By Dean Maurice Helland
The writing of this paper is the fulfillment of a desire the author
has had ever since he studied his way out of the Book of Mormon over 20
years ago. Many of the things which appear here in documented form he already
had discovered on his own. Finding out to what extent others had studied
and come to the same conclusion he did was a great source of comfort and
Two organizations claim to be the only true follower of Joseph Smith.
To distinguish between them, this paper will use the initials of LDS (Latter-day
Saints) and RLDS (Reorganized Latter Day Saints). The first organization
has its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the second, in Independence,
Missouri. Both groups publish the Book of Mormon, but with different chapters
and verses. All comments in this paper apply equally to both versions unless
special reference is made to one specific version.
RLDS members are asked to forgive the inclusion of them in the term
“Mormon” in this paper. Also, the number at the end of the entries in the
bibliography section indicates the pages read for this paper rather than
the total number of pages in that source.
BOOK OF MORMON PROBLEMS
The author of this paper was born into a family which belonged to the
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with headquarters
in Independence, Missouri. This organization, as did the much larger Utah
Mormon Church and many smaller divisions, developed as a direct result
of the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830. Despite their differences,
all these groups believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God in addition
to the Bible.
The author also believed this until he was a young minister just twenty-two
years old. At that time, he decided to write a book proving to the Christian
world that the Book of Mormon is indeed the Word of God, and should be
accepted in addition to the Bible in order for one to be a real Christian.
However, upon researching the subject, he was soon overwhelmed by the great
amount of evidence that the Book of Mormon is full of plagiarisms and many
other problems which in fact demonstrate the very opposite.
The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that the Book of Mormon
is not what it claims to be. The author has read books and pamphlets on
this subject which have been written over the past one hundred seventy-five
years and many of their best arguments are presented here. Also, he has
investigated the findings of modern archaeology.
Since the LDS Book of Mormon has different chapter divisions than the
RLDS Book of Mormon, the LDS references will be given first and the RLDS
references afterwards following a semicolon. When referring to the original
1830 edition, the page number will be given since the versification had
not yet been added. Only the King James Version of the Bible will be used.
Both Bible and Book of Mormon references will be included in the text,
as will a limited number of other references.
The Book of Mormon is still the baited hook by which Mormons lure thousands
of new converts into their ranks every year. Prospective converts are urged
to read it and then pray to ask God if it is true. Only upon reading it
do they learn of its threats of eternal condemnation to all who reject
it (2 Nephi 33:10-15; 15:11-18; Mormon 8:16-17; 4:21-22).1
Obviously, accepting it would seem safer than rejecting it under those
circumstances, and this is undoubtedly one of the reasons for its success.
The Book of Mormon claims to be superior to the Bible. The first hundred
pages are spent laying the groundwork for this position. Its basic presupposition
is that the Bible has been altered by unscrupulous clergy in centuries
past and no longer contains all the truth which God wants man to have.
This, then, creates a need for the Book of Mormon, which claims to restore
those “plain and precious things” which are necessary for the salvation
of mankind (I Nephi 13:26-40; 3:166-193).2
It claims to be a record written on golden plates by prophets of a white
race who lived in the Americas for about 1,000 years. This race was exterminated
in A.D. 421. The indigenous race inhabiting the Americas when Christopher
Columbus arrived in 1492 is portrayed by the Book of Mormon to be the cousins
of that white race, cursed with a dark skin for having rejected God (2
Nephi 5:21; 4:33-35).
It teaches that the American Indians are actually Israelites of the
tribes of Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh.3 Their skin curse is to be removed
within a few generations after being converted to Jesus Christ through
the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 30:6’versions before 1981; 12:84).4 This change
in skin color from black to white has supposedly taken place several times
in the past, whenever they turned to the Lord (Alma 23:18; 14:20; 3 Nephi
Perhaps its greatest claim is that it is preparing the way for the second
coming of Jesus. Christ’s second coming is to be preceded by a massive
conversion of the American Indians to Christ through the Book of Mormon.
These converted Indians will then exterminate those gentiles in the Americas
who will not accept it.5 After that, the believing Indians and the Mormons
will build the New Jerusalem where Christ will return to live (3 Nephi
16:11-16;7:35-42;3 Nephi 21:24-25;9:98-100). Subsequent revelation by Joseph
Smith revealed this site to be in Independence, Missouri.6 Faith in the
Book of Mormon thus becomes an added condition for salvation besides faith
in Jesus Christ.
In reality, the Book of Mormon contains very little original information.
Rather, Joseph Smith apparently reworked information which he had assimilated
and then presented it as a “translation” from the golden plates. This can
be demonstrated by comparing the Book of Mormon with other sources which
were available to him. Also, he probably had some unpublished manuscripts
from Solomon Spaulding which he used.
Material in the Book of Mormon will be examined which appears to be
plagiarized from The Maccabees, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Josephus’ Wars of
the Jews, Solomon Spaulding’s Manuscript Found, Ethan Smith’s View of the
Hebrews and the King James Version of the Bible. Then other kinds of difficulties
with the Book of Mormon will be scrutinized.
The most common masculine name in the Book of Mormon and the title of
four of its fifteen books is “Nephi.” Most Mormons are surprised to learn
that this name is found in 2 Maccabees 1:36. Here it is a place name, however,
and not the name of a person.7
The play Hamlet has been popular ever since written by William Shakespeare.
