The Book of Mormon and the Late War: Direct Literary Dependence?

The rediscovery of the Late War by Gilbert Hunt recently as a possible source for understanding the language, style, and narrative content of the Book of Mormon has already elicited a considerable amount of discussion and debate. After Duane and Chris Johnson’s computer study of more than 100,000 books published before 1830 indicated that a number of texts had a high incidence of distinctive phrases matching the Book of Mormon (BoM) and that among these the most significant may be the Late War (LW), Mormon-themed message boards and Facebook pages quickly went into high gear with commentators of all sorts offering their preliminary assessments of the relevance of this book to understanding the origin of the BoM.

 

The Johnson’s own views about what conclusions may be legitimately drawn from their analysis are still evolving, but irrespective of the question of whether their methodology reveals actual literary influence or whether the distinctive nature of pseudo-biblical writing led a number of authors “to independently invent some of the same distinctive phrases and/or to independently mutate biblical phrases in some of the same distinctive ways,” once they put a spotlight on the LW and a possible literary relationship to the BoM, it did not take long for readers to identify a number of striking parallels in language and content found in both books, ranging from Hebraisms to thematic elements. And then it was brought to light that Rick Grunder had already noticed many of these same parallels several years previously in his book Mormon Parallels: A Bibliographic Source (pp. 724-772).

 

So what should be made of these parallels and how is the LW related to the BoM? The range of views that have been articulated so far encompass everything from 1) “the LW was a direct source for at least some of the language and content of the BoM,” 2) “the BoM was consciously styled in the language of the LW but was not dependent on it for narrative content,” to 3) “the parallels between the BoM and the LW are incidental and both books merely reflect a style of writing in KJV prose that was conventional during the period.”

 

Of course, the controversy over the relationship of the LW to the BoM stems from the fact that if the LW was a source for narrative elements of the BoM, then this would suggest that the BoM was developed and created as an imaginative literary work of the early 19th century and was not a translation of an ancient text. A theory of a loose translation of the BoM where Joseph Smith rendered an ancient text in language appropriate and meaningful for his time period could possibly accommodate for a substantial amount of linguistic and stylistic similarity to the LW and thus uphold belief in the essential historical core of the BoM. But if the parallels go beyond the generic and stylistic to content, then the argument for an ancient origin becomes much more difficult to sustain as the very building blocks of the narrative can be explained as having originated in Joseph Smith’s immediate cultural and intellectual context.

 

Because of the many parallels I noticed upon rather quick and superficial examination, I decided to make a more careful and systematic study of the LW in light of the BoM in order to see what kind of relationship could be discerned to have existed between these texts. Building upon Rick Grunder’s work and various random parallels cited in online discussion boards, I went back through the LW verse by verse and compiled a list of possible motifs, narrative elements, and language shared with the BoM and not the Bible. The following is a summary of what I found, with individual parallels written in italics, followed by references to the relevant LW (1819 edition) and BoM passages:

 

Parallels between the LW and BoM

 

A battle at a fort where righteous white protagonists are attacked by an army made up of dark-skinned natives driven by a white military leader. The white protagonists are prepared for battle and slaughter their opponents to such an extent that they fill the trenches surrounding the fort with dead bodies. The surviving elements flee into the wilderness/forest (pp. 102-4, 29:1-23) Alma 49:10-25

 

The enemy develops a strategy to capture the capital city of the righteous protagonists as a means of taking control of the government and land as a whole. They are able to do so because of the speed of their march and because the latter had not retained sufficient defenses (p. 160-161, 44; p. 163, 45:8-22) Helaman 1:15-22

 

A defensive battle associated with a river (Saranac/Sidon) where the enemy is slaughtered and there is extreme loss of blood. They become frightened because of the great destruction, fight with renewed vigor, and then the defenders strengthen their efforts and triumph. The threat of death results in some of the enemy deserting and joining common cause with the protagonists (p. 176, 47:2-15) Alma 43:27-54; 44:22 [In the LW it is interesting that innovative technology is on the side of the enemy and the righteous protagonists are said to “trust in the strength of their arms,” a phrase with a negative connotations in the BoM since it suggests a lack of faith in God.]

 

A project of extensive fortification during the war: casting up dirt; entrenchment; building forts, walls, towers, and battlements (p. 199-202, 51) Alma 48:7-9; 49:2-19; 50:1-6

 

Bands of robbers/pirates marauding the righteous protagonists (p. 11, 1:17; p. 190, 49:37) Helaman 6:37; 11:28-30

 

The intent of the attacking enemy is to establish a kingdom within the land and bring the people into political servitude (p. 215, 53:29) Alma 43:7-8, 29; 44:2; 48:2

 

The war defending liberty involves multiple fronts (p. 33, 9:1-2; p. 66, 19:1-2; p. 123, 34:1-2) Alma 52:13; 53:8, 22

 

Capturing a fort with prisoners in the stealth of night (p. 94, 26:2-4) Alma 55:22

 

The righteous protagonists triumph over the more numerous foe (p. 21, 5:1-6; p. 106, 30:12; p. 110, 31:5; p. 206, 52:3; p. 213, 53:16) Alma 43:51; 51:31; 56:53-54

 

The enemy army consistently outnumbers the righteous protagonists (p. 17, 3:22; p. 29, 7:45; p. 48, 14:9; p. 61, 17:17; pp. 88-89, 24:14, 21; p. 103, 29:12-15; p. 147, 40:14; p. 150, 41:7) Alma 2:24; 43:51; Helaman 4:8

 

In the course of battle the righteous army is left unscathed or nearly unscathed (p. 31, 8:17; p. 44, 13:9; p. 144, 39:7; p. 156, 42:27; p. 188, 49:19; p. 219, 54:27; p. 228, Alg: 23) Alma 49:23; 57:26; 58:39

 

Repeated casualty and wounded reports, varying from general to more precise estimates (pp. 31-32, 8:18-19; p. 42, 12:9-10; p. 44, 13:10-11; p. 49, 14:26-27; etc) Mosiah 9:19; Alma 2:19; 3:1; 28:2; 49:23; 52:40 [See Grunder]

 

The enemy tactic of stirring/rousing up the dark-skinned natives against the righteous white protagonists (p. 11, 1:19; p. 47, 14:1; p. 123, 34:2; p. 129, 35:36) Alma 24:1; 43:8; 48:1-2; 51:9 [See Grunder]

 

The use of scalping (p. 16, 3:13; p. 47, 14:2; p. 71, 19: 55; p. 96, 26:27) Alma 44:12-14 [As a contrast, it is worth noting that in the BoM scalping is actually introduced by the Nephites rather than the Lamanites and only appears once.]

