How was the Book of Mormon supposedly obtained?
Anyone entertaining Mormon missionaries in their home will be regaled by tales of their "prophet" Joseph Smith and his discovery of the Book of Mormon (hereafter abbreviated BOM) through the supposed visitation of angels (at least SIX contradictory accounts exist in the Mormon church history records - but this won't be revealed to you!). David Whitmer - one of the supposed witnesses to this book (who later apostatized from the church) originally gave this account of the method of translation:
"Joseph Smith would put the Seer Stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was the principle scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man." (ref. "Translation of the Book of Mormon")
Mormon President W. Arid MacDonald, in his "Address on the Book of Mormon" said:
"....it is the only book in the world out of all the millions of books in the libraries of the world, which was brought to the earth by an angel from the throne of God. That makes it different from all other books. The angel made fifteen trips to this planet from the throne of God to see that this book was properly translated and printed, so that it might be given to the world."
Mormon writer James E. Talmage, in "The Vitality of Mormonism," (p. 127), stated unequivocally that Mormons make "no reservation respecting the BOM on the ground of incorrect translation" because to do so would be to "ignore attested fact as to the bringing forth of that book." Talmage also reiterated that Joseph Smith expressly declared the translation was affected through the power of God and "is in no sense the product of linguistic scholarship."
"Prophet" Joseph F. Smith reiterates this view - yet LDS scholar Dr. Sidney B. Sperry (Professor of Old Testament Languages and Literature at BYU) claimed (in "Our Book of Mormon", p.79-80): Regarding Mosiah 2:16-18: "The homely English of this Scripture could be much improved, particularly the first sentence" and of 2 Nephi 6:2: "This is a very poor English sentence parallels of which can be found many times over in the Book of Mormon." Sperry even says that "the Prophet lacked the skill of the King James translators." Sperry is being illogical, for when we consider the manner in which the BOM was supposedly translated we know that it should have been 100% accurate but in fact 116 pages were lost immediately, i.e. about 18% of the book, and never reproduced in case the originals were found and an embarrassing comparison made. No reservations may be made about the BOM on the grounds of incorrect translation since it was supposedly effected through the gift and power of God and even had an angelic overseer through translation, scribing and printing - according to the testimonies of President's of the LDS church and witnesses such as David Whitmer.
What is "reformed Egyptian"?
Why would "the Nephites" use ANY form of Egyptian?
There are many contradictory points about this supposed translation that need to be examined:
1. It was claimed that the gold plates on which the BOM was written were in "reformed Egyptian" - a language unknown to modern man (and never claimed to exist outside of Smith's work) - therefore it would be impossible for the LDS expert witness, Professor Anthon, to make the comments attributed to him. In fact, so many people enquired about his supposed testimony that Anthon wrote a disclaimer which is still available in print and which makes it very clear that he recognised the work as anything but Egyptian hieroglyphics and suspected a hoax or confidence trick. Copies of his letter are available in Cardiff.
2. Is it likely that God would give us His "newest" and allegedly greatest Scripture in an unknown language?
3. The existence of the Bible in known languages - and the preservation of ancient manuscripts - leave us with the opportunity to study these original languages.
4. Fine shades of meaning which might be lost in translating from one language to another can be recaptured by studying the original languages - this is impossible for the BOM.
5. The "gold plates" have conveniently been taken "into heaven" so no one can check them out - why didn't God do this with the master copies of the Biblical books if this would preserve his Word?
6. Why didn't the "Nephites" (three supposedly remained on earth and are alive still - ref. 3 Nephi 28v1-8) or the Apostle John (also supposedly still alive on earth according to the LDS) call for these to be returned so that the truth could be "restored" if there really was an complete apostasy and God's Word polluted?
7. Why would God give us the "additional" Scripture of the BOM in a manner totally different from that used before?
8. Why did He leave us copies of Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the books of the Bible in greater number than those of any other ancient book - whereas in the BOM He purportedly took away the original plates and left us with only an English translation which has been shown to be very flawed?
9. Extra-biblical literature in the languages of the Bible constitutes a strong testimony to the genuineness of these writings - this type of evidence is absent from the BOM. The New Testament was quoted so extensively by the early Church Fathers that we have their writings reproducing every word apart from 11 verses (by Smith's own testimony there are many more verses than this missing from the BOM) - so even if the Biblical manuscripts had been lost we would have virtually every word of the NT in our possession now.
10. The appearance of additional revelations contradicts Luke 16v19-31 - did God change His mind, supply additional revelation and evidence - and then take away most of the evidence?
