Metals in the Book of Mormon

Metallurgy in ancient America was completely unknown in America before 900 A.D. It is ridiculous for the Book of Mormon to say that metal was used among the Nephites and Jaredites (Helaman 6:9; Ether 10:23).  The mention of iron (2 Nephi 5:15; Jarom 1:8; Mosiah 11:8; Ether 10:23) is anachronistic, for iron technology was unknown in America during Nephite and Jaredite times.

Mormon Gold PlatesRecent discoveries indicate that metallurgy has been in the Americas for thousands of years. In 1992, FARMS issued a preliminary paper by John L. Sorenson, “Metals and Metallurgy Relating to the Book of Mormon Text,” discussing specimens of metal from about forty sites that predate the AD 900 “metal curtain” claimed by archeologists, as far back as 100 BC. Pictographic evidence also supports the idea that metal was used much earlier than is generally thought. Mesoamerican works of art such as human figures carved on stone or in ceramic frequently show metal objects such as bells, chains and other items. Some of these date to as early as 300 BC. (Read More)

Brass Plates

Laban’s “brass plates” (1 Nephi 3:3; 16:10; 2 Nephi 5:15; Jarom 1:8; Mosiah 8:7‑10; 11:8,10; Ether 10:23) are an anachronism, for brass-a copper/zinc alloy-was not invented until Roman times.

The term “brass” is used 116 times in the Old Testament of the King James Bible to translate the Hebrew term that means “copper” and can also refer to copper alloys. (Read More)

Steel Weapons in the Book of Mormon

It is ironic that those who level this criticism at the Book of Mormon fail to take the King James Version of the Bible to task for its use of the term “steel” (2 Samuel 22:35; Job 20:24; Psalm 18:34; Jeremiah 15:12). The Hebrew word behind these passages is actually the term used for copper and its alloys, notably bronze.

The word “steel,” today used to refer to a specific range of iron alloys, did not always have that meaning. Steel as we know it had not yet been invented at the time the King James Bible was translated. In those days, “steel” referred to anything hard, which could apply to bronze or various other metals as readily as iron. Even in Joseph Smith’s day, one of the meanings given in Webster’s 1828 dictionary for “steel” was “extreme hardness,” while the verbal form means “to make hard.” The second entry under the noun “steel” says the word is used figuratively for “weapons; particularly of defensive weapons, swords, spears and the like.” (Read More)

2 Nephi 5:15 Metal Skills

Nephi wrote, “And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15). Yet when the Spaniards came to the New World, metallurgical skills were in short supply, with only copper and gold being worked by Native Americans.

In my 1984 article, “”Was Lehi a Caravaneer?” (Provo, UT: FARMS preliminary report TVE-84, 1984; reprinted as chapter 10 in my 1995 book The Most Correct Book: Insights from a Book of Mormon Scholar), I provided evidence that Lehi’s family were involved in metallurgy while living in the kingdom of Judah and that they brought those skills with them to the New World. (Read More)