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Faking The Book of Mormon
Faking the Book of Mormon
Parent page: Book of Mormon
Could Joseph Smith have written the Book of Mormon? Let's look at how likely that was:
Joesph Smith had limited education
Joseph Smith was educated at home with maybe a year of formal education.
Joesph Smith was not a writer
Joseph had never published book or story or anything that we know of.
The Book of Mormon is large
By counting pages, the Book of Mormon is about 30% larger than the New Testament. By counting words, it has about 268k words. That is about 3x the size of the first Harry Potter novel, which has about 77k words.
It was translated in 2-3 months
Due to many historical accounts, we know the Book of Mormon was translated over a span of 85 days, or about 65 days of full time work. That pace is about 2 months of full time translating. The famous LDS scholar Hugh Nibley challenged his students at Brigham Young University to write an entire book of scripture in a semester. Nobody succeeded.
No notes, no editors, lots of complex details
There are several hundred characters, locations, stories and doctrines Joseph Smith had to keep straight. Yet there is not one witness that he took any notes, or had an editor, or read a mound of reference books from the library. All we have is the original text dictated without punctuation to a scribe onto paper which could not be erased or edited with software.
In fact, his wife Emma recalled: “He had neither manuscript nor book to read from. … If he had had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me.”
It has impactful, unique spiritual content
But there is more. These arguments account only for the book’s historical content. The real issues still remain: how did Joseph produce a book that radiates with the Spirit, and where did he get such profound doctrine, much of which clarifies or contradicts the Christian beliefs of his time? For example, the Book of Mormon teaches, contrary to most Christian beliefs, that the Fall of Adam was a positive step forward. It reveals the covenants made at baptism, which are not addressed in the Bible. In addition, one might ask: where did Joseph get the powerful insight that because of Christ’s Atonement, He can not only cleanse us but also perfect us? Where did he get the stunning sermon on faith in Alma 32? Or King Benjamin’s sermon on the Savior’s Atonement, perhaps the most remarkable sermon on this subject in all scripture? Or the allegory of the olive tree with all its complexity and doctrinal richness? When I read this allegory, I have to map it out to follow its intricacies. Are we now supposed to believe that Joseph Smith just dictated these sermons off the top of his head with no notes whatsoever?
He would have had to con several people to keep his secret to the grave. He had 3 scribes who wrote as he translated, and he got 3 witnesses and 8 witnesses to say they saw the plates of gold. A few of these 11 left the church, but none ever denied.
There have been 100 million copies printed, and 16 million living members of the church who have been inspired by it. Millions will tell you they directly asked God if it was true, and their prayer was answered. There have been hundreds of articles and books written about the historical and cultural details Joseph Smith “accidentally” got right. For instance, the Book of Mormon accurately and in great detail describes earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, olive culture, guerrilla and traditional warfare, building ships, travel across oceans, Hebrew and Egyptian naming and grammatical styles, chiasmus, and geography of the Middle East and the Americas.
Is there any other book of this length, written this quickly, written by a writing rookie, with such spiritual depth, with so many consistent characters, stories, locations and doctrines, with so many copies printed, and written by only 1 writer? Either Joseph Smith was a literary genius, or he was telling the truth.