3 Major Historical Criticisms of the Book of Mormon
by James Bishop
According to the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon was an ancient native-American record written on golden plates. He proposed that he was guided to these tablets buried on a hill, and that God assisted him in translating them from Reformed Egyptian into English. However, the historical and textual accuracy of Smith’s work has become increasingly doubtful despite the fact that Smith declared the Book of Mormon “the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of our religion” (1). Today, experts and scholars widely reject Smith’s account, and below we will examine several of the reasons why (2).
The Problem of Text and Language
Smith claimed that he translated the golden tablets he had found into English from a language known as Reformed Egyptian. To the contrary, historians argue that there is no evidence of a language known as Reformed Egyptian, and that literary devices including language, phrases, and names within the Book of Mormon prove powerful evidence that its text is inauthentic (3). Additionally, according to the LDS church, the Book of Mormon proposes that some ancestors of Native Americans came from the ancient Near East, and specifically the Jerusalem area. However, linguistic scholars have discovered no Native American language, whether spoken by the Maya or Aztecs, is relatable to languages from the ancient Near East (4).
Scholars and textual critics don’t deem the Book of Mormon to be a particularly impressive work of writing. Professor Grant Hardy, a specialist in history, language, and literature, says that…