Anachronisms in the Book of Mormon
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There are a variety of words and phrases in the Book of Mormon that are considered anachronistic—their existence in the text of the Book of Mormon is at odds with known linguistic patterns, archaeological findings, or known historical events.
Each of the anachronisms is a word, phrase, artifact, or other concept that critics, historians, archaeologists, or linguists believe did not exist in the Americas during the time period that the Book of Mormon claims to have been written in.
Latter Day Saint scholars and apologists respond to the anachronisms in several ways.
The list below summarizes the most prominent and problematic anachronisms, as well as perspectives by Mormon apologists, and rebuttals.
- 1 Background
- 2 Historical anachronisms
- 3 Flora and fauna anachronisms
- 4 Technology anachronisms
- 5 Linguistic anachronisms
- 6 Anachronisms apparently perpetuated from the King James translation
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
According to Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon was originally engraved on golden plates, which he received in 1827 from an angel named Moroni, whom Smith identified as a resurrected inhabitant of the American continent. Smith claimed to translate the original text into English, from what the text of the book says is "Reformed Egyptian". The book itself was published in 1830.
The Book of Mormon is claimed to represent the history of some part of the Americas, and its inhabitants, from c. 2500 BC to 400 AD, thus putting it within the pre-Columbian era.
Critics claim that its origin lies firmly in the 19th century, and that Smith created the book with the resources available to him, including the King James Version of the Bible.
Unlike the Bible, no manuscripts in the supposed original language of the Book of Mormon are known to exist. No Reformed Egyptian manuscripts or plates have ever been excavated by archaeologists. Critics and supporters disagree as to whether other archaeological findings support or disprove the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Some Mormon archaeologists and researchers claim various archaeological findings such as place names, and ruins of the Inca, Maya, Olmec, and other ancient American and Old World civilizations as giving credence to the Book of Mormon record.
Book of Mormon prophets in the Americas quote chapters 48–54 of the Book of Isaiah after having left the Jerusalem area around 600 BC. Since Isaiah died around 698 BC, under traditional biblical belief, there would be no conflict. However, recently, many Biblical scholars assert that these chapters were not written by Isaiah, but rather, by one or more other people during the Babylonian captivity sometime between 586 and 538 BC (between 14 and 82 years after it could have been known to Lehi and his family).
Baptism is mentioned as a ritual that is taught and performed among the Nephite civilization, with its first mention being taught by Nephi between 559 and 545 BC. However, baptism as a ritual as described in the Book of Mormon (i.e., as a one time cleansing ritual that also grants membership to the church) is widely believed to be unknown until its institution in early Christianity many hundreds of years after the practice was ostensibly taught and practiced as related in the Book of Mormon. The first known mention of baptism in this form is by John the Baptist. A similar incarnation of the practice of baptism was practiced by the Jewish group the Essenes between the 2nd century BC and the first century AD.
Flora and fauna anachronisms
Horses are mentioned fourteen times in the Book of Mormon, and are portrayed as an integral part of the cultures described. There is no evidence that horses existed on the American continent during the 2500–3000 year history of the Book of Mormon (2500 BC–400 AD). Horses evolved in North America, but are believed to have become extinct on the American continent at the end of the Pleistocene. Horses did not reappear in the Americas until the Spaniards brought them from Europe. They were brought to the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus in 1493, and to the American continent by Cortés in 1519.
FARMS apologist Robert R. Bennett stated that as a comparison, the famed horses of the Huns did not leave an archeological trace yet numbered in the thousands. Research shows that archaeological remains of horses have been found at the Huns site of Boroo Gol, Mankhan as well as at various grave sites directly preceding the Huns.
Bennett also points out the limited evidence of lions in Palestine:
"The biblical narrative mentions lions, yet it was not until very recently that the only other evidence for lions in Palestine was pictographic or literary. Before the announcement in a 1988 publication of two bone samples, there was no archaeological evidence to confirm the existence of lions in that region."
Critics argue that this rebuttal is not applicable since pictographic and literary evidence of horses in the New World (outside of the Book of Mormon) is unknown.
Elephants are mentioned twice in a single verse in the Book of Ether. Mastodons and mammoths lived in the New World during the Pleistocene; however, as with the prehistoric horse, the fossil record indicates that they became extinct along with most of the megafauna towards the end of the last ice age. The source of this extinction is speculated to be the result of human predation, a significant climate change, or a combination of both factors. It is known that a small population of mammoths survived on St. Paul Island, Alaska up until 5725 BP, but even this date is thousands of years before the Jaredite record in the Book of Mormon begins.
The main point of contention is how late these animals were present before becoming extinct.
Various Latter Day Saint authors have cited evidence that North American mound builder cultures were familiar with the elephant. The oldest mound builder societies date to around 2000 BC. The mound builder/elephant controversy did not originate with the Book of Mormon. In The Mound Builders, Their Works and Relics, author Stephen Dennison Peet cites instances of exhumed mastodon remains and arguments given for why the remains were believed to be contemporary with mound builders. Elephant effigy pipes, of the characteristic mound builder platform style, were reported as archaeological finds in Iowa, and many have readily identified the animal depicted in the shape of the Wisconsin "elephant mound", though others question whether this is in fact the animal represented. The former Iowa state archaeologist Marshall McKusick discusses the evidence indicating that the elephant platform pipes are frauds in his book on the so-called Davenport Tablets.