 

Arrival of reinforcements who turn the tide of battle (p. 214, 53:23) Alma 56:15-18; 57:18

 

As a result of their defeat at the hands of the righteous protagonists, the natives lay down their weapons of war and enter into a covenant of peace (p. 120, 33:23-24; p. 123, 34:1; p. 129, 35:33-43) Alma 44:15

 

Alcohol causing people to lose their senses in the context of war (p. 25, 7:5; p. 31, 8:8) Alma 55:8-18; Alma 55:30

 

The use of alcohol as a stimulant in the context of war (p. 31, 8:8; p. 148, 40:17) Alma 55:11

 

The use of alcohol to manipulate inexperienced natives (p. 48, 14:11; p. 115, 32:11) Mosiah 22:6-10; Alma 55:8-18

 

The righteous protagonists engage in a principled form of warfare and treat their captives with Christian mercy (p. 48, 14:16; p. 92, 25:4; p. 104, 29: 25-28; p. 112, 31:26; p. 120, 33:19-20; p. 175, 46:27; p. 208, 52:15-16; p. 220, 54:35-36) Alma 44:1-2, 6; 48:14; 52:37; 54:2-3; 55:18-23; Helaman 1:33

 

The protagonists are peace-lovers and peacemakers (p. 10-11, 1:9, 20; p. 75, 20:20; p. 82, 22:4-5; p. 222, 55:7) Alma 44:14; 46:12, 31; 48:10, 21; 55:3

 

Several military leaders are characterized by unusual courage, righteousness, and humility (p. 47, 14:3-5; p. 69, 19:30; p. 116, 32:21-25; p. 112, 31:26-29; pp. 174-175, 46:26-27) Alma 48:11-17; 62:37

 

One commander in particular is singled out for his virtue and humility and for treating prisoners with mercy, who retires to a “land of inheritance” after the war (pp. 174-175, 46:26-31) Alma 62:42-43

 

The dark-skinned natives are unmerciful, barbaric, and uncivilized (p. 16, 3:13; p. 40, 11:9; p. 48, 14:9-10; p. 50, 14:29-34; p. 73, 20:8; p. 93, 25:13; p. 103, 29:13) Enos 1:20; Alma 17:14; 47:36; 54:3; 56:12

 

The dark-skinned natives become allied with the white-enemy (p. 11, 1:18; p. 37, 10:19; pp. 48-49, 14:12, 17; p. 51, 14:42; p. 102, 29:6) Alma 48:1-3; Helaman 4:4

 

The white enemy does not care for the blood of its dark-skinned proxies (p. 119, 33:9) Alma 49:10

 

The white enemy becomes barbaric just like the dark-skinned natives (p. 48, 14:12; p. 77-78, 21:1-16) Alma 47:36

 

The protagonists use clever stratagem to defend their land (pp. 204-205, 51:24-30) Alma 43:30

 

Soldiers love a military leader as if he were their own father (p. 71, 19:48) Alma 56:46

 

Military leader rallies his soldiers to the cause of liberty (p 217, 54:13-15) Alma 46:11-28

 

Letter sent by military leader in the context of war honoring the deeds of noble soldiers (p. 38, 10:26) Alma 56

 

A message sent in a letter threatening to unleash ferocious warriors on the righteous protagonists (p. 103, 29:10-13) 3 Nephi 3:1-4 [See Grunder]

 

After being invited to join the cause of liberty, people “flock” to its banner/standard (p. 24, 6:13-17) Alma 62:4-5

 

A banner/standard/title becomes a prominent symbol of liberty (p. 24, 6:14, 17; p. 115, 32:13; p. 183-184, 48; p. 212, 53:8) Alma 46:12-24, 36; 51:20; 62:4-5 [See Grunder]

 

Traitors attempt to destroy democratic government for their own political gain, i.e. they are promised to “rule over the people” (pp. 17-18, 3:27-34) Alma 46:3-9

 

There is a dangerous divide in the country between freemen and royalists (pp. 16-17, 3:14-17; p. 39, 11:6-8; p. 141, 38:26; p. 200, 51:7)

 

The cause of freedom/liberty is synonymous with the political-religious views of the righteous (p. 12, 1:22; p. 131, 36:4; p. 163, 45:14) Alma 43:48-49; 46:12-20, 35; 48:11; 51:7; 60:36; 61:15

 

An army is “driven” and “slaughtered with a great slaughter” (p. 37, 10:15) Moroni 4:21

 

Bands of two thousand chosen men/who volunteer to fight in defense of freedom (p. 23, 6:2; p. 126, 35:5) Alma 53:16-17; 56:5

 

A “stripling” warrior carries “a weapon of war” in his hand (p. 69, 19:32) Alma 53:19-22

 

A group of fearless young soldiers decide to defend their families with their lives with “weapons of war” (pp. 180, 48:11-13) Alma 53:16; 56:16-17, 45-47 [See Grunder]

 

Lion/tiger as symbol for powerful fighters (p. 48, 14:10; p. 69, 19:30; p. 88, 24:18; p. 119, 33:11) Mosiah 20:10; 3 Nephi 20:16

 

The number captured by the righteous army outnumber themselves (p. 112, 31:25) Alma 57:13

 

The army fighting in defense of liberty suffers from insufficient rations (p. 92, 25:2-3) Alma 58:7-8; 60:9

 

The righteous fight for their country, freedom, and families (p. 203, 51; p. 217, 54:13) Alma 43:45 [“country, wives, and firesides” (p. 203) “lives and liberty” (p. 217)]

 

As fighters, the righteous are “valiant” (p. 214, 53:23) Alma 56:13, 16

 

Preparing “all kinds” of weapons in anticipation of battle (p. 172, 46:6) Alma 2:12

 

Wrath of God will come upon those who fail to obey the laws of the land. War will come as punishment (p. 17, 3:27) Alma 50:20-22; Ether 2:12

 

Appearance of an angel delivering a message to obey the laws of land/God (p. 17, 3:26) Mosiah 3

 

Some natives are converted to the Lord as a result of missionary preaching and become notable for their gentle humanity (p. 96, 26:18-28) Alma 23:5-13; 24:8-24 [See Grunder]

 

The mention of writings engraved in brass, symbolizing a medium capable of preserving testimony (p. 134, 36:26) 1 Nephi 5:19; Jacob 4:2; Alma 37:3-5 [See Grunder]

 

A calamitous destruction characterized by thunder, people falling to the earth, rocks being rent and raised, an earthquake, the mention of overturned cities, an overshadowing black smoke that prevented sight, and the death of many people while others are saved (p. 70, 19:37-44) Helaman 14:20-27; 3 Nephi 8:6-23

 

The light of the sun is hidden by black clouds (p. 31, 8:12; p. 53, 15:16; p. 181, 48:17) 3 Nephi 8:22-23

 

North and South America are seen as one land–the land of Promise/land of Columbia (p. 73, 20:2; p. 138, 38:7) Alma 46:17

 

