Criticism of Mormonism/Books/The Changing World of Mormonism/Chapter 5

Table of Contents

Response to claims made in "Chapter 5: The Book of Mormon"

A FairMormon Analysis of: Criticism of Mormonism/Books, a work by author: Jerald and Sandra Tanner
Claim Evaluation
The Changing World of Mormonism
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Response to claims made in The Changing World of Mormonism, "Chapter 5: The Book of Mormon"

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Response to claim: 94 - Brigham Young claimed that some of the Book of Mormon witnesses doubted that they had ever seen an angel

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young claimed that some of the Book of Mormon witnesses doubted that they had ever seen an angel.

(Author's sources: *Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:164.)

FairMormon Response

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

Brigham is not referring to the Three or the Eight Witnesses:

Some of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God, were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel. One of the Quorum of the Twelve—a young man full of faith and good works, prayed, and the vision of his mind was opened, and the angel of God came and laid the plates before him, and he saw and handled them, and saw the angel, and conversed with him as he would with one of his friends; but after all this, he was left to doubt, and plunged into apostacy, and has continued to contend against this work. There are hundreds in a similar condition.[1]





Response to claim: 94 - The authors claim that Oliver Cowdery may have had doubts about his testimony

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

The authors claim that Oliver Cowdery may have had doubts about his testimony

(Author's sources: Times and Seasons 1841 vol. 2, p.482)

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 authors can only infer this - they have no actual evidence.



Question: Did Oliver Cowdery ever deny his Book of Mormon witness because he thought that Joseph Smith was a fallen prophet?

There is a wealth of evidence which demonstrates that Oliver never denied his testimony, even after his disagreements with Joseph Smith

As a lawyer, while writing to Phineas Young, Oliver said:

I have cherished a hope, and that one of my fondest, that I might leave such a character, as those who might believe in my testimony, after I should be called hence, might do so, not only for the sake of the truth, but might not blush for the private character of the man who bore that testimony. I have been sensitive on this subject, I admit; but I ought to be so—you would be, under the circumstances, had you stood in the presence of John, with our departed Brother Joseph, to receive the Lesser Priesthood—and in the presence of Peter, to receive the Greater, and looked down through time, and witnessed the effects these two must produce,—you would feel what you have never felt, were wicked men conspiring to lessen the effects of your testimony on man, after you should have gone to your long sought rest.[2]

Surely Oliver's concern for his testimony included his testimony as a witness.

Eventually Oliver left the law practice he had started after leaving the Church, and journeyed to Kanesville, Iowa, with his wife and daughter and finally reunited with the Church in 1848. Before he was baptized he bore his testimony to the congregation that had gathered for a conference.

I wrote, with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, or as it is called by the book, Holy Interpreters. I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was transcribed. I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the Holy Interpreters. That book is true. ...It contains the everlasting gospel, and came forth to the children of men in fulfillment of the revelations of John, where he says he saw an angel come with the everlasting gospel to preach to every nation, kindred, tongue and people. It contains principles of salvation; and if you, my hearers, will walk by its light and obey its precepts, you will be saved with an everlasting salvation in the kingdom of God on high.[3]

Oliver rejoined the Church and prepared to journey to Utah to unite with the main body of the Latter-day Saints but he died while living temporarily in Richmond, Missouri. Oliver Cowdery had contracted tuberculosis. In March 1850, while on his deathbed, Oliver used his dying breaths to testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Lucy P. Young, his half-sister, was at his bedside and reported:

Oliver Cowdery just before breathing his last, asked his attendants to raise him up in bed that he might talk to the family and his friends, who were present. He then told them to live according to the teachings contained in the Book of Mormon, and promised them, if they would do this, that they would meet him in heaven. He then said, ‘Lay me down and let me fall asleep.’ A few moments later he died without a struggle.[4]

In November 1881, over 30 years after Oliver's death, his former law partner Judge W. Lang claimed in a letter that Oliver had admitted that the Book of Mormon was a fraud. Lang's letter claimed that the Book of Mormon was derived from the Spalding manuscript by Oliver, and that Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith approved the final draft. This claim cannot be considered credible for a number of reasons, among them the fact that the Spalding manuscript bears no resemblance to the Book of Mormon (something even the critics agree with), and the fact that Sidney Rigdon was never associated with Joseph Smith prior to the publication of the Book of Mormon. The basis for Lang's claim seems to be the standard Spalding theory of Book of Mormon authorship.


Response to claim: 96 - The story of Hiram Page and his stone is used as an example of the witnesses' gullibility

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

The witnesses to the Book of Mormon were "very gullible." The story of Hiram Page and his stone is used as an example of their gullibility.

(Author's sources: History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, vol. 1, pp.109-10)

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

Tanners stoop to ad hominem, probably hoping we will ignore the evidence and judge the men before hearing them.



Question: Why did Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer accept Hiram Page's seer stone revelations as authoritative?

The Lord used this incident as a way to teach Oliver the proper order of revelation in the Church

This event is discussed in the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013):

In 1830, the Prophet Joseph Smith encountered a challenge because Church members did not understand the order of revelation in the Church. Hiram Page claimed to receive revelations for the Church through the medium of a special stone, and some Church members, including Oliver Cowdery, believed him. Shortly before a Church conference that was held on September 26, 1830, the Lord revealed truths that helped Oliver Cowdery and others understand the order of revelation in the Church.[5]

Oliver was actually directed by the Lord to correct Hiram Page in this matter. It was a "teaching moment" for Oliver:

11 And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him;

12 For, behold, these things have not been appointed unto him, neither shall anything be appointed unto any of this church contrary to the church covenants.

13 For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.

14 And thou shalt assist to settle all these things, according to the covenants of the church, before thou shalt take thy journey among the Lamanites. (D&C 28:11-14).


Response to claim: 97 - David Whitmer said that God told him to separate himself from among the Latter Day Saints

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

David Whitmer said that God told him to separate himself from among the Latter Day Saints.

(Author's sources: An Address to All Believers in Christ, pp. 27-28)

FairMormon Response

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

FairMormon doesn't have any problem believing that God told Whitmer to leave Far West. Whitmer had been excommunicated well before God told him to leave.



Question: Did God tell David Whitmer to leave the Church and repudiate Mormonism?

God told David Whitmer to leave Far West one month after he had already been excommunicated from the Church

David Whitmer, one of the Book of Mormon's Three Witnesses, said:

If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to "separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, should it be done unto them."[6]

and

In June, 1838, at Far West, Mo., a secret organization was formed, Doctor Avard being put in as the leader of the band; a certain oath was to be administered to all the brethren to bind them to support the heads of the church in everything they should teach. All who refused to take this oath were considered dissenters from the church, and certain things were to be done concerning these dissenters, by Dr. Avard's secret band. I make no farther statements now; but suffice it to say that my persecutions, for trying to show them their errors, became of such a nature that I had to leave the Latter Day Saints; and, as I rode on horseback out of Far West, in June, 1838, the voice of God from heaven spake to me as I have stated above.[7]

God did not tell Whitmer to repudiate Mormonism

The quotations cited by the critics are taken from a pamphlet written by David Whitmer near the end of his life. In this pamphlet, called An Address to All Believers in Christ, Whitmer strongly reiterates his testimony of the Book of Mormon and his experience seeing the angel as one of the three witnesses. He then goes on to outline in detail his disagreements with the church and with Joseph Smith, Jr. It was because of these disagreements that Whitmer was ultimately excommunicated. When God told him to leave Far West, he had not been a member of the Church for weeks. God did not tell Whitmer to repudiate Mormonism.

Whitmer's safety in Far West may have been at risk after his excommunication

However, since he remained among the Saints during the month after he was excommunicated, he was at potential risk of harm. Whitmer announced that "the voice of God" told him to "separate [him]self from among the Latter Day Saints" in June 1838, after the formation of Sampson Avard's secret vigilante group. David Whitmer had been excommunicated from the Church more than a month earlier, and his only continued association with the Saints was the fact that he was still living among them in Far West.

Whitmer was not instructed to leave the Church or "repudiate Mormonism," he was instructed (by God) to leave Far West after he was already excommunicated. This was arguably a very prudent course, both for Whitmer's safety and the integrity of the Restoration witnesses. Whitmer's witness of the Book of Mormon and seeing the angel is much more powerful since he forcefully maintained it even after he left the Church and disagreed with Joseph Smith.


Response to claim: 97 - Joseph said that John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris are "too mean to mention"

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph said that John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris are "too mean to mention."

FairMormon Response

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

Despite the violent disagreement between Joseph and these apostates, none denied their testimony. Why would Joseph risk angering men who he knew could expose his fraud, unless he knew their witness too strong to deny?



History of the Church 3:232:

Is not all manner of evil of every description spoken of us falsely, yea, we say unto you falsely. We have been misrepresented and misunderstood, and belied, and the purity and integrity and uprightness of our hearts have not been known—and it is through ignorance—yea, the very depths of ignorance is the cause of it; and not only ignorance, but on the part of some, gross wickedness and hypocrisy also; for some, by a long face and sanctimonious prayers, and very pious sermons, had power to lead the minds of the ignorant and unwary, and thereby obtain such influence that when we approached their iniquities the devil gained great advantage—would bring great trouble and sorrow upon our heads; and, in fine, we have waded through an ocean of tribulation and mean abuse, practiced upon us by the ill bred and the ignorant, such as Hinkle, Corrill, Phelps, Avard, Reed Peck, Cleminson, and various others, who are so very ignorant that they cannot appear respectable in any decent and civilized society, and whose eyes are full of adultery, and cannot cease from sin. Such characters as McLellin, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them. Marsh and "another," whose hearts are full of corruption, whose cloak of hypocrisy was not sufficient to shield them or to hold them up in the hour of trouble, who after having escaped the pollution of the world through the knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, became again entangled and overcome—their latter end is worse than the first. But it has happened unto them according to the word of the Scripture: "The dog has returned to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."


Response to claim: 98 - Oliver Cowdery was accused of being involved in counterfeiting

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Oliver Cowdery was accused of being involved in counterfeiting.

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

Oliver was accused of "dishonestly retaining notes after they had been paid," along with a number of other things. "Counterfeiting" makes it sound like he was printing fake currency.