In the Book of Mormon, a paraphrase from Shakespeare is considered by many
to be evidence of plagiarism.8 Here the Book of Mormon represents Lehi,
who supposedly lived about 600 B.C., as saying, “the cold and silent gravefrom
whence no traveler can return.” (2 Nephi 1:14; 1:28). The Shakespearian
play, Hamlet, written during the 16th century after Christ, reads, “…death,
the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns” (Act 3,
Scene 1).9 The similarity in the two passages is undeniable.
Then there is the the strange event in the Book of Mormon where Nephi
is ordered by the “Spirit” to kill his uncle. This is uncannily similar
to the scene in “Hamlet” where Hamlet’s father’s ghost appears to him and
orders him to kill his uncle (Act 1, Scene 5)10 The primary difference
between the two is that the “ghost” that appeared to Hamlet with these
orders becomes the “Spirit” in the Book of Mormon; in fact, none other
than the “Holy Spirit” (I Nephi 4:10-12; 1:110-113).
Interestingly enough, righteous Nephi is much more easily convinced
that this is actually the will of God than is Hamlet. Not only does Nephi
show no remorse after killing his drunken uncle, but he apparently cuts
off his head without getting any blood on his uncle’s clothes, for he is
able to undress him, put his uncle’s clothes on himself, and then impersonate
him. Since the normal-sized person has about five quarts of blood in his
body, this is a miracle in itself.
Nephi then proceeds to deceive his uncle’s servant, steal the sacred
brass plates, kidnap the servant, and take both them and him to America.
The justification for these actions is explained very simply by the “Spirit:”
Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes.
It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle
and perish in unbelief” (I Nephi 4:13; 1:114-115).
This rationale strangely echoes the prophecy of the high priest as to
why Jesus should be put to death in John 11:49-50: “Ye know nothing at
all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die
for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.” Thus the importance
of Laban’s death is perversely placed on a similar plane as Jesus”, even
though Nephi violates several of the ten commandments while bringing it
about (Ex. 20:13, 15, 17). This and similar types of distortion of Biblical
phraseology and theology are found throughout the Book of Mormon.
Critics have also long wondered why the French word “adieu” appears
in the Book of Mormon, when it was supposed to have been translated from
the golden plates into English.(Jacob 7:27; 5:48).11 This expression is
very common throughout Shakespeare’s writings.
Ever since the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, it has been
accused of being a plagiarism from unpublished manuscripts by Solomon Spaulding.12
For many years the Spaulding manuscripts could not be located to verify
this. When one named Manuscript Found finally was located, both the LDS
and the RLDS published it, giving the impression that there was no resemblance
between it and the Book of Mormon and that its publication would end this
A superficial reading makes it obvious that the Book of Mormon was not
copied from it as such. Still, there have been mixed feelings about this
matter. Walter Martin, a cult specialist, even published a book, Who Really
Wrote the Book of Mormon?, explaining that Spaulding had written a later
manuscript which was in fact. the basis for the Book of Mormon.14 The evidence
presented by Martin has been challenged by both the Church and some of
the its primary critics, but the theory itself has not been laid to rest.15
Recently, Vernal Holley put the controversy in another light by minutely
comparing parallels between the Book of Mormon and the existing Spaulding
manuscript.16 The following are his documented conclusions, with which
the author concurs after a personal analysis of Manuscript Found.17
1. The outlines of the Book of Mormon and the Spaulding text are “essentially
2. Both records claim to have been found in “the same way.”
3. Both were “written for the same purpose.”
4. Both “tell the story of the same ancient American inhabitants.”
5. Both “have the same sea voyage.”
6. Both “have light-skinned and dark-skinned people.
7. Both “tell of the same arts and sciences.”
8. Both “have a comparable Christian theology.”
9. Both “present a white God person.”
10. Both “involve use of seer stones.”
11. Both claim to “contain an abridged history of the extinct inhabitants
of ancient America.”19
12. Both describe how the record was deposited, protected supernaturally,
and how its finder made a translation of it.
13. Both state that it “will come forth . . .when the Europeans (gentiles)
inhabit this land (M.F., 3-4; I Nephi 13:35; 3:184-185).
14. Both “translators” testify of the truthfulness of the work and request
that the readers read it “with a pure heart” (M.F., 2-3; Moroni 10:4-5;
15. Both have the earth revolving about the sun-something unknown until
1543 A.D. (M.F., 16; Helaman 12:13-15; 4:61-62).21
16. A theological address by an Indian chief in Spaulding’s manuscript
contains “the same thoughts” and they are “in the same order” as in a similar
address in the Book of Mormon by King Benjamin (M.F., 26-32; Mosiah 1-4;
17. Spaulding’s leader teaches from a “sacred roll,” while King Benjamin
teaches from “plates of brass.”
18. The religious section of Spaulding is written in the chiastic style,
which is found throughout the Book of Mormon.22
19. Lobaska’s rule over two empires and his golden age of peace parallels
Christ’s effect on the peoples in the Book of Mormon.23
20. Both include coins and fortifications.24
21. Both have similar scenes of bloodshed, even down to the final combats
between enemy commanders.
