One such external impetus was the barrage of falsehoods and misrepresentations that dogged him throughout his life. Smith began his history with the words: The only exceptions are routine, repetitive documents, such as the certificates and licenses Smith signed. All will be published online, but only samples will be published in paper. All documents will be calendared. Officials at the Church History Library have given advance permission for a scholarly edition of all Smith papers in their possession.
Publication of the relatively few documents in private possession depends on permission of the owners. Do you know of any Joseph Smith documents that we might not have heard about? Home Joseph Smith and His Papers: An Introduction For one who had little schooling, Joseph Smith left an unusually extensive literary record.
From , when he began work on the Book of Mormon at age twenty-two, to , when he was killed at age thirty-eight, Smith produced thousands of pages of revelations, translations, correspondence, declarations, discourses, journals, and histories. His records will fill approximately thirty volumes when publication is complete. The goal of the Joseph Smith Papers Project is to publish every extant document written by Smith or by his scribes in his behalf, as well as other records that were created under his direction or that reflect his personal instruction or involvement.
Though he was intelligent and strong willed, no ordinary talent can account for his success. His rise as church leader, city builder, and theologian rested on what he believed was a gift of revelation, by which he meant direct communication from God in the form of visions into heaven, heavenly visitors, or more commonly the words of God coming through direct inspiration.
Controversial as his claims were, the revelations were the source of his influence among the tens of thousands of people who joined the church while he was alive and the millions who accepted his teachings after his death. Hundreds of pages of revelations accumulated over his lifetime. His major projects, plans, and doctrines originated in revelation. His followers complied with his often-demanding directions largely because they believed them to be from God. The revelations ranged from mundane directions for keeping a history or opening a store to visions of heaven and the future.
One of the most dramatic revelations came in when Smith and his associate were puzzling over a biblical passage that raised questions about rewards and punishments in the afterlife. And while we meditated upon these things, the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings, and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about; and we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness.
And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him, that he lives; for we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the only begotten of the Father. The revelation went on to describe a hereafter divided into three degrees of glory, more finely graded than the usual heaven-or-hell division and more in accord with the mixture of good and evil in actual life.
The revelations thrilled believers. The revelations derived their credibility partly from the prophetic traditions of the Bible. Joseph Smith moved into a role well known to Christians. He was another Moses or Paul. To most Christians, the Bible stood above all other books precisely because it was the word of God to prophets. Now, the Mormons claimed, God spoke again. One early convert to the church approached the preaching of Mormon missionaries skeptically but then reasoned:.
If he supplied every other age and people with prophets and special messengers, why not this?
Catalog Record: The founder of Mormonism a psychological | Hathi Trust Digital Library
The presence of a modern prophet brought biblical history into the present. The three purported to be English renditions of ancient records that, like the Bible, told of events in a distant time and place. Smith did not understand the languages of the original text and convert the words to English through his own learning. The persuasiveness of the translations for early converts came partly from the confidence with which Joseph Smith introduced readers into ancient worlds without injecting himself into the story.
In the book of Moses, the reader learns of Enoch, who conversed with God and built a city that was taken into heaven. In the book of Abraham, the father of nations learns astronomy by consulting a Urim and Thummim. However one accounts for these marvelous narratives, they exceed anything one would expect from a poorly educated rural visionary. Smith had little education and no history of literary experimentation. Indeed, nothing in his background prepared him either to translate or to lead a church.
He brought neither wealth, social position, nor education to his work. But by requiring him to go into debt, the trading ventures—and the dishonesty of a business partner—led to his financial downfall. He lost his farm and for the next fourteen years worked rented land to support his family. The Smith family moved every few years during his boyhood until about , when they migrated to , New York, a town along the future route of the Erie Canal.
Here they contracted for a farm in the adjacent township of and began clearing the land, but even the combined efforts of a large family were insufficient to hold on to the farm. The Smiths made the mistake of beginning a frame house to replace their log house, and when the added expense made it impossible to make payments on their farm, the owners foreclosed. He was further disadvantaged by lacking a church. Grandfather Asael Smith, though ostensibly a Congregationalist, sympathized with Universalist doctrines. He had dreams about wandering in the wilderness in search of peace and salvation.
