Why Does “19th Century Language” Appear in the Book of Mormon?

A primary argument made by critics of the Book of Mormon is that it is a work of fiction because its writing style reflects the language of Joseph Smith’s day. They do this by identifying phrases that are commonly found in both 19th century literature and the Book of Mormon, but which are not found in the Bible. If the Book of Mormon were truly an English translation of an ancient document, they argue, then these 19th century phrases should not be so prolific in the Book of Mormon.

If one were serious about proving that the writing style in the Book of Mormon is anachronistic to a text written between 600 B.C. and 400 A.D., then that person should also consult 18th-19th century English translations of other ancient documents to see whether such language is truly anachronistic. Most of the linguistic critiques of the Book of Mormon I have read do not account for these phrases also appearing in other English translations of ancient documents. The purpose of this article is to provide some examples where critics argue certain 19th century phrases should not exist in the Book of Mormon, and yet are found in English translations of other ancient documents.

The four English translations that I will be consulting are listed below:

  1. The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus (written between 78 and 93 A.D.; translated into English by William Whiston in 1737)
  2. The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides (written between 431 and 400 B.C.; translated into English by Richard Crawley in 1874)
  3. The History of Herodotus (written in 440 B.C.; translated into English by George Rawlinson in 1910),
  4. The Dialogues of Plato (Plato lived between 427 and 347 B.C.; translated by Benjamin Jowett in 1871)

Curious Workmanship

Some argue that “curious workmanship” (1 Nephi 16:10) is a unique 18th-19th century phrase that should not appear in the Book of Mormon if it were a real ancient document. The appearance of this phrase in the works of Flavius Josephus refutes this claim, since it is an 18th century English translation of a document written in Greek between 78 and 93 A.D.:

  • “Now the contexture of the curious workmanship of these stones was in three rows, but the fourth row would make one admire its sculptures, whereby were represented trees, and all sorts of plants” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VIII, 5:2)

Adieu

Critics argue that the French word “adieu” (Jacob 7:27) should not appear in an English translation of an ancient document. English translations of Josephus and Herodotus, however, also use the word “adieu,” and they were neither French nor 19th century authors:

  • “Thus have I set down the genealogy of my family as I have found it described in the public records, and so bid adieu to those who calumniate me [as of a lower original]” (The Life of Flavius Josephus, 1)
  • “with such portion of their goods and chattels as the vessels could bear, bade adieu to Cyrnus and sailed to Rhegium” (Herodotus, Book I)

Ignominious Death

Some say that the phrase “ignominious death” (Alma 1:15) is unique to Joseph Smith’s day and therefore should not exist in an ancient text. Again, Josephus proves this argument wrong:

  • “Abimelech, the son of Gideon, who would needs take the tower in Thebes by force, and was killed by a large stone thrown at him by an old woman; and although he was a man of great prowess, he died ignominiously by the dangerous manner of his assault” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VII, 7:2)
  • “He that blasphemeth God, let him be stoned; and let him hang upon a tree all that day, and then let him be buried in an ignominious and obscure manner” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, 8:6)

American Freedom

Americans like to think that we were the first civilization that fought for liberty from kings. This is why there are great efforts to link the Book of Mormon to themes of the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Here are just a few examples of phrases not found in the Bible but are found in Mercy Otis Warren’s “History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution” (1805). These parallels with Warren’s book and the Book of Mormon were found by Thomas Donofrio in his article “Early American Influences on the Book of Mormon” at MormonThink. He uses this list in an attempt to prove that the Book of Mormon is a 19th century fiction. The problem is that these phrases and themes are found in other English translations of ancient texts. Josephus and other ancient authors describe civilizations throughout antiquity that fought to protect their freedom from tyrants, freedom from tribute to foreign nations, freedom to practice their religion, and freedom from slavery. I have provided a list of some of these parallels and their existence in other ancient works:

  • a free people (Warren, p. 33) / a free people (Alma 21:21)
    • “he would have the greatest honors decreed to him that a free people could bestow” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIX, 3:3)
    • “shake off the yoke of servitude, and to become a free people” (Herodotus, Book I)
  • a free government (Warren, p. 65) / a free government (Alma 46:35)
    • “Lacedaemonians, propose to put down free governments in the cities of Greece, and to set up tyrannies in their room” (Herodotus, Book V)
  • the cause of liberty (Warren, p. 24) / the cause of liberty (Alma 51:17)
    • “courage not to be moved by any dangers in the cause of liberty” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VII, 8:7)
  • their rights and privileges (Warren, p. 48) / their rights and privileges (Alma 30:27)
    • “made this speech concerning the rights and privileges of Hyrcanus” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, 10:7)
  • the cause of freedom (Warren, p. 146) / the cause of freedom (Alma 46:35)
    • “For not only did he thus distinguish himself beyond others in the cause of his country’s freedom” (Herodotus, Book VI)
    • “courage not to be moved by any dangers in the cause of liberty” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VII, 8:7)
  • cause of his country (Warren, p. 168) / cause of his country (Alma 62:1)
    • “For not only did he thus distinguish himself beyond others in the cause of his country’s freedom” (Herodotus, Book VI)
    • “Their bodies they spend ungrudgingly in their country’s cause” (Thucydides, Book I, Chapter III)
  • the freedom of their country (Warren, p. 172) / the freedom of their country (Alma 59:13)
    • “For not only did he thus distinguish himself beyond others in the cause of his country’s freedom” (Herodotus, Book VI)
    • “to plead for the liberty of their country” (Josephus, Wars, Book II, 6:1)
    • freedom of the city of Rome” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVI, 2:3)
    • “men whose glory it is to be always ready to give battle for the liberty of their own country” (Thucydides, Book IV, Chapter XIV)
  • the justice of their cause (Warren, p. 36) / the justice of the cause (p. 154) / the justice of the cause (Alma 46:29)
    • “but Aristobulus’s three hundred talents had more weight with him than the justice of the cause” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book I, 6:3)
    • “I am confident in the justice of my cause” (The Dialogues of Plato, Apology)
  • deprive them of their rights (Warren, p. 332) / deprive them of their rights (Alma 2:4)
    • “I will therefore that the nation of the Jews be not deprived of their rights and privileges, on account of the madness of Caius” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIX, 5:2)
  • freemen (p. 175) / freemen (Warren, Alma 51:6)
    • “he also left some of the horsemen, called the Freemen, with Herod” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book I, 13:3)
    • “killing all the freemen that fell into their hands” (Thucydides, Book V, Chapter XVI)
    • “if they be looked upon as freemen” (Herodotus, Book 4)
  • contrary to the laws of (Warren, p. 635) / contrary to the laws of (Helaman 6:23)
    • “and to pull down what had been erected contrary to the laws of their country” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book I, 33:2)
  • liberties, property, wives and children (Warren, p. 277) / Their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children (Alma 48:10)
    • “Be ye not afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses” (Bible, Nehemiah 4:14)
    • “They added this also, that when they had built cities, wherein they might preserve their children, and wives, and possessions, if he would bestow them upon them, they would go along with the rest of the army” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, 7:3)
    • “the Syracusans to fight for their country, and each individual for his safety that day and liberty hereafter” (Thucydides, Book VI, Chapter XX)
  • in defence of their liberties (Warren, p. 634) / in the defence of your liberty (3 Nephi 3:2)
    • “when we were so desirous of defending our liberty, and when we received such sore treatment from one another” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VII, 8:6)
  • spirit of freedom (Warren, p. 156) / spirit of freedom (Alma 60:25)
    • “Such was the natural nobility of this city, so sound and healthy was the spirit of freedom among us” (The Dialogues of Plato, Menexenus)
    • “trusting less in system and policy than to the native spirit of our citizens” (Thucydides, Book II, Chapter VI)
    • “Nay, indeed, Lysias observing the great spirit of the Jews, how they were prepared to die rather than lose their liberty” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XII, 7:5)

Warfare

Critics often point out parallels between the Book of Mormon and battle tactics in the American Revolutionary War. Below is another list from the parallels provided by Donofrio in Mercy Otis Warren’s “History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution” (1805). Again, these are examples of 19th century language that is not found in the Bible, and therefore should not be found in ancient documents like the Book of Mormon. These phrases, however, are also found in the sources previously mentioned:

  • stand or fall (Warren, p. 104) / stand or fall (Alma 41:7)
    • “to his own master he standeth or falleth” (Bible, Romans 14:4)
    • “you chose the Athenians, and with them you must stand or fall” (Thucydides, Book III, Chapter X)
  • neck of land (Warren, p. 120) / neck of land (Alma 22:32)
    • “attempted to cut through this narrow neck of land” (Herodotus, Book 1)
  • narrow passage (Warren, p. 146) / narrow passage (Mormon 2:29)
    • “which stopped up the narrow passages, they retired to the camp” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book II, 15:5)
    • “encompass the building, leaving only a narrow passage by which it is approached” (Herodotus, Book II)
    • “and so arrived in time to occupy the narrow pass between two hills” (Thucydides, Book IV, Chapter XIV)
  • the art of war (Warren, p. 270) / the arts of war (Ether 13:16)
    • “novices in the art of war” (Thucydides, Book VI, Chapter XX)
    • “to fight with one that was skilled in the art of war” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VI, 9:3)
  • a council of war (Warren, p. 300) / a council of war (Alma 52:19)
    • “To the end he called the commanders that were under him to a council of war” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book III, 7:8)
    • “they stopped at that place, and held a council of war” (Herodotus, Book 8)
    • “The Athenians, seeing them closing up in the harbour and informed of their further designs, called a council of war” (Thucydides, Book VII, Chapter XXIII)
  • to carry the point (Warren, p. 108) / not gain the point (Alma 46:29)
    • “which he might prevent by placing his camp round about them; and that they should think it a great point gained” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book IV, 2:3)
    • “Having thus gained their point, the delegates returned home at once” (Thucydides, Book III, Chapter IV)
  • supplies of provisions (Warren, p. 208) / supplies of provisions (Alma 55:34)
    • “This Simon had his supply of provisions from the city, in opposition to the seditious” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book V, 1:4)
  • fallen into his hands (Warren, p. 145) / fallen into his hands (Alma 53:11)
    • “that it was much better to fall into the hands of God, than into those of his enemies” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VII, 13:2)
    • “the two next by falling into the hands of Gratus and Ptolemeus” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book II, 4:3)
  • led captive (Warren, p. 241) / led captive (Alma 40:13)
    • “There were also led captive about thirty-two thousand virgins” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, 7:1)
    • “Will not your city be the first we shall seek to lead away captive?” (Herodotus, Book III)
  • threw down their arms (Warren, p. 393) / threw down their weapons (Alma 52:38)
    • “but when they had lost their general, they were put to flight, and threw down their arms” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XII, 10:5)
  • laying down their arms at the feet of the victorious Washington (Warren, p. 484) / threw down their weapons of war at the feet of Moroni (Alma 52:38)
    • “and assured them, that if they would lay down their arms, he would secure them from any harm” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book III, 7:32)
    • “Whereupon three thousand of John’s party left him immediately, who came to Josephus, and threw their arms down at his feet” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book II, 21:7)
  • to strengthen the hands of general Arnold (Warren, p. 256) / strengthen the hand of the Nephites (Alma 2:18)
    • “The charges which strengthen our hands in the war against the Athenians would on our own showing be merited by ourselves” (Thucydides, Book IV, Chapter XIV)
    • “to strengthen their hands in the works of the Lord God of Israel” (Apocrypha, I Esdras 7:15)
  • were obliged to fly (Warren, p. 103) / were obliged to flee before them (Alma 59:8)
    • “but followed him at his heels; he was also obliged to make haste in his attempt” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book I, 6:6)
    • “and the rest of the entire nation were obliged to save themselves by flight” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book II, 16:4)
  • fled in confusion (Warren, p. 374) / fled in much confusion (Alma 52:28)
    • “the Romans were at length brought into confusion, and put to flight, and ran away from their camp” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book V, 2:4)
    • “they forgot their retreats and fled away in confusion to the deserts lying towards the north” (Herodotus, Book IV)
  • entrenchments to be thrown up (Warren, p. 105) / bank which had been thrown up (Alma 49:18)
    • “on the forty-seventh day [of the siege] the banks cast up by the Romans were become higher than the wall” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book II, 7:33)
    • “A trench was dug all around the temple and the consecrated ground, and the earth thrown up from the excavation made to do duty as a wall, in which stakes were also planted” (Thucydides, Book IV, Chapter XIV)
    • “and out of the ditch, instead of a wall they cast up the earth” (Thucydides, Hobbes Translation, Book IV, 89)
  • to fall on the rear of the British (Warren, p. 183) / to fall upon them in their rear (Alma 56:23)
    • “if the enemy advanced into the plain against the troops of Agis, they might fall upon his rear with their cavalry” (Thucydides, Book V, Chapter XVI)
    • “he also parted his army into three bodies, and fell upon the backs of their enemies” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XII, 8:3)
  • cut off the retreat (Warren, p. 277) / cut off the way of their retreat (3 Nephi 4:24)
    • “before the Athenians were aware, cut off their retreat to their ships” (Herodotus, Book V)
    • “and slew a great number of them, and cut off the retreat of the rest of the multitude” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book IV, 1:8)
  • surrounded on all sides (Warren, p. 311) / surrounded them on every side (Mosiah 21:5)
    • “nor were strong enough to fight with the Romans any longer upon the square, as being surrounded on all sides” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VI, 7:2)
    • “When they advanced the next day the Syracusans surrounded and attacked them on every side” (Thucydides, Book VII, Chapter XXIII)
  • death and destruction (Warren, p. 303) / death and destruction (Alma 28:14)
    • “whether this is a discovery of their own, or whether they have learned from some one else this new sort of death and destruction” (Plato, Dialogues, Euthydemus)
  • an ignominious death (Warren, p. 584) / an ignominious death (Alma 1:15)
    • “he died ignominiously by the dangerous manner of his assault” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VII, 7:2)
  • the intrigues of the governmental faction (Warren, p. 86) / the intrigues of the Lamanites (Alma 55:27)
    • “they destroyed the corn and had some hopes of the city coming over through the intrigues of a faction within” (Thucydides, Book II, Chapter VIII)
    • “he had also thought of preventing her intrigues, by putting her to death” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XV, 4:2)

Fortifications, Walls, Ditches, Wooden Stakes, Etc.

