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Part 3: The Book of Mormon

11. DNA

Chapter 11


The Book of Mormon story begins with Lehi, an Israelite, who fled to the Promised Land with his family and landed somewhere in Mesoamerica. Lehi’s descendants grew into two large populations, the Lamanites and the Nephites. By AD 385 the Lamanites had destroyed the Nephites and then grew to populate the entire Americas. This unique claim lends itself perfectly to genetic testing. Studies have been performed on the genetic history of Native Americans and the resulting information reveals inconsistencies in The Book of Mormon narrative. Covered in this chapter: the Church’s original claim, statements by LDS scientists, genetic evidence, and the Church’s attempt to distance itself from the original position.

Original Claim

Over the years, prophets, apostles, and the missionary department have preached an ancestral link between the ancient Hebrews and Native Americans.

“It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains the fullness of the everlasting gospel. The record gives an account of two great civilisations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.”

Book of Mormon – Introduction, 1981 edition


“Central America, or Guatemala, is situated north of the Isthmus of Darien and once embraced by several hundred miles of territory from north to south. The city of Zarahemla, burnt at the crucifixion of the Savior, and rebuilt afterwards, stood up on this land as will be seen from the following words from the Book of Alma: ‘And now it was only the distance of a day and a half’s journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful, and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi, and the land of Zarahemla was nearly surrounded by water: there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward.’”

Joseph Smith – Times and Seasons, October 1, 1842, vol.3, no.23



“As I look into your faces, I think of Father Lehi, whose sons and daughters you are…. This is but the beginning of the work in Peru.”

Gordon B. Hinckley – God’s Holy Work in Peru, Ensign, February 1997, p.73

LDS Scientists

Simon G. Southerton – Senior molecular biologist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia and former bishop. Southerton said that genetic research allowed him to test his religious views against his professional training. He examined studies of DNA lineages among Polynesians and indigenous peoples in North, Central and South America. He mapped maternal DNA lines from 7,300 Native Americans from 175 tribes. Southerton found no trace ofMiddle Eastern DNA in the genetic strands of today’s American Indians and Pacific Islanders. In Losing a Lost Tribe, published in 2004, Southerton concluded that the LDS church, his faith for 30 years, needed to be reevaluated in the face of these facts.

“The problem is that the Church cannot acknowledge any factual errors in the Book of Mormon because the prophet Joseph Smith proclaimed it the ‘most correct of any book on Earth’ They can’t admit that it’s not historical. They would feel that there would be a loss of members and loss in confidence in Joseph Smith as a prophet.”

Simon G. Southerton – Bedrock of Faith is Jolted, Los Angeles Times, February 2006

Dr. Thomas W. Murphy – Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Edmonds College.


“In March 2000 Scott Woodward, a professor of microbiology at Brigham Young University, launched a multi-million dollar study … The Molecular Genealogy Research Group (MGRG) compiled a database of DNA records that identified connections between past and present humans…. Some optimism was expressed by church members that such research would vindicate the Book of Mormon as an ancient document…. For those who held such an expectation, the data collected by MGRG and results of similar research projects have been disappointing. So far, DNA has lent no support to the traditional Mormon beliefs about the origins of the Native Americans. Instead, genetic data have confirmed that migrations from Asia are the primary source of American Indian origins.” “Now that quantitative scientific methods can indeed test for an Israelite genetic presence in ancient America, we learn instead that virtually all Native Americans can trace their lineages to the Asian migrations between 7,000 and 50,000 years ago. While molecular anthropologists have the technological capability to identify descendants of ancient Hebrews, no traces of such DNA markers have appeared in Central America or elsewhere among Native Americans”

Thomas W. Murphy – Lamanite Genesis, Genealogy, and Genetics,in American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon, 2002

In collaboration – Thomas W. Murphy and Simon Southerton


“Investigation of mitochondrial DNA of more than 5,500 living Native Americans reveals that 99.4% can be traced back to Asia primarily via maternal lineages known as A, B, C, D and X. Only 0.6% came from Africa or Europe, most likely after 1492. Lineages A through D are only found in Asia. While the X lineage also is found in Europe and the Middle East, Asian and American lineages have distinctive markers that indicate an ancient separation long before the events described in the Book of Mormon. Similar results from nearly 1,000 paternal lineages substantiate a Northeast Asian origin of American Indians. Likewise, approximately 99% of the Polynesians surveyed to date can trace their maternal lineages back to Southeast Asia. The other 1% almost certainly came from Europe in the recent past… Folk biological claims of an Israelite ancestry, a curse with a dark skin, and a whitening of dark-skinned Native American and Polynesian Mormons fail to stand up to scrutiny among scientifically literate Latter-day Saints.”

Thomas W. Murphy and Simon Southerton – Genetic Research a‘Galileo Event’ for Mormons, Anthropology News, February 2003


Greater than 99% of the DNA lineages of Native Americans are only found among East Asians. The evidence suggests that they share a common ancestor and that American natives did not descend from Israeli lineage.

Jamie Hanis Handy – Brigham Young University, MS Biological Science and Genetics.


“DNA is definitive. DNA is trusted. DNA is a part of our lives now. There is nothing in which to be afraid. DNA is just information, lots of information…. In my experience, each generation trusts and relies on DNA more than the previous generation, and my children are growing up in a world where DNA just is and has always been a wellspring of reliable information. Anything, any group, or any organization that tries to discredit DNA as a legitimate data source will with each passing year lose credibility with the rising generations. And so I am very, very concerned about the faith that I call my spiritual home. The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter Day Saints.

This quote appears in the newest manual for seminary and institute students, “As an example, you may want to explain that one way modern enemies of the Church attempt to discredit the Book of Mormon is by using DNA evidence to try to discredit any link between Book of Mormon peoples and Native Americans.” DNA evidence has had a huge impact on the Mormon narrative. In my lifetime, a one-word change in the introduction to our holy scripture, The Book of Mormon, has had massive ripple effects while yet also remaining mostly undiscussed by the membership at large. Originally the introduction read, ‘The Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.’ The new introduction reads much the same, but says the Lamanites ‘are among the ancestors of the American Indians.’

How has this one word swap changed things? I was taught every week that the Native Americans were the descendents of the Lamanites. I was shown pictures of Mayan and Aztec ruins all the time as if those were evidence of the Book of Mormon civilizations. Once DNA evidence began to show clearly that today’s Native Americans did not descend from Middle Eastern Jews (as we originally claimed), everything changed.

And yet, despite this drastic shift, we still insist on publishing something that says “modern enemies” of the church use DNA evidence? … Our children will not see DNA that way. Instead they will see the church as afraid — afraid of the wonder and miracle that understanding DNA is. Afraid that truth cannot withstand study. Afraid that (for many of them) the very thing that brought them to this place, diagnosed their disease, treated their disorder, identified their parent, captured their rapist, freed their friend, gave them a healthy sibling, and that is trusted everywhere cannot be trusted at church?”

Jamie Hanis Handy – DNA and Mormonism, June 2015


DNA Evidence

The international Human Genome Project (1990 – 2003) contributed to our insight of human migratory patterns based on identifiable gene markers contained within DNA. This was of particular interest to the Church for its insight into the origin of Native Americans.

Virtually all mitochondrial DNA lineages found throughout the world can be grouped into less than twenty-five major family groups represented by letters A, B, C and so on. In the case of the native Americans, essentially all of their lineages fall into one of five major families: A, B, C, D and X. Current genetic and paleontological evidence indicates native Americans arrived from Asia. Various groups of early travelers descend into the Americas between 15-35,000 years ago.They crossed the Bearing Straight land bridge between modern day Russia and Alaska during the last ice age.


“Lying at the intersection of what is today Russia, Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan, the region known as the Altai. The Altai region has played a critical role in the peopling of northern Asia as an entry point into Siberia and a possible homeland for ancestral Native Americans. It has an old and rich history because humans have inhabited this area since the Paleolithic. To untangle Altaian genetic histories, we analyzed mtDNA and Y chromosome variation in northern and southern Altaian populations. Based on these data, we noted differences in the origin and population history of Altaian ethnic groups.”

“Moreover, high-resolution analysis of Y chromosome haplogroup Q has allowed us to reshape the phylogeny of this branch, making connections between populations of the New World and Old World more apparent and demonstrating that southern Altaians and Native Americans share a recent common ancestor. These results greatly enhance our understanding of the peopling of Siberia and the Americas”.

Matthew C. Dulik, et al. -The American Journal of Human Genetics, February 102012, vol.90, issue 2, pp.229-246, in association with the University ofPennsylvania and the American Society of Human Genetics.