22. Both depict a “little band” of warriors, 3,000 in M. F. and 2,000
Nephi-Lehis in the Book of Mormon.25
Besides these parallels, there are literally hundreds of identical or
similar word combinations. In order to conserve space, only a few are listed
rights of their country (M.F., 31; 3 Nephi 6:30; 3:35)
Crying with a loud voice (80; Alma 46:19; 21:48)
He put forth his hand and (28; Alma 30:51; 16:63)
An immense slaughter (101; Alma 49:21; 21:174)
mourning and lamentation (84; Helaman 7:15; 3:16)
according to their numbers (54; 3 Nephi 6:3; 3:4)
Even more surprising than these parallels, however, is the land area
described in the two books. Holley emphasizes that Book of Mormon geography
quite neatly matches the land described in Manuscript. Thus the “sea east”
becomes Lake Ontario and the “sea west” becomes Lake Erie rather than,
as Mormons have assumed, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Locating the
River Sidon has always been a difficulty for Book of Mormon scholars.27
With this model, however, the River Sidon handily becomes the present-day
Another problem has been the width of the “small neck of land” in the
Book of Mormon, which is described as “a day and a half’s journey” from
sea to sea (Alma 22:32; 13:76). The distance of thirty-seven miles between
these two lakes fits the description much better than the distance of over
one hundred thirty miles at the Isthmus of Panama. 67 ancient fortified
earthworks have been found at this location.29
Spaulding lived in this area and had first-hand knowledge of the earthworks,
names and geographical locations that are portrayed in his writings. By
imposing the Book of Mormon descriptions on maps of these areas, the following
modern place names are found to coincide with the cities and lands in the
Book of Mormon:30
Modern B of M
St. Agathe Ogath
Alma Valley of Alma
St. Ephrem Hill Ephraim
Noah Lake Land of Noah
Oneida Castle Hill Onidah
Ripple Lake Waters of Ripli- ancum
Holley bolsters his case for Spaulding authorship of the Book of Mormon
with a quotation by Mormon archaeologist Joseph Vincent, who said:
If a sincere student of the Book of Mormon will conscientiously read
and study the book itself and will plot out all the locations mentioned,…he
will find that all Book of Mormon lands lie within a five or six hundred
mile radius, and that this area could not possibly extend from Chile to
In an unpublished article, Holley also compares Josephus’ Wars of the
Jews and the Book of Mormon showing remarkable parallels. While it is not
likely that Joseph Smith, Jr. would have studied Josephus, Solomon Spaulding
was a seminary graduate, and it is very likely that he would have known
about Josephus’ writings.32
One parallel is of particular interest. This is where a man named Jesus
says things which are very similar to what Jesus Christ said in the Book
of Mormon upon coming to America after his resurrection:
A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four
winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the
bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people! Woe,
woe to Jerusalem (Book 6, Ch. 5, v. 1-3).
The parallel passage in the Book of Mormon reads:
And it came to pass that there was a voice heard among all the inhabitants
of the earth, upon all the face of this land, crying: Wo, wo, wo unto this
people; wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they repent (3
Nephi 9:1-2; 4:26).
One of Spaulding’s seminary classmates was Ethan Smith, author of View
of the Hebrews.34 This book presented the position which was held by nearly
all the clergy in America at the time, that the Indians were part of the
lost tribes of Israel.35 It was published in 1823, the same year that Joseph
Smith claimed to have his “First Vision.” Much of the material in it was
apparently incorporated into the Book of Mormon.
B. H. Roberts, a General Authority of the Mormon Church, did an analysis
of this book and its possible relation to the writing of the Book of Mormon
in 1921 at the request of the leadership of the Mormon Church. His stated
purpose was to review possible arguments by non-Mormons against the divine
origin of the Book of Mormon. Interestingly enough, he came to the conclusion
that View of the Hebrews could have been one of the human sources for the
contents of the Book of Mormon, and that Joseph Smith was sufficiently
intelligent to have written it with this book and other resources which
were available to him.36
His studies only recently became available to the public. They were
published by the Utah Lighthouse Ministry of Salt Lake City under the name
Roberts’ Manuscripts Revealed’A Photographic Reproduction of Mormon Historian
B.H. Roberts’ Secret Studies on the Book of Mormon. Both it and the View
of the Hebrews were closely examined by the author who confirms as valid
the following conclusions which Roberts listed when comparing View of the
Hebrews and the Book of Mormon:37
1. Both books begin with “the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering
of Israel” at 600 B.C.38
2. Ethan Smith, the author, begins his second chapter by quoting from
Isaiah to prove that Judah and Israel will be restored in the last days.
