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Book of Mormon Evidences

Book of Mormon Evidences

A photo of The Book of Mormon.The Book of Mormon is a religious and chronological history of a fallen people who lived in the Americas from 600 B.C. until about 400 A.D.  The history accounts for three migrations of people from the Middle East.  One group was comprised of the family and friends of Lehi, a Jerusalem prophet who was led to safety by the Lord just before the Babylonian Captivity.  This group split in two and became two peoples, one group named after Lehi’s righteous son Nephi (the Nephites) and one named after his rebellious son Laman (the Lamanites).  The second group was comprised of the family and friends of Mulek, a son of King Zedekiah.  This group was also led to safety by the Lord at the time of the Babylonian Captivity (the Mulekites).  The record later comprised and translated into the Book of Mormon is the record kept by the Nephites.  They stumbled upon the society of Mulekites in the New World, and the two groups merged; thus the Mulekites became Nephites.  A destroyed society was also discovered in the Americas.  The society was called the Jaredites and was comprised of people who had been led to the Americas by the Lord just after the destruction of the Tower of Babel.  The society had descended into wickedness and violence.  Combat killed all but one witness.  By about 400 A.D., after a personal visit by the resurrected Savior and hundreds of years of idyllic peace, the Nephites and Lamanites set out to destroy each other.  The Book of Mormon was hidden up to be revealed at a later day.

When the Book of Mormon was first translated, many people (most who had never read it) denounced it as a fraud.  Some of the minutae in the book, such as the existence of horses in ancient America, seemed fanciful to some.  Since then, however, archaeological discoveries have substantiated much.  Locations have been verified for Lehi’s journey down Arabia to the sea on his way to America.  Chiasmus has been verified in the text, along with other typical Middle Eastern syntax and language.  Other evidences are also mentioned here.  However, those who read the Book of Mormon are encouraged to pray about its veracity.  Those who read and sincerely pray are promised a witness directly from God.  Such a witness is often more real to the receiver than any scientific proof:

Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.

And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost (Moroni 10:3, 4).

Book of Mormon Evidences in Arabia

Lehi and his group left Jerusalem, traveled south-east through Arabia, and settled for a short time in a land he called Bountiful, which was extremely fertile, and which was by the sea shore.

“The findings from Arabian research, in recent years, have provided some of the most valuable archaeological evidences to authenticate the claims of the Book of Mormon. Many significant “direct-hits” have been logged in Arabia. And considering the information about Arabia (i.e. the landscape, terrain, geography, botany, names of places, etc.) that would have been available to Joseph Smith during the 1820s (almost nothing), these findings become even more amazing and increasingly difficult for Book of Mormon critics to face. [1]

Scholars have verified the location of Lehi’s first camp, the direction of his wanderings, the area of Nahom (which was already a settlement at the time), and the location of Bountiful.

Writing on Metal Plates

The Book of Mormon was originally inscribed onto metal plates which were handed down anciently from prophet to prophet.

Absolutely laughable in 1830, now not only well established as an ancient practice, but as a particularly significant ancient practice in the Middle East in the era of 600 B.C.–especially for religious documents. Most significant, perhaps, is the ancient practice of “scriptorio”–putting the title page at the END of the book, something which is a hallmark of ancient writings on plates from the Middle East, and which is also strong evidence of authenticity for the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith could not have known of “scriptorio” when he translated the gold plates and noted that the title page was at the end, on the last page. [2]  (For more on the use of metal plates, click here.)

DNA Evidence

Critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often cite the lack of DNA evidence among American Indians (among whom are descendants of the Lamanites) as proof that the Book of Mormon is false.  However, DNA evidence is now appearing, even after 90% of American Indians perished as a result of war and disease when Europeans settled America.  (For articles regarding DNA evidence for the Book of Mormon, click here.)

Chiasmus and Language Syntax

Middle Eastern poetry was written in chiastic forms that used repetition and contrast to shape images.  Chiasms exist particularly in the Old Testament.  The discovery of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon further proves its authenticity.  (To read more about chiasmus in the Book of Mormon, click here, and here. For evidence of other Hebraisms in Book of Mormon language, click here.)

Writing in “Reformed Egyptian”

Book of Mormon authors recorded the fact that they wrote in “reformed Egyptian,” because Hebrew characters took up too much room.

“[W]ho says that the Nephites wrote in Egyptian? That is certainly one possibility, but several scholars (e.g., Sidney Sperry, John Sorenson, and John Tvedtnes) suggest, rather, that the language of the Nephites was Hebrew, written in Egyptian characters. The practice of representing one language in a script commonly associated with another language is very common. Yiddish, for instance, which is basically a form of German, is routinely written in Hebrew characters. Swahili can be written in either Roman or Arabic scripts. Judeo-Arabic, as written for instance by Moses Maimonides, was medieval Hebrew written with Arabic letters. So this phenomenon of changing the script with which one writes a language is by no means unusual.But we need not speak only in theoretical terms. We have, in fact, an ancient illustration that comes remarkably close to the Book of Mormon itself. Papyrus Amherst 63, a text from the second century B.C., seems to offer something very much like “reformed Egyptian.” It is a papyrus scroll that contains Aramaic texts written in a demotic Egyptian script. (Aramaic is a language closely related to Hebrew. of the Old Testament book of Daniel is written in Aramaic, and it was the spoken language of Jesus and his apostles. Incidentally, however, a Christian form of the language, Syriac, came to use an alphabet related to Arabic–again illustrating the independence of script and tongue.) Interestingly, one of the items found on Papyrus Amherst 63 is a version of Psalm 20:2-6 (“Language and Script in the Book of Mormon,” Insights: An Ancient Window, March 1992, p. 2).

Mulek, Son of Zedekiah

Some critics have claimed that all of King Zedekiah’s sons were murdered by the Babylonians.  However, evidence now suggests a surviving son by the name of Malkiyahu, with the root letters MLK.  (To read an article about Mulek, founder of the Mulekites, click here.)

Book of Mormon Peoples and the use of Cement

A long-ridiculed “anachronism” in Book of Mormon is the reference in Helaman 3:9-11 to cement work among some of the ancient inhabitants of this continent in the 1st century B.C. At this time, many Nephite people moved into the north lands (probably southern Mexico). Trees were very scarce there, apparently because of environmental irresponsibility among a previous, fallen civilization (I refer to the “Jaredites,” probably correlated with the Olmecs). While taking care to protect and nurture trees for the future, the Nephites used other materials to build their cities. Buildings made from cement are specifically mentioned. For decades, this seemed like a mistake.

Today, tourists to Mesoamerica can find ancient cement work in abundance at Teotihuacan (which is clearly “in the land north” according to modern models for Book of Mormon geography). Mesoamerican cement was being used at least by the first century B.C. (David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, Horizon Publishers, Bountiful, UT, 1981, p. 121). Palmer shows a photograph of cement used to surface a temple at the Chiapa de Corzo site. Palmer also cites Monte Alban, which is south of Teotihuacan but still in the “land north,” as another example of ancient cement work. Several examples of cement work use tiny volcanic stones (0.5 to 2 mm diameter) mixed with clay and lime to produce the cement. Cement was also used in the ancient city of Kaminaljuyu (modern Guatemala City).

Mesoamerican work with cement involved more than merely applying a veneer to buildings. Important structural elements were made with cement, and the use of cement in Mesoamerica dates to about the time when the Book of Mormon reports its development (46 B.C.). John Welch provides further data in his article, “A Steady Stream of Significant Recognitions” in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, ed. D.W. Parry, D.C. Peterson, and J.W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), pp. 372-374.

For more Book of Mormon evidences, click here.

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