New Approaches to Book of Mormon Study

Chapter 3

New Approaches to Book of Mormon Study*

In the short time since the appearance of two series of articles in the Era
under the titles Lehi in the Desert (1950) and The World of the
(1951—52),1 a number
of important discoveries and significant studies have come forth, bringing new
and surprising light to the study of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
By a fortunate coincidence, the new materials are particularly pertinent to
answering the objections of those critics of the Book of Mormon who have found
the above-named studies hard to accept. But before we take the cover off, we
must remind the doubters of certain responsibilities.

It seems that those who would attack the Book of Mormon are now forsaking
the dangerous ground of tangible and objective evidence to set up their artillery
on the eminence of moral and philosophical superiority. Their arguments are
sweeping and general, and they suffer from the fatal weakness of overlooking
entirely the well-established rules of textual criticism. Since these rules
seem to be virtually unknown to many, yet have a vital bearing on the problem
of the Book of Mormon, a few words illustrating their application are not
only in order but also long overdue. So the discoveries must wait until we
have settled some preliminary points.

One of the best-established disciplines in the world is the critical examination
of written texts to detect what in them is spurious and what is genuine. The
revival of learning came with the discovery of quantities of ancient documents
resurrecting the glories of classical antiquity, but not one of these manuscripts
was an original; all without exception were copies of copies. For four hundred
years the main business of "scholarship" has been to produce from
the materials at hand texts which would most closely correspond to the lost
originals, sifting the true from the false by a strenuous and exacting discipline.
2 With the accumulated wisdom and technical experience of centuries it should
be possible in our day—as it should have been in Joseph Smith’s—to
give the Book of Mormon the full treatment. It seems strange that such a controversial
book should never have been subjected to a systematic application of the rules
of textual criticism. That may be because critics are very few in number and
have always thought they have had more important work at hand. But whatever
the reason, the fact is that all criticism of the Book of Mormon in the past
has been suspiciously superficial.

To illustrate this claim and not to undertake a thorough investigation at
this time, let us briefly apply to the Book of Mormon the main rules put forth
by Friedrich Blass in his classic work on hermeneutics and criticism, which
remains the "standard work" on the subject.3 The rules given by
Blass are all obvious enough to experience and reflection, but every one of
them is a stumbling block to the superficial critic, and they have all been
scrupulously avoided by those attacking the Book of Mormon.

To begin with, says Blass, "We have the document, and the name of its
author; we must begin our examination by assuming that the author indicated
really wrote it." You always begin by assuming that a text is genuine.
4 What critic of the Book of Mormon has ever done that? One can hear the screams
of protest: "How unscientific! How naive! How hopelessly biased!"
Yet to the experience of the centuries Blass adds perfectly convincing reasons
for his shocking rule. It is equally biased to accept or reject a text at
first glance, but still one must assume at the outset that it is either spurious
or genuine if one is to make any progress.

Jacoby, the foremost authority on Greek historical writing, observes that no
great historical writing was ever produced "sine ira et studio"
5—in other words, without partiality—one
must take a stand on something if one is to lift or move anything. An open mind
is not a mind devoid of opinions, but one that is willing to change opinions
in the face of new evidence. If we must assume something about the authenticity
of the Book of Mormon at the outset, why not assume that it is false, as its
critics regularly do? Because, says Friedrich Blass, once you assume that a
document is a fake, no arguments and no evidence to the end of time can ever
vindicate it, even if it is absolutely genuine. Why is that? Because "there
can be no such thing as an absolutely positive proof."6
The only possible certainty lies in the negative; for example, if we know for
that a crime has been committed by a woman, the negative fact that
a suspect is not a woman completely exonerates him; but on the other
hand the fact that one is a woman proves neither guilt nor innocence.
Thus, while we can never prove absolutely that the Book of Mormon is what it
claims to be, we are justified at the outset in assuming that it is what it
claims to be. If one assumes that it is true, its features at least become testable.

Whoever refuses to accept the original claim of a document’s origin "is
under obligation," says Blass, "to supply in its place a credible
explanation" of its origin. In doing so, he warns us, we must be on our
guard against "assuming the existence of forgers who are at one moment
so clever and adroit as to imitate the writing of Plato or Demosthenes with
deceptive skill, and in the next moment are so idiotic and stupid as to let
themselves get caught red-handed in the most colossal blunders. Nor is the existence
of forgers of genius believable, nor of highly gifted writers who are at the
same time completely uninformed, such as those to whom the Phaedo and
the Gospel of John have been attributed. All this sort of thing represents no
true cause, and any explanation that requires such an hypothesis is to be put
aside without hesitation in favor of the simple appeal to the preserved writings
of the writer."7

Even in explaining mistakes and blunders in a document, we are told, fraud
is always the last theory to turn to, for forgery "must always be based
on the assumption that we are dealing with vicious jugglers and coiners, to
whom the critic, whenever it suits his interest, imputes a degree of cunning
equal to his own. In reality such a breed of forger is simply a product of
fantasy, a race of spooks with which the critic peoples his world, and which
are at his disposal when and as he wants them, taking every form, like Proteus,
which occasion demands appearing now as stupid idiots and now as incredibly
sly deceivers. Before the sober eye these ghosts vanish."8

Now is not this sly but ignorant forger who never existed the very image
of the "Joseph Smith" who is now being put forward as the only possible
explanation for the Book of Mormon?

The critics who think they have at last found a plausible explanation for
the book have simply fallen into the oldest booby trap of all, the one which
the critic, according to Blass, must avoid before all others as the easiest
but silliest solution of the problem.

But how can we be certain about anything in criticizing the Book of Mormon?
To this Blass gives us the answer: the nearest we can get to certainty, he says,
is when we have before us a long, historical document, for
it is "improbable in the highest degree, and therefore to be regarded at
all times as inadmissible that any forger coming later [than the pretended date
of authorship] can have the knowledge and diligence necessary to present any
quantity of historical data without running into contradictions."
In this, the one sure way of detecting a falsifier, according to our guide,
is by those things which he cannot well have succeeded in imitating because
they were too trifling, too inconspicuous, and too troublesome to reproduce.9

In Lehi in the Desert we said: The test of an historical document
lies, as we have so often insisted, not in the story it tells, but in the casual
details that only an eyewitness can have seen.10
It is in such incidental and inconspicuous details that the Book of Mormon shines.
Blass, then, notes that when these details occur in considerable numbers (as
they certainly do in the Book of Mormon), we can confidently assume a genuine
text; and, above all, when the large numbers of details fit together and prove
each other, we have the strongest proof of all, for difficulties increase not
mathematically with the length of a document, but geometrically.11

Speaking of the Jaredites, the author has said: "Individually, I find
the parallels between the Jaredites and the early Asiatics very impressive,
but taken together their value increases as the cube of their number. In the
Book of Ether they are woven into a perfect organic whole, a consistent picture
of a type of society the very existence of which has come to be known only
in recent years."12 For Blass this is the final test.

A principle on which Blass lays great emphasis is that "whatever lies
outside the usual and familiar" is to be regarded as "incredible."
13 Hence the sly, stupid forger must
go out the window. But what about Joseph Smith’s story? Does that lie in the
province of the usual and familiar? If it is totally "outside the usual
and familiar" course of events for an ignorant rustic to produce a huge
and elaborate book, that proves that he didn’t write it; but then we are "under
obligation to supply a credible explanation" of who did. Recently clergymen
have been making much of the claim that Sidney Rigdon was the man. The claim
is ridiculous—Rigdon himself would have shouted it from the housetops,
after he left Nauvoo, were it true—but even if that were so, where does
it get us? The fabulous forger has merely changed his name. As if one were to
say, "They claim that a man named Jones dug the Grand Canyon. Preposterous!
It was a man named Brown!" In a word, who in 1830 could have written
the Book of Mormon?

Joseph Smith’s own story of the book’s authorship certainly lies far "outside
the usual and familiar," and we have every right to ask for special proof
of it. This he obligingly supplies when he puts the book in our hands and asks
us how we explain it. Books of Mormon do not occur at all "in
the usual course of events." Therefore, we have every right to doubt the
book’s existence, except for one thing: We have the book. The only alternative
to Joseph Smith’s explanation is to assume, paraphrasing Blass, the existence
of a forger who at one moment is so clever and adroit as to imitate the archaic
poetry of the desert to perfection and supply us with genuine Egyptian names,
and yet so incredibly stupid as to think that the best way to fool people and
get money out of them is to write an exceedingly difficult historical epic of
six hundred pages.14 Endowed with the
brains, perseverance, and superhuman cunning necessary to produce this monumental
forgery, the incredibly sly genius did not have the wit to know, after years
of experience in the arts of deception, that there are ten thousand safer and
easier ways of fooling people than by undertaking a work of infinite toil and
danger which, as he could see from the first, only made him immensely unpopular.
This is the forger who never existed.

According to Blass, there has never been a clever forgery. Some forgeries
have been very successful, but that always required the willing cooperation
of dupes and salutary neglect of critics.15 A classic illustration of the
principle is furnished by an experience of the Arab poet Khalaf al-Ahmar,
by whom, according to Nicholson, "this art of forgery was brought to
perfection" in the eighth century A.D. After the scholars of Basra and
Kufa had accepted his work as genuine for many years, the impostor, grown
old and penitent, confessed to them that the verses he had palmed off on them
as genuine writings of the ancients were really his own compositions. To this
honest but belated admission, the scholars gave the astonishing reply that
they preferred to regard the documents as genuine, pompously declaring, "What
you said then seems to us more trustworthy than your present assertion."
16 They believed the forgery because they were determined to, and from many
other cases it is clear that the numerous forgeries of the Arab poets were
successful not because they were cleverly done, but because of the ignorance,
gullibility, and above all the eagerness of the schoolmen to accept them.
As late as the nineteenth century, German scholars were still studying as
the genuine work of a Greek poet an adroit imitation composed by the celebrated
Joseph Scaliger: and yet the document that fooled them was not even a forgery,
for Scaliger had actually signed his name to it! If no forgery can stand without
the will to believe it, on the other hand, once that will is present, no forgery
is too clumsy to be acceptable to the experts.

This point is further illustrated in recent studies on the false Isidorian
Decretals, the most famous and influential of all forgeries. It is agreed among
experts that whoever produced this celebrated cornerstone of papal power could
have succeeded in the ruse only by being "strong enough to prevent
any investigation of its origin and hence the discovery of the fraud."

There has been some disagreement as to who the guilty parties were, but none
as to their methods. Haller has argued that it was Pope Nicholas I who, finding
the new document useful to his purposes, insisted that it had reposed in the
Roman archives since early Christian times.18 The celebrated Hincmar accepted
the document as genuine, and "when we remember how often clever specialists
have let themselves be fooled, it is not surprising" that Hincmar was
one of the first to accept the Isidorian fraud in spite of its sudden appearance
out of nowhere. The point to notice, however, is that Hincmar, sympathetic
though he was with the document, could not be fooled for long: He soon began
to doubt, and as he studied the text, his doubts increased until finally within
a few years he had proved to himself and others that it was beyond a doubt
a forged document.19 Yet though the Decretals were held in suspicion all
over France, the pope was able to check criticism by a shrewd appeal to self-interest,
showing the irreverent clergy that they had made full use of the forgery when
it suited their interests.20 In the seventeenth century the Jesuits were
still defending the pseudo-Isidorian Decretals, but their only argument was
that it was a sin of supreme presumption to question or lay irreverent hands
on a holy document, that it is sacrilegious to question what the Church has
accepted—a claim to immunity which has become fundamental to the modern
Catholic defense. Forgers cannot afford to risk examination. But Joseph Smith
to the day of his death placed the Book of Mormon in the hands of all who
could do him the most harm if anything about it could be in any way suspected.

It might be objected that there may be any number of forgeries so clever
that they have entirely escaped detection and so are ignorantly accepted by
us as genuine. This may be so—and we will never know the answer; but
the fact that all known forgeries have turned out to be clumsy ones that succeeded
only because their public wanted them to succeed makes the super-forgery hypothesis
exceedingly improbable. The Book of Mormon cannot be attacked on that ground,
since it was never, to say the least, a popular book, and thousands of cunning
people would have given a great deal to be able to discredit it with unanswerable
proofs; considering the circumstances of its production and publication it
must be, if a fraud, one of the clumsiest and most obvious of frauds ever

But is forgery the proper word to use at all? Might not the author
of the Book of Mormon have been weak and foolish rather than vicious; might
he not have written a long book simply because he was too naive to know how
dangerous that sort of thing was? Geniuses are often quite naive and combine
immense ability with hopeless irresponsibility. After all, no one would accuse
Chatterton of being depraved—yet he did fool people. To which the answer
is that Chatterton’s forgeries were very obvious and fooled only romantic critics
who were very ignorant of early English or determined to accept the wonderful
new finds. The author of the Book of Mormon was not naive: he could not have
written such a long book without having given it much thought, and that he dares
then to put it into our hands shows that he is very sure of himself. To follow
Blass, a forger can be sure of himself for two reasons only: either because
he is too utterly silly to know what he is up against or because he is immensely
clever.21 As to the Prophet, the man
who was clever enough to overcome the difficulties presented in writing the
Book of Mormon was certainly capable of recognizing that those difficulties
existed. He cannot have overcome them unconsciously without a slip in book after
book, no matter how foolishly confident he may have been; there are some things
which even irresponsible geniuses cannot do. The author of the Book of Mormon
was neither shallow nor naive. But an intelligent forger is not going to risk
a long forgery at all when a short one will do just as well, nor is he going
to publish and circulate permanent evidence of his crime among the general public,
who would be far more willing to accept him without it! A silly man could
not have composed the Book of Mormon, and a clever man absolutely would
not have!

Are there then no skillful but innocent forgeries? Must we take a hard, uncompromising
stand? Cannot Joseph Smith have been a religiously sincere quack? Willrich,
noting that it has been popular practice to designate forgeries as "inventions"
or "free compositions" to avoid the ugly word, assures us that if
the purpose of any writing is to deceive, it is a forgery. Thus for
all their pious purpose, the letters attributed to Hellenistic rulers in Josephus
are forgeries, dishonest documents invented to furnish proof that the Jews had
formerly been honored by the great ones of the earth.22
"We must designate as a forgery any document that claims, without justification,
to be genuine, even though the claim may be a comparatively harmless one."23
In discussing the forgeries of the famous Lanfranc of Canterbury, Bohmer writes:
"Is it possible and permissible to consider such a high official and such
a devoted priest as a sly forger?" The answer is yes! "It can be proven
that the Archbishop when it suited his purpose had not the slightest scruple
against taking crooked paths when it appeared that he could not reach his goal
by straight ones.

"Whoever knows and understands the men of the Middle Ages, how many
of them, though excellent bishops, abbots, clerics, and monks by the standards
of the time, practised falsification of documents—Hincmar of Rheims,
Adaldag of Mamburg-Bremen, Frederick of Salzburg, Pilgrim of Passau, Thietmar
of Merseburg, Pope Calixtus II, Wibald of Stablo, Abbot Giselber of Laach—will
answer with an unqualified affirmative" the question, "Could Lanfranc
have been a common forger?"24

Joseph Smith was either telling the truth or he was a criminal—not
just a fool—and no sentimental compromises will settle anything. It
is base subterfuge to refuse to apply the fair tests which the Prophet himself
freely invited and which will just as surely condemn him if he is lying as
they will vindicate him if he is telling the truth.

