Mormon Quotes

Book of Mormon

Brigham Young
Adam is our God ‑ the God we worship ‑ that most of the people believe this ‑ some believe it because the President says so ‑ others because they can find testimony in the Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.
Brigham Young, Minutes of the School of the Prophets, pp. 37‑42, June 8, 1868
Joseph Smith
To our great grief, however, we soon found that Satan had been lying in wait to deceive,... Brother Hiram Page had in his possession a certain stone, by which he obtained certain "revelations" ... all of which were entirely at variance with the order of God's house, ... the Whitmer family and Oliver Cowdery, were believing much in the things set forth by this stone, we thought best to inquire of the Lord concerning so important a matter ...
Joseph Smith, History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, vol. 1, pp.109‑10
Joseph Smith
SIR:‑‑Through the medium of your paper I wish to correct an error among men that profess to be learned, liberal and wise; and I do it the more cheerfully because I hope sober‑thinking and sound‑reasoning people will sooner listen to the voice of truth than be led astray by the vain pretensions of the self‑wise. The error I speak of is the definition of the word 'Mormon.' It has been stated that this word was derived from the Greek word mormo. This is not the case. There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of the Lord, translated the Book of Mormon. The word Mormon, means literally, more good.
Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:399‑400
Joseph Smith
Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none.
Joseph Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church
Joseph Smith
We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible.
Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp.345‑346
Joseph Smith
I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.
Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 4, p. 461
Joseph F. Smith
Let me call your attention to this fact which you, of course, all know that we are living in the last days, the days of trouble, days of wickedness, spoken of as days of wickedness several hundred years before the coming of Christ by Nephi, as it is recorded in the twenty‑seventh chapter of Second Nephi.
Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report, April 1952
George Albert Smith
Martin Harris then bore testimony of its truth and said all would be damned that rejected it.
George Albert Smith, Letter from George A. Smith to Josiah Fleming, LDS Church Archives, March 30, 1838
Joseph Fielding Smith
It is the personal opinion of the writer that the Lord does not intend that the Book of Mormon, at least at the present time, shall be proved true by any archaeological findings. They day may come when such will be the case, but not now. The Book of Mormon is itself a witness of the truth, and the promise has been given most solemnly that any person who will read it with a prayerful heart may receive the abiding testimony of its truth.
Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 1998, v. 2, p. 196
Joseph Fielding Smith
While the statement has been made by some writers that the Propher JS used a seerstone part of the time in his translating of the record, and information points to the fact that he did have in his possession such a stone, yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that the stone was used for this purpose. ... It hardly seems reasonable to suppose that the prophet would substitute something evidently inferior [to the U&T] under these circumstances. It may have been so, but it is so easy for a story of this kind to be circulated due to the fact that the prophet did possess a seerstone, which he may have used for some other purposes.
Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation vol.3 pg 225‑226
Spencer W. Kimball
At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen‑year‑old daughter we represent, the little member girl—sixteen—sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents—on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather.... These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness.
Spencer W. Kimball, Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference, October 1960; Improvement Era, December 1960, pp922‑923
Spencer W. Kimball
The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation.
Spencer W. Kimball, Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference, October 1960; Improvement Era, December 1960, pp922‑923
Spencer W. Kimball
These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.
Spencer W. Kimball, Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference, October 1960; Improvement Era, December 1960, pp922‑923
Spencer W. Kimball
In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome.
Spencer W. Kimball, Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference, October 1960; Improvement Era, December 1960, pp922‑923
Orson Pratt
For the Lord has said in this book, (the Book of Mormon) which has been published for thirty eight years, that if they will not repent He will throw down all [the United States] strongholds and cut off the cities of the land, and will execute vengeance and fury on the nation, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard. That He will send a desolating scourge on the land; that He will leave their cities desolate, without inhabitants.
Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 12:244
Orson Pratt
Now to prepare them against these contingencies, and that they might, have fresh air for the benefit of the elephants, cureloms or mammoths and many other animals, that perhaps were in them, as well as the human beings they contained, the Lord told them how to construct them in order to receive air, that when they were on the top of the water, whichever side up their vessels happened to be, it mattered not; they were so constructed that they could ride safely, though bottom upwards and they could open their air holes that happened to be uppermost.
Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 12:340
Russell M. Nelson
The details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights. David Whitmer wrote: "Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man." (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12.)
Russell M. Nelson, Russell M. Nelson, "A Treasured Testament," Ensign, July 1993, 61
Gerald N. Lund
Like any philosophical system, Korihor's doctrine had metaphysical, epistemological, and axiological aspects. Together, they enabled him to convince many to reject the traditional values taught by the Church. For example, Korihor's argument that "ye cannot know of things which ye do not see" (Alma 30:15) reveals his epistemology—his system of determining truth—to be primarily empirical, or based on observation and use of the senses. (See chart 1.) However, the Apostle Paul says, "Faith is ... the evidence of things not seen." (Heb. 11:1; italics added.) Korihor's stance, however, is, "If you can't see it, you can't know it." He therefore rejects prophecy because prophecy deals with the future, and you cannot "see," or experience, the future with the physical senses. Consequently, all talk of a future Savior and redemption is to be rejected on principle.
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
There is another lesson that Mormon draws from the story of Korihor. After Korihor is confounded by Alma, he demands a sign before he will believe. Korihor receives his sign—he is struck dumb, and evidently deaf as well. (See Alma 30:51.) In that pitiable state, Korihor resorts to begging for his livelihood. He finally goes among a people called the Zoramites, and there he is "run upon and trodden down" until he dies. (Alma 30:59.)
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
Giddonah decides that Korihor's case warrants the full attention of Alma, so Korihor is taken to Alma in Zarahemla. It doesn't take Alma long to determine the ultimate source of Korihor's teachings. "The devil has power over you," he says to Korihor, "and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God." (Alma 30:42.) Later, after Korihor is struck dumb, he confirms Alma's words. "The devil hath deceived me," he admits, "for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, ... and he taught me that which I should say." (Alma 30:53.)
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
Today, the world is permeated with philosophies similar to those taught by Korihor. We read them in books, see them championed in the movies and on television, and hear them taught in classrooms and sometimes in the churches of our time. Note just a few examples drawn from modern writings: "We believe that traditional dogmatic or authoritarian religions that place revelation, God, ritual, or creed above human needs and experience do a disservice to the human species. ... Traditional religions often offer solace to humans, but, as often, they inhibit humans from helping themselves or experiencing their full potentialities. ... Too often traditional faiths encourage dependence rather than independence." ("Humanist Manifesto II," The Humanist, Sept./Oct. 1973, pp. 5—6; compare Alma 30:14, 16, 27—28.) "Science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces. As far as we know, the total personality is a function of the biological organism transacting in a social and cultural context." (Ibid; compare Alma 30:17.) Here we see clear evidence of Mormon's inspiration to give us a full account of Korihor and his teachings. Korihor's teachings are old doctrine, and yet they are ideas as modern as today's high‑speed printing presses and satellite dishes.
