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 well over 800 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 most. 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.

How Joseph Smith faked the Book of Mormon (A Satirical Essay)

The creation of the Book of Mormon was a simple process. First, Sidney Rigdon was motivated to start a new religion and decided to base this new religion’s authoritative text on a historical fiction manuscript about the ancient Americas entitled “The Book of Mormon” written by Solomon Spaulding (died in 1816) who had a similar writing style to his classmate Ethan Smith (who lived in the same town as Oliver Cowdery) who wrote “View of the Hebrews” in 1823 which served as source material for Sidney’s future revisions of the manuscript. Sidney stole the Spaulding manuscript, used “View of the Hebrews,” “the Late War,” “the Golden Pot,” “the Koran,” “the Pilgrim’s Progress,” “the Wonders of Nature,” and many other written works to modify the text and then decided to have someone else print the manuscript and start his new religion for him and so that he could join it later. He sought out Joseph Smith who claimed to see angels, used seer stones, and had been relating stories to his family about the ancient Americas since he was 14.  Sidney convinced Joseph to pretend to be a prophet who could translate ancient gold plates because Sidney decided it would be more believable that the manuscript were produced by a convicted con-man rather than if it were to come through him and he added Joseph’s stories of gold plates and seer stones into the Spaulding manuscript to make it consistent with Joseph’s hokey back-story. Joseph then convinced his family that he had found gold plates and would translate them by hiring the village idiot Martin Harris to write down what Joseph dictated from the manuscript by putting a rock in a hat, cutting a hole in the hat so he could see through and then hid the modified 500+ page Spaulding manuscript between his legs or under a table so he could dictate 30 words at a time and pretend like he was receiving visions from a magic rock because this would be the best way to prove to the world he was a prophet. Harris then lost 116 pages of the manuscript and Joseph couldn’t reproduce them because he would burn a page of the Spaulding manuscript every time he finished dictating a page so that no one would be able to trace the Book of Mormon to the original source. Joseph then waited a year for Sidney to write a new beginning to the Book of Mormon based on the manuscript that he stole from Spaulding who was classmates with Ethan Smith who wrote “View of the Hebrews” who lived in the same town as Oliver Cowdery who Sidney and Joseph eventually sought out to be a replacement scribe because of his knowledge of Ethan Smith who was the source for Sidney’s modifications (and Joseph had also checked out “View of the Hebrews” from his local library). Joseph then began the process of dictating again but not before Joseph further modified the manuscript so it couldn’t be traced back to someone smart like Sydney or Spaulding, so he included grammatical errors such as a superfluous “a” before verbs (i.e., “he was a walking”) and incorrectly using “was” for plural subjects (i.e., “they was”) and also included stories such as the vision of the tree of life which matches a dream had by Joseph Smith Sr. and 19th century treasure-seeker folklore about evil spirits who could move buried treasures to avoid detection. After dictating the Book of Mormon in front of dozens of witnesses (who claimed he had no manuscripts) from a hat with a hole in it to read a manuscript hidden under a table or between his legs which he had modified from a manuscript written by Spaulding who was influenced by his classmate Ethan Smith and which was revised by Sidney, Joseph, and Oliver, Joseph found eight or nine more village idiots to use the psychological concept of “the power of suggestion” to convince them they saw gold plates that never existed. Joseph then tried to betray Sidney by selling the copyright for money, but when no one would buy it he decided to print it and go back to Sidney’s original plan and started his own church which Sidney joined 9 months later and gave Sidney power as his adviser so Sidney could eventually obtain his goal of running the church after Joseph was inevitably martyred.

(Yes, this essay is critical of the many theories critics have come up with to explain the origin of the Book of Mormon)

Some “textual errors” in the Book of Mormon also found in the Bible

The Book of Mormon is often criticized as being full of grammatical errors that have been changed over the years. What is rarely acknowledged, however, is that many of the “errors” are also found in the King James version of the Bible. The following compares changes made from the first edition of the Book of Mormon to the 1981 edition.