Some argue that siege warfare is reminiscent of the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. While it bears some similarities (minus the guns and cannon fire), these are battle tactics found throughout antiquity across cultures. Here are some examples:

From Thucydides’ “The History of the Peloponnesian War”:

  • Meanwhile Hippocrates made a levy in mass of the citizens, resident aliens, and foreigners in Athens, and arrived at his destination after the Boeotians had already come back from Siphae, and encamping his army began to fortify Delium, the sanctuary of Apollo, in the following manner. A trench was dug all round the temple and the consecrated ground, and the earth thrown up from the excavation was made to do duty as a wall, in which stakes were also planted, the vines round the sanctuary being cut down and thrown in, together with stones and bricks pulled down from the houses near; every means, in short, being used to run up the rampart. Wooden towers were also erected where they were wanted” (Thucydides, Book IV, Chapter XIV)
  • “the Athenians started from the wall which they occupied, and from this point built
    a cross wall looking towards Megara down to the sea on either side of Nisaea; the ditch and the walls being divided among the army, stones and bricks taken from the suburb, and the fruit-trees and timber cut down to make a palisade wherever this seemed necessary” (Thucydides, Book IV, Chapter XIII)

Josephus thoroughly describes siege warfare throughout Jewish history:

  • “Alexander was afraid of him, when he was marching against the Arabians; so he cut a deep trench between Antipatris, which was near the mountains, and the shores of Joppa; he also erected a high wall before the trench, and built wooden towersin order to hinder any sudden approaches; but still he was not able to exclude Antiochus, for he burnt the towers, and filled up the trenches, and marched on with his army” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book I, 4:7)
    • On a side note, it is interesting to me how an ancient war strategy was to fill up an enemy’s ditch surrounding their fort, and the Book of Mormon states, in what I think is an example of dark humor, “and instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead and wounded bodies” – Alma 49:22)

Sun Tzu mentions fortifications of walls and ditches in “The Art of War” (Translated by Lionel Giles):

  • “If we wish to fight, the enemy can be forced to an engagement even though he be sheltered behind a high rampart and a deep ditch” (VI:11)

Gadianton Robbers and the Free Masons

Some argue that the Gadianton Robbers are an analogue to the Free Masons. During Joseph Smith’s day they were considered a secret society that many believed were murderers who sought to overthrow the government. Much closer analogues can be found in Josephus, who describes robbers splitting the people into factions, robbers assassinating their enemies, robbers dwelling in caves, and expeditions to eradicate the robbers from the land:

  • “he presently met with an opportunity of signalising his courage; for, finding there was one Hezekias, a captain of a band of robbers, who overran the neighboring ports of Syria with a great troop of them, he seized him and slew him, as well as a great number of the other robbers that were with him; for which action he was greatly beloved by the Syrians; for when they were very desirous to have their country freed from this nest of robbers, he purged it of them: so they sung songs in his commendation in their villages and cities, as having procured them peace and the secure enjoyment of their possessions” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 9:2)
  • “that there might be no want of a supply for the soldiers for the time to come. Antigonus was sensible of this, and sent presently over the country such as might restrain and lie in ambush for those that went out for provisions. So these men obeyed the orders of Antigonus, and got together a great number of armed men about Jericho, and sat upon the mountains, and watched those that brought the provisions…He also went thence and resolved to destroy those robbers that dwelt in the caves, and did much mischief in the country…These caves were in mountains that were exceedingly abrupt, and in their middle were no other than precipices, with certain entrances into the caves, and those caves were encompassed with sharp rocks, and in these did the robbers lie concealed, with all their families about them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 15:3-5).
  • “there he lighted upon one Rezon, who had run away from Hadadezer, king of Zobah, his master, and was become a robber in that country, and joined friendship with him, who had already a band of robbers about him. So he went up, and seized upon that part of Syria, and was made king thereof. He also made incursions into the land of Israel, and did it no small mischief, and spoiled it, and that in the lifetime of Solomon. And this was the calamity which the Hebrews suffered by Hadad” (Josephus, Antiquities, Book VIII, 7:6)
  • “When these matters were laid before Caesar, he wrote back to Varro to destroy those nests of robbers, and to give the land to Herod, that so by his care the neighboring countries might be no longer disturbed with these doings of the Trachonites; for it was not an easy firing to restrain them, since this way of robbery had been their usual practice, and they had no other way to get their living, because they had neither any city of their own, nor lands in their possession, but only some receptacles and dens in the earth, and there they and their cattle lived in common together” (Josephus, Antiquities, Book XV, 10:1)
  • Now, no place of Galilee remained to be taken but the small city of Gischala, whose multitude yet were desirous of peace; for they were generally husbandmen, and always applied themselves to cultivate the fruits of the earth. However, there were a great number that belonged to a band of robbers, that were already corrupted, and had crept in among them, and some of the governing part of the citizens were sick of the same distemper. It was John, the son of a certain man whose name was Levi, that drew them into this rebellion, and encouraged them in it. He was a cunning knave, and of a temper that could put on various shapes; very rash in expecting great things, and very sagacious in bringing about what he hoped for. It was known to every body that he was fond of war, in order to thrust himself into authority; and the seditious part of the people of Gischala were under his management” (Josephus, Wars, Book IV, 2:1)

Gangs of robbers are also described cross-culturally. In the commentary on the Art of War, Chang Yu describes how a gang of robbers which hid in the mountains was defeated:

  • “Wu-tu Ch’iang was a robber captain in the time of the Later Han, and Ma Yuan was sent to exterminate his gang. Ch’iang having found refuge in the hills, Ma Yuan made no attempt to force a battle, but seized all the favorable positions commanding supplies of water and forage. Ch’iang was soon in such a desperate plight for want of provisions that he was forced to make a total surrender.” (Chang Yu’s commentary in Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” IX:1, p. 137)

Factions, intrigues, and combinations are also found in antiquity:

  • “they destroyed the corn and had some hopes of the city coming over through the intrigues of a faction within” (Thucydides, Book II, Chapter VIII)
  • “he had also thought of preventing her intrigues, by putting her to death” (Josephus, Antiquities, Book XV, 4:2)
  • “it was this clause that was the real origin of the panic in Peloponnese, by exciting suspicions of a Lacedaemonian and Athenian combination against their liberties” (Thucydides, Book V, Chapter XV)
  • “they prepared therefore their chariots, and gathered their soldiery together, their cities also combined together, and drew over to them Askelon and Ekron” (Antiquites, Book V, 3:1)
  • “the Ambraciots having come and urged them to combine with them in attacking Amphilochian Argos” (Thucydides, Book III, Chapter XI)

This is just a small sample of instances where 19th century phrases are found in English translations of ancient documents, which are useful in refuting claims that similarities between the Book of Mormon and 19th century literature are proof of it being a work of fiction.

Debunking MormonThink’s “Early American Influences on the Book of Mormon” (Part 3)

Please read Part 1 and Part 2 of my series debunking Thomas E. Donofrio’s MormonThink article “Early American Influences on the Book of Mormon” article if you have not already done so. To review briefly, Donofrio attempts to prove that the Book of Mormon is a 19th century work of fiction by identifying key words and phrases that are found in popular literature of Joseph’s day and the Book of Mormon, but are not found in the Bible. His argument is that if the Book of Mormon were an authentic translation of an ancient document, then it would not share so many similarities with early American history and literature.

As shown in Part 1 and Part 2 of my answer to their article, most of the similarities identified by Donofrio are also found in the works of Flavius Josephus, an ancient Jewish historian whose works were written between 78 and 100 A.D. and translated into English in 1737. The purpose of Part 3 of this series is to point out that there are many key words and phrases that are shared by Josephus and the Book of Mormon that are not found in the list of parallels provided by Donofrio or the Bible. Since the English translation of Josephus accounts for most of the parallels listed in the MormonThink article, and since there are many more phrases shared by Josephus and the Book of Mormon that are not listed, we cannot assume that the appearance of 19th century language in the Book of Mormon proves that it is not an authentic translation. If we were to use Donofrio’s criteria in evaluating the authenticity of the works of Josephus, we would have to conclude that Josephus and his accounts are works of fiction borrowing ideas from 18th century literature.

Below are just some of the similarities I have found between Josephus and the Book of Mormon that are not found in the Bible or Donofrio’s list of parallels:

  1. Office of the High Priesthood
    • “from whom that family was derived, had both the office of the high priesthood and the dignity of a king for a long time” (Life of Flavius Josephus, 1)
    • “But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God” (Alma 13:18)
  2. Points of the Law
    • “in order to know my opinion about the accurate understanding of points of the law” (Life of Flavius Josephus, 2)
    • “there were a part of the people who desired that a few particular points of the law should be altered” (Alma 51:2)
  3. Learning of the Greeks/Jews
    • “who were men very skilled in the learning of the Greeks” (Life, 65)
    • “which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians” (1 Nephi 1:2)
  4. Hope of Deliverance
    • “when he heard that he was coming to meet him with such a number of men, was greatly afraid: however, he committed his hope of deliverance to God” (Antiquities, Book I, Chapter XX)
    • “and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him” (Alma 58:11)
  5. Lazy
    • “The Egyptians grew delicate and lazy” (Antiquities, Book II, Chapter IX)
    • “Now they were a lazy and an idolatrous people” (Mosiah 9:12)
  6. Supreme Being
    • “the Supreme Being is able to do whatsoever he pleases” (Antiquities, Book II, Chapter IX)
    • “all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being” (Alma 11:22)
  7. Contrary to the command of God
    • “how the Egyptians were destroyed when they attempted to detain them, contrary to the command of God” (Antiquities, Book III, 1:4)
    • “for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds” (Alma 30:7)
  8. Way of Deliverance
    • “he request God for some succor for the people, and some way of deliverance from the want they were in” (Antiquities, Book III, 1:5)
    • “And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel” (2 Nephi 9:11)
  9. Proceedings of the people
    • “These proceedings of the people of those countries occasioned perplexity and trouble to Moses” (Antiquities, Book III, 2:2)
    • “And now there are many records kept of the proceedings of this people, by many of this people” (Helaman 3:13)
  10. Governor and Protector
    • “yet were they exceeding sorry upon the supposal that they were deprived of a governor and a protector” (Antiquities, Book III, 5:7)
    • “my brother Nephi, unto whom ye look as a king or a protector” (2 Nephi 6:2)
  11. Firmness of mind
    • “she went to her death with an unshaken firmness of mind” (Antiquities, Book XV, 7:5)
    • “Look unto God with firmness of mind” (Jacob 3:1)
  12. Settle the Affairs
    • Ventidius called for Silo and Herod to come to the war against the Parthians, but ordered them first to settle the affairs of Judea” (Wars, Book I, 16:4)
    • “and it was at the same time that they had begun to settle the affairs of their contentions concerning the chief judge” (Alma 51:12)
  13. Deliver themselves up
    • “he had proclamation made, that they should come and deliver themselves up to him” (Wars, Book I, 16:4)
    • “And Alma and his brethren went forth and delivered themselves up into their hands” (Mosiah 23:29)
  14. Stand in need
    • “and petition their emperors, in great multitudes, for what they stand in need of” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 1:4)
    • “And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor” (Mosiah 4:16)
  15. On account of their fear
    • “it was not on account of their fear of dangers, nor on account of their laziness, that they made this request to him” (Antiquities, Book IV, 7:3)
    • “and this we do for our brethren, on account of their fear to take up arms against their brethren” (Alma 27:23)
  16. Tortured in a cruel manner
    • Cherea tortured this woman after a cruel manner” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 1:5)
    • “they did murder them in a most cruel mannertorturing their bodies even unto death” (Moroni 9:10)
  17. Destruction hangs over them
    • “the destruction which hangs over all men, by the means of Caius” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 1:9)
    • “and the sword of destruction did hang over them” (3 Nephi 2:19)
  18. By way of exhortation
    • “And I seal up these records, after I have spoken a few words by way of exhortation unto you” (Moroni 10:2)
    • “but at length perceived that it was by way of exhortation” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 1:10)
  19. State of ignorance
    • “it is because of the traditions of their fathers that caused them to remain in their state of ignorance” (Alma 9:16)
    • “informed them of the death of Caius, and by this means put an end to that state of ignorance that men had been in” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 1:18)
  20. Preserve our liberty
    • “which course of virtue it is alone can preserve our liberty” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 2:2)
    • “Yea, let us preserve our liberty as a remnant of Joseph” (Alma 46:24)
  21. Laws of their country
    • “have striven one with another to overthrow the ancient laws of their country” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 2:2)
    • “whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country” (Helaman 6:23)
  22. Skill in war
    • “one of the highest fame, both for his skill in war, his strength of body” (Wars, Book VI, 1:8)
    • “exceed the Lamanites in their strength and in their skill of war” (Alma 51:31)
  23. Born of good parents
    • “virgins that are free, and born of good parents” (Josephus, Antiquities, Book IV, 8:23)
    • “I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents” (1 Nephi 1:1)
  24. Change in affairs
    • “But these sons were not able to bear this change in their affairs” (Wars, Book I, 23:2)
    • thus he had changed the affairs of the kingdom” (Mosiah 11:4)
  25. Clear conscience
    • “but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day” (Mosiah 2:15)
    • “He was enabled to justify himself, not only by a clear conscience, which he carried with him” (Wars, Book I, 23:3)
  26. Magic arts
    • “the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the witchcraft which was in the land” (Mormon 2:10)
    • “what I do is so much superior to what these do by magic arts and tricks” (Antiquities, Book II, 13:3)
  27. Overthrow their liberty
    • “And now I am persuaded that every one of you here comes satisfied before I speak, that these overthrowers of our liberties deserve to be destroyed” (Wars, Book IV, 3:10)
    • “which would lay a foundation for serious consequences among the people of Nephi, yea, which consequences would lead to the overthrow of their liberty” (Alma 50:32)
  28. Maintain their liberty
    • “everybody caught up their arms, in order to maintain the liberty of their metropolis” (Wars, Book IV, 4:2)
    • “gathered together all the people who were desirous to maintain their liberty, to stand against Amalickiah and those who had dissented” (Alma 46:28)
  29. Trampled the Laws
    • “And that they had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah” (Helaman 4:22)
    • “tyrants that have infringed the rules of our regular tribunals, that have trampled upon our laws,and made their swords the arbitrators of right and wrong” (Wars, Book IV, 4:3)
  30. Gain some advantage
    • “nevertheless, the people of Nephi did gain some advantage of the robbers” (3 Nephi 2:17)
    • “that he should undertake to accuse other men before the Roman governor, and endeavor to gain some advantages to himself” (Wars, Book I, 10:2)
  31. Able to bear arms
    • “Now the number of the rest of the Israelites was nine hundred thousand men, who were able to bear arms and go to war” (Antiquities, Book VII, 13:1)
    • “and I also caused that all my old men that could bear arms, and also all my young men that were able to bear arms, should gather themselves together” (Mosiah 10:9)
  32. Change their disposition
    • “which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2)
    • “and being displeased at their conduct, persuaded them to change their dispositions and their acts for the better” (Josephus, Antiquities, Book I, 3:1)
  33. Murderous disposition
    • “greatly affected by every terrible accident, and on that account of a very murderous disposition where he durst show it” (Josephus, Antiquities, Book XIX, 2:5)
    • “the Amalekites were of a more wicked and murderous disposition than the Lamanites were” (Alma 43:6)
  34. Strength and Courage
    • “And indeedthis man deserves to be admired for his courage and strength” (Antiquities, Book V, 8:12)
    • “never had the Lamanites been known to fight with such exceedingly great strength and courage” (Alma 43:43)
  35. Liberty of worshiping God
    • “And he also declared unto them that they might have the liberty of worshiping the Lord their God according to their desires” (Alma 21:22)
    • “it proves to be much more desirable, by its affording us the liberty of worshiping God” (Antiquities, Book XII, 7:3)
  36. Happy and blessed
    • “I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God” (Mosiah 2:41)
    • “you must either recover that liberty, and so regain a happy and blessed way of living, which is that according to our laws” (Antiquities, Book XII, 7:3)
  37. Fight Desperately
    • “But behold, my little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately” (Alma 57:19)
    • “making the Jews despair of escaping, excited them to act more boldly; for nothing makes men fight so desperately in war as necessity” (Wars, Book III, 7:4)
  38. The affairs of the people
    • “Moroni received an epistle from Helaman, stating the affairs of the people in that quarter of the land” (Alma 56:1)
    • “This was the state of the affairs of the people of Jerusalem at this time” (Antiquities, Book XI, 8:7)
  39. No time to gather
    • “their march was with such exceedingly great speed that there was no time for the Nephites to gather together their armies” (Helaman 1:19)
    • “Now when Judas was deserted by his soldiers, and the enemy pressed upon him, and gave him not time to gather, he was disposed to fight with Bacchides’s army” (Antiquities, Book XII, 11:1)
  40. Trouble of mind
    • “he fell into despair and trouble of mind, as confounded at the unexpected ill success of this siege” (Antiquities, Book XIII, 1:5)
    • “for I have been somewhat troubled in mind because of the generosity and the greatness of the words of thy brother Ammon” (Alma 22:3)
  41. Body and Mind
    • “But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind” (Mosiah 2:11)
    • “and indeedthat city had in it men that were very stout both in body and mind” (Antiquities, Book VI, 14:8)
  42. Fresh Men
    • “But the Jews grew weary with defending themselves continually, and had not enough to come in their places, and succor them; while, on the side of the Romans, fresh men still succeeded those that were tired” (Wars, Book III, 7:27)
    • “for they were wearied because of their march, and the men of Lehi were fresh” (Alma 52:28)
  43. Firm Determination
    • “However, he still made no firm determination in his case; but when he had dismissed those assessors that had been with him that day, he deliberated by himself about the allegations” (Wars, Book II, 2:7)
    • “they marched forward to the land of Noah with a firm determination” (Alma 49:13)
  44. Obtain a Passage
    • “they began to dig down their banks of earth that they might obtain a pass to their armies” (Alma 49:22)
    • “Herod had prevented them, and was come to Pelusium, where he could not obtain a passage from those that lay with the fleet” (Wars, Book I, 14:2)
  45. Overrun the land
    • “for as he set a part of his army round about Gaza itself, so with the rest he overran their land, and spoiled it, and burnt what was in it” (Antiquities, Book XIII, 5:5)
    • “for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (2 Nephi 1:8)
  46. True Friendship
    • “It does not give leave to conceal any thing from our friends, because that is not true friendship which will not commit all things to their fidelity” (Against Apion, Book II, 28)
    • “and I know that thou art a true friend unto my son, Nephi, forever” (2 Nephi 1:30)
  47. Wicked Practices
    • “they are taxed to death, and in what ways of luxury and wicked practices that wealth is spent which was gotten by bloodshed” (Wars, Book I, 26:2)
    • “began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old” (Jacob 1:15)
  48. Fought Valiantly
    • “and when the battle was joined, they fought valiantly, and put the enemy to flight” (Antiquities, Book VIII, 14:4)
    • “they were depressed in body as well as in spirit, for they had fought valiantly by day and toiled by night to maintain their cities” (Alma 56:16)
  49. Great Warrior
    • “But behold he met with a disappointment by being repulsed by Teancum and his men, for they were great warriors” (Alma 51:31)
    • “He had been a man of valor and a great warrior, and mindful of the commands of their father Matrathins” (Antiquities, Book XII, 11:2)
  50. Fatigue
    • “sleep had overpowered them because of their much fatigue, which was caused by the labors and heat of the day” (Alma 51:33)
    • Sohe fell upon the Jews unexpectedly, when they were fatigued, and thought they had already vanquished the enemy, and made a great slaughter of them” (Antiquities, Book XV, 5:1)
  51. Much Bloodshed
    • “he foresaw that this could not be done without much bloodshed, both of the senators, and of those of the equestrian order that were present” (Antiquities, Book XIX, 1:14)
    • “there was also a contention among the people, insomuch that there was much bloodshed” (Helaman 4:1)
  52. Give them Battle
    • “who did not think it safe to go up to the mountain, and give them battle, because many of the enemy were on the higher part of the ground” (Wars, Book III, 7:32)
    • “Now it was not Amalickiah’s intention to give them battle according to the commandments of the king” (Alma 47:8)
  53. Bear with Patience
    • “and earnestly exhorted them to bear with patience whatever they suffered” (Antiquities, Book II, 6:4)
    • “and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give you success” (Alma 26:27)
  54. Perform with Exactness
    • “Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness” (Alma 57:21)
    • “their daily sacrifices and purifications, and every branch of their religious worship, was still performed to God with the utmost exactness” (Wars, Book I, 7:4)
  55. Placed his Army
    • So the king of Syria took his army with him, and came to Samaria, and placed his army round about the city, and besieged it” (Antiquities, Book VIII, 14:1)
    • “And thus having placed his army according to his desire, he was prepared to meet them” (Alma 43:33)
  56. Admonitions from God
    • “But the Israelites, though they were in heaviness at these admonitions from God, yet were they still very unwilling to go to war” (Antiquities, Book V, 2:7)
    • “Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord” (2 Nephi 4:13)
  57. Enjoy our Possessions
    • “without regarding their former insolence, do enjoy their own possessions in safety” (Wars, Book IV, 2:2)
    • “we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance” (1 Nephi 17:21)
  58. Sorrow and Lamentation
    • So there was sorrow and lamentation among the women and children, who had nothing but destruction before their eyes” (Antiquities, Book II, 15:4)
    • “And they did grow in their iniquities in the sixty and eighth year also, to the great sorrow and lamentation of the righteous” (Helaman 6:33)
  59. Filled with Robbers
    1. “for the country was again filled with robbers and impostors, who deluded the multitude” (Antiquities, Book XX, 8:5)

