it from them. When the Smiths refused this offer their neighbor took several men with him to the land agent and lied about the Smith's ability to make their final payment. These men also falsely stated that the Smiths were destroying the property on which they lived. It was by these treacherous acts of deception that the neighbor acquired the deed to the Smith family farm. He then went to his ill-gotten property, while most of the Smith men were away on business, and ordered all of them to leave immediately. When the land agent was told that he had been lied to he became very upset and summoned the deceiver -- who refused to make an appearance until legal action was threatened against him. The land thief said that the only way he would give up his deed was for the Smiths to pay him an exorbitant amount of money in a very short span of time. The Smiths were greatly relieved when they found that a Quaker named Lemuel Durfee would purchase their property from their antagonist. The historical record reports what happened next.

"Mr. Smith and the Messrs. Durf[ee] arrived at Cananda[i]gua at 1/2 past 9 o'clock in [the] night. The agent sent for Mr. Stoddard and his friends who, when they came, averred that the clock was too slow -- that it was really past ten. But being overcome in this the money was paid over to them and [they] gave up the deed to Mr. Durf[ee], the high sheriff, who now came into possession of the farm.

With this gentleman we [i.e, the Smith family] were now to s[t]ipulate as renters upon [the] premises. . . . Mr. Durf[ee] gave us the privilege of the place [for] one year with this provision -- that Samuel, our 4th son, was to labor for him 6 months. These things were all settled upon and the conclusion was that if after we had kept the place in this way [for] one year [and] we still chose to remain we could have the privilege" (Lavina F. Anderson, ed., Lucy's Book: A Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith's Family Memoir [Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001], 372-73).


Response to claim: 73, 514n62 (HB) 512n62 (PB) - The names "Moroni" and "Cumorah" could have been taken from the "Comoros" Islands off the coast of Africa

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The names "Moroni" and "Cumorah" could have been taken from the "Comoros" Islands off the coast of Africa.

Author's sources:

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

Actually, the names "Camora" and "Moroni" and their variants do not appear to be accessible in pirate and treasure hunting stories about Captain Kidd. This connection is an extrapolation by critics based upon the known fact that Kidd operated in the vicinity of the Comoros archipelago. This is the fallacy of probability.



Question: Could Joseph Smith have acquired the names "Moroni" and "Cumorah" from a map of the Comoro archipelago off the coast of Africa?

Comoros is a small nation made up of three islands off the southeast coast of Africa. Its capital city is Moroni.

  • Some have claimed that Joseph Smith created the Book of Mormon names Cumorah and Moroni by copying them from a map of the Comoros islands.
  • An alternative explanation offered by critics of the Book of Mormon is that Joseph Smith found the names Cumorah and Moroni in stories about Captain Kidd, who is said to have visited the island.

The settlement of "Moroni" did not become the capital city of the Comoros Islands until 1876 (32 years after Joseph's death and 47 years after the publication of the Book of Mormon). The possibility of Joseph seeing the names on a map is remote at best. It has not even been proved that Joseph ever saw the names, or that any source available to him linked them.

Those who propose that Joseph obtained the names "Cumorah" and "Moroni" from stories of Captain Kidd fail to cite any sources and then demonstrate that Joseph had access to them. For more detail on this claim, see: Joseph Smith, Captain Kidd and the Comoro archipelago.


Question: Were the names "Moroni" and "Cumorah" available on maps accessible to Joseph Smith?

Modern map of the Comoros Islands

The Comoro archipelago consists of the islands of Grande Comore (Great Comoro), Anjouan (also known as Johanna), Mohilla (Mohely), and Mayotte (Mayotta). They are located at the head of the Mozambique Channel off the coast of Africa. The current capitol, shown on modern maps, is the city of Moroni.

This claim, like many efforts to explain away the Book of Mormon, commits the logical fallacy of the Appeal to probability. This fallacy argues that because something is even remotely possible, it must be true.

When the facts are examined, the possibility of Joseph seeing Comoros and Moroni recedes; the idea becomes unworkable. The following gazetteers from Joseph's era were consulted:

Title Relevant Contents
Mucullock's Universal Gazateer, 2 vols (1843-4)

2257 pages of double columned miniscule print, with no reference to Comoros Islands or Moroni.

Morris' Universal Gazateer (1821) 831 pages, no mention of Comoros or Moroni

Brookes Gazateer

  • 1794 edition


  • Comora on p. 400, no mention of Moroni
  • 1819 edition
  • Comora, no mention of Moroni
  • 1835 edition
  • Comoro on p. 214, no mention of Moroni
  • 1843 edition
  • Comoro, no mention of Moroni

There is no evidence that Joseph saw these maps, or any other, but if he had they would have provided little help.

Furthermore, it is unlikely that any source would have contained the name of "Moroni." That settlement did not become the capital city until 1876 (32 years after Joseph's death and 47 years after the publication of the Book of Mormon), when Sultan Sa'id Ali settled there. At that time it was only a small settlement. Even a century later, in 1958, its population was only 6500.

The name "Meroni" on the Comoros island of Anjouan

As previously noted, it is unlikely that any map of the Comoro Archiplego available to Joseph Smith would have contained the name of "Moroni." The capitol city of Moroni was unlikely to have been present on early maps of the Comoros Islands in the 1700's. However, the name "Meroni" actually did appear in a different location on one of the other Comoros Islands on maps dated to 1748, 1752 and 1755. The following 1748 map of the island of Anjouan (also known as Nzwani) has been noted by critics to contain the name "Meroni".[24]

Meroni and moroni on modern map.jpg

The following map of Anjouan, dated to 1752, also contains the name "Meroni."

1752 map of anjouan with meroni.jpg

It is unlikely that Joseph would have seen this, since the name "Comoro" on maps always appears to be associated with the main island "Grande Comore", while the settlement of "Meroni" on Anjoun is too small to appear on such maps showing all four islands. For example, the following 1749 maps of the Comoros clearly labels the main island as "Comore," but the scale of the island of Anjouan obscures the names of any settlements there. In order for Joseph to obtain the name "Meroni" from Anjouan, he would have been required to consult the Anjouan map directly make this connection, since it lists the name "Comore" at the top.

1749 map of comoros islands.jpg


Response to claim: 73, 514n66 (HB); 512n66 (PB) - The 1830 Book of Mormon contains many grammatical errors

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The 1830 Book of Mormon contains many grammatical errors.

Author's sources: Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?, 85-88.

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

So what? The Book of Mormon itself states that any mistakes in the book were the "mistakes of men."



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."[25] 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.[26] 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 (2013) 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: 74 (HB,PB) - Is the name "Sam" in the Book of Mormon "out-of-place"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Is the name "Sam" in the Book of Mormon "out-of-place"?

Author's sources:

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 name "Saumel" is biblical.

On the name "Sam"

Hugh Nibley:

While Sam is a perfectly good Egyptian name, it is also the normal Arabic form of Shem, the son of Noah.[28]


Response to claim: 74, 514n67 - Is the French word "adieu" out-of-place in the Book of Mormon?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Is the French word "adieu" out-of-place in the Book of Mormon?

Author's sources: Book of Mormon (1830) Jacob 7:27

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

The word "adieu" was used frequently in the English language in the 1800s and even appeared in the English dictionary.



Question: Why is the French word "adieu" in the Book of Mormon?

The word "adieu" was in common use in English in Joseph Smith's era

Jacob 7:27 ends with the phrase, "Brethren, adieu." Some claim that because adieu is French, it shows that Joseph Smith composed the Book of Mormon, and not an ancient author.

Adieu is simply one English word among many in the Book of Mormon translation. It was in common use among Latter-day Saints and others in Joseph's era. The word's French associations are simply more familiar to the modern reader. Joseph was inspired to select the most appropriate word to use in this situation, and the word "adieu" (like the Spanish equivalent "adios" or "a Dios") means "to God". In the final analysis, the presence of the word "adieu" in the English translation of the Book of Mormon cannot be construed to indicate anything beyond the fact that Jacob intended to communicate "farewell forever, or until we meet God."

There was neither English nor French on the plates

The English Book of Mormon is a translation. This means that it is no more likely that the word adieu appeared on the plates than did the words yea, beginning, or sword. Except for proper nouns and a few other possibly transliterated nouns, no word that appears in the English version of the Book of Mormon can be said to have been on the ancient Nephite plates. Similarly, the phrase "and it came to pass" never appeared anywhere on the Nephite plates. Whatever character, word, or phrase that had been engraved on the plates was translated by Joseph Smith into what he felt was an approximate equivalent in English.

Despite the fact that the word adieu appears in the English translation of the Book of Mormon, the word adieu was certainly not known to any Book of Mormon writer, the word adieu was never used by any Book of Mormon writer, and the word adieu did not appear anywhere on the Nephite plates.

A translation can legitimately use words from many languages

The goal of a translation is to take a text written in one language and to make it understandable to someone who does not understand that language. Anyone who has had the need to translate knows that frequently there is no way to convey all of the meanings, nuances, and subtleties of the original text in the new language. Translators are free to select words and phrases that they feel best convey the original meaning and will best be understood by the readers of the translation.

For example, it would be perfectly acceptable for a translation from Japanese to English to include the non-English phrases ad hoc, hoi polloi, or savoir faire if those phrases seem to properly convey the original meaning and if the translator believes that readers will understand them.

Adieu is Joseph's translation of a concept expressed by Jacob. Adieu implies "farewell until we meet with God," a fitting finale to Jacob's testimony and writing.

The appearance of non-English words (if there are any) in the Book of Mormon has absolutely no bearing on whether the Book of Mormon is authentic or whether the translation was properly done, and the presence of non-English words in the translated text would not imply that those non-English words appeared in the original text on the Nephite plates.

Adieu was in common usage a an English word

There is a common misunderstanding among some critics of the Book of Mormon that the word adieu is not an English word. This is not true. The problem stems from the fact that adieu is both an English word and a French word, and most English speakers are more familiar with its use in a French context.

Adieu is a perfectly good English word that has appeared in English dictionaries, English literature, and in common English usage from long before Joseph Smith to the present. Adieu entered the English language in the 14th century. It entered from Middle French, not modern French, and it has been part of English for approximately 800 years. Adieu has been part of the English language longer than the word banquet, which is also a word in modern French, but banquet entered the English language only in the 15th century. Adieu is no less English than commence, nation, psychology, Bible, vision, or any other word that can be traced back to Latin, Greek, German, French, Spanish, or any other language.

The presence of adieu is no more a challenge to the historicity and authenticity of the Book of Mormon than the 36 uses of banquet in the NIV is a challenge to the historicity and authenticity of the Bible.

French at the time of Christ?

