Other Issues

Other Issues

Size of Nephite and Lamanite Populations

It seems impossible that there could be enough Nephites and Lamanites in just a few generations after Lehi’s arrival in the New World to enable them to carry on warfare, as described in the Book of Mormon.

The Book of MormonWarfare need not involve large numbers of soldiers. Among many small groups throughout the world, wars can involve only a few dozen people. Readers of the Book of Mormon sometimes think of Nephite and Lamanite populations in terms of millions. In fact, only the Jaredites are ever said to have numbered in the “millions,” and only at the end of their history, when we read that nearly two million men had been slain with their families (Ether 15:2). On the other hand, the Nephites and Lamanites, whose thousand-year history comprises most of the Book of Mormon (ca. 600 BC to AD 420) are described in terms of “thousands” or, at most, “tens of thousands.” Indeed, the population figures given in the Book of Mormon show a rather gradual population growth over the years. There are no statistics for the earlier centuries, with only vague suggestions, while the term “thousands” does not appear in the Nephite record until the second century BC, by which time Lehi’s colony had been in the land for some four centuries. (Read More)

View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon, published in 1830, and Ethan Smith’s 1823 book View of the Hebrews parallel each other in some two dozen general themes. Joseph Smith therefore plagiarized Ethan Smith.

Parallels, in and of themselves, don’t necessarily point to plagiarism, which is only one of several possible explanations for parallels. If parallels must always be interpreted to be a plagiarism of some sort, then we run into trouble when we take the episode of Paul as he stood before the High Priest Ananias in Acts 23:1-5 and compare it with the confrontation of Jesus and Annas in John 18:19-22. In both stories, a preacher is arraigned before the grand council of the day; the presiding official is or was the Jewish high priest; both high priests have very similar names (Annas and Ananias); both of the accused men speak words in their own defense; both are rewarded with a slap to the face; and both blows are dealt by a servant of the high priest. Other Bible stories also parallel each other. The Bible has other, similar parallels. Yet most critics of the Book of Mormon believe in the Bible and would undoubtedly not charge its writers with plagiarism. (Read More)

War and Peace in the Book of Mormon

Much of the Book of Mormon is taken up with descriptions of wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites (Alma 2-3, 16, 43-62; Mormon 2-6; Moroni 9), while only two pages (4 Nephi 1:1-23) describe the 200 years of peace following the visit of Christ. Shouldn’t more space have been devoted to the era of peace than to the wars?

Mormon, who wrote the Book of Mormon as an abridgment of the records of the Nephites, was not only a prophet, but also a military leader during the final days of conflict between the Nephites and Lamanites. Most of his life was taken up with warfare, so it is a subject he knew well and hence spent much time describing. By the time he got to the era of peace following the Savior’s visit, he was probably pressed for time because the Lamanites were on the brink of destroying his people. Consequently, the time period covered by 4 Nephi received far less attention.  (Read More)

The Zelph Incident

Many Mormon scholars believe that events described in the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica, but this is contradicted by an account in the History of the Church. It records an incident from June 1834 in which Joseph Smith identified a skeleton found in an Indian burial mound in Illinois: “the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large, thick-set man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph . . . who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky mountains” (History of the Church 2:79-80).

A study of the texts used to compile this portion of the History of the Church found that it was changed from what was in the original journal accounts and noted that Cumorah was not even named. It was later editors who worded things in first-person to make it seem as if Joseph Smith actually wrote these words, but that is not so. They wanted to give him credit for the history he had begun writing and dictating, so they continued the first-person account. One must exercise caution in such matters. (Read More)

“Familiar Spirit”

Mormons use Isaiah 29:1-14 (quoted in 2 Nephi 26:16) as support for the Book of Mormon. But this passage employs the phrase “familiar spirit,” which is used to denote witchcraft each time it is used in the Old Testament.

The biblical expression “familiar spirit” refers to a ghost and the English King James Version of the Bible has taken great liberty to refer to “them that have familiar spirits” in the sense of mediums, when this seems not to have been intended. In Isaiah 29:4, the Hebrew text reads “thy voice shall be as a ghost out of the ground,” and has nothing to do with mediums. The NEB version of the Bible translates it, “ghostlike out of the ground,” while the NIV reads “ghostlike from the earth.” (Read More)

Praying about the Book of Mormon

Mormons tell you to pray to know the Book of Mormon is true. Having gotten this “burning in the bosom,” they disregard any evidence pointing to its falsehood. But the Bible says one discerns truth by examining the scriptures (1 Thessalonians 5:21; Acts 17:2, 11; 9:22, 29; 17:17; 18:4, 28; 19:8).

Latter-day Saints, too, reason with people out of the scriptures (mostly the Bible) and invite people to look into the matter before praying about it. Indeed, Moroni’s promise in the Book of Mormon expects that people will read and contemplate the book before praying about it: “Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down unto the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:3-5). As for the “burning in the bosom,” the idea is found in the Bible (Luke 24:32 and Jeremiah 20:9). (Read More)

Only Mormons Accept the Book of Mormon

Outside the Mormon community, the Book of Mormon enjoys no standing whatever among either scholars or laymen.

The statement is generally true, but is is relevant? How widespread is acceptance for the New Testament outside the Christian community? Or the Old Testament outside the Jewish and Christian spheres of influence? Does the fact that Buddhists and Hindus do not accept the Bible prove that it is untrue? (Read More)

Book of Mormon Has No Literary Merit

The book of Mormon, is tedious, tasteless, having none of the poetic grace, depth of thought, and religious inspiration that characterize the Bible.

A number of critics have expressed views such as this, which are clearly subjective. The only purpose I can see in using such opinionated reasoning is to influence those who have not taken the time to read the Book of Mormon. By saying, “I read it and found nothing worthwhile,” the critic evidently hopes to prevent others from reading it and judging for themselves. Millions, however, have read it and find it very worthwhile.  (Read More)

Synagogues in the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon anachronistically mentions synagogues, which did not exist until long after Lehi left Jerusalem.

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