Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is considered by Mormons to be scripture and the "most correct book of any on earth" (History of the Church, vol. 4:461). According to its first introduction, Joseph Smith is the "author and proprietor". Mormons claim that Joseph Smith translated (or transliterated) golden plates and that the result of this work was the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ (hereafter BoM). First published in 1830, the BoM has gone through many changes involving grammar, name corrections, and even some doctrinal changes.
 Brief introduction
The BoM claims to be a translation of the historical record left by Hebrew descendants known as the "Nephites" who lived somewhere in the Americas between about 600 B.C. and 420 A.D.. With regard to theology, the BoM generally reflects the Protestantism of the early 19th century in America, and contains very few of the doctrinal distictives found in the mainstream sect of Mormonism. This makes the BoM a key component of Mormon marketing. It is freely distributed and is designed to be the first exposure that many get to the largest and most popular sect of the Mormon religion.
 How the Book of Mormon came to be
 "Golden Plates"
- See main page: Golden Plates
 The translation process
- "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.)
- See main page: Authorship of the Book of Mormon
 What's inside the Book of Mormon
 Book of Mormon witnesses
- See main page: Book of Mormon witnesses
 Testimony of the three witnesses
"The Three Witnesses, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and David Whitmer, all initially describe their experience with the angel and the plates as subjective and visionary rather than objective and concrete. Their elaborations on the encounter, their departure from the LDS Church, as well as other 7 events in their lives, raise questions about their level of discernment and their credibility as witnesses." 
 Testimony of the eight witnesses
"The testimony of the Eight Witnesses is more objective but is plagued by its own set of problems. All eight had close personal ties to Joseph Smith's family — four were David Whitmer's brothers, a fifth was married to a Whitmer sister, and Joseph's father and two brothers made up the remaining three. These close ties to Joseph Smith, coupled with discrepancies between the witnesses' published Book of Mormon statement and later personal statements, as well as the question of coercion on the part of Joseph Smith, all raise questions of their credibility as well." 
 People of the Book of Mormon
- "Many people assume that if they read the Book of Mormon they will get a good idea of LDS beliefs. However, the Book of Mormon teaches one God, not plural gods as in Mormonism. It mentions heaven and hell, not three degrees of glory, no temple marriage or secret temple ceremonies. It does not teach baptism for the dead, pre-existence of man, eternal progression or polygamy..." 
- "If belief in the Book of Mormon was a prerequisite to joining the Church, it was a belief in the book's divine origin rather than the doctrinal content of the book. The Book of Mormon taught nothing different from what early 19th-century religious seekers would have already been familiar with. The theology of the Book of Mormon was monotheistic. Early Mormon theology then would not have been unique in comparison to other beliefs of the day." -Kurt Widmer, Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830-1915
- See main page: Book of Mormon doctrine
"An anachronism is defined as an event that appears out of time. An example would be a reference to an event that had not yet occurred, or mention of objects or materials which did not yet exist."  A hypothetical helpful example is that of reading an account of George Washington using a cell phone.
"Critics of the Book of Mormon have long cited anachronisms in its narrative to argue that it is not the work of God. For instance, the Mormon scriptures contain references to a seven-day week, domesticated horses, cows and sheep, silk, chariots and steel. None had been introduced in the Americas at the time of Christ." 
- "Their land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots." -2 Nephi 12:7
- See main page: Book of Mormon anachronisms
"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, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1969, pp. 77-78)
- See main page: Archaeology and the Book of Mormon
- See main page: Book of Mormon geography
"Generations of Mormons grew up with the notion that American Indians are descended from a lost tribe from the House of Israel, offspring of a Book of Mormon figure named Lehi, who left Jerusalem and sailed to the Americas around 600 B.C." 
Most Mormon apologists and many laymen, in response to archaeology (or lack thereof), DNA research, linguistics, BoM demographics, and the Native American traditions (which do not correlate with the Book of Mormon), hold to a "limited" geographical model.
"The most common biblical terms used to describe the Old Testament priesthood, temple and appointed feasts, are entirely missing from the Book of Mormon."  This should not be the case, as the individuals in the Book of Mormon are not only Jewish by race, but also Jewish by religious practice.
- See main page: Non-Jewishness of the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon contains references to white people as being pure, while those who are evil have been cursed with black skin.