History of the Church 3:16:

Charges Against Oliver Cowdery.

Wednesday, April 11,—Elder Seymour Brunson preferred the following charges against Oliver Cowdery, to the High Council at Far West: 1

To the Bishop and Council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I prefer the following charges against President Oliver Cowdery.

"First—For persecuting the brethren by urging on vexatious law suits against them, and thus distressing the innocent.

"Second—For seeking to destroy the character of President Joseph Smith, Jun., by falsely insinuating that he was guilty of adultery.

"Third—For treating the Church with contempt by not attending meetings.

"Fourth—For virtually denying the faith by declaring that he would not be governed by any ecclesiastical authority or revelations whatever, in his temporal affairs.

"Fifth—For selling his lands in Jackson county, contrary to the revelations.

"Sixth—For writing and sending an insulting letter to President Thomas B. Marsh, while the latter was on the High Council, attending to the duties of his office as President of the Council, and by insulting the High Council with the contents of said letter.

"Seventh—For leaving his calling to which God had appointed him by revelation, for the sake of filthy lucre, and turning to the practice of law.

Eighth—For disgracing the Church by being connected in the bogus business, as common report says.

"Ninth—For dishonestly retaining notes after they had been paid; and finally, for leaving and forsaking the cause of God, and returning to the beggarly elements of the world, and neglecting his high and holy calling, according to his profession."[8]

Response to claim: 99 - Oliver Cowdery is not a reliable witness because he joined a Methodist church after his excommunication

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Oliver Cowdery is not a reliable witness because he joined a Methodist church after his excommunication.

FairMormon Response

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

Oliver was a witness of the Book of Mormon, not the Church. Oliver never renounced that testimony even after he joined another Church. A religious Christian, he probably preferred to worship somewhere than nowhere at all. Latter-day Saints believe there is much good in other faiths. Oliver ultimately returned to the Church, and continued to affirm his testimony until his death.



Response to claim: 99-100 - Some of the Book of Mormon witnesses later followed James Strang

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Some of the Book of Mormon witnesses later followed James Strang, and, according to the authors, "their testimony is recorded in almost the same way that the testimony of the eleven witnesses is recorded in the Book of Mormon."

(Author's sources:
  • James Strang, Gospel Herald, January 20, 1848
  • William E. McLellin, The Ensign of Liberty, Kirtland, Ohio, April, 1847
  • John Whitmer's History, p.23
  • Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, vol. 8, pp.124-28)

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 were no supernatural elements to the story associated with the Strang plates. There were no witnesses of angelic visits.



Question: What are the differences between the Strangite witness statements and those of the Three and Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon?

Strang's witnesses saw nothing supernatural

No one doubts that Strang had a set of a few very small metallic plates in his possession, or that they were removed from the earth in the manner reported above. In that sense, there would be nothing for his witnesses to deny.

Wrote Daniel C. Peterson in "Defending the Faith: The story behind James Strang and his sect," Deseret News (9 June 2011) off-site

The two sets of inscribed plates that Strang claimed to have found in Wisconsin and Michigan beginning in 1845 almost certainly existed. Milo Quaife's early, standard biography of Strang reflects that, while Strang's angelic visitations "may have had only a subjective existence in the brain of the man who reported them, the metallic plates possessed a very material objective reality."

And they were almost certainly forgeries.

The first set, the three "Voree" or "Rajah Manchou" plates, were dug up by four "witnesses" whom Strang had taken to the plates' burial place. Illustrated and inscribed on both sides, the Rajah Manchou plates were roughly 1.5 by 2.75 inches in size — small enough to fit in the palm of a hand or to carry in a pocket.[9]

Some of Strang's witnesses later repudiated their testimonies, and one witness later admitted helping to fabricate the plates

Ex-strangite Isaac Scott, who was once a leader in the Strangite Church, stated that Caleb P. Barnes told him that he and Strang had actually fabricated the plates. According to Scott, the men,

made the 'plates' out of Ben [Perce]'s old kettle and engraved them with an old saw file, and ... when completed they put acid on them to corrode them and give them an ancient appearance; and that to deposit them under the tree, where they were found, they took a large auger ... which Ben [Perce] owned, put a fork handle on the auger and with it bored a long slanting hole under a tree on 'The Hill of Promise,' as they called it, laying the earth in a trail on a cloth as taken out, then put the 'plates' in, tamping in all the earth again, leaving no trace of their work visible. [10]

Peterson continues:

Among the many who saw them was Stephen Post, who reported that they were brass and, indeed, that they resembled the French brass used in familiar kitchen kettles. "With all the faith & confidence that I could exercise," he wrote, "all that I could realize was that Strang made the plates himself, or at least that it was possible that he made them." One source reports that most of the four witnesses to the Rajah Manchou plates ultimately repudiated their testimonies.

The 18 "Plates of Laban," likewise of brass and each about 7.5 by 9 inches, were first mentioned in 1849 and were seen by seven witnesses in 1851. These witnesses' testimony was published as a preface to "The Book of the Law of the Lord," which Strang said he derived from the "Plates of Laban." (He appears to have begun the "translation" at least as early as April 1849. An 84-page version appeared in 1851; by 1856, it had reached 350 pages.) Strang's witnesses report seeing the plates, but mention nothing miraculous. Nor did Strang supply any additional supporting testimony comparable to that of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon.

One of the witnesses to the "Plates of Laban," Samuel P. Bacon, eventually denied the inspiration of Strang's movement and denounced it as mere "human invention." Another, Samuel Graham, later claimed that he had actually assisted Strang in the creation of the plates.[11]

Chauncy Loomis reports that Samuel Graham described how the Plates of Laban were fabricated, and Samuel Bacon finds remnants of the plates hidden in Strang's ceiling

Chauncy Loomis, in a letter to Joseph Smith III dated 10 Nov. 1888 and published in the Saint's Herald, talked of a conversation that he had with George Adams. Adams described how Strang had asked him to dress in a long white robe and use phosphorous to impersonate an angel. Adams also reported that Samuel Graham talked about how he and Strang fabricated the Plates of Laban. Loomis reported that Samuel Bacon discovered fragments of the plates hidden in the ceiling of Strang's house, and then left the Strangite Church.

At this time George [Adams] was gone from the island on some business. When he returned and saw how things were going he left the island with his family. I saw him and wife after this on Mackinaw Island. He said to me, “Brother Loomis, I always thought you to be an honest man, but you are like poor dog Tray; you have been caught in bad company, and now my advice to you is to leave the island, for I tell you Strang is not a prophet of God. I consider him to be a self-confessed imposter. Strang wanted me to get a couple of bottles of phosphoros and dress myself in a long white robe and appear on the highest summit on the island, called Mount Pisgah, break the bottles, make an illumination and blow a trumpet and disappear so that he might make it appear that an angel had made them a visit; that it might beget faith in the Saint.” I said to him, “Brother Adams, how is it that you deny the testimony given by you so long ago, that you knew Strang was a prophet of God?” “Well, brother Loomis, I will tell you: I was in the spirit of Strang then.” I have since thought that if he ever spoke the truth it was then. I speak of these things that you may see how we were Strang led. I was in the spirit of Strang and foretold some things that would befall us which never came to pass; but I believe that myself and another brother at one time had the Spirit of God, for we prophesied that Strang would be killed, and the Saints would be driven from the island, which truly did come to pass. I shall now make some statement in regard to others who were the chief men of the kingdom. Bro. Samuel Graham, I think, president of the Twelve, declared that he and Strang made those plates that Strang claimed to translate the Book of the Law from. But they in the first place prepared the plates and coated them with beeswax and then formed the letters and cut them in with a pen knife and then exhibited them to the rest of the Twelve. The facts were Graham apostatized and left the island, taking his family and Strang’s first wife, Mary, with him to Voree, Wisconsin. At this time Strang was at Detroit, Michigan. His wife never returned to him; he had four others besides and some concubines. Bro. Samuel Bacon says that in repairing Strang’s house he found hid behind the ceiling the fragments of those plates which Strang made the Book of the Law from. He turned infidel and left the island. [11]

Image of page 719 of the Saint's Herald dated 10 Nov. 1888.

Peterson concludes,

"We can hardly escape the conclusion," writes Quaife, "that Strang knowingly fabricated and planted them for the purpose of duping his credulous followers" and, accordingly, that "Strang's prophetic career was a false and impudent imposture." A more recent biographer, Roger Van Noord, concludes that "based on the evidence, it is probable that Strang — or someone under his direction — manufactured the letter of appointment and the brass plates to support his claim to be a prophet and to sell land at Voree. If this scenario is correct, Strang's advocacy of himself as a prophet was more than suspect, but no psychological delusion."

Thus, Strang's plates were much less numerous than those of the Book of Mormon, his witnesses saw nothing supernatural and his translation required the better part of a decade rather than a little more than two months. (Quite unlike the semi-literate Joseph Smith, Strang was well-read. He had been an editor and lawyer before his involvement with Mormonism.) Perhaps most strikingly, unlike the witnesses to the Book of Mormon, some (at least) of Strang's witnesses later denied their testimonies.

The contrasts work very much in Joseph Smith's favor.[12]

In summary, Strang's witnesses:

  • had no supernatural component to their witness
  • had one who later denounced his project as mere "human invention"
  • had one who later confessed to helping fabricate the plates

The collective testimony of the Book of Mormon Witnesses is, in terms of its evidentiary value and strength, far more challenging to critics than is the testimony of James J. Strang's witnesses.


Response to claim: 103 - Latter-day Saint author Richard Anderson was "forced to acknowledge that Martin Harris' life shows evidence of 'religious instability'"

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Martin Harris changed his religion thirteen times. The authors claim that Latter-day Saint author Richard Anderson was "forced to acknowledge that Martin Harris' life shows evidence of 'religious instability'."

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

Martin Harris and the other Book of Mormon witnesses who left the Church continued to seek out something to replace what they had lost. Richard Anderson was never "forced to acknowledge" any sort of "instability" on the part of the witnesses.



Question: What did Martin Harris's non-Mormon associates say about his character?