Critics note that the co-existence of man and elephantine animals is congruent with the archaeological record, but does not address the anachronism, since the dates of all elephantine remains have been placed well before their mention in the Book of Mormon.
|This article or section possibly contains previously unpublished synthesis of published material that conveys ideas not attributable to the original sources. (April 2008)|
There are instances of stories preserved orally by Native Americans which some Latter Day Saint scholars[who?] believe may describe elephants. One such story is related by the Naskapi Indian Tribe, located in eastern Quebec and the Labrador region of Canada. The story concerns a monster from the Naskapi tradition called Katcheetohuskw, which is described as being very large, with large ears, teeth and a long nose. Similar versions of "monster" legends related by other tribes refer to a monster called Ursida, which is described as more of a large, stiff-legged bear rather than a mammoth. The story of the "monster bear" is considered by some scholars to be purely mythical. Delaware and other native American legends of the “mastodon” are likewise said to exist.
Cattle and cows
There are six references to cattle made in the Book of Mormon, including verbiage suggesting they were domesticated. There has been no evidence recovered that Old World cattle (members of the genus Bos) inhabited the New World prior to European contact in the sixteenth century AD.
Apologists argue that the term "cattle" may be more generic that suggesting members of the genus Bos, and may have referred to bison, mountain goats, llamas, or other American species. According to the Book of Mormon, varieties of "cattle" (including goats and sheep) could be found in ancient America. Without these the Nephites could not have kept the Law of Moses, as directed.
Latter Day Saint apologists[who?] note that the word "cattle" may refer to the ancestor of the American bison, Bison antiquus (of the sub family Bovinae). Bison antiquus, sometimes called the ancient bison, was the most common large herbivore of the North American continent for over ten thousand years, and is a direct ancestor of the living American bison.
However, no species of bison is known to have been domesticated as the "cattle" in the Book of Mormon are suggested to have been. Furthermore, it is widely accepted that the only large mammal to be domesticated in the Americas was the llama; no species of goats, deer, sheep, or other "cattle" were domesticated before the arrival of the Europeans to the continent. Apologists counter that the wording in the Book of Mormon does not require the "cattle" to have been domesticated in the strictest sense.
Goats are mentioned three times in the Book of Mormon placing them among the Nephites and the Jaredites. In two of the verses, "goats" are distinguished from "wild goats" indicating that there were at least two varieties, one of them possibly domesticated, or tamed.
Domesticated goats are not native to the Americas, having been domesticated in pre-historic times on the Eurasian continent. Domestic goats were introduced on the American continent upon the arrival of the Europeans in the 15th century, 1000 years after the conclusion of the Book of Mormon, and nearly 2000 years after they are last mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The mountain goat is indigenous to North America, but it has never been domesticated, and is known for being very aggressive.
Matthew Roper, a FARMS writer, discussed the topic of goats in his article "Deer as 'Goat' and Pre-Columbian Domesticate". He noted that when early Spanish explorers visited the southeastern United States they found native Americans herding tame deer. Quoting an early historian of Spain, Peter Martyr d'Anghiera, recorded:
"In all these regions they visited, the Spaniards noticed herds of deer similar to our herds of cattle. These deer bring forth and nourish their young in the houses of the natives. During the daytime they wander freely through the woods in search of their food, and in the evening they come back to their little ones, who have been cared for, allowing themselves to be shut up in the courtyards and even to be milked, when they have suckled their fawns. The only milk the natives know is that of the does, from which they make cheese."
Roper also noted early Spanish colonists called native Mesoamerican brocket deer goats. He quotes, "Friar Diego de Landa noted, 'There are wild goats which the Indians call yuc.'" He quoted another friar in the late 16th century, "in Yucatán 'there are in that province ... great numbers of deer, and small goats'".
Swine are referred to twice in the Book of Mormon, and the narrative of the Book of Mormon suggests that the swine were domesticated by the Jaredites. There have not been any remains, references, artwork, tools, or any other evidence suggesting that swine were ever present in the pre-Columbian New World.
Apologists note that peccaries (also known as javelinas), which bear a superficial resemblance to pigs, have been present in South America since prehistoric times. Latter Day Saint authors advocating the original mound builder setting for the Book of Mormon have similarly suggested North American peccaries (also called “wild pigs”) as the "swine" of the Jaredites.
Critics rebut that peccaries have never been domesticated.
Barley and wheat
Grains are mentioned twenty-eight times in the Book of Mormon, including barley and wheat. The introduction of domesticated modern barley and wheat to the New World was made by Europeans sometime after 1492, many centuries after the time in which the Book of Mormon is set.
FARMS apologist Robert Bennett offered two possible explanations for this anachronism:
"Research on this matter supports two possible explanations. First, the terms barley and wheat, as used in the Book of Mormon, may refer to certain other New World crop plants that were given Old World designations; and second, the terms may refer to genuine varieties of New World barley and wheat," states Mr Benett of the Maxwell Institute. "For example, the Spanish called the fruit of the prickly pear cactus a "fig," and emigrants from England called maize "corn," an English term referring to grains in general. A similar practice may have been employed when Book of Mormon people encountered New World plant species for the first time."
Bennett also postulates that references to "barley" could refer to Hordeum pusillum, also known as "little barley", a species of grass native to the Americas. The seeds are edible, and this plant was part of the pre-Columbian Eastern Agricultural Complex of cultivated plants used by Native Americans. Hordeum pusillum was unknown in Mesoamerica, where there is no evidence of pre-Columbian barley cultivation. However, evidence exists that this plant was domesticated in North America in the Woodland periods contemporary with mound builder societies (early centuries AD) and has been carbon-dated to 2,500 years ago.
