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
    • “for the country was again filled with robbers and impostors, who deluded the multitude” (Antiquities, Book XX, 8:5)
    • “But behold, the land was filled with robbers and with Lamanites” (Mormon 2:8)
  60. Gain Possession
    • “But Adonijah, who, while his father was living, attempted to gain possession of the government” (Antiquities, Book VIII, 1:2)
    • “had given them power to gain possession of those parts which were within the walls” (Alma 55:20)
  61. Preservation of the People
    • “And when Moses had recapitulated whatsoever he had done for the preservation of the people, both in their wars and in peace” (Antiquities, Book IV, 8:46)
    • “All his brethren also fell down before him, weeping and delivering
      themselves up to destruction for the preservation of the life of Benjamin” (Antiquities, Book II, 6:9)
    • “for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people” (Alma 10:5)
  62. Much Disturbed
    • “However, the fear he was in much disturbed the greatness of his soul” (Wars, Book I, 21:12)
    • “and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually” (Helaman 16:22)

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)

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)

Why the Translation Process is the Best Evidence in Favor of the Book of Mormon

Many critics argue that the translation of the Book of Mormon as described by many witnesses is evidence that Joseph Smith was a fraud. A good summary of eye-witness testimony of the translation process can be found here. It is generally accepted by critics and apologists that Joseph Smith placed his own seer stone or the Nephite interpreters into a hat, looked inside, and dictated to his scribes what was revealed to him. It is my argument, however, that if it can be proved that Joseph Smith did in fact dictate the entire Book of Mormon in the way described by witnesses, that this is in fact the best evidence of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling. Below is a list of some of the reasons why I believe this:

  1. The Number of Biblical References

There are hundreds of references to the Bible found in the Book of Mormon (I have counted over 1000 so far). These references include direct quotes, modified quotes, themes, doctrines, symbols, and names. Many of these references are seamlessly interwoven into the narrative with such subtlety as to go unnoticed by the casual reader. Joseph Smith would have needed to be familiar with the entire Bible and have memorized a lexicon of hundreds of Biblical phrases to repeat off the top of his head, and possibly review chapters of the Bible the night before translating so that he could memorize a few more to be used the next day. Some examples of Biblical references in the Book of Mormon can be found in my examination of 2 Nephi 9, Jacob 5, and Alma 5. Consistently using such a large number of Biblical references would make the dictation process extremely difficult and it is remarkable that the use of so many references was maintained for over 500 pages.

  1. The Genealogy of Ether

Moroni provides the genealogy of the prophet Ether, which is comprised of 30 names (Ether 1:6-32). This genealogy includes names from the Bible (i.e., Seth, Levi, Ether, Omer) and names modified from the Bible (i.e., Riplakish, Lib, Hearthom). Joseph Smith would have needed to memorize this list of 30 names or at least list them off the top of his head and then be committed to use them for the rest of his narrative in the Book of Ether. He then repeats this genealogy in reverse order over the 30+ pages of the Book of Ether, including the names and storylines of characters not found in the original genealogy. This would have been an arduous process for Joseph to have to repeatedly review the genealogy and dictate the stories of each of these individuals over the course of several days. Click here for a more in-depth analysis of the genealogy of Ether.

  1. Chiasmus

While I do not believe that the existence of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon is definitive proof of its authenticity (critics point out that other contemporary sources have used chiasmus), I do believe that within the context of the translation process it does provide strong evidence for Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling. Alma 36 is the prime example of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon, and a break-down of its structure can be found here. If Joseph had been dictating with his head buried in an empty hat while only stopping every 30 or so words for the scribe to repeat back what he had written, he would have had to memorize at least 15 themes to be repeated in reverse order over 30 verses when Alma is describing his conversion. It is unlikely that the chiasmus in Alma 36 appeared accidentally, and dictating it intentionally without notes would be an incredible feat.