- See also: Racism
"The Book of Mormon includes specific population numbers which make it possible to evaluate the authenticity of Book of Mormon growth rates against known growth rates for similar cultures. In such an analysis, the assertions of population growth in the Book of Mormon approach the ridiculous. For example, by 187 B.C. the Nephite-Lehite growth rate was thirty times the rate that existed in the world as a whole during the same era."  "The small immigrant groups in the story simply reproduce at an impossible rate for a civilization without the aid of advanced medicine and technology for mass food production." 
- See main page: Demographics and the Book of Mormon
- See main page: Linguistics and the Book of Mormon
 Issues after the publication of the BoM
After going through the Book of Mormon it is clear that much of it was plagiarized from the Bible, especially Isaiah. Because of this LDS scholars have proposed theories of "translation" that allow for a significant amount of Joseph Smith's use of Isaiah.
- See main page: Plagiarism in the Book of Mormon
 Attempt to sell the copyright
"Immediately after publishing the Book of Mormon in 1830, Joseph received a revelation that Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery were to go to Toronto, Canada to sell the copyright of the Book of Mormon. They failed to do so, (partly because the revelation sent them to the wrong town) and upon their return, accused Joseph Smith of falsely prophesying." 
- See main page: Attempt to sell Book of Mormon copyright
The Book of Mormon has had substantial changes made to it. For example, "Son of" was added to 1 Nephi 13:40 and 1 Nephi 11:21 to rid it of Smith's early modalism. In 1981, Nephi 30:6 was changed to read "pure and delightsome" instead of "white and delightsome" (for obvious reasons). There are many more examples. A common misconception by Mormons is that the BoM has only undergone minor spelling and grammatical changes.
- See main page: Changes in the Book of Mormon
 DNA research
DNA research has conclusively shown that Native Americans are of East Asian origins, not Hebrew.
- See main page: DNA and the Book of Mormon
 Miscellaneous peculiarities
- Ether 2:2-6
- Ether 6:4-11
- Ether 15:29-31 - "Wherefore, he did pursue them, and on the morrow he did overtake them; and they fought again with the sword. And it came to pass that when they had all fallen by the sword, save it were Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with the loss of blood. And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword, that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz. And it came to pass that after he had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died."
 Used as tool for conversion
- "Read the Book of Mormon again, keeping in mind the idea that you will be teaching it to others. This will change your whole frame of mind. Identify the things that most impress you, the ones that makes you feel different inside. When you sit across the room from your investigators, you want to be able to tell them that you have read the Book of Mormon carefully and that if they read it, they will have spiritual experiences similar to yours... All by itself, the Book of Mormon is one of the most powerful tools in converting people to the gospel of Jesus Christ... You must be able to convince your investigators to read the Book of Mormon." - John Bytheway, What I Wish I'd Known Before My Mission (emphasis original to the text)
- "I would never tell anybody to try to prove the Book of Mormon is true through physical evidence, just because of the way metaphysics and epistemology work—it's not possible. And so, you have to get the testimony some other way, and then the evidence will become very clear." -John E. Clark (Professor of Anthropology and Director of the New World Archeological Foundation, BYU) 
- "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 archeological 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 (Professor of Anthropology at BYU) 
- "[T]he Book of Mormon should only be used as a tool of conversion, not of historical truth." -D. Fletcher 
 See also
- ↑ William Lobdell, "Bedrock of a Faith Is Jolted". LA Times. February 16, 2006 Available here.
- ↑ John Bytheway, What I Wish I'd Known Before My Mission, p. 7 (ISBN 1573452076)
- Testing the Book of Mormon, by Robert M. Bowman, Jr.
- Articles by Sandra Tanner -
- Book of Mormon Historicity Discussion in Sunstone
- The Bible or the Book of Mormon?, by Gregory Koukl
- An analysis of the book of Mormon with an examination of its internal and external evidences, and a refutation of its pretenses to divine authority, by Alexander Campbell (1831) - "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. How much more benevolent and intelligent this American Apostle, than were the holy twelve, and Paul to assist them!!! He prophesied of all these topics, and of the apostacy, and infallibly decided, by his authority, every question. How easy to prophecy of the past or of the present time!!"