In Ether 2:3, it says that the Jaredites
- "did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees."
Chariots or wheeled vehicles
The Book of Mormon mentions the use of chariots as a mode of transportation five times. There is no archaeological evidence to support the use of wheeled vehicles in Mesoamerica. Many parts of ancient Mesoamerica were not suitable for wheeled transport. Clark Wissler, the Curator of Ethnography at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, noted:
"we see that the prevailing mode of land transport in the New World was by human carrier. The wheel was unknown in pre-Columbian times."
This affirmation, however, is not entirely correct. Wheels were used in a limited context in Mesoamerica for what were probably ritual objects, "small clay animal effigies mounted on wheels. Lack of suitable draft animals and a terrain unsuitable for wheeled traffic are the probable reasons that wheeled transport was never developed.
A comparison of the South American Inca civilization to Mesoamerican civilizations shows the same lack of wheeled vehicles. Although the Incas used a vast network of paved roads (see Inca road system), these roads are so rough, steep and narrow that they appear to be unsuitable for wheeled use. Bridges that the Inca people built, and even continue to use and maintain today in some remote areas, are straw-rope bridges so narrow (about 2–3 feet wide) that no wheeled vehicle can fit (see image and technology at Inca rope bridges). Inca roads were used mainly by chaski message runners and llama caravans. Mayan paved roads at Yucatan had characteristics which could allow the use of wheeled vehicles, but there is no evidence that those highways were used by other than people on foot and nobles who were borne on litters.
Some apologists have pointed to the discovery of wheeled toys left in tombs. However, several researchers, including W. H. Holmes of the Bureau of American Ethnology, suspect that the toys were introduced into the tombs after the arrival of Europeans on the continent. He stated:
"Charnay obtained from an ancient cemetery at Tenenepanco, Mexico, a number of toy chariots of terra cotta, presumably buried with the body of a child, some of which retained their wheels. The possibility that these toys are of a post-discovery manufacture must be taken into account, especially since mention is made of the discovery of brass bells in the same cemetery with the toys." (emphasis in original)
One Latter Day Saint researcher responds to the lack of evidence with a comparison to Biblical archaeology, suggesting that though there are no archaeological evidences that any of the numerous ancient American civilizations used wheeled transportation, few chariot fragments have been found in the Middle East dating to Biblical times (apart from the disassembled chariots found in Tutankhamun's tomb). Although few fragments of chariots have been found in the Middle East, there are many images of ancient chariots on pottery and frescoes and in many sculptures of Mediterranean origin, thus confirming their existence in those societies. The complete absence of these images among the hundreds of frescoes, hundreds of thousands of pieces of decorated pottery and pre-Columbian artwork found in the New World does not support the existence of Old World-style chariots in the New World.
Referencing the discovery of wheeled chariot "toys" in Mayan funerary settings, Mormon scholar William J. Hamblin has suggested that the chariots mentioned in the Book of Mormon might refer to mythic or cultic wheeled vehicles.
Mormon scholar John L. Sorenson believes that there are several materials which were used in Mesoamerica which the Spanish called "silk" upon their arrival. He alleges that the inhabitants of Mexico used the fiber spun by a wild silkworm to create a fabric.
The Book of Mormon also states that a "compass" or "Liahona" was used by Nephi around 600 BC. The compass is widely recognized to have been invented in China around 1100 AD, and remains of a compass have never been found in America. In the Book of Alma when Alma, speaking to his son Helaman, explains "our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass" (Alma 37:38). Alma tells his son that "it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ ... to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass ... to the promised land" (Alma 37:44).
Apologists counter that the compass used by Nephi (the Liahona) was, according to the narrative, created by God himself (Alma 37:38), and not by the Nephites. Also, unlike a normal compass, the Book of Mormon says that there was also writing on the ball that displayed additional instructions from God (1 Nephi 16:26-29). Apologists claim that it is possible that the compass used by the Nephites was not copied or used by the civilization, and as such archaeological evidence of compasses may not exist in the Americas. Based on this theory, Joseph Smith would have chosen the word "compass" in his translation of the golden plates as a best fit for the concept of the compass, and as such it is not necessarily an anachronism.
The Book of Mormon describes that the Jaredite people were familiar with the concept of "windows" near the time of the Biblical Tower of Babel (presumably circa 2000 BC. See Chronology of the Bible), and that they specifically avoided crafting windows for lighting in their covered seagoing vessels, because the windows would be "dashed in pieces" during the ocean voyage. Transparent window panes are a more recent invention. The earliest known production of glass dates to 3500 BC in Egypt and Mesopotamia, though the specimens are non-transparent beads. The earliest known production of transparent glass panes is much more recent—dating to the 11th century AD in Germany.
Apologists[who?] note that the Hebrew word "חַלּוֹן" ("chalon") translated "window" in Genesis 8:6 in the Bible, refers to an opening or porthole that was covered, but by what is not specified. It is not specifically stated that the window referred to in the Book of Mormon was an opening covered by a transparent material. Latter Day Saint apologists argue that the word "window" simply parallels the language of the King James Bible. They claim that a wooden or other covering might have been "dashed in pieces" by the "mountain waves" that would "dash upon" them, and that even a thick glass casting would not have provided constant light to the interior of the vessels.
