Qcmbr: Does it not strike you as both too coincidental and odd that a conman pretending to find buried treasure that is - guarded by spirits, always must be in a box, must be approached ritualistically or it will be taken away by a spirit - actually gets directed to some real treasure, in a box, buried by the ancestors of the Indians, that must be retrieved ritualistically (he had to go back on set dates) and when done improperly gets him shocked by the guardian spirit?
Uh-huh...and where are you procuring your information? Mormonism Unveiled? I would have thought you had heard these stories long before you were an Elder’s quorum teacher, if you’d been keeping your ear to the track, so to speak. I’d heard it all within a year of my baptism in 1971, when I was 18 years old. So no, I don’t have quite the same grab on it as you. Joseph Smith was a money digger, but he was hired as a money digger by others and he later admitted it didn’t pay very well. All the stuff about guarded by salamanders and various spirits is hearsay. Seems that only his enemies believed that stuff. See:
Does it not ring alarm bells that he produces a book that contains place names that coincidentally match several local ones and two direct lifts ( including a spelling from that era) from Captain Kidd legends (Camorah and Moroni), a geography that matches his local geography, a plot that contains the same storyline as a fictional book recently printed and available to the main scribe, an inaccurate description of real American flora and fauna, farcical anachronisms, direct biblical quotes (including, unique to that 1700s print bible, translation interpolations), absolutely incorrect old English usage (no real translation by scholars attempts to translate from one language into a former version of a current language), contains Greek names and words (like Christ) that are absolutely out of place in a supposed Israelite production and then tries to sell the copyright to that book to make some cash?
No, none of these ring any alarm bells because they are grossly out of kilter and are inaccurate, misleading and terribly out of date. You sound as though you knew all of the evidences but only recently found out about all this stale anti-Mormon propaganda. First, it’s the Comoros islands, not the Camorah. So all you’re down to is one name, “Moroni.” That’s it? Enough to prove that Joseph Smith made it all up? What about all the other names? And what “inaccurate...flora and fauna, farcical anachronisms” are you speaking of? Again, you’re behind the times.
I’ve already addressed the translation aspects, and that a translation is either accurate or inaccurate. Other translators of other works have done similarly, yet their translations are accepted. Again, you’ve become an enemy to the church without checking your own predilections. You find strong evidence in tiny, obscure and insignificant things and you dismiss the many detailed things that Joseph Smith got right and which no one could have possibly known in 1830.
A rather gaudy and sensational aspect of the royal cult, which has been the subject of some recent historical novels, was that sinister mode of succession that prevailed in the earliest days, when the old king would be beheaded by the new king, who would then proceed to marry the queen. The Jaredites had hardly arrived in the Western Hemisphere, ages before Lehi’s people, when a certain princess inaugurated this system, which was unknown in later times. She did not invent it, we are told, but brought it to her father’s attention from ancient sources: “Hath he not read the record which our fathers brought across the great deep?” she said. “Behold, is there not an account concerning them of old?” (Ether 8:9). She goes on to explain the beheading to the old king, who unwittingly becomes the first victim (Ether 8:10, 9:6). Here on the borderline between the historical and the legendary, the thing to note is not the historical accuracy of the Book of Mormon, but its perfect legendary consistency. The various people who came to the New World from the Old are supposed to have brought certain traditions and legends with them, as the last instance demonstrates. The rustic youth in upper New York shrewdly included a good deal of this old apocryphal stuff in the Book of Mormon, stuff quite inaccessible to him or the world he lived in. (Source: Howlers in the Book of Mormon by Hugh Nibley.)
And how about this one, from the same source:
The Nephite prophet Moroni tells a story, which he says was common property of his people, concerning the death of the patriarch Jacob (Alma 46:24–25). I have never come across this story except in Tha’labi—who in Joseph Smith’s America had access to Tha’labi? Tha’labi, a Persian in the tenth century A.D., went about collecting old stories of the prophets from his Jewish neighbors. The story in barest outline is that when the garment of Joseph was brought to Jacob on his deathbed, he rejoiced because part of it was sound and whole, signifying that some of his descendants would always remain true; but he wept because another part of the garment was befouled and rotted away, signifying that part of his descendants that would fall away. The same story is told with the same interpretation in Tha’labi and in the book of Alma, in the latter significantly as a popular folk-tale. The presence of such a story among the Hebrews has been indicated in a recent study by a Jewish scholar, but could Joseph Smith wait until 1953 to read about it?
Here’s the same story in two different texts: the Book of Mormon and an ancient Jewish source that wasn’t even available anywhere in Joseph Smith’s day. How can you chalk this up to translation techniques or a theme from a fictional book? You take that other book and see if it has anywhere near the track record of the Book of Mormon. I bet it doesn’t even touch it.
