Book of Mormon

Book of Mormon

A Closer Look

Basic Introduction

A Case for the Book of Mormon

Ch. 2-4 Cover much of this section of the CES Letter

1769 KJV Errors

CES Letter Core Question

What are errors from a 1769 edition of the King James Version Bible doing in the Book of Mormon?

What are 1769 King James Version edition errors doing in the Book of Mormon? A purported ancient text? Errors which are unique to the 1769 edition that Joseph Smith owned?

There is an undeniable relationship between portions of the Book of Mormon and the King James Bible. The origin and significance of the similarities can be interpreted in different ways. (Click here)

17th Century Italics

CES Letter Core Question

What are 17th century italicized words doing in the Book of Mormon?

A Closer Look Response

The foremost scholar on the language of the Book of Mormon says that it isn't really written in King James English, but in an older variant dating from the 1500s and 1600s. (Click here)

"Red Sea" in 2 Nephi 19:1
CES Letter Core Question

Why does 2 Nephi 19:1 mention the Red Sea which was 250 miles away?

The Book of Mormon describes the sea as the Red Sea. The problem with this is that (a) Christ quoted Isaiah in Matt. 4:14-15 and did not mention the Red Sea, (b) “Red” sea is not found in any source manuscripts, and (c) the Red Sea is 250 miles away.

Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
2 NEPHI 19:1
Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations.

CES Letter, Page 9

There is a plausible basis from the ancient world for referring to the sea as the Red Sea. On the other hand, if Joseph were relying on his knowledge of the Bible and fabricating the text, changing "sea" to "Red Sea" would make no sense. What would motivate a Bible literate fabricator to make such a change? (Click here)


Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible Original Manuscripts
CES Letter Core Question

Should the Book of Mormon Match Applicable JST Verses?

Parts of the JST are restorations of lost material, parts are prophetic or inspired commentary, parts are harmonization, and parts are updates to the archaic English of the KJV.  LDS scholars working on the JST have acknowledged this for many years. (Click here)


CES Letter Core Question

Do we know the DNA of those mentioned in the Book of Mormon? Should it be Asian DNA?

DNA analysis has concluded that Native American Indians do not originate from the Middle East or from Israelites but rather from Asia. Why did the Church change the following section of the introduction page in the 2006 edition Book of Mormon, shortly after the DNA results were released?

...the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indiansto...the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians

UPDATE: The Church conceded in its January 2014 Book of Mormon and DNA Studies essay that the majority of Native Americans carry largely Asian DNA. The Church, through this essay, makes a major shift in narrative from its past dominant narrative and claims of the origins of the Native American Indians.

CES Letter, Page 11

Scientists have shown that DNA analysis has no relevance to the Book of Mormon population.  (Click here)


CES Letter Core Question

Why do we see Anachronisms in the Book of Mormon?

Horses, cattle, oxen, sheep, swine, goats, elephants, wheels, chariots, wheat, silk, steel, and iron did not exist in pre-Columbian America during Book of Mormon times. Why are these things mentioned in the Book of Mormon as being made available in the Americas between 2200 BC - 421 AD?

Unofficial apologists claim victories in some of these items but closer inspection reveals significant problems. It has been documented that apologists have manipulated wording so that steel is not steel, sheep become never-domesticated bighorn sheep, horses become tapirs, etc.

CES Letter, Page 11

Valid contradictory evidences exist for the alleged anachronisms in the Book of Mormon. (Click here)


CES Letter Core Question

Where is the Archaeological Evidence Supporting the Book of Mormon?

There is absolutely no archaeological evidence to directly support the Book of Mormon or the Nephites and Lamanites, who were supposed to have numbered in the millions. 

