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16 May 2008

The Book of Mormon Proves that the Bible is True

The Book of Mormon, best attested miracle in the history of the world, proves that the Bible is true and divine

I own several copies of the Holy Bible. I use several different versions, but all of them are based on the arrangement of ancient books that became traditional at the end of the 4th century, in accordance with general agreements among scholars in the early - "dark ages" - with regard to the books and other ancient documents that were believed worthy of inclusion. The version that I use most frequently was translated into the English language by agents of King James of England, who consulted the oldest, best preserved, and most trusted copies and fragments available to them in the 17th century. When we consider all of the many versions and translations into multiple languages during the past 1600 years, there can be no doubt that the Holy Bible is the single most influential collection of documents ever gathered within a single cover.

However, there are billions of people in the world today that do not accept the God described in the Bible. They doubt the miracles described in the Bible. They have serious doubts about the authenticity of the ancient records, and they point out that - none - of the original manuscripts are even available for comparison. They question whether the prophecies that claim to have been written - before - the ancient events that they describe may have actually been written, edited, or embellished - after - the fact. They scoff at the notion of resurrection from the dead and at descriptions of the divine power of the - "Arc of the Covenant", or of the "Urim", or the "Thumin",or of - Manna - falling from heaven, asking - "Where are these sacred treasures today?" "Where" they ask, "is the evidence?"

Do you believe in God as described in the Bible? Do you believe in the Bible? Do you have friends that do not? Would you like to help them to believe? Would you like to have further evidence to believe it yourself?

Well, as Latter-Day Saints within the Church of Jesus Christ in these modern times, we are now able to declare to the world with confidence that we - have - that evidence!

The Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon is an amazing and significant body of ancient writing, and witnesses and discoveries in modern times - prove - its authenticity. It confirms that the God described in the Bible is not just the God of Israel, but also the God of all mankind. It proves that the Bible is of divine origin. It proves that prophetic documents published in modern versions of the Bible have been accurately preserved and transcribed, without significant corruption, since ancient times.

Most of the text within the Book of Mormon was written in the 4th century AD. With help from God and angels, the text was unearthed in America in 1827, and published in 1829. The circumstances of its publication are so remarkable, and the evidence of its superhuman origin and preservation is so strong, that it has been accepted as true and divine by millions of people. There is no earthly explanation that can fully account for the existence of the Book of Mormon, but there is a great deal of evidence to indicate that that 1829 edition was of superhuman origin. We'll get to that compelling evidence later, after a brief summary of the contents.

The Book of Mormon contains a complex religious history covering more than a thousand years. There is a great deal of information, but the primary narrative commences with the true story of two Jewish families, living in Jerusalem shortly after the time of the prophet Jeremiah, when their King (Zedekiah) got into political conflict with Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon so that a destructive war was imminent. God led these two families away from the war (with a single, precious copy of the Old Testament as it was known in those days), and across the oceans to America, in time to be saved from the destruction that came to most of the other Jews. Their descendants came upon and intermixed with other ancient American cultures. They subdivided into different, warring nations, some of whom were illiterate, but for more than a thousand years there were always at least a few that could read and write in Hebrew dialects, using middle-eastern characters deriving from Egyptian, and that remained faithful and retained a detailed knowledge of the God of Israel.

While the surviving Jews in the middle East dwindled in unbelief and suffered a diminishing understanding of the Messiah to the point that they crucified Jesus of Nazareth when he appeared, this small group of Jews in America grew in their understanding of the Messiah. They continued the ancient pattern of the Old Testament people, living an undistorted Law of Moses, and adding their own sacred records so that their version of the Old Testament grew for 600 years. (The additional information, not found in our popular Old Testament, is entirely consistent with it, quotes from it, and confirms the divinity and general accuracy of modern Bible translations.)

Because of the abundance of durable gold in their new-found lands, their most important historical and religious writings were carefully preserved, by a score of different men spanning a period of 10 centuries, on thin, corruption-resistant, gold sheets. But this collection grew unwieldy until it was abridged, edited, and summarized into a more manageable size (still on thin gold sheets) by a prophet, author, and military historian named "Mormon".

Mormon's abridgement became the basis for today's - "Book of Mormon" - and it reveals that prophets in ancient America knew of Jesus. They knew that he was the Messiah. They were aware when he was born in Palestine, and they were painfully alerted at the time when the Palestinian Jews tortured him to death. Some of them were so faithful that Jesus himself visited them personally, in ancient America, after his resurrection. He was seen there by thousands. They knew, with absolute certainty, of his physical resurrection, because He showed them the wounds in his hands and side that had resulted when he had sacrificed his life for all mankind. He examined and approved their records, and made sure that they wrote down and preserved what he told them. Jesus spent at least several days walking among this faithful group of ancient Americans, repeating the same teachings and many of the same parables and sermons that were recorded by his apostles and disciples in what we now call the - "New Testament" - section of the Bible.

The savior's teachings had a profound effect on these people. For more than 200 years they enjoyed unprecedented peace and prosperity. Unfortunately, they were unable to handle prosperity very well, and eventually it turned to greed and corruption. Their descendents abandoned the teachings of Jesus and sought additional wealth and power through conquest and deceit. Eventually, just after Mormon was killed in battle in 385 AD, their entire civilization was defeated and driven to extinction. Mormon's son, named "Moroni", survived for at least 36 years beyond Mormon's death, avoiding contact with other, hostile civilizations as he finished Mormon's book, adding several chapters at the end. By way of instruction to whoever might find the record, he added one final page as he buried the book. These words come from that final page:



Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites. Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile: Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation; written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed, to come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof. Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile, the interpretation thereof by the gift of God.... And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL God, manifesting himself unto all nations. And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ."