In 1737, William Whiston (1667-1752) produced a translation of The Life of Flavius Josephus, written by a Jew born in Jerusalem in A.D. 37. Whiston's translation reads, in part:

Thus have I set down the genealogy of my family as I have found it described in the public records, and so bid adieu to those who calumniate me... off-site

Presumably, the critics would have us believe that Whiston is claiming that Josephus, a first century Jew, spoke French (a language not yet invented) because he uses the term adieu?

Mark Twain used the word "adieu"

Consider the following letter written by Mark Twain on Nov. 20, 1905. Samuel Clemens was certainly not French!

J. H. Todd 1212 Webster Street San Francisco, Cal.

Dear Sir,
Your letter is an insoluble puzzle to me. The handwriting is good & exhibits considerable character, & there are even traces of intelligence in what you say, yet the letter and the accompanying advertisements profess to be the work of the same hand. The person who wrote the advertisements is without doubt the most ignorant person now alive on the planet; also without doubt he is an idiot, an idiot of the 33rd degree, & scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link. It puzzles me to make out how the same hand could have constructed your letter & your advertisements. Puzzles fret me, puzzles annoy me, puzzles exasperate me; & always, for a moment, they arouse in me an unkind state of mind toward the person who has puzzled me. A few moments from now my resentment will have faded & passed & I shall probably even be praying for you; but while there is yet time I hasten to wish that you may take a dose of your own poison by mistake, & enter swiftly into the damnation which you & all other patent medicine assassins have so remorselessly earned & do so richly deserve.

Adieu, adieu, adieu !
Mark Twain

Chaucer used the word "adieu"

Geoffrey Chaucer, often regarded as the father of English literature, used adieu around 1374:

And said, he wold in trouthe alwey hym holde, And his adew [adieu] made (Troilus and Criseyde 2:1084).

Shakespeare used the word "adieu" frequently in his plays

William Shakespeare is nothing if not an English writer. He uses adieu frequently in his plays:

Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5
GHOST:Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me. off-site
The Merchant of Venice, Act 2, Scene 3
LAUNCELOT Adieu! tears exhibit my tongue. Most beautiful/ pagan, most sweet Jew! off-site
Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 5
ROMEO: Dry sorrow drinks our blood. Adieu, adieu! off-site
The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 2, Scene 1
NYM: Adieu. I love not the humour of bread and cheese,/ and there's the humour of it. Adieu.

There are over a hundred other examples. off-site

The original draft of the Declaration of Independence included the word "adieu"

Thomas Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence read, in part (beginning shown in image by blue underline):

...be it so, since they will have it: the road to glory & happiness is open to us too; we will climb it in a separate state, and acquiesce in the necessity which pronounces our everlasting Adieu![29]

Jefferson later crossed out "everlasting Adieu," and replaced it with "eternal separation."[30]

A segment of the fourth page of Thomas Jefferson's rough draft of the Declaration of Independence (original in Library of Congress). The red line indicates where Jefferson has written "everlasting Adieu," which he later struck out and replaced with the text underlined in green, "eternal separation." *

Noah Webster's dictionary contains a definition for the word "adieu"

Noah Webster's 1828 American dictionary demonstrates that adieu was perfectly good English the year prior to the Book of Mormon's translation:

ADIEU', Adu'.

Farewell; an expression of kind wishes at the parting of friends.

ADIEU', n. A farewell, or commendation to the care of God; as an everlasting adieu.

It should be noted that the word adieu appears in nearly every modern English dictionary, and that although its etymology may be listed as being from Middle French, the word itself is not indicated as being a non-English word.

John and Charles Wesley used "adieu" in some of their hymns

The Wesley brothers, founders of Methodism, used adieu in some of their hymns:

Hymn 285
I'll bid this world of noise and show/ With all its glittering snares, adieu! off-site
Hymn 809
VAIN, delusive world, adieu... off-site[31]

Furthermore, John Wesley was fond of adieu, using it many times in his personal letters. A few examples follow; more are available off-site

5 January 1763 to Charles Wesley
"We join in love to you both. My wife gains ground. She is quite peaceable and loving to all. Adieu!" off-site
17 May 1742 to Charles Wesley
Let all the brethren pray for me. Adieu! off-site
15 December 1772 to Charles Wesley
My love to all. Adieu! off-site
16 December 1772 to Mrs. Bennis
My dear sister, adieu off-site

Irenaeus - French in the 1st Century?

Speaking after quoting Deuteronomy 33:9, the early Christian author Irenaeus (A.D. 115–202) had his ancient writings translated as follows:

But who are they that have left father and mother, and have said adieu to all their neighbours, on account of the word of God and His covenant, unless the disciples of the Lord?[32]

Is this a legitimate translation, or was Irenaeus non-existent and the translator a fraud for using "adieu"?

Other English authors

The Oxford English Dictionary lists a variety of English authors who have used "adieu" in its various senses:

  • 1413 LYDG. Pylgr. Sowle II. lxv. (1859) 59, I bad hym adyeu.
  • 1513 DOUGLAS Æneis I. vi. 174 Thus he repreuis, bot sche is went adew.
  • 1575 CHURCHYARD Chippes (1817) 151 And set the world agoing once adue It is mutch like a streame that hath no stay.
  • 1592 WARNER Albion's Eng. VIII. xl. (1612) 196 Their eies..now looke their last adew.
  • 1602 CAREW Cornwall 111a, Shepherd adiews his swymming flocke, The Hinde his whelmed haruest hope.
  • 1624 H. SMITH 6 Serm. 11 Bid conscience adiewe. 1771 Junius Lett. xlii. 221 The king..bids adieu to amicable negociation.
  • 1653 A. WILSON James I, 251 The Queen spoke her own Adieu in French.
  • 1702 POPE Sappho 111 Sure 'twas not much to bid one kind adieu.
  • c1815 JANE AUSTEN Northang. Abb. (1833) I. xv. 98 His adieus were not long.
  • 1818 SCOTT Hrt. Midl. (1873) 119 The old man arose and bid them adieu.
  • 1855 TENNYSON Daisy 85 What more? we took our last adieu.

Use of the word "adieu" among early Latter-day Saints

Index page from the 1835 book of hymns chosen by Emma Smith for use in the Church. Original from BYU library. off-site

Closer to home, hymn #52 (penned by a non-LDS author) was collected by Emma Smith for the use of the Church. In this hymn, adieu is used twice in the first line:

Adieu, my dear brethren adieu,
Reluctant we give you the hand,
No more to assemble with you,
Till we on mount Zion shall stand.[33]

Clearly, this was a word familiar to Joseph and his contemporaries. The Church's Times and Seasons periodical used the word 19 times.

Use of the word "adieu" among Non-LDS Contemporaries

Emma Smith's second husband, Lewis Bidamon, was certainly not LDS. His letters reveal that his spelling is not terribly sophisticated. Yet, even he was very comfortable using the phrase "adieu," as in this letter to Emma:

Adeau, dear Emma, for the present. Give my warmest affections to the children and all inquireing friends, and curses to my enmeys![34]


Response to claim: 74, 514n69 (HB); 512n69 (PB) - Why has the Book of Mormon had "nearly 4,000" textual changes despite being declared by Joseph Smith to be the "most correct of any book on earth"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Why has the Book of Mormon had "nearly 4,000" textual changes despite being declared by Joseph Smith to be the "most correct of any book on earth?"

Author's sources: History of the Church, vol. 4, 461; vol. 1, 54-55.

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 was talking about the doctrine presented in the Book of Mormon when he declared it the "most correct book." He was not talking about spelling and grammar.

Question: Why did Joseph Smith say that the Book of Mormon was the "most correct book"?

Joseph Smith: "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth"

In the History of the Church, the following entry is recorded as having been made by Joseph Smith on November 28, 1841.[35]

Sunday, 28.--I spent the day in the council with the Twelve Apostles at the house of President Young, conversing with them upon a variety of subjects. Brother Joseph Fielding was present, having been absent four years on a mission to England. I told the brethren that 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.

Critics of the Church assert that the phrase "the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth" means that the Prophet Joseph Smith was declaring the Book of Mormon to be without error of any kind. Since each edition of the printed Book of Mormon since 1829 (including editions published during the life of Joseph Smith) has included changes of wording, spelling, or punctuation, critics declare Joseph Smith's statement to have been demonstrably false, thus proving that he was a false prophet.

Joseph Smith referred to the Book of Mormon as the "most correct book" because of the principles it teaches

When Joseph Smith referred to the Book of Mormon as the "most correct book" on earth, he was referring to the principles that it teaches, not the accuracy of its textual structure. Critics of the Book of Mormon have mistakenly interpreted "correct" to be synonymous with "perfect," and therefore expect the Book of Mormon to be without any errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, clarity of phrasing, and other such ways.

But when Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon was the "most correct of any book," he was referring to more than just wording, a fact made clear by the remainder of his statement: He said "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." When read in context, the Prophet's statement refers to the correctness of the principles it teaches. The Book of Mormon is the "most correct of any book" in that it contains the fulness of the gospel and presents it in a manner that is "plain and precious" (1 Nephi 13:35,40).


Response to claim: 74, 514n70-71 (HB); 512n70-71 (PB) - The Book of Mormon mentions synagogues "after the manner of the Jews," despite Lehi's group leaving Jerusalem before the Babylonian captivity

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon mentions synagogues "after the manner of the Jews," despite Lehi's group leaving Jerusalem before the Babylonian captivity.

Author's sources:
  • Book of Mormon (1830), 268 Alma 16:13
  • J.D. Douglas, rev. ed. and Merrill C. Tenny, gen. ed., The New International Dictionary of the Bible, 972.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

Synagogues are known before the Babylonian captivity, past views to the contrary notwithstanding.



Question: Why does the Book of Mormon mention "synagogues" when they were not present among the Jews until after the Babylonian captivity?

Assemblies for Jewish worship were known and used prior to the Babylonian captivity

The Book of Mormon mentions "synagogues" twenty five times. It is claimed that "synagogues" were not present among the Jews until after the Babylonian captivity, and thus Lehi and his family cannot have known of them. The critics insist, therefore, that Book of Mormon use of synagogues is anachronistic.

Assemblies for Jewish worship were known and used prior to the Babylonian captivity. The term "synagogue" is a translation, and need not be the actual Nephites word for these structures. However, pre-captivity Jews had such sites for communal worship. In any case, nothing prevents Nephites from independently developing the idea of a building for group worship, and Joseph Smith translating such a concept as "synagogue."

The claim that no synagogues were present before the Babylonian captivity is based on out-of-date information

[Lee] Levine, a leading scholar on the history of the synagogue, has suggested that synagogues did exist before the Babylonian captivity in the form of chambers in the city gates. Such gates have been excavated by archaeologists at such important Old Testament sites as Beersheba, Gezer, Lachish, and Megiddo. Each of these has

  1. at least one chamber (which is nearly square) lined with stone benches around the interior walls (the benched chamber at Lachish has two tiers of benches),
  2. a single doorway, and
  3. where there is enough of the original wall left to determine it, a niche. I suggest that these niches were used for storing special ritual items, perhaps even sacred scrolls.