Uses of metal
The Book of Mormon mentions a number of metals, and the use of metal. However, while pre-Columbian tribes used metal, often beaten, there is no accepted evidence of high-temperature smelting. The word "dross" (meaning a by-product of smelting) appears twice in the Book of Alma too; according to Brent Lee Metcalfe:
- "The importance of metallurgy suggested by these frequent references to the metals themselves is confirmed by Nephite use of metaphors about metallurgical processes. For example, the word 'dross' is employed metaphorically. Dross is the waste product of smelting, the impurities which rise to the surface above the heavier molten metal. When cool, dross is a newly formed rock consisting of oxides, silicas, and other components of the ore in which the metallic mineral occurred. Dross has the usual qualities of a hard rock in that it resists erosion and deterioration unless subject to mechanical and/or chemical breakdown. The context for the word 'dross' in two passages in the Book of Mormon record suggests that the speaker and audience [p.287] understood the metallurgical process the metaphor implies (cf. Ps. 119:119; Prov. 25:4; 26:23; Isa. 1:22, 25; Ezek. 22:18-19). 'Therefore they were not permitted to enter into their synagogues to worship God, being esteemed as filthiness,' the text explains. 'Therefore they were poor; yea, they were esteemed by their brethren as dross; therefore they were poor as to things of the world; and also they were poor in heart' (Alma 32:3). Later it is explained, '[T]herefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men' (34:29). Such apt metaphors suggest that metallurgical processes were an important and generally understood feature of Nephite life."
Steel and iron
Between 2004 and 2007, a Purdue University archaeologist, Kevin J. Vaughn, discovered a 2000-year-old iron ore mine near Nazca, Peru, however there is no evidence of smelting, and the ore (hematite) was apparently used to make pigments. There are other numerous excavations that included iron ore. He noted:
"Even though ancient Andean people smelted some metals, such as copper, they never smelted iron like they did in the Old World... Metals were used for a variety of tools in the Old World, such as weapons, while in the Americas, metals were used as prestige goods for the wealthy elite."
Apologists counter that the word "steel" may be referring to another alloy of hardened metal such as the hardened copper alloy that is translated with the word "steel" in the King James Version of the Bible. This alloy is in fact a hardened copper similar to bronze and not hardened iron. Though usually more resistant to oxidation than iron, hardened alloys of copper can oxidize. It is therefore not certain that the mention of "rust" is the same as iron oxide.
Metal swords, which had "rusted"
The Book of Mormon makes numerous references to swords and their use in battle. When the remnants of the Jaredite's final battle were discovered, the Book of Mormon narrative states that "the blades thereof were cankered with rust."
Apologists counter that most references to swords do not speak of the material they were made of, and that they may refer to a number of weapons such as the macuahuitl, a "sword" made of obsidian blades that was used by the Aztecs. It was very sharp and could decapitate a man or horse. However, this does not explain several references to swords that were explicitly made out of steel, and another metal that was capable of "rusting". Obsidian flakes on a macuahuitl are not capable of rusting.
Some studies have shown that metallurgy did exist in a primitive state in Mesoamerica during the Preclassic/Formative and Classic periods (which corresponds to the time period in the Book of Mormon). These metals include brass, iron ore, copper, silver, and gold. However, the metals were never used to make swords; Vaughn noted:
"Even though ancient Andean people smelted some metals, such as copper, they never smelted iron like they did in the Old World...Metals were used for a variety of tools in the Old World, such as weapons, while in the Americas, metals were used as prestige goods for the wealthy elite."
The closest evidence to a pre-columbian metal blade on Mesoamerica come from The Mayan World, but those artifacts were not swords, but small copper axes, and those were used more as a tool.
"Cimiters" are mentioned about ten times in the Book of Mormon. The word "cimiter" (scimitar) is considered an anachronism, since the word was never used by the Hebrews (from which the Book of Mormon peoples came from), or any other civilization prior to 450 AD. As with swords, there is no evidence that native American peoples had metal blades.
The word cimiter (scimitar) has at different times referred to a long curved sword used by the Persians and Turks, or a smaller curved knife, similar to the kopis of the Turks, or makhaira of the Greeks.
Apologists, including Michael R. Ash, and William Hamblin of FAIR, note that the Book of Mormon does not mention the materials that the "cimiters" were made out of, and postulate that the word is was chosen by Joseph Smith as the closest workable English word for the weapon used by the Nephites that was not made of metal, and was short and curved.
System of exchange based on measures of precious metals
The Book of Mormon details a system of weights and measures used by the societies described therein. However, the overall use of metal in ancient America seems to have been extremely limited. A more common exchange medium in Mesoamerica were cacao beans.
Knowledge of Hebrew and Egyptian languages
The Book of Mormon account refers to various groups of literate peoples, at least one of which is described as using a language and writing system with roots in Hebrew and Egyptian. Archaeological evidence has been found for five or six different Mesoamerican scripts, but archaeological dating methods make it difficult to establish which was earliest (and hence the forebear from which the others developed) and a significant portion of the documented scripts have not been deciphered. None of the documented Mesoamerican language scripts have any known relation to Hebrew or Egyptian. The Book of Mormon describes another literate culture, the Jaredites, but does not identify the language or writing system by name. The text of the Book of Mormon refers only to a language used prior to the alleged confounding of languages at the great tower, presumed to refer to the Tower of Babel.
Linguistic studies on the evolution of the spoken languages of the Americas agree with the widely held model that the initial colonization of the Americas by Homo sapiens occurred over 10,000 years ago instead of during the time frame given in the Book of Mormon.