CES Letter, Page 11

John Sorenson, UCLA Ph.D. and emeritus head of the BYU Anthropology department would likely disagree with this CES Letter claim. Additionally, there is still much to be learned about the history of the American continent. Tad Callister, author of A Case For the Book of Mormon, said:

Suppose I were to tell you that a man surveyed 2 percent or less of the geography in the United States and then made the unequivocal assertion that there are no everglades in the U.S., no mountains above 10,000 feet, no large lakes, no gold mines, no oil fields, and no volcanos, because in his survey he did not see any of these things. You would likely respond to such an assertion: “How foolhardy to categorically state that no such things exist when 98 percent of the U.S. had never even been seen by him!” Likewise, how foolhardy to unequivocally claim there were no horses, cattle, steel, or the like in Book of Mormon lands and times when at least 98 percent of archaeological sites in ancient America remain unearthed. Biblical historian and archaeologist Edwin Yamauchi summed it up pretty well when he said, “The absence of archaeological evidence is not evidence of absence.”

Edwin Barnhart wrote: “Less than one percent of Mesoamerica has been professionally surveyed.” And William Saturano added: “What percentage of Maya sites have been excavated? Of all the Maya sites that we know to exist, we have excavated less than 1% of them. . . . The sites themselves that we’ve done excavation at, we’ve excavated less than 10% of those sites, so of all the remains that we possibly could excavate, we are at 10% of 1% or one-tenth of a percent.”

Additionally, many remarkable archaeological evidences have been found that are surprisingly consistent with descriptions found in the Book of Mormon. (Click here)

Prophets & Others on Geography
CES Letter Core Question

What have prophets and others taught about Book of Mormon geography?

This is one of the reasons why unofficial apologists have developed the Limited Geography Model (it happened in Central or South America) and claim that the Hill Cumorah mentioned as the final battle of the Nephites is not in Palmyra, New York but is elsewhere. This is in direct contradiction to what Joseph Smith and other prophets have taught.  It also makes little sense in light of the Church’s visitor’s center near the Hill Cumorah in New York and the annual Church-sponsored Hill Cumorah pageants.

CES Letter, Page 11-12

The church officially published an essay that said, "The Church does not take a position on the specific geographic locations of Book of Mormon events in the ancient Americas." The idea that "unofficial apologists" developed the Central America theory as a response to a lack of archaeological evidence in New York is simply false. Joseph Smith expressed a number of opinions about where he felt the Book of Mormon events could have taken place -- including central America. One can find over 75 different map theories here that date back to as early as 1830.

Some of the "Limited Geography Models" theorize that the Hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon in not the same hill where Joseph Smith found the gold plates. This idea has been discussed for many decades and continues to be refined by scholars and archaeologists. It is not a recent invention and is very defensible. (Click here)

Hill Cumorah Location
CES Letter Core Question

Where is the Location of the Hill Cumorah?

We read about two major war battles that took place at the Hill Cumorah (Ramah to the Jaredites) with deaths numbering in the tens of thousands – the last battle between Lamanites and Nephites around 400 AD claimed at least 230,000 deaths on the Nephite side alone. No bones, hair, chariots, swords, armor, or any other evidence of a battle whatsoever has been found at this site. John E. Clark, director of BYU’s archaeological organization, wrote in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies:

In accord with these general observations about New York and Pennsylvania, we come to our principal object – the Hill Cumorah. Archaeologically speaking, it is a clean hill. No artifacts, no walls, no trenches, no arrowheads. The area immediately surrounding the hill is similarly clean. Pre-Columbian people did not settle or build here. This is not the place of Mormon’s last stand. We must look elsewhere for that hill.

CES Letter, Page 11-12

In addition to the video above, Book of Mormon Central provides further details about what we can infer about the Hill Cumorah location here

Comparing Book of Mormon Archaeology With Other Civilizations
CES Letter Core Question

Where are the Nephite or Lamanite buildings, roads, armors swords, pottery, art, etc.? We see evidence of Roman, Mayan, and Aztec civilizations.

Compare this with the archaeological evidence of other hillside battle sites. Caerau Hillfort, in the Wales capital of Cardiff, was found to have abundant archaeological evidence of inhabitants and weapons of war dating as far back as 3600 BC in the form of stone arrowheads, tools, and pottery.