  1. An extra “for” which was deleted in later editions of the Book of Mormon

a. “and their precious things, for to perish in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 2:11)

b. “the daughters of the Lamanites did gather themselves together for to sing” (Mosiah 20:1)

c. “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come” (Matthew 11:14)

d. “he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16)

e. “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him” (Luke 15:1)

f. “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31) (See also Acts 8:27/11:2/12:25/15:6/16:4/17:15/20:1/22:5/Romans 13:6/II Corinthians 2:9/Psalm 75:1)

2.  A superfluous “a” which was deleted 

a. “As I was a journeying to see a very near kindred” (Alma 10:7)

b. “and there he found Muloki a preaching the word unto them” (Alma 21:11)

c. “For he had only one daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying” (Luke 8:42)

d. “thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee” (Psalm 73:27)

e. “in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing” (I Peter 3:20)

3. A superfluous “that” which was deleted

a. “wherefore, after that I have abridged the record of my father” (1 Nephi 1:17)

b. “because that he was a visionary man” (1 Nephi 2:11)

c. “And after that the angel had spoken unto us, he departed.” (1 Nephi 3:31)

d. “Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments” (Acts 1:2)

e. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8)

f. “And Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak” (Acts 24:10)

4. Changing “exceeding” to “exceedingly”

a. “I, Nephi, being exceeding young” (1 Nephi 2:16)

b. “when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceeding great” (1 Nephi 3:25)

c. “and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine” (1 Nephi 4:9)

d. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth” (Matthew 2:16)

e. “And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow” (Mark 9:3)

f. “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death” (Mark 14:34)

5. Switching past tense with present tense

a. “And I saith unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things” (1 Nephi 17:50)

b. “he was also wroth; and he saith: Who is Abinadi” (Mosiah 11:27)

c. “And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream” (Matthew 2:13)

d. “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city” (Matthew 4:5)

e. “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them” (Mark 2:17)

6. Changing “which” to “who” and “whom”

a. “pointing their fingers towards those which had come at and were partaking of the fruit” (1 Nephi 8:27)

b. “Behold the twelve disciples of the Lamb, which are chosen to minister unto thy seed” (1 Nephi 12:8)

c. “show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, which are of the house of Israel” (2 Nephi 29:14)

d. “even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)

e. “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question” (Matthew 22:35)

e. “there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death” (Mark 9:1)

Consistencies in Book of Mormon Geography (Part 1)

The Book of Mormon is a work that has strong internal consistency with regards to geography. I have decided to examine the geography of the Book of Mormon to see if any of the geographical locations can serve as evidence supporting the argument that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record translated by the power of God. Here is a random sampling of some of the consistencies that I have found upon examining the ancient American geography described in the Book of Mormon. I have used the 1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon for this examination (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah)

  1. “Go down” to the land of Zarahemla, “go up” to the land of Nephi

It is well established in the Book of Mormon that the Land of Zarahemla (Nephites) is in the northern regions of the land, and that the Land of Nephi (Lamanites) is in the southern region (Alma 22:27-34). I believe that it is a common notion that when describing a land that is northward, the words “up” or “above” the southern land would be used to describe its location. However, the Book of Mormon does not use this language, but rather always refers to traveling to the Land of Nephi as “going up” to the land of Nephi, and the land of Zarahemla as “going down” to the land of Zarahemla. This may suggest that the Land of Nephi was a higher elevation than the land of Zarahemla (though the elevation of Zarahemla and Nephi is never mentioned), or it may have some significance since it was the place where they first landed. This phrasing is consistently used throughout the Book of Mormon, suggesting that using phrases such as “went up to the land south” was intentional, yet it is a highly unusual style for most in the modern western world.

Land of Zarahemla:

a)    Alma 27:5 “Let us gather together this people of the Lord, and let us go down to the land of Zarahemla to our brethren the Nephites, and flee out of the hands of our enemies, that we be not destroyed.

b)    Alma 56:25 “Neither durst they march down against the city of Zarahemla.”

c)     Alma 51:11 “Amalickiah had gathered together a wonderfully great army, insomuch that he feared not to come down to the land of Zarahemla.

d)    Alma 53:10 “they had been converted unto the Lord; and they had been brought down into the land of Zarahemla…

e)    Alma 53:12 “And for this cause they were brought down into the land of Zarahemla…”

f)     Alma 56:25 “Neither durst they march down against the city of Zarahemla; neither durst they cross the head of Sidon, over to the city of Nephihah.”

g)    Alma 57:16 “we did resolve to send them down to the land of Zarahemla…

h)    Alma 57:28 “they had started to go down to the land of Zarahemla with.”

i)     Alma 57:29 “Behold, we did start to go down to the land of Zarahemla.

j)     Helaman 6:4 “And it came to pass that many of the Lamanites did come down into the land of Zarahemla…