Three Types of Evidence

Evidence for the authenticity of documents falls into three categories: internal,
external, and circumstantial.25

To summarize, let us list some of the most tangible evidences for the Book
of Mormon

Internal Evidence. Imagine that a Book of Mormon has been dropped
from a helicopter to a man stranded on a desert island, with instructions to
decide on its reliability. On the first page the man would find a clear statement
of what the book claims to be, on the following pages a story of how it came
into existence, and finally the testimonies of certain witnesses. Here are three
astonishing claims—all supernatural. Has the man on the island enough
evidence in the contents of the book alone—no other books or materials
being available to him—to reach a satisfactory decision? By all means.
Internal evidence is almost the only type ever used in testing questioned documents;
it is rarely necessary to go any further than the document itself to find enough
clues to condemn it, and if the text is a long one, and an historical document
in the bargain, the absolute certainty of inner contradictions is enough to
assure adequate testing.26 This makes
the Book of Mormon preeminently testable, and we may list the following points
on which certainty is obtainable.

1. The mere existence of the book, to follow Blass, is a powerful argument
in favor of its authenticity.27 Without knowing a thing about LDS Church
history, our stranded islander can immediately see that someone has gone to
an enormous amount of trouble to make this book. Why? If the author wishes
to deceive, he has chosen a strange and difficult way to do it. He has made
the first move; he has magnanimously put into our hands a large and laborious
text; in the introductory pages of that text, he gives us a clear and circumstantial
account of what it is supposed to be and invites us to put it to any possible
test. This is not the method of a man out to deceive. We must credit him with
being honest until he is proved otherwise.

2. Before he has read a word, our islander notes that the book in his hand
is a big one. This is another strong argument in its favor. A forger knows
that he runs a risk with every word he writes; for him brevity is the soul
of success and, as we have seen, the author of such a long book could not
have failed to discover what he was up against before he proceeded very far.
In giving us a long book, the author forces us to concede that he is not playing

3. Almost immediately the castaway discovers that the Book of Mormon is both
a religious book and a history. This is another point in its favor,
for the author could have produced a religious book claiming divine revelation
without the slightest risk had he produced a Summa Theologica or a
Key to the Scriptures. If one searches through the entire religious
literature of the Christian ages from the time of the Apostles to the time of
Joseph Smith, not one of these productions can be found to profess divine revelation
aside from that derived through the reading of the scriptures. This is equally
true whether one inspects the writings of the apostolic fathers, of the doctors
of the Middle Ages—even the greatest of whom claim only to be making commentaries
on the scriptures—or more modern religious leaders who, though they claimed
enlightenment, spoke only as the Scribes and Pharisees of old, who, though they
could quote and comment on scripture on every occasion, never dared to speak
as one having authority. This writer never falls back on the accepted immunities
of double meaning and religious interpretations in the manner of the Swedenborgians
or the schoolmen. This refusal to claim any special privileges is an evidence
of good faith.

4. Examining the book more closely, the islander is next struck by its great
complexity. Doesn’t the author know how risky this sort of thing is? If anyone
should know, he certainly does, for he handles the intricate stuff with great
understanding. Shysters may be diligent enough, in their way, but the object
of their trickery is to avoid hard work, and this is not the sort of laborious
task they give themselves.

5. In its complexity and length lies the key to the problem of the book, for
our islander, having once read Blass, remembers that no man on earth
can falsify a history of any length without contradicting himself continually.
28 Upon close examination all the many
apparent contradictions in the Book of Mormon disappear. It passes the sure
test of authenticity with flying colors.

6. Since the author must in view of all this be something of a genius, the
lonely critic begins to study his work as creative writing.29
Here it breaks down dismally. The style is not that of anyone trying
to write well. There is skill of a sort, but even the unscholarly would know
that the frequent use of "it came to pass" does not delight the reader,
and it is not biblical. Never was writing less "creative" as judged
by present standards: there is no central episode, no artistic development of
a plot; one event follows another with equal emphasis in the even flow of a
chronicle; the author does not "milk" dramatic situations, as every
creative writer must; he takes no advantage of any of his artistic opportunities;
he has no favorite characters; there is no gain in confidence or skill as the
work progresses, nor on the other hand does he show any sign of getting tired
or of becoming bored, as every creative writer does in a long composition: the
first and last books of the Book of Mormon are among the best, and the author
is going just as strong at the end as at the beginning. The claim of the "translator"
is that this book is no literary creation, and the internal evidence bears out
the claim. Our critic looks at the date of the book again—1830. Where
are the rich sentimentality, the incurable romanticism, and the lush but mealy
rhetoric of "fine writing" in the early 1800s? Where are the fantastic
imagery, the romantic descriptions, and the unfailing exaggerations that everyone
expected in the literature of the time? Here is a book with all the elements
of an intensely romantic adventure tale of far away and long ago, and the author
turns down innumerable chances to please his public!

7. For the professional religionist, what John Chrysostom called "the
wise economy of a useful deception," i.e., religious double-talk, has
been ever since his day a condition of survival and success.30 But there
is little of this in the Book of Mormon. There are few plays on words, few
rhetorical subtleties, no reveling in abstract terms, no excess of esoteric
language or doctrine to require the trained interpreter. This is not a "mystic"
text, though mysticism is the surest refuge for any religious quack who thinks
he might be running a risk. The lone investigator feels the direct impact
of the concrete terms; he is never in doubt as to what they mean. This is
not the language of one trying to fool others or who has ever had any experiences
in fooling others.

8. Our examiner is struck by the limited vocabulary of the Book of Mormon.
Taken in connection with the size and nature of the book, this is very significant.
Whoever wrote the book must have been a very intelligent and experienced person;
yet such people in 1830 did not produce books with rudimentary vocabularies.
This cannot be the work of any simple clown, but neither can it be that of
an able and educated contemporary.

9. The extremely limited vocabulary suggests another piece of internal evidence
to the reader. The Book of Mormon never makes any attempt to be clever. This,
says Blass,31 is a test no
forger can pass. The Achilles’ heel of the smart impostor is vanity. The man
who practices fraud to gain an ascendancy and assert his superiority over others
cannot forego the pleasure of enjoying that superiority. The islander does not
know it, but recent attempts to account for Joseph Smith claim to discover the
key to his character in an overpowering ambition to outsmart people. Why then
doesn’t he ever try to show how clever he is? Where are the big words and the
deep mysteries? There is no cleverness in the Book of Mormon. It was not written
by a deceiver.

10. Since it claims to be translated by divine power, the Book of Mormon
also claims all the authority—and responsibility—of the original
text. The author leaves himself no philological loopholes, though the book,
stemming from a number of nations and languages, offers opportunity for many
of them. It is a humble document of intensely moral tone, but it does not
flinch at reporting unsavory incidents not calculated to please people who
think that any mention of horror or bloodshed should be deleted from religious

External Evidence. Our islander has been rescued by a British tramp
steamer. Burning with curiosity, he jumps ship in London, rushes to Great Russell
Street, and bounds up the steps of the British Museum three at a time. He is
now after external proofs for the Book of Mormon. He may spend the
next forty years in the great library, but whatever external evidence he finds
must fulfill three conditions:

1. The Book of Mormon must make clear and specific statements about certain
concrete, objective things.

2. Other sources, ancient and modern, must make equally clear and objective
statements about the same things, agreeing substantially with what the Book
of Mormon says about them.

3. There must be clear proof that there has been no collusion between the
two reports, i.e., that Joseph Smith could not possibly have knowledge of
the source by which his account is being "controlled" or of any
other source that could give him the information contained in the Book of

The purpose of our studies on Lehi and the Jaredites was to supply information
that fulfilled these three conditions, and the purpose of the present articles
is to supply yet more evidence of the same type. In criticizing such information
one might classify the various items as (a) positive, (b) possible, and (c)
doubtful evidence of authenticity. As positive proof, we might accept the
evidence of such authentically Egyptian names as Paanchi, Manti, and Hem,
or such freakish Jaredite customs as keeping kings in comfortable imprisonment
all their days, for these things are clearly described in the Book of Mormon,
well established in the secular world, yet known to no one at the time the
Book of Mormon came forth. As possible but not positive proof we have a good
deal of evidence from the New World; the hesitation to accept this proof as
final comes from the inability or reluctance of our secular experts to come
to an agreement regarding just what they have found. Until they reach a consensus,
our condition number two above remains unsatisfied and the issue unsettled.
Finally there are doubtful bits of evidence put forth as proof, but which
were better left alone. Thus while the Book of Mormon says that mountains
rose and fell during the great earthquakes, the presence of the Rocky Mountains
does not prove a thing, since the Book of Mormon does not pretend for a moment
that mountains were never formed at any other time or in any other way. Such
"evidence" only does harm.

Circumstantial Evidence. Entirely apart from the contents of the Book
of Mormon and the external evidences that might support it, there are certain
circumstances attending its production which cannot be explained on grounds
other than those given by Joseph Smith. These may be listed briefly:

1. There is the testimony of the witnesses.

2. The youth and inexperience of Joseph Smith at the time when he took full
responsibility for the publication of the book—proof (a) that he could
not have produced it himself and (b) that he was not acting for someone else,
for his behavior at all times displayed astounding independence.

3. The absence of notes and sources.

4. The short time of production.

5. The fact that there was only one version of the book ever published (with
minor changes in each printing). This is most significant. It is now known
that the Koran, the only book claiming an equal amount of divine inspiration
and accuracy, was completely re-edited at least three times during the lifetime
of Mohammed. This brings up:

6. The unhesitating and unchanging position of Joseph Smith regarding his
revelations, a position that amazed Eduard Meyer more than anything else.
32 From the day the Book of Mormon came from the press, Joseph Smith never
ceased to spread it abroad, and he never changed his attitude toward it. What
creative writer would not blush for the production of such youth and inexperience
twenty years after? What impostor would not lie awake nights worrying about
the slips and errors of this massive and pretentious product of his youthful
indiscretion and roguery? Yet, since the Prophet was having revelations all
along, nothing would have been easier, had he the slightest shadow of a misgiving,
than to issue a new, revised, and improved edition, or to recall the book
altogether, limit its circulation, claim it consisted of mysteries to be grasped
by the uninitiated alone, say it was to be interpreted only in a "religious"
sense, or supersede it by something else. The Saints who believed the Prophet
were the only ones who took the book seriously anyway.

7. There has never been any air of mystery about the Book of Mormon; there
is no secrecy connected with it at the time of its publication or today; there
is a complete lack of sophistry or policy in discussions of the Book of Mormon;
it plays absolutely no role in the history of the Church as a pawn; there
is never dispute about its nature or contents among the leaders of the Church;
there is never any manipulating, explaining, or compromise. The book has enjoyed
unlimited sale at all times.

8. Finally, though the success of the book is not proof of its divinity,
the type of people it has appealed to—sincere, simple, direct, highly
unhysterical, and nonmystical—is circumstantial evidence for its honesty.
It has very solid supporters.

The reader using Franklin S. Harris, Jr.’s33 excellent new collection of
materials might add to these lists at his leisure. When one considers that
any one of the above arguments makes it very hard to explain the Book of Mormon
as a fraud, one wonders if a corresponding list of arguments against the book
might not be produced. For such a list one waits with interest but in vain.
At present the higher critics are scolding the Book of Mormon for not talking
like the dean of a divinity school. We might as well admit it, the Victorian
platitudes are simply not there.

New Discoveries

Sealed Up to Come Forth. Until the year 1947, all ancient texts in
the possession of our schools and libraries were such documents as had survived
by accident. Ancient writers knew and hoped their words would be copied, as
we learn from the Roman poets, but no one expected that the very paper or leather
on which he was writing would survive the ages. Perhaps the most remarkable
type of accidental preservation in modern times has been that of the genizas.
Genizas were windowless rooms or bins connected with ancient synagogues;
into these bins were thrown all old worn-out books of scripture to await a time
when they could be burned with proper reverence, for since such texts contained
the name of God they could not be thrown into common trash heaps or burnt with
ordinary junk. Being windowless, and having little or no ventilation, the genizas
were occasionally walled up and forgotten, and so their precious contents—Hebrew
biblical texts of many centuries ago—were preserved in safe obscurity
while the Bible texts in continued use were altered again and again by various
learned committees through the centuries.34
The rediscovery of some of these genizas has shown to just what extent
our Hebrew Bible has been corrupted through the years; scholar Paul Kahle, who
has made the study of the old geniza texts his life work, has been at particular
pains to emphasize certain points of textual criticism which other scholars
habitually overlook. One of these is the principle, which should be apparent
enough, that there is only one way in which the purity of a text can possibly
be preserved through long periods of time, and that is to conceal the text completely
from the eyes of men. For years the experts have thought their rules could resurrect
ancient texts in their purity, and to this day Westcott and Hort’s New Testament
in the Original Greek
is still widely used, though we now know that we
shall probably never get a text of the New Testament "in the original Greek,"
and it is being seriously questioned whether the original language of the New
Testament was Greek at all. Only within the past few years has the true force
of 1 Nephi 14:26 become apparent: "They are sealed up to come
forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own
due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel." Unless documents are actually
thus "sealed up," they invariably suffer the fate of the Apocrypha
as described in Doctrine and Covenants 91 (1833): "There are many things
contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly; there
are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations
by the hands of men. And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit
therefrom" (D&C 91:1—2, 5). The habit of scholars right down
to the present has been to accept or reject apocryphal works completely, and
only since the momentous discoveries beginning in 1947 has the correctness of
the Lord’s evaluation in section 91 become fully apparent. The new documents
have shown, for example, that such apocrypha as Jubilees and the Testament
of the Twelve Patriarchs
, while full of interpolations, are nonetheless
among the most valuable and authentic sources we have for the understanding
of early Christianity.

To return to our original theme, the texts that have turned up with such dramatic
suddenness in the past few years,35
as if a signal had been given, are the first ancient documents which have survived
not by accident but by design. They were hidden away on purpose, to be dug up
at a later date. It is naturally assumed that during a time of danger for the
sect that produced the texts, certain members in authority stored the scrolls
away secretly for safekeeping until they could be used again. The intention
of the hiders may become known when some of the missing scrolls (which are still
being held back by people who took them secretly from the caves) are examined,
but for the present we are left to speculation.36
In this, however, we may enlist the aid of a document related to the Scrolls,
the apocryphal Assumption of Moses (as preserved in a Latin copy of the sixth
century) in which Moses before being taken up to heaven is instructed by the
Lord to "seal up" the covenant: "Receive thou this writing that
thou mayest know how to preserve the books which I shall deliver unto thee:
and thou shalt set these in order and anoint them with oil of cedar and put
them away in earthen vessels in the place which He made from the beginning of
the creation of the world." The purpose of this hiding, we are told, is
to preserve the books through a period of darkness when men shall have fallen
away from the true covenant and would pervert the truth.37
In Eusebius’ Chronicon, in which the author often displays a really
remarkable intimacy with genuine ancient sources (such as Berossus and Sanchthoniathon),
we learn that Noah was ordered in his day "to inscribe in writing the beginning,
middle, and end of everything, and to bury the records in the city of Sippar."38

Here we see that there was actually an ancient tradition in Israel, according
to which one dispensation would hide up records to come forth in another.
Now the newly found Dead Sea Scrolls not only show marked affinities with
the Assumption of Moses, but the peculiar manner of their preservation is
also exactly that prescribed to Moses: they were found in specially made earthen
jars, wrapped in linen which was "coated with wax or pitch or asphalt
which proves that the scrolls were hidden in the cave for safe preservation,
to be recovered and used again later."39 By whom? The peculiar method
of storage also indicates very plainly that the documents were meant for a
long seclusion, for the purpose of such treatment of documents is explained
in the Moses text; and to lay a roll away with the scrupulous care and after
the very manner of entombing an Egyptian mummy certainly indicates a long
and solemn farewell and no mere temporary storage of convenience.