Compare the absent evidence of Book of Mormon civilizations to the archaeological remains of other past civilizations such as the Roman occupation of Britain and other countries. There are abundant evidences of their presence during the first 400 years AD such as villas, mosaic floors, public baths, armor, weapons, writings, art, pottery, and so on. Even the major road systems used today in some of these occupied countries were built by the Romans. Additionally, there is ample evidence of the Mayan and Aztec civilizations as well as a civilization in current day Texas that dates back at least 15,000 years. Another recent discovery has been made of a 14,000-year-old village in Canada.

Admittedly, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, but where are the Nephite or Lamanite buildings, roads, armors, swords, pottery, art, etc.? How can these great civilizations just vanish without a trace?

CES Letter, Page 12


This is a false comparison. Civilizations have continually inhabited the European continent while areas of the Americas were abandoned for centuries. Abundant evidence of large societies in Mesoamerica are found today. Click here

Stewart Ferguson's Lost Testimony
CES Letter Core Question

Stuart Ferguson, an untrained archaeologist at BYU, was unsuccessful in his search for Book of Mormon archaeology and came to believe the book was fiction. Should church members be concerned?

Latter-day Saint Thomas Stuart Ferguson was the founder of BYU’s archaeology division (New World Archaeological Foundation). NWAF was financed by the LDS Church. NWAF and Ferguson were tasked by BYU and the Church in the 1950s and 1960s to find archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon. After 17 years of diligent effort, this is what Ferguson wrote in a February 20, 1976 letter about trying to dig up evidence for the Book of Mormon: can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere – because it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of the dirt-archaeology. I should say – what is in the ground will never conform to what is in the book.

CES Letter, Page 12

Ferguson was an attorney and amateur archaeologist.  He was not BYU's archaeology (NWAF) founder, but one of three organizers of a private archaeology association. His enthusiastic but ultimately incorrect conclusions published in the 1950s and 1960s differ greatly than the careful research of professional anthropologists. (Click here)


CES Letter Core Question

Did Joseph Smith use local city names found on 19th century maps in the Book of Mormon?

Many Book of Mormon names and places are strikingly similar to many local names and places of the region where Joseph Smith lived.

The following two maps show Book of Mormon geography compared to Joseph Smith’s geography.


(Northeast United States & Southeast Canada)

The first map is the “proposed map,” constructed from internal comparisons in the Book of Mormon.

Throughout the Book of Mormon we read of such features as “The Narrow Neck of Land” which was a day and a half’s journey (roughly 30 miles) separating two great seas. We also read about the Hill Onidah and the Hill Ramah – all place names in the land of Joseph Smith’s youth.

CES Letter, Page 13-14

This is one of the weakest sections of the CES Letter. Even Jeremy Runnell's thought it was the weakest section and considered removing it when crowd-sourcing his material on ex-Mormon reddit.

The video above does an excellent job addressing the weakness of this logic that Jeremy lifted from MormonThink.

CES Letter Crowdsources

These maps propose that Joseph Smith sifted through thousands of names in a 5-state region to find eleven obscure places to generate ideas for the Book of Mormon. Of these eleven, five were not mapped and one did not exist in Joseph Smith’s time. An additional three seem unrelated to the Book of Mormon or are not unique. This leaves just two as possible modified names, and these are shown to be in the wrong locations.

There is no official Book of Mormon geography. The text does not include a description of all of spacial relationships of the lands. Instead, the book includes occasional references to places and sometimes describes the travels of people. All of these separate geographic references are internally consistent. Most scholars, beginning in at least 1917, agree that Mesoamerica is a better match to the text, though many possibilities have been proposed. (Click here)

7a. Top Map

This top map rests on two pieces of flawed reasoning. First, that Joseph Smith had planned to place the hundreds of cities in the Book of Mormon around the Great Lakes geography. Second, Vernal Holley cracked the case by placing a handful of cities on a Great Lakes map. The problem is Holly's Map is full of errors and this logic completely collapses. (Click here)

7b. Bottom Map

This map has never existed in real life and has no connection to Joseph Smith’s time. Of the eleven locations shown, six were not found on the best maps available in Joseph's time. Three places are not unique or are not proposed as sources for the Book of Mormon: Palmyra, and Jacobsburg, Lehigh County (Jacob and Lehi are in the Bible).