DNA samples from every known tribe of Native Americans indicate an Asiatic, rather than an Israeli origin.


Distancing from Past Claims

In light of DNA evidence disproving the Hebrew origins of the Native Americans, the Church decided to amend the introduction to the Book of Mormon. The phrase stating that the Lamanites are the “principal ancestors of the American Indians” was changed in 2006 to now state that the Lamanites are “among the ancestors of the American Indians”.


In a further attempt to reconcile the claims of the Book of Mormon with DNA research, the Church published the article Book of Mormon and DNA Studies. The article makes a few interesting statements.

“Although the primary purpose of the Book of Mormon is more spiritual than historical…”


Although its purpose may be spiritual, the claim that the Book of Mormon contains the actual history of the Native Americans has always been one of the foundations of the LDS church.

“The Book of Mormon itself, however, does not claim that the peoples it describes were either the predominant or the exclusive inhabitants of the lands they occupied.”


Both the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith actually do state that the Lamanites/American Indians are the exclusive and predominant inhabitants.


2 Nephi 1:9“Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the  Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves.  And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.”


“the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel…The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country.”


The essay then states,

“Nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon peoples”


This is incorrect. According to the Book of Mormon, the genetic lineage of the Lamanites is exactly known.


1Nephi 5:14“And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine.”


Who was “Joseph who was sold into Egypt…son of Jacob”? He is the same Joseph who was the son of Jacob who was the son of Isaac who was the son of Abraham. In Jewish tradition, Abraham is called Avraham Avinu, “Our father Abraham,” signifying that he is both the biological ancestor of the Jews and the father of Judaism, the first Jew. As Lehi, being descended from Joseph and Abraham, it indeed gives the Church exact knowledge of the DNA of the Nephites and Lamanites; yet we find no Israelite gene markers in Native American DNA.


“If it were known with a high degree of certainty that the emigrants described in the Book of Mormon had what might be considered typically Near Eastern DNA [Middle Eastern/Jewish], it is quite possible that their DNA markers did not survive the intervening centuries.”


According to the Book of Mormon, the DNA Studies article is again mistaken.


1Nephi 13:30

“Nevertheless, thou beholdest that the Gentiles who have gone forth out of captivity, and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations,  upon the face of the land which is choice above all other lands, which is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance; wherefore, thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed, which are among thy brethren.”


In what way is it possible that “their DNA markers did not survive the intervening centuries”? Native Americans did survive. Joseph Smith specifically named the Lamanites as the ancestors of the Native Americans.

“[The Book of Mormon] records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called the Jaredites and came directly from the Tower of Babel…. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country.”

Joseph Smith – The Wentworth Letter, March 1, 1842. Ensign July 2002


Considering that Joseph Smith presented a claim to the origin of Native Americans that is evidently not true, and that the Church has recently made attempts to distance itself from that claim, it seems increasingly difficult to feel confident in Joseph’s prophetic abilities.

Chapter 12 Reformed Egyptian

​The Salt Lake temple Visitors’ Center portays the prophet Mormon as a Mesoamerican native that is dressed in traditional Mayan clothing. It also depicts stylized Mayan hieroglyphs on the walls and papers.

The Church teaches that the civilizations of the Book of Mormon wrote in a language called “reformed Egyptian”. This writing system is completely unique to the Book of Mormon people. Issues surrounding the existence of reformed Egyptian include the Church’s claims, examples of Native American writings, the Anthon transcript, and the lack of archeological evidence.

The Church’s Claims

Mormon 9:32

“And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed  down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech.”


“Joseph Smith did translate the Book of Mormon from ancient plates of gold, which were written with engraved characters in the reformed Egyptian language.”

James E. Faust – The Expanding Inheritance from Joseph Smith

October 1982 General Conference

“A Lamanite is a descendant of one Lehi who left Jerusalem six hundred years before Christ and with his family crossed the mighty deep and landed in America. And Lehi and his family became the ancestors of all of the Indian and Mestizo tribes in North and South and Central America and in the islands of the sea, for in the middle of their history there were those who left America in ships of their making and went to the islands of the sea.”

Spencer W. Kimball – April, 1971

Since President Spencer W. Kimball said the Lamanites became the ancestors of all natives in North and South and Central America and in the islands of the sea, we should expect to find reformed Egyptian spanning both continents and all of Polynesia.

Native American Writing

While indigenous groups of the New World used a rich array of languages, formal writing systems did not exist in North America, South America and the Pacific Islands before contact with European explorers and missionaries. North American natives used a series of symbols for crude communication, South American natives used a system of rope knotting only for accounting purposes, and Polynesians used a series of symbols in traditional tattooing. But it was the Mesoamerican civilizations, located in Central America, that were the only cultures to invent and use an extensive and detailed writing system.

The earliest inscriptions date to about 900 B.C. and continued in use until the Spanish conquest in the 16th and 17th centuries. Maya texts have survived on stone, bone, shell, pottery, wood, and paper. Since it was the only one formal writing system during the time of the Book of Mormon, Mayan hieroglyphs should be the “reformed Egyptian” written on the Gold Plates. Did Joseph leave any examples of reformed Egyptian to compare?


Luckily, there exist 3 transcribed examples of reformed Egyptian.

The Anthon Transcript - "Caractors" document – This is the most extensive transcript of Reformed Egyptian characters. 

David Whitmer, who eventually owned this document, claimed that it was the same one Martin Harris showed to scholars in 

New York in early 1828.

Before Martin Harris was to mortgage his farm to finance the printing of the Book of Mormon, he made an attempt to verify its authenticity. Martin had Joseph transcribe some characters from the Book of Mormon and took it to visit Charles Anthon, professor of classical linguistics at Columbia University. Martin Harris claims to have received verification on the authenticity of the characters (even though no record exists), but when Professor Anthon later learns of Martin’s claim, he writes to newspaper editor, E.D. Howe, stating the following,


“The whole story about my having pronounced the Mormonite inscription to be ‘reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics’ is perfectly false. … The farmer [Martin Harris] added, that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money towards the publication of the “golden book,”… So urgent had been these solicitations that he intended selling his farm and handing over the amount received to those who wished to publish the plates. As a last precautionary step, however, he had resolved to come to New York, and obtain the opinion of the learned about the meaning of the paper which he brought with him, and which had been given him as a part of the contents of the book, although no translation had been furnished at the time by the young man with the spectacles. On hearing this odd story… I began to regard it as part of a scheme to cheat the farmer of his money, and I communicated my suspicions to him, warning him to beware of rogues. He requested an opinion from me in writing, which of course I declined giving, and he then took his leave carrying the paper with him.”

Professor Charles Anthon – Letter to E.B. Howe, February 17, 1834


Oliver Cowdery – Both Oliver and Fredrick G. Williams copy the same characters of the Book of Mormon.

Fredrick G. Williams – “Characters on the Book of Mormon” taken April 11, 1864.

Since Mayan hieroglyphics were the only formal writing system throughout all of the Americas and Pacific Islands, we should find similarities when comparing them with reformed Egyptian. However, the characters do not appear to bear any resemblance.


Surprisingly, the reformed Egyptian characters contained in the Anthon transcript appear to contain the entire English alphabet and numeric system.

Lack of Evidence

The idea of a reformed Egyptian writing system simply does not hold up to scholarly scrutiny. No formally trained archaeologist, anthropologist, or linguist, not employed by the Church, has ever recognized the characters of reformed Egyptian as a legitimate language and writing system that is backed by evidence.

“Outside of Mormon scholars, there is not any recognition of or belief in a “reformed egyptian” script or language. The photos of so called “reformed Egyptian” documents that I have seen do not resemble genuine Egyptian scripts of any kind from any period of Egypt’s long pharaonic history including both hieroglyphic forms or the more cursive forms known as hieratic and demotic. They look like a modern person’s attempt at making cryptogramatic symbols of a modernly invented secret code in that they resemble nonsense “letters” of an alphabet rather than pictorial symbols like hieroglyphs or even the much more varied and differently shaped ligatures of hieratic or demotic Egyptian cursive writing.”

Peter Brand – Professor of Ancient History and Egyptology, University of Toronto

The Church claims that Lehi’s family used a writing system called ‘reformed Egyptian’ and after the destruction of the Nephites, the Lamanites are supposed to have taken this system and spread throughout both American continents and the Pacific Islands. Although the many indigenous cultures used rich languages, no formal writing system capable of taking detailed records existed anywhere but in Mesoamerica. Unfortunately, due to the transcriptions we have, reformed Egyptian characters do not resemble Mayan hieroglyphs at all, but actually appear to be stylized English characters.