Debunking the Connection between “The Late War” and The Book of Mormon

Some suggest that “The Late War between the United States and Great Britain” written by Gilbert J. Hunt (1816) serves as source material for the Book of Mormon (http://wordtree.org/thelatewar/). FAIR Mormon has already done a pretty thorough job of answering this argument, but I would like to expand upon some their responses. The purpose of this post is to show that the themes that are similar between the Late War and the Book of Mormon are found in other ancient sources, and that these similarities to the Late War do not provide a compelling case that it served as source material for the Book of Mormon.

BATTLES AT FORTS

The authors suggest the Late War (29:20-23) serves as inspiration for battles in the Book of Mormon involving forts and ditches (Alma 48:7-8, 49:20-25). The authors state “some may argue that this structure is a scène a faire—that this is a basic structure common to many battles; however, there are distinctive elements to these descriptions that raise the question, how could two battles separated by nearly 2,000 years be described by two different people in so similar a manner?” The records of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus suggest that this is indeed a scène a faire. He provides many examples of siege warfare which includes building walls, building towers, casting up banks, and digging trenches around the walls. The besieging forces try to fill up the ditches so they can use their engines of war to pull down the walls of the fort:

  • “At this Pompey was very angry, and put Aristobulus into prison, and came himself to the city, which was strong on every side, excepting the north, which was not so well fortified, for there was a broad and deep ditch, that encompassed the city, and included within it the temple, which was itself encompassed about with a very strong stone wall” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 4:1)
  • “Alexander was afraid of him, when he was marching against the Arabians; so he cut a deep trench between Antipatris, which was near the mountains, and the shores of Joppa; he also erected a high wall before the trench, and built wooden towers in order to hinder any sudden approaches; but still he was not able to exclude Antiochus, for he burnt the towers, and filled up the trenches, and marched on with his army” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book I, Chapter 4:7)
  • “the outward circumference hath the resemblance of a wall, and is adorned with towers at equal distances…The camp, and all that is in it, is encompassed with a wall all round about, and that sooner than one would imagine, and this by the multitude and the skill of the laborers; and, if occasion require, a trench is drawn round the whole, whose depth is four cubits, and its breadth equal” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book III, Chapter 5:1-2)
  • “and when he was come to the city he looked about where he might make his attack; for he saw the walls were so firm that it would be hard to overcome them, and that the valley before the walls was terrible; and that the temple, which was within that valley, was itself encompassed with a very strong wall…But Pompey himself filled up the ditch that was on the north side of the temple, and the entire valley also, the army itself being obliged to carry the materials for that purpose. And indeed it was a hard thing to fill up that valley, by reason of its immense depth, especially as the Jews used all the means possible to repel them from their superior station” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book I, Chapter 7:1, 3… On a side note, it is interesting to me how an ancient war strategy was to fill up an enemy’s ditch surrounding their fort, and the Book of Mormon states, in what I think is an example of dark humor, “and instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead and wounded bodies” (Alma 49:22))
  • “As this city was naturally hard to be taken, so had Josephus, by building a wall about it, made it still stronger, as also by ditches and mines underground…And as the legions, according to their usual custom, were fortifying their camp upon that mountain, he began to cast up banks at the bottom, at the part towards the east, where the highest tower of the whole city was, and where the fifteenth legion pitched their camp; while the fifth legion did duty over against the midst of the city, and whilst the tenth legion filled up the ditches and the valleys” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter 1:2-3)
  • “As for those that were within it, no one had the courage to sally out, because those that assaulted them were so numerous; but they distributed themselves into breastworks and turrets, and shot at the besiegers, whereby many of the robbers fell under the walls” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book II, 17:7)

Thucydides “The History of the Peloponnesian War,” written between 431-404 B.C., also describes siege warfare:

  • Meanwhile Hippocrates made a levy in mass of the citizens, resident aliens, and foreigners in Athens, and arrived at his destination after the Boeotians had already come back from Siphae, and encamping his army began to fortify Delium, the sanctuary of Apollo, in the following manner. A trench was dug all round the temple and the consecrated ground, and the earth thrown up from the excavation was made to do duty as a wall, in which stakes were also planted, the vines round
    the sanctuary being cut down and thrown in, together with stones and bricks pulled down from the houses near; every means, in short, being used to run up the rampart. Wooden towers were also erected where they were wanted” (Thucydides, Book IV, Chapter XIV)
  • “the Athenians started from the wall which they occupied, and from this point built
    a cross wall looking towards Megara down to the sea on either side of Nisaea; the ditch and the walls being divided among the army, stones and bricks taken from the suburb, and the fruit-trees and timber cut down to make a palisade wherever this seemed necessary” (Thucydides, Book IV, Chapter XIII)

The first Book of Maccabees in the Apocrypha extensively describes siege warfare similar to that found in the Book of Mormon:

  • “Then builded they the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for them. And they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein” (I Maccabees 1:33-34)
  • “he consulted with them about building strong holds in Judea, and making the walls of Jerusalem higher, and raising a great mount between the tower and the city…Upon this they came together to build up the city, forasmuch as part of the wall toward the brook on the east side was fallen down, and they repaired that which was called Caphenatha” (I Maccabees 12:35-37)
  • “Then Simon built up the strong holds in Judea, and fenced them about with high towers, and great walls, and gates, and bars, and laid up victuals therein” (I Maccabees 13:33)
  • “and gave commandment to pull down the wall round about” (I Maccabees 6:62)

The Bible also describes the building and besieging of strongholds:

  • “Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance” (2 Chronicles 32:5)
  • “Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 6:6)
  • “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (2 Corinthians 10:4)

BATTLES AT RIVERS

The authors claim that battles near rivers in the Book of Mormon (Alma 2:34) were inspired by battles in the Late War (47:2-5). Below is an example in the records of Josephus of a battle at a river that sounds much closer to the Book of Mormon account than what is found in the Late War:

  • “and he slew all that he overtook, as far as Jordan; and when he had driven the whole multitude to the river side, where they were stopped by the current, (for it had been augmented lately by rains, and was not fordable,) he put his soldiers in array over against them; so the necessity the others were in provoked them to hazard a battle, because there was no place whither they could flee. They then extended themselves a very great way along the banks of the river, and sustained the darts that were thrown at them as well as the attacks of the horsemen, who beat many of them, and pushed them into the current. At which fight, hand to hand, fifteen thousand of them were slain, while the number of those that were unwillingly forced to leap into Jordan was prodigious…Now this destruction that fell upon the Jews, as it was not inferior to any of the rest in itself, so did it still appear greater than it really was; and this, because not only the whole of the country through which they had fled was filled with slaughter, and Jordan could not be passed over, by reason of the dead bodies that were in it, but because the lake Asphaltitis was also full of dead bodies, that were carried down into it by the river” (Wars of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter 7:5-6…On a side note, it is interesting how the Nephites also run into the problem of not being able to cross a river because they are blocked by too many slain Lamanites. They cast the bodies of the slain Lamanites into the river so they can cross (Alma 2:34))

The first Book of Maccabees and the Book of Judith in the Apocrypha also contains battles near rivers:

  • “Now when Bacchides heard hereof, he came on the Sabbath day unto the banks of Jordan with a great power. Then Jonathan said to his company, Let us go up now and fight for our lives, for it standeth not with us today, as in time past: For, behold, the battle is before us and behind us, and the water of Jordan on this side and that side, the marsh likewise and wood, neither is there place for us to turn aside. Wherefore cry ye now unto heaven…With that they joined the battle, and Jonathan stretched forth his hand to smite Bacchides, but he turned back from him. Then Jonathan and they that were with him leapt into Jordan, and swam over unto the farther bank: howbeit the other passed not over Jordan unto them. So there were slain of Bacchides’ side that day about a thousand men” (I Maccabees 9:43-49)
  • “And thou shalt declare unto them, that they prepare for me earth and water: for I will go forth in my wrath against them and will cover the whole face of the earth with the feet of mine army, and I will give them for a spoil unto them: So that their slain shall fill their valleys and brooks and the river shall be filled with their dead, till it overflow” (Judith 2:7-8)

BATTLE CASUALTIES

The authors suggest that reporting the number of soldiers slain after a battle is somehow unique to the Late War (8:18-19/49:18-20/54:24) and the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 9:18-19/Alma 57:25-26/Alma 62:26). They also argue that the fact that smaller righteous armies defeat larger wicked armies is a parallel between the two works. One contributor on the site states “The righteous protagonists triumph over the more numerous foe, and the enemy army consistently outnumbers the righteous protagonists. — Ryan Thomas, Direct Literary Dependence?” These themes are so common in all literature that I don’t know why they included it in their analysis:

  • “And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place” (Judges 7:7)
  • “And when he came near to the going up of Beth-horon, Judas went forth to meet him with a small company: who, when they saw the host coming to meet them, said unto Judas, How shall we be able, being so few, to fight against so great a multitude and so strong…Unto whom Judas answered, It is no hard matter for many to be shut up in the hands of a few; and with the God of heaven it is all one, to deliver with a great multitude, or a small company” (I Maccabees 3:16-18)
  • “bringing with him an army that had received no harm, and a great deal of prey” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter 7:1)
  • “They also offered thank-offerings, both for their good success, and for the preservation of their army, for not one of the Jews was slain in these battles” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XII, 8:5)

Sun Tzu in “The Art of War” (translated by Lionel Giles) states:

  • “Though according to my estimate the soldiers of Yueh exceed our own in number, that shall advantage them nothing in the matter of victory. I say then that victory can be achieved. Though the enemy be stronger in numbers, we may prevent him from fighting. Scheme so as to discover his plans and the likelihood of their success” (VI:21-23)

Battle casualties are listed in the Apocrypha and the Old Testament:

  • “so that there were slain of them upon a three thousand men” (I Maccabees 4:15)
  • “So they joined battle; and there were slain of the host of Lysias about five thousand men, even before them were they slain” (I Maccabees 4:34)
  • “and there were slain of the heathen about three thousand men, whose spoils he took” (I Maccabees 5:22)
  • “so that there were killed of them that day about eight thousand men” (I Maccabees 5:34)
  • “and there were slain that day of the people of Israel about two thousand men” (I Maccabees 5:60)
  • “and slew of the army in the field about four thousand men” (I Samuel 4:2)
  • “And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men” (Esther 9:6)
  • “for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword” (Judges 8:10)

2,000 SOLDIERS AND STRIPLINGS

The authors claim that the Late War’s description (35:5-6) of “a band of 2,000 courageous soldiers who volunteer in a desperate fight for the freedom of their country against an oppressive king” is similar to the 2,000 stripling Ammonite warriors led by Helaman in the Book of Mormon (Alma 53:18-20). This exact parallel, however, is found in Thucydides’ “The History of the Peloponnesian War,” which was written during the Peloponnesian War between 431-404 B.C.