Some apologists argue that the Book of Mormon does not describe all of the original settlers of the Americas, but rather a subset of the larger population, who settled in a limited geographical setting, and that evidence of the knowledge of Hebrew or Egyptian would be too sparse to be found. Critics note that this is not congruent with past church teachings or the preface to past editions of the Book of Mormon.[who?]
"Christ" and "Messiah"
The words "Christ" and "Messiah" are used several hundred times throughout the Book of Mormon. The first instance of the word "Christ" dates to between 559 and 545 BC. The first instance of the word "Messiah" dates to about 600 BC.
"Christ" is the English transliteration of the Greek word Χριστός (transliterated precisely as Christós); it is relatively synonymous with the Hebrew word rendered "Messiah" (Hebrew: מָשִׁיחַ, Modern Mashiaẖ Tiberian Māšîăḥ). Both words have the meaning of "anointed," and are used in the Bible to refer to "the Anointed One". In Greek translations of the Old Testament (including the Septuagint), the word "Christ" is used for the Hebrew "Messiah", and in Hebrew translations of the New Testament, the word "Messiah" is used for the Greek "Christ". If you take any passage in the Bible that uses the word "Christ", you can substitute for it the word "Messiah" or "the Messiah" with no change in meaning (e.g. Matthew 1:1, 16, 18).
The Book of Mormon uses both terms throughout the book. In the vast majority of cases, it uses the terms in an identical manner as the Bible, where it doesn't matter which word is used:
- "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is (Christ/the Messiah), the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall" (Helaman 5:12).
- "And after he had baptized (Christ/the Messiah) with water, he should behold and bear record that he had baptized the Lamb of God, who should take away the sins of the world." (1 Nephi 10:10).
The Book of Mormon occasionally uses the word "Christ" in a way that is not interchangeable with "Messiah". For example in 2 Nephi 10:3, the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob says an angel informed him that the name of the Messiah would be Christ:
"Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ—for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name—should come among the Jews" (2 Nephi 10:3)
The word "Messiah" was used frequently before this point, but from this point on the word "Christ" is used almost exclusively in the Book of Mormon.
Richard Packham argues that the Greek word "Christ" in the Book of Mormon challenges the authenticity of the work since, Joseph Smith clearly stated that, "There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of the Lord, translated the Book of Mormon."
The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research states that the word 'Christ' is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word 'Messiah' and Smith simply chose the more familiar Greek word to translate the word that appeared in the language of the plates.
Hugh Nibley postulated that the word "Messiah" could have been derived from Arabic rather than Hebrew, although Arabic is not mentioned as one of the languages in which the golden plates were written.
Joseph Smith stated in a letter to the editor of Times and Seasons, "There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of the Lord, translated the Book of Mormon." Nevertheless, the Book of Mormon contains some names which appear to be Greek, some of which are Hellenizations of Hebrew names (e.g. Antipas, Archeantus, Esrom, Ezias, Jonas, Judea, Lachoneus and Zenos).
Other Greek names are non-biblical and their presence in the book is puzzling to both believers and skeptics, since neither Smith nor the Nephites spoke Greek. One explanation has been offered by Brian D. Stubbs, who said that though the language of the Mulekites isn't put forward in the Book of Mormon, it could have consisted of Phoenician, Greek, or Arabic.
"Church" and "synagogue"
The word "church" first occurs in 1 Nephi 4:26, where a prophet named Nephi disguises himself as Laban, a prominent man in Jerusalem whom Nephi had slain:
"And he [Laban's servant], supposing that I spake of the brethren of the church, and that I was truly that Laban whom I had slain, wherefore he did follow me" (1 Nephi 4:26).
According to the Book of Mormon, this exchange happened in Jerusalem, around 600 BC. The meaning of the word "church" in the Book of Mormon is more comparable to usage in the Bible than modern English. The concept of a church, meaning a convocation of believers, existed among the House of Israel prior to Christianity. For instance, Psalms 89:5 speaks of praising the Lord "in the congregation of the saints"; the Septuagint contains the Greek word "ecclesia" for "congregation," which is also translated as "church" in the New Testament. The Book of Mormon using the word "church" in the same "style" as the Bible is seen by some apologists as support for the Book of Mormon.
A similar question regards the word "synagogue," found in Alma 16:13:
"And Alma and Amulek went forth preaching repentance to the people in their temples, and in their sanctuaries, and also in their synagogues, which were built after the manner of the Jews" (Alma 16:13).
Scholars note that synagogues did not exist in their modern form before the destruction of the temple and the Babylonian captivity. The oldest known synagogue is located in Delos, Greece, and has been dated to 150 BC.
Critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner and Marvin W. Cowan contend that certain linguistic properties of the Book of Mormon provide evidence that the book was fabricated by Joseph Smith. These critics cite linguistic anachronisms such as:
- The Americanized [sic] name "Sam" (1 Nephi 2:5,17).
The French word "adieu" appears once in the Book of Mormon in Jacob 7:27.
Supporters of the Book of Mormon argue that the text is a translation into modern English, so the use of a French word is not amiss. For example, Daniel H. Ludlow contends that the use of the French word "adieu", and others, may have been the result of Joseph Smith choosing the best word available to convey the meaning of the original text.
Anachronisms apparently perpetuated from the King James translation
A significant portion of the Book of Mormon quotes from the brass plates, which purport to be another source of Old Testament writings mirroring those of the Bible. In many cases, the Biblical quotations in the English-language Book of Mormon, are close, or identical to the equivalent sections of the King James Version. Critics consider several Book of Mormon anachronisms to originate in the 1611 KJV.