At the end of his lonely, 36-year sojurn, Moroni carried the book to a hill in what we now call Western New York state and buried it there where it lay, undisturbed, for 1,400 years.

Sometime between the year 421 AD when he buried the record, and the autumn of 1823, Moroni was resurrected from the dead and commissioned by God with an urgent mission: He was to return to Earth as an angel, among mortal men for a time, to see that the record he had buried would be discovered, translated into modern languages, and published to the world by a faithful and righteous man who would use the information therein to serve modern mankind as a prophet.

By 1823, after the American Constitution had established the first stable society with religeous freedom, English-speaking people living in western New York were rapidly clearing the forests, cultivating the land, discovering artifacts and ruins from the - "Mound Builder" - indians, and mining the hills for precious metals. Moroni knew of a righteous, spiritually sensitive young man living in the area, who had already been called by God to prepare for an important mission. His name was Joseph Smith, and on the evening of September 21, 1823, as Joseph was praying for further guidance, Moroni went to him and told him where he should go to find the ancient record, a few miles from his home. Within 24 hours, Moroni met with Joseph at the site of an ancient stone box, whose upper surfaces were already exposed to the elements, near the top of a nearby hill that was still partly forested. Within that box, Joseph saw several items of obvious antiquity and great value, including a large stack of rectangular gold sheets or - "plates" - completely covered with ancient writing, bound together along one edge with wire hinges. Moroni warned Joseph that the gold was not to be retained and would never be used to bring wealth to him or to his family, and alerted him against the dangers of monetary greed. He instructed Joseph to re-bury the contents and the stone box to prevent immediate discovery by others, and to return to meet with him at that place annually for further instructions.

During the next four years, while the location of the re-buried plates was preserved as a carefully guarded secret, Moroni visited with Joseph frequently. Although Joseph was permitted to tell others of the visits and of the many things he learned in his interviews, the visits themselves were always held in secret. Joseph had been chosen to translate the text of the precious records into English, and he had to be taught how to do so. The process, he learned, would require the plates themselves, diligent study, and ancient instruments known as - "Urim" - and - "Thumim" - that had been prepared by God for the purpose, and that Moroni had buried with the record. The process would also require faith, spiritual sensitivity, and repentence.

Joseph's willingness to share this information attracted a lot of attention (most of it hostile). Numerous newspaper articles were written about Joseph's family at this time, and he was singled out for ridicule as his claims became generally known in the adjacent communities.

By late 1827, Moroni concluded that the plates would be safer in Joseph's possession than in their hiding place on the hillside, and Joseph took them home to hide them on his father's farm on the 22nd of September. Joseph was commanded not to show them to anyone until specifically instructed to do so. For the next 2 years Joseph and his new wife (Emma) had to move several times to escape thieves and opportunists who sought every occasion to get them. Due to this opposition, the general poverty of his existence, and setbacks from thieves that stole, manipulated, and eventually destroyed 116 pages of his translation work, progress was slow, and he had only 16 translated pages in his possession by the beginning of April, 1829.

Then he was joined by Oliver Cowdery, a righteous schoolteacher that had learned of Joseph's sacred work. The pair was unstoppable. Working behind a curtain in half of the attic of a frontier farmhouse so that only he could see the plates, Joseph translated their contents, phrase-by-phrase, into English, verbalizing each phrase so that Oliver could write it down. Hour after hour, day after day, for 75 days almost nonstop, Oliver recorded the text as it fell from the lips of Joseph Smith, and he could tell that the work was beyond the mortal capabilities of any man. After stopping for meals, sleep, or rest, Joseph would immediately resume exactly where he left off, without ever asking to have prior text read back to him. Passersby, the people living in the farmhouse, and family members could hear what was being said, and the knowledge of the activity was widespread. Newspapers gushed with scintillating accounts of the -- "Golden Bible". Some of these accounts were positive, but most were skeptical or cynical. Even though Joseph had cautioned his family that they would not be able to keep or benefit financially from the golden treasure, all of Joseph's family members were convinced that the work was of God, as was Oliver and all of the people living in the farmhouse who had heard the work of translation in process.

Hostile newspaper articles from this period (visible in museums and collections to this day), describe the work in terms like: - "Everybody knows that Joe Smith is writing his Golden Bible again. Joe is uneducated and can hardly stitch 2 sentences together. His skill is so bad that he couldn't even write in a legible hand, so he needs Oliver Cowdery to pen his mumblings. His book will never amount to anything because it can't contain anything sensible. Time will show that this is all a big waste of resources, and will come to nothing." (This was the first of 3 contradictory theories concocted by opponents in their attempt to discredit the Book of Mormon, but it had to be abandoned within a year, as thousands of enthusiastic, well-educated converts accepted the book as divine.)

At the conclusion of this amazing, 75-day period, a carefully guarded, carefully organized stack of hundreds of handwritten, manuscript pages was in the possession of Oliver Cowdery and the Smith family. A printer was hired to publish 5,000 copies of the resulting 500-page volume, at the formidable price of 3,000 United States dollars. A wealthy, influential, and respected local farmer named Martin Harris, whose family had been involved in the theft of some of the early manuscript pages, had become a believer, and agreed to mortgage his farm and to put at risk all of his possessions, if necessary, to pay the bill.