“One of the passages quoted” is from Isaiah 11, and this is one of the
quotes that Joseph Smith claimed the Angel Moroni made to him when it visited
him the first time on September 23rd, 1823, telling him of the golden plates.39
3. Ethan Smith quotes from “20 chapters of Isaiah” in the fourth chapter
of his book to prove his point. Joseph Smith quotes from “21 chapters of
Isaiah” in the first one hundred pages of the Book of Mormon to make the
same point. In both cases, they are quoted in the only version of the Bible
in common use in that day, the King James Version. “Many of the passages
4. Ethan Smith quotes from Isaiah 18, citing it as a call upon the Christian
Church in the United States to convert the Indians to Christianity. While
the Book of Mormon itself does not cite this chapter, it makes the same
point repeatedly.(e.g., I Nephi 13:39; 3:191).41
5. Both reported the use of iron and steel by the ancient inhabitants
6. Both report vast multitudes once filled North America.43
7. Both report use of the Urim and Thummim by the ancient Indians.44
8. Both are against polygamy.45
9. Both report that the Indians once had a holy book, but lost it and
fell out of favor with God.46
10. Both speak of Egyptian hieroglyphics in America.47
11. Both have a division into two peoples’one civilized and one barbarian.
Both depict wars between them with the extinction of the civilized people.48
12. Both depict knowledge of the mechanical arts, written language and
one God as typical of the ancient Americans.49
13. Both proclaim destruction of the disobedient gentiles by converted
Indians. This prophecy is given three times in the Book of Mormon by Jesus
Christ himself (3 Nephi 16:8-16; 7:32-42; 3 Nephi 20:14-17; 9:50-53; 3
Nephi 21:11-13; 9:98-100).50
Concerning this prophecy, Roberts makes the following observation:
All this might have seemed possible to men living in the early decades
of the 19th century, 1820-1830, when Indian tribes of unknown strength
but well attested ferocity occupied the greater part of the land over which
the United States now extends its jurisdiction, but it is scarcely possible
now to entertain such conceptions of native race terror, triumph, and domination
over the Gentile nation of the United States.All reasonable expectation
of such an event has passed.51
Here, Joseph Smith may have overstepped himself, for even this General
Authority of the Mormon Church finds it difficult to believe that Jesus
Christ would promote the Book of Mormon to that extent.
The LDS Church now concedes that Smith used the King James Bible as
one of his primary sources when it came to extended quotes from the Bible.52
The long passages quoted from Isaiah as well as from Malachi and other
books of the Bible have forced them to this admission. This causes a problem,
because the official position of the Church for many years was that the
Urim and Thummim which accompanied the golden plates was the exclusive
means of translation and that every word of the Book of Mormon was divinely
1. The New Testament portion of the KJV is often quoted in the Old Testament
portion of the Book of Mormon. Words of Jesus quoted almost without change
before Christ’s birth in the Book of Mormon are as follows: “Ye must pray
always, and not faint” (2 Ne. 32:9; 14:12/Luke 18:1); “everlasting fire
prepared his angels” (Mosiah 26:27; 11:135/Mat. 25:41); “then shall the
righteous shine forth in the kingdom of God” (Alma 40:25; 19:59/Mat. 13:43).54
2. Words of the Apostle Paul are nearly or exactly quoted supposedly
long before St. Paul’s birth in the Old Testament portion of the Book of
Mormon: “steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works” (Mosiah
5:15; 3:21/I Cor. 15:58); “mortal shall put on immortality” (Enos 27;46;
I Cor.15:53); “the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Enos 1; l/Eph.
3. The books of Hebrews and Revelation are also quoted or closely paraphrased
in the Old Testament portion of the Book of Mormon: The Spirit is “the
same yesterday, today, and forever” (2 Ne. 2:4; 1:65/Heb. 13:8); believers
“endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame” (2 Ne. 9:18;
6:42/Heb.12:2); “if their works have been filthiness they must needs be
filthy” (I Ne. 15:33; 4:55/Rev. 22:11).56
4. Sometimes, the author forgets to change the tense from the past to
the future tense when attempting to prophesy about the things to come:
“the Lamb of God did fulfill all righteousness in being baptized by water?…after
he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him…he having
set the example” (2 Ne. 31:5-10; 13:8-11).57 In Mosiah 16:6; 8:79, which
was supposed to have been written about 148 B.C., such an error is made
but then caught later: “now if Christ had not come into the world, speaking
of things to come as though they have already come…”58
5. Old Testament Book of Mormon characters were modeled after New Testament
persons. Note the following comparison between Alma and Paul:59
1) Both tried to “destroy the Church” before their conversions.
2) -were on a “mission of persecution” the day they were converted.
3) In both cases, those “present fell to the earth.”
4) In both cases, a voice spoke which others could not understand.
5) Both were asked by the voice why they were fighting against the work
Sometimes, the author [of the Book of Mormon] forgets to change the
tense from the past to the future tense when attempting to prophesy about
the things to come:
6) -were helpless and “had to be helped by their friends.”
7) -fasted as a result.
8) -preached after being converted.
9) -worked with their hands to support their ministries.
10) -healed a crippled man.
11) -“were put into prison.”
12) -prayed in prison.
13) -experienced an earthquake while in prison.
14) -In both cases, “the prisoners’ bonds were loosed.”
15) -Both taught the same doctrines.
Examples of how the teachings and even the words of Alma and St. Paul
closely resemble each other are as follows:60
faith, hope and charity – Alma 7:24; 5:41/I Cor. 13:13
the power of God unto salvation – Alma 15:6; 10:95/Rom.1:16
Besides its obvious plagiarisms, other serious problems plague the Book
of Mormon. Those discussed here are grouped into 3 categories: unannotated
changes, un-Biblical doctrines and misinformation about the American Indian’s
Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book
in the world, and that a man could get closer to God by reading it than
any other book.64 The Mormon Church has had a policy of not annotating
its changes in the Book of Mormon, thus its people are not generally aware
that it has been changing the Book of Mormon. In fact, LDS leaders still
use this quotation to impress its members with the book’s accuracy.65
A look at the original 1830 edition will quickly disillusion anyone
who believes this. As one critic put it, “the Book of Mormon, so far as
examined, lets us down to the level of an ignorant, unlettered, unsophisticated
While the doctrinal and archaeological errors remain in their totality
in present editions, literally hundreds of grammatical errors and misuses
of the English language which appear in the original 1830 edition have
been edited out.