Levine concludes that since later synagogues closely mirror the architecture of the gate chambers, these chambers may well have been the original synagogues. This conclusion is supported by a number of biblical passages that indicate that the city gate and its vicinity were the hub of a community's life. The gate area served as

  1. the market place (see 2 Kings 7:1),
  2. the general court (see Genesis 23:10,18; Deuteronomy 17:5, Deuteronomy 21:19 and Deuteronomy 22:24; Ruth 4:1–12; Jeremiah 38:7; Daniel 2:48–49; and Esther 5:9,13; Esther 6:10),
  3. the royal court (see 2 Samuel 18:4 and 2 Samuel 19:8; and 1 Kings 22:10, which equals 2 Chronicles 18:9), and
  4. a place of worship (see 2 Kings 23:8 and Nehemiah 8:1).

Support for Levine's conclusion is also found in the Old Testament terminology for worship service. Several Old Testament writers (see Hosea 2:11; Jeremiah in Lamentations 2:6; Ezekiel 44:24) link Sabbath worship with the Hebrew word mo‘ed which means "assembly, meeting."

If Levine is correct, then, before the captivity, a town's or city's social activities centered around the city gate, and it seems reasonable that these social activities included Sabbath worship in a chamber of the gate that resembled later synagogues and functioned similarly.[36]

Further information on the chambers in city-gates being a proto-synagogue as a result of Josiah's centralization of Temple worship in Jerusalem and the establishment of congregations meeting for non-sacrificial worship in the chambers of city-gates is available in non-LDS works.[37]


Response to claim: 74 (HB, PB) - The fact is that Arabia has never had bountiful supplies of either fruit or honey"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that the Book of Mormon "describes Arabia as being 'bountiful' because of its fruit and wild honey. The fact is that Arabia has never had bountiful supplies of either fruit or honey."

Author's sources: No source provided.

FairMormon Response

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

This is an absurd statement to make. The Book of Mormon does not describe Arabia as being bountiful in fruit and honey. It talks of a place within the Arabian peninsula which was bountiful in fruit an honey—such a location does indeed exist.

Question: Is there a real-world match in the Old World for the land "Bountiful" described in the Book of Mormon?

There is a very good candidate for the Old World "Bountiful" that is located in the correct place for Lehi's group to arrive at after the made the "Eastward turn" at Nahom

There was considerable mourning at Nahom. After a while, they traveled eastward (1 Nephi 17:1) until they reached a place they called Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:5) on the coast of the Arabian peninsula, described as rich, green garden spot with trees, abundant fruit, water, honey, and a mountain. At this wonderful site they stayed at least long enough to construct a ship from the abundant timber. Metal obtained from ore was also used to make tools.

If Nehem is the Book of Mormon site Nahom, then is there a Bountiful to the east of it on the coast? Amazingly, we have the luxury of two excellent candidate sites that are roughly due east of Nehem on the Oman coast. The Astons propose Wadi Sayq as the best candidate for Bountiful, and it impressively fits the criteria that one can derive from the Book of Mormon. [38] Potter and Sedor propose the area of Salalah and the nearby ancient port of Khor Rori as the general site for Bountiful. [39]

Finding a garden spot on the coast of the Arabian peninsula was absurdly funny, and was laughed at in the 1800s, because nobody knew of a place that could come anywhere close to being a candidate for Lehi's Bountiful.

Both Wadi Sayq and Khor Rori fit the description of being nearly due east of Nehem, as the Book of Mormon requires (1 Nephi 17:1). But the path to Wadi Sayq better fits Nephi's description of nearly due east from Nahom, while more zig-zags are needed to reach Khor Rori. Regarding the other Book of Mormon criteria for the place Bountiful, the Astons list the following, along with several others:

  • The journey from Nahom must have provided reasonable access from the interior to the coast (not a trivial requirement given the difficult obstacles posed by mountains along much of the coast).
  • Bountiful was on the coast, offering a place suitable for camping on the shore (1 Nephi 17:5,6) and for launching a ship (1 Nephi 18:8).
  • It was very fertile, with much fruit and honey, possibly game (1 Nephi 17:5,6; 1 Nephi 18:8).
  • Enough timber existed to build a durable ship (1 Nephi 18:1,2,6).
  • Freshwater was available year-round to enable a prolonged stay.
  • There was a nearby mountain that Nephi described as "the mount" (1 Nephi 17:7; 18:3).
  • Cliffs were available from which Nephi's brothers could threaten to cast him into the sea (1 Nephi 17:48)
  • Ore and flint were available (1 Nephi 17:9–11,16).
  • The winds and ocean currents there could permit travel out into the ocean.

Salalah appears to offer much more in the way of fruit and timber than does Wadi Sayq, but this may be due to recent irrigation. Khor Rori does provide a good harbor with an ancient tradition of ship building, but there is no evidence that ship building skills were there anywhere close to Nephi's time. Wadi Sayq, on the other hand, offers an inlet that anciently may have been quite suitable for launching a ship.

But Wadi Sayq has all the elements of Nephi's story—the mountain, the trees, the place to build a ship—all close together.

Wadi Sayq offers the largest body of coastal fresh water on the Arabian peninsula, with a beautiful freshwater lagoon. Wadi Sayq has dates, honey, and several species of trees, such as the sycamore fig and tamarind, that may be suitable for ship building. Both sites have coastal areas ideal for an encampment on the seashore, and it is accessible from the interior desert. [40]

Ore has been found at both sites, though it had not been found at Wadi Sayq when the Astons published their findings in 1994. The subsequent discovery of iron ore suitable for tool making using wood-fired furnaces in the region of Bountiful is a far more impressive find than one might realize, for there are very few places in the Arabian Peninsula that have such ore. [41]

Figure 5: After rain in Dhofar, near a candidate site for Bountiful (Wadi Sayq). Note the trees.
Figure 6: A view in Salalah, another candidate region for Bountiful in Oman. [42]


Response to claim: 74, 514n72(HB); 512n72(PB) - How could the Book of Mormon mention a "continually flowing" river that runs to the Red Sea, when there is no such river in Arabia?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

How could the Book of Mormon mentions a "continually flowing" river that runs to the Red Sea, when there is no such river in Arabia?

Author's sources: Thomas D.S. Key, Sc.D., Ed.D. (Biology), Th.D. (1985), "A Biologist Looks at the Book of Mormon," Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, June 1985, XXX-VIII, 3.

FairMormon Response

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

Such a place has been found.

Question: Is there a viable real-world candidate in the Old World for the Valley of Lemuel described in the Book of Mormon?

Several candidates for the "Valley of Lemuel" have been found

The valley of Lemuel requires several characteristics. In 1995, Potter and colleagues found a hitherto unrecognized wadi [43] which has parallels to the requirements of the Book of Mormon text, including a river of water which is "continually running," which they interpret as requiring a year-round water flow. Although Saudi and US geological surveys have concluded that Saudi Arabia "may...be without any perennial rivers or streams," visits to the area in April, May, July, August, November, December, and January have all found flowing water in the candidate valley which Potter's team identified.

Figure 3: George Potter photo of cove of hypothetical Valley of Lemuel
Figure 4: George Potter photo of "continuously running" river in hypothetical Valley of Lemuel.

The authors have described the area, with further photographs, in a book. [44]

While their candidates for the Valley of Lemuel and the River Laman seem truly impressive, other LDS authors have disputed this location for the Valley of Lemuel, suggesting that it is too far from the shores of the Red Sea and that the path required to reach it is implausible. They have offered an alternative based on a different reading of the text's requirements. Chadwick proposes that Bir Marsha, a place easily accessed from the coast of the Red Sea and not far from Potter's candidate, may be more suitable for the Valley of Lemuel, though there may be several other good choices. As for the River Laman, Chadwick believes that it only need have been a wadi flowing with water at the time of Lehi's sermon to his sons, and that it need not flow year round. Lehi said that it ran continuously to the Red Sea, not that it flowed continuously throughout the year, and this can be fulfilled by a path for a wadi that goes into the Red Sea, regardless of how often the path has flowing water. [45]


Response to claim: 74, 514n73 (HB); 512n73 (PB) - Why does the Book of Mormon mention animals such as cows, oxen, asses, horses, and goats as existing in the New World 600 years before Christ

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Why does the Book of Mormon mention animals such as cows, oxen, asses, horses, and goats as existing in the New World 600 years before Christ, when it is known that none of these animals existed in the New World at the time?

Author's sources: Key, 3.

FairMormon Response

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

This argument primarily focuses on the horse.



Sorenson: "The Miami Indians, for example, were unfamiliar with the buffalo and simply called them 'wild cows'"

John L. Sorenson:

As with many other animals in the Book of Mormon, it is likely that these Book of Mormon terms are the product of reassigning familiar labels to unfamiliar items...The Miami Indians, for example, were unfamiliar with the buffalo and simply called them “wild cows.” Likewise the “explorer DeSoto called the buffalo simply vaca, cow. The Delaware Indians named the cow after the deer, and the Miami tribe labeled sheep, when they first saw them, ‘looks-like-a-cow’”[46]


Miller and Roper: "Bones of domesticated cattle...have been reported from different caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [47]

Bones of domesticated cattle (Bos taurus – see Figure 2) have been reported from different caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.[48] In one instance these bones were found with those of an extinct horse, Equus conversidens. It is especially interesting that along with these cow and horse remains, human artifacts were found in association with them! The indication is that domesticated cattle and the horse coexisted with humans in pre-Columbian time. [49]

Image taken from Miller and Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.


Question: Why are horses considered an anachronism in the Book of Mormon?

Horses existed in the New World anciently and spread to other parts of the world, however, it is currently believed that "The last prehistoric North American horses died out between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene." [50]

Modern horses did not arrive in the New World until they were brought by Spanish explorers. Thus, the mention of "horses" in the Americas during Book of Mormon times presents an anachronism--something that doesn't fit the time frame for which it is claimed.

There are at least two possible resolutions to the "horse" problem in the Book of Mormon:

  1. Horses were present but their remains have not been found.
  2. Definitions of the word "horse" were expanded to include new meanings.


Question: What is the origin of the modern horse in the New World?

Most scientists believe that the horse originated in the Americas and spread across land bridges from the Americas to Asia, eventually migrating into Africa and Europe. Over the course of millions of years the horse evolved from a smaller breed to the larger horses of today. Near the end of the Pleistocene period--about 10,000 years ago--the most recent ice-age came to an end. During this time many large mammals that once roamed the Americas became extinct. Among these were mammoths, camels, and the mid-sized horses that once lived in abundance in the New World. Scientists typically postulate that these animals died off due to climate changes and possible over-hunting. In other parts of the world, however, horses continued to thrive and eventually evolved into modern-day horses. When the Spaniards came to the New World in the early sixteenth century, they brought horses with them. Some horses eventually escaped and multiplied in the wild.