Land of Nephi:

a)     Mosiah 28:1 “and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard…”

b)     Alma 22:30-31 “And they came from there up into the south wilderness. Thus the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful”

c)    Alma 29:14 “because of the success of my brethren, who have been up to the land of Nephi.”

d)     Alma 47:1 “he had taken those who went with him, and went up in the land of Nephi among the Lamanites…”

e)    Alma 56:3 “two thousand of the sons of those men whom Ammon brought down out of the land of Nephi…

  1. The Destruction of Ammonihah

The City of Ammonihah is destroyed by the Lamanites in 81 B.C. (Alma 16:11/p. 249). Those who are killed are buried in shallow graves. It states in verse 11 “And now so great was the scent thereof that the people did not go in to possess the land for many years.”

In Alma 49:1-2 (p. 330) it states “Lamanites were seen approaching towards the land of Ammonihah. And behold, the city had been rebuilt…” by Moroni, and this occurred in 72 B.C., 9 years after the destruction of those in Ammonihah. The rebuilding of Ammonihah is consistent with the fact that it was uninhabitable for a number of years because of the scent of the dead. This is a consistency that is 83 pages apart.

  1. The City of Moroni sinks into the ocean

The city of Moroni is built by the seashore, as it states in Alma 62:32 “And it came to pass that the Nephites began the foundation of a city; and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites” (p. 365/Alma 62:32).

The city of Moroni, which is by the east seashore, sinks into the ocean when Christ is killed in 33 A.D. as it states in 3 Nephi 8:9 (p. 422) “And the city of Moroni did sink into the depths of the sea…” The destruction of the city of Moroni in 33 A.D. is consistent with its geographical location.

  1. The City of Noah is close to Ammonihah

After the Lamanites destroy the people of Ammonihah, they also attack some of the people “around the borders of Noah” (Alma 16:3/p. 248).

Alma 49:11-12 references the fact that these cities are located close together and that the Lamanites had attacked them previously. In Alma 49:11, when the Lamanites decide again to attack the city of Ammonihah nearly ten years after they had so easily destroyed it, they find that it has been rebuilt by the Nephites to be a stronghold. The Lamanites then flee from the city of Ammonihah because it has been fortified, and decide to attack the city of Noah, which they had also easily attacked in the past (Alma 49:11/p. 331). When the Lamanites arrive in the land of Noah, they are surprised to see that is has also been fortified (Alma 49:14/p. 331). This is an internal consistency in that the city of Noah and the city of Ammonihah are in close proximity, and in the past were relatively easy targets for the Lamanites.

  1. Zarahemla was destroyed by fire

In Helaman 13:13 (p. 398), Samuel the Lamanite declares that the voice of the Lord told him “I would cause that fire should come down out of heaven and destroy it [Zarahemla]. But behold, it is for the righteous’ sake that it is spared.”

In 3 Nephi 8:8 (p. 422), after the death of the Savior and as a sign of his death, it states: “And the city of Zarahemla did take fire.” The word of the Lord is fulfilled when there are no more righteous in the land.

  1. City of Nephihah/Lehi/Morianton/Gid/Mulek/Moroni

There is geographical consistency in the chapters beginning in Alma 50:13 to Helaman 5:15. The cities mentioned in Alma 51:26 are on the eastern seashore, and the armies of the Lamanites take control of them one at a time, suggesting they may have followed a highway.

The following are scriptures showing how the cities mentioned above are in close proximity to each other and are along the eastern seashore:

  1. “And they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea” (Alma 50:13)
  2. “began a foundation for a city between the city of Moroni and the city of Aaron…called the name of the city, or land, Nephihah.” (Alma 50:14)
  3. “And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north, one in a particular manner which they called Lehi, which was in the north by the borders of the seashore” (Alma 50:15)
  4. “The city of Nephihah, and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore.” (Alma 51:26)
  5. “The people of Nephihah, who were gathered together from the city of Moroni and the city of Lehi and the city of Morianton, were attacked by the Lamanites.” (Alma 59:5-6)

Those who live in Moroni, Lehi, Morianton, and Melek, are compelled to flea to Nephihah (Alma 59:5-6/Alma 51:24). Nephihah is then attacked. The prisoners of the Nephites are kept in the city of Gid, and Moroni gets the prisoners back by strategem (Alma 55:7) In Alma 62:30, Moroni regains the land of Nephihah and goes on to regain the land of Lehi. Afterwards, they then attack the Lamanites, who were one great army, in the land of Moroni (Alma 62:32). Moroni, Lehi, and Teancum destroy the Lamanites and chase them out of the land (Alma 62:38). After the wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites, the prophets Nephi and Lehi preach to those in Bountiful, then go to Gid, and then go to Mulek, both of which were on the line of cities on the east seashore mentioned in Alma 51:26 (Helaman 5:15). These consistencies suggest that the Book of Mormon follows a strict geographical structure that could not be made up from one’s head as one went along dictating the book. A detailed map would have been required to maintain the consistency.