Examples are: “as I was a journeying” (249; Alma 10:7; 8:10); “Lamanitish
servants a going forth” (271; Alma 17:26; 12:38), “a preaching” (284; Alma
21:11; 13:15), “a begging” (309; Alma 30:56; 6:72), etc.67
This has resulted in the publication of another book by the Utah Lighthouse
Mission which compares the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon
with the 1964 LDS edition, noting all the changes. It is appropriately
named 3,913 Changes in the Book of Mormon. Now, however, the 1981 edition
of the Book of Mormon has made it obsolete, for it has over two hundred
An example of how the editing still does not go far enough may be found
in Helaman 7:8, 9; 3:8-9. The 1830 edition reads, “Yea, if my days could
have been in them days, then would my soul have had joy in the righteousness
of my brethren. But behold, I am consigned that these are my days . . .
(p. 427).” The Mormon editors caught the first error and changed “them”
to “these,” but left “consigned,” which should have been changed to “resigned.”
When confronted by the fact that their own leaders have been editing
the Book of Mormon, Mormons generally try to excuse them by saying that
the changes are only superficial. Some of these changes go far beyond grammar.
For example, the 1830 Book of Mormon tells of translating by King Benjamin
which subsequent editions changed from King Benjamin to King Mosiah (200;
Mosiah 21:28; 9:170). Why this change? Because closer examination of the
text shows that King Benjamin had died by then and Mosiah was king.68
Mormons also defend editing by their church leaders on the grounds that
they are led by the Holy Spirit in whatever corrections they may make.69
However, upon close examination of the changes, it becomes obvious that
some of the editing is worse than the original text.
An example of this in the 1830 edition is found on page 87; (2 Ne. 12:8-9;
8:24-25). This is a passage of Isaiah and corresponds to Is. 2:8-9 in the
Bible. The primary change in this verse is the addition of the word “not”
in verse 9; 25. The 1830 edition added it once, causing confusion. Subsequent
editing, apparently by Joseph Smith himself, added another “not” which
compounded the confusion. The result is that this passage, which in Isaiah
condemns idolatry, becomes, in the Book of Mormon, a command to commit
Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own
hands, that which their own fingers have made. And the mean man boweth
not down, and the great man humbleth himself not, therefore, forgive him
Samples of other glaring errors which need to be edited are:71
Helaman 9:6; 3:73’Now, immediately when the judge had been murdered’he
being stabbed by his brother by a garb of secrecy, and he fled…
Alma 43:38; 20:41’While on the other hand, there was now and then a
man fell among the Nephites, by their swords and the loss of blood, they
being shielded from the more vital parts of the body, or the more vital
parts of the body being shielded from the strokes of the Lamanites, by
Mormon General Authority B. H. Roberts wrote wearily about his frustration
with Book of Mormon errors:72
Many errors, verbal and grammatical, have already been eliminated in
the later English editions, and there is no valid reason why every one
of those that remain should not be eliminated…There is just no good reason
why we should not have just as good a Book of Mormon in the English language
as they now have in the French, the German, the Swedish and the Danish..
The present writer hopes that he will live to see those verbal and grammatical
Despite Joseph Smith’s declaration that the Book of Mormon is the most
correct book, the Book of Mormon actually apologizes for being poorly written,
yet practically in the same sentence, brazenly condemns all who refuse
to believe it:
…when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the
placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.
And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: Fools mock, but
they shall mourn.(Ether 12:25-26; 5:26-27)
If the Book of Mormon is a fraudulent work as this paper contends, then
doctrinal errors which are in conflict with the Bible should also be evident.
This can be clearly demonstrated to the unbiased investigator. Un-Biblical
doctrines selected to illustrate this are (1) the corruptibility of the
Holy Scriptures, (2) the always-known gospel, (3) salvation by works and
(4) the baptism of the Holy Spirit before the day of Pentecost.
Despite the insistence of the Book of Mormon that many parts have been
taken away from the Bible (I Ne. 13:26-28; 3:167-171), the New Testament
makes it very clear that this would never be permitted by God:
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one
tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. (Mt.
Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by
the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is grass,
and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth and
the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth forever.
And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (I Pet.
In the light of these passages, the Book of Mormon teaching of the corruptibility
of the Holy Scriptures is contrary to the Bible. This is significant for
Mormons, for the Book of Mormon also teaches that what little remains of
the Bible is true (I Ne. 13:40-41; 3:192-197).
The Book of Mormon teaches that the gospel has been known by holy men
throughout the ages. The New Testament, however, teaches that knowledge
of the complete plan of salvation through Christ was a mystery which was
not revealed to anyone before it was made known to the apostles after Christ’s
by revelation he made known unto me the mystery;…which in other ages
was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his
holy apostles by the Spirit; (Eph. 3:3-5)
…the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world
began, but now is made manifest…(Rom.16:25-26)
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations,
but now is made manifest to his saints:…which is Christ in you, the hope
And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which
from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things
by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers
in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of
This last Bible passage shows that even the very angels of heaven did
not understand the gospel until after it was revealed to the apostles after
Christ’s resurrection. Since angels were constantly revealing the gospel
to the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, this demonstrates conclusively that
the entire theological basis of the Book of Mormon is un-Biblical.
The Book of Mormon teaches that salvation is obtained by both faith
and works. Mormons often quote James 2:26′”faith without works is dead”óto
try to show that the Bible also teaches this and that Paul’s teachings
on salvation by faith alone is not properly understood by evangelical Christians.