These city names were not found on the best maps available in the 1820s. Current locations: Kiskimenetas, Shiloh, Rama Road, Jerusalem, Jacobsburg. FairMormon

The town Alma has never existed in this location. Alma, New York, 280 miles away, was first named in 1854, 24 years after the Book of Mormon was published.

This first proposed map misplaces almost all the cities, according to internal comparisons in the Book of Mormon.

CES Letter Core Question

Did Joseph Smith take the names Teancum and Kishkumen from other places?

We read in the Book of Mormon of the city of Teancum named for a warrior named Teancum who helped General Moroni fight in the Land of Desolation. In Joseph’s era, an Indian Chief named Tecumseh fought and died near the narrow neck of land in helping the British in the War of 1812. Today, the city Tecumseh (near the narrow neck of land) is named after this Chief.

We see the Book of Mormon city Kishkumen located near an area named, on modern maps, as Kiskiminetas. There are more than a dozen Book of Mormon names that are the same as or nearly the same as modern geographical locations.

CES Letter, Page 14


Per Mary Ann at Wheatandtares Blog:

"At no point has the word Tenecum been associated with either the historical figure Tecumseh or any locations bearing his name. Tenecum is an old spelling of the island on the Delaware River where Swedish colonists built a fort in 1643. The name was derived by the Lenape name Tin-eek Unk. By Joseph Smith’s time, the standardized spelling Tinicum was used in reference to adjoining townships on the Delaware River in both Bucks County and Delaware County Pennsylvania (see this 1823 gazetteer)."


This is really stretching here. Kishkiminetas Pennsylvania was over 300 miles away from Joseph Smith and wasn't established until 1876. However, it does show up from a post office guide from 1825.

Vernal Holley's Flawed List of Geography Parallels
CES Letter Core Question

"Why are there so many names similar to Book of Mormon names in the region where Joseph Smith lived? Is this all really just a coincidence?"

Vernal Holley List

Alma Alma, Valley of
Antrim Antum
Antioch (far better known as a Biblical location) Ani-Anti
Boaz (far better known as a Biblical location) Boaz
Hellam Helam
Jacobsburg Jacobugath
Jerusalem (far better known as a Biblical location) Jerusalem
Jordan (far better known as a Biblical location) Jordan
Kishkiminetas (not found on any 1820s maps of the northeast USA) Kishkumen
Lehigh (far better known as a Biblical location) Lehi
Mantua Manti
Moraviantown (not found on any 1820s maps of the northeast USA) Morianton
Noah Lakes (far better known as a Biblical location) Noah, Land of
Oneida Onidah
Oneida Castle Onidah, Hill
Rama (not found on any 1820s maps of the northeast USA) Ramah
Ripple Lake Ripliancum, Waters of
Sodom (far better known as a Biblical location) Sidom
Shiloh (far better known as a Biblical location) Shilom
Sherbrooke Shurr

Source: Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look, Vernal Holley

Why are there so many names similar to Book of Mormon names in the region where Joseph Smith lived? Is this really all just a coincidence?

CES Letter, Page 14

The best analysis of the Vernal Holley maps can be found in the following article Want to Debunk or Defend the Vernal Holley Maps? We’ve Got You Covered!

Five cities in this CES Letter list (above) didn't exist in the best maps of the northeastern United States in the 1820s. (FairMormon). Another six cities on that list are far more prominent Biblical locations than obscure towns hundreds of miles from Joseph Smith.  Vernal Holley is entitled to his opinion, but his theories manifest multiple blatant inconsistencies and inaccuracies. Vernal Holley's ideas do not represent official Church teachings and are repudiated by many LDS and non-LDS scholars. (Click here)


Hill Cumorah - From Captain Kidd?
CES Letter Core Question

Did Joseph Smith steal the name "Cumorah" and "Moroni" from the treasure hunting stories known as Captain Kidd? 