In order to fulfill his divine, angelic mission, the resurrected Moroni needed to commission mortal witnesses besides Joseph Smith, and he needed to make sure that those witnesses had absolute, unquestioned knowledge of the divinity and importance of the work so that they could testify powerfully about it for the remainder of their lives. He commanded Joseph, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer (one of those living in the farmhouse who had heard much of the translation activity) to go into a nearby forest and pray, promising that if they were faithful he (Moroni) would personally bring the plates to the group and allow their inspection. However, Martin Harris was unable to fully rid himself of guilt from his family's early theft, and Moroni refused to show himself until Martin gave up and departed. Shortly thereafter, Moroni did bring the plates, personally showing them to Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer in company with Joseph Smith. Later that day, after Martin Harris had fully repented, Moroni came again, and showed the same things to him, again in the presence of Joseph Smith.

Moroni's mission was almost complete. In addition to Joseph Smith, three respected men had seen him and the original text of Mormon's Book, engraved in pure, durable -- hard-to-imitate -- gold. But before permanent removal of the plates from Joseph's care, to fulfill his mission with even greater certainty in the eyes of the incredulous public, Moroni told Joseph Smith to carry the plates to an outdoor meeting where he must also show them to eight other men, who would be required to join him and the 3 aforementioned witnesses in testimony for the remainder of their lives. Accordingly, Joseph personally showed the entire, heavy collection of golden plates to eight other men, all together, in a singular, amazing occasion, in the broad June daylight, allowing each to handle the individual leaves, and answering their detailed questions until they were all completely satisfied. Here is their written testimony, which has been published, along with a very similar statement by the original three witnesses, in every edition of the Book of Mormon thereafter:


Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith Junior, the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.

Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Junior, John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith Senior, Hyrum Smith, Samuel H. Smith.

Thus, on 3 separate occasions, 12 different men, from 5 distinct families, from all walks of life (some wealthy, some poor, some educated, some barely literate, some who had known Joseph Smith all his days, and others that had only recently heard of him) saw, felt, hefted, and examined the details of the golden plates containing the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, and publicly testified to that fact. Their testimonies were written, signed, printed, published, distributed, and subjected to public scrutiny in a manner that would prove their point as valid evidence, beyond any doubt, in any contemporary court of law, making the fact of the Book of Mormon's divine origin the single, best-attested miracle in the history of the world!

To further underscore the reality of what they had seen, heard, hefted, felt and examined in detail, all 12 of these men repeated their testimonies many times throughout their lives. Many of these repeated testimonies were written down and published in the newspapers of their times (where they can still be examined to this day). Thousands of others were recorded in personal diaries of people who heard them. Although these men were all hated and persecuted for their statements and zeal, all of them went to their graves affirming the truth of these amazing events. They all said, over and over again, that there had been no deception.

The first of these 12 men to die was Joseph Smith Senior, the father of the prophet. He had remained faithful to his testimony into his old age, and was serving as the - "Patriarch to the Church" - at the time of his death. Joseph and Hyrum Smith both died on the same day, under the guns of a paramilitary mob that stormed the jail where they had been held prisoner by their enemies. They had 2 days to negotiate for their lives, and had they chosen to deny their reports of the things I've told you, their lives would undoubtedly have been spared, but they chose death before denial. Samuel Smith died in the full faith and fellowship of the Church a few days later, in the turmoil that followed, as he strove to prevent civil war.

Although all 12 of the witnesses joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, several of them had disagreements with Joseph Smith and left the church. Some, like Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, eventually came back. Others, like David Whitmer and most of his family, never did. Enemies of the Church are quick to point this out. They want you to leap to the conclusion that they denied their testimonies (or at least stopped testifying) after they left the Church. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Most of their long-lasting disagreements flared over the handling of the war declared against the Mormons by the governer and state militia of Missouri. These disagreements separated them from the Church, and their pride prevented their return, but they remembered their responsibility to testify, so they did the only thing they could do: they formed their own tiny church, based on both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Their descendents still manage museums and collections that proudly display important relics from this period, proving the faith with which they continued to testify. None of them ever claimed that he was deceived when he saw Moroni or the golden plates, and all took extraordinary steps to counter any claim to the contrary.

Once opponents of the Book of Mormon realized that it wasn't going to fade away, even in the face of violent opposition that eventually killed Joseph Smith, decimated his entire family, and drove my ancestors, along with the vast majority of the early Mormons to the remote, hostile Rocky Mountains, they changed their attacks against it. Gone were the claims that - "Joe Smith is ignorant and the book he wrote will never amount to anything". The new argument (the second of three that have become popular, and later fallen against the Book of Mormon) went like this:

"Joe Smith couldn't have written that book, because it's sophistication and scriptural depth is way beyond his means. It must have been written by the famous preacher Sydney Rigdon, who joined up with the Mormonites a few months after the book was published. Rigdon wrote the doctrinal portions, and he stole the historical narrative from an unpublished novel written by the Reverend Solomon Spaulding, who had lived and died near Palmyra a few years before the Smith's arrival."