Even early anti-Mormons who knew Harris believed that he was “honest,” and “industrious,” “benevolent,” and a “worthy citizen”

Even early anti-Mormons who knew Harris, or knew those acquainted with Harris, believed that he was “honest,” and “industrious,” “benevolent,” and a “worthy citizen.” [13] Wrote the local paper on Harris' departure with the Saints:

Several families, numbering about fifty souls, took up their line of march from this town last week for the “promised land,” among whom was Martin Harris, one of the original believers in the “Book of Mormon.” Mr. Harris was among the early settlers of this town, and has ever borne the character of an honorable and upright man, and an obliging and benevolent neighbor. He had secured to himself by honest industry a respectable fortune—and he has left a large circle of acquaintances and friends to pity his delusion.[14]

Pomeroy Tucker, who knew Harris but didn’t believe in the Book of Mormon, once noted:

How to reconcile the act of Harris in signing his name to such a statement [his Book of Mormon testimony], in view of the character of honesty which had always been conceded to him, could never easily be explained. [15]

Martin Harris's association with a number of LDS "splinter groups"

Some have argued that Harris' tendency to associate with a number of LDS "splinter groups" indicates that he was "unstable and easily influenced by charismatic leaders." [16]

This claim fundamentally distorts Harris' activities during this period. [17] Wrote Matthew Roper:

Martin was excommunicated in December 1837 in Kirtland, Ohio, where he remained for the next thirty-two years. During this time, Harris associated himself with Warren Parrish and other Kirtland dissenters who organized a church. On March 30, 1839, George A. Smith wrote a letter from Kirtland describing some of the divisions in the Parrish party. "Last Sabbath a division arose among the Parrish party about the Book of Mormon; John F. Boynton, Warren Parrish, Luke Johnson and others said it was nonsense. Martin Harris then bore testimony of its truth and said all would be damned if they rejected it." Such actions suggest a significant degree of independence for which Harris is generally not given credit. [18]

Harris managed to frustrate many other religious groups by his continued insistence on preaching the Book of Mormon instead of their tenets. He eventually returned to the Church and died in full fellowship.

The witnesses were men considered honest, responsible, and intelligent. Their contemporaries did not know quite what to make of three such men who testified of angels and gold plates, but they did not impugn the character or reliability of the men who bore that testimony.


Response to claim: 108 - Martin Harris said that he only saw the plates with his "spiritual eyes"

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Martin Harris said that he only saw the plates with his "spiritual eyes."

(Author's sources: Marvin S. Hill, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Winter, 1972, pp.83-84.)

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 authors focus only on the second-hand "spiritual eyes" comment and don't address the many instances in which Martin Harris said that he saw and handled the plates.



Question: Why would Martin Harris use the phrases "eye of faith" or "spiritual eye" to describe his visionary experience?

Martin Harris was using scriptural language to describe his visionary experience

Why did Martin Harris use the particular phraseology that he did in describing his experience? Perhaps the answer lies in another passage found in the book of Ether 12:19.

And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad.

Here it is noted that those people who have "exceedingly strong" faith can see things "within the veil." But even though they see things in the spiritual realm "with their eyes" it is described as beholding things with "an eye of faith."

Another possibility can be seen in the text of Moses 1:11. It reads:

But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face.

This dovetails nicely with the description of David Whitmer who "explained that he saw the plates, and with his natural eyes, but he had to be prepared for it—that he and the other witnesses were overshadowed by the power of God." [19]


Response to claim: 108 - David Whitmer said that he "handled the plates," but that he "did not touch nor handle the plates"

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

David Whitmer said that he "handled the plates," but that he "did not touch nor handle the plates."

(Author's sources: Saints Herald, 1882)

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's deliberately conflate several accounts of Whitmer's words in order to make it appear as if he contradicts himself.



David Whitmer (1887): "We were in the spirit when we had the view...but we were in the body also"

David Whitmer helps clear up the “spiritual” vs. “natural” viewing of the plates. Responding to the interviewer who questioned Harris. Anthony Metcalf wrote:

In March 1887, I wrote a letter to David Whitmer, requesting him to explain to me the condition he was in when he saw the angel and the plates, from which the Book of Mormon is supposed to have been translated. In April, 1887, I received a letter from David Whitmer, dated on the second of that month, replying to my communication, from which I copy, verbatim, as follows:

‘In regards to my testimony to the visitation of the angel, who declared to us three witnesses that the Book of Mormon is true, I have this to say: Of course we were in the spirit when we had the view, for no man can behold the face of an angel, except in a spiritual view, but we were in the body also, and everything was as natural to us, as it is at any time. Martin Harris, you say, called it ‘being in vision.’ We read in the Scriptures, Cornelius saw, in a vision, an angel of God, Daniel saw an angel in a vision, also in other places it states they saw an angel in the spirit. A bright light enveloped us where we were, that filled at noon day, and there in a vision, or in the spirit, we saw and heard just as it is stated in my testimony in the Book of Mormon. I am now passed eighty-two years old, and I have a brother, J. J. Snyder, to do my writing for me, at my dictation.[20]


Response to claim: 108 - Martin Harris said that the eight witnesses never saw the plates

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Martin Harris said that the eight witnesses never saw the plates.

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

Harris was not one of the eight. They can—and did—speak for themselves. John Whitmer, who was one of the Eight Witnesses, said that they did see the plates.



John Whitmer (1876): "I have never heard that any one of the three or eight witnesses ever denied the testimony that they have borne to the Book as published in the first edition of the Book of Mormon"

In 1876, John Whitmer, one of the Eight Witnesses, wrote a lengthy letter to Mark Forscutt, which included the following:

Oliver Cowdery lived in Richmond, Mo., some 40 miles from here, at the time of his death. I went to see him and was with him for some days previous to his demise. I have never heard him deny the truth of his testimony of the Book of Mormon under any circumstances whatever. . . . Neither do I believe that he would have denied, at the peril of his life; so firm was he that he could not be made to deny what he has affirmed to be a divine revelation from God. . . .

I have never heard that any one of the three or eight witnesses ever denied the testimony that they have borne to the Book as published in the first edition of the Book of Mormon. There are only two of the witnesses to that book now living, to wit., David Whitmer, one of the three, and John Wh[itmer], one of the eight. Our names have gone forth to all nations, tongues and people as a divine revelation from God. And it will bring to pass the designs of God according to the declaration therein contained.[21]

John Whitmer's character

"Mr. [John] Whitmer is considered a truthful, honest and law abiding citizen by this community, and consequently, his appointment [to preach] drew out a large audience. Mr. Whitmer stated that he had often handled the identical golden plates which Mr. Smith received from the angel...."[22]


Question: Did Hiram Page, one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, ever deny having seen the plates?

Hiram Page remained "true and faithful to his testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon until the very last"

Insisted Hyrum Page:

As to the Book of Mormon, it would be doing injustice to myself, and to the work of God of the last days, to say that I could know a thing to be true in 1830, and know the same thing to be false in 1847.[23]

Page's son recalled after his death:

I knew my father to be true and faithful to his testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon until the very last. Whenever he had an opportunity to bear his testimony to this effect, he would always do so, and seemed to rejoice exceedingly in having been privileged to see the plates.[24]


Question: Did Hyrum Smith, one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, ever deny having seen the plates?

Hyrum Smith "felt a determination to die, rather than deny the things which my eyes had seen"

Multiple writers recalled Hyrum's testimony:

  • [W]ee wass talking about the Book of Mormon which he is one of the witnesses he said he had but too hands and too eyes he said he had seen the plates with his eyes and handled them with his hands.[25]
  • "[Mary Fielding Smith] bears testimony that her husband [Hyrum] has seen and handled the plates, &c."[26]
  • Another writer heard Hyrum "declare, in this city in public, that what is recorded about the plates, &c. &c. is God's solemn truth."[27]
  • "When I was but ten years of age, I heard the testimony of the Patriarch Hyrum Smith, one of the eight witnesses, to the divinity of the Book of Mormon and teh appearance of the plates from which it was translated."[28]

After being in Liberty Jail, Hyrum wrote:

I felt a determination to die, rather than deny the things which my eyes had seen, which my hands had handled, and which I had borne testimony to, wherever my lot had been cast (emphasis added).[29]

Hyrum Smith's character

Richard Anderson wrote:

[Hyrum] was respected by his neighbors, for he served as school trustee in his neigborhood in 1828. Elected to this office in the local school district, he with two other trustees managed school affairs and funds, including hiring of teachers. Hyrum's non-Mormon reputation became clearer after the work of Masonic scholar Mervin Hogan, who published the Navuoo Lodge minutes indicating that Hyrum Smith had been a Mason in good standing in the Mount Moriah lodge No. 112, which met in Palmyra, New York. Further research shows that Hyrum indeed appears on the Palmyra report covering the period to June 4, 1828, just a year before he became a Book of Mormon witness. He is one of fifty-nine members, and is not named as newly initiated that year. This means taht normal Masonic procedures of unanimity had admitted him on grounds that his character would honor that organization—a judgment made by the large Palmyra group, among whom were young printer Pomeroy Tucker and respected physician Alexander McIntire.[30]



Question: Did Samuel Smith, one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, ever deny having seen the plates?

Samuel Smith "knew his brother Joseph had the plates...and he had handled them and seen the engravings thereon"

In the spring of 1832:

Elder [Samuel] Smith read the 29th chapter of Isaiah at the first meeting and delineated the circumstances of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, of which he said he was a witness. He knew his brother Joseph had the plates, for the prophet had shown them to him, and he had handled them and seen the engravings theron. His speech was more like a narrative than a sermon.[31]

Phineas Young (brother to Brigham Young) met Samuel on his first mission, and was given a Book of Mormon:

"Ah," said I, "You are one of the witnesses."
"Yes," said he, "I know the book to be a revelation from God, translated by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, and that my brother Joseph Smith, Jr., is a Prophet, Seer and Revelator."[32]



Question: Did Christian and Peter Whitmer, two of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, ever deny having seen the plates?