11. Nephi was allegedly a Jew living in Jerusalem in about 600BC - when the written and spoken language was Hebrew (ref. the Siloam Tunnel Inscription, of 7th Century BC., and the Lachish Letters, early 6th Century BC). The books written around this time (e.g. Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Habbakuk) were also written in Hebrew. Why would he write in "reformed Egyptian" in America (see 15 below)?
12. Why were "the brass plates of Laban" (which Lehi and sons took with them) also in "reformed Egyptian" (Mosiah 1v4). These are said to contain the five books of Moses, genealogy of Lehi, "many prophecies - including some of Jeremiah" (ref. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.97; cf. Alma 37v3).
13. no records are known of "reformed Egyptian" occurring in Palestine - or America - this is a contradiction to every other ancient language.
14. Where did Lehi and sons learn this language - this also applies to Nephi, who would have to know it well enough to write on the golden plates? Were they the only family using it - highly unlikely? (ref. 1 Nephi 1v2, cf. Mormon 9v33 where even Moroni considered using Hebrew).
15. There is no evidence that they were related to Joseph (the father of Manasseh). Note - the entire nation of Israel lived in captivity in Egypt for over 400 years - yet they did not speak or write in Egyptian but Hebrew! Moses, who was brought up and trained in all the culture of the Egyptians, wrote in Hebrew. Why should a small group of Jews form a linguistic exception to the prevalence of Hebrew in Palestine?
16. If they learned that language miraculously why didn't God teach them English - then the BOM would have been perfect instead of written in poor English which often resembles that expected of an uneducated person, living in Joseph Smith's era in about 1830 (when the writer accidentally slips out of the King James "Elizabethan English" adopted for this scam)!? Since they already knew Hebrew why learn another language?
What do we know of Egyptian?
Why does the Book of Mormon contradict the Bible?
17. Read the excuses given for the poor record in Mormon 9v33. There were three types of known Egyptian writing: hieroglyphic (used ca. 3,000BC and passed out of use by 600BC), hieratic (used alongside first system and employed until ca. 300AD), demotic used from about 800BC to 500AD (ref. The Alphabet by David Diringer, N.Y. Philosophical Library, 1948, pp. 59, 64-67). All three - and therefore any derivations - are very poor vehicles for the transmission of God's Word - none are syllabic or alphabetic and would require learning difficult and limited characters picturing various objects and actions. It was also practiced only by priestly classes and not common people which makes it all the more unlikely that Lehi, et al, were able to use it!
18. Hebrew (which has two tenses) and Greek (seven tenses) are far superior writing vehicles. Greek was the common language of the Greco-Roman world and had the great advantages of allowing far greater inflections and shades of meaning than any other language, and was therefore well adapted to convey the final revelation of the New Testament. Why would God use a more primitive, non-alphabetic language, inferior to both Hebrew and Greek?
19. If "reformed Egyptian" had been in any way superior why did God cause all trace of it and the remaining documents to be taken from the earth?
Why was the Mormon god so ill-prepared?
20. Moroni supposedly completed his father's (Mormon's) records, adding two books of his own (one was the Book of Ether - an abridgment by Moroni of the 24 plates of Ether, ref. Ether 1v2). Ether, a surviving prophet of the Jaredites, did not speak Egyptian - "they...retained a tongue patterned after that of Adam," McConkie, MD, p.393). Ether (1v33-37) tells us that at the time of the confusion of tongues at tower of Babel, the language of the Jaredites was not confused (this contradicts Genesis 11v9-11 which says ALL were confused). There is no indication that he wrote in the language of anyone but the Jaredites (whatever we suppose that to be). It couldn't have been "reformed Egyptian" as they arrived in the Western hemisphere about 2,200BC and there is no mention of them having connections with Joseph (the Father of Mannaseh) or Egypt.
21. Whereas Joseph Smith's King Mosiah managed to translate a language akin to that spoken by Adam and Eve (despite the confusion of the tongues at Babel) - presumably by supernatural means - we have Moroni claiming that he could have written them in Hebrew also if his plates had been big enough (Mormon 9v33). Talmage (AoF, p.292) concludes from this statement that the Nephites continued to be able to read and write in Hebrew until the time of their extinction (from about 600BC to ad 421) and Moroni wrote nothing from AD385 until AD401 when he wrote the first 13 verses of Mormon 8 - and then another 20 years passed before he commenced his writing?! It would be absolutely remarkable to remain bilingual for a thousand years when we know that the Palestinian Jews (after a mere 70 year captivity in the hands of the Babylonians) tended to use Aramaic when not using Hebrew (Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts by Frederic Kenyon, revised by A.W. Adams; NY, Harper, 1958, p.94).The Jews hated the Egyptians so much that they would never choose to use any form of their language as a means of communication!