Phylastus Hurlbut, a member of the Church for a brief time that was bitter about his excommunication for moral infractions, declared that Spaulding's manuscript had been - "lost" - after he submitted it to a Philadelphia-based printing company, and that Rigdon had been living in Philadelphia at the time. He even found several people that had helped to edit the Spaulding manuscript, and coerced them to sign affidavits that they had read both books and that the storyline of the Book of Mormon came from Spaulding's book. This theory was widely published for about 50 years, but it began to fall into disfavor when Sydney Rigdon continued to deny it even after he fell away from the church and upon his deathbed. Rigdon's family and friends supported his assertion that he never laid eyes on Joseph Smith until almost a year after the Book of Mormon manuscript had been submitted to the printer. The final failure of this theory came many decades later when the actual Solomon Spaulding manuscript was found in Honolulu, Hawaii, among long-forgotten possessions that had been carefully hidden by the late, old apostate Philastus Hurlbut. Examination proved that there was no relationship between its text and the Book of Mormon (but, as if to reveal the lies of Hurlbut and his conspiritors, still legible on the very last page, was the signature of Philastus Hurlbut himself, in a brief statement certifying his belief that this was indeed the actual, controversial - "lost" - Spaulding manuscript, and referencing the names of several of the people that he had convinced to sign the obviously false affidavits).

Forty three years after the deaths of Joseph, Hyrum, and Samuel Smith, David Whitmer, then an old man whose deep disagreements had driven him to form his own tiny, Missouri-based church based on the Bible and the Book of Mormon, published a newspaper article detailing what had become of the other witnesses that had passed away up to that point. Here is his written accounting, as published in the first newspaper edition of April, 1887, in Richmond, Missouri, and inspired by false rumors and publications that he felt compelled to correct:

"It is recorded in the American Cyclopedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica, that I, David Whitmer, have denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the divinity of the Book of Mormon; and that the other two witnesses, Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris, denied their testimony to that Book. I will say once more to all mankind, that I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof. I also testify to the world, that neither Oliver Cowdery or Martin Harris ever at any time denied their testimony. They both died reaffirming the truth of the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. I was present at the death bed of Oliver Cowdery, and his last words were, "Brother David, be true to your testimony to the Book of Mormon." He died here in Richmond, Missouri., on March 3d, 1850. Many witnesses yet live in Richmond, who will testify to the truth of these facts, as well as to the good character of Oliver Cowdery. The very powers of darkness have combined against the Book of Mormon, to -- "prove" -- that it is not the word of God, and this should go to prove to men of spiritual understanding, that the Book is true."

Martin Harris also left the church for a time, but he came back and moved to Utah to be with the main body of the Latter-Day Saints, where his voice and unshakeable testimony were both frequent and well-known. When he died in 1875, several family members and friends asked him if, on his deathbed and about to meet his maker, he was still sure of his testimony, and they then heard the last, profound statement of his mortal life. His dying words would never be forgotten by any of those present. Fifty two years later, William H. Homer, who had been a young boy present at the time, still had a vivid recollection, and repeated it in a sworn statement before a magistrate on April 9th 1927 with these words: "Yes, I did see the plates on which the Book of Mormon was written. I did see the angel, I did hear the voice of God, and I do know that Joseph Smith is a true Prophet of God, holding the keys of the Holy Priesthood".

The same is true of all of the other witnesses. All of the Whitmer brothers joined the tiny church that their brother founded, based on both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Hyram Page contiued to affirm the truth of his witness to the end of his days. Had any of these men ever uttered a credible denial, enemies of the church would certainly have used their utmost energies to make the knowledge widespread. Every attempt to do so was refuted by the witnesses while they lived.

We've already seen how two of the three popular arguments that have tried to discredit the Book of Mormon have fallen victim to history and the discovery of facts.

The third popular theory, which gained notoriety decades after Joseph's death and which was diametrically opposite the theories originated by those that had known him best during the relevant time period, is something I've heard myself many times. It is still believed by many that do not yet know the facts, and represents yet another reversal. It goes like this:

"Joseph Smith wrote that book, not some ancient prophet by the name of - 'Mormon'. The book is the product of Joseph Smith's amazing intellect, and spellbinding imagination. Joseph Smith was a genius of prodigious renown, and his attendance at numerous Biblically based - "revival" - meetings exposed his fertile mind to the doctrines and concepts that he put into its pages. The historical narrative is the product of his prodigious imagination, and any correlation with real-world geography, historical placenames, or cultural traditions is simply coincidence."

I know, from my own personal experience, that this third theory is not correct. I clearly remember the modern re-discovery of the unique and characteristic - "chiastic" - style of ancient Hebrew writing. Within the Latter-Day-Saint community, this information was first published in 1967. Nobody in Joseph Smith's day knew of this subtle literary style. I spent the first 20 years of my life actively participating in LDS meetings and studies, and nobody ever mentioned it, because we didn't know it existed. But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, we began to see papers published by Hebrew scholars who had discovered a tendency for ancient Hebrew writers to repeat themselves forward and backward a lot. Today, writers try to avoid obvious repetition, but anciently it was considered beautiful and sophisticated to repeat lines of text, phrases, or concepts, with minor modifications in each, according to several patterns that have been given modern names like - "epistrophe", "climax", and "parallelism". The most dramatic and significant of these literary forms is known as - "chiasmus" - or - "chiastic repetition" - in which a series of subjects is repeated forward (like "A", "B", "C" "D"), and then backward ("D", "C", "B", "A"). Enough of these have been identified in the Old Testament to confirm that the form sometimes survives even through translation from Hebrew into English, and it is considered a significant, identifying characteristic of ancient middle-Eastern literature, and especially of ancient Hebrew literature. Since the modern re-discovery of chiasmus in the 1960s and it's establishment as an identifying characteristic of ancient Hebrew, scholars have found more than 200 chiasms in the text of the Book of Mormon. In fact, the Book of Mormon has more, better, longer, and more perfectly developed chiasms than any other book ever known in the history of the world!

