Book of Mormon Origins

The Book of Mormon Remix

Word Remix

In the past, it was not well known or understood where the Book of Mormon actually came from. However, the emergence of modern technology, including book archival and digitization, has resulted in the discovery of many parallel texts—texts which are sometimes even quoted verbatim or nearly verbatim in the Book of Mormon. These sources have been shown to be “remixed” into the Book of Mormon.

The fact is that no one writes stories or books without subconsciously adding in elements from their own lives and environments. For example, a child may write a story for school that is unique as a whole, but that contains elements from the child’s environment such as movies the child has watched, names that are derived from of people the child knows, and similar plot elements from the child’s favorite books. Such is the case with the Book of Mormon. The book is essentially a “remix” of ideas and stories from Joseph Smith’s day, such as the early 19th century concept that the Native Americans were of Jewish descent and that dark skins were the results of “curses” from God, and the 11 great sermons in the Book of Mormon are very similar to sermons given in the early 19th century by Methodist preachers in Joseph Smith’s locale. Moroni is actually the name of the capitol city of Comoro (as in the Hill “Cumorah” where Joseph Smith said “Moroni” led him to dig up the golden plates). The Grand Comoro is an island off the coast of Africa where treasure hunters such as Captain Kidd dug for buried treasure—the Smith family being well acquainted with treasure hunting and Captain Kidd stories. The book does not fit within the context of ancient Native Americans but it fits very nicely within the context of a 19th century American worldview during the Revivalist/Restorationist Movements occurring at that time.

It is even more contradictory to see these texts in the Book of Mormon when Martin Harris gave a first-hand account of how Smith performed this translation: “By aid of the Seer Stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say ‘written;’ and if correctly written, the sentence would disappear and another appear in its place; but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used” (CHC 1:29). One wonders how the words appearing to Joseph were so often precisely the words from these 19th century books, the 1769 KJV Bible, Apocrypha, and revival sermons.

An excellent overview of several of these source materials is provided by former Institute Director Grant Palmer at this link. (This presentation is over an hour long but well worth it.)

For a more comprehensive explanation, see Part 2 of the Gentle Awakening Presentation Series.

Here is a list of some of the sources that have been identified:

The Apocrypha

Within the Apocrypha, you will find many similar elements to the Book of Mormon. You will come across Nephi, Ammon, Ammonites, Laban, and many other familiar characters. You will also find the brass plates, the treasury where the plates are kept, and abridgments being made. You will probably also notice the faith-promoting nature of many of the stories that will have a ring of truth to them, even though they are widely known to be fictitious. You can read the apocrypha for yourself at this link (particularly starting here) and notice the familiar plots, names, teachings, and feelings you have encountered while reading the Book of Mormon.

Link to a more detailed analysis of the Apocrypha as source material for the Book of Mormon.

View of the Hebrews (1823)

The View of the Hebrews was written just five years before Joseph Smith began his work on the Book of Mormon. It contains the idea that the Native Americans came from the Hebrews, and contains many parallels to the Book of Mormon stories.

Link to a more detailed analysis of View of the Hebrews  as source material for the Book of Mormon (in progress).

The Late War (1816)

The Late War contains many striking parallels to the Book of Mormon, many of which are nearly verbatim for many verses.

Link to a more detailed analysis of the The Late War as source material for the Book of Mormon.

More Remix Sources

Many other parallel sources have been identified, which will be detailed in further posts, including:

  • The First Book of Napoleon (1809)
  • The Rights of Christ (1815)
  • The Wonders of Nature (1825)
  • Letters Sent to the Clergy
  • The Koran (1822)
  • Strengths in Weakness Manifest (1746)
  • Adam Clark Commentary
  • Pilgrim’s Progress (1678)
  • A History of the American Indians (1775)

For a more detailed evaluation of Pilgrim’s Progress, see this link.

19th Century Revivalist Sermons

It has been discovered that the proceedings of revival conferences, speeches, and events are found in the Book of Mormon with striking parallels.

Link to a more detailed analysis of the Revivalist Sermons as source material for the Book of Mormon.

19th Century Notions

Have you ever wondered why the ancient Native Americans were giving sermons relating to the popular controversial topics of the early 19th century such as the validity of infant baptism, the abominations of the churches, which church was right, “anti-Christs,” and even the dangers of secret combinations? These were prevalent topics in Joseph Smith’s day and much of the source material for the Book of Mormon has been discovered within the artifacts of this environment.

Link to a more detailed analysis of the 19th century notions as source material for the Book of Mormon.

Link to a more detailed analysis of the influence of the 19th century environment on the contents of the Book of Mormon.

Bible (1769 King James Version)

Have you ever wondered how it was that King Benjamin or Alma are quoting Paul or James or John the Beloved so often, when they were separated by both time and geography? And yet the quotations are often verbatim or nearly verbatim to the 1769 King James Version of the Bible, which we now know differs from the original ancient texts. Or consider Moroni quoting Paul’s epistle on charity almost verbatim for many consecutive verses. Also, the Isaiah chapters in 2 Nephi and the gospel chapters in 3 Nephi match the 1769 KJV Bible almost verbatim, including the errors. When compared to the original ancient texts they do not match.

Link to a more detailed analysis of the Bible as source material for the Book of Mormon.

Smith Family Experiences

The Smith family had experiences that parallel the Book of Mormon narrative, including the recurring dream of Joseph Smith, Sr.—which he recounted to his children during their youth—that is found in Lehi’s vision in the Book of Mormon.

Gentle Awakening Presentation

For a more comprehensive explanation, see Part 2 of the Gentle Awakening Presentation Series.

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