I write content that’s interesting and important to me, it helps me refine my understanding about a topic. I knew I needed to write about the most important, influential, and life changing topic in my life, The Book of Mormon.
Each and every aspect of my life has a direct tie-in to the doctrines taught in the Book of Mormon. The book has a profound doctrinal truth that cannot be argued or dismissed. IF the Book of Mormon is from God, Joseph Smith was the Prophet of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. And if Joseph Smith was the Prophet of the restoration, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints provides principles, ordinances, and covenants directly tied to eternal progression. These doctrinal truths testify of Jesus Christ, his mission, the plan of salvation, and our role in this life and our opportunties throughout eternity.
I firmly believe that Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the Book of Mormon is the keystone to that faith. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ, its purpose is to promote faith in the Savior of the world, clarify doctrine, and provide a clearer view of the plan our Father in heaven has for each of his children. Without the Book of Mormon the doctrines of our Gospel would fail.
As time passes the earth provides more and more evidence the Book of Mormon was not a fabrication of a young man in upstate New York. Many have tried to prove it false and have failed. More and more evidence is discovered, validated, and presented as undeniable proof the story told in the Book of Mormon is factual / not fiction.
Evidence Will Not Replacement Faith
Physical evidence and convincing archeological finds will never replace the needed faith that rests at the core of a life-changed. This post is to highlight arguments made in defense of the Book of Mormon. The evidences outlined here may serve as as a starting point… no person may know of a surety of these truths but by the spirit of God. You must read the words contained in the book, pray about their truthfulness, and allow the fruits of the spirit to confirm that the message presented in the book is from God.
I believe the Book of Mormon to testify clearly of Jesus Christ, to be the most correct book on earth, and will draw all people to a knowledge of the saving grace of the Atonement of our Savior.
I believe the Bible to be the word of God.
We currently have no “evidence” of Moses leading hundreds of thousands of Israelites from Egypt. There are no archeological objects bearing his name or documents containing reference to him. There’s also no word found in any ancient writings, in any tomb inscriptions, or walls of any temples about early Israelites in Egypt. This complete lack of “evidence” typically doesn’t make a believer in the Bible believe the words written are false. A sincere reader of the Bible knows that its words are true through faith (not whatever “evidence” is currently available).
With this knowledge you’d think that those that lay faith in the Bible, might not so easily dismiss the Book of Mormon citing a lack of “evidence”. To dismiss the truthfulness of the Bible because evidence has not yet been found to validate the story of Moses is absurd.
The Bible is the word of God (even if the evidence doesn’t “ultimately prove it”). I believe the Book of Mormon is also the word of God.
A Second Witness
If the Bible is a witness of the doctrines of Jesus Christ, it being one witness, there may be multiple variations of how doctrine is understood. If there is (1) point or dot, we could easily draw a line (an infinite amount of times) through that (1) witness. Think of all the Christian denominations that have the exact same source material (the Bible) but that do not agree on the doctrines written in its pages. There are a lot!
The Book of Mormon provides a second witness to the Bible. How many lines (or beliefs) can you have between two points? The answer is: one. One truth, and one doctrine. The Book of Mormon provides another testament of Jesus Christ.
Evidences (given in due time)
The argument many have used to try and dismiss the Book of Mormon is the lack of “evidence”. Let’s look at examples where the earth (in time) has provided answers to questions Joseph Smith would have been utterly unable to know.
The Book of Mormon was translated from golden plates. This was a laughable thought during Joseph Smith’s time. No one believed that ancient civilizations used metal plates as a mode of record keeping.
In 1933 (103 years after the Book of Mormon – first edition) a German archaeologist found metal plates made of gold and silver dating back to 516BC. The plates were from Emperor Darius I of Persia. These plates were discovered in a stone box (similar to how Moroni hid up the golden plates Joseph used to translate the Book of Mormon).
Important to note that Lehi left Jerusalem in 605 BC.
Experts also believed that metals were not used in Mesoamerica before AD 900. This belief was again disproven. Copper sheathing was found on top of an altar in Cuicuilco in the Valley of Mexico dating back to the first century BC.
There are many more examples of the discovery of metal plates, discoveries made long after Joseph translated the Book of Mormon by the power and authority of God.