Joseph Smith's background didn't derive from an ancient Hebrew culture. All knowledge of chiasms had been lost centuries before, in the dark ages. He didn't know what a chiasm is, but his translation of Mormon's ancient text is so literal that his rendering is the best example of chiastic literature among all ancient Hebrew texts ever translated into a modern language!

Orson Pratt didn't know about Chiasms when, decades after the original publication, he divided the Book of Mormon into the system of chapters and verses that is in popular use today (and if he had known about them, he would undoubtedly have divided many verses differently).

How many of you have read at least one verse of the Book of Mormon?

Did you know that the very first verse of the Book of Mormon (from 1 Nephi Chaper 1, verse 1) commences a chiasm? Nephi uses that first paragraph to establish the historical framework of his family and his narrative, declaring that it is written by his hand, in his language, preserving the learning of the Jews. Look carefully at the text as it commences in verse 1 and continues through verse 3. (Disregard the traditional division into verses as assigned by Orson Pratt, who didn't know about chiasms, and look at the underlying structure within the text itself.) Nephi repeats these concepts forward, and then backward again, in precise, reverse order, and the center of this - "reflexive" - pattern is the phrase - "learning of the Jews".

Chiasm from 1 Nephi Chapter 1 Verse 1

I MAKE a record of my proceedings...
Yea, I make a RECORD in the
LANGUAGE of my father, which consists
and the LANGUAGE of the Egyptians,
and I know that the RECORD which
I MAKE is true:

Can you see the pattern? This doesn't happen by accident: Nephi purposely diagrammed or outlined this paragraph, carefully arranging it according to the ancient, - "chiastic" - Hebrew pattern so that the symmetry and focus would fall upon that phrase - "learning of the Jews" - and he purposely chose that uniquely Hebrew literary mechanism to prove his point to future generations and with knowledge unknown to the 19th-century translators and publishers of the modern work!

Nephi was sending a coded message to the Jews of our day, and his message is unmistakeable. He is saying -- "We are your brothers. We, too, are Jews."

(For an even more amazing example of chiastic power, examine chapter 36 of Alma, comparing the first phrase with the last, the second to the second-from last, the third with the third-from-last, etc. and you'll find that Alma also designed his testimony of Jesus Christ according to this same chiastic pattern, for the same purposes. Many scholars agree that this is the longest and most perfectly developed chiasm ever discovered.)

I have personally read and identified many of these chiasms, and I know for a fact that they were generally unknown within the Latter-Day Saint community when I bought my first copy of the Book of Mormon back in 1970. There is simply no rational refutation for this proof that the Book of Mormon cannot possibly be the product of -- "Joseph Smith's prodigious imagination and storytelling genius". Without some kind of otherworldly power beyond normal human experience, there is simply no explanation for the Book of Mormon.

I have personally studied the Book of Mormon for most of my life. With my wife, I've travelled to the lands where Joseph Smith said the primary events of the Book of Mormon occured, and we've seen, with our own eyes, that that land is indeed dotted with defensive earthen walls, stone pyramids, and cement cities from the time period described in its pages. We've seen modern Maya indians using the same system of weights and measures that Alma documents in his Book of Mormon record from the 1st century BC. From its pages, I've read father Lehi's story of the - "Tree of Life". I've seen Guatemalan jungles dominated by what the natives still, to this day, call the - "Tree of Life" - and I've seen the National Geographic Society's carefully crafted casting of a large, ancient, disintegrating stone, unearthed more than 100 years after the Book of Mormon was published, showing (coincidentally or not) all of the distinctive, symbolic and historic elements in father Lehi's - "Tree of Life" - narrative as published in the Book of Mormon.

More significantly to myself and my family, I've found that my own life is happiest, richest, and best fulfilled when I've lived nearest the precepts and teachings of Jesus Christ as found in that book. There is no more reasonable explanation for this book than the amazing one offered by Joseph Smith and the other eyewitnesses when it was published. I know it's good for me and my family, and I hope that those of you within the sound of my voice that have heretofore doubted whether there is a God in heaven, or whether Jesus of Nazareth is truly his divine son, or whether the Bible is the word of God, or whether it is worthwhile to try to live moral lives according to his commandments, will always remember that I have testified of these things as I have learned the truth of them for myself.

I wish now, therefore, to speak for just a moment longer on the subject of - "The Book of Mormon versus Atheists and other Nonbelievers in the Modern World"

From the perspective of the Book of Mormon, this world contains only 3 kinds of people:

1 of 3: People who have never had an adequate understanding to know what the Book of Mormon claims to be or from whence it claims to originate

2 of 3: People who accept the Book of Mormon as divine and who accept the explanation of its origin as published by Joseph Smith and the eyewitnesses, and

3 of 3: People with some other theory to explain its origin and content.