Off the eastern coast of Mozambique in Africa is an island country called “Comoros.” Prior to its French occupation in 1841, the islands were known by its Arabic name, “Camora.” There is an 1808 map of Africa that refers to the islands as “Camora.”

Camora is near center in the above 1808 Map of Africa

The largest city and capital of Comoros (formerly “Camora”)? Moroni. “Camora” and settlement “Moroni” were names in pirate and treasure hunting stories involving Captain William Kidd (a pirate and treasure hunter) which many 19th century New Englanders – especially treasure hunters – were familiar with.

In fact, the uniform spelling for Hill Cumorah in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon is spelled “Camorah.”

This map was first published in Dublin, Ireland, in 1808 as part of an article entitled "Africa" written R. Brookes and published in The General Gazetteer; or Compendious Geographical Dictionary. Evidently the author of The CES Letter believes Joseph viewed it and plagiarized it. (Click here)

The CES Letter alleges that by reading novels that mentioned Captain Kidd, Joseph Smith learned of a small island off the coast of Africa called “Comora,” whose largest city is "Moroni" and placed those names in the Book of Mormon. Also included is an 1808 map with hundreds of place names including "Comora," but not "Moroni." The problem is that novels about Captain Kidd printed before 1830 do not mention Comora and Moroni, so precisely where Joseph was supposed to have learned of these names is unclear. Also, there is no evidence Joseph ever saw such a map or read such novels, although he may have heard stories about him. This allegation is poorly constructed and poorly supported. (Click here)

Pomeroy Tucker: A Credible Source?

Pomeroy Tucker was born in Palmyra, New York in 1802, three years before Joseph Smith. He is considered to be a contemporary source. This is what he said about Joseph Smith:

Joseph ... had learned to read comprehensively ... [reading] works of fiction and records of criminality, such for instance as would be classed with the ‘dime novels’ of the present day. The stories of Stephen Buroughs and Captain Kidd, and the like, presented the highest charms for his expanding mental perceptions


Some apologists say that Tucker’s Mormonism: Its Origin, Rise, and Progress is “anti- Mormon” and thus anything in the book cannot be trusted. If this is true, why then did LDS scholar and Church History compiler B.H. Roberts quote Tucker for background information on Joseph Smith? Also, FairMormon has an article in which they quote Tucker’s book 4 times as support for Joseph, and they even refer to Tucker as an “eyewitness” to Joseph and his family. Is Tucker’s peripheral information only useful and accurate when it shows Joseph and the Church in a positive and favorable light?

Update coming

Palmyra Residents Knew of Captain Kidd Stories

We are sorry to observe, even in this enlightened age, so prevalent a disposition to credit the accounts of the marvellous. Even the frightful stories of money being hid under the surface of the earth, and enchanted by the Devil or Robert Kidd [Captain Kidd], are received by many of our respectable fellow citizens as truths.

Notice that this is considered “prevalent” and “received by many of our respectable fellow citizens as truths.” The above contemporary newspaper quote from Palmyra, New York, in 1825 was not tainted by any desire to damage Joseph Smith. This article provides a snapshot of the worldview of 1825 New England.

Acknowledging that respectable citizens knew of Captain Kidd is not evidence that Joseph Smith knew of the remote island off the coast of Africa named Comoros or its largest city, Moroni.

CES Letter Core Question

This is all just a mere coincidence? 

The Hill Cumorah and Moroni have absolutely nothing to do with Camora and Moroni from Captain Kidd stories? Stories that Joseph and his treasure hunting family, friends, and community were familiar with? The original 1830 Book of Mormon just happens to have the uniform “Camorah” spelling? This is all just a mere coincidence?