St. Paul’s most concise statement of the doctrine of salvation by grace
alone reads “for by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of
yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast”
(Eph. 2:8-9). Bible scholars generally agree that the great Pauline doctrine
of salvation by faith alone does not disagree with James, which teaches
that true saving faith must be accompanied by good works. They are quick
to explain, however, that God sees our faith the instant it first appears,
while man sees our faith only by seeing our good works. The Bible thus
teaches that while we are saved by faith alone, our salvation produces
works which are seen by all.74
The author of the Book of Mormon could not grasp this, but felt compelled
to correct the Pauline concept, even though it was supposedly centuries
before it had been revealed to St. Paul. The Book of Mormon “correction”
for this is found in 2 Ne. 25:23; 11:44: “. . . for we know that it is
by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” This is a good example
of the Book of Mormon’s attempt to restore “plain and precious things”
to the Bible which end up in distorting the true gospel of Jesus. This
is precisely the type of distortion of the gospel that brings to bear the
anathemas of the New Testament (Gal. 1:6-9).75
The Book of Mormon actually apologizes for being poorly written, yet
practically in the same sentence, brazenly condemns all
who refuse to believe it!
According to the Book of Mormon, people were baptized with the Holy
Spirit during Old Testament times, long before the day of Pentecost. The
Bible plainly teaches that this could not take place in a general way until
after Jesus had been crucified and ascended into heaven:76
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried,
saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth
on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of
living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe
on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that
Jesus was not yet glorified.)Jn. 7:37-39
Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go
away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if
I depart, I will send him unto you.Jn. 16:7
And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye
in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.Lk.
The constant recurrence of New Testament-like infillings of the Holy
Spirit in the Old Testament portion of the Book of Mormon shows that the
significance of the events on the day of Pentecost in the second chapter
of Acts were not understood by the author of the Book of Mormon. This is
still another example of the un-Biblical doctrines taught in the Book of
Misinformation about the American Indians’ Past
The application of scientific investigation methods to the question
of the history and origin of the American Indian did not begin until the
latter part of the 19th Century. This should be of special interest to
the LDS Church, for logically this should prove that Joseph Smith was a
true prophet. The LDS Church has not welcomed the new discoveries, however,
for instead, they show that he was a false prophet rather than a true one.77
Even today, Mormon missionaries cite as evidence out-moded ideas which
are nearly 200 years out of date.78 When pressed to present modern evidence,
they immediately turn from objective evidence to the subjective method
of simply “asking God” if the Book of Mormon is true. They are taught that
this is a surer way of confirming spiritual truth than testing it by objective
investigation. This is especially surprising in light of their emphasis
on education and their dictum, “The Glory of God is Intelligence.”
Even today, Mormon missionaries cite as evidence out-moded ideas [about
the American Indian] which are nearly 200 years out of date.
The results of scientific inquiry may be divided into four categories:
(1) racial, (2) linguistic, (3) cultural, and (4) religious. Scientists
have determined that the American Indian has the physical characteristics
of the Asian Mongolians. They believe that between 25,000 and 30,000 years
ago, there was a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska over which Asian
tribes migrated following the animals which they hunted for food.79
Five different linguistic stocks form the basis for all the languages
of the American Indians. Each of these stocks are as completely unrelated
as English and Hebrew, for example.80 These form the base for 169 related
languages that are still as unintelligible as, say, English and German.
Then these major languages are broken down into numerous dialects which
are can be used with a certain amount of mutual understanding between them.
None of the language stocks are related to any existing Old World languages.81
As far back as 9,000 B.C., bone was the material used for cutting. Identical
bone pins and awls have been found in Indiana, Missouri and Kentucky, showing
that trade was widespread by 5000 B.C.82 As early as 4,000 B.C., the Indians
in America learned that by heating chert, it became hardened enough to
provide a sharp cutting edge. While gold, silver and copper were used to
make ornaments, the use of other metals was nearly unknown before Columbus.
The highest level of civilization achieved in the Americas was the “polished
The bow and arrow came into use only about A.D. 800. This was very easy
for archaeologists to confirm, because spear heads are 2-4 inches long,
while the arrowheads are one-to-two inches long.84 Before that, the principal
hunting weapon was the lance thrown with an “atuatl” to give it added thrust.