Accordingly, I will point out that among you, my listeners, there should now be nobody within group 1, because you've already heard enough from me to know what the Book of Mormon claims to be, and that, if true, it confirms the truth of the Bible. That knowledge divides you into just 2 groups:

A: Those that accept the explanation given by Joseph Smith and the eyewitnesses regarding its origin, and,

B: Those that have some other theories

It is interesting to note that, when modern audiences are divided in this way by the Book of Mormon, all of the evidence, both physical and spiritual, is on the side of the religeous believers, and those that claim to reject - "unscientific" - claims are left without evidence at all!

We (the believers), have the Book. It's real. -- Somebody -- wrote it! It's right here, physically present in my hand. You can see it. You can touch it. You can take as much time as you need to study the text. Many compelling discoveries have been made within its pages during my own lifetime. You can confirm the presence of chiasms within its pages for yourselves. We have the eyewitnesses, whose testimonies were never denied and cannot be erased, and we can show that millions of copies were published and distributed all over the world, each containing 200 or more chiasms of which even Joseph Smith was unaware.

None of the three popular theories attempting to attribute a - "scientific" - human origin to this book even attempts to refute these things, because no refutation can be made.

I therefore ask of those of you that believe that the Book of Mormon is not of divine origin: Where is your evidence? How did Joseph Smith know more about Chiasmus and other ancient Hebrew literary constructs than any modern literary scholars of his day or of the succeeding hundred years? Where are your witnesses? What proof have you that Joseph Smith knew enough to write this book?

Finally, consider the conversion of the - "Penitent Eyewitness" - Martin Harris who, after a period of doubting and making sinful mistakes that facilitated the theft of the Book of Lehi (a lost section of the Book of Mormon) by his own family members, became such a zealous advocate that he sold his prosperous farm to pay for the first 5,000 copies, and then, abandoned by his bickering family, spent the rest of his life telling anybody that would listen that he knew that the Book of Mormon and the Bible were true and divine because an angel of God had come to him personally, showed him the golden plates, and told him so.

But Martin's conversion was cemented even before he saw the plates and heard the angel, and I believe it was based on fulfillment of a Biblical prophecy. Martin had read the Bible and was familiar with the book of Isaiah. In 1828, as he was investigating the claims of Joseph Smith and beginning to suspect that Joseph did indeed have the golden, ancient record hidden among his posessions, Martin asked for a copy of a few hundred of the ancient characters. Obligingly, Joseph hurriedly copied 7 lines of the ancient characters onto paper so that Martin could submit them for examination by the best linguistic scholars of the day. Martin went to New York City with Joseph's brother Hyrum, and they called upon Professor Samuel Mitchell of Columbia University. Mitchell's reaction supported the notion of an Egyptian connection, but he confessed that his skill with ancient Egyptian was insufficient to provide an interpretation, and referred Martin and Hyrum to a professor Charles Anthon, who was more skilled in near Eastern tongues.

Years later, Charles Anthon published two contradictory accounts of the resulting meeting. In one of the accounts, he claims he happily gave Martin Harris a written certificate declaring the characters a fraud. In the other account, he claims that he refused to provide any written evaluation. His second account also contradicts his first in other respects.

Although the accounts of the meeting by Charles Anthon are self-contradictory and unreliable, the many accounts of the meeting given by Martin Harris are not. Martin, one of the wealthiest and most influential citizens of Palmyra, New York (where the Book of Mormon was to be printed), knew that the printing would be expensive and that he was then the only believer with the means to pay for it. He also knew that the bill would be large enough to require sacrifice of most of his personal wealth. His objective in setting up these meetings was to find out for himself if scholars would be sufficiently impressed with the ancient characters to lend compelling credibility to the claims of Joseph Smith.

Professor Anthon told Martin that the characters were indeed of ancient origin, based in the "Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac, and Arabic". Martin then asked for and received a written certificate to that effect. Afterward, the professor asked where the characters had been discovered, and Martin told him about his unschooled neighbor Joseph Smith, the gold plates, and the angel. The good professor then asked to see the certificate again, whereupon he tore it to pieces, declaring that the notion of angelic delivery of ancient documents was nonsense. He asked Martin to bring the record to him, and he would work with it to attempt a scholarly analysis. When Martin objected, saying that he had no permission to take the record, that it was constantly guarded, and that the angel had sealed most of it so that it could not be opened without detection, the professor dismissed him, saying "I cannot read a sealed book". (Martin left without the certificate, but he retained the transcript of the characters in Joseph Smith's handwriting, written on a sheet from the same, identifyable batch of -"foolscap" - paper that still contains Oliver's manuscript of the Book of Mormon. He later gave it to David Whitmer, who retained it throughout his life, along with the original manuscript Book of Mormon in Oliver Cowdery's hand, arranging for their long-term preservation and scholarly examination.)

Something had changed deep in the mind and heart of Martin Harris. From that moment onward, Martin was a different man. Zealous in his support of Joseph and the Book of Mormon, he diligently strove to raise the princely sum demanded by the printer. Over the strenuous objections of his wife, family, and friends, he mortgaged his farm and home. He volunteered his time and means in every way possible, eventually sacrificing all of his worldly possessions and even his marriage to the cause.