The association of South America with the children of Israel (p. 52, 15:6-7) 1 Nephi 10:12-13

 

Places characterized by whether poisonous snakes live there (p. 187, 49:7) Ether 9:31-33

 

A ship explores the waters of the Pacific Ocean near the equator (p. 139, 38:11) Alma 63:5-8 [See Grunder]

 

Description of the land of America as a place with much gold and silver, fruit, and “all manner” of creatures “used for food” and other animals. One animal that lived in America that is singled out for special focus is the elephant/mammoth (p. 74, 20:11-17) Ether 9:17-18 [The correlation of elements between these passages probably sheds light on the identity of cureloms and cumoms in the BoM. The fact that elephant is mentioned in both texts after the preceding focus on precious metals and food suggests that cureloms or cumoms (or both) may have reference to mammoths. See Grunder]

 

A man builds a boat of “curious workmanship”, despite the mocking and scoffing of others. The latter are humbled when they see the completed product. (pp. 192-193, 50:2-7, 12) 1 Nephi 17:17-18; 18:1-4

 

A “ball” made out of “brass” of “curious work” with clocklike spindles (p. 195, 50:28) 1 Nephi 16:10

 

Swords of fine/curious “workmanship” (p. 42, 12:12; p. 44, 13:13; p. 58, 16:24) 1 Nephi 4:9

 

Comparing ships built in the context of the narrative to the ark of Noah (p. 98, 27:12-13; p. 193, 50:8) Ether 6:7

 

The righteous enjoy a government system where taxes are not unjustifiably heavy (p. 76, 20:25) Mosiah 2:12-14; 11:6

 

America is to be a land of liberty and free of kings/tyrants (pp. 75-76, 20:19, 30; p. 224, 55:25) 2 Nephi 10:11; Alma 46:17

 

American-Israelism–the people of God in America are Israel (p. 75, 20:20) 3 Nephi 16:13; 20:21

 

The righteous are distinguished from the unrighteous by their attitude towards idolatry (p. 75, 20:20; p. 165, 45:28) Enos 1:20; Mosiah 9:12; Alma 50:21

 

American exceptionalism and millennialism (p. 76, 20:28-30; pp. 223-224, 55:22-23) 1 Nephi 13; 22; Ether 13:6-10

 

Gathering from all nations to the land of America (p. 76, 20:28-29) 3 Nephi 20:13-46; 21:29

 

The Lord as judge of history demands repentance (p. 81, 21:43) Mormon 3:17-22

 

The repetition of the ten commandments (p. 101, 28:23; p. 154, 42:13;  p. 216, 54:3) Mosiah 13:11-25

 

A prominent appearance of Columbus, who is viewed as a venerable and noble character (p. 73, 20:2-10) 1 Nephi 13:12 [See Grunder]

 

A group of innocent people are burned alive and those responsible for this unparalleled horrific act are promised to stand at the judgment bar on the last day (pp. 50-51, 14:38-43) Alma 14:10-11

 

False prophets speak flattering words and deceive the people for money (p. 19, 4:1-8; p. 20, 4:11-14) WofM 1:15-16; Alma 1:3-16

 

Books contain the wisdom of the ages and are crucial to the preservation of civilization (p. 165, 45:29-33) Mosiah 1:3; Alma 37:8

 

The association of whales with light (p. 139, 38:14) Ether 2:23-25; 6:10

 

Quotation or allusion to Isaiah 49:24-25 with reference to the righteous people of the Lord being delivered (p. 13, 2:7-8; p. 223, 55:20) 1 Nephi 21:24-25; 2 Nephi 6:16-17

 

The cult of motherhood; women are idealized as fair, tender, and virtuous and are valued primarily as the bearers of life (p. 72, 19:59; p. 75, 20:21; p. 77, 21:4; p. 81, 21:38-40; p. 134, 36:28; p. 202, 51:18; p. 220, 54:35-38) 1 Nephi 11:13; Jacob 2:7, 28-35; Mosiah 19:13-14; 3 Nephi 8:25; Ether 8:9

 

The treatment of women is a barometer of humanity’s level of civilization (p. 81, 21:38-40; p. 100, 28:13) Moroni 9:9

 

Violated chastity is the worst of abominations in the eyes of God (p. 81, 21:41) Moroni 9:9

 

Three Native American prophets are singled out (p. 128, 35:19) 3 Nephi 28:1-6

 

An assembly of people gather to hear an aged leader speaking from a tower-like edifice who, though infirm, loves his country and people, to which the people respond by shouting with a loud voice (pp. 200-201, 51:9-12) Mosiah 2:7-18; 5:2

 

The repeated use of didactic narrative commentary (p. 62, 18:1-5; p. 72, 19:57-61; p. 80, 21:35-44; p. 131, 36:1-3; pp. 223-224, 55:22) Alma 50:19-20; Helaman 12:4-5; Mormon 6:18-20 [This narrative technique is also found in the Bible but the content of the didactic commentary in the BoM and LW have some striking parallels:

 

The deeds of the renowned warriors, the patriots, and the valiant men of Columbia, have prepared a path for the scribe, which he is compelled to follow: But, as the soaring eagle moves to its craggy nest, or the cooing dove to its tender mate, so is the compulsion of his heart. If the wickedness of Britain hath made manifest her folly: if her sons have sat down in sackcloth and ashes, the scribe looketh down upon her with pity. It is written that, He who prideth himself in his strength shall be humbled; and the haughty shall be brought low. And, if the Lord hath smiled upon the arms of Columbia, let no man frown (p. 62, 18:1-5).

 

Oh! earth, how long shall thy inhabitants delight in warfare? when shall the old men cease to weep for their children? Behold yon lonely widows; they weep for their husbands and their children; but they shall see their faces no more! The fair daughters of Columbia sigh for the return of their beloved. Seest thou those little ones? they fly to their disconsolate mother, they leap with joy at the name of father! but he shall never return! Oh! that they had cast the black dust into the sea! then might not the children of men weep and wail (p. 72, 19:57-61).

 

Oh! England! that a veil might be cast over thy transgressions of that day: but it cannot be. Thy wickedness shall be written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond. It was here, even in Hampton, that thy strength, and thy majesty rose up against the poor, the sick, and the needy. Instead of protecting the tender women, the fairest work of God, the life of the world; behold! what hast thou done? See! the shrieking matron cast herself into the waters that she may escape thy brutal violence: but all in vain; her garments are torn from her; she becomes a prey to thy savage lust. Not she alone, but her daughter, and her fair sisters, have fallen into thy unhallowed hands, and been defiled! Oh, Britain! the voice of violated chastity riseth up against thee; the mark of the beast is indelibly printed in thy forehead:  Even the old and weak men became victims of thy barbarity; thy, servants stripped the aged Hope, and buffeted him with the point of their swords did they torment him. Do the groans of the murdered Kirby creep into thine ears? go thou and repent of thine evil, and do so no more: the Lord God of Hosts shall be thy judge; The generous people of Columbia may possibly forgive thy crimes against them; but the remembrance thereof shall live to the end of time; neither shall they forget the name of Cockburn (p. 80, 21:35-44).