Chapter 13


Anachronism- a·nach·ro·nism: an act of attributing a custom, event, or object to a period to which it does not belong.

An anachronism is when an author takes something from their time period and inserts it in a past time period where it doesn’t belong. For example, William Shakespeare wrote in his play, Julius Caesar, that Cassius states, “The clock has stricken three.” The problem is that the plot takes place in 44 B.C., a time period where mechanical clocks had not yet been invented. Shakespeare took something familiar to him and placed it where it doesn’t historically belong. Because the play is fictional, it is simply a mistake. However, if Shakespeare were to claim that he had found an ancient document from 44 B.C. that mentions the action of a mechanical clock, it would clearly be seen as a forgery because of the anachronism.

The Book of Mormon time period covers 2,200 B.C. – 400 A.D., and also contains similar anachronisms.

Non-Indigenous Animals


Ether 9:19

19 And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms;


Elephants, mastodons and mammoths evolved from a common ancestor about 10-20 millions years ago. While elephants stayed in Africa and Asia, mastodons and mammoths migrated into America across the Bering Strait during the last Ice Age. Mastodons and mammoths were hunted to extinction during the Pleistocene era, about 11 thousand years ago. While the fossil record shows contact early humans, these animals disappeared thousands of years before any people from the Book of Mormon reach the Americas.


Live Stock

Ether 9:18

18 And also all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man.


Livestock are domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting for food. The last known cattle species in the Americas went extinct around the same time as mastodons and mammoths 11 thousands years ago . Although wild big horn sheep, mountain goats and boars are native to some areas in North America, there is no evidence of domesticated sheep, pigs and goats used as livestock anywhere in the Americas. Domestication began with the arrival of relatives of these animals  with the Europeans in the 15th century.

Honey Bees

Ether 2:3

…did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees…


There were no honeybees in the Americas before its introduction from Europe in the 15th century. Subspecies were also introduced from Italy in 1859, and later from Spain and Portugal.



3 Nephi 3:22

And it came to pass in the seventeenth year, in the latter end of the year, the proclamation of Lachoneus had gone forth throughout all the face of the land, and they had taken their horses, and their chariots…


Indigenous North American horses were also part of the great extinction of the Pleistocene era. Despite extensive archaeology, not a single bone or tooth from this animal has ever been discovered in the Mesoamerican region. Maya, Aztec and Olmec cultures depicted many native animals in art and ideology but have never depicted a horse on any temples, carvings or paintings.

It would easy for New Englanders to assume that horses have always been part of the American landscape because the Native Americans they encountered rode horses. What was unknown to East coast Americans at that time was that Native Americans had domesticated the feral horses that ran away from the West Coast Spaniards; who in turn, reintroduced horses into the Americas by bringing European breeds with the arrival of Columbus.



Wheeled Transport Vehicles

Alma 20:6

Now when Lamoni had heard this he caused that his servants should make ready his horses and his chariots.


Used in conjunction with horses were chariots. Chariots have wheels, however the wheel as a technology was not found in ancient America. Like many new things, it was brought over with European settlers. The curator of ethnography at the American Museum of Natural History states,


“We see that the prevailing mode of land transport in the New World was by human carrier. The wheel was unknown in pre-Columbian times.”

Clark Wissler – The American Indian:

An Introduction to the Anthropology

of the New World. Oxford University Press


The military and transport advantages would have spread the wheel through the native populations as it did through Europe and Asia. If horses were actually domesticated and wheeled transport was used, Archaeologists would also find chariots throughout the Western Hemisphere, however there has never been a single horse, chariot, or wheeled transport artifact discovered from pre-Columbian America to indicate that chariots ever existed in the New World.



Metal Working

2 Nephi 5:15

And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance


Much like the invention of the wheel, the military and infrastructure advantages of steel would have seen widespread adoption in the Americas. Furthermore, mass production of steel weaponry for such large-scale wars as depicted in the Book of Mormon, would have required large iron and steel forges. These would have left evidence of slag, remnants of ore and stock piles of steel weaponry. The spreading of this technology, as it provides many significant advantages, would make steel a very common archaeological finding, however there is no evidence of this. There is simply no record of steel or iron having ever been smelted in the New World.



“One possible purpose for the inclusion of the Nephite coinage in Alma 11 is to demonstrate the extent of the bribe Zeezrom offered if Amulek…”

Book of MormonStudent Manual, 2009, pp. 184-90


“How Valuable Were the Nephite Pieces of Money? …the relative value of silver and gold coins under the system set up by Mosiah”

Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1979, p.229

Agricultural food crops were used as the common form of currency, especially cacao. Coinage was not present in the Americas prior to the May 11, 1535 decree of Doña Juana de Castilla, Queen of the Castilla region in Spain, authorizing the minting of silver and copper coins in Mexico. Coinage in the Western Hemisphere during the Book of Mormon time period was unknown. Coins were introduced more than a thousand years after the conclusion of the Book of Mormon.


It is evident that the Church became aware of this discrepancy when it made these revisions with regards to nephite coinage.

Beginning in 1492, European explorers brought new animals, plants, technology, theology and disease to the Americas, yet many of these items described in the Book of Mormon simply did not exist during its timeline. If Joseph Smith was given the Book of Mormon translation word-for-word by the power of God, then it should not contain these significant errors.

Chapter 14

The Jaredites

The Book of Ether, contained in the Book of Mormon, tells the story of the Jaredites. They were a vast civilization of people who were completely wiped out before the arrival of Lehi and his family to the Promised Land. The Jaredites narrative contains two major issues: first, a year-long oceanic journey to the Americas, and second, a final battle at the Hill Cumorah where millions of people perished.


Year-long Voyage by Sea

This transatlantic journey taken by the Jaredites presents major problems. Let’s look at the number of passengers, dimensions of the barges, and the basic necessities needed.


Numbers of Passangers


Ether 6:14-16

And Jared had four sons;

And the brother of Jared also begat sons and daughters.

And the friends of Jared and his brother were in number about twenty and two souls; and they also begat sons and daughters before they came to the promised land.


The plural “sons and daughters” means at least 2 of each. Jared + 4 sons + his brother + his sons and daughters (at least 4) + 22 people + their families. 11 couples that had children before leaving on the trip; assume 4 per family. We are looking at approximately 74 people.


Dimensions of the Barges


Ether 2:16-17,20

And the Lord said: Go to work and build, after the manner of barges which ye have hitherto built. And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the manner in which they had built, according to the instructions of the Lord. And they were small, and they were light upon the water, even like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water.

And they were built after a manner that they were exceedingly tight, even that they would hold water like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the sides thereof were tight like unto a dish; and the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish.

And the Lord said unto the brother of Jared: Behold, thou shalt make a hole in the top, and also in the bottom; and when thou shalt suffer for air thou shalt unstop the hole and receive air. And if it be so that the water come in upon thee, behold, ye shall stop the hole, that ye may not perish in the flood.


  • Not huge ships – “And they were small…”

  • They floated – “…like unto the lightness of a fowl upon the water.”

  • About the “length of a tree” – Ether begins in Babylon, Mesopotamia, or modern-day Hillah, Iraq. Even though most trees average much shorter, the largest indigenous tree in the region is the Date Palm tree (Phoenix dactylifera), which grows 70–75 ft in height.

  • Water tight – The bottom, sides and top “were tight like unto a dish.”

  • Air tight with holes on top and bottom so it would float when upside-down. – “a hole in the top, and also in the bottom”


Basic Necessities Needed


Ether 3:1, 6:4,11

And it came to pass that the brother of Jared, now the number of the vessels which had been prepared was eight, went forth unto the mount…

And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them—and it came to pass that when they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God.

And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water.


Drinkable Water

How much water would 74+ people and animals need to survive for 344 days? Divided into 8 barges, that puts almost 10 people per barge. Humans need approx 1 gallon per person per day for consumption and sanitation ( /water). That’s about 3,440 gallons per barge. They also brought flocks and herds. There are a minimum of 3 animals to a flock or herd, assume 1 flock and 1 herd per barge. Sheep drink about 1 gallon of water per day and cows drink about 10 gallons. ( They would drink about 1,032 and 10,320 gallons during the trip. That comes to a total of about 14,792 gallons. Just for comparison’s sake, here is a 15,000 gallon tank.

How would they store that much fresh water in a boat that was, at most, 75 feet long? Remember, this was supposed to be 2,500 – 2,200 B.C. and any tossing in the ocean would dump out any pottery, barrels, bowls or animal skinned bags used to contain the water. Any leaks would drown the passengers. That’s just water.

