the Book of Mormon (BOM):
Before looking into specific texts, I have 14 points to make by way of an overview.
1. Scholars, when approaching the Bible typically begin from what is called the Redemptive Historical perspective. This means that as someone approaches the Bible to begin interpretation their starting point is the theme of redemption and they are watching it unfold through the history as God directs it as the main character. It is a look at history to primarily see the unfolding of the promise and coming of Christ, and then the spread of the good news He inaugurates. This is why there is no purpose to the history of the Book of Mormon just as with the books of the catholic apocrypha. Even if they are historical (doubtful) they are not part of the story of redemption whereby Christ is being promised to come through a set linage, which linage is followed through the Bible. The BOM adds nothing to the story from this aspect, it only serves to confuse and trivialize history as stories of moral lessons and prophesies that have nothing to do with the coming Christ, or His fulfillment of Bible prophesies and promises. When I addressed this point with the missionaries their answer was that the BOM attests to Jesus being the Christ. I countered that a sermon and Sunday school materials teach such things today, and yet that does not make them a part of canon of Scripture.
2. Of 10 known Mayan scripts discovered none relate anything of the BOM record. The BOM is supposed to be a record of the events of two major societies of people living in the region that real history and archeology prescribes to the Mayan people.
3. No texts of Hebrew, Aramaic , Sanskrit or Egyptian have ever been found in the Americas, yet several passages within the BOM claim a very literate people with items to read (Mosiah 25:5). One of the main classes of people in the Americas that the BOM describes is to have been of a tribe of Israel that left the Mediterranean on an ark. They were supposedly a literate people in at least the Law of Moses and of Egyptian.
4. The current “Long Count” Mayan calendar (famous for the 2012 end date) would have begun its calendar count on December 7th 36 BC and yet there is no reference or similarity to the events of the BOM.
5. Mormons claim that in general the BOM is used in archeology. There is absolutely no evidence to this claim. The Smithsonian Inst. even published a letter to this effect that it is unreliable as a source of history and archeology. Yet they maintain that they do intend not pass judgment against it as a book of “faith.” So they are willing to concede that it may be a source of faith and belief as far as it is full of stories, but those stories are not of a provable scientific nature.
6. According to Smith there are no original texts (plates) to investigate or verify his claims. The original plates bearing the records used by Smith to create the BOM were returned to an angel. Yet this begs the LDS to answer for textual changes over the years. Researchers have in their possession earlier editions that vary greatly from the current 1981 edition. How can there be warranted changes made without original documents (plates) to examine? (i.e. See Mosiah 21:28 where earlier editions read King “Benjamin”.). When I inquired about this point I was met with base skepticism at first that there were ANY such changes made. One of the three mentioned that he was currently studying church history and had access to review the older editions and would look into it. I have never heard back from them about any of the issues I have written about in these posts.
7. Going by the descriptions of the plates as given by Smith, the size, weight, and sheer number of plates needed to make up what we have in the BOM an impossible feat. Along with the various metals mentioned that they were made of makes the transporting and hiding from others an impossible task (especially in a gold rush minded culture). Such a mass of plates would be impossible to have kept hidden from others so as to just have eight witnesses. There discovery, size, weight, and historic wonderment would have been epic. This point was never fully brought out, except at one point; one of the three challenged me as being argumentative accused that I would not be convinced if he could produce the plates in my presence. I rebutted that the number of plates required to have produced the BOM would not all fit in my apartment.
The remaining 7 points will follow Monday.