  1. Unique Language of the Book of Mormon Authors

I do not know much about the science behind identifying an author’s written works based on analyzing the frequency of phrases unique to that author. Regardless, there are many phrases that are found exclusively in the writings of specific Book of Mormon authors that are not found in other authors’ writings. For example, the prophet Zenos uses phrases like “turn their hearts aside” and “in the midst of thy congregations,” which are phrases found in the Old Testament but not anywhere else in the Book of Mormon (click here for more examples). Not only are some of these phrases unique to certain prophets, but they are also found across several books (i.e., Jacob using unique phrases in 2 Nephi 9, and then using these phrases again in the Book of Jacob) suggesting Joseph Smith would have been cognizant that people would analyze whether his Book of Mormon characters had unique writing styles and would have intentionally varied their writing style to make sure it would stand up to scrutiny. This is a level of attention to detail that seems unlikely.

  1. The Structure of Jacob 5

Jacob 5 is a chapter in the Book of Mormon that is layered with complexity that suggests it was meticulously planned and not the product of a man who had a general idea of what he wanted to say and then dictated using his natural ability to speak off the top of his head. First, the length of the allegory of the olive tree is an impressive 77 verses. Second, it uses a variety of references to other Biblical doctrines and phrases and some are modified to fit specifically with the imagery of olive trees. Third, the phrasing of the chapter is structured so that over 20 phrases are repeated over the course of the 77 verses, suggesting Joseph would have needed to memorize these phrases to be repeated systematically and then incorporate them to reflect Biblical doctrines using the unique symbol of an olive tree.

  1. Names in the Book of Mormon

There are a few hundred names of people and places in the Book of Mormon. Many of these names are not found in the Bible. Many of these names, however, seem to be modified from certain root words in the Bible. Click here for a list of many of the names found in the Book of Mormon and their Biblical correlates. Joseph would have needed to identify names scattered across the Bible and then come up with creative ways of modifying and combining them (i.e., “Zarahemla” is a composite of “Zarah” and “Imla”). This would have been a complicated process which he would have needed to do while steeped in the translation. In addition, he would have to be familiar with the meaning of some Hebrew names such as “Ram” and “Zif” in order to use them correctly in the Book of Mormon (see references to “Ziff” and “Rameumptom” in the previously mentioned list of Book of Mormon names).

  1. Consistency in Geography

Whoever wrote the Book of Mormon had a clear picture of the locations where the events of the Book of Mormon took place. For instance, Nephi always describes traveling to Jerusalem as “going up to” Jerusalem, suggesting the author knew Jerusalem was on a hill (this is also consistent with the Bible). Another example is that the Nephites live in the land northward, but they always say they “go up” to the land southward, suggesting that author knew visually that the land southward was a higher physical elevation than the land northward. Click here for a closer look at some of the geographical consistencies in the Book of Mormon. Joseph would have needed to memorize the names and locations of Book of Mormon cities as well as the events that occurred in the narrative or at least be able to regularly reference a map while dictating in order to produce the consistency found in the Book of Mormon.

  1. Translating beginning with Mosiah

After Joseph and Martin Harris lost the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon, there is strong evidence that they picked up the translation process from where they left off in the Book of Mosiah. They continued through the end of the Book of Moroni, and then returned and translated 1 Nephi through Words of Mormon. This would have been difficult because Joseph makes many references to events that happened to characters in the lost portion of the Book of Mormon that are referenced after the Book of Mosiah. The most cited example is Alma quoting Lehi in Alma 36:22 before Lehi’s quote had been written. Joseph would have needed to remember that he had quoted Lehi and then remember to review the manuscript when he dictated 1 Nephi 1:8 so he could create the exact original quote that Alma was citing. Again, this would have been a remarkable example of Joseph’s attention to detail.