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
It is an inspired insight on Alma's part. Korihor is not consistent in his own thinking. If we truly can know only those things for which we have empirical evidence, then we cannot teach there is no God unless we have evidence for that belief. And Korihor has no evidence.
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
There are a number of corollaries, or inferences, that flow out of Korihor's fundamental philosophy. The first of these is revealed when Korihor is arrested and taken before Giddonah, the high priest. Giddonah demands to know why, if Korihor is correct in what he said, the people find so much joy in their religious experience. (See Alma 30:22.)
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
This [rationalism] is the heart of Korihor's doctrine. By preaching his false philosophies, Korihor accomplishes Satan's designs in grand fashion.
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
Second, Alma exposes Korihor for what he is. (See chart 2 for a summary of how Alma dealt with Korihor.) In effect, Alma says to Korihor: "You know that we don't profit from our service in the Church, but you say we glut ourselves on the labor of the people. Therefore I say you deliberately twist the truth." It all comes down to one irrefutable conclusion: Korihor is a liar.
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
The philosophy Satan taught Korihor is a rational system. It is not true, but it is rational!
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
So how do we deal with these false philosophies? Fortunately, Mormon not only gave us Korihor's doctrines, he also gave us an inspired answer to them. This is the real value of the Korihor account. The first thing to note is that Alma does not get into philosophical debate with Korihor. He doesn't allow himself to be pulled onto the ground that Korihor tries to define as the area of debate. There is a great lesson in that. We combat false philosophies with revelation and true doctrine, not academic debate.
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
In other words, for Korihor to say that there is no God, based on the very criteria he himself has established, he would have to perceive every cubic meter of the universe simultaneously. This creates a paradox: In order for Korihor to prove there is no God, he would have to be a god himself! Therefore, in declaring there is no God, he is acting on "faith," the very thing for which he so sharply derides the religious leaders!
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
Korihor's answer goes something like this (see Alma 30:23—28): There are two explanations for why people believe in religion. First, they have been indoctrinated by their parents (the "foolish traditions" of the fathers), and second, they have been deceived by religious leaders whose motives are personal gain—money and/or power. Further, Korihor's philosophy—expressed in his teaching to the people—is that this indoctrination of the people brings psychological abnormalities—"derangement" or a "frenzied mind." (Alma 30:16.) Since there is no God and since religion is a farce, Korihor concludes, we can live as we please without fear of eternal consequences.
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
President Ezra Taft Benson has taught that "the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time." (Ensign, Jan. 1988, p. 3.)
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Gerald N. Lund
But there is more to Alma's answer than that. Alma takes Korihor's own philosophy and catches him in a trap of his own making. Korihor teaches that we can know only what we can see. (See Alma 30:15.) But when questioned, Korihor categorically denies that he believes there is a God. Alma then asks, "What evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only." (Alma 30:40.)
Gerald N. Lund, Ensign, Countering Korihor's Philosophy, July 1992
Alexander Campbell
This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in N. York for the last ten years. He decides all the great controversies ‑ infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, penance, church government, religious experience, the call to the ministry, the general resurrection, eternal punishment, who may baptize, and even the question of freemasonry, republican government, and the rights of man. All these topics are repeatedly alluded to.
Alexander Campbell, Millennial Harbinger, p. 13, Feb. 7, 1831
David Whitmer
Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.
David Whitmer, David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12
David Whitmer
The record of the Jews and the record of the Nephites are one.
David Whitmer, Inscription on David Whitmer's tombstone
Michael Coe
I haven't changed my views about the Book of Mormon since my 1973 article. I have seen no archaeological evidence before or since that date which would convince me that it is anything but a fanciful creation by an unusually gifted individual living in upstate New York in the early nineteenth century.
Michael Coe, correspondence between Bill McKeever and Michael Coe
Michael Coe
Let me now state uncategorically that as far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing the foregoing to be true, ... nothing, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon... is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere.
Michael Coe, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1973, pp. 42, 46
Michael Coe
As far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing the historicity of The Book of Mormon, and I would like to state that there are quite a few Mormon archaeologists who join this group.
Michael Coe, On the archaeology of the Book of Mormon
Daniel C. Peterson
Horses in the Book of Mormon would be another. You have relatively few mentions of horses, but there are some, and we don't know exactly how they were used; they don't seem to be all that common. Were they horses as we understood them, [or] does the term describe some other animal? Languages don't always and cultures don't always classify things the way we would expect. We have what we call common‑sense ways of doing it. They're not common sense; they're just ours. But again, we don't have a strong case there. We're just problem solving there.
Daniel C. Peterson, PBS, The Mormons
Daniel C. Peterson
The plates of the Book of Mormon were translated in a sense by Joseph Smith and in a sense not by Joseph Smith. Joseph didn't have the capacity to translate any modern or ancient language, certainly, at that time. A little bit later on he'll learn some Hebrew and some German ‑‑ not much, but a little bit. But the translation occurred by supernatural means, far beyond his capacity to do it. There were a couple of means that were prepared for this. One was that he used an instrument that was found with the plates that was called the Urim and Thummim. This is kind of a divinatory device that goes back into Old Testament times. Actually, most of the translation was done using something called a seer stone. The seer stone is obviously something like the Urim and Thummim. It seems to be a stone that was found in the vicinity, and I can't say exactly how it would have worked. It may have been a kind of a concentrating device or a device to facilitate concentration. He would put the stone for most of the concentration period in the bottom of a hat, presumably to exclude surrounding light. Then he would put his face into the hat. It's kind of a strange image for us today, but it sort of makes sense if you think of a computer screen, I suppose: You don't want to be looking at [anything] against a bright background; it hurts your eyes. ... He would read off what he saw in the stone, apparently in passages of about 25 to 35 words.
Daniel C. Peterson, PBS, The Mormons
Daniel C. Peterson
There aren't many [reasons for excommunication], really. Flat out saying Joseph Smith was a liar, I think, yeah, there's no reason for you to be a Latter‑day Saint. ... It gets a little fuzzier after that. Advocating a nonhistorical Book of Mormon, for example, advocating it in the church, I'd probably say you can't do that. If you believe it privately, that's your business. ... If they're not talking about it, if they're not advocating it, then I would say leave them alone. Work with them, if nothing else, but leave them alone. So I don't see a really clear line there. Obviously there's no room in the church for, say, a vibrant Mormon atheist movement or something like that. ...