An Argument in Favor of the Divinity of the Book of Mormon Translation (Part II)

In part II of this work I will focus on the Book of Ether and how it exists as evidence that the Book of Mormon was not made up while it was dictated, and its complexity suggests that more than a simple genealogical outline would be necessary to accomplish the task of dictating the Book of Ether. I will be using the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon in this examination (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA 1994). The evidence from the Book of Ether, as well as evidence analyzed in Part I and in future installments of this series, will help support the likelihood that Joseph Smith did in fact translate the Book of Mormon from an ancient record.

1. THE GENEALOGY OF ETHER: The Book of Ether follows the history of a people (known as the Jaredites) who left for the Americas soon after the corrupting of languages at the Tower of Babel. Moroni abridges this book from 24 plates hidden by the prophet Ether, found by King Limhi, the son of King Noah. In Ether 1:6-32, Moroni gives the genealogy of Ether, the last Prophet among the Jaredites, all the way back to Jared, the first to arrive to the Americas after the Tower of Babel. Moroni gives 30 names for the genealogy, stating simply:

He that wrote this record was Ether, and he was a descendant of Coriantor. Coriantor was the son of Moron. And Moron was the son of Ethem. And Ethem was the son of Ahah. And Ahah was the son of Seth. And Seth was the son of Shiblon. And Shiblon was the son of Com. And Com was the son of Coriantum. And Coriantum was the son of Amnigaddah. And Amnigaddah was the son of Aaron. And Aaron was a descendant of Heth, who was the son of Hearthom. And Hearthom was the son of Lib. And Lib was the son of Kish. And Kish was the son of Corom. And Corom was the son of Levi. And Levi was the son of Kim. And Kim was the son of Morianton. And Morianton was a descendant of Riplakish. And Riplakish was the son of Shez. And Shez was the son of Heth. And Heth was the son of Com. And Com was the son of Coriantum. And Coriantum was the son of Emer. And Emer was the son of Omer. And Omer was the son of Shule. And Shule was the son of Kib. And Kib was the son of Orihah, who was the son of Jared.” (Ether 1:6-32).

The Book of Ether then goes on to describe the history and wars of the Jaredites, and it follows this exact genealogy in reverse order, starting with Jared and then ending with Ether.

Ether 6:14 “And Jared had four sons; and they were called Jacom, and Gilgah, and Mahah, and Orihah.”

Ether 7:3 “And it came to pass that he also begat Kib in his old age. And it came to pass that Kib reigned in his stead; and Kib begat Corihor.”

Ether 7:7 “nevertheless, Kib begat Shule in his old age, while he was yet in captivity.”

Ether 8:1 “And it came to pass that he begat Omer, and Omer reigned in his stead. And Omer begat Jared; and Jared begat sons and daughters.

Ether 9:14 “And it came to pass that Omer began to be old; nevertheless, in his old age he begat Emer; and he appointed Emer to be king to reign in his stead.”

Ether 9:21 “And Emer did execute judgment in righteousness all his days, and he begat many sons and daughters; and he begat Coriantum, and he anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead.”

Ether 9:25 “And it came to pass that he begat Com, and Com reigned in his stead; and he reigned forty and nine years, and he begat Heth; and he also begat other sons and daughters.

Ether 10:1 “And it came to pass that Shez, who was a descendant of Heth-for Heth had perished by the famine and all his household save it were Shez…

Ether 10:4 “And Shez did live to an exceedingly old age; and he begat Riplakish.”

Ether 10:9 “And it came to pass after the space of many years, Morianton (he being a descendant of Riplakish)…”

Ether 10:13 “And Morianton did live to an exceedingly great age, and then he begat Kim; and Kim did reign in the stead of his father.”

