Book of Mormon

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
4,624
Portugal
#1
Some years ago, I received at my home, mainly because I am curious, two young US missionaries from a Mormon church.

They explained to me their religion and gifted me with the “Book of Mormon”.

I gave it a quick look, found the book quite interesting and made some questions about what I considered some historical inconsistencies: the existence of some animals in America, the compass in the Atlantic voyage… etc… questions that later I knew that were recurrent to the Mormons.

I kind of felt sorry for the two youngsters because they were really speechless and leaved my house with a sad face.

Today I was cleaning my shelves and took a quick look to the book again.

For curiosity, why want to question the community, what do you think about the “Book of Mormon”? Whit the fascinating concept of an early Atlantic voyage, and Eastern colonization of the American continent… and so many other curious romantic “concepts”…
 

Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
8,909
The People's Republik of Kalifornia.
#2
Yeah, there's a lot about Mormon beliefs and scripture that I find interesting.

In particular, I'm fascinated by the stories about ancient Israelites sailing to the Americas around 600BC. Some of these folks, the Lamanites and Nephites, supposedly went to war with each other.

I'm only vaguely familiar with the details, maybe someone else can shed some more light on these topics.
 
Feb 2015
365
Outer Deseret
#3
First, I've lived in Utah among the Mormons all my life (and I'm getting as old as rocks these days). I'm not a Mormon myself, but I have made a study of their history and theology.

The Mormon and anti-Mormon blogosphere is large and active. If you really want an answer to your questions, you can find HUGE quantities of information at other web sites.

For the Mormon point of view, you can't beat the official Mormon web site as a place to start.

lds.org

One popular anti-Mormon website that also has links to a lot of others is:

Recovery from Mormonism - the Mormon Church

Mark Twain's description of the Book of Mormon is possibly the best I know:

"Chloroform in print"

Ask a more specific question and I'll give you a more specific answer.
 

Menshevik

Ad Honorem
Dec 2012
8,909
The People's Republik of Kalifornia.
#4
Thanks Porter!

I like your screen name. I read a little bit about Porter Rockwell a while back, I remember thinking that he was kind of badass, something of an outlaw. He probably deserves a thread of his own.

Anyway, do the Mormons believe that the Israelites that came here created towns, cities or monuments? If so, what do the Mormons have to say about their whereabouts?

And how did the Israelites get here, exactly?

And can you tell me about the war that supposedly occurred between the Lamanites and Nephites?
 

Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
#5
I've never read the Book of Mormon, apart from a few little snippets, so I don't have an opinion on it.

Joseph Smith and his first followers were hardly unique for suggesting that Native Americans had originated on the other side of the Atlantic. Columbus himself started that tradition - hence "Indians". In the first half of the 19th Century, fanciful speculation on the origins of the Native peoples was rife in the USA, and often traveled down some odd roads. There were theories, for instance, that the now-extinct Mandan nation was descended from Welsh adventurers, or the Lost Tribes of Israel.

I've seen Mormonism described as the "only American religion", but of course its inspiration is very much rooted in Christianity.

The early history of the LDS Church is an unusual drama. The depths of religious belief in early America are evident in how passionately some people embraced Mormonism, and how virulently mainstream society rejected it - Joseph Smith himself became not only a prophet, but a martyr, courtesy of an angry mob in Illinois.

The Mormons were very ambitious with their missionary activity, not only in the USA, but even in Europe. As early as the 1830s people were converting in Britain. People were enthralled by the rhetoric about a new Zion in the American wilderness, etc. I actually have a book about the "handcart saints" - Mormons, especially new converts from the British Isles and the Eastern Seaboard, who made the journey to Utah with little more than what they could carry, and often suffered great privations.

Brigham Young took charge of the Mormons after Joseph Smith, and he is responsible for their establishment in Utah. He strikes me as a much more cunning and cynical figure than Smith - he could have been a politician on the level of contemporaries like Lincoln and Bismark, had life taken him a different direction.