Christian and Peter Whitmer "proclaimed to their last moments, the certainty of their former testimony"

Oliver Cowdery said of these men (his brothers-in-law):

Among those who have gone home to rest, we mention the names of our two brothers-in-law, Christian and Peter Whitmer, jr. the former died on the 27th of November 1835, and the other the 22nd of September last, in Clay county, Missouri. By many in this church, our brothers were personally known: they were the first to embrace the new covenant, on hearing it, and during a constant scene of persecution and perplexity, to their last moments, maintained its truth -- they were both included in the list of the eight witnesses in the book of Mormon, and though they have departed, it is with great satisfaction that we reflect, that they proclaimed to their last moments, the certainty of their former testimony: The testament is in force after the death of the testator. May all who read remember the fact, that the Lord has given men a witness of himself in the last days, and that they, have faithfully declared it till called away.[33]


Question: Did Jacob Whitmer, one of the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, ever deny having seen the plates?

Jacob Whitmer confirmed his testimony on his death bed

In 1888, Whitmer's son said:

My father, Jacob Whitmer, was always faithful and true to his testimony to the Book of Mormon, and confirmed it on his death bed."[34]


Response to claim: 109 - No visions actually occurred in the Kirtland Temple. William McClellin claimed that there was "no endowment"

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

No visions actually occurred in the Kirtland Temple. William McClellin claimed that there was "no endowment."

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 Tanners are again arguing without any evidence. To do this, they must ignore a mound of first person contemporaneous testimony.



  • Steven C. Harper, "Pentecost Continued: A Contemporaneous Account of the Kirtland Temple Dedication," Brigham Young University Studies 42 no. 2 (2003), 4–.
  • Milton V. Backman, Jr., The Heavens Resound: A History of the Latter-day Saints in Ohio, 1830–1838 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1983), 309–. ISBN 0877479739 GospeLink (requires subscrip.)

Question: Was William McClellin disappointed in the endowment at the Kirtland Temple?

William McLellin was disappointed in the endowment, because McLellin did not receive what he sought

McLellin was among the first apostles called in this dispensation, on 14 February 1835.[35] McLellin was present for the dedication, but was disappointed with it. He wrote, "We passed through it [the Kirtland endowment]; but I, in all candor say, we were most egregiosly mistaken or disappointed!"[36] McLellin went on to describe the reason for his disappointment:

In a few days I said to Joseph: "I am disappointed! I supposed—yet, I believed that during the endowment, I should get knowledge but I have not."

He said to me, "What do you want?"

I said, "I want to know for myself (italics in original)."[37]

There is no mention here of those who claim to receive knowledge being drunk—we learn only that McLellin did not receive what he sought. This was a recurring theme of McLellin's—he often mentioned the endowment and the fact that it was a disappointment, or did not achieve what was anticipated. For example:

Feb 1847
McLellin forms "Church of Christ" with Martin Harris and others. The new Church faults Joseph Smith for "Engineering the 'endowment' at the Kirtland Temple in March and April 1836, which failed to meet expectation because the Lord would not endow His spirit in those who had drifted so far from divine purpose."[38]
1870
"disappointed" because he did not know for himself.[39]
December 1878
"I told him [Joseph] I wanted knowledge and power from God; that as an Apostle I might go forth to the nationis of the earth, and preach to them in their own lip the pure gospel of the Lord."[40]
1880
"I don't believe, in the attempted endowment in the Temple in Kirtland in 1836. It was an entire failure."[41]
1880
"I do not believe in the authority that dedicated Zion or the Temple in Kirtland. There was no power from God shown forth in those pretended dedications; as was seen and known when Solomon's Temple was dedicated in Jerusalem. If ceremony and nothing but form was seen in Joseph's dedications then we are prepared to say they were not of God; but only manism and nothing more.[42]


Response to claim: 111 - Material from the Presbyterian "Westminster Confession" is "probably" the source for Alma 40

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Material from the Presbyterian "Westminster Confession" is "probably" the source for Alma 40.

(Author's sources: Westminster Confession; Alma 40)

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

Assertion is not an argument. The Tanners need evidence.



Question: Was the content of Alma Chapter 40 derived from a Presbyterian document called The Westminster Confession?

If Joseph were attempting to plagiarize The Westminster Confession, he ought to have taken the easier route of duplicating entire sentences or even paragraphs in the manner that the critics accuse him of doing with passages from Isaiah

When one considers the short amount of time in which production of the Book of Mormon was completed, it is not reasonable to believe that such detailed and difficult method of generating text was a factor in the process even if one does not believe in the book's divine origin. If Joseph were attempting to plagiarize The Westminster Confession, he ought to have taken the easier route of duplicating entire sentences or even paragraphs in the manner that the critics accuse him of doing with passages from Isaiah. Why would Joseph “plagiarize” a well known source such as the Bible so precisely, yet go through a potentially slow and difficult process of extracting phrases and ideas from a lesser known source in order to produce a few verses in a single book in the Book of Mormon?

Critics can always find “source material” for the Book of Mormon if they extract small enough phrases from their alleged source documents. Since both the Book of Mormon and The Westminster Confessional are religious documents, it is not unreasonable to expect similar words and phrases.

The critics would have us believe that Joseph Smith read the first two verses in Chapter 32 of The Westminster Confession, and then produced Alma 40:11, 13, 14 and 20

The critics would have us believe that Joseph Smith read the first two verses in Chapter 32 of The Westminster Confession, and then produced Alma 40:11, 13, 14 and 20. In addition to the verses shown, it is indicated by the critics that there is much additional material that shows a relationship between the two texts. The following is a comparison of the verses shown in Alma 40 and The Westminster Confession, Chapter 32:1-2 as they are presented and arranged by the critics:

Alma 40:11, 12, 13, 14 and 20 The Westminster Confession Chapter 32 Verses 1-2
"... the state of the soul between death and the resurrection..." (Book of Mormon, Alma 40:11) "... the State of Men after Death, and of the Resurrection..." (The Westminster Confession, chap. 32, Title)
"... the spirits ... are taken home to that God who gave them life" (Alma 40:11) "... their souls ...return to God who gave them" (Westminster Confession 32:1)
"... the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness,..." (Alma 40:12) "... The souls of the righteous, ...are received into the highest heavens, ..." (Westminster Confession 32:1)
"... the spirits of the wicked, ... shall be cast out into outer darkness;..." (Alma 40:13) "... the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, ...and utter darkness,..." (Westminster Confession 32:1)
"... the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, remain in this state, ...until the time of their resurrection" (Alma 40:14) "... the souls of the wicked.... remain in.... darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day" (Westminster Confession 32:2)
"... the souls and the bodies are re-united,..." (Alma 40:20) "... bodies ...shall be united again to their souls..." (Westminster Confessions 32:2)

Notice the careful and extensive use of ellipses in order to string together various short phrases from the two sources in order to force a similarity. When arranged in this manner, the "similarities" look obvious. However, by examining the full text of the verses from both Alma 40 and The Westminster Confession Chapter 32, we see a much more convoluted comparison (Phrases which are claimed to be similar between the two texts are highlighted in bold).


Alma 40:11, 12, 13, 14 and 20 The Westminster Confession Chapter 32 Verses 1-2
11 Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection—Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life. (Alma 40:11)

12 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow.

13 And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.

14 Now this is the state of the souls of the wicked, yea, in darkness, and a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.

15-19...

20 Now, my son, I do not say that their resurrection cometh at the resurrection of Christ; but behold, I give it as my opinion, that the souls and the bodies are reunited, of the righteous, at the resurrection of Christ, and his ascension into heaven.

CHAPTER XXXII. Of the State of Man After Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead.

I. The bodies of men, after death, return to dust, and see corruption; but their souls (which neither die nor sleep), having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day. Besides these two places for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.


II. At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed: and all the dead shall be raised up with the self-same bodies, and none other, although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever. "

This tortured comparison represents only five verses across a span of ten verses in a single chapter in Alma against two verses in The Westminster Confession

It is difficult to believe or accept the convoluted process that Joseph Smith would have had to go through in order to produce completely coherent text in Alma 40 verses 11-20 while selectively stealing ideas and phrases from the verses highlighted in The Westminster Confession. Furthermore, one should not be surprised to see words such as "soul," "spirit," "wicked," "resurrection," and "mortal" used in two different religious texts.

One short phrase which could be claimed to have been copied verbatim into the Book of Mormon from the Westminster Confession in the verses shown above: "God who gave." However, the same claim could be made that this phrase was copied from Ecclesiastes 12:7:

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Ecclesiastes 12:7) (emphasis added)

To make a comparison at this level of sentence breakdown becomes an exercise in absurdity.


Response to claim: 114 - Joseph is claimed to have copied the name "Nephi" from the Apocrypha

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph is claimed to have copied the name "Nephi" from the Apocrypha.

(Author's sources: Authors' opinion.)

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

Assertion is not an argument. The Tanners need evidence.



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?[43]

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.[44] 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: 115 - The story of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt is claimed to be the source for the book of 1 Nephi

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

The story of Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt is claimed to be the source for the book of 1 Nephi.

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

Assertion is not an argument. The Tanners need evidence. If this is so, where is the parting the sea? The ten plagues? The earth opening up to swallow the rebellious? Water from a rock? Manna from heaven? Joseph ignored the best, most dramatic parts. Nephi consciously modeled his family on the Israelites, so some parallels are to be expected—only an initial belief that the book is a forgery makes this argument work. It is circular.



Response to claim: 115 - The Book of Mormon is proven false because it quotes Malachi many years before it was written

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon is proven false because it quotes Malachi many years before it was written.

(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 Book of Mormon does not attribute the words to Malachi.



Question: How can 1 Nephi 22:15 in the Book of Mormon quote Malachi 4:1 hundreds of years before Malachi was written?

Book of Mormon Central, KnoWhy #218: Why Did Jesus Give The Nephites Malachi's Prophecies? (Video)

The translation language may resemble Malachi, but the work is not attributed to Malachi

If Joseph was a fraud, why would he plagiarize the one text—the King James Bible—which his readers would be sure to know, and sure to react negatively if they noticed it? The Book of Mormon contains much original material—Joseph didn't "need" to use the KJV; he is obviously capable of producing original material.

The Book of Mormon claims to be a "translation." Therefore, the language used is that of Joseph Smith. Joseph could choose to render similar (or identical) material using King James Bible language if that adequately represented the text's intent.

The translation language may resemble Malachi, but the work is not attributed to Malachi. Only if we presume that the Book of Mormon is a fraud at the outset is this proof of anything. If we assume that it is a translation, then the use of Bible language tells us merely that Joseph used biblical language.