Ether 10:14 “And he begat sons and daughters in captivity, and in his old age he begat Levi

Ether 10:16 “and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Corom, whom he anointed king in his stead.

Ether 10:17 “and after he had seen many days he did pass away, even like unto the rest of the earth; and Kish reigned in his stead.

Ether 10:18 “And it came to pass that Kish passed away also, and Lib reigned in his stead.

Ether 10:29 “And it came to pass that Lib did live many years, and begat sons and daughters; and he also begat Hearthom.

Ether 10:31 “And he begat Heth, and Heth lived in captivity all his days. And Heth begat Aaron, and Aaron dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Amnigaddah, and Amnigaddah also dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Coriantum, and Coriantum dwelt in captivity all his days; and he begat Com.

Ether 11:4 “And he lived to a good old age, and begat Shiblom” (there seems to be an error here, as the genealogy in Ether 1 says “Shiblon.” This is most likely an error made in the original writing or the printer’s manuscript. This error was not corrected in the 1981 edition.

Ether 11:9 “And it came to pass that Shiblom was slain, and Seth was brought into captivity…”

Ether 11:10 “And it came to pass that Ahah, his son, did obtain the kingdom…”

Ether 11:11 “And Ethem, being a descendant of Ahah, did obtain the kingdom.”

Ether 11:14 “And it came to pass that Ethem did execute judgment in wickedness all his days; and he begat Moron.”

Ether 11:18 “Moron dwelt in captivity all the remainder of his days; and he begat Coriantor.”

Ether 11:23 “And it came to pass that Coriantor begat Ether, and he died, having dwelt in captivity all his days.

In addition to following the genealogy given in Ether 1, the Book of Ether speaks of many other sons and descendants of that are not found in the genealogy of Ether 1. This only adds to the complexity of an already complex family line. Not only does it write the history of a list of 30 people in reverse chronology, but he also includes the descendants and sons/daughters of these individuals as well. For example, after Orihah begat Kib, Kib begat Corihor (Ether 7:3). Corihor is not mentioned in the original genealogy, but he plays a significant part in the chapter as he overthrows his father, who then has a son named Shule (part of the genealogy of Ether 1) while in captivity (Ether7:7). The writer then goes on to describe the genealogy of Corihor, who is overthrown by Shule (Ether 7:9), but has a son named Noah who rebels with his brother Cohor (Ether 7:15). Noah is killed and then the son of Noah, whose name is Cohor, takes over part of the kingdom (Ether 7:20). Cohor is slain, and his son Nimrod gives up the kingdom to Shule (Ether 7:21-22).

These multiple story-lines  continue in Ether 8 when Shule begat Omer (part of Ether’s genealogy) and Omer begat Jared (not part of the genealogy) (Ether 8:1). Omer has two sons named Esrom and Coriantumr, who take back the kingdom (Ether 8:4-6). Akish, the son of Kimnor, then plots with Jared to killer Omer (Ether 8:10-14). Omer escapes, then Akish kills Jared and takes over the kingdom (Ether 9:3-5). Then Akish kills his son, and his brother flees with others to Omer, and Akish gives battle to his sons (Ether 9:7-13). Omer is restored to the throne, and then he has a son named Emer, finally reaching the next in the line of Ether’s ancestors (Ether 9:14). Adding in these story-lines and additional descendants and families not mentioned in Ether 1:6-32 would have confused someone who was making it up as they went along, and would require an extremely detailed and lengthy outline to account for all of the events and the accuracy with which the genealogy is followed in the Book of Ether.

The Book of Ether goes on for roughly 30 pages, and includes the writings of Moroni, the visions of the Brother of Jared, the method used to travel to the Americas, the rise and fall of kings, and the battles that took place in ancient America. In addition, the story of the Book of Ether is referenced in other portions of the Book of Mormon (see Omni 1:21-22/Mosiah 8:7-11/Alma 37:21-32). It would require superhuman ability to recount the genealogy provided in Ether 1:6-32 in reverse order and include separate genealogies, interjections by the narrator, and other story arcs in the manner of translation often mocked by critics. The incredible amount of detail suggests that a complex outline would be required in order to have dictated such a history, in addition to the overall narrative outline found in part I of this series, and the complex writings of Alma 36 and Jacob 5, which I will review in future installments. Since no witnesses saw Joseph with an outline (and if he had the whole story of the Book of Mormon previously written on pages and pages of guiding outlines, why did he need scribes to write his dictation?), it is unlikely that Joseph had such an all-encompassing outline at his disposal while dictating the translation.

