Criticisms: 2 Nephi
Lehi spoke of himself as “a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return” (2 Nephi 1:14). This seems to be borrowed from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1, lines 78-80: “But that the dread of something after death, The undiscovered country from whose bourn No traveller returns.” If Joseph Smith did not quote directly from Shakespeare, he may have borrowed from Josiah Priest’s 1825 book The Wonders of Nature and Providence Displayed, page 469, which paraphrases Shakespeare in a form nearly identical to the version found in the Book of Mormon: “from whence no traveler returns.”
It is more likely that both Shakespeare and Lehi borrowed from a more ancient text. For example, the Old Testament prophet Job declared, “Are not my days few? cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little, Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death” (Job 10:20-21). “When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return” (Job 16:22). In a 1980 FARMS paper, “Shakespeare and the Book of Mormon,” Robert F. Smith noted even more ancient texts that use the same idea found in these scriptural passages. (Read More)
The Book of Mormon says that God told Adam not to eat of the forbidden fruit, yet he also told him to have children, thus placing Adam in a situation where he has to break one law in order to obey another (2 Nephi 2). How can we explain this, in view of the fact that the Bible teaches that God never tempts man (James 1:13-14)?
The story as told in the Book of Mormon does not imply that God tempted man. But we do know that he tests men, as he tested Abraham-though the King James version of the Bible reads, in Genesis 22:1, “God did tempt Abraham.” God gives us choices, but he does not persuade us to do evil, which is what the passage in James means. (Read More)
It is unreasonable to believe that a people who had left Jerusalem only thirty years earlier could have already divided into two nations (2 Nephi 5:5-6, 13-18, 28).
The critics who raise this question misrepresent the Book of Mormon, since it does not, in the passages noted, use the term “nation.” Even had it done so, this would not necessarily refer to millions of people, as we think of it in our day. Several Hebrew words are sometimes rendered “nation” in the King James version of the Bible. (Read More)
The Book of Mormon claims that the Nephites had swords of steel, yet no such implements have ever been found by archaeologists in the New World.
Nephi used Laban’s sword for a pattern, but he may not have used the same materials. Even if he did make metal swords, due to the small size of his group and the fact that a single man produced these weapons, they were probably not very numerous. Indeed, 2 Nephi 5:14 is the only passage that suggests that Laban’s sword was used as a pattern for other weapons. In subsequent passages, only the king wields the sword of Laban in battle, and it was passed down as a prized relic, indicating its uniqueness (Jacob 1:10; Words of Mormon 1:13; Mosiah 1:16; D&C 17:1). (Read More)
It is impossible for a group as small as Nephi’s followers, only thirty years after leaving Jerusalem (2 Nephi 5:28) to have built a temple like that of Solomon (2 Nephi 5:16), which took over seven years and 183,000 workmen and overseers to construct (1 Kings 5:13, 15; 6:1, 38; 9:20-21; 2 Chronicles 2:2, 17-18).
The fact that Nephi’s temple was made “after the manner of the temple of Solomon” does not mean that it was of the same size and complexity, only that it had the same basic design (which had symbolic meaning in ancient Israel). Indeed, Nephi states, in 2 Nephi 5:16, that “it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple,” so there were obvious differences between the two structures, most notably, one presumes, in the size and the precise materials and decorations used. (Read More)
Are we to seriously believe that the color of one’s skin is the result of one’s moral behavior (2 Nephi 5:21)? Are we to believe that black people have a “dark and loathsome” skin because of their iniquity, whereas white people have a “fair and delightsome” skin because they are righteous? Skin color is determined by genetics, not by racist statements like this.
The same Book of Mormon writer, Nephi, noted that all people, “black and white, bond and free, male and female” are acceptable before God (2 Nephi 26:33), so the statements are clearly not racially motivated. (Read More)
The Book of Mormon uses the term “Christ” but this word is of Greek derivation and ancient Israelites would not have used it. Moreover, it is used as a “name” in the Book of Mormon, though it is really a title.
The title “Christ” may have a Greek origin, but it has been part of the English language for centuries. English has many terms borrowed from foreign languages (the word “language” itself comes from the French word meaning “tongue”), but this does not invalidate their use. (Read More)
When Joseph Smith dictated Isaiah passages from the King James Bible, he made a few changes to make it look like the brass plates of Laban supposedly used by the Nephites had a more “correct” version of Isaiah’s writings. But in one case, he changed “sea” (Isaiah 9:1) to “Red Sea” (2 Nephi 19:1). Since the Isaiah passage refers to the Galilee area, Isaiah had reference to the Sea of Galilee, not the Red Sea, which is at some distance from that area.
In studying the Isaiah variants in the Book of Mormon, it becomes clear that there are a few scribal and printer’s errors. I am convinced that the addition of “Red” in 2 Nephi 19:1 was an overcorrection by Oliver Cowdery, who, as scribe to Joseph Smith during the translation of the Book of Mormon, was probably influenced by the fact that he had already written about the Red Sea in a number of earlier passages (1 Nephi 2:5, 8-9; 4:2; 16:14; 17:26-27). (Read More)
In the Book of Mormon, an angel uses the name “Jesus Christ” years before the time of Christ (2 Nephi 25:19; Mosiah 3:8, etc.). Yet in Old Testament times, the name “Jesus Christ” was never used in reference to the Son of God. The first time His name was revealed was when Gabriel appeared to Mary (Luke 1:31).
Book of Mormon prophets recieved their information on the name of the Savior through direct revelation and also from other Book of Mormon prophets and not from the Old Testament. (Read More)
While the Bible teaches “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9; see also Ephesians 2:5, 2 Timothy 1:9, and Acts 15:11), the Book of Mormon adds a qualifying phrase that suggests the need for “works.” “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).
The Book of Mormon agrees with the sentiments expressed by Paul, in that salvation came through grace. Throughout the Book of Mormon, the fact is stressed that “there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17). Lehi, the first Book of Mormon prophet, declared. (Read More)
How can one justify the change of the wording “white and delightsome” in 2 Nephi 30:6 to “pure and delightsome”? The change in the 1981 edition seems to be an attempt to bring the Book of Mormon up to speed with the 1978 revelation that allowed black members of the Church to hold the priesthood.
When the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a new edition of the Book of Mormon in 1981, a change was made to the text of 2 Nephi 30:6. The 1830 and most earlier editions said that the descendants of Lehi would become “a white and delightsome people.” The new edition reads “pure and delightsome.” This change was first made in the 1840 Nauvoo edition of the Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith, but later editions did not rely on that one, so the change was not reflected for more than a century, until it was restored to the 1981 edition. (Read More)