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I'm a Christian, married to a wonderful man, Steven, and mother to a wonderful little son. I have many interests and a few noteworthy journeys in life and I enjoy sharing them.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Is the Book of Mormon Historical?

For great movies that answers this question, I would recommend going to YouTube and searching "The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon" and "DNA vs. The Book of Mormon."

The two books are represented as comparable historically and scripturally.


The Book of Mormon presents itself as the scriptures and history of a real historical people who lived in the Americas. The introduction at the Beginning of the Book of Mormon states, "The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants o the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel."

According to the Book of Mormon, the inhabitants of the Americas came via ship from the Middle East. There are no records of these people coming across any other people groups, and records that "The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea." (Mormon 1:7) God also promised "that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves." The introduction to the Book of Mormon (except in newest copies, which have been changed very recently) states the the Lamanites are the principle ancestors of the Native Americans. Many prophets and church leaders, including and particularly Joseph Smith, have held and taught this view.

The Hill Cumorah. If such a large battle happened near here, why has it not been excavated to prove it?

Yet we quickly come across problems with this. First of all, even relatively small people-groups and battles leave very clear traces for archaeology to find. Yet there has been no trace that can be definitively linked to the people the Book of Mormon describes. Here are some archaeological problems to consider:

  • Complete lack of any metal-working sites, especially for smelting (which are very distinctive) (1 Nephi 18:25, 19:1, 2 Nephi 5:15, Jacob 2:12, Ether 10:23, Jarom 1:8)
  • Lack of existence of some plants and animals described in the Book of Mormon in the correct time period, e.g. horses, elephants, oxes, goats, cattle, wheat, and barley.
  • No ancient cities corresponding to Book of Mormon cities.
  • Lack of languages such as Hebrew or anything that could be called "reformed Egyptian." (Mormon 9:32)
  • Complete lack of coinage found. (Alma 11) (Coins are usually one of the things most easily found in archaeology, if coins exist in a culture.)
  • Inability to lock down the location of the Book of Mormon.
  • Complete lack of any written evidence of the Nephites or Lamanites, despite the Book of Mormon stating that there was much writing and keeping of records in their culture.
  • No battle sites matching Book of Mormon battles found, despite the epic size of some battles described.

In fact, the lack of evidence is so thorough that even the Smithsonian Institute has issued a statement that they have not used the Book of Mormon as an archaeological tool and that there seems to be no correspondence between the Book of Mormon and the history of the Americas.

Native Americans are not of Middle Eastern descent.

More than that, there are major issues with the idea that the Native Americans are descended from people from the Middle East. I am no DNA expert, but those who are agree that Native Americans are of Asiatic descent. This is also supported by anthropology. Native Americans even look Asian. Some apologists have tried to claim that there were pre-existing Asiatic groups in the Americas that the Nephites and Lamanites intermarried with, significantly diluting the Middle Eastern DNA, but this is highly unlikely for a few reasons. First is statements from the Book of Mormon itself, as I already said above--no other people groups not from the Middle East were mentioned, and the statements within the Book of Mormon make it clear that the Nephites and Lamanites and their culture became numerous and widespread. Not only that, but it would be unlikely that their religion would have stayed intact for so long if such relatively small families and groups melded with a larger people group. It is certainly nearly impossible that their religion and enmities would have overwhelmed the existing religion and politics.

There are also many anachronisms in the Book of Mormon. For instance, the Book of Mormon describes a temple being built shortly after arriving in the promised land, and Nephi consecrated his younger brothers as priests (2 Nephi 5:16, 26), but Nephi's family was no descended from the tribe of Levi or the line of Aaron, which means that none of them could have or should have been priests.

There are many anachronisms to consider:
  • Baptism did not exist until early Christianity, yet was used a few hundred years B.C. in the Book of Mormon
  • Quoting of scriptures that weren't written until after Book of Mormon times (and which were written after they supposedly crossed the sea, which would beg the question of how those quotes would have gotten there anyways)
  • Plants and animals that did not exist in America at that time period
  • Technology that did not exist in the Americas in that time, such as steel, chariots, metal armor, and metal-working in general
  • The use of the word "cimiter" almost a dozen times, as that word didn't exist in Hebrew until a few hundred years after Lehi's family left Jerusalem
  • The use of the words "Christ" and "Messiah" at the wrong time periods

There are more, but this is a good list to consider.

The religions of the Americas have little in common with the religion of the people of Israel.

Based on all this, its extremely difficult to consider the Book of Mormon to be historical. God doesn't want us to have blind faith. We see with the Bible that more and more evidence that shows its historicity and truth of the events recorded has been coming forth through archaeology. Sure there are criticisms of some things, such as the idea that the world is only 6,000 years old, but when the Bible starts actively recording events and people and places happening near the time it was written down, its extremely and surprisingly accurate. We can go to Jerusalem, Jericho, Babylon, Ur, Bethesda, Bethlehem, and the Temple Mount. We can see the seas and rivers. The animals and foods described either still exist or can be shown to have existed at that time in those places.We can read ancient texts of the book of the Bible.

We can visit ancient Biblical sites, which even go by the same names today.

We can even find extra-Biblical proof that Jesus lived at the correct time period and died on a cross.

None of that evidence makes faith less important. It simply strengthens the faith and shows us that we are not basing our faith in something blindly and without meaning. We still can't see God. We still haven't met Christ ourselves. We still have to accept on faith that what Christ did in history affects us spiritually, for our eternal salvation.

Is your faith based on something historically true?

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