 

The frailty of man speaketh volumes; one man accuseth another; but where is he who is perfect? Man deviseth mighty plans in his own mind, but he accomplisheth them not. He is wise in his own conceit, but his wisdom faileth him: he seeth folly in others, but perceiveth not his own; he is as a reed shaken with the wind (p. 131, 36:1-3).

 

Henceforth may the nations of the earth learn wisdom: then shall peace become triumphant, and the people of Columbia be at rest; And, as it is written, their swords may be beaten into ploughshares, and their spears turned into pruning-hooks (pp. 223-224, 55:22).]

 

 

Analysis

 

Not all of these parallels are equally compelling. Taken individually, many are less than significant, since the same motifs, language, and ideas could have originated and been taken up into the BoM in any number of ways, whether from other texts or common oral traditions. For example, attacking a fort during the nighttime is a stock war narrative trope and there is no need to see the BoM usage as related to the usage in the LW. They easily and may have originated independently from one another. Many other examples could be cited, such as the cult of motherhood, an idealized view of women common during this time period, or the stereotyped picture of Native Americans. However, some of the parallels are very strong, particularly those which feature a number of individual narrative elements in the same context, sometimes in the same basic order. These would include examples such as battle at a fort (pp. 102-4, 29:1-23); capturing a capital city (p. 160-161, 44; p. 163, 45:8-22); defensive battle associated with a river (p. 176, 47:2-15); wild natives lay down their weapons of war (p. 120, 33:23-24; p. 123, 34:1; p. 129, 35:33-43); a group of fearless young soldiers (pp. 180, 48:11-13); some natives are converted (p. 96, 26:18-28); a calamitous destruction (p. 70, 19:37-44); description of the land of America (p. 74, 20:11-17); man builds a boat of “curious workmanship” (pp. 192-193, 50:2-7, 12); the narrator’s mourning for the death of the people (p. 72, 19:57-61). Furthermore, even though some individual elements are not immediately persuasive by themselves, taken in context, the clustering of so many parallels in thematic material and narrative description in one text is highly significant and requires much more than ad hoc explanation of a few prominent similarities shared between the LW and the BoM.

 

When considered as a whole, I think the above parallels strongly suggest that the BoM was dependent on the LW for a significant amount of narrative material and plot elements in addition to some of the peculiarities of its language and style. The similarities are simply too numerous and substantive to think that they could have originated by chance from two authors who happened to write in the pseudo-biblical genre. I have looked at other examples of pseudo-biblical writing from the time period and haven’t found anywhere near the extent of conceptual and narrative affinity shared between the LW and BoM.

 

Some may find this conclusion difficult to accept based on their own reading of the LW, since many of the parallels I cite appear in contexts so utterly different from what we find in the BoM. For example, the narrative in the LW about the mass conflagration of innocent people reminiscent of Alma 14:10-11 is perpetrated by Native Americans in the context of war and seems to have little else besides the narrative elements I mentioned above (mass conflagration of innocents, the promise that the perpetrators will eventually be judged on judgment day) that would cause one to connect the two. But it is important to recognize that literary dependence can occur in many different ways (consciously and less consciously, directly and indirectly) and that when borrowing from a prior literary source one need not do so by reproducing the borrowed elements in the same shape or context as one found them. The human mind is sufficiently creative and complex to enable one to select, adapt, and remix material to suit present storytelling purposes.

 

Which brings me to a final question, what was the nature of this literary borrowing? Did the author of the BoM, presumably Joseph Smith, borrow directly from the text of LW at the time he was constructing his narrative? Did he intentionally draw language and ideas from the book? I think the answer is more than likely no. First of all, the LW reflects a distinctive linguistic profile from the BoM that is difficult to reconcile with the assumption that Joseph Smith was reading the LW for narrative inspiration around the time the BoM was composed. Although the LW shares a few expressions and terms in common with the BoM that are not found in the Bible (e.g. “curious workmanship”; “fair daughters”; “lives and liberty”; “to hem in” an opponent; “to smile upon”; “cause of liberty” and many other things designated “of liberty,” such as “temple of liberty”, “altar of liberty”, “sons of liberty”, “growth of liberty”, “air of liberty”; cf. “land of liberty” [2 Nephi 1:7; 10:11; Mosiah 29:32] “foundation of liberty” [Alma 46:10] “blessings of liberty” [Alma 46:13] “title of liberty” [Alma 46:13] “standard of liberty” [Alma 51:20] “people of liberty” [Alma 51:13]), and manifests a considerable amount of language that stems from the KJV Bible and thus is present in the BoM as well (e.g. “murmur”, “proclamation”, “slew with great slaughter”, “astonished beyond measure”, “great deep”, “chief captain”, “reigned in his stead”, “children of men”, “stripling”, “stronghold”, “host”, “sand on the seashore”, “favor”, “prosperity”, “noise abroad”, etc.), there is also a high incidence of language that is not shared with the BoM but is stylistically prominent because of repetition in the book (e.g. “smooth” with reference to deceitful language; “bosom” of the sea; “wax hot” for the tempo of battle; “booty”; “bow the neck”; “tickle”; “scribe”; “gallant”; “husbandmen”; “instruments of destruction”; “high places” as places of resort; “let loose”; “evil befell”; “tongue” with descriptive qualifier; “virgins” as synonym of daughters; use of “brave” “gallant” “valiant” “wicked” as appositional epithets; “gat”, past tense of get; “stirring up the spirit of Satan” rather than stirring up people; “lord of hosts” as regular title of God, whereas in the BoM it appears almost solely in biblical quotes and in association with cursing; “receive” or “gain” praise; “extol”; “enemies”/”champions” of freedom; “knees smite together”; “mighty men of valor”). Much of this language could have easily been employed by Joseph Smith if he were borrowing directly from the LW.

 

Second, many of the motifs that are shared between the LW and BoM are so radically different that it is hard to see how the one could have directly inspired the other. For example, I think that there can be little doubt that the explosion at Little York described in LW where General Pike saves the army from utter annihilation is related to the account of the destruction of the Nephites in the BoM before the visitation of Christ, as the clustering of individual narrative elements in this story is very strong (p. 70, 19:37-44). But reading the account by itself I fail to detect any trigger (aside from the mention of “overturned cities”) that would have led Joseph Smith to develop the story in the ways he did, so that a localized act of terrorism by the British is transformed into a cosmic event of divine retribution. The path from the former to the latter would seem to be much more complex and tenuous than a simple literary loan. A more appealing explanation than strict literary borrowing is that the LW account had made a strong impression on Joseph Smith at an earlier point at some remove from his work on the Book of Mormon and that elements of the story had had time to percolate in his mind. Eventually, these elements were called forth when circumstances necessitated, perhaps even semi-consciously, and then adapted in a unique way.