An Answer to the Vernal Holley Map Theory

Vernal Holley made the argument that the geography described in the Book of Mormon is strikingly similar to geography and place names of the Great Lakes region of the United States. He therefore concludes that the Book of Mormon is a 19th century work based on the author’s personal experience. For reference, the Holley map can be found here. This argument has since been regurgitated by Jeremy Runnells, who compiled his somewhat well-known “Letter to a CES Director” where he concludes the argument by saying “Why are there so many names similar to Book of Mormon names in the region where Joseph Smith lived? This is all just a coincidence?” (It should be noted that Runnells has removed many names from Holley’s original list such as “St. Agathe/Ogath,” “Conner/Comnor,” and “St. Ephrem/Hill Ephraim” because there is demonstrable proof that they were founded well after the Book of Mormon was published).

FairMormon, Daniel Peterson, and Wheat & Tares have all provided thorough rebuttals  to this theory. Peterson rightly concludes that the theory “has been exploded, detonated so many times that it’s exasperating to see it keep coming back.” FairMormon does a very good job debunking this theory by pointing out that many of the locations identified by Holley do not match what is described in the Book of Mormon. For example, Holley places the Nephite city of “Morianton” (which is supposed to be similar to “Moravian Town”) on the west side of the map, when it is described as being near the eastern seashore (Alma 51:26). In addition, Holley places the Nephite city “Jacobugath” (which is supposed to be similar to “Jacobsburg”) in the land south when the Book of Mormon clearly places it in the land northward (3 Nephi 7:12).

From what I can tell, however, none of the apologists answer the question “Why are there so many similar names between the Great Lakes region and the Book of Mormon?” This is an easy question to answer. First, it is important to know that many of the names mentioned on Holley’s list are names found in the Bible. The Book of Mormon tells the story of Hebrew people coming to the Americas and basing their society on Biblical writings. It should not surprise anyone that a 500-600 mile region of the eastern United States founded by Protestants would share some Biblical place names. For example, the fact that Jordan, Jerusalem, Noah, Midian, and Boaz are the names of locations in both the Book of Mormon and the eastern United States is not miraculous.

In addition, just because names sound similar doesn’t mean that they are similar, especially since most of the Book of Mormon names on the list have roots in the Bible. I have made a list refuting some of the supposedly similar place names identified by Holley by providing an explanation of their possible Biblical origins.

  1. Moravian Town = Morianton (Alma 51:26)
  • These names look sort of similar (even though Holley placed it in the wrong location). The name “Morianton,” however, clearly has its roots in names in the Bible such as “Moriah” (2 Chronicles 3:1) and names with the ending “-ton” such as “Eshton” (1 Chronicles 4:12), which is a much stronger correlation than “Moravian Town.” In addition, there are Book of Mormon names similar to Morianton such as “Corianton” (Alma 39) and “Gadianton” (4 Nephi 1:42). I doubt Joseph Smith based these names on cities named “Coravian Town” and “Gadavian Town.”

2. Shiloh = Shilom (Mosiah 10:8)

  • First off, Shiloh is a name found frequently in the Bible (Judges 21:12). In addition, the Bible has many derivations of the name Shiloh such as “Shelomith” (1 Chronicles 26:28), “Shallum” (Ezra 7:2), “Shiloni” (Nehemiah 11:5), “Shelemiah” (Nehemiah 3:30), and “Shillem” (Numbers 26:49). “Shilom” looks like a perfectly suitable derivation of a Biblical name.

3. Jacobsburg = Jacobugath (3 Nephi 9:9)

  • Other than the fact that “Jacobsburg” on Holley’s map isn’t anywhere near where the Book of Mormon describes “Jacobugath,” these names do sound similar. However, the name Jacobugath has more in common with the Bible than it does with the name Jacobsburg. It is likely a combination of the Biblical names “Jacob” (Genesis 29:1)–who founded the city–and “Gath” (2 Chronicles 11:8); not a creative derivation of Jacobsburg.