UPDATE: Additional information and analysis can be found at

It's interesting that the CES Letter is so convinced of these couple of parallels but fails to mention of the thousands of pages of the parallels of John Sorenson's Mormon's Codex or the 125 ancient parallels to the Book of Abraham found in Traditions About the early Life of Abraham. Are these all just mere coincidence?

View of the Hebrews

CES Letter Core Question

Was Joseph Smith a plagiarizer of View of the Hebrews, The Late War, The First Book of Napoleon, The Philosophy of a Future State, novels about pirate Captain Kidd, and numerous maps spanning hundreds of miles?

According to the CES Letter, Joseph managed to read thousands of pages of books and scanned world maps to steal ideas, names, and random phrases to include in the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham. This is neither intuitive nor likely given what Joseph's closest associates said of him. Joseph Smith's mother Lucy Mack Smith said Joseph was “less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of our children.” Joseph's wife Emma, the person who knew him better than any other, said that, “Joseph Smith [as a young man] could neither write nor dictate a coherent and well-worded letter, let alone dictat[e] a book like the Book of Mormon.” 

The CES Letter has alleged that Joseph Smith borrowed names from obscure maps, and/or used View of the Hebrews as a basis for the Book of Mormon and/or was influenced by The Last War and the First Book of Napoleon. Yet, no attempt has been made to contextualize these claims with available documentary evidences. Without a historical correlation, The CES Letter's arguments are less persuasive. (Click here)


CES Letter Core Question

The Book of Mormon and View of the Hebrews share a number of parallel topics and similar phrases. Does the Book of Mormon plagiarize from View of the Hebrews?

This is the first accusation based upon parallelism or the idea that demonstrating a similarity or possible parallel constitutes undeniable evidence of influence, collaboration, and/or authorship. Nevertheless, correlation is not causation.

Important non-parallels can be identified with the foremost being that the Book of Mormon contains almost five times as many words as View of the Hebrews. (Click here)

Observers who may suspect that the View of the Hebrews could have served as a basis for the Book of Mormon can read the two texts and decide for themselves:

Chart Comparing the Book of Mormon and View of Hebrews

It is curious that The CES Letter spends three pages discussing the View of Hebrews. While this chart appears to provide a detailed comparison to the Book of Mormon, it is really very superficial and there are far more dissimilarities in the two texts. Importantly, there is no historical evidence connecting them.  (Click here)

Oliver Cowdery's Connection to Ethan Smith
CES Letter Core Question

Oliver Cowdery, who helped translate the Book of Mormon, attended the Ethan Smith's congregation. Ethan wrote View of the Hebrews. Did Oliver help Joseph plagiarize View of the Hebrews?

Reverend Ethan Smith was the author of View of the Hebrews. Ethan Smith was a pastor in Poultney, Vermont when he wrote and published the book. Oliver Cowdery – also a Poultney, Vermont resident – was a member of Ethan’s congregation during this time and before he went to New York to join his distant cousin Joseph Smith. As you know, Oliver Cowdery played an instrumental role in the production of the Book of Mormon.

This direct link between Joseph and Oliver and View of the Hebrews demonstrates that Joseph is very likely to have been aware of the theme and content of that book. It gives weight to all the similarities described in the preceding comparison chart. Apologists may point out that the Book of Mormon is not a direct, word-for-word plagiarism of View of the Hebrews, and indeed that is not the claim. Rather, the similarities should give any reader pause that two books so similar in theme and content would coincidentally be connected by Oliver Cowdery.