Food Storage

Adults need approx. 2,500 calories a day even for a sedentary lifestyle. (

219305.php) Today’s caloric dense convenient food covers those calories in relatively small portions, but in 2,200 B.C., only very basic foods existed: grains, vegetables, nuts and meat. Larger portions of these foods need to be consumed to meet the daily caloric requirements; about 4 lbs a day. ( Ten people in each barge would require about 13,760 lbs of food for the 344 day voyage. Small sheep require about 2 lbs of feed a day and small cows require about 10 lbs of feed a day. ( and ( forageconsumed-day) For 10 people, 3 sheep and 3 cows, that makes about 26,144 lbs of food in total. For comparison, that’s about 2 adult African elephants. 1 train car worth of water + 2 elephants worth of food do not fit in one 75 ft (at most) barge, that also needed to float and was built with ancient materials and techniques.


Aside from the enormous space requirements, the lack of refrigeration or ability to make fires inside an enclosed wooden boat becomes the larger issue. Any grains, dried fruits and vegetables would quickly spoil in the dark, humid environment.


The Book of Ether mentions that in addition to their flocks and herds that the Jaredites “did also lay snares and catch fowls of the air … and did carry with them the fish of the waters … and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them.” Since additional animals were likely brought along for food, what would happen to a year’s worth of butchery and human and animal waste without adequate sanitation? This would guarantee rotting, fecal contamination and the spreading of deadly bacteria and parasites.

Large Scale Military Casualties

In addition to the logistical issues surrounding the trip, the 2nd major problem with the Jaredite story involves large-scale casualties.

“Cumorah is the hill and area recorded in the Book of Mormon where the Nephites and Lamanites fought a final battle in which the Nephite people were annihilated. Moroni reported that Cumorah was also the site where the Jaredites were earlier destroyed.”

The Book of Mormon chronicles two civilization-ending wars: first the Jaredites, then the Nephites.


The Jaredites

Ether 15, chapter heading.

“Millions of the Jaredites are slain in battle—Shiz and Coriantumr assemble all the people to mortal combat—The Spirit of the Lord ceases to strive with them—The Jaredite nation is utterly destroyed…”

The Nephites

Mormon 6, chapter heading.

“The Nephites gather to the land of Cumorah for the final battles—Mormon hides the sacred records in the hill Cumorah—The Lamanites are victorious, and the Nephite nation is destroyed—Hundreds of thousands are slain with the sword. About A.D. 385.”

Both great battles took place on the same Hill Cumoroh near Joseph Smith’s home in upstate New York.


“The great and last battle, in which several hundred thousand Nephites perished was on the hill Cumorah, the same hill from which the plates were taken by Joseph Smith”

Orson Pratt – Journal of Discourses, February 11, 1872, vol. 14, p. 331

“In our era, the Hill Cumorah is a drumlin hill between the towns of Palmyra and Manchester, New York, where the gold plates of the Book of Mormon, deposited by an ancient religious leader in a stone box, was unearthed, translated by the American Prophet, Joseph Smith Jr., and published in 1830. In 1928 the LDS Church purchased the site and in 1935 erected a monument commemorating the visit of the Angel Moroni. Later, the Church built a visitors center at the base of the hill. Since 1937, the Church has produced the annual outdoor Cumorah Pagent. This image looking southwest a century ago, was taken when the hill was less wooded than today.

The last Nephite battle had casualties in the hundreds of thousands as recently as 385  A.D., only 1,630 years ago. But the largest battle, in Ether, recounts casualties of at least 2 million people. For perspective, this is an image of 1.6 million people at a meeting in Nigeria to address global poverty. In contrast, the Hill Cumorah near Palmyra, New York occupies less than half a square mile and is only 110 feet tall. This tiny hill is supposed to contain the bodies, weapons and armor of nearly 3 million soldiers, yet to this day not a single remain has ever been found. Does that seem possible?

Dr. John E. Clark, professor of Archaeology at BYU, comments on the Book of Mormon’s archaeological remains in the Hill Cumorah.

“If any place merits archaeological attention, it is Cumorah. The very word elicits a series of empirical questions that can only be addressed through archaeology. When we pay attention to time and to cultural context, it becomes clear that the events described in the Book of Mormon did not occur in New York. In accord with these general observations about New York and Pennsylvania, we come to our principal object— the Hill Cumorah. Archaeologically speaking, it is a clean hill. No artifacts, no walls, no trenches, no arrowheads. The area immediately surrounding the hill is similarly clean. Pre-Columbian people did not settle or build here. This is not the place of Mormon’s last stand. We must look elsewhere for that hill.”

John E. Clark – Archaeology and Cumorah Questions, Journal of Mormon Studies, 2004.


Dr. Clark admits that the Jaredites were never part of any mass-extinction on the Hill Cumorah. This fact, along with the impossible type of transatlantic voyage as described in the Book of Mormon, both point to the conclusion that the Jaredite story did not occur.

Chapter 15 Source Material

Was Joseph Smith capable of writing the Book of Mormon himself? Could there be other sources for its language, themes, stories and characters? President of the Quorum of the Seventy, Brigham H. Roberts, spoke about Joseph’s incredible mind.


“In light of this evidence, there can be no doubt as to the possession of a vividly strong, creative imagination by Joseph Smith the Prophet, an imagination, it could with reason be urged, which, given the suggestions that are found in the ‘common knowledge’  of accepted American antiquities of the times, supplemented by such a work as Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews [published in Palmyra in 1825], it would make it possible for him to create a book such as the Book of Mormon is.”

B.H. Roberts – Studies of the Book of Mormon, p. 250


Elder Roberts says that there is “no doubt” that Joseph could have written the Book of  Mormon with influences from a book called, View of the Hebrews, among other contemporary sources. What contemporary sources could have inspired the stories of the Book of Mormon?

This chapter examines several of these sources such as: Joseph Senior’s dream of The Tree of Life, the book “View of the Hebrews”, the book “The Late War”, Palmyra’s Methodist revival meeting, “The First Book of Napoleon”, tales of Captain Kidd, the Apocrypha, and the King James Bible.

The Tree of Life

Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life is among the most well-known Book of Mormon stories. From childhood, members are taught that a man named Lehi had a dream about a tree, fruit that made you happy, the iron rod, and a great and spacious building.

Lehi’s Dream


Nephi 8: 5,9-13,19,20,26,27

And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me.

And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field.

And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.

And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.

And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.

And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit.

And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.

And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron,

And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.

And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.


Joseph Smith Sr.’s Dream


What members are never taught is that Joseph Smith’s father was the originator of this dream and that the Smith family was familiar with its story. Shortly after his death, Joseph Smith’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith, wrote her family’s story focusing on her son Joseph Jr. In her book she recounts the dream her husband experienced that was so profound he had to share it with his family.


“In the meantime we had a son, whom we called Joseph, after his father; he was born December 23, 1805. In 1811, we moved from Royalton, Vermont, to the town of Lebanon, New Hampshire. Soon after arriving here, my husband [Joseph Smith Sr.] received another very singular vision, which I will relate:

“I thought, I was traveling in an open, desolate field, which appeared to be very barren. As I was thus traveling, the thought suddenly came into my mind that I had better stop and reflect upon what I was doing, before I went any further. So I asked myself, ‘What motive can I have in traveling here, and what place can this be?’ My guide, who was by my side, as before, said, ‘This is the desolate world; but travel on.’ The road was so broad and barren that I wondered why I should travel in it; for, said I to myself, ‘Broad is the road, and wide is the gate that leads to death, and many there be that walk therein; but narrow is the way, and straight is the gate that leads to everlasting’ life, and few there be that go in thereat.”

“Traveling a short distance farther, I came to a narrow path. This path I entered, and, when I had traveled a little way in it, I beheld a beautiful stream of water, which ran from the east to the west. Of this stream I could see neither the source nor yet the termination; but as far as my eyes could extend I could see a rope running along the bank of it, about as high as a man could reach, and beyond me was a low, but very pleasant valley, in which stood a tree such as I had never seen before. It was exceedingly handsome, insomuch that I looked upon it with wonder and admiration. Its beautiful branches spread themselves somewhat like an umbrella, and it bore a kind of fruit, in shape much like a chestnut bur, and as white as snow, or, if possible whiter. I gazed upon the same with considerable interest, and as I was doing so the burs or shells commenced opening and shedding their particles, or the fruit which they contained, which was of dazzling whiteness. I drew near and began to eat of it, and I found it delicious beyond description. As I was eating, I said in my heart, ‘I can not eat this alone, I must bring my wife and children, that they may partake with me.’ Accordingly, I went and brought my family, which consisted of a wife and seven children, and we all commenced eating, and praising God for this blessing. We were exceedingly happy, insomuch that our joy could not easily be expressed.”