4. Sherbrooke = Shurr (Ether 14:28)

  • Like so many of the names on Holley’s list, “Shur” is a name found in the Bible (1 Samuel 15:7) and is much more similar to “Shurr” than Sherbrooke. I doubt Joseph Smith or Solomon Spaulding saw the name Sherbrooke and decided to derive the name “Shurr” instead of simply using the Bible as its source.

5. Hellam = Helam (Mosiah 23:19)

  • Once again, “Helam” (2 Samuel 10:16) is a name found in the Bible and the Book of Mormon contains its original spelling. There would be no reason to use the town of “Hellam” as a source for the location.

6. Rama = Ramah (Ether 15:11) 

  • “Ramah” (1 Kings 15:17) is found many times in the Bible, and the Book of Mormon contains the correct spelling.

7. Ripple Lake = Waters of Ripliancum (Ether 15:8)

  • This might be a compelling similarity if “Ripliancum” didn’t have roots in the Bible and other Book of Mormon names. For example, the name “Riplah” (Alma 43:31) is a name found in the Book of Mormon, which contains the suspect letters “Ripl” which sounds like “Ripple.” Was this name also based on “Ripple Lake?” No, because it is a variation on the Biblical name “Riblah” (Numbers 34:11). Another name in the Book of Mormon is “Riplakish” (Ether 10:4), which is a combination of “Riplah” and “Kish” (1 Samuel 14:51) or “Riphath” (1 Chronicles 1:6) and “Lachish” (Joshua 10:3). Ripliancum makes more sense as a derivation of “Riblah” and the Book of Mormon names “Moriancumer” (Ether 2:13) or “Teancum” (Alma 52:1) rather than a mindless variation on “Ripple Lake.”

8. Minoa = Minon (Alma 2:24)

  • This is an obscure comparison considering the land of “Minon” is only named once in the Book of Mormon. “Minon” is likely a derivation of “Pinon” (1 Chronicles 1:52), or “Minnith” (Ezekiel 26:17) and any other of the hundreds of Biblical names that end in “-on” such as “Maon” (1 Chronicles 2:45). “Manoah” (Judges 13:2) is also a Biblical name which sounds more similar to “Minoa” than does “Minon.”

9. Monroe = Moroni (Moroni 1:1)

  • This similarity Holley identifies is quite a stretch. To me, it makes much more sense to see how the name “Moroni” has its roots in Biblical names such as “Moriah” (2 Chronicles 3:1) or “Beth-horon” (Joshua 16:3), and names like “Hachmoni” (1 Chronicles 27:32), “Shiloni” (Nehemiah 11:5), and “Gideoni” (Numbers 10:24).

10. Lehigh = Lehi (1 Nephi 1:5)

  • The actual name “Lehi” is found in the Bible (Judges 15:14).

11. Tecumseh/Tenecum = Teancum (Alma 52:1)

  • In my opinion, Teancum is one of the more difficult names in the Book of Mormon for which to identify a Biblical correlate, only second to the name “Gimgimno” (3 Nephi 9:8). It seems, however, that Teancum may have some relation to the Biblical name “Teman” (Genesis 36:11) and any of the other Book of Mormon names with the letters “c-u-m” such as “Ripliancum,” “Moriancumer,” “Cumorah,” or “Cumeni” [which seems to be a derivation of names like “Cush” (1 Chronicles 1:8) and “Temeni” (1 Chronicles 4:6)].

12. Antioch = Ani-Anti (Alma 21:11)   

  • “Antioch” is a name found frequently in the New Testament (Acts 11:19). To suggest that “Ani-Anti” was based off of a location named “Antioch” in the Great Lakes region falls apart when considering the root “Anti” is used in other Biblical names (see “Antipas” in Revelation 2:13) and many times in the Book of Mormon for locations such as “Antionum” (Alma 31:3), city of Antiparah” (Alma 57:1), “mount Antipas” (Alma 47:7), the “city of Manti” (Alma 58:1), and for character names such as “Antionah” (Alma 12:20), “Anti-Nephi-Lehi” (Alma 27:2) and “Antipus” (Alma 56:9). An “antion” (Alma 11:19) is also a Nephite monetary measurement. The “Mantua = Manti” connection is also explained with this line of reasoning.