I think this amazing change in Martin Harris came because he recognized something profound and familiar in the message from Charles Anthon. Anthon had said - "I cannot read a sealed book." Perhaps that very evening, in some hotel room in New York City, Martin and Hyrum found the Old Testament record in which Isaiah had seen that very day and meeting. Imagine Martin's trembling hands as he read this text from the 29th chapter of Isaiah, referring to a marvelous and wonderful book:

"... And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying 'Read this, I pray thee;" and he sayeth "I cannot; for it is sealed." And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying "Read this, I pray thee;" and he saith "I am not learned." Martin's great heart must have beat faster and faster as he pondered all of the words of that chapter, in which Isaiah prophecied of a book that would one day rise from the dust to become a powerful tool for overpowering atheism, and as he realized that he had stumbled upon his own destiny and place in history alongside Isaiah and Joseph Smith!

Just as Martin Harris became an unstoppable apostle of these events, the other witnesses were unstoppable. Their words, never denied in their lives and forever confirmed at their deaths, still reach up from the pages of every copy of the Book of Mormon, as if to cry out to each of us as we read, as if Martin were saying to us today: "The angel Moroni himself showed the ancient record to me, and I could see that it was written in curious, ancient characters and inscribed on metal sheets having the appearance of Gold." Then it's as if Joseph Smith Senior, the father of the prophet, steps from the pages and says -- "And I saw it too. I hefted the stack of plates, feeling the engravings with my hands in broad daylight." -- And it's as if Hyrum and Samuel Smith also stepped from the pages declaring -- "I saw and felt too" -- followed by Hyrum Page, Peter Whitmer, Christian Whitmer, and Jacob and John Whitmer, declaring -- "We were all there and we all examined and touched the plates and the inscriptions thereon." It's as if Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer could speak to us today, saying -- "We were both present with Joseph Smith when Moroni brought the plates to us, showing the engravings and declaring that the interpretation thereof was correct, and had been done by the gift and power of God, and commanding that we publish this message about the truth of the Bible and the Book of Mormon to the world."

It's true that many nonbelievers criticize the Bible because none of the original texts are available for examination, and scholars can't be sure that the later texts weren't altered to correspond with evolving beliefs or historical facts. It's true that we don't have the Arc of the Covenant or any of the original texts of the Old or New Testaments. But we -- DO -- have the original English-language manuscripts of the Book of Mormon. I've seen, with my own eyes, some of these pages in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery, as they are preserved in the Church Historical Office at Salt Lake City. We DO have the original paper, written by the hand of Joseph Smith, that Martin Harris took to Charles Anthon, and we can see that it is indeed covered with ancient characters suggesting middle eastern influence. And we DO have written, signed, sworn, published testimonies of multiple eyewitnesses to the original text of the Book of Mormon. They testified that the text was written in characters that appeared to be of ancient origin and that they had been inscribed in (hard-to-imitate) gold. The angel told the 3 witnesses that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are both true and contain the word of God, and that the translation of the Book of Mormon was correct as it was revealed to Joseph in the presence of his scribe Oliver Cowdery. And we DO have historical records and published newspaper accounts, sufficiently widespread to counter any question of their authenticity, confirming that all of the witnesses lived and gave their lives for their testimonies.

If you have friends that doubt the truth of the Bible or the existence of God, lend them a copy of the Book of Mormon and ask them to study it just enough to answer one simple question: -- "Who wrote this book?" -- If they are honest at heart, they will find, as I have, that there is no explanation for it that does not require and inspire an acceptance of superhuman power and supreme goodness.

If this is all news to you, I invite you to read the Book of Mormon. Free copies are available for a phone call. The toll-free telephone number, monitored every day at the Church's USA missionary headquarters, is (888) 537-2200. Have them send you a copy. Read it. Read the Bible, and conclude for yourself that they both come from, and teach of God and his son Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. If you live outside the USA, you can contact one of the hundreds of - "Missions" - based all over the world, and ask missionaries to bring you a copy. LDS missions can easily be found in telephone directories, or on the Internet at

Here is a bargain on which you can stake your eternal progression: Set aside for yourself a firm date in the future. Give yourself plenty of time to study the Book of Mormon and decide for yourself who wrote it. Give yourself a month, 6 months, a year, 2 years, 5 years; whatever you need. When you get your free copy of the Book of Mormon, tell those that give it to you of this date and allow them to arrange for a visit by a pair of missionaries when the agreed-upon study time expires. Then, prayerfully, studiosly, sincerely, come up with your best, most honest, most heart-felt explanation according to the best evidence. If, when the missionaries arrive, you've found an explanation that better accounts for the things I've reported than the amazing one I've told today, have them contact me. I'd love to hear from you. On the other hand, if at the end of that time you can find no other explanation, then your honorable conscience and integrity will demand that you accept the amazing, uplifting, faith-promoting, Bible-confirming explanation offered by Joseph Smith and the other eyewitnesses. (I'd love to hear from you at that point, too!)

Not everybody that accepts the Bible and the Book of Mormon is prepared to become a Latter-Day Saint. Some never do. The missionaries will help you to decide whether you are prepared to act on that knowledge and take that step. If you need help reforming your life in accordance with this new faith, they will help you. Even if you decide to accept the Bible and the Book of Mormon intellectually, but cannot bring yourself to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, you'll always have friendship and respect from its members, and you'll be able to benefit from as many of its precepts as you can live. The Book of Mormon is a friend to all Christians, and it helps to confirm their most basic, most cherished beliefs.