“While thus engaged, I beheld a spacious building standing opposite the valley which we were in, and it appeared to reach to the very heavens. It was full of doors and windows, and they were filled with people, who were very finely dressed. When these people observed us in the low valley, under the tree, they pointed the finger of scorn at us, and treated us with all manner of disrespect and contempt. But their contumely we utterly disregarded. I presently turned to my guide, and inquired of him the meaning of the fruit that was so delicious. He told me it was the pure love of God, shed abroad in the hearts of all those who love him, and keep his commandments. He then commanded me to go and bring the rest of my children. I told him that we were all there. ‘No,’ he replied, ‘look yonder, you have two more, and you must bring them also.’ Upon raising my eyes, I saw two small children, standing some distance off. I immediately went to them, and brought them to the tree; upon which they commenced eating with the rest, and we all rejoiced together. The more we ate, the more we seemed to desire, until we even got down upon our knees, and scooped it up, eating it by double handfuls. After feasting in this manner a short time, I asked my guide what was the meaning of the spacious building, which I saw. He replied, ‘It is Babylon, it is Babylon, and it must fall. The people in the doors and windows are the inhabitants thereof, who scorn and despise the Saints of God because of their humility.’ I soon awoke, clapping my hands together for joy.”

Lucy Mack Smith – Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitorsfor Many Generations, Harold B. Lee Library, BYU, March 2004

Joseph Smith Sr.’s dream is nearly identical with Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life.

Growing up hearing this story surely made Joseph very familiar with it. All it would take to turn his father’s story into his own would be the replacing the rope for an iron rod. It is also interesting that Nephi recorded his father’s dream in the gold plates much the same  way Joseph recorded his father’s dream in the Book of Mormon.


View of the Hebrews

In 1823, Rev. Ethan Smith, working as a pastor in Poultney, Vermont, published his book View of the Hebrews. At the time it was first published, Oliver Cowdery was not only living in Poultney, Vermont, but was also a member of Ethan’s Congregation.

After becoming acquainted, Oliver gave Joseph a copy of Ethan’s book. Joseph liked it so much that later, as Editor in Chief of the Times and Seasons, he reprinted selections from View of the Hebrews.

“In order to this, we shall here make an extract from an able work: written exclusively on the subject of the Ten Tribes having come from Asia by the way of Bherings Strait, by the Rev. Ethan Smith, Pultney, Vt.” “… an old Indian informed him, that his fathers in this country had not long since, been in the possession of a book, which they had for a long time, carried with them, but having lost the knowledge of reading it, they buried it with an Indian chief.”

Joseph Smith – Times and Seasons, vol. 3, 1842, p.813. Quoting View of the Hebrews, p.223

View of the Hebrews became a very popular book in the New England area. Its story begins with the destruction of Jerusalem, much like the Book of Mormon. It also mentions that Native Americans are descended from the Hebrews who traveled to America and that once here, they separated into two factions: one civilized and one savage and bloodthirsty. They also both had many wars between them. It also quotes heavily from Isaiah and finally ends with the savage group completely wiping out the civilized group.

Once Joseph finally published the Book of Mormon, President of the Quorum of the Seventy, Brigham H. Roberts, noticed that its pages retold the same story as View of the Hebrews.

This led Elder Roberts to deeply study the connection between the two books. The results of his research were published a book titled, Studies of the Book of Mormon. His book notes many similarities between the two.


Origin of the Inhabitants of North and South America

“It is often represented by Mormon speakers and writers, that the Book of Mormon was first to represent the American Indians as descendants of the Hebrews, holding that the Book of Mormon is unique in this. The claim is sometimes still ignorantly made.”

B.H. Roberts – Studies of the Book of Mormon, p. 323


Prophets and apostles have claimed that the Book of Mormon is unique in presenting the true history of the American Indians as descendants of Hebrews. Elder Roberts notes that View of the Hebrews promoted this same claim when it was published in 1823, 7 years before the Book of Mormon.


Destruction of Jerusalem

Roberts notes that the entire first chapter of View of the Hebrews describes the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans. He compares this to the first chapters of the Book of Mormon, in which Lehi prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem.


The Hebrews Split into Two Nations: Civilized and Savages

“Israel brought into this new continent a considerable degree of civilization; and the better part of them long laboured to maintain it. But others fell into the hunting and consequently savage state; whose barbarous hordes invaded their more civilized brethren, and eventually annihilated most of them, and all in these northern regions!”

Ethan Smith – View of the Hebrews,1825


The Book of Mormon story also begins with Lehi and his family arrived in the New World from Jerusalem and splitting into a civilized Nephite nation and a savage Lamanite nation, with the Lamanites eventually wiping out the Nephites.


Stories of a Lost Book

An account is given in View of the Hebrews in which “an old Indian” stated that his ancestors “had a book which they had for a long time preserved,” and that eventually “they buried it with an Indian chief.” Elder Roberts parallels this with the passing down of the gold plates that were finally buried by Moroni.



View of the Hebrews discusses the Mexican legend of the “bearded white god” Quetzalcoatl. Elder Roberts questioned,

“Did this character spoken of in the ”View of the Hebrews,” published five years before the Book of Mormon, furnish the suggestion of the ”Christ” on the ”Western Continent?”

B.H.Roberts – Studies of the Book of Mormon


His research discovered many more similarities, including:

  • The peopling of America from Israel crossing “many waters.”

  • The division into two classes. One civil and the other barbaric.

  • Civilized people develop a culture of mechanic arts; of written language; of the knowledge and use of iron and other metals; and of navigation.

  • The description of extensive military fortifications.

  • Long and dismal wars break out between the civilized and barbarous divisions of people.

  • The preaching of the gospel in ancient America by prophets.

  • Emphasizes and uses much of the material from the prophecies of Isaiah, including whole chapters.

  • The future gathering of Israel and restoration of the Ten Lost Tribes.

  • Both maintain that the purpose of America in the last days is to gather up the remnants of Israel, bringing them into Christianity, and bringing forth the millennium.

  •  And many more.


Elder Roberts compared the content of the Book of Mormon with Joseph’s environment and upbringing. In doing so he considered popular publications like View of the Hebrews, the King James Bible, the Apocrypha and other contemporary sources available to Joseph and his friends.


“For years such materials as were then found and discussed, theories as to the origin of the American Indians, including “the ten lost tribes” theory of Hebrew infusion into the American race, together with frequent mention of cultural traits favorable to this supposed Hebrew infusion, all this was matter of common speculation in the literature of America, before the publication of either Priest’s American Antiquities or the Book of Mormon.”

B.H. Roberts – Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.152


“Did Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews furnish structural material for Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon? It has been pointed out in these pages that there are many things in the former book that might well have suggested many major things in the other. Not a few things merely, one or two, or half a dozen, but many; and it is this fact that many things of similarity and the cumulative force of them that makes it so serious a menace to Joseph Smith’s story of the Book of Mormon’s origins.”

B.H. Roberts – Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.240


The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain

Joseph likely grew up reading The Late War Between the United States and Great Britian by Gilbert J. Hunt, which was published in New York in 1816. Much like Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews, evidence shows incredible similarities.

The Late War was a Biblical-style account of the War of 1812 and was read in schools throughout the United States under the title, The Historical Reader. Joseph would have been very familiar with this book as he was closely connected to at least 4 teachers. His father, Joseph Smith Sr. was a teacher during the off-season, his wife, Emma, and brother Hyrum were also teachers, and Oliver Cowdery, the Book of Mormon’s principal scribe was a teacher.

In October 2013, the Word Tree Foundation conducted an analysis comparing over 100,000 books from the pre-1830’s era. They discovered a striking connection between two: The Late War and The Book of Mormon. They noted over 100 rare phrases that bind The Book of Mormon to The Late War; phrases that do not show up in other contemporary books

Both books make mention of battles at forts and rivers, weapons of curious workmanship, 2,000 stripling soldiers, bands of robbers, burning martyrs, righteous vs. savage natives, cataclysmic events, Christopher Columbus, false prophets, fighting for the cause of liberty, freemen vs. men of the king, metal plates and engravings in brass, and many more.

The War of 1812 concluded only 15 years before the publishing of the Book of Mormon. It was such a prominent and recent event that it made The Late War studied and discussed at great length during Joseph Smith’s life.