13. Morin = Moron (Ether 7:5)

  • Both of these names are similar to Biblical names such as “Beth-horon” (Joshua 16:3) “Merom” (Joshua 11:5), and “Shimron-meron” (Joshua 12:20). There is nothing special about these two names being similar that can’t be explained by appealing to the Bible.

14. Sodom = Sidom (Alma 15:1)

  • Both “Sodom” (Genesis 19:1/2 Nephi 23:19) and “Sidon” (Genesis 10:15/Alma 43:22) are found in the Bible and Book of Mormon. The fact that there is a place in the Book of Mormon called “Sidom,” which looks like a combination of both of these names, should not be surprising to anyone.

15. Kishkiminetas = Kishkumen (Helaman 2:3)

  • “Kish” is a name found many times in the Bible (1 Samuel 9:1). “Kishkumen” is most likely a combination of the name “Kish” and Book of Mormon names such as “Kumen,” “Kumenonhi,” (3 Nephi 19:4), or “Cumeni” (Alma 57:7) [a derivation of names like “Cush” (1 Chronicles 1:8) and “Temeni” (1 Chronicles 4:6)].

16. St. Agathe = Ogath (Ether 15:10)

  • Even though “St. Agathe” wasn’t founded until after the Book of Mormon was published, I thought I would go ahead and talk about it anyway. The name “Ogath” is most likely a combination of the name “Gath” (2 Chronicles 11:8) and similar sounding names like “Oboth” (Numbers 33:43).

17. Oneida = Onidah (Alma 47:5)

  • The name “Onidah” has its “oni” roots in names like “Hachmoni” (1 Chronicles 27:32), “Shiloni” (Nehemiah 11:5), and “Gideoni” (Numbers 10:24), while it has its “dah” roots in names like “Adah” (Genesis 36:2). The Book of Mormon also contains the city “Onihah” (3 Nephi 9:7).

18. Antrim = Antum (Mormon 1:3)

  • “Antum” is derived from Book of Mormon names like “Coriantumr” (Ether 14:3), “Irreantum” (1 Nephi 17:5), “Seantum” (Helaman 9:26), and “Moriantum” (Moroni 9:9). It is not very plausible that Joseph Smith heard the name “Antrim,” changed it to “Antum,” and then used it as a root word for other location/character names as well. See the commentary on “Antioch = Ani-Anti” as well.

19. Comoros = Cumorah (Mormon 6:2)

  • While not on Vernal Holley’s list, Runnells argues that it is an impossible coincidence that there is an island nation off the coast of Mozambique called “Comoros” “Comore,” “Comorra,” or “Camora” (depending on who you ask) and had a settlement called “Moroni” or “Meroni” which today is its capital city. Cumorah, however, has its roots in the Bible, sounding similar to “Gomorrah” (Genesis 14:2) or “Deborah” (Judges 4:4) with the inserted letters “cu” much like other Book of Mormon names such as “Ripliancum,” “Teancum,” and “Cumeni.” The potential origin of the name Moroni has already been discussed.

Conclusion

After seeing these comparisons, what we are left with is a map of the eastern United States that has some names that sound a little similar to very obscure Book of Mormon locations (that are in the wrong place) that share more in common with the Bible than the eastern U.S. It is not difficult to find similarities in names if one looks hard enough. If Joseph Smith lived in southern California, critics would argue that “Riverside” sounds like the “River Sidon,” that “Tonner Canyon” sounds like “Teomner,” that “Monrovia” sounds like “Moronihah,” that “Moreno Street” look like “Moroni,” and that “Corona” sounds like “Cumorah” (not to mention I drove in my Toyota “Tacoma” which sounds like “Teancum”).