Daniel C. Peterson, PBS, The Mormons
Daniel C. Peterson
One area of the Book of Mormon that does bother some is what they see as anachronistic doctrine; that the Book of Mormon has Christian doctrine prior to the coming of Christ; that it has seemingly New Testament doctrines appearing centuries before Jesus arrives, and it seems to be representing a form of Christianity existing in the New World where there doesn't seem to be much evidence of that archaeologically. Christianity is invisible in the New World prior to the coming of Columbus, and so those things seem like clear anachronisms to people looking at it in that way.
Daniel C. Peterson, PBS, The Mormons
Daniel C. Peterson
There are certain things that exist in the Book of Mormon that some people argue [are] anachronistic. Steel is an example of that, though the issue dissolves a little bit when you look at, well, what did the word "steel" mean? When words like that appear in King James's English, what do they mean? They don't necessarily mean what we mean by "steel" today. But we do have a problem with metals in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon seems to describe fairly widespread metal use. Well, I don't know if it's widespread; it's common throughout the Book of Mormon history and text, and yet we don't have any good evidence of any kind of metal industry, even small‑scale cottage industry, in Mesoamerica at the time.
Daniel C. Peterson, PBS, The Mormons
James D. Bales
What does it all add up to? Does it merely mean that one of the 'finds' which the Latter‑day Saints believed supported the Book of Mormon does not support it, and that there is no real blow dealt to the prophetship of Joseph Smith? Not at all, for as Charles A. Shook well observed — in a personal letter to the author — 'Only a bogus prophet translates bogus plates.' Where we can check up on Smith as a translator of plates, he is found guilty of deception. How can we trust him with reference to his claims about the Book of Mormon? If we cannot trust him where we can check him, we cannot trust him where we cannot check his translation... Smith tried to deceive people into thinking that he had translated some of the plates. The plates had no such message as Smith claimed that they had. Smith is thus shown to be willing to deceive people into thinking that he had power to do something that could not be done.
James D. Bales, James D. Bales, The Book of Mormon?, pp. 98‑99
Lucy Mack Smith
During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of travelings, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.
Lucy Mack Smith, Lucy Mack Smith, mother of Joseph Smith, quoted in Studies of the Book of Mormon, p. 243
B. H. Roberts
In light of this evidence, there can be no doubt as to the possession of a vividly strong, creative imagination by Joseph Smith, the Prophet, an imagination, it could with reason be urged, which, given the suggestions that are found in the 'common knowledge' of accepted American antiquities of the times, supplemented by such a work as Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews [published in Palmyra in 1825], it would make it possible for him to create a book such as the Book of Mormon is.
B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 243, 250
B. H. Roberts
If from all that has gone before in Part 1, the view be taken that the Book of Mormon is merely of human origin... if it be assumed that he is the author of it, then it could be said there is much internal evidence in the book itself to sustain such a view.
B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 251
B. H. Roberts
There were other Anti‑Christs among the Nephites, but they were more military leaders than religious innovators... they are all of one breed and brand; so nearly alike that one mind is the author of them, and that a young and underdeveloped, but piously inclined mind. The evidence I sorrowfully submit, points to Joseph Smith as their creator. It is difficult to believe that they are a product of history, that they came upon the scene separated by long periods of time, and among a race which was the ancestral race of the red man of America.
B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 271
B. H. Roberts
One other subject remains to be considered in this division... viz. ‑ was Joseph Smith possessed of a sufficiently vivid and creative imagination as to produce such a work as the Book of Mormon from such materials as have been indicated in the proceeding chapters... That such power of imagination would have to be of a high order is conceded; that Joseph Smith possessed such a gift of mind there can be no question....
B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 243, 250
B. H. Roberts
In the first place there is a certain lack of perspective in the things the book relates as history that points quite clearly to an underdeveloped mind as their origin. The narrative proceeds in characteristic disregard of conditions necessary to its reasonableness, as if it were a tale told by a child, with utter disregard for consistency.
B. H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, by B.H. Roberts, p. 251
Martin Harris
The revelations in the Book of Commandments up to June, 1829, were given through the 'stone,' through which the Book of Mormon was translated.
Martin Harris, An Address to All Believers in Christ, 1887, p. 53
Martin Harris
With the sanction of David Whitmer, and by his authority, I now state that he does not say that Joseph Smith ever translated in his presence by aid of Urim and Thummim, but by means of one dark colored, opaque stone called a 'Seer Stone,' which was placed in the crown of a hat, into which Joseph would put his face, so as to exclude the external light.
Martin Harris, Saint's Herald, Nov. 15, 1962, p. 16
Martin Harris
Joseph Smith, jr., found at Palmyra, N. Y., on the 22d day of September, 1827, the plates of gold upon which was recorded in Arabic, Chaldaic, Syriac, and Egyptian, the Book of Life, or the Book of Mormon. I was not with him at the time, but I had a revelation the summer before, that God had a work for me to do. These plates were found at the north point of a hill two miles north of Manchester village. Joseph had a stone which was dug from the well of Mason Chase, twenty‑four feet from the surface. In this stone he could see many thing to my certain knowledge. It was by means of this stone he first discovered these plates.
Martin Harris, Interview with Martin Harris, Tiffany's Monthly
Martin Harris
I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine.
Martin Harris, An Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 12
Martin Harris
All who believed the new bible would see Christ within fifteen years, and all who did not would absolutely be destroyed and dam'd.
Martin Harris, The Telegraph (Painesville, OH), March 15, 1831, v. 2, no. 39
Martin Harris
Joseph had a stone which was dug from the well of Mason Chase, twenty‑four feet from the surface. In this stone he could see many things to my certain knowledge. It was by means of this stone he first discovered these plates.
Martin Harris, Tiffany's Monthly, Aug. 1859 (v. 5, no. 4), p. 163
Wesley P. Lloyd
These are some of the things which has made Bro. Roberts shift his base on the Book of Mormon. Instead of regarding it as the strongest evidence we have of Church Divinity, he regards it as the one which needs the most bolstering. His greatest claim for the divinity of the Prophet Joseph Smith lies in the Doctrine and Covenants.
Wesley P. Lloyd, Private Journal of Wesley P. Lloyd, Aug. 7, 1933
Wesley P. Lloyd
He explained certain literary difficulties in the Book [of Mormon]....