In 2 Nephi 23:21, the Book of Mormon quotes Isaiah 13:21, which mentions a "satyr". Satyrs are creatures from Greek mythology, which are half-man, half-goat. The King James Bible translates Isaiah 34:14 thus:
- "The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow; the screech owl also shall rest there, and find for herself a place of rest." ("וְרָבְצוּ־שָׁם צִיִּים וּמָלְאוּ בָתֵּיהֶם אֹחִים וְשָׁכְנוּ שָׁם בְּנֹות יַֽעֲנָה וּשְׂעִירִים יְרַקְּדוּ־")
- Archaeology and the Book of Mormon
- Columbian Exchange
- Dené–Yeniseian languages
- Genetics and the Book of Mormon
- Historicity of the Book of Mormon
- Linguistics and the Book of Mormon
- List of pre-Columbian engineering projects in the Americas
- Pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact
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- Roberts (1902, pp. 11, 18–19).
- Smith (1838, pp. 42–43).
- Priddis 1975; see RLDS D&C 110:20, were advanced by RLDS members: Hills 1917; Hills 1918; Hills 1924, and Gunsolley 1922
- "LDS chapter headings to the Book of Isaiah". Lds.org. 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- John L. McKenzie, Second Isaiah (1969, Yale University Press)
Brevard S. Childs, Isaiah (2000, Westminster John Knox Press)
Herbert G. May and Bruce M. Metzger, The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha (1977, Oxford)
- 2 Nephi 9:23 "And he commandeth all men that they must repent, and be baptized in his name ..."
- "Religion: Out of the Desert". Time. 1957-04-15.
- Alma 18:9, Alma 18:12, Alma 20:6, 3 Nephi 3:22
- R.J.G. Savage & M.R. Long, Mammal evolution, an illustrated guide (1986, Facts on File, pg. 202): "...although the true horses had themselves also by then died out in Europe and Asia, they survived in North America and from there they continued to evolve."
- Guthrie, R. Dale. "Rapid body size decline in Alaskan Pleistocene horses before extinction". Nature. Retrieved 2006-12-10.
- Baker, Barry W.; Collins, Michael B.; Bousman, C. Britt. "Late Pleistocene Horse (Equus sp.) from the Wilson-Leonard Archaeological Site, Central Texas" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-02-20.
- R. Dale Guthrie, New carbon dates link climatic change with human colonization and Pleistocene extinctions, Nature 441 (11 May 2006), 207-209.
- Kirkpatrick, Jay F.; Fazio, Patricia M. "Wild Horses as Native North American Wildlife". Archived from the original on 2006-11-29. Retrieved 2006-12-10.
- Singer, Ben. "A brief history of the horse in America; Horse phylogeny and evolution". Canadian Geographic Magazine. Retrieved 2009-10-30.
- See Clayton E. Ray, "Pre-columbian Horses from Yucatan," Journal of Mammology 58:2 (May 1957), 278 and references cited therein; see also other references cited in John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1996), 295, n.63.
- (Robert R. Bennett, "Horses in the Book of Mormon," FARMS Research Report. )
- Robert R. Bennett (2000). "Robert R. Bennett: "Horses in the Book of Mormon"". Farms.byu.edu. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- Denis Ramseyer, Nicole Pousaz, Tsagaan Torbat. "THE XIONGNU SETTLEMENT OF BOROO GOL,SELENGE AIMAG, MONGOLIA". Academia.edu. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Mongolia Today. "Hun Princess Graveyard’s Secret". Mongolia Today. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Higham, Charles F. W. ""Xiongnu." Encyclopedia of Ancient Asian Civilizations.". Facts On File, Inc. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
- Ether 9:19 "And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants".
- Diamond 1999
- Sharon Levy, “Mammoth Mystery, Did Climate Changes Wipe Out North America’s Giant Mammals, Or Did Our Stone Age Ancestors Hunt Them To Extinction?, Onearth, winter 2006, pp15-19
- Enk, J. M.; Yesner, D. R.; Crossen, K. J.; Veltre, D. W.; O'Rourke, D. H. (2009). "Phylogeographic analysis of the mid-Holocene Mammoth from Qagnaxˆ Cave, St. Paul Island, Alaska". Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 273: 184. doi:10.1016/j.palaeo.2008.12.019.
- Sorenson 1985, p. 297
- Wayne N. May (editor), Ancient American, Archaeology of America Before Columbus, LDS Special Edition III
- On the subject of the mound builder / elephant archaeological controversy and the original mound builder setting for the Book of Mormon (19th century mound-builder literary genre): Robert Silverberg, “and the mound-builders vanished from the earth”, American Heritage Magazine, June 1969, Volume 20, Issue 4 http://www.americanheritage.com/articles/magazine/ah/1969/4/1949_4_60.shtml
- Stephen Dennison Peet, The Mound Builders, pp. 38-44
- Stephen Dennison Peet, The Mound Builders, pp. 11-14. see also M.C. Read, Archaeology of Ohio, pp 116-117
- On Elephant platform pipes and the Elephant Mound of Grand County, Wisconsin, see Charles E. Putnam (President of the Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences), Elephant Pipes and Inscribed Tablets in the Museum of the Academy of Natural Sciences, Davenport, Iowa, 1885, pp. 19-20, and U.S. Ethnology Bureau, Vol. 2., 1880-81,Pg. 153; see also Charles Valentine Riley, The American Naturalist, American Society of Naturalists (Essex Institute), pp. 275-277
- McKusick, Marshall, The Davenport Conspiracy Revisited. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1991. ISBN 978-0-8138-0344-9
- Johnson, Ludwell H III (October 1952). "Men and Elephants in America". Scientific Monthly: 215–21.Johnson states that the stories claimed that the monster was "very large, had a big head, large ears and teeth, and a long nose with which he hit people."