 

Finally, the BoM seems to reflect a very different moral, social, and spiritual ethos from the LW and may in fact be a reflective response in some sense to the kind of simplistic moralizing ‘good guy, bad guy’ that we find in the LW. Although in general the BoM maps onto the same opposition that we see in the LW, where white-skinned righteous protagonists are set against barbaric and wicked dark-skinned natives, the BoM continually problematizes this opposition. The white-skinned protagonists are not always righteous and indeed are sometimes less righteous than the Lamanites. Moreover, in the context of prophecy the Gentiles are in danger of being cast off and removed from God’s favor. All of this seems to contrast from the rather simplistic and one-dimensional image of the white-skinned American Israel depicted in the LW. On the other hand, the Lamanites in the BoM are generally more sympathetically portrayed than LW Native Americans (often referred to as “savages”), who are at times portrayed in demonic colors. Occasionally the LW even seems to sympathize with and condone the indiscriminate killing and destruction of Native American tribes and villages (p. 48, 14:15).

 

A related difference is the BoM and LW’s respective attitudes toward war and the glory that accrues to bravery in battle. In the LW there is a continual lauding of war heroes, who are said to have achieved honor, praise, and glory for their actions, and sometimes money and medals of honor. A rather typical example of the LW’s glorification of violence is “And with resistless force his noble band rushed on, at the trumpet’s sound, over the heaps of slain and wounded, to glory, and to triumph!” (p. 71, 19:49). This attitude stands in stark contrast from the prototypical righteous warrior in the BoM, Moroni, who specifically states that he seeks not for “honor of the world” (Alma 60:36) and did not “delight in bloodshed” (Alma 48:11).

 

All of these factors suggest to me that the BoM’s literary dependence on the LW was not direct in the sense of having been strategically borrowed during the process of narrative construction, but that we should assume at least some temporal distance separating Joseph Smith’s exposure to the LW and his production of the BoM. There was a space that allowed him to mull over the content and think about it in relation to other information and life experiences, to begin the process of developing a new myth of Indian origins. The question of how much earlier is unclear. He may have read the book anytime between his early experiences in schooling (since it was marketed for use in schools) all the way up to the period of preparation for his translation work.

 

In sum, linguistic and narrative elements of the BoM are probably descended, at least in part, from Gilbert Hunt’s pseudo-biblical account of the War of 1812. The relationship between these two literary works is relatively strong, suggesting that the book had quite a memorable impact on Joseph Smith. But Smith did not borrow directly from the LW (at least for the majority of the narrative content) during the process of composing the BoM.

  • Grant Hardy

    Thanks for a useful and even-handed summary of the data and their possible interpretations. There is much more to the Book of Mormon than its military chapters, but these sorts of parallels are worth a careful look.

  • RT

    Thanks Grant! I appreciate your words.

  • Gadianton P. Robbers

    Hi there “RT”. I enjoyed your analysis and appreciate the time you put into it. I think many on both sides of the chasm — and I think you know which chasm I am talking about — see your analysis on this blog as the definitive neutral starting point for the Late War conversation. It’s my opinion that you should be proud of that.
    I do have a comment about your analysis of Captain Moroni. From what I remember growing up in church, if there ever was a war hero, it would be Captain Moroni. Moroni has achieved the honors of men whether or not he sought them. I did not get the impression that the soldiers of the Late War sought the honors of men even though honors have been insisted upon them, as we have insisted the honors upon Moroni. As for “delighting in the shedding of blood”, I got the impression that both Moroni and the American soldiers were “unwanting heroes” as in both the Late War and the BoM, soldiers did only what they had to do. Captured enemies, for instance, were treated with dignity and no expenses were spared to nurse them back to health.
    Another possible way to play a difference between Moroni and the Late War hero formula is by Hardy’s version of Moroni; the conflicted and morally ambiguous Moroni. I am fascinated with this approach I admit, as Moroni becomes a negative hero more acceptable to 21st century Mormons brought up on “The Shield” and “The Wire” vs. CHIPs, or closer to home, the reimaging of Battle Star Galactica vs. the original. A pragmatic or mildly sadistic Moroni who may have delighted a tiny bit in bloodshed could count as a legitimate contrast to simplistic Late War heroism, if the characterization holds. It would be an interesting way to play it, as the Late War could have been a “textual layer” in the mind of Joseph Smith while not quite able to fully control the text, sending clues to the margins that allow for a reading like Grant’s to arise for the BoM.

  • RT

    Thanks for the comment, Gadianton P. Robbers.

    “I did not get the impression that the soldiers of the Late War sought the honors of men even though honors have been insisted upon them, as we have insisted the honors upon Moroni.”

    I don’t know. No doubt Moroni is depicted as a war hero in the BoM and Mormon readers have commonly understood him that way. And I agree that heroes in the LW are not portrayed as warmongering lovers of killing or anything like that. But for me what is significant is the contrasting emphasis that is placed on war heroes in the LW and BoM.

    In the LW we have an incessant and explicit celebration of war heroes:

