Joseph Smith's Probable Source Of The "Book Of Mormon"
Luther W. Martin
Joseph Smith was born December 23, 1805, at Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont. While Joseph was yet seventeen years old (Sept. 21, 1823), he was supposedly visited by an angel, named Moroni, in a hillside, near the village of Manchester, New York. Smith's parents had moved the family from Vermont to New York State, by this time.
The Book of Mormon, which was reportedly translated from a type of "reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics" written on the golden plates, covers a ,span of time from 600 B.C. until 421 A.D., at which date the plates were "sealed" and buried in the hill in the State of New York.
With this kind of alleged history, it is most unusual that exact passages from the King James Version of the English Bible (including words in italics), should be included on golden plates that had been buried some 1, 190 years before the King James Version was translated and published.
The Book "View of The Hebrews"
We mentioned earlier that Joseph Smith was born in Windsor County, Vermont. The next county to the west from Windsor, was Poultney County, Vermont. In this county, a Congregational preacher, named Ethan Smith, published a book entitled View of The Hebrews in 1823. Its subtitle was "Or The Tribes Of Israel In America. "At this time, there was much speculation as to the ancestry of the American Indians, and a goodly number of books had appeared, suggesting that the Indians might have descended from the "Ten Lost Tribes of Israel."
The first edition of the Book of Mormon, claimed: "Wherefore it is an abridgement of the Record of the People of Nephi; and also of the Lamanites; written to the Lamanites, which are a remnant of the House of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile. . . . BY JOSEPH SMITH, JUNIOR, Author and Proprietor. - Palmyra: Printed By E. B. Grandin, For The Author, 1830. "
In 1825, a second edition of the View of The Hebrews was published. However, on September 22, 1827, Joseph received the angel's permission to remove the golden plates from their burial place, along with the two pieces of quartz, which he called the Urim and Thummin, and the breastplate, which was supposedly similar to the one worn by the ancient Jewish High Priests. The two pieces of quartz were used like eye-glasses, with Smith peering through them at the hieroglyphics on the golden plates, and dictating aloud to his scribe . . . Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon or his first wife, Emma Smith. Joseph was twenty-two years old when he secured the plates and began his work of "translating" the "reformed Egyptian" into English.
The View of The Hebrews, second edition (p. 223), relates the story of a "lost book" that had been buried with the body of a deceased Indian Chief. This book had been unearthed in 1815, by a Mr. Merrick, digging on a place called "Indian Hill," at Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The parchment was inscribed in a language that was unknown (but thought to have been Indian), and was taken to Boston, to be examined by linguists at either Cambridge or Andover, or both. There, the scholars were concluding that the language was not Indian, but Hebrew.
Many Similarities Between The Book of Mormon And The View Of The Hebrews!
In February, 1828, Martin Harris, one of Joseph Smith's associates, made a copy of some of the "caractors" from the golden plates, and took his copy to a Professor Charles Anthon, in New York City. The professor reportedly indicated to Martin Harris that the sketched copy was "reformed Egyptian."
The View of The Hebrews, devotes some thirty-three pages to the destruction of Jerusalem. The Book of Mormon makes reference to this event in history, in the First and Second Books of Nephi.
The View of The Hebrews, has numerous references to the "gathering and scattering" of Israel "in the last days." The Book of Mormon, also has references to the same subject in Chapters 19, 20, and 21 of First Nephi.
The View of The Hebrews, copies from twenty different chapters of Isaiah, copying the 18th Chapter completely. The Book of Mormon, also quotes from Isaiah, nearly all of the 49th, 50th, and 51st Chapters.
"Witnesses" In Behalf of The Book of Mormon
In the time of Joseph Smith, many people were unable to read the Bible for themselves. But those who could and did, called in question the truthfulness, accuracy and source of Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon.