Wesley P. Lloyd, Private Journal of Wesley P. Lloyd, Aug. 7, 1933
Wesley P. Lloyd
He swings to a psychological explanation of the Book of Mormon and shows that the plates were not objective but subjective with Joseph Smith, that his exceptional imagination qualified him psychologically for the experience which he had in presenting to the world the Book of Mormon and that the plates with the Urim and Thummim were not objective.
Wesley P. Lloyd, Private Journal of Wesley P. Lloyd, Aug. 7, 1933
Wesley P. Lloyd
Richard Lyman spoke up and ask[ed] if there were things that would help our prestige and when Bro. Roberts answered no, he said then why discuss them. This attitude was too much for the historically minded Roberts...
Wesley P. Lloyd, Private Journal of Wesley P. Lloyd, Aug. 7, 1933
Wesley P. Lloyd
At his [B.H. Robert's] request Pres. Grant called a meeting of the Twelve Apostles and Bro. Roberts presented the matter, told them frankly that he was stumped and ask[ed] for their aide [sic] in the explanation. In answer, they merely one by one stood up and bore testimony to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. George Albert Smith in tears testified that his faith in the Book had not been shaken by the question.... No answer was available. Bro[.] Roberts could not criticize them for not being able to answer it or to assist him, but said that in a church which claimed continuous revelation, a crisis had arisen where revelation was necessary. After the meeting he wrote Pres. Grant expressing his disappointment at the failure... It was mentioned at the meeting by Bro. Roberts that there were other Book of Mormon problems that needed special attention.
Wesley P. Lloyd, Private Journal of Wesley P. Lloyd, Aug. 7, 1933
Thomas Ferguson
I wonder what really goes on in the minds of Church leadership who know of the data concerning the Book of Abraham, the new data on the First Vision, etc.... It would tend to devastate the Church if a top leader were to announce the facts.
Thomas Ferguson, Thomas Ferguson to John W. Fitzgerald, March 6, 1976, John Fitzgerald Collection, Special Collections, Milton R. Merrill Library, Utah State University
Thomas Ferguson
One cannot fake over 3000 years ... of history and have the fake hold water under the scrutiny given the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is either fake or fact. If fake, the cities described in it are non‑existent. If fact — as we know it to be — the cities will be there. If the cities exist, and they do, they constitute tangible, physical, enduring, unimpeachable evidence that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that Jesus Christ lives.
Thomas Ferguson, Thomas Ferguson to the First Presidency, March 15, 1958, Ferguson Collection, BYU
Thomas Ferguson
I'm afraid that up to this point, I must agree with Dee Green, who has told us that to date there is no Book‑of‑Mormon geography...
Thomas Ferguson, Thomas Ferguson, Mormon founder of LDS‑sponsored New World Archaeological Foundation
Thomas Ferguson
Belonging, with my eyes wide open, is actually fun, less expensive than formerly, and no strain at all. I am now very selective in the meetings I attend, the functions I attend, the amounts I contribute etc. etc. and I have a perfectly happy time. I never get up and bear testimony — but I don't mind listening to others who do. I am much more tolerant of other religions and other thinking and feel fine about things in general. You might give my suggestions a trial run — and if you find you have to burn all the bridges between yourselves and the Church, then go ahead and ask for excommunication. The day will probably come — but it is far off — when the leadership of the Church will change the excommunication rules and delete as ground non‑belief in the 2 books mentioned [the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon] and in Joseph Smith as a prophet etc.... but if you wait for that day, you probably will have died. It is a long way off — tithing would drop too much for one thing.
Thomas Ferguson, Thomas Ferguson to Mr. and Mrs. Harold W. Lawrence, February 9, 1976, Ferguson Collection, University of Utah
Thomas Ferguson
After many years of careful study, the real importance of Book of Mormon archaeology has dawned on me. It will take but a moment to explain. The Book of Mormon is the only revelation from God in the history of the world that can possibly be tested by scientific physical evidence.... To find the city of Jericho is merely to confirm a point in history. To find the city of Zarahemla is to confirm a point in history but it is also to confirm, through tangible physical evidence, divine revelation to the modern world through Joseph Smith, Moroni, and the Urim and Thummim. Thus, Book of Mormon history is revelation that can be tested by archaeology.
Thomas Ferguson, Thomas Ferguson to the First Presidency, April 10, 1953, Ferguson Collection, BYU
Thomas Ferguson
The real implication of the paper is that you can't set the Book of Mormon geography down anywhere ‑‑ because it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of the dirt‑archeology. I should say ‑‑ what is in the ground will never conform to what is in the book.
Thomas Ferguson, Thomas Ferguson, Mormon founder of LDS‑sponsored New World Archaeological Foundation
Welby W. Ricks
A recent rediscovery of one of the Kinderhook plates which was examined by Joseph Smith, Jun., reaffirms his prophetic calling and reveals the false statements made by one of the finders.... The plates are now back in their original category of genuine.... Joseph Smith, Jun., stands as a true prophet and translator of ancient records by divine means and all the world is invited to investigate the truth which has sprung out of the earth not only of the Kinderhook plates, but of the Book of Mormon as well.
Welby W. Ricks, Welby W. Ricks, President of BYU Archaeological Society, quoted in Kinderhook Plates
Orson Scott Card
Women are virtually absent from the Book of Mormon. When they do manage to show up, they are rarely named. There are only three women who are actually of the culture of the Book of Mormon who are given names. One is Sariah, the mother of Nephi. Another is a harlot named Isabel, and the third is a servant woman named Abish. None of the queens who show up in the story are mentioned by name. None of these writers ever mentions his own wife, and when women do show up in a specific role they're still almost never named. Nephi did not even bother to mention the name of the woman who saved his life by pleading for him in the desert.
Orson Scott Card, The Book of Mormon ‑ Artifact or Artifice? ‑ Orson Scott Card
Thomas A. Clawson
At Special Priesthood meeting at which the official statement of the First Presidency regarding the teachings of Adam‑God is presented, Prest. Jos. F. Smith then said that he was in full accord with what Prest. Penrose had said and that Prest. Brigham Young when he delivered that sermon only expressed his own views and that they were not corroborated by the word of the Lord in the stand works of the Church. The Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants were voted upon by the Church convened in a Conference and organized in various Quorums of the Priesthood who voted by Quorums after which the body of the Church were asked to vote to sustain the above books as the Standards of the Church.... That those Patriarchs who persisted in teaching these things and did not stop when told to do so should be handled by their Bishops and their names sent up to the High Councils for further action and be cut off.