22. If you knew two languages and were trying to decide which of these two you should use to write crucially important records for the salvation of mankind, does it seem likely that the main factor in making the decision would be the size of the plates on which you were writing? Surely the deciding factor would be the writer's competence in one language or the other? If your competence were equal surely you would chose the one which would most effectively convey the material to be transmitted? According to Mormon 9v33, Moroni tells us that this would have been Hebrew (even though he makes the half-hearted excuse: "...but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also"). The word "also" would infer that he knows it is going to take a miracle for anyone to read their reformed languages (whether Egyptian or Hebrew). If the record would have been more perfect in Hebrew, and if the Nephites could read Hebrew, why didn't these men exert every effort to convey the revelations in the best possible medium?
23. Does it seem likely that God would allow this revelation to be (supposedly) written in a language which would leave a more imperfect record than need be (consider all the trouble he supposedly went to in bringing the Nephites to America, preserving and translating the plates etc.)? The god described in the BOM seems to be singularly lacking in preparation!
Were there really any gold plates?
How did Smith affect this translation?
24. In real history there are a very limited number of records of metal plates, e.g.: copper scroll at Qumran (dated ca. 100BC); bronze blades and arrowheads inscribed in Phoenician/Hebrew (ca. 1100BC); Four gold and silver plates found at Persepolis, Iran (excavation of palace of King Darius I, King of Persia 518-515BC); three in gold (Pyrgi, Italy, about 500BC and written in the Phoenician and Etruscan languages); 19 gold plates found in Seoul, South Korea (from the 8th century AD). Where is the evidence for plates of gold or any other metal in the Jerusalem area - or Egypt or America? The roll (made of leather or papyrus - particularly in Egypt of course) was the main method for writing records (Biblical Archaeology, by G. Earnest Wright, Westminster Press, 1957, p.197 and Frederic Kenyon, op. cit. pp. 37-38). New World manuscripts from Central America and Mexico - dating from pre-Columbian times - were found on coarse cloth or crude paper and are known to have been burned by fanatical Spanish priests.
25. Why didn't God simply retranslate missing pages - or "books" - if this was an important issue?
26. How can the LDS church claim the most accurate ancient written work in history (the Bible!) to be inaccurate when their own writings can easily be shown to be severely and totally flawed in this way (and these errors to have occurred since only 1830)?
What was the real nature and origin of Joseph Smith's work?
27. When the "Urim and Thummim" were removed by an angel because of Smith's disobedience, why did he use a Seer Stone to carry on the "translation"? These "crystal balls" are forbidden in the Old Testament because they are occultic tools of divination used by fortune tellers and treasure seekers!
28. Why did God bother to preserve the "Urim and Thummim" (ref. Exodus 28v30 - there is no evidence that these were translating tools anyway!) if they were so little used and to be taken away after the first 116 pages were foolishly lost?
29. But then - where is permission to use an occultic Seer Stone given by God?
30. Finally, and most damning, Joseph Smith was arrested, tried and found guilty by a justice of the peace of being a deceiving "glass looker" in Bainbridge County, N.Y., on March 20th, 1826. Before the documents were discovered on July 28th, 1971, Mormon scholars were willing to admit that if this trial were authenticated it would disprove Smith's tale of the Book of Mormon and his religion. Mormon church historian Leonard J. Arrington (The Mormon Experience, p.10-11) is one of the few in the church who have admitted that the trial took place. Most Mormons will claim that the trial is a fabrication and refuse to concede that it could be true. There is good reason for this denial in their minds - Smith admitted himself that he began his money-digging activities in 1823 (his "angelic-messenger" supposedly informed him of the gold plates on September 21st, 1823) and was clearly actively involved in money-digging for at least three of the four years when God was supposedly preparing him to receive the gold plates from which the BOM was to be translated! It is clear from the written testimonies in the Mormon church records that many of these supposed inspired 'apostles' were involved in similar occultic activities - using "seer stones" (crystal gazing) and "divining rods" (read Journal of Discourses, 19, p.36-39; History of the Church, I, p.129; 412.
What does this tell us about this Mormon "gospel"?
It should come as no surprise to find that the occultic influence of "reformed Egyptian" should be brought to bear in bringing "another" gospel (Galatians 1v6-9) purporting to be the gospel of Jesus Christ - but which is really a tale of deception and corruption designed to convince men that they can become "gods" - the first lie of Satan (Genesis 3v4-5). Do not allow yourself, your friends or family, to be deceived by these false prophets and deceivers who we were warned of in Scripture (Matthew 7v15-23; 1 Timothy 4v1-5).