Revival Meetings

Revivals in early America started becoming popular in the early 1800s; this sensation became known as the Second Great Awakening. Camp-in revivals were organized by every denomination in the New England area and regularly drew thousands of attendants per meeting. These revival camps typically gave farmers, like the Smiths, the opportunity to take a break from their normal schedule and meet with friends and family for a few days of worship. Wooden platforms and towers were built so speakers could be seen and heard in the large crowds.

The story of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon closely resembles one of these revival meeting held in Palmyra, New York on June 7, 1826, just as Joseph Smith was about to begin his work on the Book of Mormon.

“I attended their several meetings as often as occasion would permit. In process of time my mind became somewhat partial to the Methodist sect, and I felt some desire to be united with them”

Joseph Smith – Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith History ch.1 v8

The host of this large revival near the Smith’s home was Reverend Benjamin G. Paddock, who recorded the events in his memoir. The closing speaker was an aging, well-loved Methodist bishop who was there to give his final sermon. The attendants pitched their tents in a semi-circle facing the tower. The congregation of more than 10,000 heard the ailing Bishop express his love for them and their need of a Savior.

“The venerable Bishop M’Kendree then visited us for the last time. He was too feeble to preside, and occupied the chair only once or twice, he stated with tearful emotion that he still had great affection for its members, and that to take his final leave of them, so far, at least, as earth was concerned, was the special object of his visit. The spirit of the meeting was admirable. Conversions were numerous and powerful”

Benjamin G. Paddock – Memoir of Rev. Benjamin G. Paddock, 1875, p177-179

King Benjamin’s speech in the Book of Mormon seems to bear a resemblance to popular revival meetings that the Smith family regularly attended, especially the one recorded by Rev. Benjamin Paddock.


Mosiah ch.2

And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them;

For the multitude being so great that king Benjamin could not teach them all within the walls of the temple, therefore he caused a tower to be erected, that thereby his people might hear the words which he should speak unto them.

But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind;

Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God.

And I, even I, whom ye call your king, am no better than ye yourselves are; for I am also of the dust. And ye behold that I am old, and am about to yield up this mortal frame to its mother earth.

Could King Benjamin be named after Reverend Banjamin, the host of this revival in Palmyra, New York? Could the circumstances and content of the ailing bishop’s final sermon have influenced the events of King Bejamin’s speech?


The First Book of Napoleon

Published only twenty years before Book of Mormon, The First Book of Napoleon contains much of the same language, structure and themes. Author, Michael Linning, a Scottish writer for the Queen, published this popular book in 1809, under the pen name Elakim the Scribe. A short excerpt:

Chapter 1:1-3

And behold it came to pass, in these latter days, that an evil spirit arose on the face of the earth, and greatly troubled the sons of men.

And this spirit seized upon, and spread amongst the people who dwell in the land of Gaul.

Now, in this people the fear of the Lord had not been for many generations, and they had become a corrupt and perverse people; and their chief priests, and the nobles of the land, and the learned men thereof, had become wicked in the imagines of their hearts, and in the practices of their lives.

Tales of Captain Kidd

Captain William Kidd was a famous British pirate who spent considerable time living in New York. Children in the New England area grew up hearing stories of his many adventures. In 1690 Kidd was living in colonial New York when war between England and France began. He began privateering for Britain (a government-sanctioned form of piracy against ships of enemy countries).


After the war, Captain Kidd set out on his own and sailed to the Indian Ocean seizing booty from French and Indian trade ships. Kidd used the Comoros islands off the East coast of Africa as his haven while he competed with European navies for control of the Indian Ocean trade routes. On the main island, the Grand Comoro sits the capital port city of Moroni, which provided Kidd with a market for his stolen goods.


Captain Kidd buried caches of gold and valuables wherever he stopped to keep his treasures safe. In 1701 he was arrested for the crime of piracy. A small quantity of booty was found off the coast of Long Island, New York where it was sent to England to be used as evidence against Kidd. He was later found guilty and hanged.

Stories of Kidd’s buried treasures contributed to his popularity in the New York area. People who knew Joseph Smith remember his connection to Captain Kidd. The printer for the first edition of the Book of Mormon, Pomroy Tucker, mentions that Joseph “had a library copy of Arabian Nights, stories of Captain Kidd, and a few novels.” (Pomeroy Tucker – Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism, 1867)

A Palmyra native and one-time governor of the Utah Territory, Stephen S. Harding, recalled that the gold plates had been discovered by “Joe Smith, who had spent his time for several years in tellin fortunes and digging for hidden treasures, and especially for pots and iron chests of money, supposed to have been buried by Captain Kidd.” (Stephen S. Harding – Thomas Gregg, The Prophet of Palmyra, 1890. Cited in Early Mormon Documents, 3:153-4)


Today the spelling of his famous Indian Ocean base, the Comoros Islands, has been standardized, but this has not always been the case. This 1808 map of Africa labels the islands, as they were known in Joseph’s time, as Camora.


It all becomes very problematic to learn that Joseph Smith was already familiar with the names Moroni and Cumorah and their connection to buried gold, long before he ever wrote of his First Vision. Being raised with tales of buried treasure and later as a well-known treasure hunter himself, it seems possible that Joseph would name the hill that held golden plates ‘Cumorah’ and its guardian ‘Moroni’ because of his association with Captain Kidd.

The Apocrypha

For many years after Jesus’ death, leaders of Christian groups would convene councils in attempts to agree on the various written works that were to be considered canon. Eventually, in the 16th Century, the Roman Catholic Church canonized what we know as the Christian Bible today, but also included an additional collection of books written during the space between the Old and New Testaments known as the Apocrypha. Protestants decided to omit the Apocrypha from their Bible, but the King James edition containing the Apocrypha remained in use by Lutheran and Methodist sects.

Joseph Smith purchased a Bible that contained the Apocrypha more than 10 years before publishing the Book of Mormon. Church Education System director and historian, Reed C. Durham, states,

“The Bible used for Joseph Smith’s Revision was purchased in E. B. Grandin’s Bookstore in Palmyra, New York; on October 8, 1828; it was a large family Bible… It was an edition of the Authorized Version together with the Apocrypha, which was located between the two testaments, and was an 1828 edition, printed in Cooperstown, New York, by H. and E. Phinney Company.”

Dr. Reed C. Durham, A History of Joseph Smith’s Revision of the Bible, Brigham Young University, 1965, p.25

Much like the other books cited, Joseph’s Apocrypha contains many similarities to the Book of Mormon that could be considered source material. Notable similarities include the names Nephi and Laban and the story of Nephi chopping off the head of Laban.

The King James Bible

Lehi and his family carried the ‘plates of brass’ from Jerusalem to the New World 600 years before the birth of Jesus. Since the brass plates only contained the Old Testament, this prevented the Book of Mormon from having any content from the King James version of the Bible, yet there appears to be three major issues: italicized words, the Gospel of Mark and a long list of borrowed phrases.

Italicized Words

King James sought to produce an official bible for The Church of England, and in 1604 royal scribes began the translation process. They worked on translating the Old Testament, Apocrypha, and New Testament from Hebrew and Greek texts. Since the languages didn’t translate perfectly the scribes would occasionally insert their own words into the text to make the English more readable. It is easy to find these words in the King James Bible because they are italicized for the purpose of identifying which words were added by the scribes. When the Book of Mormon copies sections from the Bible, we find these same italicized words that were added by scribes for King James.


Example 1


Isaiah 9:1

“Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, … and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan. ”


2 Nephi 19:1

Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, … and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan.

Example 2


Malachi 3:10

“… and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

Nephi 24:10

“… and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”


It appears that when the Book of Mormon prophets quote the Old Testament they aren’t quoting from the original Hebrew brass plates, but are quoting translation notes by 17th Century scribes only found in the King James Version of the Bible.


Gospel of Mark Addition

The ancient Greek manuscripts used in translating the New Testament into English were missing the end of the Gospel of Mark.

“[Regarding] Mark 16:9-20. This section is a later addition; the original ending of Mark appears to have been lost. The best and oldest manuscripts of Mark end with ch. 16:8. Two endings were added very early. [A shorter and longer.] The longer addition appears in English Bibles; its origin is uncertain. It is drawn for the most part from Luke, chapter 24, and from John, chapter 20; there is a possibility that verse 15 may come from Matthew 28:18-20.”

The Westminster Study Edition of the Holy Bible, 1948


Much like the italicized words, the ending to the gospel of Mark is another un-divine addition to the Bible, and again we see the Book of Mormon quoting directly from the King James version. If the Book of Mormon prophets only had the brass plates available to them, then portions of the New Testament should not appear in its pages, especially not a part of the New Testament that was only later created to fill in missing text.

