1 Nephi 1:2. Egyptian Writing
The Book of Mormon was supposedly written in Egyptian script by Israelite prophets (1 Nephi 1:2; Mormon 9:32), but no worshiper of Israel’s God would have written in this pagan language.
This assumption made by modern critics is disproven by archaeological findings of ancient Hebrew texts that employ Egyptian script. The earliest records from ancient Israel, such as those found at the ancient Israelite capital of Samaria, employ the Egyptian symbols used for numerals. A number of Northwest Semitic texts (which includes Hebrew/Canaanite and Aramaic) are actually written using Egyptian characters. Indeed, at least one, dating from ca. 600 B.C. and found at the ancient Judaean city of Arad in 1967, uses a mixture of Hebrew and Egyptian hieratic characters, as do a couple of scribal exercises found at Tell Ein-Qudeirah (biblical Kadesh-Barnea) in the Sinai Peninsula during the latter half of the 1970s.
A number of other early documents have Hebrew and related texts written in Egyptian characters. One such document, found in Egypt and written in Egyptian demotic characters, actually is a transliteration (i.e., a phonetic copy, not a translation) of an Aramaic text rather than Egyptian, and includes a portion of Psalm 20 from the Bible.
For detailed accounts of such writings, see the following articles:
- John A. Tvedtnes, “The Language of My Father,” The New Era, May 1971.
- John A. Tvedtnes, “Linguistic Implications of the Tel Arad Osatraca,” Newsletter and Proceedings of the SEHA (Society for Early Historic Archaeology) No.127 (October1971); posted on the SHIELDS web site
- John Gee, “La Trahison des Clercs: On the Language and Translation of the Book of Mormon,” Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6/1 (1994).
- 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): 156-63; reprinted as “Semitic Texts Written in Egyptian Characters,” in John W. Welch and Melvin J. Thorne, eds., Pressing Forward With the Book of Mormon (Provo: FARMS, 1999).
- John Gee and John A. Tvedtnes, “Ancient Manuscripts Fit Book of Mormon Pattern,” Insights: A Window on the Ancient World, February 1999.