In North America, the inhabitants were nomadic, living off the abundant
wildlife. Evidence shows that about A.D. 800, agriculture began in earnest
as the population increased. Interestingly enough, tribal wars did not
begin to any real degree until then. Apparently the investment of work
in the land gave the feeling of proprietorship, and aroused feelings of
competition between the different tribes.85
While different civilizations did rise and fall in Pre-Columbian, only
the Mayas in Yucatan developed a written language.86 Thousands of their
inscriptions are found on ancient temples and buildings, most notably in
the ancient cities of Copan and Palenque.87
Especially in Central America, the Indians showed themselves to be notable
astronomers. The Mayas divided the year into eighteen months of twenty
days each. Five days were added at the end of the year, and a sixth day
each four years.88 In other areas, however, the Indians were notably behind
some other parts of the world. The sail and the rudder, for example were
unknown to them.89 Also, the dog was their only domestic animal.90
The unbroken record of Indian religions is of a paganism which included
idol worship, cannibalism and human sacrifice. Its animism and belief in
witchcraft is well documented. No evidence exists indicating that this
religion was ever changed or interrupted.91
When comparing these findings with the Book of Mormon, the great gulf
between them immediately becomes apparent. The Book of Mormon presents
3 migrations to the Americas, all from the Middle East.92 The first was
shortly before the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel (Eth. 2:5;
1:26), and there were no other immigrations until 600 B.C. The second and
third were shortly after 600.B.C. Both of these latter migrations were
composed of Israelites. One of them, the Mulekites, found one lone survivor
of the previous inhabitants. Other than that, all three migrations found
the Americas empty of inhabitants (2 Ne. 1:9-11; 1:19-24).93
Scientific findings agree, however, that the Americas have been inhabited
without any sign of annihilations for at least 25,000 years.94 Evidence
that a white race inhabited Pre-Columbian America is nonexistent.95 Furthermore,
the body structure of the Indians is different than that of the Jewish
The fact that there are 5 language stocks would seem to indicateat least
5 migrations to the Americas after the Tower of Babel. An ancient date
for these would be necessary to explain the hundreds of kindred languages
that have been formed from them.97 The Book of Mormon does not record any
other migrations to America that would account for them.
The Book of Mormon teaches that both the white and the dark races inhabiting
the Americas spoke and wrote a mutually intelligible language based on
Hebrew as late as A.D. 400, and also that the knowledge of Egyptian writing
was current, though it had been reformed (Mor. 9:32; 4:98-99). This militates
against archaeological findings which state that neither Hebrew nor Egyptian
writings existed in ancient America.98 The only script that existed in
ancient America, the Mayan script in Yucatan, bears absolutely no resemblance
the letters copied from the golden plates by Joseph Smith.99
The Book of Mormon states that the inhabitants of ancient America had
iron and steel tools and weapons (2 Ne. 5:15; 4:21), linen and silk clothes
(Alma 1:29; 1:44), and nearly every kind of domesticated animal which we
have today (1 Ne. 18:25; 5:216; 2 Ne.17:21; 9:34; 3 Ne.7:8; 3:43). It even
states that the ox was found in America in A.D. 600 in a wild state (I
Ne. 18:25; 5:216-217). Not only is there no evidence of the former, but
the affirmation of the latter should definitely make the whole matter suspect,
for the ox is a product of human surgical intervention nearly 100% of the
time.100 The animals mentioned as domesticated in the Book of Mormon were
unknown in Pre-Columbian America, as were some of the grains it mentions,
such as barley and wheat (Mosiah 7:22; 5:35; 9:9; 6:12).101 Also, the !
Book of Mormon week was of seven days following the Jewish pattern.102
Mormons understand the Aztec legends of Quetzelcoatl to be an echo of
Christ’s visit to the Americas after his resurrection. Scientists have
determined, however, that Quetzelcoatl’s visit was about A.D. 1,000.103
The very fact that he was remembered as a bearded white man would seem
to indicate that the Indians were not white at that time.104 No evidence
at all exists which would indicate the existence of a Christian civilization
in the Americas previous to the arrival of Columbus.105
During the summer of 1985, the author visited the archaeological center
in Kampsville, Illinois. One of the archaeologists was a part-Cherokee
Indian named John White. He affirmed to the author that he had read the
Book of Mormon and that the results of the diggings there in no way resembled
ancient Indian life as described in it.
This coincides with what Ross T. Christensen, a Mormon anthropologist
at Brigham Young University, has admitted: “The statement that the Book
of Mormon has already been proved by archeology is misleading.”106
Due to the recurring claims of some Mormon missionaries that scientists
use the Book of Mormon in their archaeological investigations, the Smithsonian
Institution of Washington, D.C., periodically puts out a letter clarifying
its position. In one such letter dated “Summer 1979,” they state clearly:
The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any
way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archaeologists see no direct connection
between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.107
If a person is not convinced of the fraudulent nature of the Book of
Mormon by the internal textual evidence, then the scientific refutations
The Book of Mormon, when examined closely, turns out to be full of plagiarisms,
unannotated changes, un-Biblical doctrines and misinformation about the
American Indian’s past. It cannot be the Word of God.
A Mormon anthropologist at BYU admitted: “The statement that the Book
of Mormon has already been proved by archeology
1 E. D. Howe, MORMONISM UNVAILED (1834; photomechanical reprint, Salt
Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, n.d.), 89.
2.M. T. Lamb, THE GOLDEN BIBLE OR “THE BOOK OF MORMON.” IS IT FROM GOD?
(1887; photomechanical reprint, Salt Lake: Utah Lighthouse Ministry) 1-4.
3 Bruce R. McConkie, MORMON DOCTRINE, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake : Bookcraft,
4 McConkie, 33.
5 Howe, 145-146.
6 Doctrine and Covenants. LDS, 84:2-3. RLDS, 83:1.
7 Jerald and Sandra Tanner, MORMONISM: SHADOW OR REALITY? (Salt Lake
City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1982), 72.
8 Lamb, 236-237.
9 William Shakespeare, THE COMPLETE WORKS OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, (London:
William Collins & Sons, 1899), 1145.
10 Shakespeare, 1134-1135.
11 Lamb, 227.
12 Howe, 288.
13 Jerald & Sandra Tanner, DID SPAULDING WRITE THE BOOK OF MORMON?
(Salt Lake: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1977), 16.