Thomas A. Clawson, Journal of Thomas A. Clawson, 1912‑1917 Book, pp. 69‑70, April 8, 1912
Dee F. Green
The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists.... If one is to study Book of Mormon archaeology, then one must have a corpus of data with which to deal. We do not. The Book of Mormon is really there so one can have Book of Mormon studies, and archaeology is really there so one can study archaeology, but the two are not wed. At least they are not wed in reality since no Book of Mormon location is known with reference to modern topography. Biblical archaeology can be studied because we do know where Jerusalem and Jericho were and are, but we do not know where Zarahemla and Bountiful (nor any other location for that matter) were or are. It would seem then that a concentration on geography should be the first order of business, but we have already seen that twenty years of such an approach has left us empty‑handed.
Dee F. Green, Mormon archaeologist, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1969, pp. 77‑78
Ray T. Matheny
I really have difficulty in finding issue or quarrel with those opening chapters of the Book of Mormon [i. e., the first 7 chapters which only relate to Lehi and his family around the area of Jerusalem]. But thereafter it doesn't seem like a translation to me.... And the terminologies and the language used and the methods of explaining and putting things down are 19th century literary concepts and cultural experiences one would expect Joseph Smith and his colleagues would experience. And for that reason I call it transliteration, and I'd rather not call it a translation after the 7th chapter. And I have real difficulty in trying to relate these cultural concepts as I've briefly discussed here with archaeological findings that I'm aware of.... If I were doing this cold like John Carlson is here, I would say in evaluating the Book of Mormon that it had no place in the New World whatsoever. I would have to look for the place of the Book of Mormon events to have taken place in the Old World. It just doesn't seem to fit anything that he has been taught in his discipline, nor I in my discipline in anthropology, history; there seems to be no place for it. It seems misplaced. It seems like there are anachronisms. It seems like the items are out of time and place, and trying to put them into the New World. And I think there's a great difficulty here for we Mormons in understanding what this book is all about.
Ray T. Matheny, Speech at Sunstone Symposium 6, "Book of Mormon Archeology," August 25, 1984
Ray T. Matheny
While some people chose to make claims for the Book of Mormon through archaeological evidences, to me they are made prematurely, and without sufficient knowledge. I do not support the books written on this subject including The Messiah in Ancient America, or any other. I believe that the authors are making cases out of too little evidences and do not adequately address the problems that archaeology and the Book of Mormon present. I would feel terribly embarrassed if anyone sent a copy of any book written on the subject to the National Museum of Natural History — Smithsonian Institution, or other authority, making claims that cannot as yet be substantiated.... there are very severe problems in this field in trying to make correlations with the scriptures. Speculation, such as practiced so far by Mormon authors has not given church members credibility.
Ray T. Matheny, Mormon scholar and BYU professor of anthropology, letter dated Dec. 17, 1987
Ray T. Matheny
The Book of Mormon talks about ferrous and non‑ferrous metallurgical industries. A ferrous industry is a whole system of doing something. It's just not an esoteric process that a few people are involved in, but ferrous industry.., means mining iron ores and then processing these ores and casting [them] into irons.... This is a process that's very complicated...it also calls for cultural backup to allow such an activity to take place.... In my recent reading of the Book of Mormon, I find that iron and steel are mentioned in sufficient context to suggest that there was a ferrous industry here.... You can't refine ore without leaving a bloom of some kind or impurities that blossom out and float to the top of the ore... and also the flux of limestone or whatever is used to flux the material.... [This] blooms off into silicas and indestructible new rock forms. In other words, when you have a ferroused metallurgical industry, you have these evidences of the detritus that is left over. You also have the fuels, you have the furnaces, you have whatever technologies that were there performing these tasks; they leave solid evidences. And they are indestructible things.... No evidence has been found in the new world for a ferrous metallurgical industry dating to pre‑Columbian times. And so this is a king‑size kind of problem, it seems to me, for the so‑called Book of Mormon archaeology. This evidence is absent.
Ray T. Matheny, Speech at Sunstone Symposium 6, "Book of Mormon Archaeology," August 25, 1984
Duane R. Aston
Our testimony of the Book of Mormon remains a matter of faith, and not based upon external proofs found from archaeology.
Duane R. Aston, Return to Cumorah, 1998
M. T. Lamb
It is not necessary here to repeat the passages in the Book of Mormon which describe such civilization.... It is only needful to show that nothing could be wider from the truth, unless all ancient American history is a lie, and its ten thousand relics tell false tales. It may be stated in a general way that there never has been a time upon this western hemisphere within the historic period, or within three thousand years past when a uniform civilization of ANY KIND prevailed over both continents. We are to learn now: First, that a Christian civilization has never existed in Central America, not even for a day. Second, the people of Central America, as far back as their record has been traced (and that is centuries earlier than the alleged beginning of Nephite history), have always been an idolatrous people.... The entire civilization of the Book of Mormon, its whole record from beginning to end is flatly contradicted by the civilization and the history of Central America.
M. T. Lamb, The Golden Bible, by M. T. Lamb, p. 366, 370, 373
Hal Hougey
We conclude, therefore, that the Book of Mormon remains completely unverified by archaeology. The claims Mormon missionaries have made are fallacious and misleading.
Hal Hougey, Archaeology and the Book of Mormon, pamphlet by Hal Hougey, p. 4‑6, 1976
Steve Johnson
In 1949 [actually 1946] California lawyer, Tom Ferguson, rolled up his sleeves, threw a shovel over his shoulder, and marched into the remote jungles of southern Mexico. Armed with a quote by Joseph Smith that the Lord had 'a hand in proving the Book of Mormon true in the eyes of all people,' Ferguson's goal was: Shut the mouths of the critics who said such evidence did not exist. Ferguson began an odyssey that included twenty‑four trips to Central America, eventually resulting in a mountain of evidence supporting Book of Mormon claims.