Or how about this example:
According to the book of Ether, the first migrants to America were Asiatics who crossed the violently stormy waters of the North Pacific in eight ships constructed “like unto the ark of Noah” (Ether 6:7). To wit, they had covered decks, “and the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; ...and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish,” and “the ends thereof were peaked” (Ether 2:17). It was driven before the wind without sails and was often covered by the heavy seas, “for the mountain waves shall dash upon you” (Ether 2:24). Within the strange ships, men and animals were safe, as “they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind” (Ether 6:5)
The oldest accounts of the ark of Noah, the Sumerian ones, describe it as a “magur boat,” peaked at the ends, completely covered but for a door, without sails, and completely covered by the waters from time to time, as men and animals rode safe within. But the remarkable thing about Jared’s boats was their illumination by stones which shone in the dark because they had been touched by the finger of the Lord (Ether 3:6, 6:3).
The Rabbis tell of a mysterious Zohar that illuminated the ark, but for further instruction we must go to much older sources: the Pyrophilus is traced back to the Jalakanta stone of India, which shines in the dark and enables its owner to pass unharmed beneath the waters; this in turn has been traced back through classical and Oriental sources to the Gilgamesh Epic, where Alexander’s wonderful Pyrophilus stone turns up as the Plant of Life in the possession of the Babylonian Noah.
Show me just one of your criticisms that match any of the above. Or chiasmus, which is an astounding evidence. Again, it would take days or weeks to construct a text with the chiasmic complexity found in the Book of Mormon. How did Joseph Smith know about it, and how did he incorporate it into the Book of Mormon? If you want to have some fun, try writing an entire book like Alma in a chiasmic style. You may start to gain an appreciation of the Book of Mormon.
Does it strike you as likely that this ‘revelator’ would tell no one, including family and co-founders of the church, of his most import vision (a direct visit to him as a 14 or 15 or 16 year old child depending upon which of the different 10 versions we use) and then suddenly tell everyone (claiming that he was quite free in telling a random minister at the time) and then follows this pattern retroactively filling in details such as his miraculous baptism, the supposed restoration of the priesthoods (try looking up the date for the restoration of the Melchizedek priesthood)?
Again, nice try but no cigar. Joseph Smith told a number of his early confidants about his “first” vision, which occurred when he was 14 years old. This topic already has been written to death about and anyone seeking truth rather than ammo can research it. But you err is saying that Joseph told no one about that vision. He told his parents about it, and he told some of the early brethren. As for the Melchizedek Priesthood ordination, the date was never recorded; however, it was very shortly after the Aaronic Priesthood restoration—perhaps days. The fact remains, if Joseph was telling the truth about the Book of Mormon, then he was telling the truth about the first vision and the restoration of the priesthood (in which case it all fits together).
Finally, do no alarm bells ring when this Book of Mormon, the ‘most correct’ book, containing the ‘fullness of the gospel’ turns out to not contain the fullness of the gospel so requiring the Doctrine and Covenants to restore the principles regarding the temple, after the atonement, the most important parts of the gospel?
No alarm bells. The Book of Mormon contains the fulness of the gospel; one simply has to know what the fulness of the gospel is. That is the relationship between justice and mercy, and Jesus’ role in satisfying the demands of both. It also includes the knowledge of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the first principles of the gospel, which is faith, repentance and baptism by water and by fire, which is the Holy Spirit, as well as the life, death and resurrection of Christ and all mankind. And finally, it takes these elements and applies them to both heaven and earth. As mankind will die and be resurrected to a higher glory, through the atonement, so also will heaven and earth pass away and then made whole through the suffering of Christ. And that is the fulness of the gospel that the Book of Mormon.
Ask yourself when was the last time you ever saw a real priesthood miracle and from your list really justify how impressive it really is or whether this could have happened without any blessing occurring. Look around your home ward and honestly ask yourself if you personally believe you have the power to heal all the sick, ill, maimed and disabled (mentally and physically) you see, and then ask yourself truly why you do not go and do it right now.
I have a certain amount of empathy over this question as it’s one of those gifts that everyone wishes they had. I haven’t given many blessings over the past, but my brother has had several blessings that have worked on his wife and children with great success. And my good friend and former bishop told me of the time he and another priesthood brother drove an actual evil spirit out of a woman. He described to me how this spirit fought him at every part of the blessing, rising out of the bed and then collapsing back. Finally she tensed, stop breathing for a moment and then fell back with a sigh totally relaxed and slept.
These healings would happen more often, I suspect, if we had the faith. In the case of my brother and former bishop, both are far more willing to lead lives of faith than me. When one has distractions like television and various entertainments and temptations, it’s much more difficult to gain the necessary Spirit.