At any rate, we now have proof both of the tradition and practice in Israel
of hiding up holy documents as the only means of conveying them in their purity
to the men of another and a distant age. With this, one of the great stumbling
blocks of Joseph Smith’s story is removed, and the Book of Mormon appears
as an established type of document.

Metal Plates. One of the most interesting things about the Book of
Mormon, however, was not its hiding but its metallic format. By now the discovery
of writings on plates of precious metal, once the hardest thing to swallow in
Joseph Smith’s story, has become almost commonplace in the Near East.40
In 1950 was announced the discovery, in a greatly eroded bronze (or "brass")
vessel found in the Beritz Valley, of some silver-lead plates, rectangular,
4.5 by 5 centimeters, quite thin, and entirely covered with Semitic characters,
twenty-two lines of them, pressed into the metal with a hard, sharp object.
The plates are thought to be from the late Hittite period, that is, from about
Lehi’s time.41 At the same time this
find was announced, Dupont-Sommer described two newly discovered sheets of gold
and silver, bearing a Hebrew-Aramaic inscription of curious nature and mentioning
the God of Israel. The script dates the documents from about 200 A.D. So the
fabulous plates that were buried by an ancient prophet are beginning to find
themselves in respectable company, and just where they should—in ancient

Pre-Christian Christianity. The great argument of those who have steadfastly
refused, in the face of a rising flood of evidence, to accept the antiquity
and authenticity of the new scrolls has been that the language they contain
is totally out of keeping with the language that should have been used by Jews
of such an early period. Here we have pre-Christian Jews talking like the New
Testament: "Echoes of New Testament thought and phraseology are clear in
the Scrolls; especially those having apocalyptic associations," says B.
J. Roberts.43 But "New Testament
thought and phraseology" have always been supposed at divinity schools
to be the product of a gradual and rather late evolution of the Christian community,
and have no business at all appearing in pre-Christian Jewish texts! Christian
language is familiar enough in old Jewish apocalypses and other texts, but "hitherto
perplexed exegetes faced with such texts have usually found in them the interpolations
of Christian copyists. But now, . . . thanks to the Habakkuk Commentary
(one of the Scrolls), such excisions which could formerly be understood are
now no longer to be tolerated; these ‘Christological’ passages, taken as a whole,
henceforth seem to be of the greatest worth, and to continue to reject them
a priori as being of Christian origin would appear to be contrary to
all sound method."44 The author
of these words notes that "it is now certain—and this is one of the
most important revelations of the Dead Sea discoveries—that Judaism in
the first century B.C. saw a whole theology of the suffering Messiah, of a Messiah
who should be the redeemer of the world." We even find in the Scrolls clear
indication of three persons in the Godhead.45

Years ago Hermann Gunkel pointed out that a full-blown gospel of redemption
and atonement was in existence among the preexilic Jews, but this claim, so
jarring to the prevailing schools of theology, which would only accept an
evolutionary pattern of slow and gradual development, was strenuously resisted
by the experts.46 The discovery of the Scrolls has changed all that: "Now
that the warning has been given," writes Dupont-Sommer, "many passages
of the Old Testament itself must be examined with a fresh eye. Everywhere
where there is a more or less explicit question of an Anointed One or of a
Prophet carried off by a violent death, how is it possible to avoid asking
whether the person indicated is not precisely our Master of Justice?"
47 It is that scholar’s theory that a certain Master of Justice, mentioned
in the Scrolls as the head of a sect of the Essenes in the first century B.C.,
was the original pre-Christian inspiration for the Messiah idea. Yet the numerous
and ubiquitous references to the Messiah in the Old Testament as in the Apocrypha
claim to go back not only to pre-Christian times, but far beyond the first
century B.C. as well. So if Dupont-Sommer will not tolerate the business of
glibly attributing whatever in those writings betrays a Christological tone
to "the interpolations of Christian copyists," neither may he attribute
the same passages to interpolations of men living after the Master of Justice.
The Messianic theme belongs to the oldest traditions in the world.48

The bearing of this on the Book of Mormon should be at once apparent. The words
of an Alma, a Nephi, or a Helaman are replete with "echoes of New Testament
thought and phraseology," just as the Scrolls are; yet those prophets are
all supposed to have lived long before Christ. The New Testament flavor of so
much of the Book of Mormon has been until now the strongest single argument
against its authenticity. Men trained in sectarian seminaries have leaned back
in their armchairs and pointed to Book of Mormon phrases that according to them
could have come only from a Christian—and a late Christian—environment:
ergo, Joseph Smith had simply worked his own religious conceptions
into the book, grossly ignorant as he was of the crass anachronisms they represented.
An excellent example of this type of criticism appeared quite recently in the
leading Jewish newspaper, Vorwärts. Speaking of the Book of Mormon,
a critic wrote:

     It is full of citations from the Old and New Testaments. . . .
The small number of people who have tried to read the book declare that it
is dreadfully dull; in it are found quotations from Shakespeare and other
English poets. That is one of the very comical things about the book. According
to the book itself, it is written in the Egyptian language of some thousands
of years ago; yet in it are cited excerpts from the New Testament, a much
later document, or from wholly modern poets.49

We shall deal with Shakespeare presently. As for the "other English poets,"
their identity remains a secret locked in the bosom of the editors of Vorwärts.
Since "reformed Egyptian" was being written long after New Testament
times, the charges of anachronism on linguistic grounds are worthless. But the
basic issue is one which is being fought out furiously today, and the apple
of discord is not the Book of Mormon but the Scrolls.

That New Testament language and thought cannot possibly have been familiar
to the ancient Jews is a fiercely defended axiom in some schools. Less than
a year ago Solomon Zeitlin declared of the Scrolls, "The entire story of
the discovery may be a hoax," and even if it were not, still the
Scrolls "have no value for the history of the Jewish people, or the development
of their ideas, or literature, or language. The so-called Manual of Discipline
is a conglomeration of words. The Hebrew text makes no sense. . . .
It undoubtedly was written by an uneducated Jew of the Middle Ages."50
How strangely like the conventional criticism of the Book of Mormon this reads!
Yet here we have to do with texts which the ablest scholars of our time have
declared to be not only genuine, but also the most important discovery ever
made in biblical archaeology! How is such disagreement possible among the doctors
in the face of so much evidence? Paul Kahle has discoursed at length on the
incredible stubbornness and self-will of the best religious scholars when they
make up their minds on a subject.51
One expert now decides that the Scrolls are a Kurdish production of the twelfth
century A.D.52 On what does he base
this remarkable deduction? On certain details of literary style! But what of
the other evidence, such as the fact that "not a single medieval manuscript
exhibits the same script as that of the Scrolls"?53
That is simply ignored. The scholars who maintain that the Scrolls are medieval
"accord preferential treatment to the evidence supplied by the . . .
literary and linguistic relations between the Scrolls" and other medieval
documents, according to Teicher, while on the other hand "the archaeologists
and paleographers . . . set their feet on what they consider
to be the firm ground of their paleographic and archaeological evidence and
reject airily the literary and linguistic evidence."54
As an illustration, "to maintain, as Dr. Weis does, that ‘the examinations
of the [Habakkuk] Scroll suggest that it was written about the year 1096 by
an Isawite or a Judganite,’ is, in view of the archaeological and paleological
evidence alone, simply impossible."55

It is because it has been judged in the light of certain fundamental preconceptions
about the nature of Jewish and Christian history that the Book of Mormon has
been held to be a mass of crude anachronisms. Today the finding of the Scrolls
shows these fundamental preconceptions to have been quite false: "Everything
is now changed," writes Dupont-Sommer, "and all the problems relative
to primitive Christianity—problems earnestly examined for so many centuries—all
these problems henceforth find themselves placed in a new light, which forces
us to reconsider them completely. . . . It is not a single
revolution in the study of biblical exegesis which the Dead Sea documents have
brought about; it is, one already feels, a whole cascade of revolutions."56
Recently a leading English liberal clergyman has declared that in order to support
the accepted viewpoints, he and his fellows have been under constant strain
"of having to contort [Christ’s] message, ignoring a considerable portion
of it and making unwarranted deductions from other parts, to suit our preconceptions";
the confession of this folly and the acceptance of literal interpretations in
place of what he calls the liberal, ameliorist, social-gospel view "gives
a sense of relief, of illumination, of enlargement."57

Such changing points of view, largely the result of the new discoveries, are
very significant for Book of Mormon study. Their immediate result is to show
for the first time on what extremely flimsy groundwork criticism of the Book
of Mormon has rested in the past. Recently the writer has been taken to task
for dealing somewhat roughly with the conventional commentators on Ezekiel.
It is therefore with considerable complacency that he can now point to W. A.
Irwin’s very recent study on Ezekiel research between 1943 and 1953, in which
that scholar after a thorough investigation can announce that in spite of the
diligence and number of the researchers, "not a single scholar has succeeded
in convincing his colleagues of the finality of his analysis of so
much as one passage!"58
Though the experts propound wildly varying views—some having Ezekiel flourishing
in Palestine in 400 B.C., while Messel dates his call, with great exactness,
at 593 B.C.—none of them bothers to submit the evidence for his claims:
"It is unfortunate," says Irwin, after a careful survey of the whole
field, "that none of these scholars argued his position. We concede readily
that they had weighty reasons for their views, but as matters stand, they have
given only opinions, when the situation cries aloud for assembling of evidence
and for close-knit argument."59
Every Ezekiel scholar, according to Irwin, follows "the method that is
far too frequent in Old Testament criticism, that of presenting a plausible
story as final evidence in a case, when in reality it is not evidence at all."60
The result of this is that "as soon as one pushes beyond the general admission
of spurious matter in the book, and seeks to identify it, he is at once plunged
into confusion and chaos not one whit relieved through these years. Still worse,
there is no clearly emerging recognition of a sound method by which to assault
this prime problem. Every scholar goes his own way, and according to his private
predilection chooses what is genuine and what is secondary in the book; and
the figure and work of Ezekiel still dwell in thick darkness."61
Can we expect the Book of Mormon to enjoy unprejudiced and objective criticism
when such treatment is accorded the Bible?

Any "Christological" elements in the Book of Mormon must have taken
their rise not merely in pre-Christian times but in that world to which the
Nephites must ultimately trace all their Israelitish traditions, the Jerusalem
of 600 B.C. Now there is much to indicate that that period was one of those
times when great emphasis was being laid on the Messianic doctrine.62
One leaving Jerusalem at that time would take with him a powerfully prophetic
religion, undamaged by the centuries of learned exposition and rationalization
which were to make the Jewish religion a product of schools and committees.
63 The whole treatment of the Messianic
tradition and the mission of Israel in the Book of Mormon is of a piece not
with the demonstrations and sententiae of the doctors nor with the
flights of the mystics, but with the systematic and traditional exposition which
we find in the Scrolls and Apocrypha. Both in the Old World and the New we are
led into a pool of common ideas and terms centering about the Messianic concept.

"In every age," writes Guerrier, discussing parallels in early Christian
papyri, "and especially where religious matter is concerned, there has
circulated in a more or less extensive area [of the Near East] a certain fund
of ideas and formulas, exact or inexact, which have been employed everywhere,
and it is not always easy to discover their origin." As a result, he says,
we find parallels everywhere without being able to trace them to any single
doctrine or document as a source; for example, the Testament of the Twelve
, though pre-Christian and non-Christian, is thoroughly typical
of genuine early Christian writing.64
We need not be surprised if striking but common ideas cannot be traced to their
sources, for from the very beginning borrowing has been general and universal
in the East: "As soon as a book was completed, its life was ended. . . .
There was no idea in those times of authorship. . . . A book was nobody’s
property. It belonged to everyone."65
Texts far more ancient than the Scrolls, now read with a new understanding,
show us how all through the ages the same ideas and even the same expressions
have been current with regard to an expected Messiah. 66
But in particular there have always been special groups of pious people, separating
themselves from the main body of Israel to prepare in a most particular way
for the coming of the Lord, and thereby incurring the mockery, wrath, and persecution
of the society as a whole, under the leadership of conservative priests.67
This situation is indicated in the Scrolls and also in the Lachish letters,
which are contemporaneous with Lehi.68
It is tersely and finely described in the Book of Mormon as well: "Our
father Lehi was driven out of Jerusalem because he testified of these things.
Nephi also testified of these things, and also almost all of our fathers, even
down to this time; yea, they have testified of the coming of Christ, and have
looked forward, and have rejoiced in his day which is to come" (Helaman
8:22). Here we are told that the situation in the Old World persisted in the
New World, and what the Book of Mormon describes—pious separatist groups
living in a religion of expectation, suffering persecution, and moving into
the "wilderness" from time to time under inspired leaders, who often
visit royal courts and cities on dangerous missionary assignments—is precisely
the picture that is beginning to emerge in the Old World.

Literary Criticism. With the finding of the Scrolls it becomes apparent
that large sections of the Book of Mormon (for example, in Jacob, Alma, Helaman,
and so on) are actually specimens of a very peculiar literary style that would
be exceedingly difficult to forge at any time. It is still too early for a definitive
study of the problem, and the whole question of ancient nonbiblical
literary types in the Book of Mormon has hardly been scratched. But the first
step in such an investigation has already been made by capable researchers who
have attempted to expose the Book of Mormon as a typical modern American fabrication.
Now it takes no great genius to discover that the Book of Mormon first appeared
in western New York in the early nineteenth century: that is a given quantity.
What the literary savant must show us is that it is a typical production
of its environment—that there were many, many other writings just like
the Book of Mormon being produced in the world of Joseph Smith. If that is asking
too much, let the experts furnish but one other example of such a book.
It will not do merely to point to any text using "thee" and "thou,"
or to any work that mentions the lost tribes or a possible Hebrew origin for
the Indians or ancient war and migrations—what we must have is a book
that is something like the Book of Mormon, which resembles it in form and structure,
and not merely in casual and far-fetched parallels of detail such as abound
in all literature. It is not enough to observe that "Lehi" sounds
like "Lehigh" or that a man was murdered on the shores of Lake Erie
in Joseph Smith’s day—nothing is proved by such silly parallels. The Bible
will not do, either, for the Bible was not written in western New York in the
early nineteenth century. If we can find a book written in imitation of the
Bible, that will do for our point of departure—but even for such a book
we search in vain.

The Book of Mormon, like the Bible, is an organic whole. We are asking the
literary experts to produce just one modern work which resembles it as such.