Steve Johnson, Transcript of the advertisement for The Messiah in Ancient America by Thomas Ferguson, 1988
Michael R. Ash
But didn't the Nephites know real "deer" from their Old World experiences? Possibly. While "deer" are never mentioned in the Book of Mormon—not even in the Old World setting where the Lehites frequently hunted during their travels through the Arabian Peninsula—it seems reasonable to assume that the Lehites were familiar with Old World deer before coming to the New World. Why, then, would the Nephites use the term "horse" for "deer"? Why didn't they simply use the Hebrew word for "deer"? As previously noted, the Hebrew words for "deer" included several non‑deer animals such as "ram," "ibex," and "mountain goat." The Lehites may also have associated the Hebrew term "deer" with "gazelle" or "hartebeest." The Hebrew‑speaking Lehites wouldn't have limited the label "deer" to exclusively one animal, nor would they have limited the Hebrew words for "horse" exclusively to horses.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
It's also possible that Nephite "horses"—at least when associated with chariots—were among the provisions that King Lamoni needed during his travels (we know that horses were part of the provisions which the Nephites reserved for themselves when fighting the Gadianton Robbers [3 Nephi 4:4]). Perhaps "preparing" the horses and chariots would be like "preparing the chicken and backpack." To modern ears this doesn't suggest that the chicken will carry the backpack but rather than a chicken meal will be prepared to go in the backpack. If Book of Mormon horses were eaten, they may have been one of the provisions loaded on a "chariot" and carried or dragged by men.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
In my opinion, a more likely candidate for the Nephite loan‑shift "horse" would have been the Central American tapir. Tapirs are one of only a few odd‑toed ungulates—a family that includes the horse, zebra, donkey, onager, and the rhinoceros. These large grazing animals have common traits, including an odd number of toes on each hoof, a large middle toe, and a relatively simple stomach (as compared to other grazing animals like cows who regurgitate their cud for digestion).
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
The wheel, then, may have been known to the early Americans, but disappeared from use due to changes in religious beliefs. But, some may ask, how could all traces of the wheel and chariots disappear? Such disappearances are not as unusual as it sounds. According to the Bible, the Philistines in Saul's time had 30,000 chariots (1 Samuel 13:5), yet not a single fragment of a chariot has ever been uncovered in the Holy Land. In the humid Mesoamerican climate, would we really expect the survival of two‑thousand year‑old wooden wheels (the last mention of Nephite chariots dates to about 20 AD)?
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
John L. Sorenson has suggested the latter possibility and has pointed to archaeological specimens showing humans riding on the backs of animal figures, some of which are evidently deer. Also Mayan languages used the term deer for Spanish horses and deer‑rider for horsemen. Indians of Zinacantan, Chiapas, believe that the mythical "Earth Owner," who is supposed to be rich and live inside a mountain, rides on deer. In addition, the Aztec account of the Spanish Conquest used terms like the‑deer‑which‑carried‑men‑upon‑their‑backs, called horses
Michael R. Ash, Reexploring the Book of Mormon, 1992, p. 98
Michael R. Ash
While some species of tapir are rather small and look like pigs, the Mesoamerican variety—Baird's Tapir—can grow to be nearly six and a half feet in length and can weigh more than six hundred pounds. A modern government report indicates that "the tapir is docile toward man and hence management of the animal is relatively easy. An indigenous person describes the tapir as follows: "The animal is very sociable. Taken as a pup, one can easily tame it; it knows how to behave near the house; it goes to eat in the mountain and then returns to sleep near the house." Tapirs were frequently eaten and, because of their strength, they may have been used as beasts of burden on a small scale. Charles Darwin wrote that tapirs were kept tame in the Americas, though they did not tend to breed in captivity. This fact might explain the relatively infrequent mention of "horses" in the Book of Mormon.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
There have been a number of horse bones discovered in America that might date to Book of Mormon times. The surviving remains from such finds are currently undergoing testing to determine their antiquity.
Michael R. Ash, Animals in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Typically a battle beast statue accompanied the king atop the palanquin. The most common battle beast was the jaguar—which was a symbol of war—but other creatures, monsters, or gods were also associated with the battle beast and war palanquins. Among the ancient Zapotec gods, for instance, was Xolotl—the "lightning beast." Perhaps coincidently, his image was often associated with the setting sun being devoured by the earth (reminiscent of what we find in religious wheel symbolism). He is also associated with war. While most scholars believe that he is symbolized by a dog (and it is typically the dog that we find on the religious wheeled figures), the eminent non‑LDS scholar, Eduard Seler, believes that Xolotl is more closely associated with the tapir.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
The term "cattle" is used three times in the Book of Mormon (Ether 9:17‑19; Enos 1:21; 3 Nephi 3:22), while the term "cow" is used twice (Ether 9:18; 1 Nephi 18:25). The Jaredite record is unclear as to whether "cattle" and "cows" are the same animals, or if "cows" are a subcategory of "cattle." When the Miami Indians, who were familiar with cows, first encountered the unfamiliar buffalo they simply called them "wild cows." Likewise the explorer DeSoto called the buffalo "vaca" which is Spanish for "cow." The Delaware Indians named the cow, "deer," and a group of Miami Indians labeled sheep, which they were unfamiliar with, "looks‑like‑a‑cow."
Michael R. Ash, Animals in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Normally, our first inclination would be to agree that the term "chariot" suggests wheels. But upon further investigation we must conclude that this interpretation is not mandatory. Turning to the Bible we find that the term "chariot" does not always reflect what we would envision. There are five Hebrew words which translate as "chariot" in the KJV Bible. Some of these Hebrew words have other definitions such as a team, mill‑stone, riders, troop of riders, pair of horseman, men riding, camel‑riders, place to ride, riding seat, seat of a litter, saddle, portable couch, and human‑born sedan chair. The Talmud even uses a version to mean "nuptial bed" and one word used for chariot has an uncertain definition of "amour" or "weapons" and comes from an unused root meaning to be strong or sharp. The Arabic cognate of one of the Hebrew terms for chariot refers not to any kind of wheeled vehicle, but can refer to a ship or a boat. In most instances, the word refers to a device that can move a person or object, but not necessarily a wheeled device.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
The English word "chariot" comes from Latin carrus, car, and is etymologically related to the verb to carry. The primary definition for chariot seems to be a device to carry some sort of load. We should not automatically assume that the Nephites understood chariots as wheeled war machines. Because no Book of Mormon verse says or suggests that chariots are mounted, dismounted, or that they carried people or were ridden (although this could be inferred from a twenty‑first century view), we cannot say for certain what a Book of Mormon "chariot" means. Native American kings, for example, were often carried into war or to ceremonial events on litters or palanquins. These were sedans carried on the shoulders of other men and certainly fits the Hebrew definition of a "chariot." The Book of Mormon, it must also be noted, never mentions horses "pulling" chariots.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
While the Lehites would have had a Hebrew word for deer, the question is whether the Nephites had a written reformed Egyptian word for deer. Reformed Egyptian was likely a combination of Hebrew language written in modified‑Egyptian characters. The number of reformed Egyptian characters may have been rather small as evidenced by the limited vocabulary we find in the Book of Mormon. It is possible, like the Book of Mormon terms "river" and "sea," that other reformed Egyptian characters were expanded to describe multiple items. Dr. William Hamblin explains that "deer" were likely extinct in Egypt long before Lehi's day and that there may not have been an Egyptian word for deer at the time of Nephi. But even if an Egyptian word for "deer" was known to the Lehites, this does not mean that such a word was available in the limited vocabulary of reformed Egyptian. In the absence of a reformed Egyptian word for deer Nephi would have chosen some other word that represented a characteristic of deer or a way they interacted with people. The terms for "horse," which had already been expanded in Hebrew to refer to "horseman" (or riders) as well as leaping animals (or even cranes), could easily be expanded to include New World "deer." As noted in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ancient Near Eastern cultures, such as the Hebrews and Arabs, had "looseness of nomenclature" when it came to categorizing animals. The Nephites would have had no problem expanding the definition of "horse" to include New World animals that may have behaved in a similar fashion or were used in a similar way.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
As already noted, some of the Aztecs called the Spanish horse "deer." Likewise, in the Quiche languages of highland Guatemala we have expressions like keh, which means both deer and horse, and the cognitive keheh, which means mount or ride. Early Native Americans had no problem expanding their definition of "deer" to include horses, so why couldn't the Nephites expand their definition of "horse" to include deer if the American genus of deer—in some ways—acted like horses? An early pre‑Spanish incense burner discovered in Guatemala shows a man riding on the back of a deer, and a stone monument dating to 700 A.D. shows a woman riding a deer. Until recently many people in Siberia rode on the backs of deer. In such cases the deer served as "horses."