CES Letter, Page 20

The challenge with this claim is it insinuates that Oliver Cowdery is a co-conspirator who knowingly assisted in the creation of the Book of Mormon. This is a much larger and unsupported claim addressed elsewhere. Larry Morris, who wrote an essay on this said that any arguments for this connection offer "no dates, no locations... and lacks support from primary documents." (see p. 119-122)  Oliver Cowdery's Vermont Years and the Origins of Mormonism. Church critic Robert D. Anderson acknowledges "there is no documentation that Ethan Smith and Oliver Cowdery had any kind of relationship”

Larry Morris further adds, "Royal Skousen’s study of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon offers strong evidence that Oliver acted simply as scribe, not coauthor. In addition, witnesses of the translation process, including such friendly individuals as David Whitmer and such hostile individuals as Isaac Hale, agree that Joseph dictated the text. (Nor do any of them mention Joseph and Oliver doing any sort of planning.)" (The Private Character Of The Man Who Bore That Testimony”: Oliver Cowdery And His Critics, p. 325)

The CES Letter attempts to make a case for a connection between Ethan Smith and Oliver Cowdery. Ethan was 45 years older than Oliver, who was just 17 when View of the Hebrews was published. Oliver's family were members of Ethan's congregation, but other than that single observation, no historical documentation exists showing the two ever met or were acquainted.  (Click here)

The time line described here in The CES Letter is murky. Oliver moved away from Ethan's congregation in 1826, but did not meet Joseph Smith until three years later. Other than observing that Oliver was in Ethan's congregation, there is no evidence connecting Oliver to Ethan or his book. (Click here)

B.H. Robert's Analysis of View of the Hebrews
CES Letter Core Question

B.H. Roberts saw similarities between View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon. Does this give strength to the claim that the Book of Mormon plagiarized from it?

LDS General Authority and scholar Elder B.H. Roberts privately researched the link between the Book of Mormon and the View of the Hebrews, Joseph’s father having the same dream in 1811 as Lehi’s dream , and other sources that were available to Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and others before the publication of the Book of Mormon. Elder Roberts’ private research was meant only for the eyes of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve and was never intended to be available to the public. However, Roberts’ work was later published in 1985 as Studies of the Book of Mormon . Based upon his research, Elder B.H. Roberts came to the following conclusion on the View of the Hebrews:

Did Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews furnish structural material for Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon? It has been pointed out in these pages that there are many things in the former book that might well have suggested many major things in the other. Not a few things merely, one or two, or a half dozen, but many; and it is this fact of many things of similarity and the cumulative force of them that makes them so serious a menace to Joseph Smith’s story of the Book of Mormon’s origin.

While this does not prove that the Book of Mormon was plagiarized from the View of the Hebrews, it does demonstrate that key elements of the story of the Book of Mormon – i.e. Native Americans as Hebrew descendants, ancient records of natives preserved, scattering and gathering of Israel, Hebrew origin of Native American language, etc. pre-dated the Book of Mormon and were already among the ideas circulating among New England protestant Americans.

With these ideas already existing and the previously cited issues with KJV plagiarism, errors, anachronisms, geography problems, and more issues to come, is it unreasonable to question Joseph Smith’s story of the Book of Mormon origins as Church Historian B.H. Roberts did?

UPDATE: Additional information and analysis can be found at

Chart Source: BH Roberts

The information in this chart is from B. H. Roberts' research. In 1923 he wrote:

“This report herewith submitted is what it purports to be, namely a ‘study of Book of Mormon origins,’ for the information of those who ought to know everything about it pro et con.” Quoting only his “con” (or negative) assessments misrepresents him. His position was “Our faith is not only unshaken but unshakable in the Book of Mormon, and therefore we can look without fear upon all that can be said against it.” (Click here)

Roberts' scholarly review of View of the Hebrews did not reflect his personal belief, but The CES Letter creates that illusion by ignoring his other plain statements regarding the Book of Mormon. (Click here)

Lucy Mack Smith’s Memory of Joseph Sr. Dream

The story of Joseph Smith's father's dream was written many years after the Book of Mormon was published. It is more likely that Joseph's elderly mother was influenced by the Book of Mormon when she wrote about the dream rather than the opposite.  (Click here)

The Late War

CES Letter Core Question

The Book of Mormon and The Late War share a number of parallel topics and similar phrases. Does the Book of Mormon plagiarize from The Late War?

