Question: Was the Book of Mormon description of a cataclysm at the time of Christ's death derived from a similar description in Gilbert Hunt's ''The Late War''?

Table of Contents

Question: Was the Book of Mormon description of a cataclysm at the time of Christ's death derived from a similar description in Gilbert Hunt's The Late War?

Critics' comparison: It is claimed that both books describe "cataclysms" [1]

Chris Johnson, Duane Johnson, ""A Comparison of The Book of Mormon and The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain," http://wordtreefoundation.github.io/thelatewar/
  • Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 8: ...thunder, ... did shake the whole earth ... cities were sunk, and ... the face of the whole earth... could feel the vapor of darkness ... so that ... for the space of three days, that there was no light seen; ... great destruction had come upon them.
  • The Late War 19:37-44: ...thunders: ... as the mighty earthquake, which overturneth cities. And the whole face of the earth ... overshadowed with black smoke; so that, for a time, one man saw not another: ... sharp rocks had fallen upon them:

One critic claims that both books describe "cataclysmic earthquake followed by great darkness"[2]

Full context comparison: The critics' source material for this particular extraction of text from the Book of Mormon covers 17 verses

3 Nephi 8:6-23:

6 And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible thunder, insomuch that it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder.

7 And there were exceedingly sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land.

8 And the city of Zarahemla did take fire.

9 And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof were drowned.

10 And the earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah, that in the place of the city there became a great mountain.

11 And there was a great and terrible destruction in the land southward.

12 But behold, there was a more great and terrible destruction in the land northward; for behold, the whole face of the land was changed, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds, and the thunderings and the lightnings, and the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth;

13 And the highways were broken up, and the level roads were spoiled, and many smooth places became rough.

14 And many great and notable cities were sunk, and many were burned, and many were shaken till the buildings thereof had fallen to the earth, and the inhabitants thereof were slain, and the places were left desolate.

15 And there were some cities which remained; but the damage thereof was exceedingly great, and there were many in them who were slain.

16 And there were some who were carried away in the whirlwind; and whither they went no man knoweth, save they know that they were carried away.

17 And thus the face of the whole earth became deformed, because of the tempests, and the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the quaking of the earth.

18 And behold, the rocks were rent in twain; they were broken up upon the face of the whole earth, insomuch that they were found in broken fragments, and in seams and in cracks, upon all the face of the land.

19 And it came to pass that when the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did cease—for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater; nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours—and then behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land.

20 And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could feel the vapor of darkness;

21 And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all;

22 And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.

23 And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning and howling and weeping among all the people continually; yea, great were the groanings of the people, because of the darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them.

The Late War Chapter 19 (p. 69-70) appears to describe the explosion of an ammunition magazine, which is compared to the effects of an earthquake

37 But as the young man returned to where the army stayed, behold! the black dust in the hold caught fire, and it rent the air with the noise of a thousand thunders:

38 And the whole army fell down upon their faces to the earth; and the stones, and the fragments of rocks, were lifted high; and the falling thereof was terrible even unto death.

39 Yea, it was dreadful as the mighty earthquake, which overturneth cities.

40 And the whole face of the earth round about, and the army of Zebulon, were overshadowed with black smoke; so that, for a time, one man saw not another:

41 But when the heavy clouds of smoke passed away towards the west, behold the earth was covered with the killed and the wounded.

42 Alas! the sight was shocking to behold; as the deed was ignoble.

43 About two hundred men rose not: the stones had bruised them; the sharp rocks had fallen upon them:

44 They were wedged into the earth: their weapons of war were beat down into the ground with them; their feet were turned towards heaven; their limbs were lopped off.

Notes

  1. "A Comparison of The Book of Mormon and The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain," http://wordtreefoundation.github.io/thelatewar/
  2. Jeremy Runnells, "Letter to a CES Director" (October 2014 revision).