An Argument in Favor of the Divinity of the Book of Mormon Translation (Part I)

The following is an examination of the hypothesis that Joseph Smith was able to produce the Book of Mormon by dictating it to his scribes by either making it up as he went along, or by using an outline (which all witnesses say Joseph never had). It is hypothesized that if he were able to use a story outline to produce the Book of Mormon (while hiding it from his translators), then the production of the Book of Mormon would be a plausible undertaking. In this post and in subsequent posts, I will attempt to prove this hypothesis false, and in turn giving greater support for the veracity of the Book of Mormon as a divine translation of an ancient record. For Part 1 of this examination, I will look at how the complex meta-narrative makes it unlikely that Joseph dictated the Book of Mormon from his memory, beginning his dictation with the Book of Mosiah after having lost the 116 original first pages of the manuscript (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705384845/Scholars-Corner-The-stolen-chapters-of-Mosiah.html?pg=all). In future posts, I will add upon this first post by suggesting that additional outlines needed for individual books and chapters of the Book of Mormon suggest a level of complexity that is not characteristic of a fraudulent record dictated to scribes without the use of manuscripts.

1. The use of a meta-outline: After Joseph Smith and Martin Harris had the first 116 pages of the original manuscript stolen from them, it is believed by both members of the LDS faith and most critics alike that Joseph Smith resumed his translation from the Book of Mosiah, rather than going back and translating the story from the beginning with 1 Nephi (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705384845/Scholars-Corner-The-stolen-chapters-of-Mosiah.html?pg=all). No doubt it would have been easier for Joseph to go back and rewrite the story from the beginning, especially since the events of the Book of Lehi would have been fresh in his mind. However, it seems that if Joseph did invent the Book of Mormon, then he performed the translation in the most difficult fashion possible by writing the rest of the Book of Mormon from the Book of Mosiah and back-referencing specific events that happened earlier in the narrative. Here are several examples of references from the latter half of the Book of Mormon (Mosiah-Moroni), referencing events in the first half of the Book of Mormon (1st Nephi-Words of Mormon) that had not yet been written. The number and detail of the references suggest that Joseph did not use his memory from what he translated of the 116 pages to reference in the latter half of the Book of Mormon, and providing detailed enough outlines would have been difficult to both produce and hide from his scribes.

a) THE VISION OF LEHI AND ALMA: Since Alma 36 was written by Joseph and Oliver before 1 Nephi 1, it would be unusual to have Joseph have Alma reference an exact quote from the prophet Lehi found in 1 Nephi 1 had Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Mormon. Alma, however, in telling the story of his repentance, makes a specific reference to 1 Nephi 1.

Alma states: “Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul to long to be there” (Alma 36:22).

Nephi, in abridging the account of his father Lehi, states: “And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God” (1 Nephi 1:8).

These two quotes are found nearly 234 pages apart if compared chronologically to the times they were translated.

b) THE PROPHECY OF THE BRASS PLATES: The content of the brass plates, as well as the prophecies surrounding their purpose are consistently found throughout the Book of Mormon. The prophet Alma references the prophecies made surrounding the purpose and the preservation of the brass plates found in material that was not translated by Joseph until after he had already referenced it:

Nephi states: “And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers” (1 Nephi 5:14)

And these plates of brass, which contain these engravings, which have the records of the holy scriptures upon them, which have the genealogy of our forefathers, even from the beginning” (Alma 37:3).

And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed-That these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed”  (1 Nephi 5:17-18)

Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon” (Alma 37:4)

Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time” (1 Nephi 5:19)

And now behold, if they are kept they must retain their brightness; yea, and also shall all the plates which do contain that which is holy writ” (Alma 37:35)

c) THE LIAHONA: Here is sacred object that was used by Lehi and his family to navigate the more fertile parts of the wilderness while they traveled from Jerusalem to the promised land. It is also interesting to note that the term “Liahona” is never used to name the “ball, or director” until Alma 37:38. The passage suggests that the word Liahona means compass. The language by this time may have been significantly altered by the Nephites, so Alma needs to clarify that the word “compass” was different to Lehi (between 600 B.C. and 580 B.C.) than it was to the people during Alma’s time (73 B.C.)