Civilized People in the Ancient Americas
In the 1830’s it was widely believed that the Native Americans were a savage, uncivilized people. They claimed there were no ruined cities, monuments, mounds or fortifications. However, the Book of Mormon refers to a civilized people, large cities, highways that led from city to city, grain being raised in abundance, raising of flocks and herds, which in turn produced many merchants and lawyers.
A recent book written by Charles C. Mann clarifies that the pre-Columbian America’s were much different than what was believed by those living in the 19th century.
From the publisher:
- In 1491 there were probably more people living in the Americas than in Europe.
- Certain cities – such as Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital – were far greater in population than any contemporary European city. Furthermore, Tenochtitlán, unlike any capital in Europe at that time, had running water, beautiful botanical gardens, and immaculately clean streets.
- The earliest cities in the Western Hemisphere were thriving before the Egyptians built the great pyramids.
- Pre-Columbian Indians in Mexico developed corn by a breeding process so sophisticated that the journal Science recently described it as “man’s first, and perhaps the greatest, feat of genetic engineering”.
- Amazonian Indians learned how to farm the rain forest without destroying it – a process scientists are studying today in the hope of regaining this lost knowledge.
- Native Americans transformed their land so completely that Europeans arrived in a hemisphere already massively “landscaped” by human beings.
National Geographic has also been active in identifying a clearer picture of Ancient America.
- Peak of Civilization was 1200 years ago (more comparable to Greece or China)
- Not unreasonable to think the population was between 10-15 million people.
- Mayan cities were connected via causeways wide enough to suggest heavy traffic. These highways were also elevated to allow passage during wet seasons.
I’m not suggesting these people (who inhabited all of ancient America) are the same as those who authored the Book of Mormon text. I am stating the fact that during Joseph Smith’s day there was no proof in relation to a civilized people. In fact, it was commonly believed just the opposite was true.
I do believe literally in the words of the Book of Mormon, that a people led by Prophets of God were in fact inhabiting ancient America, and that the Book of Mormon is another witness of the doctrines of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Altar at the Crossroads of Nahom
Due to directions of travel provided by Nephi, this location in Arabia (prior to Lehi and his people traveling to the America’s) should be not too difficult to locate.
In 1999 an altar from Yemen in a museum catalog was discovered to have the inscription “Bi’athar, son of Sawåd, son of Naw’um, the Nihmite.” The term Nihmite indicates that the donor, Bi’athtar, hailed from “the Nihm region, west of Mārib.”
Nihm, Nehem, and Nehhm are all variant spellings of the same tribal and territorial name. Like most ancient Near Eastern languages, the south Arabian script found on the altar did not include vowels; hence Nihm/Nehem was spelled simply as NHM. Nephi’s own writings would have also omitted vowels, making NHM his equivalent of Nahom. – Book of Mormon Central
Three altars in all were located, dating back to the 7th and 6th centuries BC with the identical inscription in this land. Other writings also exist mentioning NHM (Nahom). The location matches with precision that location explained by Nephi via their travels to the land Bountiful.
Research also shows this region included a central burial ground (largest known in Arabia for outlying desert communities) and was actively used from about 3000 BC to AD 1000. This would align with Ishmael’s death as mentioned in 1 Nephi 16:34.
The Land Bountiful
From the death of Ishmael in 1 Nephi 16 to the departure from Nehom nearly eastward in 1 Nephi 17 we again should learn of a land that matches very specific criteria AND a journey that could only be accomplished successfully via this route.
Scholars have identified the journey further north of the Nihm territory (heading east) to be impossible. The only possible route is eastward from Nihm (Nehom).
The criteria of this place as indicated in 1 Nephi 17/18, must include:
- Fresh water
- Much fruit
- Access from interior desert to coast
- A mountain (located close enough to “pray oft”)
- Shoreline (suitable to build a ship)
- Ore and flint
- Large timber
- Adequate winds and ocean currents
- No population
- Nearly eastward from Nahom
A documentary currently available on Amazon outlines the discovery of such a place. Note: meeting ALL criteria outlined in the list above in one location was very challenging. It is known to this day that there is only (1) location nearly eastward of Nehom that matches ALL criteria.