There are, we believe, plenty of ancient parallels, but if the Book
of Mormon is a fraud, a cheat, a copy, a theft, and so on, as people have said
it is, we have every right to ask for a sampling of the abundant and obvious
sources from which it was taken. Smith’s View of the Hebrews is no
more like the Book of Mormon than a telephone directory.69
All attempts to find contemporary works which the Book of Mormon even remotely
resembles have been conspicuous failures. So it has been necessary to explain
the book as a work of pure and absolute fiction, a nonreligious, money-making
romance. But one need only read a page of the book at random to see that it
is a religious book through and through, and one need only read the title page
of the first edition to see that it is given to the world as holy scripture,
no less. Here we come to the crux of the whole matter.

The whole force and meaning of the Book of Mormon rests on one proposition:
that it is true. It was written and published to be believed.

People who believe the Book of Mormon (and this writer is one of them) think
it is the most wonderful document in the world. But if it were not true, the
writer could not imagine a more dismal performance. There is nothing paradoxical
in this. As Aristotle noted, the better a thing is, the more depraved is a
spurious imitation of it. An imitation nursery rhyme may be almost as good
as an original, but a knowingly faked mathematical equation would be the abomination
of desolation. Curves and equations derive all their value not from the hard
work they represent or the neatness with which they are presented on paper,
but from one fact alone—the fact that they speak the truth and communicate
valid knowledge. Without that they are less than nothing. To those who understand
and believe Einstein’s equation that E = mc2, that statement is a revelation
of power; to those who do not understand or believe it (and there are many!),
it is nothing short of an insolent and blasphemous fraud. So it is with the
Book of Mormon, which if believed is a revelation of power but otherwise is
a nonsensical jumble. "Surely," wrote Sir Richard Burton, "there
never was a book so thoroughly dull and heavy; it is as monotonous as a sage-prairie."

It will be said that this merely proves that the greatness of the Book of
Mormon lies entirely in the mind of the reader. Not entirely! There are people
who loathe Bach and can’t stand Beethoven; it was once as popular among clever
and educated people to disdain Homer and Shakespeare as barbaric as it is
now proper to rhapsodize about them in great-book clubs. Different readers
react differently to these things—but they must have something valid
to work on. We are not laying down rules for taste or saying that the Book
of Mormon is good because some people like it or bad because others do not.
What we are saying is that the Book of Mormon, whatever one may think of it,
is one of the great realities of our time, and what makes it so is that certain
people believe it. Its literary or artistic qualities do not enter into the
discussion: it was written to be believed. Its one and only merit is truth.
Without that merit, it is all that nonbelievers say it is. With that merit,
it is all that believers say it is. And we must insist on this truism because
it supplies a valuable clue to the authorship of the book.

Joseph Smith wanted only one thing of the Book of Mormon—that people
should believe it. The story never sold well and only made trouble for the
"author." Those who believed he was a prophet would have believed
him just as much without the Book of Mormon. His enemies would have had far
less against him—the Book of Mormon might even be called his undoing.
From the day he received the plates it gave him only trouble and pain.

But leave Joseph Smith out of it. Whoever wrote the Book of Mormon wanted before
all else that people should believe in it. But what could any impostor gain
by that? A deceiver would want people to buy the book, and would write a book
that would sell—what concern of his whether anyone believed it
or not? That rules out anyone but Joseph Smith as the author, for his case only
was strengthened by such belief. As for a minister such as Spaulding or Sidney
Rigdon producing it, that is completely out of the question once we appreciate
the immense emphasis laid by the Book of Mormon itself on being believed, for
what greater outrage or deadlier risk could a minister of the gospel run than
that of forging scripture? Did Spaulding’s heirs ever think of the terrible
crime with which they were charging him? They asked the world to imagine the
venerable divine in the presence of his attentive loved one reeling off a recitation
of his own composition which, if not genuine, could only be the grossest blasphemy!

Again, we are forced back onto the old dilemma. Joseph Smith was either the
fantastic, preposterous, implausible genie his enemies describe—perpetrating
the most monstrous crimes ever conceived by man with a clear countenance and
sunny disposition, performing prodigies of labor for no reward but danger
and contempt, engineering the most fiendishly cunning, criminal operations
completely without motive—or else he was telling the truth. There is
no middle way, for the Book of Mormon was given to the world as scripture,
to be believed in the most literal sense. It is that aspect of it which gives
us the key to the book’s authorship. One can imagine all sorts of things,
but one cannot imagine any inhabitant of this planet composing just this type
of book in the nineteenth century. It is to other ages that we must turn for
the prototypes of the Book of Mormon.

Among the Scrolls is a great "Hymn of Thanksgiving," a literary composition
of real merit yet one which contains hardly a single original line! "These
songs are as if woven from quotations from the Old Testament. . . .
The style closely imitates that of the Psalms and other poetic writings
of the Old Testament. Biblical reminiscences abound, . . .quotations
shine out at every moment."71 This
poetry illustrates the use of set and hallowed expressions in religious writing
to convey ancient and eternal ideas: the employment of stereotyped phrases is
not a sign of mental weakness here, but actually of artistic skill. If the Book
of Mormon actually comes from the Old World religious milieu with which it identifies
itself, it should also resort often to set and accepted forms of expression,
and the last thing we should expect to find in it would be gropings for original
means of expression. And the former situation is what, to the distress of modern
literary critics, we do find.

An interesting phenomenon, announced by D. W. Thomas in 1950, supplies an important
commentary on the Old World background to the Book of Mormon. It can be shown
from the Lachish ostraca (discovered in 1935 and, up until the finding
of the Scrolls, "the most valuable discovery ever made in . . .
biblical archaeology"), "that our Hebrew Bible bears upon it the stamp
of the dialect of Judah current round about the sixth century B.C." 72
This can only mean that our text of the Old Testament comes from about
the time of Lehi and closely resembles the Bible he used—for otherwise
the details of the particular dialect of his time and place could not possibly
predominate in the text. That being the case, the close—though not slavish—adherence
of Old Testament quotations in the Book of Mormon to the style of our own Bible
need not be regarded as a suspicious circumstance. If the least be said for
it, this is a fortunate coincidence for the Book of Mormon, for though of course
it does not prove the correctness of the book, it does prove that the Nephite
scripture is not guilty of anachronism when it quotes the prophets in the words
that seem to be taken from our own version of the Bible.

Paul and Moroni. The Book of Mormon passage most often attacked as
evidence of fraud is the statement in Ether that "faith is things which
are hoped for and not seen" (Ether 12:6). The natural impulse is to detect
in the verse an obvious distortion of Hebrews 11:1, but wouldn’t Joseph Smith
while translating the Book of Mormon have had the same idea? A basic principle
of textual criticism is that impostors always avoid obvious pitfalls,
and when they make crude blunders, it is because of ignorance and oversight—but
the Prophet was not ignorant of the scriptural parallel, nor can he have overlooked
it. "There is nothing easier," says Blass, "than to argue from
contacts and resemblances that a text is spurious," and he reminds us that,
since parallel passages are extremely common in literature, to view
even close parallels as a proof of fraud is a very uncritical practice.73
In the present case, however, it is hard to see how Moroni could have avoided
speaking like Paul, since they are both discussing the same limited concept
from the same traditional point of view. In the chapter in which the passage
occurs, the word faith is used no fewer than twenty-six times, for
this is Moroni’s great treatise on faith. What word did he use? Surely the classic
amn was the root, for it is used in all Semitic languages as in Egyptian
to express the basic ideas of "faith," (1) loyalty or firmness, and
(2) expectation. Both these ideas are clearly expressed in the best-known of
all Semitic words, our own "Amen."74
This is rendered in the Septuagint by genoito, a simple optative expressing
hope: "May it come to pass!" Faith, in the direct and concrete language
of the Semites, is something hoped for: the Arab has no abstract word
for "faith" as we do but instead uses a number of terms all meaning
"something in the mind," "something imagined or wished."75
What else could Moroni have said if he used any Semitic (or Egyptian) word for
faith, except that it was the things we hope for?

If faith is the keynote of Moroni’s whole commentary on the Book of Ether,
it is also the keynote of the Messianic religion, which was before all things
a religion of hope. We have noted above that the Scrolls, the Apocrypha, and
the New Testament speak a common language wherever they have "apocalyptic
associations." The Book of Hebrews, aside from being the most baffling
and mysterious piece in all the scriptures, is also the most apocalyptic,
and the eleventh chapter is the nucleus of the whole thing; it runs, in the
Apocryphal tradition, through the last of the "elders" of each of
the ancient dispensations—Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses,
and Christ, showing how each lived by faith and so received things from heaven.
In the same way, Moroni reviews the world’s history in terms of faith, showing
that men must live by faith in the hope for things to come. And in the same
way all the Apocrypha, a huge and very ancient literature—far older
than Paul or Moroni—treat this as their standard theme.76 Since all
these writers have the same conception of history, religion, and politics,
is it surprising that they should have the same ideas about faith, the cornerstone
of the whole doctrine? The Scrolls and Apocrypha are just beginning to show
us what the Book of Mormon describes so fully and so well—the complete
engrossment of the righteous folk of Israel in a religion of expectation.

Lehi and Shakespeare. The only rival of the "faith-is-things-which-are-hoped-for"
passage as a target for critics is Lehi’s description of himself as one "whose
limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler
can return" (2 Nephi 1:14). This is the passage—the lone passage—that
has inspired those scathing descriptions of the Book of Mormon as a mass of
stolen quotations from "Shakespeare and other English poets." Lehi
does not quote Hamlet directly, to be sure, for he does not talk of "that
undiscovered country, from whose bourne no traveler returns," but simply
speaks of "the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler
can return." In mentioning the grave, the eloquent old man cannot resist
the inevitable "cold and silent," nor the equally inevitable tag about
the traveler—a tag so inevitable that not only Shakespeare but also Lehi’s
own contemporaries made constant use of it!

Long ago Friedrich Delitzsch wrote a classic work on the Babylonian and Assyrian,
i.e., the common Near Eastern, ideas about death and the beyond. And what was
the title of his book? Das Land ohne Heimkehr—"the Land
of No Return."77 In the story of
Ishtar’s descent to the underworld, the lady goes to the irsit la tari,
"the land of no return" (where tari may be the same root
as that used in our own "re-turn"). She visits "the dark house
from which no one ever comes out again" and travels along "the road
on which there is no turning back."78
Someone is plagiarizing like mad, for these are the most obvious variations
on the Hamlet theme—even more obvious than Lehi’s! Recently Tallquist
has made a thorough study of Sumerian and Akkadian names for the world of the
dead; conspicuous among these are "the hole," "the earth,"
"the land of no return," "the city of no return," "the
path of no turning back," "the road whose course never turns back,"
"the distant land," "the steppe," "the desert,"
and so on.79 Shakespeare should sue.
In Lehi in the Desert we had occasion to note more than once that Lehi
loved poetic discourse and high-flown speech, was proud of his sound literary
education, and was much given to recitation.80
Since custom sanctioned and expected the use of such terms as he employed in
speaking of the grave, it is hard to deny him the luxury of speaking as he was
supposed to speak. Especially significant is the fact that the ideas to which
the aged Lehi here gives such moving expression by no means reflect either his
own (or Mormon’s or Joseph Smith’s!) ideas as to what the afterlife is really
like. That shows that he is indulging in a strictly conventional and normal
bit of educated eloquence, as old men are wont to. If he had a weakness for
paraphrasing Hamlet’s soliloquy when speaking about death, so did all his contemporaries!

Lehi’s Poetry and Imagery. Speaking of Lehi’s poetry, we should not
overlook the latest study on the qasida, that of Alfred Bloch,
who distinguishes four types of verse in the earliest desert poetry: (1) the
ragaz-utterances to accompany any rhythmical work, (2) verses for instruction
or information, (3) elegies, specializing in sage reflections on the meaning
of life, and (4) Reiselieder, recited on a journey to make the experience
more pleasant and edifying.81 Lehi’s
qasida (1 Nephi 2:9—10), as we described it in Lehi
in the Desert
, conforms neatly to any of the last three of these types,
thus vindicating its claims to be genuine.82
The same verses may also be described as sajc, a type of "rhymed
prose," according to Nicholson, "which . . . originally
. . . had a deeper, almost religious, significance as the special
form adopted by poets, soothsayers, and the like in their supernatural revelations
and for conveying to the vulgar every kind of mysterious and esoteric lore."83

The most characteristic mark of apocryphal literature is the constant use of
stereotyped imagery—the tower, the vineyard, the kingdom, and so on—to
convey familiar and venerable ideas. This same characteristic is conspicuous
in Book of Mormon writers of the early period, that is, those who were educated
in the Old World or were brought up by those who were. Lehi himself is much
given to allegorical discourse, and his dreams are full of striking imagery;
but in the book of his son Jacob is the longest and most involved parable in
the book. It has to do with repeated visits of the lord of an estate to his
vineyard and reminds us that Deissmann showed that the Parousia of
a governor or estate-owner, a term employed in New Testament times and in the
Apocrypha to describe the visits of the Lord to this earth, is not of Christian
origin at all. Both the word and the institution are a conspicuous part of the
economy of the Near East throughout ancient times,84
but this was not known until Deissmann’s studies in the present century.

Captain Moroni’s Title of Liberty. Another Book of Mormon custom on
which the discovery of the Scrolls has thrown brilliant light is what might
be called the cult of the banner. A text designated by the modern title of "The
Rule of Battle for the Sons of Light" shows that the Jews shared with other
people of antiquity "a mystical conception of war," according to which
the carnage of the battlefield was "a sacred act" surrounded by definite

The document in question contains special instructions for the Children of
the Covenant on the marshaling of the hosts for war: "On the great ensign
placed at the head of all the army shall be inscribed: ‘Army of God’ together
with the name of the twelve tribes of Israel. On the ensign of the thousand
group shall be inscribed: ‘Wrath of God, full of anger, against Belial and
all the people of his party, without any survivors.’ On the ensign of the
hundred group shall be inscribed ‘From God comes the energy to fight against
all sinful flesh.’ " Other inscriptions are given for the other military
units, all of them more or less lengthy and proclaiming some inspiring principle
or program to guide the hosts, and there are special inscriptions for entering
battle, engaging in battle, and returning from battle.86

The flag is an Asiatic invention,87
and there is a very ancient legend of how in the beginning when Iran was under
the rule of the serpent, a blacksmith named Kawe put his leather apron upon
a pole, and "that was the flag of Iranian independence, which, under the
name of dirafsh-i-kâwiyâni [Flag of Kawe], remained the national
standard down to the time of the Arab conquest." To lead the nation under
its new flag of liberation, the hero Threataona was raised up in the mountains.88
This Threataona is a doublet of King Cyrus, founder of the Persian nation, who
holds such a high and holy place in Jewish tradition that he is next to Solomon
alone the holiest of kings.89

Turning now to the Book of Mormon, we read how "it came to pass that
he [Moroni] rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In
memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and
our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole. . . . And he
took the pole, which had on the end thereof his rent coat, (and he called
it the title of liberty)." All who followed Moroni on that occasion entered
into a solemn covenant, and once Moroni gained the upper hand, "whomsoever
. . . would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom . . . he caused to be put to death" (Alma 46:12—13, 35). The surprising savagery
and peculiarly Old-World concepts of "liberty" are matched perfectly
in the special instructions to leaders in the "Rule of Battle" scroll.
These leaders are priests, whose duty before the battle is to turn toward
the enemy, denounce them as a "congregation of wickedness," and
formally dedicate them to destruction. Their song of triumph, "woven
entirely of biblical texts," has a fierce and Asiatic ring: "Bring
the riches of the nations into Thy dwelling! And may their kings serve Thee,
and may all Thine oppressors prostrate themselves before Thee, and may they
lick [the dust] from Thy feet!"90 However harsh and unsympathetic Moroni’s
character may appear to the modern reader, he is a true child of ancient Israel.

