Thursday, March 4, 2010

Did Joseph Smith Produce the Book of Mormon in a Matter of Months?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the production of the Book of Mormon and how it could have possibly come into existance in such a short time. Mormons claim that Smith produced it in only a matter of months, and, if that is true, is quite an amazing feat seeing as how long and detailed it is.

Could there be an alternative explanation? Hear me out.

Smith claimed that on September 21, 1823, Moroni appeared to him to tell him about the location of the buried golden plates, which contained the text of the Book of Mormon. The next morning, Smith went to the place and found the plates but was unable to take them. In fact, for the next four years, Smith met Moroni at the site and received instruction. After that time, Smith was finally granted guardianship of the plates on September 22, 1827. The Book of Mormon was published in 1830.

From 1827 to 1830... that is not a matter of months; it is three years that Smith was in possession of the gold plates. And not only that, but he was first made aware of their existance in 1823. From 1823 to 1830... that is seven (7) years.

If Joseph Smith did produce the Book of Mormon himself, there was more than enough time to write an elaborate story and do lots of research at the local library, which historians have shown that he had access to.

I have used the Joseph Smith History in the Pearl of Great Price as my source for all the dates. This means that, according to Smith himself, that he at very least, had the Book of Mormon concept for seven years before it was published. That is more than enough time to write a 531 page novel.

Smith claims, in his own words, that in order to make money, he had to travel a lot (JSH vs. 55). Who is to say that he didn't frequent all the libraries he could while away? In his head, he was formulating the story, long before he ever wrote it down.

This explains why his mother claimed that he could sit with the family and describe, in great detail, the people and customs of the Book of Mormon people. He would tell these stories BEFORE he came in possession of the plates. How could that possibly be true unless he was making up the story himself?

The evidence is right there that Smith had more than plenty of time to come up with the Book of Mormon story. He had 7 years and maybe even longer. Mormons claim, without even looking at the dates, that he only had a few number of months in which to complete the translation. But the evidence is right there, in their own scriptures, that he had at least 7 years.


Paul said...

Hey Mormon411,

I enjoyed your post! Seeing that you are an atheist, this is the only logical conclusion and is supported by the facts (His mom's recollection as well as the PoGP you've cited).

However, for Mormons or anyone who believes in the supernatural, there are other possibilities:

1) It's all true and as the LDS Church claims.
2) That Joseph Smith was helped by spirits that were not of God and knew it.
2) That Joseph Smith was helped by spirits that were not of God and did not know it.

-or as you state-

4) That Smith produced it in a purely secular sense and lied about it's creation.

All I ask is that you keep an open mind in the same way you'd hope Mormons would. The possibility of the supernatural would give Smith the benefit of the doubt that it happened exactly as he said.


Mormon411 said...

Thank you Paul, I appreciate your comment. Yes, I am atheist but I am open minded. If you or anyone can give me a good argument for the existance of god or supernatural spirits, I'll consider changing my position. I am open minded and all I expect of my readers is that they are as well. They don't have to agree.

In fact, I don't expect anyone to agree with me. If all I have accomplished is to help Mormons UNDERSTAND the reasons why some people oppose the church, then I am content with that.

Paul said...

Very good, you seem to be a very sensible person, and for that I will follow this blog.

Seth R. said...

I don't really think 7 years was enough to produce such a work either - but you really have to study the book in more depth than people who don't believe in it are inclined to do to reach this conclusion.

The main reason that we stick with the several month model is because this is what is documented in all the available journals and sources recording the process.

In order to claim a seven year model, you basically have to finger Joseph's family as co-conspirators, and claim they were lying in their reports, when we really have no particularly good reason for doing so.

Emma's accounts, for instance, are quite insistent that Joseph basically read off the gold plates, stream of consciousness-style and had no manuscript or other objects to assist him.

Do you believe Emma?

Well, you don't have to, I guess...

But why shouldn't you?

Mormon411 said...

I'm not necessarially saying that the entire Smith family was involved in the "scheme", but I'm not ruling it out either.

What Emma saw and what she thought she saw could easily be two different things. Remember that she was never actually allowed to see the plates so I'm not sure how much weight her story holds.

Paul, thanks again. Welcome and please feel free to comment whenever you'd like.

EXLDS (user name) said...

David Whitmer, one of the three witnesses described Smith's method of translation:"Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man." David Whitmer, Address to All Believers in Christ Part 1 (1886)

Brian said...

I am only going to say this once. Probably because I am drunk as a sailor and feeling frisky. The whole BOM thing, no matter how you slice it is CRAP! There I said it. Really, if you are going to deceive yourself into believing that the BOM is a LEGITIMATE book of GOD (doesn't exist anyway) you have to have a pretty far stretched imagination. To deceive yourself into believing that Joe Smith a philandering, child molester and pervert could write a book inspired by "GOD" again, doesn't exist. Then you are either incredibly stupid or just plain niave. There is no logical reason why anyone would believe that CRAP outside of someone desperately looking to believe in something!!! Oh, wait that is every christian within an earshot of my writing. Oh, wait they won't read this in the spirit in which it was written. (comic relief) they will take offense and be upset. Or, maybe just maybe when I am drunk I am lucid. Or, maybe the mo's will now go on about how drunks can't possibly have a grain of truth, since grain alcohol is doing the talking.

Love ya 411~~~!!!!

Love ya Paul.

You both make my day that much brighter. One day I am going to burn the zion curtain down hahhahahahahaahhhaha (maniacal laughter)

Seth R. said...

"I am only going to say this once."

Well, that's a real crying shame Brian.

We could certainly use some more of that kind of lucid, thoughtful and insightful commentary. Too bad we're all going to miss out.

Seth R. said...

Sorry, got an error message and double-posted.

Paul said...

Wow, this is my first experience with a drunk blog comment... Actually quite hilarious! XD

Brian said...

Seth, Paul,

I am glad I could entertain you. Luckily 411 (my brother) doesn't censor me even when I do stuff that would get me censored or banned on other blogs. Thanks 411 love ya Muahha. Anyway, hopefully the next time I post on a drunken rant, you all will be just as entertained.

Mormon411 said...

Wow, I certainly wasn't expecting that! You crack me up Brian. Alcohol is a disinhibitor and certainly works well on you!

Love you 2, bro!

Exhalted Outcast said...

I know I should have replied sooner. No excuses...I took a bit of a leave from the net for a few minutes to collect my thoughts and start my own little bit o' net heaven. This is NOT a pitch for readers, just an FYI since I "follow" this blog there. Anyway, it's great to see everyone and happy reading..... Love you all, not in a religious way as that would be creepy (priest/alter boy) but in a human and caring way.

Exhalted Outcast said...

Oh, the moniker, ya, it's still me Brian lol

Anonymous said...

Loving the blog-keep it up!!