In another example of alleged parallelism, Chris and Duane Johnson compared the texts of 135,270 books published between 1500 and 1830 to the Book of Mormon. The authors report that their studies identified a few books that are similar in style, including The Late War. However, there is no evidence Joseph Smith ever saw a copy or even knew they existed. Neither is there a plausible explanation for how any of them might have influenced the creation of the Book of Mormon. While intriguing, without a believable explanation connecting its text to the Book of Mormon, its inclusion here seems a bit odd. (Click here)

Observers who may suspect that the The Late War could have served as a basis for the Book of Mormon can read the two texts and decide for themselves:

Common Phrases - Scriptural Style in Early Nineteenth Literature

Additional computer analysis demonstrates that regarding non-contextual words, archaic words, structure of the language, unusual words, distinguishing phrases, and content topics, the Book of Mormon is more similar to King James style than The Late War. In fact, The Late War is similar to King James style only in a contorted pseudo-biblical exaggerated caricature. So, if Joseph Smith was influenced by The Late War, his imitation of King James style was better than Gilbert J. Hunt's. (Click here)

The First Book of Napoleon

CES Letter Core Question

The Book of Mormon and The First Book of Napoelon share a number of parallel topics and similar phrases. Does the Book of Mormon plagiarize from The First Book of Napoleon?

The First Book of Napoleon is the third offering in The CES Letter asserting that parallelism proves, or at least indicates, a correlation with the Book of Mormon. Observers wishing to test this theory can read the two texts and decide for themselves:

A second book out of the 135,270 in the Johnsons' study, but with fewer reported parallels than The Late War, is The First Book of Napoleon. The CES Letter tells us it is "shocking" but fails to note that the Johnsons had to use the first 25 pages of the book in order to find enough words or phrases to make it appear similar to the Book of Mormon. (Click here)

Misleading Use of Ellipses

In order to create this “side-by-side comparison,” the author of The CES Letter carefully isolated twelve brief excerpts from the first twenty-five pages of The First Book of Napoleon, strung them together, then compared them to twelve carefully selected excerpts from the first eleven pages from the Book of Mormon. This process is not only non-scholarly but also remarkably deceptive. (Click here)

Early Godhead

CES Letter Core Question

Does the Book of Mormon present a Trinitarian view of the Godhead?

100,000 Changes

Since the printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon contained no punctuation, a dramatic number of changes can be alleged only if an observer counts every comma, period, and other punctuation mark. Changes in the meaning of the text are few and are easily explained through an historical investigation of the events leading up to those few changes. Any attempt to portray the coming forth of the Book of Mormon as requiring multiple edits to correct errors is simply inaccurate. (Click here)

Trinitarian Sounding Verses Currently in the Book of Mormon

While some statements in the Book of Mormon may seem to promote a Trinitarian view, others contradict it. Importantly, no teachings from Joseph Smith, whether early or late, declare a belief in the Christian Trinitarian creed of the Godhead. His revelations and teachings have consistently taught of a Godhead that is one in purpose, not one in body. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost may each be referred to as God. However, their united purpose allows them to be collectively referred to as one God without meaning one entity or personage. (Click here)

The author of The CES Letter alleges that these references to Christ as the Father support that the Book of Mormon still teaches a Trinitarian view of the Godhead, which the Church has never embraced. The Book of Mormon teaches that Christ created the heavens and the earth and so He is the Father of the creation. Our physical bodies are of the earth and so Christ is our Father in that way also. The Christian Trinitarian doctrine is not taught in any LDS scripture. (Click here)

Boyd Kirkland on Trinitarian View:

Boyd Kirkland was an American television director of animated cartoons who published several journal articles discussing LDS teachings. He is entitled to his opinion but would not be considered authoritative by most religious scholars.

Joseph Smith's View of the Godhead

Selectively quoting Joseph Smith's early statements and revelations can create the illusion that his teachings about God changed between 1829 and 1838.  However, a comprehensive evaluation of the Prophet's declarations during that same period makes it clear that he believed that the Father and the Son were physically separate beings but one in purpose. (Click here)

← Introduction