The parallels between the Nephite and Old World practices deserve comment.
The case of Kawe is not beside the point here, for it has long been recognized
by all scholars in the field that there are numerous and clear affinities
between old Persian traditions and Jewish eschatological lore—and Kawe
is at the heart of the religion of the Magi, his banner being the holiest
symbol of their priesthood.91 The identity of Kawe with Cyrus, the darling
of the Jewish doctors, is enough in itself to justify referring to his story.
The fact that we are dealing with false priesthoods does not obscure the significance
of traditional institutions: (1) the garment as a banner, (2) the long sermonizing
inscription on it, (3) the idealistic program of liberation proclaimed by
the banner, (4) the ritual condemnation of all opponents to death as children
of darkness. These are now known to be widespread concepts in the ancient
world, but the discovery is recent.92 What makes the Book of Mormon version
particularly significant is the fact that Moroni himself draws the dramatic
idea of the "title of liberty" directly from the Old World pool
when he attributes the the inspiration of the banner not to his own invention
but to the teachings of the ancient Jacob, Lehi’s son, who, as we have just
noted, was steeped in Old World lore and tradition, and when he informs his
followers that they are following in the footsteps of their ancestor Joseph
in rending their garments even as his garment was rent (see Alma 46:24). It
is clear that the whole episode of the flag of liberty was consciously carried
out in the spirit of the ancients, and that story, which might have been taken
as pure fantasy up until about five years ago, is now substantiated by the
discovery of the "Rule of Battle" scroll.

Relationships between Egypt and Israel. The position of 1 Nephi on
things Egyptian receives confirmation from day to day. In 1949 Couroyer published
a study in which he pointed out many notable parallels and a few points of contrast
between Egyptian and Israelitish literature insofar as they deal with the subject
of the Way of Life, a theme of great prominence in both literatures and a common
bond between them.93 Lehi, it will be
recalled, was obsessed, dreaming and waking, by the concept of life as a way
and a journey. Recently A. Mallon has declared that there is evidence for close
and continual contact between Egyptian and Hebrew culture not only in Hebrew
and Egyptian names (the proper names in the Book of Mormon seem to be split
about half and half) but also in the peculiar role that dreams played among
both peoples.94 The long duration and
remarkable constancy of relationships between Egypt and the Hebrews becomes
plainer every day. Very recently Rowton has shown how the Exodus followed upon
a period of Semitic domination in Egypt, and he argued that what prevented the
occupation of Palestine by the children of Israel was an Egyptian occupation
of that country.95 So we find the people
of these two cultures constantly trespassing on each other’s lands. In his latest
work, V. Gordon Childe describes the nature of the normal bond between Egypt
and Palestine: "Native Giblite clerks were apparently trained in Egyptian
hieroglyphic writing. In exchange for the cedars of Lebanon and perhaps olives
and dyes, the Giblites received and adopted elements of Egyptian civilization,
including writing and all that that implied, as well as manufactured articles
and corn. They remained a friendly but independent civilized community."
96 Long and intimate ties of commercial
and cultural rather than political and military nature are what is indicated
by recent excavations, and that is precisely the background of Lehi’s world
as the Book of Mormon describes it.

The Language of the Book of Mormon. At present the problem of the
original language of the Book of Mormon is one which seems to be stirring considerable
interest in some quarters. It would be a very difficult and perhaps a useless
task to separate possible Egyptian elements in the Book of Mormon from the Hebrew
elements. For one thing, Egyptian influence is now known to have been far stronger
in Hebrew itself than we hitherto supposed,97
so that when we think we are dealing with a Hebraism, it might well be an Egyptianism
as well, and who is to say whether the Egyptian flavor of the text is not actually
stronger than the Hebrew? Such speculations are a waste of time, however, in
view of Mormon’s declaration that his people have altered the conventional ways
of writing both Egyptian and Hebrew to conform to their own peculiar manner
of speech, that is, both the writing and the language had been changed, so that
the prophet can state that "none other people knoweth our language"
(see Mormon 9:32—34). Nephite was simply Nephite, as English is English,
whatever its original components may have been.

Why all this concern, then, about the language or languages of the Book of
Mormon? If we had the original text, which we do not, and if we could read
it, which we cannot, any translation we might make of it would still be inferior
to that which was given, as we claim it was, by the gift and power of God.
If we had the original text, scholars would be everlastingly squabbling about
it and getting out endless new and revised translations, as in the case of
the Bible. In fact, if our English text of the Book of Mormon came to us in
any other way than by revelation it would be almost worthless! For members
and investigators could ask of every verse: "But how do we know it is
translated correctly?" A revealed text in English is infinitely to be
preferred to an original in a language that no one on earth could claim as
his own. It frees the members and leaders of the Church as it frees the investigating
world from the necessity of becoming philologists, or, worse still, of having
to rely on the judgment of philologists, as a prerequisite to understanding
this great book. At the same time, it puts upon the modern world an obligation
to study and learn, from which that world could easily plead immunity were
the book in an ancient language or couched in the labored and pretentious
idiom that learned men adopt when they try to decipher ancient texts.

To the question "What was the original language of the Book of Mormon?"
the real answer is: It is English! For the English of the Book of Mormon comes
by revelation, and no one can go beyond revelation in the search for ultimate
sources. Let us, then, rejoice in the text we have and not attempt to reconstruct
it in Hebrew or Egyptian so that we can then analyze and translate what we
have written!

Proper Names. Yet, lest anyone charge the Book of Mormon with claiming
to be beyond criticism, it supplies us with a goodly number of untranslated
words that still await the attention of the philologist. There are the proper
names, divided, as we have already noted, almost equally between Egyptian and
Hebrew, which is what we would expect in view of Nephi’s and Mormon’s remarks
about both languages being used and corrupted by the Nephites. In regard to
Hebrew names, D. W. Thomas in 1950 confirmed our own observation in Lehi
in the Desert
that "the strong tendency [of Book of Mormon names]
to end in –iah is very striking, since the vast majority of Hebrew
names found at Lachish end in the same way, indicating that –iah names
were very fashionable in Lehi’s time."

Thomas notes that a "striking" peculiarity of Hebrew names in the
age of Jeremiah is "the many personal names which end in –iah."
98 The same authority observes that
the Lachish fragments prove the language of Zedekiah’s time to have been classical
Hebrew of a type which "aligns itself more especially with . . .
the Book of Jeremiah," thereby vindicating the long-questioned accuracy
and antiquity of the biblical records that purportedly come down to us from
the time of Lehi.99

A well-known peculiarity of Book of Mormon names is that a very large percentage
of them end in -m or -n. A glance at a name-list will show that mimation is
overwhelmingly favored for Jaredite names, while nunation is the rule for Nephite
and Lamanite ones. Jirku has declared that it is now known for certain that
mimation was still current in the Semitic dialects of Palestine and Syria between
2100 and 1800 B.C., when the nominative (the subjective) case singular still
ended in –m.100 From Egyptian
and Hittite records it is now clear that the dialects of Palestine and Syria
dropped this mimation in the first half of the second millennium B.C. This old
m ending is preserved in the Bible only in a few pre-Hebrew words
used in incantations and spells: Teraphim, Sanwerim, Urim,
and Thummim.101

It is significant to Latter-day Saints that the last two words are not, as
has always been supposed, Hebrew plural forms, but are archaic words in the
singular. This means that the conventional attempts to determine the nature
of Urim and Thummim from classical Hebrew are worthless and, as Jirku points
out, that Urim and Thummim stands for two single implements or objects, and
not for a multiplicity of things.

To judge by proper names in the Book of Mormon, the language of the Jaredites
was related to a pre-Hebrew mimated language that has left its marks in a
few very old and holy words in the Old Testament.

Jews. On no point have we been more often assailed since the appearance
of the "Lehi" articles than our liberal use of the word Jew
to describe Lehi and his contemporaries. A Jew is a member of the tribe of Judah,
it is true, but that is not the whole story. The name is applied by experts
today to any citizen of the ancient Jewish state or of Jerusalem, no matter
what his tribe; to any inhabitant of Judaea, no matter what his tribe, religion,
or citizenship; to anyone accepting the Jewish religion, no matter what his
family background; to anyone descended from a family that had once practiced
that religion, no matter what his present religion. The subject has recently
received full treatment at the hands of Professor Solomon Zeitlin, whose conclusions
may be helpful. The term Hebrew, according to Zeitlin, is never applied
to the Israelites either in the Law or the Prophets.102

After the exile the people were called Judaeans, only rarely Israel, and "later
the name Israel disappears, and that of Jews takes its place entirely."
In the time of Josephus, all inhabitants of Judea, whether Jews or not, were
called Judaeans, and in the Second Commonwealth all proselytes were also called
Judaeans (Jews).103 At that time the
country itself was called ha-aretz, "the Land," as it is
today, and the people were never called either Hebrews or Israelites. "The
term Jews was applied in Egypt to the inhabitants who settled there
and followed the same religion as the inhabitants of Judaea," regardless
of ancestry or country of origin.104
"When Paul was in Judaea," says Zeitlin, "he called himself a
Judaean, . . . while when he was in the Diaspora he called himself
a Hebrew, or Israeli, as the people [Jews] of the Diaspora did."105
Since the Christians called themselves Israelites from the beginning, the Jews
in order to combat their claims readopted the name of Israel, which they have
employed freely to the present time.106

Throughout history, the determining factor of what makes one a Jew has always
been some association with the geographical area of Judaea, and since "Lehi
. . . dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days" (1 Nephi 1:4), the
best possible designation for him is Jew, regardless of his ancestry.
Nephi’s formula "the Jews who were at Jerusalem" (1 Nephi 2:13) makes
it perfectly clear that he was acquainted with other settlements of Jews, and
in his use of the term one may detect an undeniable feeling of detachment, if
not of hostility, toward those city Jews. The Lachish Letters distinguish between
the Jews of the country and the Jews of the city, and this distinction is also
found in Nephi’s account.

Babylon’s Conquest of Jerusalem. In Omni 1:15, we read that "the
people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king
of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon." Though this agrees with
2 Kings 25:7 and Jeremiah, scholars have doubted it. "Before the Chaldaean
army laid siege to Jerusalem," according to Albright, "the Jewish
King died or was assassinated, and his young son, Jehoiachin, went into exile
in his place."107

It is with considerable surprise the experts now learn that in the Babylonian
lists of prisoners brought to Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem "Jehoiachin
is called ‘the son of the king’ of Judah,"108 instead of king. While,
according to Thomas, "it is possible that this is a mere scribal error,"
109 Weidner "suggests that the designation . . . may have been deliberately
chosen, the Babylonians regarding Zedekiah as the legitimate king of Judah."
110 Along with that, it is notable that in the Book of Mormon Zedekiah plays
absolutely no role at all, all government and dirty work being left, apparently,
entirely to "the elders of the Jews" (1 Nephi 4:22, 27; cf. Jeremiah
26:17). This view is substantiated in a new book by Hölscher, who shows Zedekiah
as a helpless puppet in the hands of "the potentates at the court, who
now appear as sworn enemies of the Prophet whose predictions of disaster they
regard as treasonable."111 The prophet in question was Jeremiah, whom
Lehi supported, thereby incurring the wrath of the same "elders"
who attempted to liquidate him as well as Jeremiah.112 Hölscher tells us
that Jeremiah met with the weak king "in secret interviews," vainly
attempting to persuade him to give up the fatal alliance with Egypt.113 The
decision of policy in "secret interviews" is exactly what we meet
with in 1 Nephi, where the elders hold their councils in the deep of night.
The "hysteria and gloom" that reigned in Lehi’s Jerusalem are further
reflected in an Aramaic letter discovered at Saqqarah in 1942 and dating from
the time of Jeremiah: King Adon appeals to Pharaoh for aid in the very same
terms that his ancestors used in calling upon Egypt in the Amarna age, centuries
before: "[The armies] of the King of Babylon have come, they have reached
Aphek; . . . do not forsake me."114

The Babylonian lists of prisoners to which we have just referred contain, along
with the Jewish names, a respectable proportion of Egyptian names. This is what
we find in the Book of Mormon name list as well, but the resemblance goes further,
for the Egyptian names in the Old World list show, according to D. W. Thomas,
that it was popular at the time to name children after famous Egyptian rulers
of the past.115 If the reader will
consult our section on "Strange Names" in Lehi in the Desert,
he will discover that a surprisingly large number of Egyptian names found among
the Nephites were those of early Egyptian kings and heroes. The legendary first
king of Egypt was Aha, whose name means "warrior," and, significantly
enough, in the Book of Mormon this name is bestowed by a Nephite commander-in-chief
on his son. Other royal and hero-names in the Book of Mormon are Himni, Korihor,
Paanchi, Pacumeni, Sam, Zeezrom, Hem, Manti, Nephi, and Zenoch. Zeniff is certainly
cognate with Arabic Zaynab, best known from the Latinized name of Zenobia, next
to the Queen of Sheba the most famous woman in Egypt.116

The Babylonian captive-list also included Philistine, Phoenician, Elamite,
Median, Persian, Greek, and Lydian names—all sweepings of a campaign into
Lehi’s country.117 The variety of
name-types in the Book of Mormon rosters is the much earlier Tell Ta’annek list,
in which the element bin is prominent, for example, Bin-da-ni?-wa
(cf. Book of Mormon Abinadi), as well as the -zi-ra and –andi
combinations, the latter interpreted as East Canaanitish.118

Lehi in the Desert. Lehi’s life in the desert receives new illustration
steadily with new studies and explorations in the sand. In a recent study, Shalem
has shown that the best evidence for the stability of climatic conditions in
the East is the Bible itself; Shalem claims that man himself has been the main
factor in changing the climate of Palestine from time to time, and he notes
that there has been a "capital change" of climate in that country
as a result of the return of the Jews to the land in our own time. Yet even
while he pleads for the scriptures as the best guide to the understanding of
the problem, this investigator passes by the words of the prophets in silence.

As if they had not done enough already, our invaluable Scrolls supply the
best explanations to date for Lehi’s peculiar fondness for the desert. As
a merchant and a Manassehite he cannot have escaped something of a desert
background, but how do his exploits on the sand fit with his status as an
orthodox Jew? From the Scrolls we learn that there existed among the Jews
certain groups distinguished for their piety, prophetic zeal, and annoying
insistence on a literal and not-too-distant coming of the Messiah. The Apocrypha
teach us that such groups and such teaching were not confined to any one period
of Jewish history but run like a scarlet cord through its whole texture. "Almost
all our fathers," says Nephi, the son of Helaman, "testified of
the coming of Christ, and have looked forward, and have rejoiced in his day
which is to come" (Helaman 8:22).