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
In conclusion on this first issue, if real Israelites had lived anciently in the Americas and had left records in Hebrew about their lives, the tapir would easily—perhaps likely—have been included into the word "horse." If 6th century B.C. Egyptians, or people who wrote with an Egyptian script, had lived in the Americas and had left records, they easily could have included the deer, tapir, and perhaps other animals into their expanded definition of "horse." Both peoples would also likely have referred to Mayan palanquins or travois‑type devices as "chariots."
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
"Ox" or "oxen" is mentioned six times in the Book of Mormon (Ether 9:18; 1 Nephi 18:25; 2 Nephi 17:25; 2 Nephi 21:7; 2 Nephi 30:13; Mosiah 13:24). Some critics charge that this is an anachronism because, they claim, an "ox" is a castrated bull — something that would be impossible to find in the wild (see 1 Nephi 18:25). Ox, however, also refers to members of the subfamily Bovinae, in the Bovidae family, which includes Asiatic buffaloes, African buffaloes, cattle, and bison. A glance at a good encyclopedia will reveal the listing of other "wild ox" such as the yak, banteng, and the wild North African ox. Some LDS scholars have suggested that the Book of Mormon "ox" may refer to the tapir, camelidae, or perhaps bison.
Michael R. Ash, Animals in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
So while the jaguar is the most common battle‑beast associated with Mayan war palanquins, we see that the warlike god Xolotl is associated with the jaguar, the tapir, the dog (which we find in religious symbolism on wheels), and the devouring of the sun (which is also associated with wheels). The interconnectivity with the battle beasts and palanquins suggest possible (albeit tentative) connections between the Book of Mormon's statements of preparing horses and chariots.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Perhaps deer or tapirs pulled wheelless chariots. We know, for instance, that the American Indian travois (a kind of sled) was pulled, not only by horses, but also by dogs. Maybe King Lamoni used a deer or tapir‑drawn travois to cart his supplies while traveling. The mass Nephite movement to Zarahemla certainly suggests that chariots were used to carry supplies rather than soldiers.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
After defeating the Gadianton Robbers the Nephites returned to their homes—every man with his "flocks and his herds, his horses and his cattle" (3 Ne. 6:1). It seems that Book of Mormon horses may have been considered to be something like cattle. As noted above, tapirs were frequently eaten in ancient America.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Another possibility is that King Lamoni's horses were symbolic battle beasts. Mayan kings brought battle beasts along while traveling on palanquins. In Maya battle imagery, for instance, the king rides into battle on a litter or cloth covered framework between two parallel bars. As Mesoamerican ethnohistory specialist Brant Gardner has written, "the capture of the king's litter is tantamount to the capture of the gods of that king." The animal alter‑ego of a god accompanied the king and conceptually represented the king and litter. "Thus," writers Gardner, "there were three important elements of this complex which went into battle: king, litter, and battle beast. There is also evidence that the litter complex was used in other ceremonial occasions other than war."
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
The Welsh cognate to the English chariot, signifies, among other things, a "dray"—which Webster's defines as "any of several wheelless land vehicles used for haulage," and for which it gives as a synonym nothing less than travois; dray is obviously cognate with the verb to drag—or a "sledge" (which term is, itself, related to words like sleigh and sled—which also plainly denote wheelless vehicles).
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
For the first 85 years of the church, the accepted geographic model among most Mormons was the hemispheric model — the whole of North and South America. It was also commonly believed (as noted in a previous installment) that Joseph Smith had received revelation that Lehi landed in Chile.
Michael R. Ash, Deseret News, "Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: True scholarship vs. wishful thinking"
Michael R. Ash
Non‑LDS archaeologist, Michael Coe, in his book Breaking the Maya Code, claims that in the Mayan Yucatec language the term "tzimin" would classify either a "horse" or a "tapir." Tzimin originally meant "tapir" but was expanded to include the "horse" when the Yucatec speaking natives discovered a need to label the horse. Once again we could ask how the Book of Mormon can be rejected for suggesting the Nephites had done the exact thing we find in the history of Yucatec‑speaking Mayans.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Of the animals listed in the New World portions of the Book of Mormon, thirteen are physical creatures, whereas the remaining animals are figurative and may have been borrowed from Joseph's vernacular to express common ideas. Two of the thirteen physical creatures are cumoms and cureloms from Jaredite times (for which we have no Nephite or modern translation). Of the eleven remaining physical creatures we find cow, ox, ass, horse, goat, wild goat, dog, sheep, swine, serpents, and elephant.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
According to the Spanish chronicler Sahagun this animal‑god, Xolotl, is described as having a "large snout, large teeth, hoofs like an ox, a thick hide, and reddish hair"—a pretty good description of a tapir. Dr. Seler explains that along with the dog, Xolotl's role of lightning beast is shared by two other creatures in the codices: the tapir, and the jaguar. These animals appear with the hieroglyphs jaguar and kan, meaning corn or yellow. The root xolo, yellow in Zapotec, occurs in both the words for dog and tapir, and according to Seler, it is repeated in Aztec in the name of the god Xolotl.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
But if Nephite chariots were not wheeled (and it's possible that they were), why are chariots mentioned in conjunction with Nephite "horses"? First, Nephite chariots (wheeled or not) may have been pulled by deer or tapirs (which may have been included in the Nephite term "horse"). Several ancient Eastern and Near Eastern pieces of art and petroglyphs depict chariots drawn by deer. Early Hindus had chariots pulled by deer. We find deer‑pulling chariots in Asian art. The Greek goddess Artemis supposedly rode a chariot pulled by deer.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Could the Nephites have used the term "horse" for deer or some other animal? It is not impossible considering the above examples. Figurines, for example, of the pack bearing South American alpacas — which is related to the camel — have been unearthed as far north as Costa Rica. An early pre‑Spanish incense burner discovered in Guatemala shows a man riding on the back of a deer. A stone monument dating to 700 A.D. shows a woman riding a deer. Another similar figurine was found in central Mexico, and until recently, many people in Siberia rode on the backs of deer. In such cases the deer served as "horses."