When his wife, , joined the Presbyterians in , he refused to attend. Her mother, Lydia Gates Mack, was the daughter of a Congregational deacon. Her father, Solomon Mack, though he lived without religion most of his life, finally converted to Christianity in his old age. Early in her life, after passing through a distressing illness, Lucy tried to find a church but could not connect with the right pastor.
When she finally affiliated with the Presbyterians in , three of her children—, , and —attended with her. In their search for contact with the divine, the Smiths were susceptible to the folk magic still flourishing in rural in the early nineteenth century. Harboring the perpetual hope of the poor for quick riches, searched for lost treasure, often with the help of Joseph Jr. Like many of their neighbors, the family combined the use of divining rods and seer stones with conventional forms of Christian worship. In his early twenties, Joseph Jr. Even though connected to a church only intermittently, the Smiths were religious.
They read the Bible together, and as a young man Joseph Jr. The repeated visits of revival preachers kept religious concern at a high pitch, but the strife of contending voices made it difficult to know where to turn for instruction. The split within the family compounded Joseph Jr. Was he to follow into the Presbyterian church or join in abstention? In , in a solitary place where his family had been clearing land, he prayed for an answer.
According to his account, he was at first unable to speak as an unseen force nearly overcame him. A world overrun with churches was bereft of true religion. In , three years after his first vision, Joseph Smith was again visited by a messenger from heaven. As Smith retold the story later, while praying for forgiveness one night he noticed a light appearing in his room. In a moment, a white-robed angel stood in the air before him. The angel introduced himself as Moroni and spoke of the record of a people who dwelt anciently on the American continents.
Moroni, Smith was to learn, was the last in a long line of prophets in the Western Hemisphere who had written their story, just as the prophets in Palestine had written the Bible. Smith would find the book, he was told, inscribed on gold plates buried in a hill near his house in. His task was to translate the record. In he obtained possession of the plates, and in he began the translation with the aid of an interpreting instrument, later called a Urim and Thummim, consisting of two stones set in a bow and attached to a breastplate.
His wife, , whom he married in January , was the first to take down his dictation, followed by others such as the young schoolteacher. In March , Joseph Smith published the page Book of Mormon, an unusual beginning for a life as a minister of the gospel. Finney, an apprentice lawyer in Adams, New York, claimed to see a vision of Christ at the time of his conversion in , but Finney immediately began preaching; he went on to become the most influential evangelical preacher of his generation.
Other budding religious reformers took the same path, moving from visionary to preacher. Joseph Smith, instead of communicating with the world through sermons, made his entrance onto the religious stage with the translation of a large book of ancient records. Though not widely read himself, he instinctively sensed the increasing potency of print in disseminating religious knowledge. The publication of the Book of Mormon plunged Joseph Smith into immediate controversy. Even before the book was published, his neighbors pledged not to purchase it, hoping to discourage printers from finishing the job.
The Palmyrans thought the book was a scheme to swindle the gullible. One acquaintance later claimed Smith had put white sand in his frock and told his family it was the gold plates. Though never able to silence the critics, he did have an answer to their questions about the plates. Eleven of his friends and family members said they saw the plates and agreed to have their testimonies printed in the back of the Book of Mormon.
Apart from its origins, the book itself was contested. Some early readers were enthralled. The Reformed Baptist theologian hypothesized that Smith had cobbled the text together from bits and pieces of cultural information swirling about him in. The Book of Mormon is an elaborate, thousand-year history of a civilization that flourished and then collapsed more than fourteen hundred years before Joseph Smith published the book.
In its ambitious scope, the Book of Mormon most resembles the Bible. The text begins with the flight of two Israelite families from Jerusalem in about BC and ends with the destruction of their civilization in about AD In a reprise of the New Testament, Christ appears to these people after his resurrection and teaches the Christian gospel.