Mark 9:17,18 [uninspired addition]

“And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing’ it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover”.

Mormon 9:24

“And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing’ it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover”.

Long List of Borrowed Phrases

​If the Book of Mormon prophets wrote their words over one thousand years before the translation of the King James Bible, then there should be no appearance of the Bible’s translation notes and later additions in the Book of Mormon, but there they are. It is evident that Joseph copied large amounts from his Bible into the Book of Mormon.

Is it possible that a combination of books and stories familiar to Joseph could have been used as source material to create the Book of Mormon?

If the Book of Mormon prophets wrote their words over one thousand years before the translation of the King James Bible, then there should be no appearance of the Bible’s translation notes and later additions in the Book of Mormon, but there they are. It is evident that Joseph copied large amounts from his Bible into the Book of Mormon.

Is it possible that a combination of books and stories familiar to Joseph could have been used as source material to create the Book of Mormon?

Chapter 16 Expert Views

LDS and non-LDS scholars agree on the difficulties of Book of Mormon archaeology. Collected below are the views from experts in the fields of Mesoamerican archaeology and anthropology; they include: the National Geographic Society, the Smithsonian Institution, university professors, and LDS scholars.

National Geographic Society


National Geographic Society,Aug. 12, 1998

The Book of Mormon is clearly a work of great spiritual power; millions have read and revered its words, first published by Joseph Smith in 1830. Yet Smith’s narration is not generally taken as a scientific source for history of the Americas. Archeologists and other scholars have long probed the hemisphere’s past, and the Society does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon. In fact, students of prehistoric Americas by and large conclude that the New World’s earliest inhabitants arrived from Asia via the Bearing Land Bridge. Lower sea levels during ice ages exposed the continental shelf beneath Bering Straight, allowing generations of ancient Siberians to migrate east. National Geographic carried “The First Americans” in its September 1979 issue.

Julie Crain – National Geographic Society

Smithsonian Institution


National Museum of Natural History - Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon

The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the Book.

The physical type of the American Indian is basically Mongoloid, being most closely related to that of the peoples of eastern, central and northeast Asia. Archeological evidence indicates that the ancestors of the present Indians came into the New World – probably over a land bridge known to have existed in the Bering Straight region during the last Ice Age – in a continuing series of small migrations beginning from about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.

Present evidence indicates that the first people to reach this continent from the East were the Norsemen who briefly visited the northeastern part of North America (modern day Canada) around AD 1,000 and then settled in Greenland. There is nothing to show that they reached Mexico or Central America.

One of the main lines of evidence supporting the scientific finding that contacts with the Old World civilizations, if indeed they occurred at all, were of very little significance for the development of American Indian civilizations, is the fact that none of the principal Old World domesticated food plants or animals occurred in the New World in pre-Colombian times. American Indians had no wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, camels before 1492. (Camels and a type of early horse were in the Americas, along with bison, mammoth and mastodon, but all these animals became extinct around 10,000 BC at the time when the early big game hunters spread across the Americas.)

Iron, steel, glass and silk were not used in the New World before 1492. Native copper was worked in various location in pre-Columbian times, but true metallurgy was limited to southern Mexico and the Andean region, where its occurrence in the late prehistoric times involved gold, silver, copper and their alloys, but not iron.

There is a possibility that the spread of cultural traits across the Pacific to Mesoamerica and the northwestern coast of South America began several hundred years before the Christian era. However, any such inter-hemispheric contacts appear to have been the results of accidental voyages originating in eastern and southern Asia. It is by no means certain that even such contacts occurred with the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, or other peoples of Western Asia and the Near East.

No reputable Egyptologist or other Specialist on Old World archeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archeological remains in Mexico and archeological remains in Egypt.

Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines, and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492 except for a few Norse rune stones which have been found in Greenland.

Anthropology Outreach Office Department of Anthropology National Museum of National History MRC 112 Smithsonian Institution Washington, DC 20560


Dr. Michael Coe

Dr. Coe is the foremost authority on New World archaeology. Earning his PhD in anthropology from Harvard University, he is chair emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University. He is Curator Emeritus of the Anthropology collection in the Peabody Museum of Natural History, and has authored over 20 major publications on Mesoamerica.


Dr. Coe was invited to publish his thoughts on Book of Mormon archeology in the LDS scholarly journal, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. He stated:

“Mormon archaeologists over the years have almost unanimously accepted the Book of Mormon as an accurate, historical account of the New World peoples…. Let me now state uncategorically that as far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing the foregoing to be true, and I would like to state that there are quite a few Mormon archaeologists who join this group. […] The bare facts of the matter are that nothing, absolutely nothing, has even shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon, as claimed by Joseph Smith, is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere.”

Dr. Michael Coe – Archaeology and the Book of Mormon, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1973

University Professors

In 2013, LDS member, Zachary Lien, contacted a number of university professors, experts in their respective fields, and asked them to enlighten him on some of the historical claims of the LDS Church.

Upon research, I found your name as an expert of Mesoamerica.This is why I hope to get a response from you, because you come highly recommended and acclaimed. My question to you would be: What is your opinion is on the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and the language called “Reformed Egyptian”? I hope you do not feel uncomfortable answering because it relates to religious matters. I ask this question in pure curiosity and with a hope to learn. Some claims from the Book of Mormon are as follows:

  • In 600 B.C. a family from Jerusalem sailed to modern-day Central America and began a civilization there. This civilization split into two main groups, the Nephites and Lamanites. And after centuries of war, the Lamanites were the last surviving.

  • Lamanites are the principal ancestors of the Mayas, Incas, Olmecs, Aztecs and Native Americans.

  • Nephites and Lamanites initially spoke Hebrew in Mesoamerica. Over approximately 1,000 years the linguistics evolved into what the Native Americans speak today.


The responses regarding the Book of Mormon are listed below.

Louise Burkhart – Professor in the Anthropology Department at the University at Albany, PhD in Anthropology from Yale University


Dear Zachary,

It is true that I am a busy woman, but I can answer your question. I hope that I am not belittling your religion if I say that all historical and archaeological evidence contradicts the Book of Mormon’s stories of the peopling of the Americas and the early history of Native American societies. The Book of Mormon is a work of faith, and naturally has credibility to the faithful, but it has no historical basis, any more than the Book of Genesis is a historically or scientifically accurate version of the origin of the earth and human beings, however much it, or the Book of Mormon, may serve as a moral guide to believers. And I’m sure you can understand why people might be uncomfortable directly contradicting the teachings of what has become a very well-established religious movement.

The Americas were peopled by immigrants from Asia probably 15,000 years ago (give or take some thousands; archaeologists still haven’t quite figured this out). This is born out by archaeology as well as genetic evidence (DNA, blood types, and other factors). Their descendants settled throughout the entire New World. Complex, urban civilizations developed in Mexico and Central America in isolation from the rest of the world, out of the accumulated knowledge of people who lived there for thousands of years, domesticated corn and other food crops, and learned very well how to live in those environments. Languages of the New World bear no relationship to Hebrew. Ever since Europeans became aware of Native Americans, there have been various attempts to identify them with the socalled “Ten Lost Tribes of Israel” mentioned in the Old Testament. So we might say that Joseph Smith’s version was in some degree a variation on this old theme.


David Carrasco – Professor of the Study of Latin America at Harvard Divinity School, PhD in the History of Religions from the University of Chicago

Dear Zachary,

I see you are deeply interested in the history of Mexico as it relates to the Book of Mormon. I respect the Mormon religion and have been to Salt Lake City to see the Mormon monuments and displays.

The Book of Mormon is a book of faith and storytelling and not history. Historically it is inaccurate. If we go on archaeological evidence, there is no basis for what the Book of Mormon teaches, as you summarize it below. There is no record of the arrival of anyone from Jerusalem. Here’s another point. People of faith believe what they want to believe about the authenticity of their own religion. Some Catholics believed that St. Tomas, one of Jesus Christ’s disciples migrated to Mexico after the crucifixion and preached in Mexico. This is because they found some parallels between Aztec and Maya religion and the Bible. But there is not one single fact, datum, object, word that supports either the Mormon view or the Catholic view. My book Religions of Mesoamerica is coming out again in paperback in September and I address these claims in the first chapter.