Now the Scrolls teach us that such holy men and their followers were wont
to organize themselves in "encampments," actually living "outside
the towns in the desert regions," where "they lived if not actually
in tents at least in very simple dwellings. They thus avoided the corruption
of the towns and once again realized the ideal of the nomad life handed down
in the oldest of Israel’s traditions."120 As Israel of old, they were
deliberately escaping from the wicked world to the air of the desert, carrying
out in the life of the tent dwellers a symbolism which the Latter-day Saints
preserve to this day when they speak of the "stakes" and the "center
stake" of Zion. The earliest Arabic commentary on government is a poetic
exposition in which, according to Nöldeke, we find not a brief for kingship
but the "truly Arabic" concept of a free society in which the best
rule by consent of all the governed:

No people are well off without proper leadership;
And there are no leaders when the more ignorant rule.
As the tent cannot be set up without poles,
And the poles cannot stand without the tent-stakes round about,
Even so, when both poles and stakes cooperate,
In that day has been achieved the goal which before
We only partly attained.121

The life of the tent-dwellers which Lehi and Ishmael followed was not the way
of the Bedouin renegade, but the traditional choice of seekers after righteousness.
Lehi’s concern to keep his people from degenerating into Bedouins is thoroughly
typical of an attitude illustrated in Jawad Ali’s new two-volume Arabs before
, the first work of the kind to appear in Arabic. That author notes
in his opening lines that the term Jahiliyah, "time of ignorance,"
is used to describe the pre-Islamic Arabs not because of their ignorance of
Islam, but because of their low cultural level: They were nomadic tribesmen,
living in ignorance and sloth, having no contacts with the outer world, and
keeping no records
.122 This state
of things has always been regarded as utterly abominable by the cultivated Arab
(as it was by Lehi), proud though he is of his desert heritage: the danger of
degenerating into a desert tramp is a real and constant one, and the only way
of combating it—by adab, a thorough training in the poetry of
the fathers, and by the keeping of records—has been an obsession with
the high-minded men of the desert throughout their history.123

In the summer of 1953 a copy of the eighth book of Hamdani’s Al-Iklil
came into the author’s possession from the library of the late J. A. Montgomery,
one of the great Arabists of our time. Here is the key to one of Lehi’s most
wonderful dreams, for this book of Al-Iklil is devoted to describing
the early castles of Arabia, "great and spacious buildings" which
"stood as it were in the air, high above the earth," filled with proud
and finely dressed people who held the wandering Bedouins in contempt. The imagery
is Nephi’s, but it might have taken right out of Hamdani: "And the castle
of Ghumdan," he writes of one of the most famous, "had twenty stories
of upper chambers, one above another." There is disagreement as to its
height and breadth, for some say each of its walls measured a thousand by a
thousand (a "great and spacious house" indeed!), while others say
it was greater, and that each of its (20) stories was ten cubits (15 feet) high.
And the poet al-Acsha says:

And never was there a more splendid assemblage of people
Than the people of Ghumdan when they gathered.
But dire calamity befell them,
Even as a wailing woman who has been utterly bereft.124

Numerous other accounts of this and other castles are cited but the moral
is always the same: the magnificent gathering in the great and spacious building
high above the earth is doomed to the destruction reserved for the haughty
and the wicked. If no evidence for the provenience of the Book of Mormon existed
except the eighth chapter of 1 Nephi, that alone would be quite adequate to
establish its oriental origin beyond a doubt. Indeed, there is but one objection
to its claims of authenticity, and that is a far-fetched story that a certain
young man once told about an angel.

The reader may find in our above translations of Arabic poets ample proof of
the claim that the greatest verses of those artists cannot be made into anything
remotely resembling good literature in English and still preserve a trace of
their original form or content. To judge the Book of Mormon as an exercise in
English literary style, therefore, is the height of folly. Nicholson notes that
the very best oriental poetry contains "much that to modern taste is absolutely
incongruous with poetic style. Their finest pictures . . . often appear
uncouth or grotesque, because without an intimate knowledge of the land and
people it is impossible for us to see what the poet intended to convey, or to
appreciate the truth and beauty of its expression." 125
One is constantly coming upon strange little expressions that recall the Book
of Mormon. Thus the nonbiblical use of white as the equivalent of delightsome
in the Book of Mormon strongly suggests the Arabic al-hasan wa’l-biyad—a
very early expression,126 while the
designation of the sea by the earliest Arab poet as "the ocean spring"
or "fountain" immediately recalls the term used by Lehi’s wanderers,
"the fountain of the Red Sea," and solves a knotty problem with a
single cut.127

A recent study by Rosenblatt on oaths bears out well what we said about the
episode of the swearing of Zoram (1 Nephi 4:35—37). Among both Arabs and Jews,
says Rosenblatt, "an oath without God’s name is no oath," while
"both in Jewish and Mohammedan sources oaths by ‘the life of God’ are
frequent."128 So Nephi’s "as the Lord liveth" is strictly

Origins of Civilization. The whole picture of the racial and linguistic
composition of the human race in the Jaredite era at the dawn of history has
in our own day undergone such a complete alteration that those theories so stoutly
defended in the 1920s and 1930s as the final verdict of scientific objectivity
now appear almost pitifully biased. As Pittioni pointed out in 1952, a "sociologically
oriented evolutionism" has so thoroughly preconditioned the thinking of
the experts, who have "unconsciously and unquestioningly assumed a point
of view sprung directly from the natural-science orientation of nineteenth-century
cosmology," that they address themselves to the problem of origins with
the implicit conviction that they already know exactly how everything happened!
129 So ingrained is this childlike
faith in the infallibility of the evolutionary rule of thumb, that it has enabled
our colleges in the West to dispense almost entirely with libraries, and to
offer large numbers of impressive courses in ancient life and culture without
ever feeling the disquieting urge to consult original sources: why bother to
read hard books when evolution gives you an easy answer to everything?

Every new discovery tends to substantiate the theory of a primary radiation
of peoples from the "Jaredite country" in the northern reaches of
the Tigris and the Euphrates. It is to that area that archaeologists have now
turned for the solution to the problem of world civilization. Whether or not
Jarmo, east of the Tigris in northern Iraq, is actually the oldest village in
the world, as was announced in 1951 (and Braidwood estimates its age at only
six thousand—not sixty million—years),130
it certainly lies at the center of a series of radiating zones that embrace
ruins of the same type that rival it in antiquity. The most ancient cities in
the world are not strewn about the earth in haphazard fashion, but give every
indication of spreading from a single center.131

The same tendency to converge toward a single point on the map has marked
the study of linguistic origins during the past decades. The identification
of exotic central and even eastern Asiatic languages as members of our own
linguistic family was followed at the end of the 1920s by the surprising discovery
that the mysterious Hittite was cousin to such homely western idioms as Latin
and Welsh. Within the past year or two, archaeologists claim to have filled
up the gap between the Indo-European and the Turanian languages; if that is
so, almost all of Europe and Asia will turn out to be speaking variations
of a single tongue.132 In 1952, Carnoy announced that Etruscan, which has
baffled researchers for centuries, belongs to a very early wave of Indo-European
migration into the west, a wave which brought in with it such strange "Pelasgian"
languages as Lydian and Lycian, and that Etruscan’s closest relative is the
thoroughly western Hittite.133

Along with this amazing predominance of "our own people" in times
and places at which any suggestion of their presence a few years ago would
have excited gales of contemptuous laughter goes the newly won conviction
that the great civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia did not originate in
those lands at all. At present the experts are meditating and arguing about
the peculiar circumstance that writing was introduced into both areas suddenly
and first appears in both places in an identical stage of development; this
would indicate as plain as day that it must have come from the same source.
But in that case, why are the earliest Egyptian and the earliest Babylonian
writings so different from each other?134 Whatever the answer, we must now
give up the old illusion that the origin of civilization is to be sought in
either Egypt or Babylonia. The once-popular theory that China saw the earliest
beginnings must also be abandoned, though in view of the impressive list of
common cultural traits that bind ancient Egypt, Babylonia, and China, one
must assume that China, too, drew from the common source.135

How far afield the authorities now range in their search for Eden may be estimated
from A. Herrmann’s Erdkarte der Urbibel. Herrmann believes that the
oldest parts of Genesis are the geographical passages, and that these all have
one source, a lost "ur-Genesis" which was in fact originally a History
of Abraham, which he designates as the Ur-Abraham, the ultimate source of Genesis.136
The largest surviving pieces of this lost Book of Abraham are to be found in
the Book of Jubilees, according to Herrmann, which, interestingly enough, is
of all questioned Apocrypha the one most thoroughly vindicated by the finding
of the Scrolls, which show Jubilees to be not a medieval but a genuinely ancient
document. According to this source, the entire human race was living in the
Land of Eden (not the Garden of Eden, but the land where it had been)
when they were overwhelmed by water.137
This cannot have taken place in Mesopotamia or Egypt, Herrmann observes, since
both those lands are described in the sources as being uninhabited in Noah’s
day,138 and Kraeling has noted that
according to other sources the people in the ark did not have the vaguest idea
where they were after the flood, but being in strange surroundings had to learn
of their location by revelation.139
So Herrmann seeks the Land of Eden in Abyssinia, South Arabia, and the headwaters
of the Nile—all dubious locales and all far from the conventional Babylonian
sites. It is a quest that would have struck the dogmatic scholars of past years
with amazement: they knew where the Garden of Eden was.

The Tower. No subject has been studied more diligently of recent years
than that of the ancient towers. In 1946 L. H. Vincent showed that the ziggurat
was designed from the first as a means by which the gigunu could mount
up to heaven; it was "a scale model of the world," and a sort of link
between the heavenly and earthly temples and at the same time "a model
of the universe" and a ladder to the upper world. The biblical explanation
for the Tower of Babel is thus strictly correct.140
G. Thausing in 1948 included the Egyptian pyramid among such structures, as
"symbol of the outpouring of light, architectural manifestation of the
idea of emanation and symbol of the uniting of Heaven and Earth. Its very name—mr,
‘binding’ [shows that] it is the Way to the world below, but also to the world
above." 141 In the following
year André Parrot published a large book on ziggurats, in which he sums up
all the previous theories of the nature of these mysterious towers—for
example, that they were meant to represent mountains, thrones, dwellings, the
universe, altars, but especially that they are special structures "which
the gods use in order to pass from their celestial habitation to their terrestrial
residence, from invisibility to visibility. The ziggurat is thus nothing but
the supporting structure for the edifice on its top, and a stairway between
the upper and the lower world."142
In a study on the Tower of Babel, Parrot in 1950 elaborated on this last conception
as the true explanation for the towers: the god was thought to "land"
with his escorting troupe at the "Hochtempel" at the top of the tower,
and then to descend the stairs to the "Tieftempel" at the bottom,
where everything was in readiness to receive him; the holy company was thought
to return to heaven by the same route.143
In the same year, Contenau in his book on the Babylonian Deluge concluded that
the ziggurat of Babylon actually was the Tower of Babel, that such towers while
serving as astronomical observatories were originally "temples of passage,"
reception places for divinity whenever it visited the earth; the holy mountain
itself, according to this authority, was originally such a place of contact
between heaven and earth. 144 There
is no doubt at all, Contenau believes, that these Babylonian towers are the
same as the Egyptian pyramids in their function of "passage for divinity
from heaven to earth and back again," the two having a common but very
ancient and unknown origin.145

From a study of the archaic seals of Babylonia, the oldest written documents
in the world, Pierre Amiet in 1951 concluded that in the archaic period "the
ziggurat was at one and the same time an immense altar on which were placed
the gifts designed to attract the god, the platform where the priests raised
themselves up to be nearer to the divinity, as an aid of their prayers, and
the support for the stairway which the god, in response to those prayers,
employed in order to descend to the earth."146 The same scholar in 1953
is more specific still: one idea is clear above all others in these old tower-temples,
"the idea of ascension, of mounting up."147 The steps of the tower,
like the steps of the altars in the most primitive seals, are stairways, "binding
the heavens to the earth." The earliest of all known temples is "the
supra-terrestrial place, celestial as it were, where the two aspects of divinity
become fused on the occasion of the performance of essential ordinances, destined
to assure fecundity upon the earth."148 Thus a hundred years of speculation
have arrived at the point of departure: there was a real tower that meant
what the Bible said it did.

A conspicuous aspect of the sacred tower is that it is always thought of
as standing at the exact center of the earth; it is an observatory from which
one takes one’s bearings on the universe. This being so, it is easy to see
how men would regard such a tower as the starting point for the populating
of the whole world. Thus in Jubilees 38:4, when the sons of Jacob went forth
to claim their heritage, "they divided themselves into companies on the
four sides of the tower." This is no mere mythological concept: in every
ancient land the seat of government was an exalted structure thought to stand
at the exact geographical center of the world.149 The practical economy of
this is obvious; after all, most of our state capitals are placed as near
the geographical center of the states as is practical. When the scriptures
tell us that the people of the world had a great common center to which they
repaired and from which, when it broke up, they scattered in all directions,
it is not telling a fabulous or impossible tale but is rehearsing a well-known
historic pattern.

Elephants, Glass, and Metal. By now many readers will be aware of
an interesting study on "Men and Elephants in America" recently appearing
in the Scientific Monthly; the writer concludes: "Archaeology
has proved that the American Indian hunted and killed elephants; it has also
strongly indicated that these elephants have been extinct for several thousand
years. This means that the traditions of the Indians recalling these animals
have retained their historical validity for great stretches of time. . . .
Probably the minimum is three thousand years."150
The author favors three thousand years ago as the terminal date for the existence
of the elephant in America,151 which
would place its extinction about a thousand years B.C., when the Jaredite culture
was already very old and Lehi’s people were not to appear on the scene for some
centuries. This suits very well with the Book of Mormon account, and in that
case the Indian legends must go back to Jaredite times, and indeed the author
of the study quoted insists that they must be at least three thousand years
old. But since legends are word-of-mouth tradition, the presence of Jaredite
legends among the Indians presumes a survival of the Jaredite strain among them,
and at the very least such legends cannot have been transmitted from Jaredite
to Lamanite hunters without long and intimate contact between the two groups.
Here, then, is a strong argument for Jaredite survivors among the Indians, and
if one refuses to interpret it as such one must certainly admit extensive intercourse
between the two groups in order to transmit to the Lamanites knowledge which
only the Jaredites possessed.

My own inclination is to see actual Jaredite heredity in the Indian strain.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, it is promised that "the Lamanites shall
blossom as the rose" (D&C 49:24). Yet many of the great nations of
the eastern forests, the most formidable tribes of all, have entirely disappeared;
whatever happens, they will never flourish. Can it be that those fierce and
vanished tribes were predominantly of Jaredite stock and not true Lamanites
at all?

Incidentally, the problem of the elephant in the Old World is no less puzzling
than in the New, to judge by a philological study by Kretschmer, appearing
in 1951.152 According to that renowned philologian, the ancient Germans and
Slavs actually confused the camel with the elephant, while the people of India,
the classic land of the elephant, seem not to have been acquainted with the
animal at first hand, since they had no word of their own for it! R. Walz,
reviewing the whole problem of the domestication of the camel, has come to
the conclusion that, at least up to 1951, the problem remains unsolved, in
spite of all the work that has been done on it.153

As to glass and metal, it is now certain that their origin is to be sought
neither in Egypt nor in Babylonia, but in the mountains to the north of the
latter region, the area that we loosely describe as "Jaredite country."