And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness” (1 Nephi 16:10)

And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness” (Alma 37:39)

And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director-or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it” (Alma 37:38)

And it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work” (1 Nephi 18:12)

And the ball or director, which led our fathers through the wilderness, which was prepared by he hand of the Lord that thereby they might be led, every one according to the heed and diligence which they gave unto him” (Mosiah 1:16)

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them” (1 Nephi 16:28)

d) CORIANTUMR AND THE BOOK OF ETHER:

The following are references to characters, events and prophecies found in the first half of the Book of Mormon (The Book of Omni) that were mentioned in the latter-half of the Book of Mormon (the Book of Ether).

And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it; and he did interpret the engravings by the gift and power of God. And they gave an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people. And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons. It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people; and the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward” (Omni 1:20-22)

Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr” (Ether 13:21)

e) ZORAM (AND ZORAMITES, JACOBITES, JOSEPHITES): References to the origin of Zoram as well as the use of the name “Zoramites,” “Josephites”, etc.

I am Ammoron, and a descendant of Zoram, whom your fathers pressed and brought out of Jerusalem” (Alma 54:23)

And it came to pass that Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake. Now Zoram was the name of the servant; and he promised that he would go down into the wilderness unto our father. Yea, and he also made an oath unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth” (1 Nephi 4:35)

Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three disciples of Jesus who should tarry) were called Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites” (4 Nephi 1:37)

And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites…” (4 Nephi 1:39)

Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites” (Jacob 1:13)

f) THE SWORD OF LAMAN: Another object that is mentioned briefly in the latter half of the Book of Mormon, but then has its origin revealed in the first half, which was translated last.

And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us” (2 Nephi 5:14)

and also the plates of Nephi: and also, the sword of Laban, and the ball or director…” (Mosiah 1:16)

g) ZARAHEMLA AND THE MULEKITES: There is a lot of significant material found in the following passages. First, the people of Mosiah, upon fleeing from the land of Nephi, find the people of Zarahemla, who were descendants of Mulek, a son of King Zedekiah. These people lived northward of the original landing of Lehi. There is remarkable consistency found throughout the Book of Mormon of the identity of the people of Zarahemla, the identity of Mulek, and the location of which they landed.

and they were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla. And they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla…Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon” (Omni 1:13-15)

My son, I would that ye should make a proclamation throughout all this land among all this people, or the people of Zarahemla, and the people of Mosiah who dwell in the land, that thereby they may be gathered together…” (Mosiah 1:10)

Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those that were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness” (Mosiah 25:2)

And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of who bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing” (Alma 22:30)

Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was callled Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah, for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10)

And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem?” (Helaman 8:21)

h) GEOGRAPHY: It is remarkable that the geography of the Book of Mormon is so well-established, especially since the initial translation of the latter half of the Book of Mormon (Book of Mosiah) begins after the Nephites have already left the land of Nephi and merged with those of the land of Zarahemla, which was northward. In Mosiah 7 the people decide to travel back to the land of Nephi to see what happened to those who traveled there under the command of Zeniff.

Land of Nephi:

And my people would that we should call the name of the place Nephi; wherefore, we did call it Nephi” (2 Nephi 5:8, after separating from the Lamanites)

“Mosiah, who was made king over the land of Zarahemla; for behold, he being warned of the Lord that he should flee out of the land of Nephi, and as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord…“(Omni 1:12)

And Ammon took three of his brethren, and their names were Amaleki, Helem, and Hem, and they went down into the land of Nephi” (Mosiah 7:6)

Land of Zarahemla/Land Northward:

And they were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla” (Omni 1:14)

And the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward” (Omni 1:22)

And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing” (Alma 22:30)

Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10) This may also suggest that the original place of landing by the Nephites was called the Land of Lehi, then after the death of Lehi and the separation of the Nephites and the Lamanites, the people named the land Nephi, after Nephi, their current leader (see Alma 8:7)

i) SEED OF JOSEPH: 

Behold, we are a remnant of the seed of Jacob, yea, we are a remnant of the seed of Joseph, whose coat was rent by his brethren into many pieces” (Alma 46:23)

And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt…” (1 Nephi 5:14)

These are just a few examples of the narrative consistency between the latter portion of the Book of Mormon (Mosiah-Moroni) and the first portion (1 Nephi-Words of Mormon). These suggest a detailed and well-thought narrative was made in order to write the Book of Mormon half-way into the narrative and then back-reference events and quotes that had not yet been written. Of course, I believe that this provides evidence that the Book of Mormon was a divine translation of an ancient record.