Cement in Ancient America
In Helman 3:7 we read: And there being but little timber upon the face of the land, nevertheless the people who went forth became exceedingly aexpert in the working of cement; therefore they did build houses of cement, in the which they did dwell.
People during Joseph Smith’s day believed that there was absolutely no cement in ancient America. They believed this error in the book provided proof of the false teachings of the Book of Mormon. It proved Joseph was a fraud.
Even as late as the early to mid 20th century were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints ridiculed for believing the Book of Mormon to be the word of God due to the obvious error of cement in ancient America.
As truth typically allows, the evidence came forward and in a big way in the late 20th century. David Hyman, in his book “Pre Columbian Cements” displays just how advanced ancient America was in the development and use of cement.
“American technology in the manufacture of cement, its mixing and placement two thousand years ago, paralleled that of the Greeks and the Romans during the same period” notes structural engineer, David Hyman, in a recent study devoted to the use of cement in Pre-Columbian Mexico. The earliest known sample of such cement dates to the first century A.D. and is a “fully developed product.” Known samples of Mesoamerican cement work show signs of remarkable skill and sophistication. “Technology in the manufacturing of calcareous cements in Middle America [were] equal to any in the world at the advent of the Christian Era.” For example, concrete floor slabs at Teotihuacan that date to about this time exceed many present-day building requirements. While the earliest known samples are from the first century A.D., scholars believe that “their degree of perfection could not have been instantaneously created, but rather would have required a considerable period of development” before then. – FairMormon.org
One of my favorite details in the Book of Mormon is chiasmus. I’ll explain what it is but first: let’s agree that Joseph Smith had a limited education in his youth as explained in detail here.
Here’s an excerpt of what Joseph wrote in 1832:
I was born in the town of Charon [Sharon] in the of vermont North America on the twenty third day of December AD 1805 of goodly Parents who spared no pains to instructing me in christian religion at the age of about ten years my Father Joseph Smith Siegnior moved to Palmyra Ontario County in the State of New York and being in indigent circumstances were obliged to labour hard for the support of a large Family having nine chilldren and as it required the exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the support of the Family therefore we were deprived of the bennifit of an education suffice it to say I was mearly instructid in reading
and writing and the ground of Arithmatic which constuted my whole literary acquirements.
As you can see, he doesn’t (by himself) have a command of the written word.
What is Chiasmus?
Chiasmus is common in Hebrew literature (Book of Mormon was translated from Hebrew and Reformed Egyptian). It’s a form of writing that’s inverted in parallels. Probably easiest to explain it with an example: “He who fails to prepare, prepares to fail” – Let’s analyze that:
- (a) He who fails
- (b) to prepare
- (b) prepares
- (a) to fail
There’s a pattern. And in the Book of Mormon there are incredible examples of Chiasmus! In fact, the entire Chapter of Alma 36 is a Chiasmus.
Another SIMPLE example in scripture is: The last shall be first and the first shall be last.
Here are a few examples of Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon
And for a further review of Chiasmus, click here.
For any person with a sound mind and without preconceived notions that it is highly unlikely that Joseph Smith had the ability to weave this literary structure within the pages of the Book of Mormon. This is yet another example of God’s hand in the bringing forth of the Book of Mormon.
Barley in Ancient America
We read in the Book of Mormon:
Mosiah 9:9 And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land.
Barley was also used as a means of monetary exchange:
Alma 11:7 A senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold, and either for a measure of barley, and also for a measure of every kind of grain.
Barley was mentioned four times in the Book of Mormon.
Even as late as the mid 20th century it was widely believed that the only grain known in America was maize. This was yet another glaring representation during Joseph Smith’s time and beyond that he was a fraud.
However, in 1983 barley was discovered in Hohokam Native American archeology sites in Arizona.
Over time, more and more evidence for the domestication of little barley in the Americas has emerged over an increasingly wider span of both time and geography. Little barley may have diffused to other regions of the Americas which were known to trade with the southwest and eastern United States. – Book of Mormon Central
I’m sure for decades after the Book of Mormon was released some lost their testimony in its teaching due to a “lack” of evidence like Barley not being found in ancient America. However, time brings forth all truth. Barley in ancient America should provide to the reader some level of questioning in relation to “how did Joseph know that or get lucky writing that if he wrote the book and it was not ordained by God?”