- Siebert, F. T. Jr (October–December 1937). "Mammoth or "Stiff-Legged Bear"". American Anthropologist 39 (4): 721–25. doi:10.1525/aa.1937.39.4.02a00410.
- Richard C. Adams, Legends of the Delaware Indians and Picture Writing, pp. 70-71, 1905; also Johanna R. M. Lyback, Indian Legends of Eastern America, pp. 155-159, 1925
- See for example Ether 9:18
- For example, Enos in the Book of Mormon tells that the Nephites raised "flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind" - Enos 1:21, see also 2 Nephi 17:25
- 1 Nephi 18:25, Mosiah 2:3, 3 Nephi 28:22
- [dead link]
- Diamond 1999, pp. 165, 167, 168
- 1 Ne. 18:25, Enos 1:21, Ether 9:18
- Matthew Roper. "Deer as "Goat" and Pre-Columbian Domesticate - Matthew Roper - Insights - Volume 26 - Issue 6". Farms.byu.edu. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- Deer as "Goat" and Pre-Columbian Domesticate Matthew Roper
- Gongora, J., and C. Moran. 2005. "Nuclear and mitochondrial evolutionary analyses of Collared, White-lipped, and Chacoan peccaries (Tayassuidae)." Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution; 34: 181-189.
- ”peccary”, The New Columbia Encyclopedia
- Phyllis Carol Olive, Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon, 83
- "Nor were there any animals [in the Americas] which could be domesticated for food or milk ... the peccary, or American hog, is irreclaimable in its love of freedom." - Brinton, quoted in Roberts, B.H. Studies of the Book of Mormon, Second Edition. Signature Books. Salt Lake City. Edited by Brigham D. Madsen. 1992. pp. 102-103
- "Barley and Wheat in the Book Mormon". Featured Papers (Maxwell Institute). Archived from the original on 23 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-01-19.
- Barley and Wheat in the Book Mormon Robert R. Bennett Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute.
- Bennett cites, Nancy B. Asch and David L. Asch, “Archeobotany,” in Deer Track: A Late Woodland Village in the Mississippi Valley, ed. Charles R. McGimsey and Michael D. Conner (Kampsville, Ill. Center for American Archaeology, 1985), 44, pg. 78
- Robert R. Bennett, “Barley and Wheat in the Book Mormon”, Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute.
- "The Book of Mormon mentions horses, elephants, cattle, swine, bees, barley, and wheat. Everyone knows none of these species existed on the American continent before Columbus. Doesn’t that prove the Book of Mormon is false?". All About Mormons. AllAboutMormons.com. 19 January 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- Lindsay, Jeff. "Plants and Animals in the Book of Mormon: Some Solutions to Apparent Problems". Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- "Ether 2:3. Jaredite Bees". Retrieved 10 March 2014.
- Alma 18:9-10,12, Alma 20:6, 3 Nephi 3:22
- Wissler, Clark. The American Indian. pp. 32–39 - as quoted by B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, Second Edition, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1992, pg. 99.
- "Tula, and wheeled animal effigies in Mesoamerica" http://www.precolumbianwheels.com/Tula&wheeled_animal_effigies.pdf
- Wheeled Toys in Mexico. Gordon F. Ekholm, American Antiquity. Vol. 11, No. 4 (Apr. 1946)
- Mesoweb Publications
- Phillips, Charles; Jones, David M (2005). Aztec & Maya: Life in an Ancient Civilization. London: Hermes House. p. 65.
- Holmes, W. H. Handbook of Aboriginal American Antiquities. 1919. p. 20 - as quoted by B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, Second Edition, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1992, pg. 100.
- Sorenson, p. 59
- See Pre-Columbian Contact with the Americas across the Oceans: An Annotated Bibliography
- 1 Nephi 13:7,8 Alma 1:29, Alma 4:6, Ether 9:17, Ether 10:24
- Sorenson 1985, p. 232 "The Spanish reported several kinds of 'silk.' One kind of silk was spun from the hair of rabbit's bellies, another may have come from a wild silkworm, and yet a third came from the pod of the ceiba tree. Spanish chronicles report that types of 'silk' were spun and woven in Mesoamerica before their arrival."
- Sorenson, John L. "A New Evaluation of the Smithsonian Institution "Statement regarding the Book of Mormon"" (HTTP). Maxwell Institute. Retrieved 2007-01-17.
- Ether 2:22–23
- Glass, The New Columbia Encyclopedia
- Ether 2:24
- Ether 2:25; 6:10
- [dead link]
- See 1 Nephi 16:18, 2 Nephi 5:15, Jarom 1:8, Ether 7:9
- "Hematite Mining in the Ancient Americas: Mina Primavera, A 2,000 Year Old Peruvian Mine". Retrieved 2012-10-03.
