Question: Can the Newark "Holy Stones" be used as evidence to support the Book of Mormon?

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Question: Can the Newark "Holy Stones" be used as evidence to support the Book of Mormon?

We don't have the sort of details on their discovery that we would like to be able to verify some sort of authenticity

The are two main issues with artifacts of this sort. The first is the issue of discovery. While there are several interesting artifacts, we don't have the sort of details on their discovery that we would like to be able to verify some sort of authenticity. Most of them were discovered by an individual, who wasn't using any kind of modern archaeological standards. This allows for questions of fraud and hoax to enter into the picture (particularly when we combine it with the fact that such a discovery, if authenticated, would be absolutely huge by any archaeological standards). Related to this issue is that since we have developed more rigorous standards for doing archaeological excavations, we haven't continued to find additional examples of these kinds of artifacts. This further encourages the sense that they may have been a hoax. (This isn't to say that they are a hoax - just that the evidence is inconclusive). It also shows how difficult it is to date objects once they have been removed from their original setting. This is true of nearly any single object - and we have the same problems with artifacts in the old world that simply show up (particularly on the proverbial black market). Any artifact which turns up on its own without some kind of rigorous investigative process is considered suspect.

Even if they are valid, these artifacts are outside the time frame that would be helpful for validating the Book of Mormon

The second issue is more relevant to us as LDS members. These objects use what you can see labeled in the link as a "post-Exilic square Hebrew letters". In the reference to Cyrus Gordon, we have mention of the first text as a potential Samaritan mezuzah. These issues give us some idea of what to consider in terms of dates on the assumption that they are authentic. They would most likely come from the period of about 100-300 AD - potentially representing a group leaving Palestine sometime during or after the second Jewish revolt in the second century. This places these artifacts outside the time frame that would be helpful for validating the Book of Mormon (or determining Book of Mormon geography related issues). It would help us recognize another potential migration from the old world to the new world. But I think that as LDS we want to be careful in trying to suggest that this is potential evidence here for the Book of Mormon.


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