Joseph used entire chapters (e.g., 3 Nephi 12-14: based on biblical texts that he did not claim were quotations from original texts (even Malachi is treated this way by Jesus in 3 Nephi 24-25:. If these are not a problem, then a resemblance to biblical language elsewhere is not either, since that is simply how Joseph translated.


Response to claim: 116 - The story of Lazarus being raised from the dead is a source for the story of Ammon

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

The story of Lazarus being raised from the dead is a source for the story of Ammon.

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

Assertion is not an argument. The Tanners need evidence.



Response to claim: 118 - The story of Alma was taken from the story of Paul

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

The story of Alma was taken from the story of Paul.

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

Assertion is not an argument. The Tanners need evidence.



Response to claim: 119-121 - The Book of Mormon is proven false because it contains material found in the New Testament

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon is proven false because it contains material found in the New Testament.

(Author's sources: *1 John 1:3 compared to 1 Nephi 1:18

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

One would expect many teachings in the Gospel to be the same - they would not be unique to the New Testament.



Question: Why do some New Testament phrases appear in the Book of Mormon?

Critics who suggest that Joseph Smith copied phrases from the New Testament do nothing to explore how common such phrases were in the preaching, writing, and speaking of Joseph's day

Critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner present many examples of supposed "borrowing" of New Testament phrases by the Book of Mormon. When lined up in a list (without the text to compare) these can seem impressive. When the small amount of text which some have in common is seen, however, they become less convincing.

Furthermore, the Tanners do nothing to explore how common such phrases were in the preaching, writing, and speaking of Joseph's day. As discussed on the main page, many modern speakers use Shakespearean terms every day without realizing it. Some biblical phrases were simply part of the vocabulary of Joseph's day.

Google Books allows us to search many publications from the 19th century. It provides an estimate of how common these phrases were in religious and other discussion. This analysis is not to claim that Joseph read these books, but simply that these phrases were in common, frequent use for religious discussions. Since he had attended many sermons and meetings, it seems unlikely that he would not have been exposed to them over and over again. Furthermore, they were likely part of the "common language" of his era--some approach the status of cliches that one would use almost without thinking, or even knowing its source.

Analysis of specific examples

List New Testament Book of Mormon Comments

1

1 John 1:3

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

1 Nephi 1:18

18 Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard.

  • This is a fairly trivial phrase; there are multiple examples in 19th century and modern works of the phrase "I have seen and heard":
  • Candice Player and Susan Eaton, "Things I Have Seen and Heard: How Educators, Youth Workers and Elected Leaders Can Help Reduce the Damage of Childhood Exposure to Violence in Communities," off-site
  • Minnie Myrtle, "Strange Things I Have Seen and Heard" and other pieces from The Myrtle Wreath or Stray Leaves Recalled (N.Y.: Charles Scribner, 1854). off-site
  • "...now that I have seen and heard, I am in a hurry to get back, and tell my relatives the straight of it." - Isaac V. D. Heard, Henry Benjamin Whipple, History of the Sious War and Massacres of 1862 and 1863 (New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, Franklin Square, 1865), 165. off-site
  • "Because of that which I have seen and heard since my return..." - General Douglas MacArthur; cited in Edward T. Imparato, General MacArthur Speeches and Reports 1908–1964 (Turner Publishing Company, 2000), 205. off-site
  • "...things that can be both seen and heard....it will be open to us to say that the 'common thing' can be both seen and heard...." David Bostock, Plato's Theaetetus (Oxford University Press, 1991), 112.

2

John 11:50

Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

1 Nephi 4:13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.

  • Google Books shows:
    • even though "one man should perish" is not the biblical phrase, 6 works used it before June 1830. off-site This includes a translation of Dante's Inferno.
    • nearly 250 works use "perish" in close association with "one man should." off-site

3

 [ATTENTION!] – WHAT REFERENCE?

1 Nephi 11:22

And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.

 [needs work]

4

Rev 7:14

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

1 Nephi 12:11

And the angel said unto me: Look! And I looked, and beheld three generations pass away in righteousness; and their garments were white even like unto the Lamb of God. And the angel said unto me: These are made white in the blood of the Lamb, because of their faith in him.

  • This was an exceedingly well-known phrase in the religious discussion of Joseph's day.
  • Google Books shows:
    • over 600 books or magazines published before June 1830 are available on Google Books. off-site

5

1 Cor 3:15

If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

1 Nephi 22:17

Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire.

  • Google books shows:
    • 55 works using the phrase "saved as by fire" before June 1830 off-site
    • over 550 works using the phrase "as by fire" and "saved" before June 1830 off-site
    • 10 Methodist works alone used the phrase "as by fire" before June 1830–and we know that Joseph was initially attracted to Methodism. This phrase was likely a frequent part of Methodist preaching at the time. off-site

6

Romans 7:24

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

2 Nephi 4:17

Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

  • Google Books shows:
    • over 650 uses of "wretched man that I am" before June 1830 off-site
    • 11 of these uses are in Methodist publications off-site

7

Rev 20:13

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

2 Nephi 9:12

And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel.

  • Google Books shows:
    • nearly 400 uses of "delivered up the dead" before June 1830 off-site

8

Rev 22:11

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

2 Nephi 9:16

And assuredly, as the Lord liveth, for the Lord God hath spoken it, and it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away, that they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still; wherefore, they who are filthy are the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them; and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end.

  • Google Books shows:
    • 250 works used "righteous still" and "filthy still" before June 1830 off-site

9

Heb 12:2

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

2 Nephi 9:18

But, behold, the righteous, the saints of the Holy One of Israel, they who have believed in the Holy One of Israel, they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it, they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and their joy shall be full forever.

  • Google Books shows:
    • over 600 uses of "despised the shame" before June 1830 off-site
    • 6 uses in Methodist publications off-site

10

Romans 8:6

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

2 Nephi 9:39

O, my beloved brethren, remember the awfulness in transgressing against that Holy God, and also the awfulness of yielding to the enticings of that cunning one. Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.

  • Google Books shows:
    • over 600 uses of "carnally minded is death" before June 1830 off-site
    • 4 uses are in Methodist publications off-site

11

Gal 3:28

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

2 Nephi 10:16

Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God.

  • Note that instead of "nor," "and" is used; thus only a few contrasting words are in common.
  • Despite differing in this way from the Bible text, Google Books still finds
    • over 50 examples before June 1830 which mention both phrases "bond and free" and "male and female" off-site
    • there are even 7 hits for all of "bond and free," "male and female," and "Jew." off-site

12

Acts 4:12

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

2 Nephi 25:2

And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err. And as the Lord God liveth that brought Israel up out of the land of Egypt, and gave unto Moses power that he should heal the nations after they had been bitten by the poisonous serpents, if they would cast their eyes unto the serpent which he did raise up before them, and also gave him power that he should smite the rock and the water should come forth; yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved.

  • Google Books shows:
    • even a search of the Book of Mormon's phrase "none other name given under heaven" (which is not found in the Bible) finds over 60 works that use this version of it before June 1830. off-site

13

John 1:29

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

1 Nephi 10:10

And after he had baptized the Messiah with water, he should behold and bear record that he had baptized the Lamb of God, who should take away the sins of the world.

2 Nephi 31:4

Wherefore, I would that ye should remember that I have spoken unto you concerning that prophet which the Lord showed unto me, that should baptize the Lamb of God, which should take away the sins of the world.

  • This is a classic scriptural text, probably known to most Christians.
  • Google Books shows:
    • 2 uses of the exact Book of Mormon phrase in books published before 1830. off-site Clearly, this is a typical way of talking about such things, even when the text is not quoted exactly.
    • nearly 200 use the phrases "lamb of God" and "take away the sins of the world." off-site

14

1 Cor 15:58

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Mosiah 5:15

Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.

  • Google Books shows:
    • 27 uses of "steadfast and immovable always abounding" in pre-June 1830 works. off-site

15

1 Cor 15:55

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Mosiah 16:7

And if Christ had not risen from the dead, or have broken the bands of death that the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting, there could have been no resurrection.

  • That death has a sting is a commonplace; it is and was a frequent expression which hardly requires direct borrowing from the Bible.
  • Google Books shows:
    • over 1000 books using both "death" and "sting" before June 1830 off-site
    • over 20 of these references were in Methodist works off-site

16

John 5:29

And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

Mosiah 16:11

If they be good, to the resurrection of' endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation—

  • This is a trivial example—one hardly needs to copy from the Bible to compare the ideas of the good being resurrected to life and the evil to damnation. The phraseology is not even that close.

17

Gal 5:1

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

Alma 58:40

But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.

  • This is another exceedingly common expression.
  • Google Books shows:
    • over 150 uses of the biblical phrase "stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith." off-site
    • over 350 uses of the altered phrase (missing "therefore") "stand fast in the liberty wherewith." off-site
    • even the altered Book of Mormon phrase "stand fast in that liberty wherewith" has nearly 50 hits. off-site
    • Together, these make up at least 550 separate uses.

17

John 3:7

Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Mosiah 27:25

And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters;

  • Once again, this is a very common pairing in the writing of the time.
  • Google books shows:
    • over 580 works use the terms "marvel not" and "born again" together. off-site

18

2 Cor 6:17

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

Alma 5:57

And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things; and behold, their names shall be blotted out, that the names of the wicked shall not be numbered among the names of the righteous, that the word of God may be fulfilled, which saith: The names of the wicked shall not be mingled with the names of my people;

  • The critics fail to point out that both 2 Corinthians and Alma are may be alluding to an Isaiah text or similar Old Testament-era idea:
Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD (Isaiah 52:11).
  • Google Books shows:
    • Even though the precise phrases "wicked" and "come ye out from" are not in the biblical verse, they are still used together in 10 pre-June 1830 works off-site

19


Hebrews 12:1

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

Alma 7:15

Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.

  • Google Books shows:
    • nearly 450 entries before June 1830 use the phrases "lay aside every" and "easily doth beset" off-site
    • almost all (432) of the above also use the phrase "sin" in conjunction with the other two phrases off-site
    • the non-biblical construction "lay aside every sin" is still used 9 times. off-site

20


Luke 7:9

When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Alma 19:10

And Ammon said unto her: Blessed art thou because of thy exceeding faith; I say unto thee, woman, there has not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites.