14 Wayne L. Cowdery, Howard A. Davis and Donald R. Scales, WHO REALLY
WROTE THE BOOK OF MORMON? (Santa Ana, CA: Vision House, 1977).
15 Tanner, SPAULDING, 17.
16 Vernal Holley, BOOK OF MORMON AUTHORSHIP: A CLOSER LOOK, (Ogden:
17 Solomon Spaulding, THE “MANUSCRIPT FOUND” MANUSCRIPT STORY (1910;
reprinted as Part 2 of DID SPAULDING WRITE THE BOOK OF MORMON?, Jerald
and Sandra Tanner, Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1977).
18 Holley, 10.
19 Holley, 11.
20 Holley, 12.
21 Holley, 14.
22 Holley, 16.
23 Holley, 17.
24 Holley, 18.
25 Holley, 20-24.
26 Holley, 28-30.
27 Holley, 31-32.
28 Holley, 35.
29 Holley, 34.
30 Holley, 39-42.
31 Holley, 33.
32 Vernal Holley, “A Study of the Similarities Between the Works of
Flavius Josephus and the Book of Mormon: 1981” Photocopy, 3800 S. 1900
W. 188, Roy, Utah 84067, 41.
33 Holley, “Josephus,” 33.
35 Wesley P. Walters, THE HUMAN ORIGINS OF THE BOOK OF MORMON (Safety
Harbor, FL: Ex-Mormons for Jesus, 1979), 4.
36 Brigham H. Roberts, ROBERTS’ MANUSCRIPT REVEAL. A PHOTOGRAPHIC REPRODUCTION
OF MORMON HISTORIAN B.H. ROBERTS’ SECRET STUDIES ON THE BOOK OF MORMON.(Salt
Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1980), 123, 155.
37 Ethan Smith, VIEW OF THE HEBREWS, 2nd ed. (1825: Photomechanical
Reprint., Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, n.d.).
38 Roberts, 156.
39 Roberts, 156-157.
40 Roberts, 159-161.
41 Walters, 12.
42 Roberts, 203-204.
43 Roberts, 207.
44 Roberts, 220.
45 Roberts, 229-230.
46 Roberts, 232.
47 Roberts, 237.
48 Roberts, 276.
49 Roberts, 275-276.
50 Roberts, 175.
51 Roberts, 177.
52 Sidney B. Sperry, BOOK OF MORMON COMPENDIUM (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft,
53 Jerald and Sandra Tanner, 3,913 CHANGES IN THE BOOK OF MORMON, (Salt
Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, n.d.), Intro., 3.
54 H. Michael Marquardt, THE USE OF THE BIBLE IN THE BOOK OF MORMON,
(1979: reprint, Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, n.d.), 96.
55 Marquardt, 96-97.
56 Marquardt, 97.
58 Marquardt, 100.
59 Marquardt, 102-104.
60 Marquardt, 105.
61 Marquardt, 106.
62 Marquardt, 111.
63 Marquardt, 107-108.
64 Joseph Smith, Jr., HISTORY OF THE CHURCH (Salt Lake City: Deseret,
65 Tanner, 3.913 g, Intro., 1.
66 Lamb, 59.
67 LaMar Petersen, PROBLEMS IN THE MORMON TEXT (Concord, CA: Pacific
Publishing, n.d.), 13.
68 Tanner, 3,913 CHANGES, Intro., 5.
70 Ed Decker, SAINTS ALIVE IN JESUS NEWSLETTER. (Issaquah, WA: Ex-Mormons
for Jesus, June 1985), n.p.
71 Lamb, 56.
72 Tanner, 3,913 CHANGES, Intro., 5.
73 Lamb, 149-151.
74 Matthew Henry, MATTHEW HENRY’S COMMENTARY (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
1961) 21st Amer. printing, 1934.
75 James M. Tolle, IS THE BOOK OF MORMON FROM GOD? (San Fernando, CA:
Tolle Pub., 1957) 27.
76 Howe, 29.
77 Walters, 4.
78 John W. Rich, compiler, THE BOOK OF MORMON ON TRIAL (Salt Lake City:
Sounds of Zion, 1971), 169-245.
79. Wally Tope, ON THE FRONTLINES WITNESSING TO MORMONS (La Cañada
Flintridge, CA: Wally Tope Frontlines Ministries, 1984), 65.
80 Roberts, 31-33.
81 Wesley, 4.
82 Stuart Struever and Felicia Antonelli Holton, KOSTER’AMERICANS IN
SEARCH OF THEIR PREHISTORIC PAST, (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday,
83 Struever, 189-192.
84 Struever, 185.
85 Struever, 163.
86 Lamb, 272.
87 Lamb, 260-269.
88 Lamb, 294.
89 Walters, 6.
90 Tope, 65.
91 Lamb, 285-288.
92 McConkie, 98.
93 Walters, 3.
94 Tope, 65.
95 Tope, 65.
96 Lamb, 294.
97 Roberts, 77-78.
98 Jerald and Sandra Tanner, ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE BOOK OF MORMON, (Salt
Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1969), 2.
99 Lamb, 265.
100 Howe, 35.
101 Tope, 64-65.
102 Lamb, 294.
103 Walters, 22.
104 Lamb, 295.
105 Walters, 6-7.
106 Tanner, SHADOW, 98.
107 Tope, 65.
Dean Helland is a former member of the RLDS Church. This article was
originally s a research paper presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of Doctor of Ministry at the School of Theology and Missions,
Oral Roberts University, September 28, 1987.