  • Meanwhile the Corinthians, with Potidaea in revolt and the Athenian ships on the coast of Macedonia, alarmed for the safety of the place and thinking its danger theirs, sent volunteers from Corinth, and mercenaries from the rest of Peloponnese, to the number of sixteen hundred heavy infantry in all, and four hundred light troops. Aristeus, son of Adimantus, who was always a steady friend to the Potidaeans, took command of the expedition, and it was principally for love of him that most of the men from Corinth volunteered. They arrived in Thrace forty days after the revolt of Potidaea” (Thucydides, “The History of the Peloponnesian War,” Book I, Chapter II)

BAND OF ROBBERS

The authors claim that the description of a “band of sea-robbers” in the Late War (1:18/49:37-38) served as inspiration for the “band of robbers” in the Book of Mormon (Helaman 6:37/11:28, 30), although the authors admit that “robbers” are found in other sources. Unlike the Late War, Josephus and the Bible describe robbers who more closely match the description of those found in the Book of Mormon:

  • “he presently met with an opportunity of signalising his courage; for, finding there was one Hezekias, a captain of a band of robbers, who overran the neighboring ports of Syria with a great troop of them, he seized him and slew him, as well as a great number of the other robbers that were with him; for which action he was greatly beloved by the Syrians; for when they were very desirous to have their country freed from this nest of robbers, he purged it of them: so they sung songs in his commendation in their villages and cities, as having procured them peace and the secure enjoyment of their possessions” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 9:2)
  • “that there might be no want of a supply for the soldiers for the time to come. Antigonus was sensible of this, and sent presently over the country such as might restrain and lie in ambush for those that went out for provisions. So these men obeyed the orders of Antigonus, and got together a great number of armed men about Jericho, and sat upon the mountains, and watched those that brought the provisions…He also went thence and resolved to destroy those robbers that dwelt in the caves, and did much mischief in the country…These caves were in mountains that were exceedingly abrupt, and in their middle were no other than precipices, with certain entrances into the caves, and those caves were encompassed with sharp rocks, and in these did the robbers lie concealed, with all their families about them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 15:3-5).
  • “And the men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech” (Judges 9:25)
  • “And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness” (Hosea 6:9)
  • “When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without” (Hosea 7:1)

Gangs of robbers are also described cross-culturally. In the commentary on the Art of War, Chang Yu describes how a gang of robbers which hid in the mountains was defeated:

  • “Wu-tu Ch’iang was a robber captain in the time of the Later Han, and Ma Yuan was sent to exterminate his gang. Ch’iang having found refuge in the hills, Ma Yuan made no attempt to force a battle, but seized all the favorable positions commanding supplies of water and forage. Ch’iang was soon in such a desperate plight for want of provisions that he was forced to make a total surrender.” (Chang Yu’s commentary in Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” IX:1, p. 137)

PITCHED TENTS ON THE BORDERS

The authors argue that pitching tents on the borders near water is a similarity between the two works (Late War 11:17/Alma 51:32). The Bible and the Apocrypha describe armies pitching their tents in the borders and also near water:

  • “Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab” (Judges 11:18)
  • “And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel” (Joshua 11:5)
  • “and pitched their tents by the water of the pool Asphar” (I Maccabees 9:33)

BURNED MARTYRS

The authors claim that there is a parallel between the Late War and the Book of Mormon with regard to martyrs being burned. The Late War describes a battle in the snow where Native Americans commissioned by the British kill all the wounded colonizers with a blow to the head from a Tomahawk. The wounded and sick who hide in houses to escape the cold are burned alive in their homes by the natives. The Late War states that this deed will be recorded in heaven until judgment day (14:39-41). In the Book of Mormon, the wicked people of Ammonihah find out who believe the words of Alma and Amulek, and cast the believing men out of the city. The believing women and children are then burned alive in a pit along with their scriptures (Alma 14:10-11). Burning believers and having innocent blood testify against sinners is common in the Bible:

  • “And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace…if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:6, 15)
  • “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10)
  • “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of Judgment, than for that city” (Mark 6:11)
  • “And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10)

MOURNING THE DEAD

The authors claim that there is a similarity between the Late War and the Book of Mormon in mourning the dead. The Late War laments the many fathers who are killed who leave behind wives and children. The children want to see their fathers come home, but they will never return (19:57-60). The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, quotes Mormon who asks in pain how his people could have rejected Jesus, and how they have all been exterminated by the Lamanites (Mormon 6:16-20). The Prophet Jeremiah laments the fall of Jerusalem using similar language:

  • “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jeremiah 9:1)
  • “And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways. Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas” (Jeremiah 15:7-8)
  • “The word of the Lord came also unto me, saying, Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place. For thus saith the Lord concerning the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land; They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine” (Jeremiah 16:4)
  • “For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed” (Lamentations 1:16)
  • “Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city” (Lamentations 2:11)
  • “The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed, and not pitied” (Lamentations 2:21)
  • “Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people” (Lamentations 3:48)
  • “Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire” (Lamentations 4:7)
  • They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come” (Lamentations 4:18)
  • “We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows” (Lamentations 5:3)
  • “he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more. Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 7:9-11)

Josephus also describes the mournings of the Jewish people:

  • “In every house also, and among all to whom any of the slain were allied, there was a lamentation for them; but the mourning for the commander was a public one; and some mourned for those that had lived with them, others for their kindred, others for their friends, and others for their brethren, but all mourned for Josephus” (Wars, Book III, 9:5)

ANTI-NEPHI-LEHIS

The authors suggest that the Late War’s description of a group of Native Americans who do not murder their prisoners or mutilate their dead (26:22-28) are reminiscent of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis in the Book of Mormon (Alma 24:6, 17, 19). A more compelling parallel can be found in the Apocrypha:

  • “But they said, We will not come forth, neither will we do the king’s commandment, to profane the Sabbath day. So then they gave them the battle with all speed. Howbeit they answered them not, neither cast they a stone at them, nor stopped the places where they lay hid; But said, Let us die in our innocency: heaven and earth shall testify for us, that ye put us to death wrongfully. So they rose up against them in battle on the Sabbath, and they slew them, with their wives and children, and their cattle, to the number of a thousand people. Now when Mattathias and his friends understood hereof, they mourned for them right sore” (I Maccabees 2:34-39)

CATACLYSMS

The Late War describes a massive explosion that occurs when black powder kegs catch fire in a fort (19:37-44). The authors argue that the description is similar to the great earthquakes, fires, and storms that destroy many Nephite cities after Christ’s death (Helaman 14:7/3 Nephi 8:6). All of the Book of Mormon descriptions of the “cataclysmic event” have Biblical roots that are much more similar to the Book of Mormon than are the Late War’s descriptions:

  • “The people were all affrighted; and the ground that was about their tents sunk down at the great noise, with a terrible sound, and carried whatsoever was dear to the seditious, into itself, who so entirely perished, that there was not the least appearance that any man had ever been seen there, the earth that had opened itself about them closing again, and becoming entire as it was before, insomuch that such as saw it afterward did not perceive that any such accident had happened to it. Thus did these men perish, and become a demonstration of the power of God” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, 3:3)
  • “God disturbed their enemies with an earthquake, and moved the ground under them to such a degree, that he caused it to tremble, and made them to shake, insomuch that by its trembling, he made some unable to keep their feet, and made them fall down, and, by opening its chasms, he caused that others should be hurried down into them; after which he caused such a noise of thunder to come among them, and made fiery lightning shine so terribly round about them, that it was ready to burn their faces” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VI, Chapter 2:2)
  • “Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire” (Isaiah 29:6)
  • “The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram” (Psalm 106:17)
  • “And what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 11:6)
  • “And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days” (Exodus 10:22-23)
  • “And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azeka, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword” (Joshua 10:11)
  • “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone” (Exodus 15:4-5)
  • “And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire” (1 Kings 19:11-12)
  • “Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Psalm 46:2)

 

LIBERTY AND FREEDOM

The Book of Mormon and the Late War both describe fighting for liberty from kings (Late War p. 184, 2nd edition/24:15/54:13 and Mosiah 23:36/Alma 51:17/46:12, 36). While religious freedom and freedom from tyranny are aspects of American history, the KJV Apocrypha and Flavius Josephus are just some of the ancient sources where these same themes are also found:

  • “Then Darius the king stood up, and kissed him, and wrote letters for him unto all the treasurers and lieutenants and captains and governors, that they should safely convey on their way both him, and all those that go up with him to build Jerusalem. He wrote letters also unto the lieutenants that were in Celosyria and Phenice, and unto them in Libanus, that they should bring cedar wood from Libanus unto Jerusalem, and that they should build the city with him. Moreover he wrote for all the Jews that went out of his realm up into Jewry, concerning their freedom, that no office, no ruler, no lieutenant, nor treasurer, should forcibly enter into their doors; And that all the country which they hold should be free without tribute; and that the Edomites should give over the villages of the Jews which then they held…And other ten talents yearly, to maintain the burnt offerings upon the altar every day…And that all they that went from Babylon to build the city should have free liberty. As well they as their posterity, and all the priests that went away” (I Esdras 4:47-50, 52-53)
  • “And they praised the God of their fathers, because he had given them freedom and liberty to go up, and to build Jerusalem, and the temple which is called by his name: and they feasted with instruments and music and gladness seven days” (I Esdras 4:62-63)
  • “It maketh the mind of the king and of the fatherless child to be all one; of the bondman and of the freeman, of the poor man and of the rich” (I Esdras 3:19)
  • Let Jerusalem also be holy and free, with the borders thereof, both from tenths and tributes…Moreover I freely set at liberty every one of the Jews, that were carried captives out of the land of Judea into any part of my kingdom, and I will that all my officers remit the tributes even of their cattle. Furthermore I will that all the feasts, and the Sabbaths…shall be all days of immunity and freedom for all the Jews in my realm. Also no man shall have authority to meddle with them, or to molest any of them in any matter” (I Maccabees 10:31, 33-35)
  • “Whereof when the people heard, they said, What thanks shall we give to Simon and his sons? For he and his brethren and the house of his father have established Israel, and chased away in fight their enemies from them, and confirmed their liberty” (I Maccabees 14:25-26)
  • “Then Mattathias answered and spake with a loud voice, Though all the nations that are under the king’s dominion obey him, and fall away every one from the religion of their fathers, and give consent to his commandments: Yet will I and my sons and my brethren walk in the covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law and the ordinances. We will not hearken to the king’s words, to go from our religion, either on the right hand, or the left” (I Maccabees 2:21-22)
  • “So they recovered the law out of the hand of the Gentiles, and out of the hand of kings, neither suffered they the sinner to triumph” (I Maccabees 2:48)
  • “and there it was that he heard the causes of the Jews, and of their governors Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, who were at difference one with another, as also of the nation against them both, which did not desire to be under kingly government, because the form of government they received from their forefathers was that of subjection to the priests of that God whom they worshipped; and [they complained,] that though these two were the posterity of priests, yet did they seek to change the government of their nation to another form, in order to enslave them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 3:2)
  • “Now the occasions of this misery which came upon Jerusalem were Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, by raising a sedition one against the other; for now we lost our liberty, and became subject to the Romans, and were deprived of that country which we had gained by our arms from the Syrians, and were compelled to restore it to the Syrians” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 4:5)
  • “and when he had ordained five councils, he distributed the nation into the same number of parts: so these councils governed the people; the first was at Jerusalem, the second at Gadara, the third at Amathus, the fourth at Jericho, and the fifth at Sepphoris, in Galilee. So the Jews were now freed from monarchic authority, and were governed by an aristocracy” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 5:4)

Both the Late War (54:13) and the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 23:36) refer to “lives and liberties”. The Apocrypha describes the Jews fighting for “our lives and our laws.”

  • “And one of them said to another, If we all do as our brethren have done, and fight not for our lives and laws against the heathen, they will now quickly root us out of the earth” (I Maccabees 2:40)
  • “They come against us in much pride and iniquity to destroy us, and our wives and children, and to spoil us: But we fight for our lives and our laws” (I Maccabees 3:20-21)

THE CAUSE OF LIBERTY

Both the Late War (24:15) and the Book of Mormon (Alma 51:17) refer to the “cause of liberty.” Josephus also uses this phrase:

  • “For we had arms, and walls, and fortresses so prepared as not to be easily taken, and courage not to be moved by any dangers in the cause of liberty” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VII, 8:7)

Both the Late War (54:13) and the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 23:36) use variations of the phrase “life and liberty.” This phrase is also used in Richard Crawley’s translation of Thucydides’ “The History of the Peloponnesian War” written in 431 B.C.:

  • “even if you escape without personal loss of liberty or life, your bondage will be on harsher terms than before, and you will also hinder the liberation of the rest of the Hellenes” (Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, Book V, Chapter XV)

SYMBOL OF LIBERTY

Both the Late War and the Book of Mormon refer to armies flocking to “banners” or “standards” (Late War 6:14/p. 184 2nd edition and Alma 61:6/62:5/46:12, 36). The American flag is essentially the equivalent to the Title of Liberty found in the Book of Mormon. Setting up flags in war, however, is commonly referenced in the Bible:

  • “In the first place went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah according to their armies: and over his host was Nahshon the son of Amminadab” (Numbers 10:14)
  • Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes” (Jeremiah 51:12)
  • “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19)
  • “Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken” (Jeremiah 50:2)

Sun Tzu in “The Art of War” states that banners and flags are used for communication and unite the army into a single body. Sun Tzu also says that an army must be united in a single moral purpose to prevail. The Title of Liberty accomplishes both of these functions:

  • “On the field of battle, the spoken word does not carry far enough: hence the institution of gongs and drums. Nor can ordinary objects be seen clearly enough: hence the institution of banners and flags. Gongs and drums, banners and flags, are means whereby the ears and eyes of the host may be focused on one particular point. The host thus forming a single united body, is it impossible either for the brace to advance alone, or for the cowardly to retreat alone. This is the art of handling large masses of men” (VII:23-25)
  • “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks” (III:17)
  • “The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger…The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success” (I:5-6)/(IV:16)
  • “Therefore, on dispersive ground, I would inspire my men with unity of purpose” (XI:46)

REIGN OF THE JUDGES

See the section on “Liberty and Freedom” and “Freemen vs. Kingmen” since there is much overlap with this section. In the Apocrypha, the Jews fight for freedom from kings and there are factions of Jews who decide to support the heathen kings. The “reign of the judges” bears more similarity with the Bible than the Late War. The Bible and Josephus describe the reign of judges over their districts and Samuel’s disdain for a government ruled by kings:

  • “Make use of the method I suggest to you, as to human affairs; and take a review of the army, and appoint chosen rulers over tens of thousands, and then over thousands; then divide them into five hundreds, and again into hundreds, and into fifties; and set rulers over each of them, who may distinguish them into thirties, and keep them in order; and at last number them by twenties and by tens: and let there be one commander over each number, to be denominated from the number of those over whom they are rulers, but such as the whole multitude have tried, and do approve of, as being good and righteous men; and let those rulers decide the controversies they have one with another. But if any great cause arise, let them bring the cognisance of it before the rulers of a higher dignity; but if any great difficulty arise that is too hard for even their determination, let them send it to thee” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book III, 4:1)
  • “Let there be seven men to judge in every city, and these such as have been before most zealous in the exercise of virtue and righteousness…But if these judges be unable to give a just sentence about the causes that come before them, (which case is not unfrequent in human affairs,) let them send the causes undetermined to the holy city, and there let the high priest, the prophet, and the sanhedrim, determine as it shall seem good to them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 8:14)
  • he committed the government and the care of the multitude to his sons, –the elder of whom was called Joel, and the name of the younger was Abiah. He also enjoined them to reside and judge the people, the one at the city of Bethel, and the other at Beersheba, and divided the people into districts that should be under the jurisdiction of each of them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VI, 3:2)
  • “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people…howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them…And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself…And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries…and he will take your fields…And he will take a tenth of your seed” (1 Samuel 8:6-7, 9, 11, 13, 14-15)
  • “At this time died Antiochus, the king of Commagene; whereupon the multitude contended with the nobility, and both sent ambassadors to [Rome]; for the men of power were desirous that their form of government might be changed into that of a [Roman] province; as were the multitude desirous to be under kings, as their fathers had been” (Josephus, Antiquities, Book XVIII, 2:5)

COUNTING THE YEARS OF FREEDOM FROM KINGS

The authors argue that there is a parallel between the Late War reckoning their dates from when they declared independence from Britain (1:1/21:8) and the Nephites reckoning their time from the reign of the judges (Alma 1:1). This is not compelling for three reasons. First, a system of judges was used in the Bible (I Samuel 1:1) and is not used in the Late War. Second, the Nephites change the reckoning of their time in several instances. For example, they start by counting how many years have passed since they left Jerusalem (Enos 1:25), then from the beginning of the reign of the judges (Alma 1:1), and then from when the sign of Christ’s birth was given (3 Nephi 2:8). Third, the Bible also calculates time based on when the Israelites were made free from kings:

  • “And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord” (I Kings 6:1)

BRASS PLATES

The authors argue that Joseph Smith got the idea of engraving in metal plates (1 Nephi 19:1) from the Late war (31:33/36:26). The Apocrypha describes writing in brass:

  • So then they wrote it in tables of brass, which they set upon pillars in mount Sion…So they commanded that this writing should be put in tables of brass, and that they should be set up within the compass of the sanctuary in a conspicuous place” (I Maccabees 14:27)

FALSE PROPHETS

The authors argue that a false prophet being “smitten in the mouth, and slain” (35:29) is a parallel to Korihor being struck dumb and trampled to death (Alma 30:50, 59). A much stronger parallel is found in the Apocrypha:

  • “Moreover in the hundred fifty and third year, in the second month, Alcimus commanded that the wall of the inner court of the sanctuary should be pulled down; he pulled down also the works of the prophets. And as he began to pull down, even at that time was Alcimus plagued, and his enterprises hindered: for his mouth was stopped, and he was taken with a palsy, so that he could no more speak any thing, nor give order concerning his house. So alcimus died at that time with great torment” (I Maccabees 9:54-55)

Others are struck dumb or stricken on the mouth in the Bible:

  • “And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprove: for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:26)
  • “And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season” (Luke 1:20)

FREEMEN VS. KING-MEN

The authors claim that colonizers who supported the king of Britain (3:15-18/38:18) are similar to the king-men who want to be ruled by kings (Alma 51:5, 17). They also point out that Nephites (Alma 51:6/60:25) and the colonizers (51:7/38:26-27/48:12) were referred to as “freemen.” In the Apocrypha, the Jews also had their own version of “king-men,” or those wicked people who decided to make covenants with the Greek king and forsake their religion. The word “freeman” is also used in the Apocrypha and Josephus, and the Israelites ask to be ruled by a king multiple times:

  • “So both Hyrcanus and Phasaelus went on the embassage; but Pacorus left with Herod two hundred horsemen, and ten men, who were called the freemen” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, 13:5)
  • “In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying “Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow. So this device pleased them well. Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them license to do after the ordinances of the heathen” (I Maccabees 1:11-13)
  • “It maketh the mind of the king and of the fatherless child to be all one; of the bondman and of the freeman, of the poor man and of the rich” (I Esdras 3:19)
  • “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people…howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them…And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself…And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries…and he will take your fields…And he will take a tenth of your seed” (1 Samuel 8:6-7, 9, 11, 13, 14-15)

TENDER WOMEN

Both the Late War (21:4, 40-43/35:28) and the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 19:13/Jacob 2:7) refer to women as “tender” and “fair.” Women in the Bible are also described as “fair” and “tender.” In addition, the Book of Mormon uses the phrase “tender and chaste and delicate” which is more similar to Isaiah 47:1, where the women are called “tender and delicate” than it is to the Late War:

  • “Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate” (Isaiah 47:1)
  • “And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job” (Job 42:15)
  • “he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee” (Genesis 12:11-14)

 

 

Does the Book of Mormon Copy Themes of Liberty and Warfare from American History?

Critics of the Book of Mormon often point to similarities between the Nephites’ struggle for freedom from tyranny and the American Revolution as evidence of it being 19th century American fiction. The purpose of this article is to show that similar themes exist in other ancient records such as the Apocrypha and from Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, and that similarities between the Book of Mormon and American history are not sufficient evidence for claiming the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction.

LIBERTY AND FREEDOM

The Nephites in the Book of Mormon are constantly fighting to maintain their liberty to practice their religion and be free from kings (Mosiah 23:36/Alma 46:12. 36/Alma 51:17). While religious and political freedom are both integral to the Book of Mormon and to the founding of the United States, fighting for freedom is a universal and ancient struggle. The King James Version of the Apocrypha is just one ancient source which describes the Jews’ struggle for freedom from kings. In 1 Esdras, the Jews are granted liberty by king Darius to return to Jerusalem and to practice their religion:

  • “Then Darius the king…wrote letters also unto the lieutenants that were in Celosyria and Phenice, and unto them in Libanus, that they should bring cedar wood from Libanus unto Jerusalem, and that they should build the city with him. Moreover he wrote for all the Jews that went out of his realm up into Jewry, concerning their freedom, that no office, no ruler, no lieutenant, nor treasurer, should forcibly enter into their doors; And that all the country which they hold should be free without tribute; and that the Edomites should give over the villages of the Jews which then they held…And other ten talents yearly, to maintain the burnt offerings upon the altar every day…And that all they that went from Babylon to build the city should have free liberty. As well they as their posterity, and all the priests that went away” (I Esdras 4:47-50, 52-53)

 

  • “And they praised the God of their fathers, because he had given them freedom and liberty to go up, and to build Jerusalem, and the temple which is called by his name: and they feasted with instruments and music and gladness seven days” (I Esdras 4:62-63)

In 1 Maccabees, the Jews fight for freedom from Greek kings and the imposition of the Greek religion:

  • “Whereof when the people heard, they said, What thanks shall we give to Simon and his sons? For he and his brethren and the house of his father have established Israel, and chased away in fight their enemies from them, and confirmed their liberty” (I Maccabees 14:25-26)

 

  • “Then Mattathias answered and spake with  a loud voice, Though all the nations that are under the king’s dominion obey him, and fall away every one from the religion of their fathers, and give consent to his commandments: Yet will I and my sons and my brethren walk in the covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law and the ordinances. We will not hearken to the king’s words, to go from our religion, either on the right hand, or the left” (I Maccabees 2:21-22)

 

  • “So they recovered the law out of the hand of the Gentiles, and out of the hand of kings, neither suffered they the sinner to triumph” (I Maccabees 2:48)

 

  • Let Jerusalem also be holy and free, with the borders thereof, both from tenths and tributes…Moreover I freely set at liberty every one of the Jews, that were carried captives out of the land of Judea into any part of my kingdom, and I will that all my officers remit the tributes even of their cattle. Furthermore I will that all the feasts, and the Sabbaths…shall be all days of immunity and freedom for all the Jews in my realm. Also no man shall have authority to meddle with them, or to molest any of them in any matter” (I Maccabees 10:31, 33-35)

Some of the wicked people decide to forsake their religion and join with the heathen kings:

  • “In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying “Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow. So this device pleased them well. Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them license to do after the ordinances of the heathen” (I Maccabees 1:11-13)

The Old Testament also warns the Israelites of the dangers of having kings as their rulers:

  • “Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: The Lord shall rule over you” (Judges 8:22-23)

 

  • “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people…howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them…And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself…And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries…and he will take your fields…And he will take a tenth of your seed” (1 Samuel 8:6-7, 9, 11, 13, 14-15)

Josephus speaks about the liberty and freedom of the Jews frequently:

  • “Let there be seven men to judge in every city, and these such as have been before most zealous in the exercise of virtue and righteousness…But if these judges be unable to give a just sentence about the causes that come before them, (which case is not unfrequent in human affairs,) let them send the causes undetermined to the holy city, and there let the high priest, the prophet, and the sanhedrim, determine as it shall seem good to them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 4, 8:14)

 

  • he committed the government and the care of the multitude to his sons, –the elder of whom was called Joel, and the name of the younger was Abiah. He also enjoined them to reside and judge the people, the one at the city of Bethel, and the other at Beersheba, and divided the people into districts that should be under the jurisdiction of each of them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 6, 3:2)

 

  • “and there it was that he heard the causes of the Jews, and of their governors Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, who were at difference one with another, as also of the nation against them both, which did not desire to be under kingly government, because the form of government they received from their forefathers was that of subjection to the priests of that God whom they worshipped; and [they complained,] that though these two were the posterity of priests, yet did they seek to change the government of their nation to another form, in order to enslave them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 14, 3:2)

 

  • “Accordingly, the Jews have places assigned them in Egypt, wherein they inhabit, besides what is peculiarly allotted to this nation at Alexandria, which is a large part of that city. There is also an ethnarch allowed them, who governs the nation, and distributes justice to them, and takes care of their contracts, and of the laws to them belonging, as if he were the ruler of a free republic” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 14, 7:2)

 

  • “For we had arms, and walls, and fortresses so prepared as not to be easily taken, and courage not to be moved by any dangers in the cause of liberty, which encouraged us all to revolt from the Romans” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VII, 8:7)

BATTLES AT FORTS

Readers of history may notice that some battle tactics in the Book of Mormon are reminiscent of warfare used in the War of 1812; specifically, building forts with mounds of earth and digging ditches around them (Alma 48:8/49:2, 4, 18). The records of Flavius Josephus are just one source which suggest that this form of warfare is ancient. He provides many examples of siege warfare which includes building walls, building towers, casting up banks of dirt, and digging trenches around the walls. The besieging forces try to fill up the ditches so they can use their engines of war to pull down the walls of the fort:

  • “Alexander was afraid of him, when he was marching against the Arabians; so he cut a deep trench between Antipatris, which was near the mountains, and the shores of Joppa; he also erected a high wall before the trench, and built wooden towers in order to hinder any sudden approaches; but still he was not able to exclude Antiochus, for he burnt the towers, and filled up the trenches, and marched on with his army” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 4, v. 7….On a side note, it is interesting to me how an ancient war strategy was to fill up an enemy’s ditch surrounding their fort, and the Book of Mormon states, in what I think is an example of dark humor, “and instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead and wounded bodies” – Alma 49:22)

 

  • “the outward circumference hath the resemblance of a wall, and is adorned with towers at equal distances…The camp, and all that is in it, is encompassed with a wall all round about, and that sooner than one would imagine, and this by the multitude and the skill of the laborers; and, if occasion require, a trench is drawn round the whole, whose depth is four cubits, and its breadth equal” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book III, Chapter 5, v. 1-2)

 

  • “and when he was come to the city he looked about where he might make his attack; for he saw the walls were so firm that it would be hard to overcome them, and that the valley before the walls was terrible; and that the temple, which was within that valley, was itself encompassed with a very strong wall…But Pompey himself filled up the ditch that was on the north side of the temple, and the entire valley also, the army itself being obliged to carry the materials for that purpose. And indeed it was a hard thing to fill up that valley, by reason of its immense depth, especially as the Jews used all the means possible to repel them from their superior station” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 7, v. 1 and 3)

 

  • “As this city was naturally hard to be taken, so had Josephus, by building a wall about it, made it still stronger, as also by ditches and mines underground…And as the legions, according to their usual custom, were fortifying their camp upon that mountain, he began to cast up banks at the bottom, at the part towards the east, where the highest tower of the whole city was, and where the fifteenth legion pitched their camp; while the fifth legion did duty over against the midst of the city, and whilst the tenth legion filled up the ditches and the valleys” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 4, Chapter 1, v. 2-3)

 

  • “As for those that were within it, no one had the courage to sally out, because those that assaulted them were so numerous; but they distributed themselves into breastworks and turrets, and shot at the besiegers, whereby many of the robbers fell under the walls” (Book 2, 17:7)

Sun Tzu mentions fortifications of walls and ditches in “The Art of War” (Translated by Lionel Giles):

  • “If we wish to fight, the enemy can be forced to an engagement even though he be sheltered behind a high rampart and a deep ditch” (VI:11)

The first Book of Maccabees in the Apocrypha extensively describes siege warfare similar to that found in the Book of Mormon:

  • “Then builded they the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for them. And they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein” (I Maccabees 1:33-34)

 

  • “he consulted with them about building strong holds in Judea, and making the walls of Jerusalem higher, and raising a great mount between the tower and the city…Upon this they came together to build up the city, forasmuch as part of the wall toward the brook on the east side was fallen down, and they repaired that which was called Caphenatha” (I Maccabees 12:35-37)

 

  • “Then Simon built up the strong holds in Judea, and fenced them about with high towers, and great walls, and gates, and bars, and laid up victuals therein” (I Maccabees 13:33)

 

  • “and gave commandment to pull down the wall round about” (I Maccabees 6:62)

The Bible also describes the besieging of strongholds:

  • “Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance” (2 Chronicles 32:5)

 

  • “Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 6:6)

 

  • “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Comparing Book of Mormon Warfare to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”

Warfare strategies in the Book of Mormon have been studied extensively (see John Kammeyer’s “The Nephite Art of War”…although I have not read it). However, I recently read Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” (translated by Lionel Giles, edited by Dallas Galvin, 2003) and based on my personal study I have decided to list some similarities in tactics described in this book and The Book of Mormon. This comparison should help to cement the realistic nature of the strategies used in Book of Mormon warfare.

  1. DEFEAT YOUR ENEMY THROUGH DECEPTION

Sun Tzu:

  • All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him...Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected (I:18-20, 24)
  • “Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act. He sacrifices something, that the enemy may snatch at it. By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him” (V:19-20)

The Book of Mormon describes several instances where the outnumbered Nephites use decoys and feign weakness to lure the Lamanites out of their strongholds and into an ambush:

  • “And in the commencement of the twenty and eighth year, Moroni and Teancum and many of the chief captains held a council of war—what they should do to cause the Lamanites to come out against them to battle …therefore, [Moroni] resolved upon a plan that he might decoy the Lamanites out of their strongholds. Therefore he caused that Teancum should take a small number of men and march down near the seashore…And it came to pass that the armies of the Lamanites did march forth against Teancum, supposing by their numbers to overpower Teancum… Now the Lamanites did not know that Moroni had been in their rear with his army; and all they feared was Lehi and his men” (Alma 52:19,21-23, 29)
  • “when they saw that we were not strong, according to our numbers…and also supposing that they could easily destroy us…they began to make preparations to come out against us to battle…behold, I caused that Gid, with a small number of men, should secrete himself in the wilderness…And it came to pass that when the Lamanites had passed by…Gid and Teomner did rise up from their secret places, and did cut off the spies of the Lamanites…And it came to pass that when they had cut them off, they ran to the city and fell upon the guards” (Alma 58:15, 16, 20)

Joshua uses similar strategies in the Old Testament:

  • “Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city…And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them, (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city…Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city” (Joshua 8:4-7)

 

  1. SEEK TO CONQUER WITHOUT FIGHTING

Sun Tzu:

  • “In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to capture an enemy entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them” (III:1)
  • “Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field. With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph will be complete. This is the method of attacking by stratagem” (III:6-7)
  • “He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared” (III:17(4))

There are many ways the Nephites use stratagem to capture armies and cities without fighting. One example is when the Lamanites become drunk in their stronghold and Moroni sneaks weapons to the Nephite prisoners inside. Instead of killing the drunken Lamanites, he surrounds them and they surrender upon awakening.