A horse skeleton from the La Brea Tarpits, in Los Angeles, California. The Museum notes that this is an example of the "extinct Western horse". Image taken from [1] on the La Brea Tarpits Museum website.



Question: What role do horses not play in the Book of Mormon?

Horses are never ridden or used in battle

Conspicuously absent is any role of the horse in the many journeys recorded in the Book of Mormon. Nor do horses or chariots play any role in the many Nephite wars; this is in stark contrast to the Biblical account, in which the chariots of Egypt, Babylon, and the Philistines are feared super-weapons upon the plains of Israel.

Nor do we see a role for the horse in gallant cavalry charges that were the romantic warrior ideal in Joseph Smith's day. Nor is there any sign of the rapid war of maneuver and skirmish favored by the cavalry of the western nations. These are not the horses of the nineteenth century's practical realities or fanciful dreams.

There are societies in which the horse was vital, such as among the Hun warriors of Asia and Eastern Europe, for whom horses were a sign of wealth and status, and for whom they were essential for food, clothing, and war. Yet, there is no known horse bone from this period in the archaeological record.[51]


Question: Have any ancient horse remains from the Nephite period been found in the New World?

A few non-Mormon scholars have proposed that real horses survived the New World extinction

Wild horses were present in ancient America during the Pleistocene period (Ice Age), yet were not present at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards. Horses thrived once they were re-introduced by the Spaniards into the New World. The question then is: "Why were horses missing when the Spaniards arrived?" Is it possible that real horses lived in the Americas during Book of Mormon times? And if so, why does there seem to be no archaeological support?

At least a few non-Mormon scholars believe that real horses (of a stature smaller than modern horses) may have survived New World extinction. The late British anthropologist, M.F. Ashley Montague, a non-LDS scholar who taught at Harvard, suggested that the horse never became extinct in America. According to Montague, the size of post-Columbian horses provides evidence that the European horses bred with early American horses.[52]

Non-LDS Canadian researcher, Yuri Kuchinsky, also believes that there were pre-Columbian horses. Kuchinsky, however, believes that horses (smaller than our modern horses) were reintroduced into the west coast of the Americas about 2000 years ago from Asians who came by ship. Among Kuchinsky's evidences for pre-Columbian horses are:

  1. Horse traditions among the Indians that may pre-date the arrival of the Spaniards.
  2. Supposedly pre-Columbian petroglyphs that appear to depict horses.
  3. Noticeable differences between the typical Spanish horse and the much smaller American Indian ponies.[53]


Question: Why don't potential pre-Columbian horse remains in the New World receive greater attention from scientists?

Theories that horses survived extinction after the Pleistocene extinction are viewed as fringe by mainstream scholars and are dismissed

Unfortunately for this solution for the Book of Mormon, however, such theories are typically seen as fringe among mainstream scholars. Due to the dearth of archaeological support, most scholars continue to believe that horses became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene period.

We know, for example, that the Norsemen probably introduced horses, cows, sheep, goats, and pigs into the Eastern North America in the eleventh century A.D., yet these animals didn't spread throughout the continent and they left no archeological remains.[54] According to one non-LDS authority on ancient American, the Olmecs had domesticated dogs and turkeys but the damp acidic Mesoamerican soil would have destroyed any remains and any archaeological evidence of such animal domestication.[55]

Even in areas of the world where animals lived in abundance, we sometimes have problems finding archaeological remains. The textual evidence for lions in Israel, for example, suggests that lions were present in Israel from ancient times until at least the sixteenth century AD. Robert R. Bennett of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute Of Religious Scholarship notes,

A parallel example from the Bible is instructive. The biblical narrative mentions lions, yet it was not until very recently that the only other evidence for lions in Palestine was pictographic or literary. Before the announcement in a 1988 publication of two bone samples, there was no archaeological evidence to confirm the existence of lions in that region.6 Thus there is often a gap between what historical records such as the Book of Mormon claim existed and what the limited archaeological record may yield. In addition, archaeological excavations in Bible lands have been under way for decades longer and on a much larger scale than those in proposed Book of Mormon lands.[56]

In the Bible we read that Abraham had camels while in Egypt, yet archaeologists used to believe that this was an anachronism because camels were supposedly unknown in Egypt until Greek and Roman times. More recently, however, some researchers have shown that camels were used in Egypt from pre-historic times until the present day.

The fact is, however, that there does appear to be archaeological support that horses existed in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. In 1957, for instance, at Mayapan (a site corresponding to Book of Mormon lands/times) horse remains were discovered at a depth considered to be pre-Columbian. Likewise, in southwest Yucatan, a non-Mormon archaeologist found what may likely be pre-Columbian horse remains in three caves. Excavations in a cave in the Mayan lowlands in 1978 also turned up horse remains.[57]

As an article for the Academy of Natural Science explains, such discoveries are typically "either dismissed or ignored by the European scientific community."[58] The problem may be one of pre-conceived paradigms. Dr. Sorenson recently related the story of a non-LDS archaeologist colleague who was digging at an archaeological dig in Tula and discovered a horse tooth. He took it to his supervisor--the chief archaeologist--who said, "Oh, that's a modern horse, throw it away" (which he did)--it was never dated.[59]

Dr. John Clark, director of the New World Archaeological Foundation has expressed similar concerns:

The problem is archaeologists get in the same hole that everybody else gets in. If you find a horse--if I'm digging a site and I find a horse bone--if I actually know enough to know that it is a horse bone, because that takes some expertise--my assumption would be that there's something wrong with my site. And so archaeologists who find a horse bone and say, "Ah! Somebody's screwing around with my archaeology." So we would never date it. Why am I going to throw away $600 to date the horse bone when I already know [that they're modern]? ...I think that hole's screwed up. If I dig a hole and I find plastic in the bottom, I'm not going to run the [radio]carbon, that's all there is to it. Because ...I don't want to waste the money.[60]


Response to claim: 514n73 (HB); 512n73 (PB) - "Mormon apologist John Sorenson has suggested that Smith mistranslated numerous words from the Book of Mormon"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Mormon apologist John Sorenson has suggested that Smith mistranslated numerous words from the Book of Mormon golden plates. For example, cattle and oxen should have been rendered deer and bison. Moreover, horses should also have been translated deer, while swine more accurately refers to the wild pig."

Author's sources: John Sorensen, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, 191-276, 299.

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

Sorenson did not suggest that Joseph "mistranslated" the book. He suggests that the Lehi's party used an authentic ancient practice called "loan shifting" to apply names of known animals to unfamiliar ones. Dr. Sorenson never suggested that Joseph "mistranslated" anything from the Book of Mormon. The word "mistranslated" or "mistranslation" doesn't even appear in Sorenson's book: He is instead describing the concept of "loan-shifting." Sorenson's suggestion was that the writers of the Book of Mormon may have applied these terms to the animals, not Joseph Smith.
  • "One thing is clear. The terminology the Nephite volume uses to discuss animals follows a different logic than the scheme familiar to most of us whose ancestors came out of western Europe." (John Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, 288. (emphasis added)
  • "In one column are listed Book of Mormon terms for various animals. In the other are names in modern and scientific nomenclature that could reasonably correspond. Several beasts are possible for each Book of Mormon name. Usually there is no basis for preferring one candidate above another. Take your choice. But the purpose is not to finalize identifications. Instead it is to show that there are plausible creatures to match each scriptural term." (John Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, 299. (emphasis added)



Response to claim: 75, 514n75 (HB); 512n75 (PB) - Is there no archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Is there no archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon?

Author's sources: Michael D. Coe, letter to William McKeever, Aug. 17, 1993, printed in William McKeever, "Yale Anthropologist's Views Remain Unchanged," Mormonism Researched (Winter, 1993), 6.

FairMormon Response

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

There is actually plenty of evidence, however, it is dismissed by non-LDS as being irrelevant.

Question: What criticisms are raised with regard to Book of Mormon archaeology compared to that of the Bible?

Sectarian critics who accept the Bible claim that the Bible has been "proven" by archaeology

Sectarian critics who accept the Bible, but not the Book of Mormon, sometimes claim that the Bible has been "proven" or "confirmed" by archaeology, and insist that the same cannot be said for the Book of Mormon.

The claim that there is no archaeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon is incorrect

The claim that, unlike the Bible, there is no archaeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon is based on naive and erroneous assumptions. Without epigraphic New World evidence (which is currently extremely limited from Book of Mormon times), we are unable to know the contemporary names of ancient Mesoamerican cities and kingdoms. To dismiss the Book of Mormon on archaeological grounds is short-sighted. Newer archaeological finds are generally consistent with the Book of Mormon record even if we are unable (as yet) to know the exact location of Book of Mormon cities.

  • What would a "Nephite pot" look like? What would "Nephite" or "Lamanite" weapons look like?
  • Think about the Old World--how do you tell the difference between Canaanite pots and houses and garbage dumps, and Israelite pots and houses and garbage dumps? You can't. If we didn't have the Bible and other written texts, we'd have no idea from archaelogy that Israelites were monotheists or that their religion differed from the Canaanites who lived along side them.
  • We also know very little about the names of cities in the New World from before the Spanish Conquest. So, even if we found a Nephite city, how would we know? We don't know what the pre-Columbian name for a city was (or how to pronounce them)--so, even if we had found, say, "Zarahemla," how would we know?

Note: Many of the topics sometimes addressed in archaeological critiques of the Book of Mormon are treated in detail on the Book of Mormon "anachronism" page.


Response to claim: 75, 515n77 (HB); 512n77 (PB) - The Smithsonian Institution issued a statement refuting "any claims of BOM historicity"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The Smithsonian Institution issued a statement refuting "any claims of BOM historicity."

Author's sources: Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), 260-261. ( Index of claims )

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 Smithsonian altered its statement because it did not have a way to back up its previous claims.

Question: Does the Smithsonian Institution send out a letter regarding the use of the Book of Mormon as a guide for archaeological research?

In response to inquiries from Mormons and non-Mormons, the Smithsonian Institution sends out a standard letter denying that they use the Book of Mormon as a guide for archaeological research

The Smithsonian Institution sends a form letter to those who inquire about their use of the Book of Mormon for archaeological purposes. The National Geographic Society has a similar letter. The content of the letter has changed over the years; the current version (revised 1998) reads:

Your inquiry of February 7 concerning the Smithsonian Institution's alleged use of the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide has been received in this office for response.

The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide. The Smithsonian Institution has never used it in archaeological research, and any information that you have received to the contrary is incorrect.

Your interest in the Smithsonian Institution is appreciated.

The letter is correct: The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide

Taken at face value, the letter is correct: The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide. Its purpose is "to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations" (Title Page), not to give a history of all (or even most) ancient Americans.