“And it Came to Pass”
This phrase is located in the Book of Mormon multiple times (1,404 to be exact), in fact it’s almost a little annoying. Many thought this overused phrase was not indicative of scripture and was just “lazy” writing by Joseph Smith.
Turns out, the phrase is used 1,204 times in the Old Testament and its translation stems from a Hebrew word. Lehi (the first Book of Mormon prophet) came from Jerusalem and was immersed in Hebraic culture. This albeit very subtle example showcases literary styled writing from Hebrew vs. what Joseph could have conjured up had he not been instructed by God. Or if you’re completely cynical, he copied the writing process from the Bible (but logically speaking, that’s a stretch). And knowing his uneducated writing style, highly doubtful BUT very misleading to argue the case.
Jesus Born “at Jerusalem”
Alma 7:10 And behold, he shall be aborn of Mary, at bJerusalem which is the cland of our forefathers, she being a dvirgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and econceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
Everyone knows that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. This for many during Joseph’s time was another obvious mistake showcasing the Book to be written by a young man (not from God).
However, in 1887 (over 50 years since the Book of Mormon was completed) ancient near eastern documents dating back to the fourteenth century BC, known as the Amarna letters, were discovered.
El Amarna letter #287, an ancient Near Eastern text, mentions the “land of Jerusalem” several times. And—like Alma—the ancient writer of El Amarna letter #290 even refers to Bethlehem as part of the land of Jerusalem: In this letter is recorded the complaint of Abdu-Kheba of Jerusalem to Pharaoh Akhenaton that “the land of the king went over to the Apiru people. But now even a town of the land of Jerusalem, Bit-Lahmi [Bethlehem] by name, a town belonging to the king, has gone over to the side of the people of Keilah.”2 Hebron, almost twenty miles south of Bethlehem, was also considered part of the “land of Jerusalem.”
The Book of Mormon is internally consistent in using the wording “the land of Jerusalem” to refer to the place from which Lehi and his family had left, where the Savior would appear as a mortal, and to which the people of Judah would eventually return. – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
What seemed to be an error (something not known at the time of the translation of the Book of Mormon) turned out to be another witness that Joseph couldn’t have gotten lucky this many times. The text found in the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith through plates deposited for a coming day, written by Prophets of God who lived on the American content.
The Seal of Mulek
In the Book of Mormon there is record of a man named Mulek who was the son of Zedekiah.
Helaman 6: 10 Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south.
Helamn 8:21 And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem?…
Non Book of Mormon history had never been aware of anyone named Mulek, who was the son of King Zedekiah. There simply was no other record of him (other than that found in the pages of the Book of Mormon). In fact, there was no record of any of King Zedekiah’s children being spared from the Babylonian massacre. None were believed to have lived. And certainly no record of one migrating to the new world.
Fast forward about 150 years from the Book of Mormon being published: A small clay emblem for stamping documents was excavated in Jerusalem in the 1980s with the name Malkiyahu ben hamelek, or Malkiyahu son of the king. The estimated date of the seal is 7th or 6th centuries BC.
Shortening Malkiyahu to Mulek is a logical option similar to (Robert to Rob) or (William to Bill). The timeframe (estimated dating) for this clay emblem aligns exactly to when Mulek would have lived, it’s an incredible and priceless find. Again, the evidences brought forth in due time seem to keep proving the divinity of the Book of Mormon and not evidence of a lucky guesser or expert deceiver.
The Greatest Evidence is that of the Spirit of God
All of these evidences may help us strengthen our faith. However, there is simply no substitute for evidences provided via personal revelation. The Book of Mormon clearly identifies how all may come to know of its truthfulness in its last chapter:
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
There is no better promise than that of eternal joy. Eternal joy comes only in and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the covenants we make with our Father in Heaven. The Book of Mormon is a divinely appointed book of doctrines to help all of our Father in Heaven’s children find eternal joy. It clarifies truths lost through the ages. The book leads its diligent and faithful readers to a testimony of living Prophets. The Book of Mormon is the word of God.