Weights and Measures. The names of weights and measures are among
the most conservative properties of human society, as our own "foot,"
"yard," "mile," and "ounce" attest. But along
with their conservatism, such terms give evidence at a glance of much borrowing
and exchange between cultures. Thus common designations of weight and measure
establish prehistoric ties between Egypt and Babylonia.155
Now the fourteen odd names of measure given in the Book of Mormon are neither
Semitic nor Egyptian; unlike the Nephite proper names, these terms have no parallels
in the Old World. The explanation for this is obvious: they are Jaredite names.
Clear evidence of borrowing by the Nephites can be seen in the words shiblon,
shiblum, or shublon, for not only is the obvious confusion
of mimation and nunation indicative of a transition, but the proper names of
Shiblon and Shiblom, in both mimated and nunated form, are found among both
Jaredites and Nephites. From this we may gain an idea of the really significant
influence of the Jaredite upon the Nephite culture, for weights and measures
are at the foundation of all material civilization. There is a remarkable and
natural consistency in the picture which the most cunning calculations of a
forger could not hope to achieve: the pains of the Nephite writer to explain
the peculiar system; the names which, unlike other Book of Mormon names, have
no known parallels in the Old World; the obvious overlapping of Nephite and
Jaredite elements (seon, senine, senum); the well-known tendency of established
systems of metrology to hold their own, no matter how quaint and antiquated,
so that the older system would necessarily have priority over the newer; the
equally well-known tendency to combine various foreign elements in a single
system; the material superiority and materialistic orientation of Jaredite culture,
betrayed by the incurable worldliness of men with Jaredite names. All this is
found in the Nephite account, in which the sinister Jaredite influence constantly
lurks in the background.

Conclusion. This brings us to a final reflection on the Book of Mormon
as a fraudulent production.

There is wisdom in the rule laid down by Blass, that whoever presumes to doubt
the purported source and authorship of a document cannot possibly escape the
obligation of supplying a more plausible account in its stead.156
The critic has made the accusation; therefore he must have his reasons—let
us hear them. No intolerable burden is put upon him by the demand, for the more
obviously fraudulent an account of origin is, the easier it should be to think
up a better explanation. The critic is not required to tell exactly what the
true origin of the text was, but merely to supply a more likely story than the
one given. The world which rejects the official account of the Book of Mormon
is not under obligation to tell us exactly when, where, and how the book was
produced, but it is most emphatically under obligation to furnish a clear and
convincing account of how it could have been created in view of all
the positively known circumstances of its actual appearance. Clever people have
not shirked from this duty, but until now not a single explanation has been
offered that is not in glaring conflict with itself or with certain facts upon
which all, Mormons and non-Mormons, are in agreement. Above all, it will not
do to say that the book is a fraud because angels do not bring books to people,
for that is the very point at issue. Joseph Smith may have been very shrewd
and very lucky, but there are impassable bounds set to the reach of human wit
and fortune. Consider the cases of Scaliger and Bentley, the two greatest scholars
of modern, if not of all, times. The former, a mental marvel without compare,
whose prodigious achievements in the field of scholarship make all others appear
as novices,157 could not, for all
his immense perspicacity and learning, avoid the normal lapses of human knowledge
or the pitfalls of vanity. With a record for accurate observation and penetrating
discovery that no other can approach, he nonetheless "corrupts his own
magnificent work by an anxious and morose over-diligence, and by his insane
desire to display his erudition."158
"In particular," says Housman, "he will often propound interpretations
which have no bearing either on his own text . . . or on any other,
but pertain to things which he has read elsewhere, and which hang like mists
in his memory and veil from his eyes the verses which he thinks he is explaining.
Furthermore it must be said that Scaliger’s conjectures . . . are
often uncouth and sometimes monstrous."159
Housman then quotes Haupt: "Without doing injury to his fame, one may say
that no great scholar ever set beside sure discoveries of the most brilliant
penetration so much that is grammatically preposterous." "And,"
says Housman, "the worse the conjecture the louder does Scaliger applaud
himself." 160

Of Bentley, Housman writes: "The firm strength and piercing edge and
arrowy swiftness of his intellect, his matchless facility and adroitness and
resource, were never so triumphant as where defeat seemed sure; and yet it
is other virtues that one most admires: . . . his lucidity, his sanity, his
just and simple and straight-forward fashion of thought."161 If anyone
could produce a flawless reconstruction of a text, this paragon should, but
what do we find? "The faults of this edition, which are abundant, are
the faults of Bentley’s other critical works. He was impatient, he was tyrannical,
and he was too sure of himself. Hence he corrupts sound verses which he will
not wait to understand, alters what offends his taste. . . . His buoyant mind,
elated by the exercise of its powers, too often forgot the nature of its business,
and turned from work to play; and many a time when he feigned and half fancied
that he was correcting the scribe, he knew in his heart . . . that he was
revising the author."162

Now "the nature of the business" of these two men was very close
to that of the author of the Book of Mormon: it was to produce ancient texts
"in their purity" by correcting the corrupt manuscripts that the world
has inherited from early copyists. The correction was done on the basis of what
the editor, using all the information at his disposal about the writer in question
and the world in which he lived, conjectured that the author would have written
in place of the badly copied text before him. Scaliger, Bentley, and the author
of the Book of Mormon are all engaged in the proper business of scholarship,
that of bringing out of obscurity and darkness ancient texts that present a
true and faithful picture of the past. If the former two suffer serious reverses
on almost every page, due to inevitable defects of knowledge and judgment, what
should we expect of the last, even assuming him to be the most honest of men?
To say that he may have made no more frightful mistakes per page than
a Scaliger or a Bentley is to pay him the highest tribute. More cleverness and
luck than that we simply cannot allow him. If any modern man, however great
his genius, composed the Book of Mormon, it must of necessity swarm with the
uncouth, monstrous, impossible, contradictory, and absurd.163
But it does not.

The few odds and ends we have touched upon in this short study should be
enough to show what teeming opportunities the writer of the Book of Mormon
had to make a complete fool of himself, and the world will give a handsome
reward to anyone who can show it but one clear and unmistakable instance in
which he did so. We must grant, therefore, that the current explanation of
the Book of Mormon—that the man who wrote it was both smart and unscrupulous—explains

*   This article first appeared as a nine-part
series in the Improvement Era, from November 1953 to July 1954.

1.   Hugh W. Nibley, "Lehi in the
Desert," Improvement Era 53 (January—October 1950); "The
World of the Jaredites," Improvement Era 54 (September—December
1951), and 55 (January—July 1952); in book form, Lehi in the Desert
and The World of the Jaredites
(Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1952); reprinted
in CWHN 5:1—282.

2.   The best available treatment in English
of the nature and rules of textual criticism is to be found in the introductions
of the five volumes of A. E. Housman, M. Manilii Astronomicon, 5 vols.
(London: Cambridge University Press, 1937); see esp. vols. 1 and 5.

3.   Friedrich Blass, "Hermeneutik
und Kritik," Einleitende und Hilfs-Disziplinen, vol. 1 of Iwan
von Müller’s Handbuch der klassichen Altertumswissenschaft (Munich:
Beck, 1886), 127—272.

4.   Ibid., 270—71.

5.   Felix Jacoby, Atthis: The Local
Chronicles of Ancient Athens
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1949), 131.

6.   Blass, "Hermeneutik und Kritik," 268.

7.   Ibid., 271.

8.   Ibid., 269.

9.   Ibid., 268, 271.

10.   Nibley, Lehi in the Desert
and the World of the Jaredites
, 128—39, 261—66; in CWHN 
5:114—23, 259—63.

11.   Blass, "Hermeneutik und Kritik," 271.

12.   Nibley, Lehi in the Desert
and the World of the Jaredites
, 257; in CWHN 5:255.

13.   Blass, "Hermeneutik und Kritik," 271.

14.   Ibid.

15.   Ibid.

16.   Reynold A. Nicholson, A Literary
History of the Arabs
(London: Unwin, 1907; reprinted Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1953), 134.

17.   Johannes Haller, Nikolaus
I und Pseudoisidor
(Stuttgart: Cotta, 1936), 158—59.

18.   See ibid., 155—72, for Haller’s discussion of the Pseudo-Isidor document.

19.   Ibid., 181—82.

20.   Ibid., 182—83.

21.   Blass, "Hermeneutik und Kritik," 271.

22.   Hugo Willrich, Urkundenfälschung
in der hellenistisch-jüdischen Literatur
, Heft 21 of Forschungen zur
Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments
Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1924), 3—4.

23.   Ibid., 4.

24.   Heinrich Böhmer, Die
Fälschungen Erzbischof Lanfrancs von Canterbury
(Leipzig: Dieterich
1902; reprinted Aalen: Scientia Verlag, 1972), being vol. 7, no. 1 of Studien
zur Geschichte der Theologie und Kirche
, 126—27.

25.   This is the usual classification.
Friedrich Leist, Urkundenlehre (Leipzig: Weber, 1893), divides his
whole book into external, internal characteristics of documents; this differs
slightly from external vs. internal evidence, the former being information coming
from outside, the latter information contained entirely in the document itself.

26.   Thus Housman, M. Manilii Astronomicon,
1:lxv: "Now where all MSS give nonsense and are therefore corrupt, those
MSS are to be preferred which give the worst nonsense, because they are likely
to be the least interpolated." Cf. ibid., 5:xxxiii—xxxv.

27.   Blass, "Hermeneutik und Kritik," 270—71.

28.   Ibid., 268.

29.   This aspect of the Book of Mormon is the subject of a thesis written by
Robert K. Thomas, "A Literary Analysis of the Book of Mormon," at
Reed College in 1947.

30.   John Chrysostom, De Sacerdotio
(On the Priesthood)
I, 5, in PG 48:624.

31.   Blass, "Hermeneutik und Kritik," 271.

32.   Eduard Meyer, Ursprung und
Geschichte der Mormonen
(Halle: Niemeyer, 1912), 59—83, esp. 72,
80—83; published also as The Origin and History of the Mormons,
tr. H. Rahde and E. Seaich (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1961),

33.   Franklin S. Harris, The Book
of Mormon Message and Evidences
(Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1953).

34.   Paul E. Kahle, The Cairo Geniza
(London: Oxford University Press, 1947).

35.   An account and description of
some of these texts, only a portion of which have been made available to students
to date, may be found in Sidney B. Sperry, "The Sensational Discovery of
Jerusalem Scrolls," Improvement Era 52 (1949): 636.

36.   The best general studies of the
scrolls to appear to date [1953] are André Dupont-Sommer, The Dead Sea Scrolls,
A Preliminary Survey
(New York: Macmillan, 1952), and Harold H. Rowley,
The Zadokite Fragments and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Oxford: Blackwell,
1952). As new knowledge comes forth on these discoveries, it is made available
to the public as soon as possible in the Bulletin of the American Schools
of Oriental Research
and in the Biblical Archaeologist. Most instructive
are William H. Brownlee, "A Comparison of the Covenanters of the Dead Sea
Scrolls with Pre-Christian Jewish Sects," Biblical Archaeologist
13 (1950): 49—72; William H. Brownlee, "Biblical Interpretation among
the Sectaries of the Dead Sea Scrolls," Biblical Archaeologist
14 (1951): 54—76; William H. Brownlee, "The Dead Sea Manual of Discipline,"
BASOR Supplementary Studies, nos.10—12 (1951).

37.   E.g., Assumption of Moses 1:16—17,
in Robert H. Charles, The Assumption of Moses  (London: Black,
1897), 6—7; Carl Clemen, Die Himmelfahrt des Mose, in Kleine
no.10 (1904), 2:3; James H. Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha,
2 vols. (Garden City: Doubleday, 1983), 1:927.

38.   Eusebius, Chronicon I,
3, in PG 19:115—16. Nu’man, the fabulous King of Hira (around
A.D. 400) when he built his marvelous palace ordered a "Songs of the Arabs"
to be compiled and buried beneath it for future generations, Jawād ʿAli, Tārīkh
al- ʿArab qabl al-Islām
(Baghdad: Matbacat, 1950), 1:14.

39.   Dupont-Sommer, The Dead Sea
, 14—15.

40.   See "Ancient Records on Metal
Plates," ch. 10 in Harris, The Book of Mormon Message and Evidences,
esp. 95.

41.   Muhibble Anstock-Darga, "Semitische
Inschriften auf Silbertäfelchen aus dem ‘Beriz’-Tal (Umgebung von ‘Maras’),"
Jahrbuch für kleinasiatische Forschung 1 (1950): 199—200.

42.   André Dupont-Sommer, "Deux
lamelles d’argent á inscription hébréo-araméenne trouvées á agabeyli (Turque),"
Jahrbuch für kleinasiastische Forschung 1 (1950): 201—17. See
also, Levi E. Young, "Goldsmiths of Ancient Times," Improvement
52 (1949): 206—8.

43.   Bleddyn J. Roberts, "The
Jerusalem Scrolls," Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
62 (1950): 241.

44.   Dupont-Sommer, The Dead Sea
, 95.

45.   Ibid., 96.

46.   Hermann Gunkel, Zum religionsgeschichtlichen
Verständnis des Neuen Testaments
(Göttingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht,
1910). Though Gunkel became the founder of a "school," the consensus
went against him, and in his latest book, Christian Beginnings (London:
University of London Press, 1924), 27, F. C. Burkitt writes: "Christians
have been too apt in the past to assume that there already existed among the
Jews a fairly definite and uniform conception of the Messiah who was expected
to come. That indeed is a notion presupposed in many Christian documents, . . .
but it is not borne out by a study of Jewish literature." If anything,
conventional Jewry has been opposed to the idea, but the Scrolls and sects among
the Jews show it flourishing among the more pious element all along.

47.   Dupont-Sommer, The Dead Sea
, 96.

48.   A good collection of texts has
been made by August von Gall, Basileia tou Theou  (Heidelberg:
Winter, 1926).

49.   Hilel Ragaf, "The Origin
of the Religious Sect of Mormons," Vorwärts (26 April 1953).

50.   Solomon Zeitlin, "The Hebrew
Pogrom and the Hebrew Scrolls," Jewish Quarterly Review 42 (1952—53):

51.   Paul E. Kahle, The Cairo Geniza,

52.   Tovia Wechsler, "Origin of
the So-Called Dead Sea Scrolls," Jewish Quarterly Review 43 (1952—53):

53.   J. L. Teicher, "The Dead
Sea Scrolls-Documents of the Jewish-Christian Sect of Ebionites," Journal
of Jewish Studies
2 (1951): 69.

54.   Ibid., 78 (emphasis added).

55.   Ibid., 86.

56.   Dupont-Sommer, The Dead Sea
, 100, 96.

57.   Frederick A. M. Spencer, "The
Second Advent According to the Gospels," Church Quarterly Review
126 (1938): 18.

58.   William A. Irwin, "Ezekiel
Research since 1943," Vetus Testamentum 3 (1953): 62 (emphasis

59.   Ibid., 56.

60.   Ibid., 59.

61.   Ibid., 61.

62.   Von Gall, Basileia tou Theou,
65—68, 164—74.

63.   The process of "intellectualizing"
the message of the prophets is well illustrated by the Talmud. See Moses Mielziner,
Introduction to the Talmud (Chicago: Bloch, 1894), 103—14.

64.   L. Guerrier, "Le Testament
en Galilée de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ," in PO 9:148—49.

65.   Edward Chiera, They Wrote
on Clay
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1938), 133.

66.   See note 48 above, and the following note below.

67.   For an extensive study of these
groups, Robert Eisler, Iesous Basileus ou Basileusas, 2 vols. (Heidelberg:
Winter, 1930), vol. 2, chapters 5—10.