  • This example is trivial—it consists only in saying that the speaker has not found such "great faith" among a certain group. It is difficult to know how else one would translate this without intentionally trying to avoid the biblical usage or something close to it.

21


John 3:14

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

Helaman 8:14

Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come.

  • This phrasing is, once again, incredibly common.
  • Google Books shows:
    • over 480 items use "lifted up" and "serpent in the wilderness even so" before June 1830. off-site


Response to claim: 122 - In the Book of Mormon, Jesus quotes a paraphrase of Moses' words found in Acts 3:22-26, rather than Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

In the Book of Mormon, Jesus quotes a paraphrase of Moses' words found in Acts 3:22-26, rather than Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19.

(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

All these parallels demonstrate is that: 1) the Book of Mormon translation language is closely based in KJV English; and 2) that King James phrases were exceedingly common in the speech and writing of Joseph's day. Neither of these is news, and neither can tell us much but that the Book of Mormon was translated in the nineteenth century.



Question: How can text from the New Testament appear in the Book of Mormon?

The Book of Mormon claims to be a "translation," and the language used is that of Joseph Smith

It is claimed that the Book of Mormon cannot be an ancient work because it contains material that is also found in the New Testament. In fact, in the Book of Mormon, Jesus quotes a paraphrase of Moses' words found in Acts 3:22-26. However, all these parallels demonstrate is that:

  1. the Book of Mormon translation language is closely based in KJV English; and
  2. King James phrases were exceedingly common in the speech and writing of Joseph's day.

Neither of these is news, and neither can tell us much but that the Book of Mormon was translated in the nineteenth century.

The Book of Mormon claims to be a "translation." Therefore, the language used is that of Joseph Smith. Joseph could choose to render similar (or identical) material using King James Bible language if that adequately represented the text's intent.

Only if we presume that the Book of Mormon is a fraud at the outset is this proof of anything. If we assume that it is a translation, then the use of Bible language tells us merely that Joseph used biblical language.

If Joseph was a fraud, why would he plagiarize the one text—the King James Bible—which his readers would be sure to know, and sure to react negatively if they noticed it? The Book of Mormon contains much original material—Joseph didn't "need" to use the KJV; he is obviously capable of producing original material.

Furthermore, many of the critics examples consist of a phrase or a concept that Joseph has supposedly lifted from the New Testament. This complaint, however ignores several factors.

Chief among the difficulty is that the critics seem ignorant or unconcerned about the extent to which the language of the King James Bible dominated preaching, common speech, and discussion of religious and non-religious topics in Joseph Smith's day.

In a Bible-based culture like Joseph Smith's, Biblical phrases are simply "in the air," and are often used without an awareness of where they come from (this is especially true for those whose literary exposure did not extend much beyond the Bible—like Joseph). By analogy, many modern authors or speakers will use phrases like the following, completely unaware that they are quoting Shakespeare!

Common phrases originally from Shakespeare

List Phrase Shakespeare Reference

*

"All's well that ends well"

  • All's Well That Ends Well
  • Title of play

*

"As good luck would have it"

  • The Merry Wives of Windsor

*

"Bated breath"

  • The Merchant of Venice

*

"Be-all and the end-all"

  • Macbeth

*

"Beggar all description"

  • Antony and Cleopatra

*

"Brave new world"

  • The Tempest

*

"Break the ice"

  • The Taming of the Shrew

*

"not budge an inch"

  • The Taming of the Shrew

*

"Dead as a doornail"

  • Henry IV, Part II

*

"Devil incarnate"
  • Titus Andronicus

*

"Fool's paradise"

  • Romeo and Juliet

*

"For goodness' sake"

  • Henry VIII

*

"Full circle"

  • King Lear

*

"Good riddance"

  • Troilus and Cressida

*

"Household words"

  • Henry V

*

"Heart of gold"

  • Henry V

*

"In...a pickle"

  • The Tempest

*

"Lie low"

  • Much Ado About Nothing

*

"Love is blind"

  • Henry V
  • The Merchant of Venice

*

"Melted into thin air"

  • The Tempest

*

"Naked truth"

  • Love's Labours Lost

*

"I have not slept one wink"

  • Cymbeline

*

"One fell swoop"

  • Macbeth

*

"Play fast and loose with"

  • King John

*

"We have seen better days"

  • As You Like It
  • Timon of Athens

*

"The short and the long of it"

  • The Merry Wives of Windsor

*

"Too much of a good thing"

  • As You Like It

*

"Wear my heart upon my sleeve"

  • Othello

*

"What the dickens"

  • The Merry Wives of Windsor

*

"The world's my [mine] oyster"

  • Henry IV, Part 2

Would we accuse someone who used these phrases of "plagiarizing" Shakespeare? Hardly, for they are common expressions in our language—most people are probably unaware that they even come from Shakespeare, and most have probably not read the plays at all. In a similar way, some biblical phrases and vocabulary were likely part of Joseph Smith's subconscious verbal world. It would be strange if it were otherwise.

There are related issues to which the critics pay little attention

  • often the relation between the texts is not that close; only a few words are used that are the same. It is sometimes hard to see how there would be a different way of discussing the same sort of issue. Even if one believes Joseph forged the Book of Mormon, it seems more plausible that these cases are just a coincidence, or a case where one is almost "forced" to use the same type of language (e.g., 1 Nephi 1:18, Alma 19:10, Mosiah 16:7).
  • some phrases which approximate the New Testament are quite famous, classic renderings in the King James. Such phrases might be used almost instinctively or subconsciously when translating (e.g., 1 Nephi 12:11, 2 Nephi 4:17). Even academic translators sometimes struggle to avoid using the type of scriptural language with which they are very familiar—it can take a real effort to give a different rendering than one that is well known.
  • the Book of Mormon never hides its intent to use King James style English. It is not surprising, then, that there are parallels in language and vocabulary. The translation may even intend to call to mind these biblical verses or phrases, since the Book of Mormon is intended to complement the Bible
  • Joseph is clearly able to produce huge amounts of text that do not rely on the KJV at all. Why, if he wants to produce a believable forgery, does he adapt the occasional well-known phrase that could be noticed by even a relatively casual Bible reader? The critics require Joseph to be clever enough to produce independent text, and yet foolish enough to betray his dependence on the Bible.
  • Often, although the wording may be similar, the concept being explored is expanded, or the context is substantially altered in the Book of Mormon. The critics seem to think that Joseph flips through the Bible to find something, but the Book of Mormon certainly extends and adapts this material dramatically. The "copying" model seems more complex than needed, as it has Joseph taking small snippets of text from the Bible and other sources and somehow weaving it into the Book of Mormon text. Yet, eyewitnesses do not describe anything like this process; it is not even clear that Joseph owned a Bible during the Book of Mormon translation.


Response to claim: 123 - The Greek terms "Alpha" and "Omega" appear in the Book of Mormon, thereby proving that it is not an ancient work

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

The Greek terms "Alpha" and "Omega" appear in the Book of Mormon, thereby proving that it is not an ancient work. Bruce R. McConkie says they are used "figuratively."

(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

Only if we presume that the Book of Mormon is a fraud at the outset is this proof of anything. If we assume that it is a translation, then the use of Bible language tells us merely that Joseph used biblical language.



Question: Is the Book of Mormon not an ancient work because it contains "Greek words" such as "alpha and omega" or "Christ"?

The words "alpha and omega" or "Christ" are as unlikely to be on the plates as the English word "sword" or "house"—these are translations.

The Book of Mormon claims to be a translation. Therefore, the language used is that of Joseph Smith. Joseph could choose to render similar (or identical) material using King James Bible language if that adequately represented the text's intent.

The words "alpha and omega" are as unlikely to be on the plates as the English word "sword" or "house"—these are translations.

All "alpha and omega" tells us is that there was some expression on the plates similar to "from A to Z," or "from first to last."

The word "Christ" is a Greek translation of the Hebrew messiah, which means “the anointed one.” The word "Christ" was used by the translator, Joseph Smith, to describe the messiah.

Only if we presume that the Book of Mormon is a fraud at the outset is this proof of anything. If we assume that it is a translation, then the use of Bible language tells us merely that Joseph used biblical language.

This unconvincing complaint is similar to another anti-Mormon favorite, the issue of the "French word" adieu in the Book of Mormon.


Response to claim: 124 - The Book of Mormon is proven false because it contains the Greek name Timothy

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

The Book of Mormon is proven false because it contains the Greek name Timothy.

(Author's sources: 3 Nephi 19:4)

FairMormon Response

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

It would not be unusual for Lehi's group to be familiar with Greek names.



Hugh Nibley on Greek Names in the Book of Mormon: "Syria and Palestine had been in constant contact with the Aegean world"

Hugh Nibley:

The occurrence of the names Timothy and Lachoneus in the Book of Mormon is strictly in order, however odd it may seem at first glance. Since the fourteenth century B.C. at latest, Syria and Palestine had been in constant contact with the Aegean world; and since the middle of the seventh century, Greek mercenaries and merchants closely bound to Egyptian interest (the best Egyptian mercenaries were Greeks) swarmed throughout the Near East.23 Lehi's people, even apart from their mercantile activities, could not have avoided considerable contact with these people in Egypt and especially in Sidon, which Greek poets even in that day were celebrating as the great world center of trade. It is interesting to note in passing that Timothy is an Ionian name, since the Greeks in Palestine were Ionians (hence the Hebrew name for Greeks: "Sons of Javanim"), and—since "Lachoneus" means "a Laconian"—that the oldest Greek traders were Laconians, who had colonies in Cyprus (Book of Mormon Akish) and of course traded with Palestine.24[45]

Hugh Nibley: "in Lehi's day Palestine was swarming with Greeks"

Hugh Nibley:

[R]emember...that in Lehi's day Palestine was swarming with Greeks, important Greeks. Remember, it was Egyptian territory [prior to being seized by Babylon] at that time and Egyptian culture. The Egyptian army, Necho's army, was almost entirely Greek mercenaries. We have inscriptions from that very time up the Nile at Aswan-inscriptions from the mercenaries of the Egyptian army, and they're all in Greek. So Greek was very common, and especially the name Timotheus.[46]</ref>

Response to claim: 125 - Joseph Smith's mother said that he used to entertain them with stories about the ancient inhabitants of the American continent

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith's mother said that he used to entertain them with stories about the ancient inhabitants of the American continent before he translated the Book of Mormon.