Geoffrey Conrad  Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Indiana University, PhD in Anthropology from Harvard University


Thank you for your message. I should begin by saying that while I’ve written about Mesoamerican archaeology and taught about it for years, it isn’t my primary area of specialization. I did most of my own fieldwork in South America and the Caribbean. When I wrote about Mesoamerica, I was collaborating with my colleague Prof. Arthur Demarest (now at Vanderbilt University), whose primary area of expertise is indeed Mesoamerica. When I taught about Mesoamerica, it was always in a course on comparative ancient civilizations. Also, I’ve never read anything more than snippets of the Book of Mormon and can only discuss the specific claims you’ve listed below. After saying all of that, I think I do have enough knowledge to assess the claims you’ve listed. Insofar as I can tell, they are not supported by any archaeological, linguistic, or genetic evidence. Some specific points of disagreement are:

1) Complex societies (“civilizations,” for short) began to emerge in Mesoamerica well before 600 B.C.–nearly 1,000 years earlier, in fact. All of the archeological evidence indicates that those complex societies were developed by the native peoples of Mesoamerica out of their own longstanding cultural traditions.

2) The native peoples of Mesoamerica are American Indians. All archaeological and genetic evidence indicates that their ancestors came from northeast Asia (Siberia) and entered what is today the Americas sometime before 13,000 years ago.

3) There were probably several thousand native languages spoken in the Americas when Columbus arrived. They belonged to a number of language families, but none of the ones we know anything about belonged to the Semitic language family, which includes Hebrew. None of the known native languages of the Americas show any evidence of being derived from Hebrew.

4) With the single exception of Norse settlement in what is today Newfoundland, Canada, there is no evidence of any people from Europe or Southwest Asia in the Americas before Columbus. A small number of Norse colonists from Greenland settled in Newfoundland around A.D. 1000. The colony was short-lived, however, and was abandoned within a century. I hope this information is useful to you. I do have two colleagues in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University who are specialists in Mesoamerican archaeology. Both are out of the country this summer, but if they were here, I’m certain they wouldn’t say anything different from what I’ve said.

Geoffrey W. Conrad Professor Emeritus of Anthropology Director Emeritus, Mathers Museum of World Cultures Indiana University Bloomington


John Henderson – Professor of Anthropology at Cornell University, PhD in Anthropology from Yale University.


I haven’t seen convincing evidence that a group of Hebrew speakers arrived in Mesoamerica. Language is one area that seems to indicate a negative. Mesoamerican languages clump into a couple of large groupings, but those groupings are very different from one another, and none of them seems related to Hebrew; linguists are sure that there wouldn’t be nearly enough time between 600 BC and the Spanish invasion to produce that much variation and obscure a Hebrew ancestry. Of course, I haven’t seen a lot of the publications of the LDS church (claims of archaeological confirmation of the Book of Mormon don’t show up in standard archaeological publications).


Arthur Joyce – Professor of Anthropology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, PhD in Anthropology from Rutgers University


I don’t see evidence of a major migration of outsiders into Mesoamerica around 600 B.C. Archaeologists are able to trace Native American populations back more than 10,000 years ago. There are no indications of Hebrew roots in Native American languages.


William Saturno – Assistant Professor of Archaeology at Boston University, PhD in Anthropology from Harvard.


University Any attempt to scientifically verify the events of largely religious documents, whether that be Noah’s flood or the travels of Lamanites and Nephites is unlikely to produce a result that will appeal to anyone beyond the faithful. That is to say that people will believe what they are most comfortable believing regardless of what scientists illustrate to be the most likely scenario, take global warming as an example. In direct reference to the existence of evidence of Hebrew speaking/descendant populations in the Mesoamerica prior to the arrival of Columbus, there is none. That is to say that following more than a century of dedicated research, not a single shred of evidence (potsherd, seed, or residue) of old world origin has ever been found. This is the case even though some Mormon scholars themselves have been searching for that evidence


Michael Smith – Professor of Anthropology at Arizona State University.


You are asking about religious interpretations, not scientific interpretations. From a scientific viewpoint, the Book of Mormon has no standing as an accurate or even a relevant source about ancient Mesoamerican history or archaeology. There is no reason to believe that Joseph Smith knew anything about the Mesoamerican past, or to believe that he heard historical truth from God. So I have no opinion about this.

It is often impossible to “test” historical religious accounts against archaeological evidence. The reason is that many people bring strong predispositions to believe the accounts (or to not believe them), and this colors their interpretations. Consider the archaeology of the Old Testament. Did David exist? Did he rule an empire, or build a big palace and temple? Have we found evidence for these things? There is endless argument about this, and the situation will probably never be settled. I assume that you know about the New World Archaeological Foundation. It is funded by the LDS church for carrying out archaeology in Mesoamerica. The archaeology they do is rigorous and very good. Their technical reports say nothing about the Book of Mormon. But at some level in the church, people are probably interpreting the archaeological results with reference to the Book of Mormon.

Brian Stross – Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin, PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.


There is little if any support to the historicity claim for the Book of Mormon, even including scholarly Mormon investigators, who, like Thomas Lee and John Clark have advanced Mesoamerican archaeology (without, however, advancing support of historical propositions in the Book of Mormon.) The Book of Mormon therefore doesn’t carry credible historical weight except to persons who take it on faith that it is a sacred book with historical import. The key is that, as with most religions, faith rather than scientific evidence, is what props up beliefs and information given to and propagated by the faithful.


LDS Scholars


Dr. Dee F. Green – Editor of the University Archaeological Society Newsletter, at Brigham Young University


“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 emptyhanded.”

Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 1969, pp. 77-78


Thomas Stuart Ferguson – Founded the New World Archaeological Foundation (NAWF)

The NWAF was organized in 1952 for the purpose of supporting archaeological research into pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica. Ferguson convinced then BYU president, Howard S. McDonald, to establish the archeology (now anthropology) department at BYU. While the Church funded the NWAF organization, Thomas Stuart Ferguson organized archaeological fieldwork in the area of Mesoamerica. Towards the end of his career he concluded that the archaeological evidence could not authenticate the Book of Mormon. Ferguson admitted that although the foundation made important contributions to New World archaeology, all his work with regard to the Book of Mormon was in vain. On March 12, 1975 Ferguson participated in a symposium on Book of Mormon geography. He details “the big weak spots” involved in archaeologically authenticating the Book of Mormon. To Ferguson the four most exacting tests were the existence of appropriate plant life, animal life, metals, and scripts.

“Evidence of the foregoing animals has not appeared in any form — ceramic representations, bones or skeletal remains, mural art, sculptured art or any other form. The zero score presents a problem that will not go away with the ignoring of it. The absence of such evidence … is distressing and significant, in my view.… I’m afraid that up to this point, I must agree with Dee Green, who has told us that to date there is no Book of Mormon geography.”

Thomas S. Ferguson – Written Symposium on Book-of-Mormon Geography:Response of Thomas S. Ferguson

“…you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere because it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of the dirt-archeology.”

Thomas Stuart Ferguson – Letter to Mr. & Mrs. H.W. Lawrence, February 20, 1976


Dr. Ray T. Matheny – Professor of Anthropology at BYUAfter working in Mesoamerican archaeology for 22 years

Dr. Matheny admitted that he has a difficult time reconciling the lack of evidence.

“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 – Book of Mormon Archeology, Sunstone Symposium, August 25, 1984


Dr. John E. Clark – Professor of Archaeology at BYU


“In accord with these general observations about New York and Pennsylvania, we come to our principal object—the, Hill Cumorah Archaeologically speaking, it is a clean hill. No artifacts, no walls, no trenches, no arrowheads. The area immediately surrounding the hill is similarly clean. Pre- Columbian people did not settle or build here. This is not the place of Mormon’s last stand. We must look elsewhere for that hill.”

John E. Clark – Archaeology and Cumorah Questions, Journal of Mormon Studies, 2004 ?pub=1412&index=15


Why do LDS and non-LDS archaeologists take such a poor view of the Book of Mormon? Perhaps because the book’s historical claims have not withstood the scrutiny of archaeology, biology, history, and linguistics.



Members have been taught to see the Book of Mormon as a true record of the history of ancient America, yet under closer inspection, it does not appear to support that claim.


1. DNA evidence disproves the Hebrew origins of the Native Americans.

2. Reformed Egyptian characters bear no resemblance to Mayan hieroglyphs, but appear to be a stylized English alphabet and numeric system.

3. Modern animals, technology, and metallurgy have been mistakenly inserted into the past.

4. The Jaredite transatlantic voyage could not have taken place.

5. The remains of millions of soldiers are nowhere to be found on the Hill Cumorah.

6. Several sources for the Book of Mormon show unquestionable similarities.

7. LDS and academic scholars agree that the Book of Mormon is not historically accurate.


The events surrounding the creation of the Book of Mormon seem to point to Joseph’s folk magic roots, its content greatly reflects other sources, and its purpose may very well hint at Joseph’s treasure-hunting past.

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