    p. 22, 5:10, “And the people gave much praise to Rodgers, for it was a cunning thing”
    p. 22, 5:13 “the captain, whose name was Crane, tarnished not his honor thereby”
    p. 27, 7:26 “And Miller gat great honor thereby”
    p. 32, 8:21 “And the great Sanhedrim honored Isaac with great honor, and the people were rejoiced in him”
    p. 38, 10:26 “he gave great honor to the captains who fought under him that day”
    p. 45, 13:24 “there was a sumptuous dinner given to Isaac, Decatur, and Jones, in honor of their valiant deeds”
    p. 50, 14:37 “the chief captain of the warriors, and the savages under him, gat great praise from Proctor, the chief captain of the host of Britain”
    p. 55, 15:37 “But the people of Columbia, from the north to the south, were gladdened, and bestowed great honor and praise on Bainbridge the captain”
    p. 58, 16:24 “Now, for this valiant act, Guy gat great honor”
    p. 61, 17:17 “And the honor that was given to the servants of Britain that day was as, a thimble full of water spilt into the sea”
    p. 64, 18:19 “And Lawrence, and the brave men that fought with him, had honor and praise poured out upon them abundantly.”
    p. 71, 19:54 “And Henry, the chief captain, gave great honor to the captains under him, even Ripley, Forsyth and Eustis, and all the brave men that fought that day.”
    p. 87, 24:2 “The people of Columbia had triumphed over her ships; and her mighty armies had gained no honors”
    p. 104, 29:28 “Moreover, great honor and praise were bestowed upon the brave Croghan, the captain of the fort, for his valiant deeds; and his name was spoken of with joy throughout the land of Columbia.”
    p. 108, 30:32 “Moreover, the great Sanhedrim was pleased with the thing, and gave unto the nearest kinsman of Burrows a medal of gold, in token of remembrance thereof”
    p. 112, 31:32 “Moreover, the great Sanhedrim honored Perry with great honor ; and gave him medals, with devices curiously wrought. Likewise, the people gave him much silver plate, with gravings thereon, mentioning his deeds. And the bye-stander might read his triumph in his country’s eyes.”
    p. 121, 33:32 “Now there was great honour and praise bestowed upon Harrison for his courage, and his valiant acts; and the people remembered his name with pleasure”
    p. 121, 33:33 “Moreover, he gave great praise to Shelby, the governor, and Perry, and Johnson, and all the brave men that were with him”
    p. 125, 34:25 “And Jackson, the chief captain, gave great praise to Coffee, and all the valiant men who fought that day”
    p. 142, 38:36 “Hillyar gave him praise and called him a man of courage”
    p. 144, 39:9-11 “And he received great” praise throughout the land for this gallant exploit. And the great Sanhedrim thanked him and gave him a medal of gold. Likewise, the people of Savannah, a chief town in the state of Georgia, being a thousand miles to the south of New- York, honored him greatly.”
    p. 149, 40:25 “So Jacob and his army gat great praise, and the warriors of Columbia that fought that day”
    p. 151, 41:16 “The loss of the king, was about a thousand and two-hundred fighting men, who came to lose in the land of Columbia the honor that they won in Europe”
    p. 152, 41:19 “And Jacob and his brave men gained great praise throughout the land of Columbia”
    p. 158 43:17 “And the gallant conduct of the people of Stonington gained them much praise, even from the great Sanhedrim of the people”
    p. 175, 46:28-31 “Then were the children of Columbia exceedingly rejoiced yea, their hearts were made glad; and they praised Macdonough for his noble deeds. Moreover, the great Sanhedrim honored him; and
    a piece of land, which overlooketh the lake, was given unto him, for an
    inheritance; That, in his old age, and when he was well stricken in years, he might remember with joy the strength of his youth, and smile upon the spot, where fleet to fleet, he triumphed over the enemies of freedom; And where his children’s children might point, and say, It was there the guardian angel of Columbia permitted our father to humble the pride of
    Britain.”
    p. 177, 47:16 “Now Macomb received much praise for his bravery; and his name shall be remembered by ages yet unborn”
    p. 178, 47:18 “And Mooers, who commanded the brave husbandmen of New York and Vermont, and Strong, the valiant chief captain of the men called volunteers, had great honor for their noble deeds. Likewise, Appling, and Wool, and Leonard and Sproul, distinguished themselves among the brave.”
    p. 180, 48:14 “Now the name of the chief captain of the army
    of Columbia was Samuel, whose sir-name was Smith: a valiant man, who had fought in the days of Washington, and gained much honor.”
    p. 185, 48:36 “And the brave defenders of Baltimore had great praise and honor given them throughout the land.”
    p. 208, 52:12 “howbeit, Decatur lost no honor thereby.”
    p. 209, 52:20 “Now the valiant Stewart and his brave men gat great praise for their deeds, even the great Sanhedrim of the people honored them, and gave them twenty thousand pieces of silver.”
    p. 210, 52:26 “And Biddle was honored greatly for his courage”
    p. 213, 53:13 “the mariners of Columbia fought well, and gained great praise”
    p. 219, 54:31-32 “And Jackson, the chief captain of the host of Columbia, gave great praise to the gallant Coffee, and Carrol, and Daniel, whose sirname was Patterson, and all the valiant, men who fought on that glorious day. Moreover, Jackson was honored with great honour by the people throughout the land of Columbia; even the great Sanhedrim were pleased with him and exalted his name.”

    Whereas in the BoM there is not even one instance of the people honoring or praising Moroni for his efforts. No celebrations throughout the land, aside from Alma 50:23′s mention of the happiness experienced in the days of Moroni. Moroni even goes so far to say that he is not seeking for the “honor of the world.” When Moroni becomes old, he simply yields the command to his son Moronihah and goes home to retire in peace, with no mention of any change in his status with respect to the broader community.

    I think there is a significant difference here from the LW. In the LW triumph in battle is equated to “honor” and “glory”, and as a result those who do so are explicitly recognized as having received such from the people or the government. In the BoM, however, there is a constant emphasis on the Nephites fighting only to protect themselves and not for bloodlust or desire for power.

    So in reality, while both the war heroes in the LW and BoM are depicted as peacemakers and defenders of liberty, the BoM reflects a more puritan outlook on the glory that accrues to men through battle.

    On the other hand, this is not to say that the figure of Moroni may not have been inspired by elements within the LW itself. There is one figure among the LW war heroes that stands out in relation to his attitude towards war glory, ie. commander MacDonough, in that he is described as “a good man, neither was he full of boasting and Vainglory: he arrogated to himself no praise on account of his success, but ascribed the victory to the pleasure of the Almighty” (p. 174-175). In addition, this same commander is said to have followed the golden rule and treated prisoners with mercy, just as Moroni: “And as it is written, in the word of the Lord, DO UNTO ALL MEN AS YE WOULD THEY SHOULD DO UNTO YOU, So he took care of the prisoners, and employed skilful physicians to bind up the wounds of the maimed.” Finally, he was given a piece of land for his inheritance to honor him: “the great Sanhedrim honored him; and a piece of land, which overlooketh the lake, was given unto him, for an inheritance; That, in his old age, and when he was well stricken in years, he might remember with joy the strength of his youth, and smile upon the spot, where fleet to fleet, he triumphed over the enemies of freedom; And where his children’s children might point, and say, It was there the guardian angel of Columbia permitted our father to humble the pride of Britain.” This is interesting because in Alma 62:42 there is mention of the fact that when Moroni had established peace and fortified the land, “he returned to the city of Zarahemla; and also Helaman returned to the place of his inheritance.” In v 43 it says that Moroni “retired to his own house that he might spend the remainder of his days in peace.”

    As for Moroni’s character, I don’t see him as morally conflicted. There are definite tensions in the narrative, since the author has attempted to portray a military man who literally kills thousands of people as the most righteous of Nephites. But Moroni himself seems to have a very clear vision of responsible and morally upright warfare.

  • JohnH2

    Many of your parallels appear to be coming from a propagandist description of pre-industrialized warfare. Have you investigated if there are any other accounts of pre-industrialized warfare, preferably from a pseudo-biblical and/or propagandist point of view and compared for similar parallels? For either your task or the statistical method it seems that would be something good to control for, if at all possible. In warfare their are common tactics, problems, and ideas and then adding the propagandist point of view means that I would think one should expect a high degree of similarities in how the enemy is presented, how battles are presented, the reasons for defeat or victory are presented, and so forth.

