Book Review: Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones

Joseph Smith’s Seer Stones (2016) At a church conference on October 25–26, 1831, the topic of the translation of the Book of Mormon arose and Joseph Smith was pressed to furnish the details pertaining thereto. According to the minutes taken at the conference, “Br. Joseph Smith jr. said that it was not intended to tell … 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

Book Review: “A Reason for Faith: Navigating LDS Doctrine & Church History”

When I was in junior high school I attended a performance of Annie Get Your Gun that was put on by a nearby high school. I vividly remember the number “Anything You Can Do” because the actress playing Annie Oakley broke or sprained her ankle in the middle of the performance (she badly misstepped during … 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

Does Helaman 13–16 Plagiarize View of the Hebrews?

A popular, if not highly imaginative, depiction of Samuel the Lamanite preaching to the Nephites. In his “Letter to a CES Director,” Jeremy Runnells claims that the story of Samuel the righteous Lamanite preaching repentance to the apostate Nephites in Helaman 13–16 demonstrates Joseph Smith was guilty of plagiarizing Ethan Smith’s book View of the Hebrews. (On … 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