Previous editions of the letter contained a detailed list of alleged "problems" with the Book of Mormon

A previous edition of the letter contained a detailed list of alleged "problems" with the Book of Mormon. Critics of the Church use this older letter as proof that the Book of Mormon has no archaeological support and is therefore false. One critic even claims that "generations of youth" in the Church have been taught that the Smithsonian uses the Book of Mormon to guide their research.

John Sorenson, an LDS anthropologist, wrote a detailed critique and encouraged the Smithsonian to update their letter to reflect the latest scientific evidence:

For many years, the Smithsonian Institution has given out a routine response to questions posed to them about their view and relation between the Book of Mormon and scientific studies of ancient American civilizations. Statements in their handout pointed out what somebody at the Institutions claimed were contradictions between the text of the scriptures and what scientists claim about New World Cultures.

In 1982 John Sorenson wrote a detailed critique of the Smithsonian piece that was published by FARMS. It pointed out errors of fact and logic in the statement. He revised that in 1995 and included the recommendation that the Smithsonian Institution completely modify their statement to bring it up-to-date scientifically. FARMS officers later conferred with a Smithsonian representative who indicated a willingness to make changes. More recently members of Congress have questioned the Institution about the inappropriateness of a government agency taking a stand regarding a religious book. - Anonymous, "Smithsonian Statement on the Book of Mormon Revisited," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1 (1998): 77–77. off-site wiki

While archaeology could be useful in determining where the events of the Book of Mormon took place, the Book of Mormon does not contain the sort of historical detail that would make it useful for non-Mormon archaeologists.

That the Smithsonian does not use the Book of Mormon in its research says nothing about the book's divinity and truthfulness.

For further details, see: John L. Sorenson, "A New Evaluation of the Smithsonian Institution "Statement regarding the Book of Mormon," FARMS (1995).


Response to claim: 75, 515n78 - Is is true that "Mormon scholars, such as Dee F. Green," have admitted that Book of Mormon archaeology does not exist?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Is is true that "Mormon scholars, such as Dee F. Green," have admitted that Book of Mormon archaeology does not exist?

Author's sources: Dee F. Green, "Book of Mormon Archeology: the Myths and the Alternatives," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 4 no. [2] (Summer 1969), 72-80.

FairMormon Response

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

More correctly, Green argued in 1969 that nothing that had been done thus far qualified as Book of Mormon archaeology. He went on to argue that a broader anthropological perspective was needed—just as it was with the Bible.

Question: Did Dee F. Green say that there is no such thing as Book of Mormon archaeology?

Green argues that the concept of "Book of Mormon archaeology" is inadequate, and that a broader anthropological perspective is necessary

Dee F. Green wrote the following in 1969:

I am not impressed with allegations that Book of Mormon archaeology converts people to the Church. My personal preference in Church members still runs to those who have a faith-inspired commitment to Jesus Christ, and if their testimonies need bolstering by "scientific proof" of the Book of Mormon (or anything else for that matter), I am prone to suggest that the basis of the testimony could stand some re-examination. Having spent a considerable portion of the past ten years functioning as a scientist dealing with New World archaeology, I find that nothing in so-called Book of Mormon archaeology materially affects my religious commitment one way or the other, and I do not see that the archaeological myths so common in our proselytizing program enhance the process of true conversion….

What then, ought to be our approach to the Book of Mormon? In the first place it is a highly complex record demanding knowledge of a wide variety of anthropological skills from archaeology through ethnology to linguistics and culture change, with perhaps a little physical anthropology thrown in for good measure. No one man outside the Church, much less anyone inside, has command of the necessary information. Furthermore, it isn't just the accumulation of knowledge and skill which is important; the framework in which it is applied must fit. Such a framework can be found only by viewing the Book of Mormon against a picture of New World culture history drawn by the entire discipline of anthropology. Singling out archaeology, a sub-discipline of anthropology, to carry the burden, especially in the naive manner employed by our "Book of Mormon Archaeologists," has resulted in a lopsided promulgation of archaeological myth.

We have never looked at the Book of Mormon in a cultural context. We have mined its pages for doctrine, counsel, and historical events but failed to treat it as a cultural document which can teach something about the inclusive life patterns of a people. And if we are ever to show a relationship between the Book of Mormon and the New World, this step will have to be taken. It is the coincidence of the cultural history of the Book of Mormon with the cultural history of the New World that will tip the scales in our favor....

Several years ago John Sorenson drew an analogy with the Bible which bears repeating:

Playing "the long shots," looking for inscriptions of a particular city, would be like placing the family bankroll on the gambling tables in Las Vegas. We might be lucky, but experience tells us not to plan on it. After lo, these many years of expensive research in Bible lands, there is still not final, incontrovertible proof of a single Biblical event from archaeology alone. The great value of all that effort has been in the broad demonstration that the Bible account fits the context time after time so exactly that no reasonable person can suppose other than that it is genuinely historic. Twenty years or less of systematic "painting the scenery" can yield the same sort of convincing background for the Book of Mormon, I believe. For too long Mormons have sought to "prove" the Book of Mormon authentic by what is really the-- most difficult kind of evidence--historical particulars. In the light of logic and the experience of Biblical archaeology it appears far safer to proceed on the middle ground of seeking general contextual confirmation, even though the results may not be so spectacular as many wish. In any case such a procedure-- the slow building up of a picture and a case--will leave us with a body of new knowledge and increased understanding of the times, manner, and circumstances when Book of Mormon events took place which seems to some of us likely to have more enduring value than “proof.”(italics in original) (emphasis added)

A dated source

The reference is from 1969. Green was a believing archaeologist; believing archaeologists now have more positive things to say about whether archaeology can tell us anything about the Book of Mormon. For a more current assessment, see:

The manner in which critics of the Church use this quote distorts Green's message and intent

The manner in which critics of the Church use this quote distorts Green's message and intent. A few representative quotes demonstrate that Green is not dismissing the possibility of Book of Mormon archaeology. Instead, Green insists that the approaches taken up to 1969 were inadequate, and misdirected:

  • Among the morass of archaeological half-truths and falsehoods which we have perpetrated in the name of Book of Mormon archaeology, only Jakeman's suggestion of a limited geography and Sorenson's insistence on a cautious, highly controlled trait-complex approach are worth considering. The ink we have spilled on Book of Mormon archaeology has probably done more harm than good.
  • I am not impressed with allegations that Book of Mormon archaeology converts people to the Church. My personal preference in Church members still runs to those who have a faith-inspired commitment to Jesus Christ, and if their testimonies need bolstering by "scientific proof" of the Book of Mormon (or anything else for that matter), I am prone to suggest that the basis of the testimony could stand some re-examination. Having spent a considerable portion of the past ten years functioning as a scientist dealing with New World archaeology, I find that nothing in so-called Book of Mormon archaeology materially affects my religious commitment one way or the other, and I do not see that the archaeological myths so common in our proselytizing program enhance the process of true conversion.
  • The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists. Titles on books full of archaeological half-truths, dilettanti on the peripheries of American archaeology calling themselves Book of Mormon archaeologists regardless of their education, and a Department of Archaeology at BYU [note 16 reads: Fortunately now changed to the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology, with such qualified men as Merlin Myers, Ray T. Matheny, and Dale Berge giving students a sound and realistic education in anthropology.] devoted to the production of Book of Mormon archaeologists do not insure that Book of Mormon archaeology really exists. If one is to study Book of Mormon archaeology, then one must have a corpus of data with which to deal. We do not. The Book of Mormon is really there so one can have Book of Mormon studies, and archaeology is really there so one can study archaeology, but the two are not wed. At least they are not wed in reality since 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 other location for that matter) were or are. It would seem then that a concentration on geography should be the first order of business, but we have already seen that twenty years of such an approach has left us empty-handed (italics in original).
  • Another myth which needs dispelling is our Lamanite syndrome. Most American Indians are neither descendants of Laman nor necessarily of Book of Mormon peoples. The Book itself makes no such claim....
  • Finally, I should like to lay at rest the myth that by scurrying around Latin America looking for horses and wheels we can prove the Book of Mormon.

Green also praises some aspects of the approach taken by the Church and a few scholars

  • ...only Jakeman's suggestion of a limited geography and Sorenson's insistence on a cautious, highly controlled trait-complex approach are worth considering.
  • Considerable embarrassment over the various unscholarly postures assumed by the geographical-historical school resulted in the Church Archaeological Committee's attitude that interpretation should be an individual matter, that is, that any archaeology officially sponsored by the Church (i.e., the monies for which are provided by tithing) should concern itself only with the culture history interpretations normally within the scope of archaeology, and any attempt at correlation or interpretation involving the Book of Mormon should be eschewed. This enlightened policy, much to the gratification of the true professional archaeologist both in and outside the Church, has been scrupulously followed. It was made quite plain to me in 1963 when I was first employed by the BYU-NWAF [New World Archaeological Foundation] that my opinions with regard to Book of Mormon archaeology were to be kept to myself, and my field report was to be kept entirely from any such references.

Some of my colleagues and students, both in and out of the Church, have wondered if perhaps the real reason for the Church's involvement in archaeology (especially since it is centered in Mesoamerica with emphasis on the Preclassic period) is to help prove the Book of Mormon. While this may represent the individual thinking of some members of the Church Archaeological Committee, it has not intruded itself on the work of the foundation except to limit its activities to the preclassic cultures of Mesoamerica. Regardless of individual or group motives, however, the approach of the BYU-NWAF has been outstandingly successful. My numerous non-Church colleagues in Mesoamerican archaeology hold high regard for the work of the foundation and for most of its staff. Gareth Lowe, director of the BYU-NWAF, is as good a Mesoamerican archaeologist as there is in the country, and the foundation's outstanding publication series (which never mentions the Book of Mormon) consistently received good reviews in the professional literature.

Green is calling for a different approach

  • What then, ought to be our approach to the Book of Mormon? In the first place it is a highly complex record demanding knowledge of a wide variety of anthropological skills from archaeology through ethnology to linguistics and culture change, with perhaps a little physical anthropology thrown in for good measure. No one man outside the Church, much less anyone inside, has command of the necessary information. Furthermore, it isn't just the accumulation of knowledge and skill which is important; the framework in which it is applied must fit. Such a framework can be found only by viewing the Book of Mormon against a picture of New World culture history drawn by the entire discipline of anthropology. Singling out archaeology, a sub-discipline of anthropology, to carry the burden, especially in the naive manner employed by our "Book of Mormon Archaeologists," has resulted in a lopsided promulgation of archaeological myth.
  • We have never looked at the Book of Mormon in a cultural context. We have mined its pages for doctrine, counsel, and historical events but failed to treat it as a cultural document which can teach something about the inclusive life patterns of a people. And if we are ever to show a relationship between the Book of Mormon and the New World, this step will have to be taken. It is the coincidence of the cultural history of the Book of Mormon with the cultural history of the New World that will tip the scales in our favor.