    If there were a similar text from the French-Indian War (The Seven Years War) or even the American Revolution my bet would be even without the pseudo-biblical language we would get some of the same parallels.

    One other thing I have thought is that the idea of America being blessed and chosen, and Israel, and the focus on the commandments (and chastity) are much more culturally common, and much, much older, then just being in LW. I mean those ideas show up in ‘A Model of Christian Charity’ from when the Puritans had not even yet landed.

    This isn’t to say that your idea is completely wrong; I disagree with you about the nature of the Book of Mormon, but given the way that Joseph Smith’s translation seems to have worked it seems entirely plausible that he would use similar ideas and phrases to pseudo-biblical accounts (of war in particular) that he may have previously read in order to express the ideas that he was translating. Meaning that even under the assumption that the Book of Mormon is a translation of an ancient record, I don’t know if we know exactly what of it is metaphrase and what of it is paraphrase: are the anachronisms coming from Joseph Smith paraphrasing (in translation) what was there or were they re-purposings of the Nephites of Old World language to their new environment, cut off from the Old World, or even, in my opinion most probably, a combination of the two?

  • JohnH2

    I take the Book of Mormon to be written by Mormon, who was himself a military leader and this of an army which did commit war crimes and gloried in doing so per Mormon’s account. Mormon named his son Moroni and spends a large amount of time on the battles that involve Moroni because Moroni is who Mormon wants to be like and wishes he could be like and that his people could be like. Mormon goes so far as to emulate the sentiments of the title of liberty in trying to get the Nephites to stand and fight.

    I can just imagine Mormon, still a young commander, going to where the records were and pouring endlessly over the records of that war as he tries to make sense of the world that he was in, what he has seen, what he has done, and figure out how to act himself and how, if possible, to save his people both spiritually and strategically, which he sees Moroni as having done. To the extent that he could, I think he succeeded in doing so, he ended up being very highly respected by both the Nephites and Lamanites such that even as a very old man the Nephites followed him and gave him command of the military and the Lamanites had enough respect to negotiate with him, to warn him, and to grant his request in regards to having the battle at Cumorah (and left him and his son alive at that battle).

  • Gadianton P. Robbers

    Thanks RT. I have no idea how you digest so much material so quickly and respond so thoroughly. Anyway, as you demonstrated, my suggestion was a little off, given I relied on the place of Moroni in Mormon life rather than making a case from the BoM itself.

  • RT

    And what does this fanciful account of a (presumed) historical Mormon have to do with the OP?

  • JohnH2

    With Gadianton P. Robbers statement about Captain Moroni and your response? I thought that would be obvious.

    Besides, I address the OP in my comment that is actually to the OP.

  • RT

    Sorry, not obvious. In fact, it’s even more opaque after your current comment.

  • JohnH2

    Gadianton suggested that Moroni is there primarily as war hero, potentially as a conflicted war hero. You agree that Moroni is there as a war hero and say that he wasn’t praised, but suggest that he isn’t morally conflicted.

    My comment is that if we take the Book of Mormon to be what it says it is and what many witnesses testified it to be then Moroni makes more sense, as then it is Mormon that is saying that if everyone could be like Moroni then the devil would have no power, the same Mormon that named his kid after Moroni and was likewise engaged in fighting a prolonged war.

  • RT

    Sorry JohnH2, but the historical question that you’re interested in has little bearing on Gadianton P. Robbers’ comment, which was about the difference between the portrayals of Moroni in the BoM and the war heroes of the LW.

  • JohnH2

    If you say so, though neither is claimed to be purely a piece of literature, LW’s war hero’s are based on real people.

  • RT

    “Many of your parallels appear to be coming from a propagandist description of pre-industrialized warfare.”

    Your assumption that propagandistic narrative accounts of pre-industrialized warfare generally contain the same kinds of story elements found in the LW is undemonstrated. However, I agree that it would be worthwhile to compare such accounts if we had very many at hand. I have read some so far (not all) of Richard Snowden’s American Revolution, which is probably one of the closest examples at hand of a pseudo-biblical account containing descriptions of warfare, and this has strengthened my belief considerably that the parallels between BoM and LW are distinctive and meaningful.

    “One other thing I have thought is that the idea of America being blessed and chosen, and Israel, and the focus on the commandments (and chastity) are much more culturally common, and much, much older, then just being in LW. I mean those ideas show up in ‘A Model of Christian Charity’ from when the Puritans had not even yet landed.”

    I make no argument that such aspects that you mention require seeing the BoM as dependent on the LW. I acknowledge explicitly in the OP that some parallels are weak when considered by themselves. The nature of the my argument relies on 1) very strong parallels where narrative elements cluster in one brief context and are sometimes in the same narrative sequence as found in the BoM; 2) the distinctiveness of some of the parallels; and 3) the high density of parallels in one text. On top of this is the close linguistic and stylistic similarity to the BoM (e.g. the frequent use of “it came to pass” differentiates the LW from Snowden’s Revolutionary War) and the general similarity of a mythologized history of America where representatives of cosmic good and evil are lined up against one another in relation to dealings with the Native Americans.

    To even begin to deal with the argument in favor of dependence, one cannot simply point out a few weak parallels here or there, since the range of different types of evidence that have been brought to bear indicate a position of consilience and the strength of a multi-linear argument.

    “This isn’t to say that your idea is completely wrong”

    Well, thank you!

    “given the way that Joseph Smith’s translation seems to have worked it seems entirely plausible that he would use similar ideas and phrases to pseudo-biblical accounts”

    I don’t see why it is “plausible” at all, since all of the people we have record of who composed pseudo-biblical accounts were consciously mimicking scriptural language. This was not something that one did semi-conciously or automatically; it was something that one did when they wanted their narrative to sound biblical and to evoke the cultural authority of scripture.

  • JohnH2

    “Richard Snowden’s American Revolution”

    Something else for me to read; thanks.

    I disagree with the strength of your argument. Lots of actually relatively weak parallels that also appear in other sources and in other forms, and especially are pulling from and following the language and form of the Bible (particularly the KJV) doesn’t seem to me to form a strong argument.

    I know that the ideas in relation to dealing with the Native Americans aren’t unique to LW and the BOM, but also appear in other literature and even more so appear in literature that is separated from and unrelated to either LW or the BOM such as the Greenlanders and the Skraeling.You really seem to be stretching what was a common view and trying to limit to a particular source to meet your particular hypothesis. Do we even know if Joseph Smith had access to LW?