Young had something of a passive-aggressive battle of wills with the US government throughout the Civil War era. He spent much of the 1850s as the governor of Utah Territory, but he may have been involved in the 1857 slaughter of an American wagon train at Mountain Meadows. While the perpetrators were members of a Mormon militia, it remains a mystery as to what extent the massacre was intended by the leadership of the Church. Eventually a Mormon elder, John D. Lee, was executed in 1877, but many were of the opinion that Brigham Young merely abandoned him as a scapegoat. Ironically Young followed Lee in death by just a few months.

There was actually a brief war between the Mormons and the US government in the aftermath of Mountain Meadows, in which many of the then-big names in the American Army participated. It was a bloodless campaign, however, and it resulted in Young giving up his title as territorial governor, but continuing to lead the Church. This was just a couple years before the Civil War began, so the Army was soon distracted by a much realer and more potent threat.

By the time the Mormons were established in Utah, it seems their acceptance of polygamy was more outrageous to mainstream sensibilities than their theology. Mormon polygamy was widely stereotyped, and its abuses were greatly exaggerated, in the journalism of the era.
 
Feb 2015
365
Outer Deseret
#6
Yeh ... 'ol Port was Joseph Smith's (original founder of Mormons) and Brigham Young's (pioneer leader in Utah) gunslinger. Note the hair in the photo. Port (like Sampson of old) believed that he would never be killed if he didn't cut his hair. Maybe it worked. He died of natural causes. He was undoubtedly the assassin who shot (but failed to kill) Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs.

Anyway ... the Book of Mormon is essentially one long and boring account of a whole civilization that was 'somewhere' in the new world. The civilization was supposed to be founded by Jews from Israel who traveled from Arabia to the new world ... twice. Once in 2500 BC and again around 600 BC. Yes, that means they built some kind of boat and traveled across the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Few details about these voyages are available. Use your imagination.

I use the phrase "somewhere in the new world" because any specific location inevitably runs into some kind of contradiction. Average Mormons will say that the Mayans, Incas or Aztecs were the civilization. Educated Mormons don't fall into that trap and point out that the actual location isn't really specified so they just don't know. Mormons believe that Moroni (one of the Nephites) buried golden plates, the claimed source of the Book of Mormon in the Hill Cumorah. Joseph Smith said that God guided him to the Hill Cumorah in upstate New York where he retrieved these golden plates and translated them into the Book of Mormon. (God took them back again after the translation.) Since the Hill Cumorah is mentioned frequently in the Book of Mormon, that would seem to tie events to a specific location; again creating contradictions. Educated Mormons claim divine intervention was likely to eliminate those contradictions.

If you want to know about a "war" you'll have to be more specific again. The Book of Mormon is one war after another from the first to the last.
 
Feb 2015
365
Outer Deseret
#7
Not a bad summary! The only correction I might suggest is that most people think the founders of the new world civilization traveled across the Indian Ocean and then the Pacific since they started from Arabia. But there are few clues. Some think the earlier voyage (2500 BC) went across the Atlantic, which would then involve a trip around South Africa.
 

athena

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,959
Eugene, Oregon
#8
I am not inclined to believe in magic and I do not believe there ever were spectacles that it would make it possible for someone to translate a foriegn language. The seer stone is no more believable.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Mormon
Accounts vary of the way in which Smith dictated the Book of Mormon. Smith himself implied that he read the plates directly using spectacles prepared for the purpose of translating.[17] Other accounts variously state that he used one or more seer stones placed in a top hat.[18] Both the special spectacles and the seer stone were at times referred to as the "Urim and Thummim".[18] During the translating process itself, Smith sometimes separated himself from his scribe with a blanket between them.[19] Additionally, the plates were not always present during the translating process and, when present, they were always covered up.[20]

Smith's first published description of the plates said that the plates "had the appearance of gold". They were described by Martin Harris, one of Smith's early scribes, as "fastened together in the shape of a book by wires."[21] Smith called the engraved writing on the plates "reformed Egyptian".[22] A portion of the text on the plates was also "sealed" according to his account, so its content was not included in the Book of Mormon.[23]
I find it easier to believe the Spalding–Rigdon theory of Book of Mormon authorship

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spalding–Rigdon_theory_of_Book_of_Mormon_authorship

That would be Spalding attempted to have the book published and it was stolen and used to create the Book of Mormon.