The first test that Joseph made was to secure a signed statement from "Three Witnesses," who testified as to the alleged accuracy of the Book of Mormon. Three men Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris) affirmed the following:
. . we also know that they (the golden plates, LWM) have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety, that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shewn unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an Angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . "
Next, Joseph secured a statement from "Eight Witnesses": Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jr., John Whitmer, Hiram Page, Joseph Smith, Sen., Hyrum Smith, and Samuel H. Smith. This statement said in part:
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come, that Joseph Smith, Jr., the Author and Proprietor of this work, has shewn unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated, we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. . .
The "Three Witnesses" were severed from among the faithful within the first decade of the Mormon church. Martin Harris was termed "a wicked man" by Joseph Smith in July, 1828, in a "revelation" at Harmony, Pennsylvania (Doctrine & Covenants, 2:5).
Joseph Smith wrote as follows:
At this time there were several persons living in Far West (Missouri - LWM) who were disaffected with the church and had dissented from it, and were cut off from the church according to the rules and regulations of the same. . . . They are as follows, viz: Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmore (Whitmer - LWM), W.W. Phelps, John Whitmore (Whitmer - LWM), and Lyman E. Johnson. . . (Times and Seasons, 1, 81).
This testimony is accepted by both the Utah and Missouri Mormons. If they were "good men" when they served as "witnesses" then they soon degenerated under Joseph Smith's influence.
Joseph Smith Re-Writes The Bible
The Book of Mormon, had been completed in early 1830. Then in April 1830, the Mormon Church started. But Joseph Smith ran into so much opposition from people who were students of the Scripture, that Smith was hard pressed to establish the truth, accuracy and inspiration of his Book of Mormon. So, in December of 1830, Smith began the "translation" of the Bible from "English to English." He called it the "Inspired Version"! But note that Smith added to the Prophecy of Isaiah in order to provide a foundation for his Book of Mormon!
Wherefore, at that day when the book shall be delivered unto the man of whom I have spoken, the book shall be hid from the eyes of the world, that the eyes of none shall behold it, save it be that three witnesses shall behold it by the power of God, besides him to whom the book shall be delivered; and they shall testify to the truth of the book and the things therein (Smith's Version, Isaiah 29:17).
So, by the above false insertion Smith has his "Three Witnesses" described and foretold in the Old Testament of his "Inspired Version."
Concerning Smith's "Eight Witnesses"
The eight "witnesses" were of only two families. Thee were four Whitmers, and Hiram Page, who had married Catherine Whitmer. The other three (of the eight) "witnesses" were Smiths. Therefore none of them were objective, independent witnesses. The Whitmers and Page parted company with the Smith's and the Mormon Church, nine years after they served as a part of the "Eight Witnesses."
Whenever any group begins to accept and embrace "latter-day revelations," there is no way that they can identify who is indeed speaking a truth and who is speaking an un-truth!
For example, a Mormon Elder desired a second wife, but was afraid to ask his first wife's permission. Finally, the Elder "had a revelation" . . . at least that's what he related to his first wife . . . to the effect that "the Lord had spoken and informed him that he should take a certain girl as his plural wife." He further urged his first wife, that in order to please the Lord, she should give her approval to his next marriage. His first wife made no comment at that moment, but the next morning she announced to her amorous husband, that during the night she, too, had received a "revelation." She had been instructed to "shoot any woman who became his plural wife!" That ended the matter, then and there (Isn't One Wife Enough 91 by Kimball Young, p. 123)! (Also found in Joseph Smith and Polygamy, by Tanner, p. 55.)
The most complimentary thing that can be said about Joseph Smith was, that he possessed a most active imagination. His Book of Mormon, his "Inspired Version " of the Bible, and his many alleged "revelations" gave evidence of a vivid imagination. He contradicted himself frequently, and changed his "revelations" as expediency dictated. The Mormon Presidents have continued to do this: i.e., The Manifesto issued as a "revelation" in 1890, which allowed the Territory of Utah to become a State, if the Mormon Church would cease preaching and practicing polygamy. This was agreed to, in public, but in private was violated in many instances. The more recent "revelation" allowing higher status to members of the black race, in the Mormon Church, was "received" at a most expedient and opportune time.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 22, pp. 692-693