Not surprisingly, it is this approach recommended by Green that has borne fruit in the thirty-five years since his article.

Also not surprisingly, this fact is carefully hidden from the critic's audience.

  • For an up-to-date assessment of the Book of Mormon and archaeology, see:
    • John E. Clark, "Archaeology, Relics, and Book of Mormon Belief," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/2 (2005): 38–49. off-site wiki


Response to claim: 75, 515n79 - Did a lack of Book of Mormon archaeological evidence cause B.H. Roberts and Thomas Stuart Ferguson to "abandon their faith in the Book of Mormon"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did a lack of Book of Mormon archaeological evidence cause B.H. Roberts and Thomas Stuart Ferguson to "abandon their faith in the Book of Mormon?"

Author's sources:
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "B.H. Robert's Doubts," Salt Lake City Messenger (#84), April 1993.
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Ferguson's Two Faces," Salt Lake City Messenger (#69), September 1988.
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Ferguson's Rejection of the Book of Mormon Verified," Salt Lake City Messenger (#76), November 1990.
  • Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Quest for the Gold Plates," Salt Lake City Messenger (#91), November 1996.

FairMormon Response

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

B.H. Roberts never lost his faith in the Book of Mormon - he did provide an analysis of it from a critic's perspective to inform Church leaders of potential attacks that could be made upon it. Thomas Stuart Ferguson, who was not an archaeologist, is rumored to have lost his faith when Book of Mormon evidence was not easily uncovered. Whether or not he lost his faith as a result is irrelevant.

Question: Was Thomas Stuart Ferguson an archaeologist?

Ferguson never studied archaeology at a professional level - he was self-educated in that area

As John Sorensen, who worked with Ferguson, recalled:

[Stan] Larson implies that Ferguson was one of the "scholars and intellectuals in the Church" and that "his study" was conducted along the lines of reliable scholarship in the "field of archaeology." Those of us with personal experience with Ferguson and his thinking knew differently. He held an undergraduate law degree but never studied archaeology or related disciplines at a professional level, although he was self-educated in some of the literature of American archaeology. He held a naive view of "proof," perhaps related to his law practice where one either "proved" his case or lost the decision; compare the approach he used in his simplistic lawyerly book One Fold and One Shepherd. His associates with scientific training and thus more sophistication in the pitfalls involving intellectual matters could never draw him away from his narrow view of "research." (For example, in April 1953, when he and I did the first archaeological reconnaissance of central Chiapas, which defined the Foundation's work for the next twenty years, his concern was to ask if local people had found any figurines of "horses," rather than to document the scores of sites we discovered and put on record for the first time.) His role in "Mormon scholarship" was largely that of enthusiast and publicist, for which we can be grateful, but he was neither scholar nor analyst.

Ferguson was never an expert on archaeology and the Book of Mormon (let alone on the book of Abraham, about which his knowledge was superficial). He was not one whose careful "study" led him to see greater light, light that would free him from Latter-day Saint dogma, as Larson represents. Instead he was just a layman, initially enthusiastic and hopeful but eventually trapped by his unjustified expectations, flawed logic, limited information, perhaps offended pride, and lack of faith in the tedious research that real scholarship requires. The negative arguments he used against the Latter-day Saint scriptures in his last years display all these weaknesses.

Larson, like others who now wave Ferguson's example before us as a case of emancipation from benighted Mormon thinking, never faces the question of which Tom Ferguson was the real one. Ought we to respect the hard-driving younger man whose faith-filled efforts led to a valuable major research program, or should we admire the double-acting cynic of later years, embittered because he never hit the jackpot on, as he seems to have considered it, the slot-machine of archaeological research? I personally prefer to recall my bright-eyed, believing friend, not the aging figure Larson recommends as somehow wiser. [61]


Peterson: "Thomas Stuart Ferguson's biographer...makes every effort to portray Ferguson's apparent eventual loss of faith as a failure for 'LDS archaeology'"

Daniel C. Peterson: [62]

In the beginning NWAF was financed by private donations, and it was Thomas Ferguson's responsibility to secure these funds. Devoted to his task, he traveled throughout California, Utah, and Idaho; wrote hundreds of letters; and spoke at firesides, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, and wherever else he could. After a tremendous amount of dedicated work, he was able to raise about twenty-two thousand dollars, which was enough for the first season of fieldwork in Mexico.

Stan Larson, Thomas Stuart Ferguson's biographer, who himself makes every effort to portray Ferguson's apparent eventual loss of faith as a failure for "LDS archaeology,"22 agrees, saying that, despite Ferguson's own personal Book of Mormon enthusiasms, the policy set out by the professional archaeologists who actually ran the Foundation was quite different: "From its inception NWAF had a firm policy of objectivity. . . . that was the official position of NWAF. . . . all field directors and working archaeologists were explicitly instructed to do their work in a professional manner and make no reference to the Book of Mormon."


Question: Did B.H. Roberts lose his faith in the Church and the Book of Mormon?

An excellent argument against the claim that B.H. Roberts abandoned the Book of Mormon can be found in his last book, which he considered his masterwork

Critics charge that the 'problems' with the Book of Mormon made Brigham H. Roberts (an early LDS apologist and member of the First Quorum of Seventy) lose his faith in the its historicity. The primary source upon which this criticism is based originates with Roberts' manuscripts detailing his critical study of the Book of Mormon, which was published under the title Studies of the Book of Mormon years after his death.

An excellent argument against the claim that B.H. Roberts abandoned the Book of Mormon can be found in his last book, which he considered his masterwork. [B. H. Roberts, The Truth, the Way, the Life: An Elementary Treatise on Theology, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Studies, 1994).] Given Roberts' clear respect for the Book of Mormon in this volume, there can be little doubt that he continued to believe in and treasure it.

Ironically for the critics, many of the issues which drew Elder Roberts' attention have now been solved as more information about the ancient world has become available. He expressed faith that this would be the case, and has been vindicated:

We who accept [the Book of Mormon] as a revelation from God have every reason to believe that it will endure every test; and the more thoroughly it is investigated, the greater shall be its ultimate triumph.[63]

Roberts was an able scholar, and he was not afraid to play 'devil's advocate' to strengthen the Church's defenses against its enemies

In a presentation on some potential Book of Mormon 'problems' prepared for the General Authorities, Roberts wrote a caution that subsequent critics have seen fit to ignore:

Let me say once and for all, so as to avoid what might otherwise call for repeated explanation, that what is herein set forth does not represent any conclusions of mine. This report [is] ... for the information of those who ought to know everything about it pro and con, as well that which has been produced against it as that which may be produced against it. I am taking the position that our faith is not only unshaken but unshakeable in the Book of Mormon, and therefore we can look without fear upon all that can be said against it.[64]

Roberts felt that faith in the Book of Mormon was a given, and so did not consider any 'negative' points to be of ultimate concern

Roberts felt that faith in the Book of Mormon was a given, and so did not consider any 'negative' points to be of ultimate concern, though he did seek for better answers than he then had. The critics have often published his list of of "parallels" between the Book of Mormon and Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews, without informing modern readers that Roberts did not consider the problems insoluable, or a true threat to faith in the Book of Mormon. They also do not generally cite the numerous other statements in which, to the end of his life, he declared the Book of Mormon to be a divine record.

Roberts' studies also made him willing to modify previous conceptions, such as when he concluded that the Book of Mormon was not a history of the only immigrants to the New World.

In 1930, he enthused about the Book of Mormon a century after the Church's organization:

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for God hath spoken. ... The Record of Joseph in the hands of Ephraim, the Book of Mormon, has been revealed and translated by the power of God, and supplies the world with a new witness for the Christ, and the truth and the fulness of the Gospel.[65]

Other witnesses by B.H. Roberts of truth of the Church and the Gospel

The book Discourses of B.H. Roberts of the First Council of the Seventy, compiled by Ben R. Roberts (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company 1948) contains the last seven discourses delivered by Elder Roberts: four in Salt Lake City, one in San Francisco (on the radio), and the last two at the World Fellowship of Faith in Chicago, in August-September 1933. He died three weeks after the last discourse. Roberts had returned from a lengthy illness, which made him realize how precious life is. He determined to leave his testimony, especially for the youth of the church.

From the first of these addresses:[66]

It has always been a matter of pride with me, in my more than fifty years of ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that it was no trivial thing which called this Church of the New Dispensation into existence. It was not founded upon the idea that men differed in relation to how baptism should be administered, whether by sprinkling or pouring, or immersion; or whether it was for the remission of sins, or because sins had been forgiven. I always rejoice that it had a broader foundation than whether the form of church government and administration should be Episcopal or Congregational, or the Presbyterian form of government; or any other minor [23] difference of theologians. It went to the heart of things, and astonished the world, and at the same time, of course, aroused its opposition.

When the Prophet of the New Dispensation asked God for wisdom, and which of the many churches about him he should join, he was told to join none of them, for they were all wrong; their creeds were false; they drew near to the Lord with their lips, but their hearts were far removed from him; they had a form of godliness but denied the power thereof; that the Christian world, especially, had, in fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy, transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and had broken the everlasting covenant (Isaiah 44), of which the blood of the Christ was the blood of that everlasting covenant. He promised the incoming of a New Dispensation of the Gospel of Christ, which would link together and unite all former dispensations, from Adam down to the present time, the great stream of events speeding on towards an immense ocean of truth in which it would be united with all truth. It was a world movement. To lay the foundations of a greater faith, it brought forth the American volume of scripture, the Book of Mormon. In time the authority of God, the holy priesthood was restored, the minor phase of it, through John the Baptist; and later Peter, James and John, who held the keys of the kingdom of heaven, bestowed upon them by the Christ, appeared to the Prophet Joseph and Oliver Cowdery, and the divine and supreme authority from God was conferred upon them. By this authority and under the power of it they organized the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, outlined its doctrines, and established it firmly in the earth.

That is how the New Dispensation began—not whether baptism should be by immersion, or for the forgiveness of sins. The rubbish of accumulated ages was swept aside, the rocks made bare, and the foundations relaid” (22-23).

Roberts then refers to a statement in David Whitmer, To All Believers in Christ, about the translation of the Book of Mormon being interrupted due to some problems between Joseph and Emma:

He [Joseph] took up the divine instrument, the Urim and Thummim, tried to translated but utterly failed. Things remained dark to his vision. David Whitmer tells how Joseph left the translating room and [26] went to the woodslot on the Whitmer farm, and there corrected himself, brought himself into a state of humiliation and of exaltation at the same time. He went back to the house, became reconciled to Emma, his wife, came up to the translating room, and again the visions were given and the translation went on. But he could translate only as he was in a state of exaltation of mind and in accord with the Spirit of God, which leads to the source of hidden treasures of knowledge” (25-6).