Finally, to my brothers and sisters within the Church: may we allow these testimonies to embolden, empower, and enrich our lives with the sure proof and knowledge that God lives, that the Bible is true, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of the Jews, that he truly returned to life after his crucifiction in Palestine, and that He lives today to lift us from our sins and to grant unto us immortality and the possibility of Eternal Life.

I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Robert J. Bosen
1400 Oakmont Place
Pittsburg, California 94565


Bob Bosen said...

Those interested in the 1967 discovery of Chiasms in the Book of Mormon will enjoy reading the story of the event by Jack Welch, who made the discovery. Here is the link:

bbosen said...

I believe God had been preparing America and Americans for Moroni's mission for a long time before the 1823 disclosure of the plate's hidden location. Latter-Day Saints generally believe that the founding documents of the United States of America (Declaration of Independence and Constitution) were written under the inspiration and influence of divine inspiration. As a result of these history-making circumstances, human society at last had a place and government with sufficient freedom and stability to nurture the restored gospel. All of this is well-known and generally accepted within LDS circles.

What is LESS known is that the area around Palmyra, New York, had been especially well prepared. The enthusiastic acceptance of the Book of Mormon in those early days was, in part, accelerated by a common belief, in that area and time, that the North American indians may have been descendants of the lost 10 tribes. Historians have found credible reports of several individuals, in addition to Joseph Smith, living in the area, who were inspired to expect the restoration of the gospel and who led others to expect it too. It seems as if God were whispering a subtle prediction of these amazing events into the hearts and minds of spiritually sensitive Americans for decades prior to the actual event. Had Joseph Smith NOT been worthy or prepared for his mission, perhaps Moroni was cultivating a "back-up" plan....

A good resource in support of this theory is the book entitled "Joseph Smith and the Restoration", by professor Ivan J. Barrett, ISBN 0-8425-1526-7.

bbosen said...

The Book of Mormon text, as deliverd to the publisher in 1829, contains many complex literary structures that are not common in the ordinary English of that time period. This includes the rich, complex, inverted parallelism that has come to be known as "chiasms" by Bible scholars, who discovered the form, independently, in 19th-century translations of the Bible. Chiasms are of particular interest to LDS missionaries because they are easy to identify once a reader is trained to look for their structure, in which words or subjects are repeated forward, and then backward, in a pattern that can be represented with a formula like "A, B, C, D, D, C, B, A" or "A, B, C, D, C, B, A". At the time of their 19th century discovery within biblical texts, some scholars declared the presence of sophisticated, complex chiastic structures to be a significant, identifying characteristic of ancient Hebrew literature. There is general agreement among scholars that this is especially true when the structure is clearly woven into the message of the associated text in a manner that contributes to the central focus thereof, corresponding directly with the center of the reflected structure.

However, this is complicated by the evident fact that chiasms are widespread in other languages, and it is quite possible for an author to produce a simple chiasm by accident. Some of the chiasms present in the Book of Mormon can be explained in this manner.

Nevertheless, the richest and most profound of the Book of Mormon chiasms meet or exceed the best tests proposed by the scholars who originally declared the value of chiasms as indicative of ancient Hebrew origin.

Whether or not the sophisticated, chiastic structures within the Book of Mormon can be proven to be of definitive Hebrew origin, their indisputable presence reveals surprising complexity in the text of the Book of Mormon. This complexity is at odds with any theory suggesting that Joseph Smith is the author of the Book of Mormon, since it is known that his education was minimal and that his literary skill was low when he dictated the original text to Oliver Cowdery in the attic of the Whitmer home, and within earshot of family members and passersby. It is far easier to believe that he was translating than that he produced these structures himself.

Furthermore, the undiscovered presence, from 1830 until 1969, of such sophisticated Book of Mormon chiasms presents a difficult problem for anybody proposing any alternative theory for the authorship of the Book of Mormon: That theory must explain how these rich, deep, powerful chiastic structures were introduced into the text without the knowledge of the author, and also without revealing them to any of the hundreds of thousands of zealous, highly motivated Mormon missionaries who were called upon to declare and defend the divinity of the book during that long period.

Again, the "translated with divine aid" explanation offered by the 12 eyewitnesses is easier to believe than the "Smith made it up without knowing it" theory.

bbosen said...

Enemies of the Book of Mormon try to make church members feel uncomfortable about the translation process as described by David Whitmer, who tried to describe the miraculous process. David wrote that, on at least one occasion, he saw Joseph verbalizing the text after shutting all light from his eyes, with his head buried deep in his hat, which contained a rock that Joseph called a "seer stone".

Those critics seem more comfortable with the theory that the uneducated Joseph could somehow recite the long, rich, doctrinally deep, complex, inverted parallelisms (such as those comprising the 36th chapter of Alma), weaving them powerfully into the doctrine and dialog of the text in a rich, compelling manner that meets or exceeds the tests of modern scholars searching for chiasms in ancient middle-eastern literature, (all while staring blindly into his hat for 75 days and without even realizing the significance of the structure) than that he used "the gift and power of God" as described by the eyewitnesses.

Read Alma Chapter 36 and the description, by Jack Welch (referenced in an early comment above) of the discovery of its chiastic form, and then try to imagine any mortal dictating it "blind", WITHOUT divine inspiration and then WITHOUT ever identifying the significance of the structure.

Whatever the translation process may have been, we have clear evidence that it was miraculous. Miracles are funny things. They are... well... MIRACULOUS. They defy description. That is certainly the case with the translation of the Book of Mormon!