Recalling the Book of Mormon (Not the Musical)

Recalling the Book of Mormon (Not the Musical) March 26, 2024

Joseph Smith
c 1842









The Book of Mormon was first published on the 26th of March in 1830, in Palmyra, New York. I’m fascinated with our indigenous American religions and the Church of Latter Day Saints is perhaps the most successful of them all. Although in its multiplicity I suspect our New Thought movement does give it a run for its money in that most successful category.

The Book is one of various sacred texts to be first published here in North America in European languages. There are a number. Isis Unveiled: A Master-Key to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology, the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, Science and Health with a Key to Scriptures, the Urantia Book, the Course in Miracles, and Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health quickly come to mind.

Each has had influences in different ways. But the Book of Mormon perhaps rises above the others with the size and scope of the religious organization for whom it is sacred scripture. Well over sixteen and a half million people profess the faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, half of these in North America, the majority of those within hailing distance of Utah.

The book purports to be the record of the lost tribes of Israel and what happened when they came to the Americas, first in the year 2220 BCE, and others following in the year 600 CE.

The prophet Joseph Smith claimed he was presented with golden plates written in “Reformed Egyptian,” and special spectacles that allowed him to translate them into English. It has since become the primary theological source for the foundations of the Church.

Those who find the historicity of the book unlikely look to other sources for its origins. Most assume it was composed by Smith, possibly assisted by Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon. Some speculate a large part of it was derived from an unpublished romance by Solomon Spalding. Others suggest the importance of the Wonders of Nature by Josiah Priest, and or the View of the Hebrews by Ethan Smith. And of course, with a major assist from the King James version of the Bible, which certainly provides the cast of language for the Book.

Whatever, it has become the source text for a major American religion.

So, a pause to note the event…

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