Roberts then refers to the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, which was revealed shortly after the Church was organized, in June 1830:

It goes further than we have come, this knowledge by faith. After the Prophet had translated the Book of Mormon he began to receive the revelations which today make up the Book of Moses, the translation of [27] which began to be published about six months after the Book of Mormon had been translated” (26-7).

I admire the achievements of the men of science and hold them in honor…. But what am I to think of the Prophet of God, who speaking a hundred years before him, and speaking by the knowledge that comes by faith, revealed the same truth—viz., that as one earth shall pass away, so shall another come, and there is no end to God’s work? This gives to the Church of the New Dispensation the right to voice her protest against a dying universe—its death blows to the immortality of man.

Oh, ye Elders of Israel, this is our mission, to withstand this theory of a dying universe and this destruction of the idea of the immortality and eternal life of man. We have this knowledge revealed of God, and it is for us to maintain the perpetuity of the universe and the immortal life of man. Such was the mission of the Christ, such is ours” (29).

I am one of the special witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, made so by the office I hold, and I want to begin a return to my ministry in this pulpit by exercising my duty as a special witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. Here it is: Jesus Christ is the very Son of God, the incarnation of all that is divine, the revelation of God to man, the Redeemer of the world; for as in Adam all die, so shall they in Christ be brought forth alive. Also Jesus is the Savior of individual man, through him and him alone comes repentance and [30] forgiveness of sins, through which the possibility of unity with God comes. As his witness I stand before you on this occasion to proclaim these truths concerning the Christ, not from scientific knowledge or book learning, but from the knowledge that comes by faith” (29-30)

It is difficult to see these as the words of one who has lost his faith in the Church, the Book of Mormon, or Joseph Smith.


Response to claim: 75 - Thomas Stuart Ferguson was an "icon" of Latter-day Saint scholarship

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Thomas Stuart Ferguson was an "icon" of Latter-day Saint scholarship.

Author's sources: No source provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

Most Latter-day Saints have never heard of Ferguson, and he was not an archaeologist. Archaeology was his hobby.



Gee: "Ferguson is largely unknown to the vast majority of Latter-day Saints; his impact on Book of Mormon studies is minimal"

John Gee: [67]

Biographies like the book under review are deliberate, intentional acts; they do not occur by accident.4 Ferguson is largely unknown to the vast majority of Latter-day Saints; his impact on Book of Mormon studies is minimal.5 So, of all the lives that could be celebrated, why hold up that of a "double-acting sourpuss?"6 Is there anything admirable, virtuous, lovely, of good report, praiseworthy, or Christlike about Thomas Stuart Ferguson's apparent dishonesty or hypocrisy? Larson seems to think so: "I feel confident," Larson writes, "that Ferguson would want his intriguing story to be recounted as honestly and sympathetically as possible" (p. xiv). Why? Do we not have enough doubters? Yet Larson does not even intend to provide the reader with a full or complete biographical sketch of Ferguson's life, since he chose to include "almost nothing . . . concerning his professional career as a lawyer, his various real estate investments, his talent as a singer, his activities as a tennis player, or his family life" (p. xi). In his opening paragraph, Larson warns the reader that he is not interested in a well-rounded portrait of Ferguson. Nevertheless, he finds time to discourse on topics that do not deal with Ferguson's life and only tangentially with his research interest.


Peterson and Roper: "We know of no one who cites Ferguson as an authority, except countercultists"

Daniel C. Peterson and Matthew Roper: [68]

"Thomas Stuart Ferguson," says Stan Larson in the opening chapter of Quest for the Gold Plates, "is best known among Mormons as a popular fireside lecturer on Book of Mormon archaeology, as well as the author of One Fold and One Shepherd, and coauthor of Ancient America and the Book of Mormon" (p. 1). Actually, though, Ferguson is very little known among Latter-day Saints. He died in 1983, after all, and "he published no new articles or books after 1967" (p. 135). The books that he did publish are long out of print. "His role in 'Mormon scholarship' was," as Professor John L. Sorenson puts it, "largely that of enthusiast and publicist, for which we can be grateful, but he was neither scholar nor analyst." We know of no one who cites Ferguson as an authority, except countercultists, and we suspect that a poll of even those Latter-day Saints most interested in Book of Mormon studies would yield only a small percentage who recognize his name. Indeed, the radical discontinuity between Book of Mormon studies as done by Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson in the fifties and those practiced today by, say, the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) could hardly be more striking. Ferguson's memory has been kept alive by Stan Larson and certain critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as much as by anyone, and it is tempting to ask why. Why, in fact, is such disproportionate attention being directed to Tom Ferguson, an amateur and a writer of popularizing books, rather than, say, to M. Wells Jakeman, a trained scholar of Mesoamerican studies who served as a member of the advisory committee for the New World Archaeological Foundation?5 Dr. Jakeman retained his faith in the Book of Mormon until his death in 1998, though the fruit of his decades-long work on Book of Mormon geography and archaeology remains unpublished.


Response to claim: 76, 515-6n81-84 - B.H. Roberts concluded that Joseph Smith was inspired by Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews

The author(s) make(s) the following claim:

B.H. Roberts concluded that Joseph Smith was inspired by Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews.

Author's sources:
  • B.H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, 243, 271.
  • Wesley P. Lloyd, Private Journal of Wesley P. Lloyd, August 7, 1933.
  • Truman G. Madsen, "B.H. Roberts and the Book of Mormon," BYU Studies [Summer 1979] vol. 19, 427-445.

FairMormon Response

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

This is incorrect - Roberts clearly stated that these were not his own opinions. He was postulating and providing evidence that future critics would conclude that Joseph Smith was inspired by View of the Hebrews.

Question: What did B.H. Roberts say about View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon?

B.H. Roberts was playing "devil's advocate" when he examined View of the Hebrews, and showing what a critic might do

The View of the Hebrews theory was examined in detail by B. H. Roberts in 1921 and 1922. Roberts took the position of examining the Book of Mormon from a critical perspective in order to alert the General Authorities to possible future avenues of attack by critics. The resulting manuscripts were titled Book of Mormon Difficulties and A Parallel. Roberts, who believed in a hemispheric geography for the Book of Mormon, highlighted a number of parallels between View of the Hebrews and The Book of Mormon. Roberts stated,

[C]ould the people of Mulek and of Lehi...part of the time numbering and occupying the land at least from Yucatan to Cumorah...live and move and have their being in the land of America and not come in contact with other races and tribes of men, if such existed in the New World within Book of Mormon times? To make this seem possible the area occupied by the Nephites and Lamanites would have to be extremely limited, much more limited, I fear, than the Book of Mormon would admit our assuming.[69]

Roberts concluded that, if one assumed that Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon himself, that View of the Hebrews could have provided him with a foundation for creating the book. In fact, many of the issues highlighted by Roberts vanish when a limited geography theory is considered. The acceptance of the View of the Hebrews theory is therefore contingent upon the acceptance of a hemispheric geography model for the Book of Mormon. In order to promote View of the Hebrews as a source, critics necessarily reject any limited geography theory proposal for the Book of Mormon.

Roberts rejected the idea that the Book of Mormon was not divine

In 1985, Roberts' manuscripts were published under the title Studies of the Book of Mormon. This book is used by critics to support their claim that B. H. Roberts lost his testimony after performing the study. Roberts, however, clearly continued to publicly support the Book of Mormon until his death, and reaffirmed his testimony both publicly and in print.


Response to claim: 77-80, 516n88-90 (HB) 514n88-90 (PB) - Thomas Stuart Ferguson wrote a letter stating "Perhaps you and I have been spoofed by Joseph Smith..."

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Thomas Stuart Ferguson wrote a letter stating "Perhaps you and I have been spoofed by Joseph Smith. Now that we have the inside dope -- why not spoof a little back and stay aboard [the Church]."

Author's sources:
  • Ferguson, "Written Symposium on Book-of-Mormon Geography: Response of Thomas S. Ferguson to the Norman & Sorenson Papers," 4, 7, 29, reprinted in Jerald Tanner and Sandra Tanner, Ferguson's Manuscript Revealed.
  • Feb. 20, 1976 letter to Mr. & Mrs. H. W. Lawrence.
  • Thomas Stuart Ferguson, letter dated February 9, 1976.

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

Daniel C. Peterson and Matthew Roper:

Nevertheless, we are quite prepared to entertain the idea that Thomas Stuart Ferguson lost his faith. It seems the most plausible reading of some of the evidence. There are, however, several contrary indications that muddy the waters a bit. For instance, the 1975 symposium paper on which Larson places such weight can be read, in a few passages, as expressing at least a hope that the Book of Mormon might be true. And Thomas Ferguson’s son Larry recalls sitting on a patio with his father shortly after his father had returned from a trip to Mexico with Elder Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It was only one month before the senior Ferguson’s entirely unexpected death. “For no apparent reason, out of the blue,” Larry recalls, Thomas Stuart Ferguson turned to his son and bore his testimony. “Larry,” he said, “the Book of Mormon is exactly what Joseph Smith said it is.” Sometime earlier, Ferguson had borne a similar testimony to his wife, Larry’s mother, and, during the year before he died, he had participated in an effort to distribute the Book of Mormon to non–Latter-day Saints.[70]