(Author's sources: History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 1954 ed., p.83)

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 typically represented as Joseph being a teller of "tall tales" before the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. These stories, however, were Joseph's reports of his interviews with the angel Moroni.



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.[47]

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....[48]

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.[49] 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[50] and Oliver Cowdery made note of the same thing.[51] 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: 127 - B.H. Roberts concluded that the book View of the Hebrews could have provided a structural foundation for the Book of Mormon

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

B.H. Roberts concluded that the book View of the Hebrews could have provided a structural foundation for the Book of Mormon.

(Author's sources: B.H. Roberts, A Parallel"—The Basis of the Book of Mormon (see Studies of the Book of Mormon))

FairMormon Response

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

Roberts concluded that critics of the Book of Mormon would assert that View of the Hebrews could have provided a structural foundation for the Book of Mormon. Roberts was careful to state that these were not his own conclusion.



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.[52]

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: 127 - B.H. Roberts listed a number of parallels between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

B.H. Roberts listed a number of parallels between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon.

(Author's sources: B.H. Roberts, A Parallel"—The Basis of the Book of Mormon (see Studies of the Book of Mormon))

FairMormon Response

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

Roberts listed a number of parallels, which were only valid if a hemispheric model of the Book of Mormon was assumed.



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.[53]

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: 128 - The Book of Mormon may have used Josiah Priest's book The Wonders of Nature as a source

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon may have used Josiah Priest's book The Wonders of Nature as a source.

(Author's sources: Authors' opinion.)

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

Assertion is not an argument. The Tanners need evidence.



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.' "[54]

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


Question: Did Joseph Smith plagiarize Shakespeare?

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

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

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

Whence no traveler returns

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

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

B.H. Roberts

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

It will be observed that the passage from the Book of Mormon follows Job more closely than it does Shakespeare both in thought and diction; and this for the reason, doubtless, that Lehi had been impressed with Job's idea of going to the land whence he would not return, and Joseph Smith, being familiar with Job, and very likely not familiar with Shakespeare, when he came to Lehi's thought, expressed it nearly in Job's phraseology...Lehi lived in Judea in the seventh and sixth century, B.C. He was acquainted with the Hebrew scriptures, including the book of Job, and when he departed from Jerusalem for the western world his colony took with them those same scriptures. Through them he became familiar in the Hebrew with Job's--"Let me alone, that I may take comfort a little before I go whence I shall not return." Also Job's--"When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return." When Lehi's own hour of departure hence had come, impressed with this solemn thought of Job's, he gave expression to it in Hebrew. The saying was recorded by his son Nephi in the Egyptian characters employed by him in making his record. Observe that we have traced these ideas of the "land whence I shall not return" into the Nephite records without the aid of the English Bible or Shakespeare.[55]

Hugh Nibley

Wrote Hugh Nibley:

No passage in the Book of Mormon has been more often singled out for attack than Lehi's description of himself as one "whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return" (2 Nephi 1:14). This passage has inspired scathing descriptions of the Book of Mormon as a mass of stolen quotations "from Shakespeare and other English poets." Lehi does not quote Hamlet directly, to be sure, for he does not talk of "that undiscovered country, from whose bourne no traveler returns," but simply speaks of "the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return." In mentioning the grave, the eloquent old man cannot resist the inevitable "cold and silent" nor the equally inevitable tag about the traveler—a device that, with all respect to Shakespeare, Lehi's own contemporaries made constant use of. Long ago Friedrich Delitzsch wrote a classic work on ancient Oriental ideas about death and afterlife, and a fitting title of his book was Das Land ohne Heimkehr—"The Land of No Return." In the story of Ishtar's descent to the underworld, the lady goes to the irsit la tari, "the land of no return." She visits "the dark house from which no one ever comes out again" and travels along "the road on which there is no turning back." A recent study of Sumerian and Akkadian names for the world of the dead lists prominently "the hole, the earth, the land of no return, the path of no turning back, the road whose course never turns back, the distant land, etc." A recently discovered fragment speaks of the grave as "the house of Irkallu, where those who have come to it are without return. . . . A place whose dead are cast in the dust, in the direction of darkness . . . [going] to the place where they who came to it are without return."
This is a good deal closer to Lehi's language than Shakespeare is. The same sentiments are found in Egyptian literature, as in a popular song which tells how "the gods that were aforetime rest in their pyramids. . . . None cometh again from thence that he may tell of their state. . . . Lo, none may take his goods with him, and none that hath gone may come again." A literary text reports: "The mockers say, 'The house of the inhabitants of the Land of the West is deep and dark; it has no door and no window. . . . There the sun never rises but they lie forever in the dark.' "
Shakespeare should sue; but Lehi, a lover of poetic imagery and high-flown speech, can hardly be denied the luxury of speaking as he was supposed to speak. The ideas to which he here gives such familiar and conventional expression are actually not his own ideas about life after death—nor Nephi's nor Joseph Smith's, for that matter, but they are the ideas which any eloquent man of Lehi's day, with a sound literary education such as Lehi had, would be expected and required to use. And so the most popular and obvious charge of fraud against the Book of Mormon has backfired.[56]


Response to claim: 128-129 - The Book of Mormon contains changes that altered the original meaning of the text

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon contains changes that altered the original meaning of the text.

(Author's sources: Authors' opinion.)

FairMormon Response

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

The changes did not alter the original meaning of the text.



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."[57] 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.[58] The critical issue is not the number of changes that have been made to the text, but the nature of the changes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Response to claim: 132 - According to Oliver B. Huntington, the proper spelling of words was given by the Lord

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

According to Oliver B. Huntington, the proper spelling of words was given by the Lord. The authors quote from Huntington's journal as follows:

Saturday Feb.25, 1881, I went to Provo to a quarterly Stake Conference. Heard Joseph F. Smith describe the manner of translating the Book of Mormon ... Joseph did not render the writing on the gold plates into the English language in his own style of language as many people believe, but every word and every letter was given to him by the gift and power of God.... The Lord caused each word spelled as it is in the book to appear on the stones in short sentences or words, and when Joseph had uttered the sentence or word before him and the scribe had written it properly, that sentence would disappear and another appear. And if there was a word wrongly written or even a letter incorrect the writing on the stones would remain there.... and when corrected the sentence would disappear as usual.

FairMormon Response

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

So far as is known, only the first spelling of proper names was controlled in the translation of our current Book of Mormon text.



Response to claim: 133 - Members of the Church have claimed that the Smithsonian uses the Book of Mormon in archaeological research

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Members of the Church have claimed that the Smithsonian uses the Book of Mormon in archaeological research.

(Author's sources: Letter written by Earnest L. English on May 3, 1936, that the authors claim "distributed to LDS church members by leaders (local) in Cleveland, Ohio in 1959.")

FairMormon Response

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

Such members are ill-informed. The Church has never claimed this.



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: 139 - Some Mormon archaeologists have begun to "face the truth" regarding Book of Mormon archeology by declaring that it is a "myth"

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

Some Mormon archaeologists have begun to "face the truth" regarding Book of Mormon archeology by declaring that it is a "myth."

(Author's sources: *Dee Green, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1969, pp.76-78)

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

Green's article was dated even when the Tanners cited it, but it is now hopelessly out of date.



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: 140-141 - Mormon archaeologist Thomas Stuart Ferguson lost his testimony because he couldn't find any archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon

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

Mormon archaeologist Thomas Stuart Ferguson lost his testimony because he couldn't find any archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon.

(Author's sources: Visit by Thomas Stuart Ferguson to the authors on December 2, 1970.)

FairMormon Response

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

Ferguson was not an archaeologist.



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. [60]


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

Daniel C. Peterson and Matthew Roper: [61]

"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: 141-142 - Lehi would never have written using an Egyptian language

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

Lehi would never have written using an Egyptian language. Jewish scriptures could not have been written in Egyptian.

(Author's sources: *M.T. Lamb, The Golden Bible, pp.89-91.)

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 authors' assumption is incorrect.



Question: Would an Israelite use Egyptian?

By the ninth to sixth centuries before Christ, Israelites used Egyptian numerals mingled with Hebrew text

Hieroglyphics: Hieroglyphs from the Black Schist sarcophagus of Ankhnesneferibre. Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, about 530 BC, Thebes. off-site
Hieratic: A section of the Prisse papyrus from the Bibliothèque nationale de France, containing the Precepts of Kakemna and the Precepts of Ptahhotep in hieratic. Enlarge Source: Plate IV. The S.S. Teacher's Edition: The Holy Bible, (New York: Henry Frowde, Publisher to the University of Oxford, 1896). off-site
Demotic: Inscription from the Rosetta Stone in demotic. off-site

The claim that Israelites would not use Egyptian is clearly false. By the ninth to sixth centuries before Christ, Israelites used Egyptian numerals mingled with Hebrew text. The Papyrus Amherst 63 contains a text of Psalms 20:2-6 written in Aramaic (the language of Jesus) using Egyptian characters. This text was originally dated to the second century B.C., but this has since been extended to the 4th century B.C.[62]

More significant, however, was an ostracon uncovered at Arad in 1967. Dating "toward the end of the seventh century B.C.," it reflects usage from shortly before 600 B.C., the time of Lehi. The text on the ostracon is written in a combination of Egyptian hieratic and Hebrew characters, but can be read entirely as Egyptian. Of the seventeen words in the text, ten are written in [Egyptian] hieratic and seven in Hebrew. However, all the words written in Hebrew can be read as Egyptian words, while one of them, which occurs twice, has the same meaning in both Egyptian and Hebrew.19 Of the ten words written in hieratic script, four are numerals (one occurring in each line).20 One symbol, denoting a measure of capacity, occurs four times (once in each of the four lines), and the remaining Egyptian word occurs twice. Thus, while seventeen words appear on the ostracon, if one discounts the recurrence of words, only six words are written in hieratic (of which four are numerals), and six in Hebrew.[63]

Anti-Mormon authors Ankerberg and Weldon claim:

Mormonism has never explained how godly Jews [sic] of A.D. 400 allegedly knew Egyptian, nor why they would have written their sacred records entirely in the language of their pagan, idolatrous enemies" (p. 284). "How likely is it that the allegedly Jewish [sic] Nephites would have used the Egyptian language to write their sacred scriptures? Their strong antipathy to the Egyptians and their culture makes this difficult to accept. When modern Jews copy their scripture, they use Hebrew. They do not use Egyptian or Arabic, the language of their historic enemies" (pp. 294-95). "[N]o such language [as reformed Egyptian] exists and Egyptologists declare this unequivocally.[64]

They are, however, spectacularly wrong, and "Mormonism" has explained why repeatedly:

The statement "When modern Jews copy their scripture, they use Hebrew. They do not use Egyptian or Arabic, the language of their historic enemies" is quite an astonishing display of ignorance. Since the Egyptian language has been dead for centuries, it is hardly remarkable that modern Jews do not read the Bible in Egyptian. On the other hand, "the first and most important rendering [of the Old Testament] from Hebrew [into Arabic] was made by Sa'adya the Ga'on, a learned Jew who was head of the rabbinic school at Sura in Babylon (died 942)" (George A. Buttrick, ed., The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible [hereafter IDB], 4 vols. and supplement [Nashville: Abingdon, 1962–1976], 4:758b). Thus, Jews have indeed translated the Bible into "Arabic, the language of their historic enemies." They also have translated it into the language of their "historic enemies" the Greeks (IDB 4:750b on the Septuagint) and Aramaeans (IDB 1:185-93; 4:749-50, on the Aramaic Targums).[65]

There was a clear evolution of Egyptian script in the Old World, and these modified scripts were in use in Lehi's day. People of Lehi's time and place did use both Hebrew and Egyptian, just as Nephi claimed (See 1 Nephi 1:2).


Response to claim: 144 - There is no such language as "Reformed Egyptian"

The author(s) of The Changing World of Mormonism make(s) the following claim:

None of the characters on the Anthon transcript bear any resemblance to known hieroglyphics found in the New World. There is no such language as "Reformed Egyptian."

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 does not claim that the language was called "Reformed Egyptian," but rather that the unnamed language was a form of "reformed" Egyptian.

Notes

  1. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:164.
  2. Oliver Cowdery to Phineas Young, 23 March 1846, Oliver Cowdery Collection, "Scriptory Book of Joseph Smith Jr." (kept by George W. Robinson), 22, LDS Church Historical Department (published in Scott H. Faulring, ed, An American Prophet's Record.— The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1989), emphasis in original; cited in Scott H. Faulring. “The Return of Oliver Cowdery”, FARMS Featured Paper, no date.
  3. Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1901), 1:246.
  4. Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson History Company, 1901), 1:246.
  5. "Lesson 34: Doctrine and Covenants 28," Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual, 2013.
  6. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ by a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon (David Whitmer: Richmond, Virginia, 1887).
  7. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ by a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon (David Whitmer: Richmond, Virginia, 1887).
  8. History of the Church 3:16
  9. Daniel C. Peterson, "Defending the Faith: The story behind James Strang and his sect," Deseret News (9 June 2011)
  10. The Saints’ Herald 35 (December 29, 1888): 831–32. See also Wikipedia article "Voree plates".
  11. 11.0 11.1 Letter from Chauncy Loomis to Joseph Smith III, “Experience on Beaver Island with James J. Strang,” Saint’s Herald, 10 Nov. 1888, 718-719.
  12. Daniel C. Peterson, "Defending the Faith: The story behind James Strang and his sect," Deseret News (9 June 2011)
  13. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 96–98. ISBN 0877478465.
  14. “Several families . . .,” Wayne Sentinel (Palmyra, New York) (27 May 1831). off-site
  15. Pomeroy Tucker, Palmyra Courier (24 May 1872); cited by Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 104. ISBN 0877478465.
  16. Tanner and Tanner, "Roper Attacks Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?" 14.
  17. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 167–170. ISBN 0877478465.
  18. Matthew Roper, "Comments on the Book of Mormon Witnesses: A Response to Jerald and Sandra Tanner," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/2 (1993): 164–193. wiki; citing Letter of George A. Smith to Josiah Fleming, 30 March 1838, Kirtland, Ohio.
  19. Nathan Tanner Jr. Journal, 13 April 1886.
  20. Letter of David Whitmer to Anthony Metcalf, March 1887. Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast (Malad, Indiana: 1888): 73-4; in David Whitmer Interviews. A Restoration Witness. Lyndon W. Cook, Editor (Grandin Books, Orem, Utah, 1991): 246-7 Quoted in Early Mormon Documents 5:193. Also quoted in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), p. 86.
  21. Daniel C. Peterson, "Not Joseph's, and Not Modern," in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch, (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), Chapter 2, references silently removed—consult original for citations.
  22. "I.C. Funn," [John Whitmer Testimony], Kingston (MO) Sentinel, ca. January 1878, reprinted in Saints' Herald 25 (15 February 1878): 57; cited in Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 5:245.
  23. Letter of Hiram Page to William E. McLellin (30 May 1847), Ray County, Mo.; cited in Ensign of Liberty 1 (1848): 63.
  24. Andrew Jenson, Historical Record (Salt Lake City: Andrew Jenson, 1888), 7:614.
  25. Letter to John Kempton, 26 August 1838, Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, microfilm no. 840025.
  26. Joseph Fielding, "Letter to Parley P. Pratt," Millennial Star 4 (August 1841), 52.
  27. "Mr. J. B. Newhall's Lecture," signed by "A Hearer," Salem Advertiser and Argus, 12 April 1843, some also in Times and Seasons 4 (15 June 1843): 234–235;
  28. Salt Lake Stake Historical Record, 25 January 1888; cited in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 146. ISBN 0877478465.
  29. Hyrum Smith, "To the Saints scattered abroad," Times and Seasons 1 (November 1839), 20, 23. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  30. Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 145. ISBN 0877478465.
  31. Daniel Tyler, "Incidents of Experience," Scraps of Biography, Faith Promoting Series (Salt Lake City, UT: 1883), 10:23; cited in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 140. ISBN 0877478465.
  32. Autobiography of Phineas Young, also cit Deseret News (3 February 1858); reproduced in Richard Lloyd Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1981), 139. ISBN 0877478465.
  33. Oliver Cowdery, "The Closing Year," Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 3 no. 3 (December 1836), 426.
  34. Cited in Letter of Andrew Jenson to Deseret News (13 September 1888) from Richmond, Mo.,; cited in Deseret News (17 September 1888).
  35. Larry C. Porter, "The Odyssey of William Earl McLellin: Man of Diversity, 1806–86," in The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831–1836, edited by Jan Shipps and John W. Welch (Urbana: Brigham Young University Studies and University of Illinois Press, 1994), 314. ISBN 0842523162.
  36. William E. McLellin in Saints' Herald 17 (15 September 1870): 554; cited in Porter, "Man of Diversity," 320.
  37. McLellin, Saints Herald (15 September 1870): 554.
  38. Richard P. Howard, "Mormonism's Stormy Petrel," in Stan Larson and Samuel J. Passey (editors), The William E. McLellin Papers 1854–1880 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 2007), 19. ISBN 1560851449. Also available in Richard P. Howard, "William E. McLellin: 'Mormonism's Stormy Petrel'," in Differing Visions: Dissenters in Mormon History, edited by Roger D. Launius and Linda Thatcher, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 76–97. ISBN 0252067312.
  39. McLellin, Saints Herald (15 September 1870): 554.
  40. McLellin to John L. Traughber, 14 December 1878, in Stan Larson and Samuel J. Passey (editors), The William E. McLellin Papers 1854–1880 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 2007), 512. ISBN 1560851449.
  41. McLellin, "Reasons Why I am Not A Mormon, ca. 1880 (italics in original); cited in Stan Larson and Samuel J. Passey (editors), The William E. McLellin Papers 1854–1880 (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 2007), 383. ISBN 1560851449.
  42. McLellin, "Reasons Why I am Not A Mormon, ca. 1880 (italics in original); cited in McLellin Papers, 390.
  43. John Gee "Four Suggestions on the Origin of the Name Nephi” from Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon.
  44. John Gee "Four Suggestions on the Origin of the Name Nephi” from Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon.
  45. 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 22, references silently removed—consult original for citations.
  46. Hugh W. Nibley, "Lecture 27: Omni; Words of Mormon; Mosiah 1: The End of the Small Plates and The Coronation of Mosiah," in Teachings of the Book of Mormon: Transcripts of lectures presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University 1988-1990, Vol. 1, (Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1993), 430. ISBN 1591565715.
  47. 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.
  48. 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.
  49. 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.
  50. Times and Seasons 3 no. 9 (1 March 1842), 707. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  51. Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate 1 no. 7 (April 1835), 112.
  52. Brigham H. Roberts, Brigham D. Madsen, ed., Studies of the Book of Mormon, (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1985) ISBN 0252010434 .
  53. Brigham H. Roberts, Brigham D. Madsen, ed., Studies of the Book of Mormon, (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1985) ISBN 0252010434 .
  54. 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]
  55. Brigham H. Roberts, "A Brief Debate on the Book of Mormon," in Defense of the Faith and the Saints, 2 vols. (1907), 1:333. Vol 1 GL direct link Vol 2 GL direct link
  56. Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), 276–277.
  57. 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
  58. Royal Skousen, "Changes In the Book of Mormon," 2002 FAIR Conference proceedings.
  59. 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.
  60. 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
  61. Daniel C. Peterson and Matthew Roper, "Ein Heldenleben? On Thomas Stuart Ferguson as an Elias for Cultural Mormons," The FARMS Review 16:1 (2004)
  62. John Gee and John A. Tvedtnes, "Ancient Manuscripts Fit Book of Mormon Pattern," Insights 19:2 (February 1999): 4–5. off-site
  63. Stephen D. Ricks and John A. Tvedtnes, "Jewish and Other Semitic Texts Written in Egyptian Characters," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 5/2 (1996): 156–163. wiki
  64. Daniel C. Peterson, "Chattanooga Cheapshot, or The Gall of Bitterness (Review of Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Mormonism by John Ankerberg and John Weldon)," FARMS Review of Books 5/1 (1993): 1–86. off-site
  65. Ankerberg and Weldon, 294.