Michael R. Ash, Animals in the Book of Mormon
Michael R. Ash
Israelites often distinguished animals based on the type of foot and what the animal ate. This generally played a role in determining if an animal was "clean" or "unclean." If we use the Law of Moses as a guide, tapirs and horses are very closely related—and in a significant way. While there is no clear consensus as to what dietary rules were known and/or applied in the land of Israel just prior to Lehi's departure, it is possible that the Nephites were obligated to live—or were at least familiar—with some of the dietary restrictions and may therefore have included tapirs in the horse family. And while they may have categorized the tapir in the same family as the horse, it is possible that they might not have had dietary restrictions on eating animals is this family.
Michael R. Ash, Horses in the Book of Mormon
Jeff Lindsay
Elephants are mentioned only once (Ether 9:19) as having been "had" by the ancient Jaredites. This occurrence is at an early point in the history of the Jaredites, probably well before 2500 B.C. based on the chronology proposed by Sorenson in An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Is this an obvious blunder? Mastodons and mammoths, a form of elephants, lived across North America and part of South America. It is widely believed that they went extinct before Jaredite times.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
Was Ammon risking his life to vigorously defend King Lamoni's turkey flocks? Food for thought.Was Ammon risking his life to vigorously defend King Lamoni's turkey flocks? Food for thought.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
The possibility that turkeys were an important part of any references to "flocks" in the Book of Mormon is strengthened by recent discoveries of Mayan remains showing that domesticated turkeys were present much earlier than previously realized.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
After reading about the discovery of fossilized bison along with the mammoths recently found in Mexico (Associated Press, Oct. 30, 1996), perhaps one could speculate that bison were treated and named as cattle. If buffalo or bison had been in Joseph Smith's vocabulary in 1829, perhaps a more specific term might have been used in the translation, but "cattle" (perhaps as a generic term) may have been the most accurate translation for whatever word was used in the Nephite language.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
Could "aluph" also describe a tapir?
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
Besides turkeys, other indigenous species of birds in the Americas could be termed "chickens." In fact, in North America, we already use the term chicken for one native bird, the prairie chicken.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
The tapir in Mesoamerica is sometimes called a "cow." In fact, the national animal of Belize, Baird's tapir, is known in Belize as the "mountain cow." It is not a cow, of course, and is actually more closely related to the horse. Interestingly, Wikipedia reports that in Lacandon Maya, Baird's tapir is called cash‑i‑tzimin, meaning "jungle horse."
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
At the moment, I think that the single mention of elephants among a very early group of New World people could be accounted for plausibly by surviving mammoths or mastodons, which later became fully extinct.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
Contrary to allegations in some anti‑LDS books, the Book of Mormon does not say that the Nephites ate swine (which would have been a violation of the law of Moses), though the earlier Jaredites did (Ether 9:18) ‑ but the Jaredites were not under the law of Moses. Does "swine" necessarily refer to the type of animal we think of today? Perhaps not. Roper (p. 207) notes that "peccaries were well known in Mesoamerica and look very much like domesticated pigs and could easily fit the Book of Mormon designation of swine."
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
It may be naive to assume that the word "horse" necessarily refers to the species of we know today. The Hebrew word for horse , "sus", has a root meaning of "to leap" and can refer to other animals as well ‑ including the swallow (J. L. Sorenson, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 345). Since deer also leap, it is not impossible that the early Nephites might have described them with a word related to "sus" or even the word "sus" itself. (Sorenson notes also that "ss" in Egyptian means horse, while "shs" is antelope). Could the "horse" of the Book of Mormon be Mesoamerican deer?
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
But what did Nephi mean by the term "ox"? As mentioned earlier on this page, Hebrew "teo" typically means "wild ox" but has also been applied to a type of gazelle.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
The term chicken also could easily apply to the native turkeys that Mesoamericans used. Although a turkey is not a chicken, it is not surprising that people encountering turkeys for the first time might use the term "chicken" to describe them. When the Arabs encountered the turkey, they called it an "Indian rooster." In fact, the English word "turkey" is derived from the sixteenth‑century term "turkey‑cock," meaning essentially "turkish rooster." The term originally referred to a fowl from Ottoman Turkish territory in North Africa, but now describes birds native to the Americas.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
But we must not overlook the bison as a candidate for ox, though I don't know if they were in Mesoamerica when Nephi arrived.
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
Jeff Lindsay
It is important to note that there were many species of animals used by Mesoamericans. Semitic peoples naming these animals might have used words familiar to them to describe the new creatures, much as English speaking peoples used the term "turkey" to describe the famous native American gobbler. For example, Michael D. Coe notes that there were "several breeds of dogs current among the Maya, each with its own name. . . . Both wild and domestic turkeys were known. . . .The larger mammals, such as deer and peccary, were hunted with bow‑and‑arrow in drives (though in Classic times the atlatl‑and‑dart must have been the principal weapon), aided by packs of dogs. Birds like the wild turkey, partridge, wild pigeon, quail, and wild duck were taken with pellets shot from blowguns. A variety of snare and deadfalls are shown in the Madrid Codex, especially a trap for armadillo."
Jeff Lindsay, Book of Mormon Problems: Plants and Animals
J. Reuben Clark
It has been my feeling that if someone, who could get the confidence of the Indians, could get out among them, he would find in their [oral] traditions other and better evidences as to the accuracy and truthfulness of the Book of Mormon than will be found even in the ruins. But that would be a work practically of a lifetime by someone who would be willing to put up with all the inconveniences of living among the Indians, of gaining their confidence, and of practically becoming one of them, and that is a big order.
J. Reuben Clark, Letter to J. Willard Marriott
Pomeroy Tucker
Harris was the only man of property or credit known in all Mormondom; and, as will appear, he happened to be exactly the appropriate subject for the prophet's designs; for without his timely aid and pecuniary sacrifice the Golden Bible would probably have remained forever an unpublished romance.
Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, pp49‑50
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