  • “And Moroni had prepared his men with weapons of war; and he went to the city of Gid, while the Lamanites were in a deep sleep and drunken, and cast in weapons of war unto the prisoners, insomuch that they were all armed…had they awakened the Lamanites, behold they were drunken and the Nephites could have slain them. But behold, this was not the desire of Moroni; he did not delight in murder or bloodshed…when the Lamanites awoke in the morning they beheld that they were surrounded by the Nephites without, and that their prisoners were armed within. And thus they saw that the Nephites had power over them; and in these circumstances they found that it was not expedient that they should fight with the Nephites; therefore their chief captains demanded their weapons of war, and they brought them forth and cast them at the feet of the Nephties, pleading for mercy” (Alma 55:16, 18-19, 22-23)

A second example is where Helaman divides his forces and lures the Lamanites out of their stronghold. One part of his forces lies in wait and conquers the stronghold while Helaman is being pursued. Helaman then has his troops march in the night to return to the city before the Lamanites.

  • “And behold, it was night and they did pitch their tents, for the chief captains of the Lamanites had supposed that the Nephites were weary because of their march…Now it came to pass that when it was night, I caused that my men should not sleep, but that they should march forward by another way towards the land of Manti. And because of this our march in the night-time, behold, on the morrow we were beyond the Lamanites, insomuch that we did arrive before them at the city of Manti. And thus it came to pass, that by this stratagem we did take possession of the city of Manti without the shedding of blood…[the Lamanites] were astonished exceedingly and struck with great fear, insomuch that they did flee into the wilderness” (Alma 58:27)

 

  1. AVOID LAYING SIEGE TO CITIES

Sun Tzu:

  • “If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength” (II:2)
  • the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities. The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided. The preparation of mantlets, movable shelters, and various implements of war, will take up three whole months; and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take three months more” (III:3-4)
  • The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege” (III:5)

Siege warfare is commonly described in the Bible (Isaiah 29:3/Ezekiel 4:2) and the Apocrypha (I Maccabees 6:48-57/10:75-76/13:42-47). The Nephites rarely besiege a city by attempting to break down or climb over walls, but they will camp around a city to cut off its supplies and starve the occupants.

  • “with a part of our strong force, we did surround, by night, the city Cumeni, a little before they were to receive a supply of provisions…and it came to pass that not many days had passed away before the Lamanites began to lose all hopes of succor; therefore they yielded up the city unto our hands” (Alma 57:8, 12)

The Nephites usually avoided attacking strongholds directly:

  • “And it came to pass that [Ammoron] did command that his people should maintain those cities, which they had taken by the shedding of blood; for they had not taken any cities save they had lost much blood. And now, Teancum saw that the Lamanites were determined to maintain those cities which they had taken…and also seeing the enormity of their number, Teancum thought it was not expedient that he should attempt to attack them in their forts” (Alma 52:4-5)
  • “And it came to pass that Teancum made preparations to make an attack upon the city of Mulek, and march forth with his army against the Lamanites; but he saw that it was impossible that he could overpower them while they were in their fortifications; therefore he abandoned his designs” (Alma 52:17)

When the Lamanites attempt to overwhelm the Nephite strongholds with their superior numbers, the results are disastrous for the Lamanites:

  • “they feared Lehi exceedingly; nevertheless their chief captains had sworn with an oath to attack the city; therefore, they brought up their armies…And it came to pass that the captains of the Lamanites brought up their armies before the place of entrance, and began to contend with the Nephites, to get into their place of security; but behold, they were driven back from time to time, insomuch that they were slain with an immense slaughter…and more than a thousand of the Lamanites were slain; while, on the other hand, there was not a single soul of the Nephites which was slain” (Alma 49:17, 21, 23)

The Nephites are also able to outlast a siege by the Gadianton robbers by centralizing all their people and storing sufficient supplies so that the robbers cannot starve them out. Sun Tzu: “If the enemy is taking his ease, he can harass him; if well supplied with food, he can starve him out; if quietly encamped, he can force him to move. Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected” (VI:4-5)

  • “But behold, this was an advantage to the Nephites; for it was impossible for the robbers to lay siege sufficiently long to have any effect upon the Nephites, because of their much provision which they had laid up in store…And the Nephites were continually marching out by day and by night, and falling upon their armies, and cutting them off by thousands…And it came to pass that Zemnariha did give command unto his people that they should withdraw themselves from the siege, and march into the furthermost parts of the land northward. And now, Gidgiddoni being aware of their design, and knowing of their weakness because of the want of food…therefore he did send out his armies in the night-time, and did cut off the way of their retreat” (3 Nephi 4:18, 21, 23-24)

 

  1. UNITE YOUR ARMY WITH A SINGLE MORAL PURPOSE

Sun Tzu:

  • “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks” (III:17(3))
  • “The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger…The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success” (I:5-6)/(IV:16)
  • “Therefore, on dispersive ground, I would inspire my men with unity of purpose” (XI:46)

Both the Lamanites and the Nephites seek to inspire their soldiers to fight for their ideals. The Lamanites were inspired by hatred and a desire to rule over the Nephites, while the Nephites sought to preserve their freedom. The Book of Mormon states that the ideals unifying the Nephites were superior to those of the Lamanites:

  • “Now in this case the Lamanites did fight exceedingly…And they were inspired by the Zoramites and the Amalekites…and thus the Lamanites did smite in their fierce anger” (Alma 43:43-44)
  • “Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children…And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God” (Alma 43:45-46)
  • “when the men of Moroni saw the fierceness and the anger of the Lamanites, they were about to shrink and flee from them. And Moroni, perceiving their intent, sent forth and inspired their hearts with these thoughts—yea, the thoughts of their lands, their liberty, yea, their freedom from bondage” (Alma 43:48)
  • “And when Moroni had said these words, he went forth among the people, waving the rent part of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had written upon the rent part, and crying with a loud voice, saying: Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them” (Alma 46:18-19)
  • “And it came to pass that I did speak unto my people, and did urge them with great energy, that they would stand boldly before the Lamanites and fight for their wives, and their children, and their houses, and their homes. And my words did arouse them somewhat to vigor, insomuch that they…did stand with boldness against them” (Mormon 2:23-24)

It is difficult to succeed when your people are not unified in purpose.

  • “And it came to pass that when Amalickiah saw that the people of Moroni were more numerous than the Amalickiahites—and he also saw that his people were doubtful concerning the justice of the cause in which they had undertaken—therefore, fearing that he should not gain the point, he took those of his people who would and departed into the land of Nephi” (Alma 46:29)
  • “And it came to pass that when the proclamation had gone forth among them they were exceedingly afraid; yea, they feared to displease the king, and they also feared to go to battle against the Nephites lest they should lose their lives. And it came to pass that they would not, or the more part of them would not, obey the commandments of the king” (Alma 47:2)

 

  1. SOLDIERS IN DANGER WILL FIGHT HARDER FOR THEIR LIVES

Sun Tzu:

  • “Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength. Soldiers when in desperate straits lose the sense of fear. If there is no place of refuge, they will stand firm. If they are in the heart of a hostile country, they will show a stubborn front. If there is no help for it, they will fight hard” (XI:23-24)

When the Lamanites are in a desperate situation and there is no hope for escape, they fight harder and slay many Nephites:

  • “Now in this case the Lamanites did fight exceedingly; yea, never had the Lamanites been known to fight with such exceedingly great strength and courage…and they did pierce many of their breastplates, and they did smite off many of their arms; and thus the Lamanites did smite in their fierce anger” (Alma 43:43-44)

 

  1. USE PRISONERS TO AUGMENT YOUR OWN STRENGTH

Sun Tzu:

  • “Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy, and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept. This is called, using the conquered foe to augment one’s own strength” (II:17-18)

The Nephites used their prisoners to build their fortifications and thus augment their own strength:

  • “And it came to pass that they did set guards over the prisoners of the Lamanites, and did compel them to go forth and bury their dead…And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had finished burying their dead and also the dead of the Nephites, they were marched back into the land Bountiful; and Teancum, by the orders of Moroni, caused that they should commence laboring in digging a ditch round about the land” (Alma 53:1, 3)
  • “And it came to pass that he did cause the Lamanites, whom he had taken prisoners, that they should commence a labor in strengthening the fortifications round about the city of Gid” (Alma 55:25)

 

  1. PREVENT THE ENEMY FROM GATHERING THEIR FORCES TOGETHER

Sun Tzu:

  • “Thus the highest form of generalship is to baulk the enemy’s plans, the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces” (III:3)

Two examples of this in the Book of Mormon are Moroni trying to prevent Amalickiah and his people from joining the Lamanites, and Moroni preventing Morianton from gaining greater forces in the land northward.

  • “[Amalickiah] took those of his people who would and departed into the land of Nephi. Now Moroni thought it was not expedient that the Lamanites should have any more strength; therefore he thought to cut off the people of Amalickiah…and it came to pass that he took his army and marched out with his tents into the wilderness, to cut off the course of Amalickiah in the wilderness” (Alma 46:29, 31)
  • “Therefore, Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land which was northward…Now behold, the people who were in the land Bountiful, or rather Moroni, feared that they would hearken to the words of Morianton and unite with his people, and thus he would obtain possession of those parts of the land…Therefore Moroni sent an army, with their camp, to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward” (Alma 50:29, 32-33)

 

  1. ARMIES ON A HILL HAVE THE ADVANTAGE

Sun Tzu:

  • It is a military axiom not to advance uphill against the enemy, nor to oppose him when he comes downhill” (VII:33)
  • “Camp in high places, facing the sun. Do not climb heights in order to fight. So much for mountain warfare” (IX:2)
  • “In dry, level country, take up an easily accessible position with rising ground to your right and on your rear, so that the danger may be in front, and safety lie behind…All armies prefer high ground to low, and sunny places to dark…When you come to a hill or a bank, occupy the sunny side, with the slope on your right rear” (IX:9, 11, 13)

Armies in the Book of Mormon frequently camp on hills. The Nephites are warned against attacking the Gadianton robbers in their mountain strongholds:

  • “he went forward to the place which was called Onidah, for thither had all the Lamanites fled…And it came to pass that they had gathered themselves together upon the top of the mount which was called Antipas, in preparation to battle. Now it was not Amalickiah’s intention to give them battle…And behold, it came to pass that he caused his army to pitch their tents in the valley which was near the mount Antipas” (Alma 47:5, 7-9)
  • “Now the people said unto Gidgiddoni: Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands. But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us” (3 Nephi 3:20-21)
  • “And I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people…by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle…and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah…and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:2, 4)
  • “And they pitched their tents in the valley of Corihor…wherefore, Coriantumr did gather his armies together upon the hill Comnor, and did sound a trumpet unto the armies of Shiz to invite them forth to battle. And it came to pass that they came forth, but were driven again; and they came the second time, and they were driven again the second time. And it came to pass that they came again the third time” (Ether 14:28-29, 31).

 

  1. TRUCES REQUIRE SWORN COVENANTS

Sun Tzu:

  • “Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant indicate a plot” (IX:26)

In the Book of Mormon, Zerahemnah agrees to give up his weapons but will not swear an oath to leave the Nephites alone. Moroni does not accept his conditions:

  • “Behold, here are our weapons of war; we will deliver them up unto you, but we will not suffer ourselves to take an oath unto you, which we know that we shall break…And now when Zerahemnah had made an end of speaking these words, Moroni returned the sword and the weapons of war, which he had received, unto Zerahemnah, saying: Behold, we will end the conflict…therefore as the Lord liveth, ye shall not depart except ye depart with an oath that ye will not return again against us to war” (Alma 44:8, 10-11)

 

  1. TREAT YOUR SOLDIERS AS YOUR OWN CHILDREN

Sun Tzu:

  • Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death” (X:25)

Helaman frequently refers to his band of young Ammonite soldiers as “his sons” and they refer to him as their “father”:

  • “And I did join my two thousand sons, (for they are worthy to be called sons) to the army of Antipus, in which strength Antipus did rejoice exceedingly” (Alma 56:10)
  • “Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?…For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall…Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death” (Alma 56:44, 46-47)

 

  1. VARY YOUR STRATEGY

Sun Tzu:

  • Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances…He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain” (VI:28, 33)

The Book of Mormon chronicles the progression of Nephite and Lamanite warfare over the centuries. One of the first advances in warfare was the Nephites making armor for themselves to take advantage of the Lamanite’s nakedness. The Lamanites then make their own armor to match the Nephites. In response, the Nephites build forts to once again give them the advantage. Once the Lamanites begin obtaining their own fortifications, the Nephites decoy the Lamanites out of their strongholds. The Lamanites become increasingly more difficult to deceive, so the Nephites wait until the Lamanites are drunk and they arm the Nephite prisoners within and surround the Lamanites. These are just a few examples of the Nephites and Lamanites varying their tactics:

  • “We do not believe that it is God that has delivered us into your hands; but we believe that it is your cunning that has preserved you from our swords. Behold, it is your breastplates and your shields that have preserved you…behold, their naked skins and their bare heads were exposed to the sharp swords of the Nephites” (Alma 44:9, 18)
  • “His chief captains durst not attack the Nephites at the city of Ammonihah, for Moroni had altered the management of affairs among the Nephites, insomuch that the Lamanites were disappointed in their places of retreat and they could not come upon them” (Alma 49:11)
  • “Many times did the Lamanites attempt to encircle them about by night, but in these attempts they did lose many prisoners. And many times did they attempt to administer of their wine to the Nephites, that they might destroy them with poison or with drunkenness. But behold, the Nephites were not slow to remember the Lord their God…They could not be taken in their snares” (Alma 55:29-30)
  • “there was no way that we could lead them out of the city by our small bands. For behold, they remembered that which we had hitherto done; therefore we could not decoy them away from their strongholds” (Alma 58:1)

 

  1. USE SPIES TO DISCOVER ENEMY MOVEMENTS

Sun Tzu:

  • “Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge…Surviving spies, finally, are those who bring back news from the enemy’s camp…Spies are a most important element in war, because on them depends an army’s ability to move” (XIII:4, 13, 27)

The Nephites frequently use spies to predict the enemy’s position and respond accordingly:

  • “But I had sent my spies out round about the land of Shemlon, that I might discover their preparations, that I might guard against them” (Mosiah 10:7)
  • “And Alma sent spies to follow the remnant of the Amlicites, that he might know of their plans and their plots” (Alma 2:21)
  • “the Lamanites were marching round about in the wilderness, that they might come over into the land of Manti, that they might commence an attack upon the weaker part of the people” (Alma 43:24)
  • “we kept spies out round about, to watch the movements of the Lamanites, that they might not pass us by night nor by day to make an attack upon our other cities” (Alma 56:22)
  • “And Moroni placed spies round about, that he might know when the camp of the Lamanites should come…therefore, he found by his spies which course the Lamanites were to take” (Alma 43:28, 30)