Notes

  1. Richard Abanes, Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism (Harvest House Publishers: 2005). 73, 367 n.138. ( Index of claims ); Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 43. ( Index of claims );Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised) (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), 193, 235. ( Index of claims );Richard Packham, "Questions for Mitt Romney," 2008.;Simon Southerton, Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2004) 40, 184. ( Index of claims )
  2. Richard Abanes, Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism (Harvest House Publishers: 2005). 73, 367 n.138. ( Index of claims ); Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 43. ( Index of claims );Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised) (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), 193, 235. ( Index of claims );Richard Packham, "Questions for Mitt Romney," 2008.;Simon Southerton, Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2004) 40, 184. ( Index of claims )
  3. Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002), 324.
  4. Joseph Smith (editor), "AMERICAN ANTIQUITIES.," Times and Seasons 3 no. 18 (July 15, 1842), 860, (emphasis added). off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  5. [Editor], "ZARAHEMLA.," Times and Seasons 3 no. 23 (Oct. 1, 1842), 927. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  6. Interview with James H. Hart, Richmond, Mo., Aug. 21, 1883, as recorded in Hart's notebook; reprinted in Lyndon Cook (editor), David Whitmer Interviews: A Restoration Witness (Orem, Utah: Grandin Books, 1991), 76.
  7. Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 1:296. citing Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (Liverpool, S.W. Richards, 1853), 36-173.
  8. Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 1:294–296. citing the 1845 manuscript of Lucy Mack Smith's autobiography.
  9. Lucy Smith, Lucy's Book: Critical Edition of Lucy Mack Smith's Family Memoir, edited by Lavina Fielding Anderson and Irene M. Bates, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 2001), 346. ISBN 1560851376.
  10. Times and Seasons 3 no. 9 (1 March 1842), 707. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  11. Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 1 no. 7 (April 1835), 112.
  12. Hugh W. Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon (Vol. 8 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989), 148. ISBN 0875791794.. Nibley continues: Note first of all that it was quickly realized, not only by the Mormons, but by the anti-Mormons as well, that Joseph Smith by his own wits could not possibly have written the Book of Mormon—and so farewell to Mr. Campbell's sublime certitudes: "I cannot doubt for a single moment but that he is the sole author and proprietor of it!" Note in the second place the admission that this obvious fact left the critics in a quandary—they "wondered much." And since quandaries are intolerable to critics, who are never at a loss to invent explanations, it is not the least surprising that "the wonder grew into a suspicion." From embarrassment to wonder and from wonder to suspicion: is there any doubt what the next step will be? Is suspicion ever at a loss to discover villainy? All at once, and last of all, comes the evidence: "almost simultaneously" people everywhere start remembering a certain unpublished and unregretted novel, a dull, befuddled composition that no one had the patience to read but the names of whose characters were remembered with crystal clarity by people who had forgotten all about the book until then. Then another "double-take" made it necessary to explain how Smith could have got hold of the book, and, presto! another brain-wave hit the public, and here and there people suddenly remembered a "mysterious stranger" who used to visit the Smiths by night, some three to ten and more years before! There is your answer, and no funny business, either: "There was no opportunity of collusion" between the "witnesses."
  13. Matthew Roper, "Unanswered Mormon Scholars (Review of Answering Mormon Scholars: A Response to Criticism Raised by Mormon Defenders)," FARMS Review of Books 9/1 (1997): 87–145. [ off-site]
  14. John W. Welch, "View of the Hebrews: 'An Unparallel'," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), 83–87.
  15. View of the Hebrews: 1825 2nd Edition Complete Text by Ethan Smith, edited by Charles D. Tate Jr., (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1996), 223. ISBN 1570082472. off-site wikisource
  16. Ethan Smith, 220.
  17. Ethan Smith, 184-185.
  18. Stephen D. Ricks, "Review of The Use of the Old Testament in the Book of Mormon by Wesley P. Walters," FARMS Review of Books 4/1 (1992): 235–250. off-site
  19. John A. Tvedtnes and Matthew Roper, "Joseph Smith's Use of the Apocrypha: Shadow or Reality? (Review of Joseph Smith's Use of the Apocrypha by Jerald and Sandra Tanner)," FARMS Review of Books 8/2 (1996): 326–372. off-site
  20. James B. Allen, "Asked and Answered: A Response to Grant Palmer (Review of: An Insider's View of Mormon Origins)," FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 235–286. off-site
  21. John A. Tvedtnes and Matthew Roper, "Joseph Smith's Use of the Apocrypha: Shadow or Reality? (Review of Joseph Smith's Use of the Apocrypha by Jerald and Sandra Tanner)," FARMS Review of Books 8/2 (1996): 326–372. off-site
  22. John Gee "Four Suggestions on the Origin of the Name Nephi” from Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon.
  23. John Gee "Four Suggestions on the Origin of the Name Nephi” from Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon.
  24. Map of Anjouan [Nzwani], one of the Comoro Islands[Bellin, Jacques Nicolas, 1703-1772]. Carte de L'Isle D'Anjouan / Kaart van 'T Eiland Anjuan. par le Cap. Cornwal. [Paris?: Bellin?, 1748?] Call number: G 9212 .A5 P5 1748 .B45 off-site
  25. 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
  26. Royal Skousen, "Changes In the Book of Mormon," 2002 FAIR Conference proceedings.
  27. 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.
  28. 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), Chapter 6, references silently removed—consult original for citations.
  29. Thomas Jefferson, "original Rough draght," The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 1:1760-1776 (Princeton University Press, 1950), 423–428. off-site
  30. Editorial Note, "Jefferson's 'original Rough draught,' of the Declaration of Independence," (Princeton University Press, 2004), 6, footnote 16. off-site
  31. John Wesley, A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People Called Methodists (London: Wesleyan-Methodist Book Room, 1889 [1780]), #285, #809.
  32. Irenaeus, "Against Heresies," in book 4 chap. 8 Ante-Nicene Fathers, edited by Philip Schaff (Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886)1:471. ANF ToC off-site This volume
  33. Emma Smith, A Collection of Sacred Hymns, for the Church of the Latter Day Saints Hymn 52, (Kirtland, Ohio: F. G. Williams & co., 1835), 68.
  34. Lewis Bidamon to Emma Smith Bidamon, 20 April 1850, RLDS Archives; cited in Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, 2nd edition, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 257. Spelling as original, italics added.
  35. 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
  36. William J. Adams Jr., "Synagogues in the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/1 (2000): 4–13.. wiki (references silently omitted; see original for much more detail)
  37. See: Lee I. Levine, The Ancient Synagogue: The First Thousand Years (2d ed.; New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005). ISBN 0300106289.
  38. Warren P. Aston and Michaela Knoth Aston, In the Footsteps of Lehi: New Evidence for Lehi's Journey across Arabia to Bountiful (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994), 1. ISBN 0875798470 See also Warren P. Aston, "The Arabian Bountiful Discovered? Evidence for Nephi's Bountiful," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1 (1998): 4–11. off-site wiki; S. Kent Brown and Terry B. Ball and Arnold G. Green, "Planning Research on Oman: The End of Lehi's Trail," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1 (1998): 12–21. off-site wiki
  39. George Potter and Timothy Sedor, "Following the Words of Nephi: The Land Bountiful," video presentation, available by order from[www.nephiproject.com|here].
  40. Jeff Lindsay, "Warren Aston on the Superiority of Khor Kharfot as a Candidate for Bountiful," mormanity.blogspot.com post (12 June 2006, accessed 8 September 2006) off-site; citing Warren P. Aston, "Finding Nephi's "Bountiful" in the Real World, Meridian Magazine off-site
  41. Ron Harris, "Geologists Discover Iron Ore in Region of Nephi's Bountiful," Meridian Magazine, (28 July 2004). off-site
  42. Used with kind permission from the official site for the Ministry of Information of the Sultanate of Oman, http://www.omanet.om. The original, larger photos are in their beautiful photogallery. To access it, go to their site and click on "gallery" and then "tourism," and then click through their photos.
  43. George Potter, "A New Candidate in Arabia for the "Valley of Lemuel"," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/1 (1999): 54–63. wiki
  44. George Potter and Richard Wellington, Lehi in the Wilderness: 81 New Documented Evidences That the Book of Mormon Is a True History (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, 2003).ISBN 1555176410 off-site
  45. Jeffrey R. Chadwick, "The Wrong Place for Lehi's Trail and the Valley of Lemuel (Review of: Lehi in the Wilderness)," FARMS Review 17/2 (2005): 197–215. off-site
  46. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 294.
  47. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  48. Robert T. Hatt, “Faunal and archaeological researches in Yucatan caves.” Cranbrook Institute of Science 33 (1953), 1-42.
  49. Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales and Oscar Polaco, “Caves and the Pleistocene vertebrate paleontology of Mexico.” In B. W. Schubert, J. I. Mead and R. W. Graham (eds.) Ice Age Faunas of North America (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2003), 273-291.
  50. Jay F. Kirkpatrick and Patricia M. Fazio, "The Surprising History of America's Wild Horses," LiveScience.com (July 24, 2008) off-site
  51. S. Bokonyi, History of Domestic Mammals in Central and Eastern Europe (Budapest: Akademiai Kiado, 1974), 267.
  52. Paul R. Cheesman, The World of the Book of Mormon (Bountiful, UT: Horizon Publishers, 1984), 194, 181.
  53. http://www.strangeark.com/nabr/NABR5.pdf
  54. William J. Hamblin, "Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 161–197. wiki off-site GL direct link
  55. John Tvedtnes, “The Nature of Prophets and Prophecy” (unpublished, 1994), 29-30 (copy in Mike Ash’s possession); Benjamin Urrutia, “Lack of Animal Remains at Bible and Book-of-Mormon Sites,” Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology, 150 (August 1982), 3-4.
  56. "Horses in the Book of Mormon" (Provo: Utah, FARMS, 2000). off-site
  57. Clay E. Ray, “Pre-Columbian Horses from Yucatan,” Journal of Mammalogy 38:2 (1957), 278.
  58. http://www.ansp.org/museum/leidy/paleo/equus.php)
  59. Mike Ash notes that this story was told at the Q&A session following Dr. Sorenson’s presentation, “The Trajectory of Book of Mormon Studies,” 2 August 2007 at the 2007 FAIR Conference; audio and video in author’s possession.
  60. John Clark during Q&A session following Dr. Clark’s presentation, “Archaeology, Relics, and Book of Mormon Belief,” 25 May 2004 at BYU; audio of Q&A in author Mike Ash's possession.
  61. John L. Sorenson, "Addendum," to John Gee, "A Tragedy of Errors (Review of By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri by Charles M. Larson," FARMS Review of Books 4/1 (1992): 93–119. off-site
  62. Daniel C. Peterson, [https://publications.mi.byu.edu/fullscreen/?pub=1458&index=12 "On the New World Archaeological Foundation," The FARMS Review 16:1 (2004).
  63. B. H. Roberts, "The Translation of the Book of Mormon," Improvement Era no. 9 (April 1906), 435–436.
  64. B. H. Roberts to the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, March 1923. (See Studies of the Book of Mormon (1992), p. 58. On page 33, note 65, the editor of this work states that the date on this letter should be 1922 rather than 1923.)
  65. Brigham H. Roberts, Conference Report (April 1930), 47.
  66. B. H. Roberts, “Protest Against the Science-Thought of a ‘Dying Universe’ and no Immortality for Man: The Mission of the Church of the New Dispensation,” delivered SLC Tabernacle, Sunday, 23 January 1932; reproduced in Discourses of B.H. Roberts of the First Council of the Seventy, compiled by Ben E. Roberts (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company 1948), 11–30.
  67. John Gee, "The Hagiography of Doubting Thomas," FARMS Review of Books 10:2 (1998).
  68. Daniel C. Peterson and Matthew Roper, "Ein Heldenleben? On Thomas Stuart Ferguson as an Elias for Cultural Mormons," The FARMS Review 16:1 (2004)
  69. Brigham H. Roberts, Brigham D. Madsen, ed., Studies of the Book of Mormon, (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1985) ISBN 0252010434 .
  70. Daniel C. Peterson and Matthew Roper, "Ein Heldenleben? On Thomas Stuart Ferguson as an Elias for Cultural Mormons (Review of: Quest for the Gold Plates: Thomas Stuart Ferguson’s Archaeological Search for the Book of Mormon)," FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 175–220. off-site 180-181.