I did attempt to read the Book of Mormon many years ago and could not get past the sexism and racism. As a woman I found the book highly offensive and I can not imagine believing dark skinned people are dark because they angered God and God punished them by turning their skin dark. I think science gives a much better explanation of the differences in our skin colors. I think some beliefs are just too offensive to tolerate.
 
Feb 2015
365
Outer Deseret
#9
I find it easier to believe the Spalding–Rigdon theory of Book of Mormon authorship
It may be easier to believe than Joseph Smith's story, but there are still serious problems with that theory. It was popular a few decades ago, but more recent scholarship discounts it. Mormons actually like it because today, it's a good "straw man" that they can easily beat up. See, for example, Solomon Spaulding and the Book of Mormon - FairMormon

Ethan Smith's "View of the Hebrews" is a much more likely source.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/View_of_the_Hebrews

Official LDS Church historian B. H. Roberts concluded that "View of the Hebrews" had startling similarities to the Book of Mormon in an analysis that has troubled Mormon scholars ever since.
 

athena

Ad Honorem
Jan 2010
4,959
Eugene, Oregon
#10
It may be easier to believe than Joseph Smith's story, but there are still serious problems with that theory. It was popular a few decades ago, but more recent scholarship discounts it. Mormons actually like it because today, it's a good "straw man" that they can easily beat up. See, for example, Solomon Spaulding and the Book of Mormon - FairMormon

Ethan Smith's "View of the Hebrews" is a much more likely source.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/View_of_the_Hebrews

Official LDS Church historian B. H. Roberts concluded that "View of the Hebrews" had startling similarities to the Book of Mormon in an analysis that has troubled Mormon scholars ever since.
I do not care if the Spaulding theory is correct or not. It is just easier to believe, because I don't believe what is written in the Book of Mormon. However, as I look into the matter it is a whole lot more interesting than I expected, because the idea that Native Americans could be Jews is so old and so wide spread.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Lost_Tribes

Some DNA studies have refuted any connection between modern-day ethnic Jews and most of the ethnic groups discussed below as possible Lost Tribe candidates. For example, a recently published study into the genetic origins of Japanese people does not support a genealogical link.[7]
Skipping over the rest of the ethic groups here is what is said of the Native American one.

Native Americans
In 1650, a British divine named Thomas Thorowgood, who was a preacher in Norfolk, published a book entitled Jewes in America or Probabilities that the Americans are of that Race,[64] which he had prepared for the New England missionary society. Tudor Parfitt writes:

The society was active in trying to convert the Indians but suspected that they might be Jews and realized they better be prepared for an arduous task. Thorowgood's tract argued that the native population of North America were descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes.[65]

In 1652 Sir Hamon L'Estrange, an English author writing on topics such as history and theology published an exegetical tract called Americans no Jews, or improbabilities that the Americans are of that Race in response to the tract by Thorowgood. In response to L'Estrange, Thorowgood published a second edition of his book in 1660 with a revised title and included a foreword written by John Eliot, a Puritan missionary to the Indians who had translated the Bible into an Indian language.[66]
My arguement is, the idea that Native Americans could be a lost Jewish tribe is speculation that did not begin with Spaulding or Joseph Smith, however, Smith's Book of Mormon came into a population already prepared to believe such a story. Not only would the readers need to believe Joseph Smith got the information from gold tablets but also that he had magical glasses or a seer stone that enabled him to translate the foriegn language. Also people would have to believe the language of the lost tribe was Egyptian, not Hebrew.

Why would the language be Egyptian? How about at this time people were fascinated by the exotic Egypt and believed this ancient civilization held much lost information. While knowledge of science was thrilling the world these people were not exactly scientific thinkers and history books were still half truth and half mythology. How could anyone believe in spectectles or a seer stone that makes it possible for someone to translate Egyptian into English? Not to mention questioning the reality of angels popping in and out with information written on gold tablets. We all know God himself comes to the person He wants to communicate with and engraves in His message in stone, not on golden tablets, and lets His human messenger carry the stone to the people as proof that the message is from God.
 
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