 

  1. ENEMIES WANTING A TRUCE WILL SPEAK WITH FLATTERY

Sun Tzu:

  • “When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce” (IX:38)

Giddianhi asks Lachoneus to surrender his forces while complimenting him for his bravery and determination:

  • “I write this epistle unto you, and do give unto you exceedingly great praise because of your firmness, and also the firmness of your people…yea, ye do stand well…yield yourselves up unto us, and unite with us and become acquainted with our secret works” (3 Nephi 3:2, 3, 7)

 

  1. PREPARE FOR WAR AND DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE YOUR ENEMY

Sun Tzu:

  • The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable” (VIII:12)
  • “He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them” (IX:41)

The Nephites succeed when they are prepared for war:

  • “And it came to pass that we again began to establish the kingdom and we again began to possess the land in peace. And I caused that there should be weapons of war made of every kind, that thereby I might have weapons for my people against the time the Lamanites should come up again to war against my people” (Mosiah 10:1)
  • “while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand…had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort” (Alma 48:7-8)

The Nephites fail when they do not prepare their armies and underestimate their enemies:

  • “And now behold, the forces of the king were small, having been reduced, and there began to be a division among the remainder of the people…And the king commanded the people that they should flee before the Lamanites, and he himself did go before them…And it came to pass that the Lamanites did pursue them, and did overtake them, and began to slay them” (Mosiah 19:2, 9-10).
  • “the Lamanites had come in upon the wilderness side, into the borders of the land, even into the city of Ammonihah…And now it came to pass, before the Nephites could raise a sufficient army to drive them out of the land, they had destroyed the people who were in the city of Ammonihah…yea, every living soul of the Ammonihahites was destroyed, and also their great city, which they said God could not destroy, because of its greatness” (Alma 16:2-3, 9)
  • they had not kept sufficient guards in the land of Zarahemla; for they had supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the heart of their lands to attack that great city Zarahemla. But it came to pass that Coriantumr did march forth…with such exceedingly great speed that there was no time for the Nephites to gather together their armies” (Helaman 1:18-19)
  • “And now, because of this great victory they were lifted up in the pride of their hearts; they did boast in their own strength, saying that their fifty could stand against thousands of the Lamanites… And it came to pass that the Lamanites did pursue them, and did overtake them, and began to slay them” (Mosiah 11:19/Mosiah 19:10)
  • “And now, because of this great thing which my people, the Nephites, had done, they began to boast in their own strength, and began to swear before the heavens that they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren…And it was because the armies of the Nephites went up unto the Lamanites that they began to be smitten; for were it not for that, the Lamanites could have had no power over them” (Mormon 3:9/Mormon 4:4)

 

  1. SECURE NARROW PASSAGES

Sun Tzu:

  • “With regard to narrow passes, if you can occupy them first, let them be strongly garrisoned and await the advent of the enemy” (X:8)

The Nephites were constantly trying to secure the narrow pass that leads to the land northward so that they were never surrounded by the Lamanites:

  • “And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side” (Alma 52:9)
  • “thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward. And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north” (Alma 22:32-33)

 

16. LEADERS SHOULD BE EXAMPLES OF WISDOM AND VIRTUE

Sun Tzu:

  • “The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness” (I:9)

Moroni is described as an ideal commander because he personifies similar virtues. This is in contrast to the fraud and deceit of Amalickiah:

  • “while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God…And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country…a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of is people…and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood” (Alma 48:7, 11-13)

Debunking the Connection between “The First Book of Napoleon” and The Book of Mormon

Some critics argue that Joseph Smith received inspiration for the Book of Mormon from several books that were written to mimic the language of the KJV Bible. One of these books is “The First Book of Napoleon, the Tyrant of the Earth” (1809) written by Michael Linning under the name “Eliakim.” The First Book of Napoleon tells the story of the rise of Napoleon and the author warns its readers to beware of tyrants and wickedness. The differences between the Book of Mormon and the First Book of Napoleon, however, are so vast that any of the small number of similarities that exist can be linked to the fact that they both try to imitate King James English in the Bible. In short, there is nothing unique in the First Book of Napoleon to suggest it served as source material for the Book of Mormon. A digital version of the First Book of Napoleon can be found online here.

Fair Mormon has a small section devoted to the First Book of Napoleon, which can be found here. The purpose of my article is to go into greater detail on the similarities and differences between the Book of Mormon and the First Book of Napoleon.

The Story

The story in the First Book of Napoleon has little in common with the Book of Mormon. The First Book of Napoleon is a historical narrative about the rise of Napoleon and a prophetic warning against those who would be his allies. The table of contents on pages iii – viii provide a summary of each of the book’s chapters and shows that the overall narrative is nothing like the Book of Mormon. An evil spirit influences the people of the Gauls who worship a wicked idol. Napoleon takes over their armies, becomes their new idol, and begins expanding his empire. The people of Albanus and king Albion fight against Napoleon’s expanding empire. Eliakim sees visions and tells the readers to live righteously and resist the tyrant Napoleon. There is a parable of the Bear and the Monkey (p. 100), an oak tree symbolically claims it is superior to all the other trees of the land (p. 72), the people worship a horned idol with the words “Sedition, Privy Conspiracy, and Rebellion” written on its horns (p. 12), the author suggests that royals and noblemen are superior to their subjects (pp. 11-12), and the State is likened to a ship tossed upon the storms of wickedness (p. 90).

The Book of Mormon describes a family who flees Jerusalem in 600 B.C. with a sacred religious text, who build a ship to travel to the American continent. The book describes the organization of their government, their wars, their prophecies of Christ, a visit by the resurrected Jesus Christ, and the destruction of their civilization. While both the Book of Mormon and the First Book of Napoleon deal with themes of evil tyrants, righteous kings, and wicked peoples, these themes are also found extensively throughout the Bible and presumably thousands of other books. There is no reason to believe that the First Book of Napoleon provided any unique story beats for the Book of Mormon.

Debunking the Supposed Similarities

There are several similarities between the two works, but a closer examination shows that most of these similarities can be traced back to the Bible.

Similarity #1: Using Trees in Allegories

The first similarity is that both the Book of Mormon (Jacob 5) and the First Book of Napoleon (Chapter 2) use trees in allegories. This is where the similarity ends. The fifth chapter in the Book of Jacob recounts a 77-verse allegory of how the House of Israel is like a decaying olive tree. The Lord of the vineyard tries to preserve the natural olives by transplanting some of its branches into other parts of the vineyard, while at the same time grafting branches from wild olive trees into the original tree. The Lord’s several attempts to preserve the tree are described. The purpose of the allegory is to show the history of the scattering of Israel and how Israel will be gathered together again in the last days. This allegory utilizes language similar to Luke 13:6-9, Romans 11:16-24, and Isaiah 5:1-7. An in-depth look at the similarities in the language of Jacob 5 and the Bible can be found here.

The First Book of Napoleon, on the other hand, provides a 9 verse allegory comparing laws or state constitutions to trees in that they should “be trained and pruned by the wary hand of age and time” (p. 16) instead of being built like a human structure (Napoleon 2:7-15, p. 15-18). The “constitution of the state” (p. 16) grows in good soil and decays in bad soil.  The tree is nourished by the “dew of heaven, and the sun-beams thereof…and the blood of the warriors” (p. 16). The tree that the Gauls plant after they overthrew their rulers brings forth “bad and forbidden fruit” (p. 17). The branches decay and those who eat its fruit die bloody deaths “because the sap which was in the tree, was poison” (p. 17). While this allegory and the Book of Mormon share some similarities in using words to describe the tree such as “decayed,” “pruned,” “corruption,” “good soils” and “bad soil,” there is no mention of olive trees, grafting, digging, dunging, the Lord of the Vineyard or his servant, the House of Israel, and wild and natural trees, which are featured in prominent sections of the Bible. Since the Bible already provides material that is more consistent with the language and message of the Book of Mormon, there is no reason to believe that Joseph was influenced by the First Book of Napoleon to write Jacob 5.

Similarity #2: Vision of the Angel

Lehi and Nephi have visions in which they are lifted up by an angel and prophesy. Eliakim also describes a vision in which he is guided by an angel. Eliakim has a vision in which an “angel lifted [him] up between the earth and the heavens…and put me on an high place” (Napoleon 17:3; similar language is found in Ezekiel 8:3). He sees Napoleon sitting on a throne, surrounded by his armies, and he becomes a dragon who wreaks havoc on the earth. He then sees a beautiful island where a shepherd watches his herds (symbolic of the Albions). There is a mighty bull that protects the island from the dragon.

In the Book of Mormon, Lehi (1 Nephi 8) and Nephi (1 Nephi 11-14) are also taken away by angels unto “an exceedingly high mountain” (1 Nephi 11:1). Lehi sees a vision of the tree of life and a rod of iron leading to it. Nephi sees the same vision, and sees the coming of the Savior, the destruction of his people, and the end of the days. A cursory reading of the visions in the First Book of Napoleon and the Book of Mormon show they have very different content. What is most important, however, is that heavenly visions where a prophet is guided by an angel are found in many instances in the Bible, such as Revelation 21:10, Jeremiah 1 and 24, and Ezekiel 3 and 8. An analysis of some of the common motifs found in the Book of Mormon and the Bible in Lehi’s and Nephi’s visions can be found here. This analysis, in conjunction with a reading of Eliakim’s visions, shows that the Book of Mormon visions have much more in common with Biblical visions than they do with the First Book of Napoleon. There is therefore no basis for believing that the First Book of Napoleon significantly contributed to this part of the Book of Mormon’s content.

Similarity #3: Language

The Book of Mormon and the First Book of Napoleon share many similar phrases. Most of these phrases, however, are found in the Bible. Since both books use the Bible for inspiration (the Nephites had the five books of Moses and the teachings of Jesus, and Linning wrote his book specifically to imitate the KJV Bible), it is expected that there would be similarities between the two (click this link for a list of Biblical phrases and motifs found in the Book of Mormon).

Here is a sample of some of the phrases found in all three works:

  • “The latter days” = (Napoleon 1:1)/(Jeremiah 48:47)/(2 Nephi 3:5)
  • “The fear of the Lord” = (Napoleon 1:3)/(Proverbs 2:5)/(Mosiah 4:1)
  • “Imaginations of their hearts” = (Napoleon 1:3)/(Jeremiah 3:17)/(1 Nephi 2:11)
  • “Evil spirit” = (Napoleon 1:6)/(Luke 8:2)/(Mosiah 2:32)
  • “Kings and rulers” = (Napoleon 1:7)/(1 Nephi 16:38)/(Mark 13:9)
  • “True and living God” = (Napoleon 1:10)/(Jeremiah 10:10)/(Alma 11:27)
  • “Great and marvelous” = (Napoleon 3:2)/(Revelation 15:3)/(1 Nephi 1:14)
  • “Blotted [out their names]” = (Napoleon 11:2)/(Deuteronomy 9:14)/(Mosiah 5:11)
  • “Deliver into your hands” = (Napoleon 8:6)/(1 Chronicles 14:10)/(1 Nephi 3:29)
  • “Fight like/Bold as lions” = (Napoleon 7:6)/(1 Chronicles 12:8)/(Psalm 17:12)/(Mosiah 20:10)
  • “Gall and/of bitterness” = (Napoleon 6:13)/(Acts 8:23)/(Moroni 8:14)
  • Disappear as the dew [vapor] before the sun = (Napoleon 10:15)/(Hosea 6:4)/(Mormon 4:18)
  • “Chaff before the wind” = (Napoleon 10:14)/(Psalms 1:4)/(Mormon 5:16)
  • “Great and terrible” = (Napoleon 19:12)/(Deuteronomy 1:19)/(1 Nephi 12:18)
  • “He dreamed a dream” = (Napoleon 16:14)/(Daniel 2:3) (1 Nephi 8:2)
  • “Rod of iron” = (Napoleon 20:9)/(Revelation 2:26-27)/(1 Nephi 8:19)
  • Wearing modest, non-expensive clothing = (Napoleon 22:11)/(1 Timothy 2:9)/(Alma 1:27)
  • “Gray hairs with sorrow to the grave” = (Napoleon 20:27)/(Genesis 42:38)/(1 Nephi 18:18)

Since a majority of the phrases found in the First Book of Napoleon and the Book of Mormon are also found in the Bible, there is no reason to believe that the First Book of Napoleon was a significant influence.

There are more Differences than Similarities

Even though the First Book of Napoleon and the Book of Mormon both try to mimic KJV language, there are in fact vast differences in style and vocabulary between the two books. The following is a list of verses that show just how far Linning’s style deviates from the Book of Mormon:

  • “So the bear allowed the monkey from time to time to play and frisk around him; but it came to pass, that the monkey having scratched the bear, he thereupon raised his bristles, and threatened to hug the monkey to death” (Napoleon 16:9)
  • “A tyrant’s fiat had excluded him from the sweet society of men, and from the cheering light of the sun, and had doomed him to become a prey to corruption, and the reptiles of the earth!” (Napoleon 18:22)
  • “Frozen seas and rivers, and plains covered with eternal frost, are unto him as dwelling places; and the storm which chilleth other beasts, even unto death, beateth upon him as upon a rock, which is covered with furs and with skins.” (Napoleon 16:4)
  • “And out of the head of the beast there arose three horns, and upon each of the horns there were written these words, Sedition, Privy, Conspiracy, and Rebellion; and on the forehead of the beast, and under the horns, there were written, in letters of blood, the words Treasons and Crimes” (Napoleon 1:12)
  • “His nightly path is lighted by fiery spectres, that sport and dance along the polar sky, and play amidst the wintry star” (Napoleon 16:5)
  • “And lo! the tillers of the ground, and the labourers thereof, together with mechanics, artificers, and all manner of handicraftmen, left their sundry and peaceful occupations, and became lawmakers and lawgivers, and sought to rule over their superiors” (Napoleon 2:6)
  • “But, alas! In this glorious, but direful battle, there fell many valiant men, and in the midst of them, covered with glory, and crowned with victory, their brave and skillful chief, whose name now stands high in the temple of Fame” (Napoleon 9:29)
  • “As the dew of heaven, and the sun-beams thereof, water and cherish the earthly tree, so also, do the spirits of the departed patriots of a land, and the blood of the warriors thereof, foster and support the political tree, or constitution of the state” (Napoleon 2:9)
  • “And from each of these four great branches, there issue others, and the fruit which is produced by the tree is emblematical of religion, nobleness of birth and deed, freedom, obedience to the laws, security, wealth, and happiness” (Napoleon 5:25)
  • “That the radiant and resplendent brilliancy of their great souls, may serve as a light or beacon, to direct the counsels and actions of those, who now, or in time coming, may be placed at the helm of the state” (Napoleon 10:8)
  • “May not the eternal solidity of the inconceivable empire of Almighty god, and the unchangeable harmony and obedience which pervade all his wondrous works, derive as much strength from the universal adoration in which his unerring truth, his immaculate purity and holiness, and his inflexible justice are held, by created existence, as from the immensity and grandeur of his unmeasurable power?” (Napoleon 12:17)
  • “The sun, who came forth in the morning like a bridegroom from his eastern chamber, arrayed in all his dazzling glories, to cheer and enlighten a benighted world, to dissipate the dreary darkness of the night, and awaken drowsy nature to joy and gladness; found this generation of bats and of owls, male and female, reveling in all manner of riot and licentiousness” (Napoleon 13:7)
  • “What, O man, O guilty man, who thus insultest the orderly appointments of heaven, what would not thy consternation be, were the sun to loiter on his eastern couch, and the return of morning to be withheld but for a little while beyond its appointed time, and thus to leave the world to utter darkness and dismay?” (Napoleon 13:13)
  • “Lo! many of the nations thou now seest suffering under the dragon, were worshippers of the first idol, which is called Licentiousness; and until they shall by repentance and amendment of life, have expiated the crimes which they thereby committed, the sun of liberty which thou observedst to be nearly darkened in blood, shall not rise upon them, nor until then, shall their bonds be broken asunder” (Napoleon 18:26)

Similarity #4: Condemn me not for my imperfections

Critics point out that both the Book of Mormon and the First Book of Napoleon contain prefaces that ask their readers to not condemn them for their poor writing. In Eliakim’s “Address to His Readers,” he gives a short message to several types of readers, such as the “Charitable and Gentle Reader,” “the Pious and Religious Reader,” “Readers in General,” “Napoleon,” and the “King of the Albions.” In his address to the “Pious and Religious Reader” he tells his readers “let not thy feelings be offended, and withhold thy censure, until thou shalt find in these pages a single sentiment inconsistent with the spirit and principles of that holy religion which thou professest; and condemn not the feebly imitative manner of writing therein occasionally employed, until thou canst point out a language more impressive, or more appropriate, than that in imitation whereof these chapters are framed” (p. i). In other words, he asks those who are familiar with the Bible to not criticize him too harshly in his attempts to mimic the KJV Bible.