    Joseph Smith was translating scripture, but it is plausible that the Bible may not have had an idea that some other pseudo-biblical text did have. If we knew that Joseph Smith did have access to and had read likely read LW then I would be willing to buy that Joseph Smith borrowed ideas and language from LW when translating the Book of Mormon.Hopefully that makes it clearer what I meant by ‘use simliar ideas and phrases to pseudo-biblical accounts’: ideas and phrases not actually in the bible but which had been put into a pseudo-biblical setting.

  • RT

    Show me one text that comes anywhere near the clustering of conceptual, thematic, and linguistic similarities between the BoM and LW and I’ll buy you a drink, a soda that is.

    “If we knew that Joseph Smith did have access to and had read likely read LW then I would be willing to buy that Joseph Smith borrowed ideas and language from LW when translating the Book of Mormon”

    If he borrowed ideas and narrative elements, then it wouldn’t be translation would it?

  • JohnH2

    “If he borrowed ideas and narrative elements, then it wouldn’t be translation would it?”

    Why wouldn’t it be? If Joseph Smith wasn’t translating literally but instead paraphrasly then in borrowing ideas and language from other text to express the idea found on the plates that is translating and is even accurately translating under that form of translation.

  • RT

    Sorry, borrowing ideas and narrative elements to construct a text isn’t anything remotely close to using language appropriate for one’s time period to translate a text. The former is the work of an author and the latter the work of a translator. My argument is that the “ideas” found in the LW are some of the building blocks from which the BoM was constructed.

  • Brad Eckert

    Rather than defend the BOM, let me pose a question. Does it matter if the BOM isn’t a historical document? If JS made it up, he did a great job of putting simple but important truths into his narrative. The church is Christ-centered, not BOM-centered.

    When you tell unvarnished, great cosmic truths to people, they dismiss them out of hand. It’s very, very hard to get out a message of peace and harmony with God in this world. If JS perpetrated a fraud to get out the message of the BOM then I forgive and support him. After all, the BOM does bring many people closer to God than any other book.

  • Tom

    Brad, I used to be LDS and believed as you do. After studying the Bible as I never have before in the last two years as a real christian, could you explain to me what the BoM actually teaches that the Bible doesn’t and how it makes people better and closer to God than just by reading the Bible.
    I know you believe it is the most correct book but it lacks almost every major doctrinal teaching of the LDS Church after 1834. So again, please show me the difference, I can’t find it.

  • Brad Eckert

    An America-centric repackaged “new and improved” bible appeals to many Americans more than a plain old bible. It has a mix of American exceptionalism and JS-inspired bohemian worldview that’s hard to resist.

    When God tells a joke, he pulls out all the stops. The whole LDS experience, with all of its contradictions and paradoxes is so complex and sophisticated as jokes go that you have to marvel at it. For many exmos, the jig is up. The next step is to have a good laugh.

  • Tom

    As I thought, you don’t really have an answer Brad, just apologetic s speak. See that is why so many of hundreds of thousands are leaving the LDS church. Your type of answers are not answers, just double talk. I really wanted to know the truth before I left. I put much effort into this search. I just received the same type of non answers at every turn.Book of Abraham-no answers, can’t be answered. No instead of translated from his hand, it is now inspired translation not taken from the papyrus but through JS imagination. Yes you are right there is a big joke here but it is not from God it is from the supposed “true church” who sucks your money from you and continues to lie as long as you let them. Good luck, I hope some day you truly come to know God and his gospel of grace.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

    Apologetic speak…you do not read a lot of Mormon apologetics. Either way, Brad seems to be expressing a form of postmodernism or philosophical pragmatism…but not apologetics.

  • Tom

    (Rather than defend the BOM, let me pose a question. Does it matter if the BOM isn’t a historical document? If JS made it up, he did a great job of putting simple but important truths into his narrative. The church is Christ-centered, not BOM-centered.)

    It matters tremendously if the BoM is not historical or true. If it is not you have a church who is lying to it’s membership everyday for 183 years. “THE MOST CORRECT BOOK”. No made up religious or historical book can be the most correct book.
    I will ask you again, if the BoM is Christ centered, as you say, and I know the Bible is way more Christ centered than the BoM. Why do we need the BoM. Please answer that. Half the BoM is quoted from the Bible.
    There is a wonderful message of truth, unvarnished, in the Bible today about Gods grace and has existed much longer than in the BoM. 2 billion people accept this, not just a questionable 15 million people (really 5 million active). Tell me what the BoM teaches that the BoM doesn’t, I really want to know.
    I am totally amazed you would admit that you support fraud as truth and want to follow it. So what you are saying is that Mormons really don’t believe in the Bible as Gods word. That they can’t get close to God by following it, they can only get closer to God through following a fraudulent, made up, book. Base their eternities on fraud. Well I agree with you, that is exactly what Mormons are doing, as for me and my house we will follow the Lord. The truth of the Bible. Not some false prophet who makes up books as scripture and calls it eternal life. As I said before good luck my friend. I hope you truly find God soon.

  • Tom

    Chris, what I mean by apologetic speak (Mormon to be exact) is saying anything to avoid giving the actual answer that they do not have. Talking around the subject. So whether you scholars call it postmodernism or philosophical, it is not an answer, it is just double talk because they can’t answer the question straight forward..

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

    Sorry. I likely used too many big words on you. Instead of ranting about apologetic speak, why not come out and “saying anything to avoid giving the actual answer that they do not have” since that can apply in ways beyond Mormon apologetics…and since Brad is doing so (your claim, not mine) but not in a way related to Mormon apologetics. Unless, of course, every one who says “anything to avoid giving the actual answer that they do not have” is automatically practicing Mormon apologetics. In which case, a whole lot of politicians sure do love practicing Mormon apologetics. Now granted, this is a Mormon context. But Brad does not seem to be fiercely defending the truthfulness of the book and that seems to be a central characteristic of Mormon apologetics. He does not even bring up claims about the “true church.” You do. You seeing things that are not there. Wow. That might make you the Mormon apologist.

  • Tom

    Wow, someone pissed you off this morning or what? Apologetic speak, Catholics do it, Mormons do it, Muslims do it, etc. I was just referring to Mormons because we were speaking about the BoM. We aren’t speaking about politicians are we,Mmmm, I sense some double talk, avoiding the subject, attacking to change the direction of the conversation. See Chris, you may be very well educated, probably more than I am. Good for you, I applaud you. I don’t know if you are LDS but I know Brad is and since he does defend the BoM in his earlier post and says he will forgive JS and support him in his fraudulent book, I assume (maybe incorrectly) that your support of him is as a fellow Mormon. So I ask both of you as I have before, what is the need of the BoM. Please try to answer with common words for us common people.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

    Pissed? Nah, just smacking around the self-righteous and self-assured for a morning blog work-out. Brad, all yours. :)

  • Tom

    Chris, thanks for the smack around, I needed that. I half agree with you, I am self assured. I don’t agree with the self righteous part though. Hope you had good workout.

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