This is Video One in the FairMormon series: “The CES Letter, A Closer Look” wherein Brian Hales examines claims posted by Jeremy Runnells in his “Letter to a CES Director”. Installments in the series run every Monday and can also be found on the FairMormon youtube channel.
In 2013 research Chris Johnson presented intriguing evidence alleging a parallel between the text of the Book of Mormon and publications printed in the early 1830s. Potential implications weighed heavy regarding the possibility that a purely secular book could duplicate key stylistic and thematic characteristics of the Book of Mormon.
The author of the The CES Letter adopted several of these primary claims, specifically charging a connection between The First Book of Napoleon printed in 1809 and The Late War published a decade later with the Book of Mormon. The CES Letter even presents paragraphs, ostensibly from The First Book of Napoleon and the Book of Mormon, side-by-side to show alleged similarities.
This video looks at things The CES Letter seems to have ignored. For example, numerous major dissimilarities exist between the Book of Mormon and The First Book of Napoleon and The Late War. Also, the attempt to show a parallel between the Book of Mormon and The First Book of Napoleon is exposed as a deception because ellipses are used to create an illusion of similarity that isn’t actually present.
It is true that the Book of Mormon uses the language of the King James Bible so it employs similar vocabulary to most books that were purposefully written to emulate that writing style. The video shows how the critics have simply failed to connect the dots. They cannot demonstrate how the commonalities equate to collusion. The likeness of language does not seem to equal to a collaboration of creators. Without additional data points connecting the two, the claims of The CES Letter seem vacuous and unimportant.
Brian C. Hales is the author of The CES Letter: A Closer Look, as well as seven books dealing with Mormon polygamy—most notably the three-volume, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: History and Theology (Greg Kofford Books, 2013). His Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto received the “Best Book of 2007 Award” from the John Whitmer Historical Association. He has presented at numerous meetings and symposia and published articles in the Journal of Mormon History, Mormon Historical Studies, Dialogue, as well as contributing chapters to The Persistence of Polygamy series. Much of his research materials are available at www.MormonPolygamyDocuments.org.