The title page of the Book of Mormon has a similar disclaimer in which Mormon states “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ” (p. iii). Moroni provides a similar disclaimer in Ether 12:23-27. It may seem like a shocking coincidence that both books, imitating KJV English and published only 20 years apart, would contain such similar pleas from the authors in the preface of their books. The problem with this argument is that such disclaimers are in fact very common in literature before Joseph’s day and well afterwards.

For example, Victor Hugo in his preface to “Cromwell” (1827) criticizes certain poetic styles and points out that it is not the style they used that should be condemned, but the limitations of the authors in employing them: “They were mistaken. If in fact the false is predominant in the style as well as in the action of certain French tragedies, it is not the verses that should be held responsible therefore, but the versifiers. It was needful to condemn, not the form employed, but those who employed it: the workmen, not the tool.

Another example is John Dryden’s preface to “Fables, Ancient and Modern” (1700), where he asks the reader not to condemn him for adding his own inferior fables to the volume, but instead blame his poor judgment on his old age: “I resolv’d to join them in my present work; to which I have added some original papers of my own; which, whether they are equal or inferior to my other poems, an author is the most improper judge, and therefore I leave them wholly to the mercy of the reader. I will hope the best, that they will not be condem’d; but if they should, I have the excuse of an old gentleman, who mounting on horseback before some ladies, when I was present, got up somewhat heavily, but desir’d of the fair spectators that they would count fourscore and eight before they judg’d him.

Asking readers to attribute any errors in their work to their own human limitations is so common in academic writing that philosophers have argued over what D. C. Makinson called “The Paradox of the Preface” (Analysis, Vol. 25, No. 6, 1965, pp. 205-207), where he states “It is customary for authors of academic books to include in their prefaces statements such as this: ‘I am indebted to…for their invaluable help; however, any errors which remain are my sole responsibility.’ Occasionally an author will go further. Rather than say that if there are any mistakes then he is responsible for them, he will say that there will inevitably be some mistakes and he is responsible for them. For example, in the preface to his ‘Introduction to the Foundations of Mathematics’ (1952) R. L. Wilder writes ‘To those of my colleagues and students who have given me encouragement and stimulation, I wish to express sincere thanks. I am especially grateful to…for suggestions and criticism; but the errors and shortcomings to be found herein are not their fault, and are present only in spite of their wise counsel” (p. 205)

It is unreasonable to argue that all of these authors first needed to read the First Book of Napoleon before they could write such prefaces, and the same standard should be applied to Joseph Smith. All of the arguments I have made suggest that there is little to no evidence in favor of the argument that the First Book of Napoleon served as inspiration for the Book of Mormon.

An Updated List of Biblical Motifs found in 2 Nephi 9

The following is a list of Biblical motifs, expressions, and doctrines found in 2 Nephi 9. The purpose of this list is to provide further evidence of the Book of Mormon’s complexity, and the extreme mental effort, knowledge, and skill it would have required to dictate without the use of notes and with only minor revisions after the Book of Mormon’s publication.

  1. By the mouth of his holy prophets
    • “Spoken unto the Jews, by the mouth of his holy prophets” (2)
    • “which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets” (Acts 3:21)
  2. From the beginning
    • “even from the beginning down,” (2)
    • “hath it not been told you from the beginning?” (Isaiah 40:21)
  3. From generation to generation
    • “from generation to generation” (2)
    • “neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation” (Isaiah 13:20)
  4. Fold of God
    • “restored to the true church and fold of God” (2)
    • “and will bring them again to their folds” (Jeremiah 23:3)
  5. Lands of their inheritance
    • “when they shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance” (2)
    • “this is the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance” (Numbers 34:2)
  6. Land of promise
    • “established in all their lands of promise” (2)
    • “By faith he sojourned in the land of promise” (Hebrews 11:9)
  7. Lift up your heads
    • “rejoice, and lift up your heads forever” (3)
    • “Lift up your heads, O ye gates” (Psalm 24:7)
  8. Searched diligently for salvation to come
    • “ye have searched much, many of you, to know of things to come” (4)
    • “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you” (1 Peter 1:10)
  9. In our flesh we shall see God
    • “ye know that our flesh must waste away and die; nevertheless, in our bodies we shall see God” (4)
    • “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:26)
  10. Subject unto Christ
    • “die for all men, that all men might become subject unto him” (5)
    • “For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him” (Hebrews 2:8)
  11. Power of the resurrection
    • “there must needs be a power of resurrection” (6, 12)
    • “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10)
  12. Cut off from the presence of the Lord
    • “because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord” (6)
    • “that soul shall be cut off from my presence” (Leviticus 22:3)
  13. Corruption put on incorruption
    • “save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption” (7)
    • “For this corruptible must put on incorruption” (1 Corinthians 15:53)
  14. Rise no more
    • “to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more” (7, 8)
    • “Drink ye, and be drunken, and spue, and fall, and rise no more” (Jeremiah 25:27)
  15. Wisdom of God
    • “O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace!” (8)
    • “for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do judgment” (1 Kings 3:28)
  16. Angel fell from heaven
    • “our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell” (8)
    • “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” (Isaiah 14:12)
  17. Eternal God
    • “before the presence of the Eternal God” (8)
    • “The eternal God is thy refuge” (Deuteronomy 33:27)
  18. Father of lies
    • “to remain with the father of lies” (9)
    • “for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44)
  19. Beguiled Adam and Eve
    • “that being who beguiled our first parents” (9)
    • “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (Genesis 3:13)
  20. Satan can transform into an angel of light
    • “who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light” (9)
    • “for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14)
  21. Children of men
    • “and stirreth up the children of men” (9)
    • “and their seed from among the children of men” (Psalm 21:10)
  22. Works of darkness
    • “murder and all manner of secret works of darkness” (9)
    • “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11)
  23. How great is the goodness of God
    • “O how great the goodness of our God” (10)
    • “Oh how great is thy goodness” (Psalm 31:19)
  24. Prepareth a way to escape
    • “who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster” (10)
    • “but will with the temptation also make a way to escape” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  25. Death and Hell
    • “that monster, death and hell” (10)
    • “and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him” (Revelation 6:8)
  26. The Holy One of Israel
    • “our God, the Holy One of Israel” (11, 12)
    • “but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 31:1)
  27. Death and Hell will deliver up their dead
    • “death and hell must deliver up their dead” (12)
    • “and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them” (Revelation 20:13)
  28. Paradise of God
    • “the paradise of God must deliver up the spirits of the righteous” (13)
    • “the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7)
  29. Living souls
    • “men become incorruptible, and immortal, and they are living souls” (13)
    • “and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7)
  30. Perfect knowledge
    • “having a perfect knowledge like unto us in the flesh” (13)
    • “the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:16)
  31. Nakedness
    • “all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness” (14)
    • “all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness” (Lamentations 1:8)
  32. Robe of righteousness
    • “being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness” (14)
    • “he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10)
  33. Judgment seat of Christ
    • “they must appear before the judgment-seat of the Holy One of Israel” (15)
    • “for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10)
  34. As the Lord liveth
    • “And assuredly, as the Lord liveth” (16)
    • “As the Lord liveth, that made us this soul” (Jeremiah 38:16)
  35. For the Lord hath spoken it
    • “for the Lord God hath spoken it” (16)
    • “for the Lord hath spoken” (Isaiah 1:2)
  36. God’s word cannot pass away
    • “it is his eternal word, which cannot pass away” (16)
    • “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31)
  37. Righteous will be righteous still; filthy will be filthy still
    • “they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still”
    • “he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still” (Revelation 22:11)
  38. Everlasting fire for the devil and his angels
    • “the devil and his angels; and they shall go away into everlasting fire, prepared for them” (16)
    • “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41)
  39. Lake of fire and brimstone
    • “and their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone” (16)
    • “These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20)
  40. Flame/smoke ascends forever
    • “whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever and has no end” (16)
    • “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever” (Revelation 14:11)
  41. Word has gone forth out of God’s mouth
    • “For he executeth all his words, and they have gone forth out of his mouth” (17)
    • “the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness” (Isaiah 45:23)
  42. God’s law will be fulfilled
    • “and his law must be fulfilled” (17)
    • “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17)
  43. Endure the cross and despise the shame of it
    • “they who have endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame of it” (18)
    • “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2)
  44. Inherit the kingdom of God prepared from foundation of the world
    • “they shall inherit the kingdom of God, which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world” (18)
    • “come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34)
  45. Joy may be full
    • “and their joy shall be full forever” (18)
    • “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:4)
  46. God knows all things
    • “For he knoweth all things and there is not anything save he knows it” (20)
    • “God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things” (1 John 3:20)
  47. All men might be saved
    • “And he cometh into the world that he may save all men” (21)
    • “God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
  48. Hearken to the voice of the Lord
    • “if they hearken unto his voice” (21)
    • “When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 13:18)
  49. Endure to the end
    • “be baptized in his name, and endure to the end” (24)
    • “he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22)
  50. No law; no sin
    • “he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment” (25)
    • “for where no law is, there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15)
  51. Power to deliver
    • “for they are delivered by the power of him” (25)
    • “have I no power to deliver?” (Isaiah 50:2)
  52. Counsel of God
    • “they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God” (28)
    • “But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves” (Luke 7:30)
  53. Despise the poor
    • “For because they are rich they despise the poor” (30)
    • “But ye have despised the poor” (James 2:6)
  54. Set their hearts upon riches
    • “their hearts are upon their treasures” (30)
    • “if riches increase, set not your heart upon them” (Psalm 62:10)
  55. Uncircumcised of heart
    • “Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart” (33)
    • “all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart” (Jeremiah 9:26)
  56. Thrust down to hell
    • “Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell” (34)
    • “And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell” (Luke 10:15)
  57. Die in their sins
    • “wo unto all those who die in their sins” (38)
    • “for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24)
  58. Holy God
    • “remember the awfulness in transgressing against that Holy God” (39)
    • “Ye cannot serve the Lord: for he is an holy God” (Joshua 24:19)
  59. Carnally minded is death
    • “Remember, to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life eternal” (39)
    • “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Romans 8:6)
  60. Speak hard things
    • “Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you” (40)
    • “How long shall they utter and speak hard things?” (Psalm 94:4)
  61. Your Maker
    • “for I have spoken the words of your Maker” (40)
    • “Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker” (Proverbs 17:5)
  62. The words of truth
    • “I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness” (40)
    • “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)
  63. Path of righteousness
    • “Remember that his paths are righteous” (41)
    • “he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3)
  64. Narrow and straight path
    • “the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him” (41)
    • “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way” (Matthew 7:14)
    • “make thy way straight before my face” (Psalm 5:8)
  65. The Lord’s gate
    • “and there is no other way save it be by the gate” (41)
    • “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100:4)
  66. The Lord is his name
    • “he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name” (41)
    • “Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion…The Lord is his name” (Amos 5:8)
  67. Knock and it shall be opened unto you
    • “And whoso knocketh, to him will he open” (42)
    • “knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7)
  68. Puffed up
    • “they that are rich, who are puffed up because of their learning” (42)
    • “that no one of you be puffed up for one against another” (1 Corinthians 4:6)
  69. Fools before God
    • “consider themselves fools before God” (42)
    • “let him become a fool, that he may be wise” (1 Corinthians 3:18)
  70. Wise and the prudent
    • “But the things of the wise and the prudent shall be hid from them forever” (43)
    • “For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent’ (1 Corinthians 1:19)
  71. Shake off your sins from my garments
    • “Behold, I take off my garments, and I shake them before you…witness that I shook your iniquities from my soul” (44)
    • “he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean” (Acts 18:6)
  72. God of my salvation
    • “I pray the God of my salvation” (44)
    • “Because thou has forgotten the God of thy salvation” (Isaiah 17:10)
  73. Eye of the Lord
    • “that he view me with his all-searching eye” (44)
    • “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him” (Psalm 33:18)
  74. God of Israel
    • “all men shall be judged of their works, that the God of Israel did witness” (44)
    • “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel” (Isaiah 37:16)
  75. Judged according to their works
    • “when all men shall be judged of their works” (44)
    • “and they were judged every man according to their works” (Revelation 20:13)
  76. Brightness
    • “and that I stand with brightness before him” (44)
    • “they shall defile thy brightness” (Ezekiel 28:7)
  77. Turn away from your sins
    • “O, my beloved brethren, turn away from your sins” (45)
    • “bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26)
  78. Chains of hell
    • “shake off the chains of him that would bind you fast” (45)
    • “he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness” (Jude 1:6)
  79. Rock of my salvation
    • “come unto that God who is the rock of your salvation” (45)
    • “He only is my rock and my salvation” (Psalm 62:2)
  80. Lord God Almighty
    • “Holy, holy are thy judgments, O Lord God Almighty” (46)
    • “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8)
  81. Freed from sin
    • “Would I be plain unto you according to the plainness of the truth if ye were freed from sin?” (47)
    • “Being then made free from sin” (Romans 6:18)
  82. Praise the name of the Lord
    • “I will praise the holy name of my God” (49)
    • “and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high” (Psalm 7:17)
  83. Every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters
    • “Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat” (50-51)
    • “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat” (Isaiah 55:1-2)
  84. The Holy One cannot be corrupted
    • “come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted” (51)
    • “neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10)
  85. Covenants of the Lord
    • “And behold how great the covenants of the Lord” (53)
    • “That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 29:12)
  86. Grace and mercy
    • “and because of his greatness, and his grace and mercy” (53)
    • “To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father” (2 Timothy 1:2)
  87. Utterly destroyed
    • “he has promised unto us that our seed shall not utterly be destroyed” (53)
    • “he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter” (Isaiah 34:2)
  88. According to the flesh
    • “shall not utterly be destroyed, according to the flesh” (53)
    • “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh” (Ephesians 6:5)
  89. A righteous branch
    • “in future generations they shall become a righteous branch unto the house of Israel” (53)
    • “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch” (Jeremiah 23:5)