- "Mound 27 and the Middle Preclassic Period at Mirador, Chiapas, Mexico". Contentdm.lib.byu.edu. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- "Archaeologist 'Strikes Gold' With Finds Of Ancient Nasca Iron Ore Mine In Peru". ScienceDaily. Purdue University. 29 January 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- article by William Hamblin on steel in the Book of Mormon
- Even in biblical verses where iron is paired with "steel" (Job 20:24, Jeremiah 15:12), “steel” nevertheless refers to hardened copper alloys. See נְחוּשָׁה and נְחֹשֶׁת in the Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew / Aramaic Lexicon)
- Mosiah 8:11
- 2 Nephi 5:14
- Mosiah 8:11
- Roper, Matthew (1999). "Swords and "Cimeters" in the Book of Mormon". Journal of Book of Mormon Studies (Maxwell Institute) 8 (1): 34–43. Archived from the original on 8 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-11."Spaniards who faced native Mesoamerican swords in battle were deeply impressed by their deadly cutting power and razorlike sharpness."
- "The first Andean evidence for metallurgy dates to around 1500 B.C. " site: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa5348/is_199905/ai_n21438921 it is in the middle of the page.
- Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica Series: Cambridge World Archaeology Christopher Pool University of Kentucky
- D. Hosler and G. Stresser Pean, "The Huastec Region: A Second Locus for the Production of Bronze Alloys in Ancient Mesoamerica," Science, 257 (1992), pp. 1215-1220.
- D. Hosler and Andrew MacFarlane, "Copper Sources, Metal Production and Metals Trade in Late Post-Classic Mesoamerica," Science, 273, (1996), pp. 1819-1824.
- R. Brill and J. Wampler,"Isotope Studies ofAncient Lead," American of Archaeoloe, 71 (1967), p. 63.
- E. Pemika, Archaeometry, 35 (1993), p. 259
- A.F. MacFarlane (Paper presented at the Harvard Symposium on Ancient Metallurgy, September 1997
- G.L. Cummings, S.E. Kessler, and D. Kristic, Economic Geology 74 (1979), p. 1395
- D. Hosler, "Six Metal Production Sites in the Tierra Caliente of Guerrero" (unpublished research).
- H. Ball and D. Brockinton, Mesoamerican Communication Routes and Cultural Contacts, Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation, 40, pp. 75-106
- The Sounds and Colors of Power: The Sacred Metallurgical Technology of Ancient West Mexico by Dorothy Hosler
- "Archaeologist 'Strikes Gold' With Finds Of Ancient Nasca Iron Ore Mine In Peru". ScienceDaily. Purdue University. 29 January 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- The Maya Archaeometallurgy Project at Lamanai
- Enos 1:20, Helaman 1:14
- B.H. Roberts noted: "The word [cimiter] is of oriental and uncertain origin and appears in various forms. How it came to be introduced into the speech and writings of the Nephites, and how not used in the other Hebrew literature at an earlier date, is so far as I know, unaccountable. The earliest use of the word I have found is in Gibbon, where referring to the alleged incident of finding the sword of Mars for Attila, he there calls that sword of Mars "cimiter"; but that was about 450 A.D." - from Roberts, B.H.; Studies of the Book of Mormon; Signature Books; Salt Lake City; Second Edition; 1992; page 112.
- Ash states: "there is enough Mesoamerican artwork and artifacts that display the basic characteristics of a scimitar that the Book of Mormon is vindicated for its usage." See: http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Brochures/Anachronisms3.pdf
- "Alma 11". Scriptures.lds.org. 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- Coe 2002, p. 132 "[W]ell into Colonial times the beans served as a form of money in regional markets."
- Lyle Campbell, American Indian Languages, The Historical Linguistics of Native America (1997, Oxford)
- The word "Christ" is used 99 times, and the word "Messiah" is used 13 times in the Book of Mormon.
- See 2 Ne. 10:3
- 1 Nephi 1:19
- "Messiah". JewishEncyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- "BibleGateway.com: A searchable online Bible in over 50 versions and 35 languages". BibleGateway.com: A searchable online Bible in over 50 versions and 35 languages (in English and 49 other languages). Bible Gateway. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- Times and Seasons, vol.4, no.13, May 15, 1843, p. 194
- "Book of Mormon Anachronisms: Pre-Christian Christianity". Retrieved November 7, 2013.
- Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah, pp. 167-68, discusses the origin, interchangeability, and translated use of the terms “Messiah” and “Christ” as they appear in scripture. Nibley points out that the Arabic word al-masih, for instance, could be translated using the Hebrew term “Messiah” or the New Testament term “Christ” depending on the context and translator. See also “Meshiach” (מָשִׁיחַ), “anointed”, Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon
- Stubbs 1996, p. 1
- The Oldest Original Synagogue Building in the Diaspora: The Delos Synagogue Reconsidered," Monika Trümper Hesperia, Vol. 73, No. 4 (Oct. - Dec., 2004), pp. 513-598
- Beckwith, Francis (2002). The New Mormon Challenge. Zondervan. pp. 367–396. ISBN 0-310-23194-9.
- Cowan, Marvin (1997). Mormon Claims Answered.
- Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 163
- "Isaiah 13:21 But desert creatures will lie there, jackals will fill her houses; there the owls will dwell, and there the wild goats will leap about". Bible.cc. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- Abanes, Richard (2003). One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56858-283-8.
- Roberts, B. H., ed. (1902). History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1. Salt Lake City: Deseret News..
- Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1979). The Changing World of Mormonism. Moody Press. ISBN 0-8024-1234-3.
- Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1987). Mormonism - Shadow or Reality?. Utah Lighthouse Ministry. ISBN 99930-74-43-8.