68.   Jeremiah seems to have been the
leader of the opposition to the government party, to judge by the Lachish Letters;
see sources cited in Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites,
5—13; in CWHN  5:6—13.

69.   Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews:
Or the Tribes of Israel in America
(Poultney, Vt.: Smith and Shute, 1823
and 1825).

70.   Sir Richard F. Burton, The
City of the Saints
(New York: Harper, 1862; reprinted New York: AMS, 1971),

71.   Dupont-Sommer, The Dead Sea
, 69.

72.   D. Winton Thomas, "The Age
of Jeremiah in the Light of Recent Archaeological Discovery," PEFQ
(1950), 3—4. Both quotations are from Thomas.

73.   Blass, "Hermeneutik und Kritik," 269.

74.   A. E. Silverstone, "God as
King," Journal of the Manchester Egyptian and Oriental Society
17 (1932): 47, on the Rabbinical interpretation of amen, with Messianic

75.   The oldest Semitic version of
Hebrews 11:1, the Syriac, employs the word haimanutha, from the conventional
AMN root.

76.   When Paul himself speaks of apocryphal
matters, his writing "is nothing but a tissue of ancient prophetic formulas,
borrowed ready-made," according to Denis Buzy, "L’Adversaire et l’Obstacle,"
Recherches de science religieuse 24 (1934): 409.

77.   Friedrich Delitzsch, Das Land
ohne Heimkehr: Die Gedanken der Babylonier und Assyrer über Tod und Jenseits

(Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1911).

78.   Peter C. A. Jensen, Assyrisch-babylonische
Mythen und Epen
(Berlin: Reuther and Reichard, 1900), 80—81.

79.   Knut Tallquist, "Sumerisch-Akkadische
Namen der Totenwelt," Studia Orientalia 4 (1934): 3, 15—17.

80.   Nibley, Lehi in the Desert
and The World of the Jaredites
, 11, 97; in CWHN 5:11, 86.

81.   Alfred Bloch, "Qaṣida,"
Asiatische Studien 3—4 (1948): 116—24.

82.   Nibley, Lehi in the Desert
and The World of the Jaredites
, 102—4; in CWHN 5:89—90.

83.   Nicholson, A Literary History
of the Arabs
, 74.

84.   G. Adolf Deissmann, Light
from the Ancient East
(New York: Doran, 1927), 369—73. The idea is
not of Hellenistic origin, for it is familiar in Egyptian literature where Pharaoh
brings joy to the lands through which he takes his royal tours, letting his
countenance shine (wbn) on each turn, just as his father Re makes the
rounds (shenen) of the universe with his inspecting eye that gives
both dread and joy to all beholders. The concept is even more conspicuous in
Asia, where "the monarch moves like the beneficent sun in a tireless round
among his people." The theme is treated by us in "The Hierocentric
State," Western Political Quarterly 4 (1951): 241—42.

85.   Dupont-Sommer, The Dead Sea
, 79—84.

86.   Ibid., 82.

87.   Hugh W. Nibley, "The Arrow,
the Hunter, and the State," Western Political Quarterly 2 (1949):

88.   Clément Huart and Louis Delaporte,
L’Iran Antique (Paris: Michel, 1943), 454—55.

89.   Von Gall, Basileia tou Theou,
182—83, 186—88, 219, 456.

90.   Dupont-Sommer, The Dead Sea
, 83.

91.   Huart and Delaporte, L’Iran
, 329—30, 359, 379.

92.   Nibley, "The Hierocentric State," 230—35, 244—47.

93.   B. Couroyer, "Le Chemin de
Vie en Egypte et en Israel," Revue Biblique 56 (1949): 412—32.

94.   Alexis Mallon, "Les Hébreux
en Egypte," Orientalia 3 (1921): 68—72.

95.   M. B. Rowton, "The Problem
of the Exodus," PEFQ (1953), 46—60.

96.   V. Gordon Childe, What Happened
in History
(New York: Penguin, 1946), 133.

97.   Thus Albright, following Gardiner,
notes that the recently discovered Chester Beatty Papyri prove the Song of Songs
to be of Egyptian origin; William F. Albright, Archaeology and the Religion
of Israel
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1942), 21.

98.   Nibley, Lehi in the Desert
and the World of the Jaredites
, 33; in CWHN 5:32. Thomas, "The
Age of Jeremiah in the Light of Recent Archaeological Discovery," 2.

99.   Ibid., 4.

100.   Anton Jirku, "Die Mimation
in den nordsemitischen Sprachen und einige Bezeichnungen der altisraelitischen
Mantik," Biblica 34 (1953): 78—79.

101.   Ibid., 80.

102.   Solomon Zeitlin, "The
Names Hebrew, Jew and Israel: A Historical Study," Jewish Quarterly
43 (1953): 367, the word "Hebrew" is used only in connection
with slaves or with foreigners (non-Jews).

103.   Ibid., 368 (emphasis added).

104.   Ibid., 369—70 (emphasis added).

105.   Ibid., 371.

106.   Ibid., 374—75.

107.   William F. Albright, "A
Brief History of Judah from the Days of Josiah to Alexander the Great,"
Biblical Archaeologist 9 (1946): 2.

108.   Thomas, "The Age of Jeremiah in the Light of Recent Archaeological
Discovery," 6.

109.   Ibid.

110.   Ibid., citing E. F. Weidner,"
Jojachin, König von Juda, in babylonischen Keilschrifttexten," in
Mélanges syriens offerts a Monsieur R. Dussard (1939), 923—35.

111.   Gustav Hölscher, Geschichtsschreibung
in Israel
(Lund: Gleerup, 1952), 193.

112.   See Nibley, Lehi in the
Desert and the World of the Jaredites
, 112—13; in CWHN 5:97—99.

113.   Hölscher, Geschichtsschreibung
in Israel
, 193.

114.   Thomas, "The Age of Jeremiah in the Light of Recent Archaeological
Discovery," 8—9. The remarkable resemblance of this to the Amarna letters,
upon which Thomas comments, justifies occasional use of Amarna material to illustrate
the Book of Mormon, notably with regard to proper names.

115.   Ibid., 7.

116.   Nibley, Lehi in the Desert
and the World of the Jaredites
, 27—32; in CWHN  5:25—31.

117.   Ibid.

118.   A. Gustavs, "Die Personnennamen
in den Tontafeln von Tell Ta’annek, I," ZDPV 50 (1927): 1—18;
A. Gustavs, "Die Personnennamen in den Tontafeln von Tell Ta’annek, II,"
ZDPV 51 (1928): 191, 198, 207. There are nine Subaraean, five Asia
Minor (Hittite), one Egyptian, one Sumerian, one Iranian, one Kossaean, one
Indian, ten Akkadian (Babylonian), 21 Canaanitish, two Amorite, and five Arabic
(Aramaic?) names, ibid., 209—10.

119.   N. Shalem, "La Stabilité
du Climat en Palestine," Revue Biblique 58 (1951): 54—74.

120.   Dupont-Sommer, The Dead
Sea Scrolls
, 61.

121.   Theodor Nöldeke, Delectus
Veterum Carminum Arabicorum
(Berlin: Ruether, 1890), 4, with note.

122.   Jawād ʿAli, Tārīkh al-ʿArab
qabl al-Islām
(Baghdad: Matbaʿat, 1950), 1:6.

123.   At the beginning of their long
wandering, the Sheikh of the Banī Hilāl ordered them to keep
a record of each important event, "that its memory might remain for the
members of the tribe, and that the people might read it and retain their civilized
status [ifada]," Kitāb Taghribat Banī Hilāl, Damascus
edition, 14. Accordingly, verses recited on notable occasions were written down
on the spot, just as Nephi wrote down his father’s utterances by the River of

124.   Hamdani, Al-Iklil
(Baghdad, 1931), Book 8, pp. 15—16. The work was translated in 1940 by
Nahib Amin Faris (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1940), but I have not
seen the translation.

125.   Nicholson, A Literary History
of the Arabs
, 103.

126.   The expression is found in
an Arabic rendering of a very early Christian Logion (saying attributed to Christ),
no 102 in the collection of Michaël Asin and Palacios, Logia et Agrapha
Domini Jesu
, in PO 13:426.

127.   I have not been able to see
the original text of the poem of Ḥassān ibn Thābit, which Nicholson,
A Literary History of the Arabs, 18, renders: "Followed he [the
hero Dhū ‘l-Qarnayn] the Sun to view its setting, when it sank into the
sombre ocean-spring."

128.   Samuel Rosenblatt, "The
Relations between Jewish and Muslim Laws Concerning Oaths and Vows," American
Academy of Jewish Research
(1936), 231, 238. For an account of the various
things the Arabs swear by, Tadeusz Kowalski, "Zu dem Eid bei den Alten
Arabern," Archi Orientalni 6 (1934): 68—81.

129.   Richard Pittioni, "Urzeitliche
Kulturvernäderungen als historisches Problem," Anzeiger der Oesterreichische
Akademie der Wissenschaft
, no.11 (1952): 162—63.

130.   Robert J. Braidwood, "Discovering
the World’s Earliest Village Community: The Claims of Jarmo as the Cradle of
Civilization," Illustrated London News (15 December 1951), 992—95.

131.   See the map in Archaeologia
(Autumn 1952), 158.

132.   V. Altman, "Ancient Khorezmian
Civilization in the Light of the Latest Archaeological Discoveries (1932—45),"
JAOS 67 (1947): 82—83. J. J. Gelb, "A Contribution to the
Proto-Indo-European Question," Jahrbuch für kleinasiatische Forschung
2 (1951): 34, proclaims "the common ancestry of the Semites, Hamites, and
Indo- Europeans," a proposition that would have shocked and amused the
experts of twenty years ago.

133.   Albert J. Carnoy, "La
Langue etrusque et ses origines," L’antiquité classique 21 (1952):

134.   R. Engelbach, "An Essay
on the Advent of the Dynastic Race in Egypt and Its Consequences," Annales
du service des antiquités de l’égypte
42 (1943): 193—221, esp. 208.
M. Frankfort, Birth of Civilization in the Near East (London: William
and Norgate, 1951), 106—7.

135.   Arthur von Rosthorn, "Sind
die Tschinesen ein autochthones Volk?" Berichte des Forschungs-Instituts
für Osten und Orient
3 (1918): 28—33; Albert Wesselski, "Einstige
Brücken zwischen Orient und Okzident," Archiv Orientalni 1 (1929):
88—84; Margaret A. Murray, "China and Egypt," Ancient Egypt
and the East
(1933), 39—42.

136.   Albert Herrmann, Die Erdkarte
der Urbibel
(Braunschweig: Westermann, 1931), 124.

137.   Ibid., 30.

138.   Ibid., 106.

139.   Emil G. Kraeling, "The
Earliest Hebrew Flood Story," JBL 56 (1947): 285.

140.   L. H. Vincent, "De la
tour de babel au temple," Revue Biblique 53 (1946): 403—40,
quotes from 439.

141.   Gertrud Thausing, in Oesterreichische
Akademie Anzeiger
, no. 7 (1948): 130.

142.   André Parrot, Ziggurats
et tour de babel
(Paris: Michel, 1949), 208.

143.   André Parrot, "La tour
de babel et les ziggurats," Nouvelle Clio 1—2 (1949—50):

144.   Georges Contenau, Le déluge
(Paris: Payot, 1952), 244, 246.

145.   Ibid., 245, 249—50, 260; quote is from 260.

146.   Pierre Amiet, "La Ziggurat,
d’aprés les cylindres de l’époque dynastique archaique," Revue d’Assyriologie
et d’Archéologie
45 (1951): 87.

147.   Pierre Amiet, "Ziggurats
et ‘Culte en Hauteur’ des origines à l’Époque d’Akkad," Revue
47 (1953): 23—33.

148.   Ibid., 30—31.

149.   Nibley, "The Hierocentric State," 235—38.

150.   Ludwell H. Johnson, III, "Men
and Elephants in America," Scientific Monthly 75 (1952): 220.

151.   Ibid., 216, 220.

152.   Paul Kretschmer, "Der
Name des Elefanten," Oesterreichische Akademie Anzeiger, no. 21
(1951): 324—25.

153.   Reinhard Walz, "Zum Problem
des Zeitpunkts der Domestikation der altweltlichen Cameliden," ZDMG
101 (1951): 29—51.

154.   For the latest philological
evidence, Paul Kretschmer, "Zu den ältesten Metallnamen," Glotta
32 (1952): 1—16: the oldest of all names for metal is neither
Egyptian nor Babylonian, but Indo-European—our own word "ore."
For the classic treatment of the home of metallurgy, see Jacques de Morgan,
La Préhistoire Orientale, 3 vols. (Paris: Guethner, 1925—27),
1:184—99. H. C. Beck, "Glass before 1500," Ancient Egypt
and the East
, part 1 (June 1934), 7—21, proposes Mesopotamia as the
home of glass making.

155.   De Morgan, La Préhistoire
, 2:315—19.

156.   Blass, "Hermeneutik und Kritik," 271.

157.   "Scaliger," wrote
the great Niebuhr, "stood on the summit of universal solid philological
learning, in a degree that none have reached since; so high in every branch
of knowledge, that from the resources of his own mind he could comprehend, apply,
and decide on, whatever came in his way." Quoted by Mark Pattison, Essays
by the Late Mark Pattison
, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1889), 1:133. Pattison
himself, ibid., 195, calls Scaliger’s "the most richly-stored intellect
which ever spent itself in acquiring knowledge." George W. Robinson writes:
"Whether Joseph Scaliger should be reckoned the greatest scholar of all
time, or should share that palm with Aristotle, is, perhaps, an open question;
of his primacy beyond all rivalry among the scholars of modern times there can
be no doubt." Joseph Scaliger, Autobiography of Joseph Scaliger,
tr. George W. Robinson (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1927), 8.
"[His] only possible rival," writes H. W. Garrod in his Manili
Astronomicon Liber II
(Oxford: E. Typographeo Academico, 1911), lxxxii,
"is Bentley-so much inferior in knowledge, in patience, in circumspection,
and in the faculty of grasping a whole, that only a native levity of the caprice
of reaction could place him on the same height as Scaliger." "He came
nearer than any other man before or since his time to reaching the ideal of
a universal grasp of antiquity," thus Jacob Bernays, Joseph Justus
(Berlin, 1855; reprinted New York: Franklin, n.d.), 1. For other
references to Scaliger’s achievements, Hugh W. Nibley, "New Light on Scaliger,"
Classical Journal 37 (1942): 291—95.

158.   Huet, quoted in Housman, M.
Manilii Astronomicon
, 1:xiv.

159.   Ibid.

160.   Ibid.

161.   Ibid., xvii.

162.   Ibid., xvii—xviii, with much more to the same effect.

163.   After immense labor and research,
a movie of Lloyd Douglas’s epic, The Robe, has been released. Almost
the opening scene shows two lovers parting at a dock-Ostia. Their last embraces
are curtailed by the voice of an importunate captain or mate of the ship, who
keeps crying from the deck that unless our hero hastens they will surely miss
the tide. "The tide, sir! The tide!" wails the voice. As any schoolboy
knows who has read his Caesar, there are no tides in the Mediterranean. What
if the Book of Mormon had made a slip like that? The Robe is full of