A Note on Book of Mormon “Trinitarianism”

One exercise I have found interesting is looking at the criticisms Joseph Smith’s contemporaries made against the Book of Mormon. The granddaddy of Book of Mormon skeptics is without a doubt Alexander Campbell (1788–1866), the learned Christian divine who spearheaded, along with his father Thomas, the Restorationist movement of Christianity. Campbell published the first substantive … Read more

A Tale of Two Smiths

Joseph Smith (left) and Morton Smith (right). On March 26, 1830, the Wayne Sentinel announced the publication of the Book of Mormon by the Palmyra, New York printer E. B. Grandin. The book purports to be “an abridgment of the Record of the People of Nephi” written on plates of gold. The discoverer and translator … Read more

Why the Book of Mormon’s Battle Numbers Don’t Add Up (And Why That’s Evidence for its Authenticity)

I Even Remain Alone by Walter Rane. An easy target for critics of the Book of Mormon is its reported army sizes and battle casualties. The final extermination of the Nephites, for instance, reportedly involved tens of thousands of combatants and hundreds of thousands of combatant and non-combatant casualties (Mormon 6:11–15). This pales in comparison to … Read more

Out of Mesoamerica: The Archaeological Context of the Book of Mormon

Yours truly with Professor Neal Rappleye, deciphering a Maya stele that reads, “I, Nephi, made this stele.” Speaking of the lack of direct archaeological verification for an Israelite exodus from Egypt, James K. Hoffmeier, an American Egyptologist who has written extensively on the historicity of the Exodus, remarked, There are several possible reasons for this … Read more

On Names, Culture, and Religion: Three Tests for Historicity

Mormon and Moroni by Joseph Brickey. “There is reason to believe that the story of Israel’s ancestors (Gen. 12–50), though understood in the light of later experiences, reflects to some degree the cultural background of the millennium starting with Hammurabi’s reign (second millennium B.C.E.).” So states Bernhard W. Anderson in his volume Understanding the Old … Read more

A Recent Experience with a Greek Manuscript

Not too long ago, as I was walking along the shores of the Aegean, I stumbled upon a fragmentary papyrus that read thus: οἱ δὲ ἵπποι οἱ ποτάμιοι νομῷ μὲν τῷ Παπρημίτῃ ἱροί εἰσι, τοῖσι δὲ ἄλλοισι Αἰγυπτίοισι οὐκ ἱροί. φύσιν δὲ παρέχονται ἰδέης τοιήνδε· τετράπουν ἐστί, δίχηλον, ὁπλαὶ βοός, σιμόν, λοφιὴν ἔχον ἵππου, χαυλιόδοντας … Read more

Why Were the Plates Necessary?

By the way, there’s really no reason to think Joseph Smith didn’t actually have these in his possession. A question I’ve encountered from time to time is why, if Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon through revelatory means, were the golden plates necessary. Jeremy Runnells, for instance, wonders how this doesn’t make useless “the … Read more

A Note on Archaeology

From the archaeologists Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley, in their 1992 volume Re-Constructing Archeology: Theory and Practice. Archaeology, we contend, is an interpretative practice, an active intervention engaging in a critical process of theoretical labor relating the past and present. It is entirely misleading to pose the problem of understanding and explaining the past in … Read more

Why Were the Gold Plates Necessary?

I am now roughly halfway through From Darkness unto Light: Joseph Smith’s Translation and Publication of the Book of Mormon. It is excellent. I’ve found many nice little nuggets I could blog about. For example, Michael MacKay and Gerrit Dirkmaat note the irony that Joseph Smith’s earliest antagonists (those who knew him the best) were … Read more

William Whiston was a Fraud!

Flavius Josephus, in the opening lines of his autobiography (probably written in the last decade of the 1st century AD), provides his genealogy in an apparent attempt to legitimize himself before his Roman audience. After describing his ancestry, Josephus concludes:   Thus have I set down the genealogy of my family as I have found … Read more