Though like the Bible in many respects, the Book of Mormon is not a copy. It introduces scores of distinctive characters and tells dozens of original stories about the struggle to establish a righteous society. The account, which takes place largely in the Western Hemisphere, where the migrating families arrive by ship, re-creates an economy, a culture, a political system, a military, and a church. The complexity of the story and the scene makes it difficult to sustain the hypothesis that the Book of Mormon merely imitates the Bible or that, as argued, the uneducated Joseph Smith pulled together snatches of theological and political controversy to patch the book together.
Considering that Smith dictated the bulk of the book in less than three months, it is perhaps the most notable example of untutored genius in all of American history. To account for the narrative complexity, critics soon began to hypothesize the existence of another author. In , , a newspaper editor writing from , Ohio, near Mormon headquarters in , argued that the Book of Mormon was derived from the work of Solomon Spalding or Spaulding , a Dartmouth graduate, then dead, who had been fascinated with the history of the American Indians. Spalding had written a romance about a Roman legate to Great Britain who was cast ashore on the North American coast and lived among the native inhabitants for several years.
The theory fell apart when the Spalding manuscript was discovered in the s and found to bear only a faint resemblance to the Book of Mormon. The authoritative Cambridge History of American Literature makes virtually no mention of the book. But even at first glance, it is evident that the Book of Mormon is first and foremost a work of intense piety. Long before Jesus is born, Christ figures in sermons and visions. The urgency of the preaching comes through in passage after passage.
Jacob, son of the patriarch in the founding family, exhorts his people to believe:. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness, that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. Will ye reject the words of the Prophets? The pleading, exhorting, and promising continue down through the final prophet, Moroni, writing four centuries after the birth of Christ:.
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ. The city was to be a gathering place for his followers, a refuge from the calamities of the last days, and the place for a temple.
Here Christ was to come when he returned to the earth. In summer , Smith traveled to , on the western edge of American settlement, where a revelation designated the little village of , Jackson County, as the site for the city. In the years to come, he tried in , Missouri, and when defeated, went on to , Missouri, and , Illinois. He pursued the building of the city of Zion to the exclusion of more conventional programs like the construction of chapels for church members in the towns where they already lived.
Distributed in smaller numbers, his followers would have been less threatening to their neighbors and probably less subject to persecution. But Smith never constructed a typical meetinghouse for ordinary worship. He gave himself entirely to cities and temples. This vision drove him until the end of his life; and after his death the same vision inspired Mormon settlement in the Great Basin. Building cities was a strange mission for a person reared in the rural villages of New England and.
When Smith drafted a plat for the city of Zion in , it called for fifteen to twenty thousand residents—a major city in those days, considering that had fewer than seven thousand residents and , the largest city in the West, fewer than thirty thousand. He envisioned missionaries shepherding converts to Zion, where each family would receive an inheritance of land and have access to the temple for spiritual instruction. His answer to the failings of American society was to gather believers out of the world and organize them into a community where the poor were cared for and everyone stood on an equal material plane.
When one city filled up, others were to be laid out until, as he said, the world was filled with cities of Zion. The plat drawing specified the width of the streets and the size of the lots for a city that in biblical literature was an ethereal creation of the heavens, descending from the sky at the last day. He had a sense of making heaven on earth. And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel, and marrow to their bones and shall find wisdom, and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint.
The gathering to Zion seems to place Joseph Smith among the communitarian reformers. At the same time, he was certainly a millenarian. Although all are applicable in part, no single category is completely satisfactory. While paralleling other restorations in emphasizing faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost as fundamentals of salvation, Smith went beyond them in dispensing scripture like Peter or Paul.
The claim to revelation appalled Campbell, who sought only to restore the forms and teachings of early Christianity, not the revelatory powers of the first apostles. Most Protestants thought that Old Testament priesthood had ended with Christ, the great high priest of salvation. More immediately, Protestants associated priesthood with Roman Catholicism and the oppressive old regimes of Europe. Male converts to Mormonism could not only be appointed to the office of elder, a New Testament title, but could also be made high priests, a title right out of the Old Testament.
In , the earlier temple rituals evolved into an elaborate course of instruction called the endowment, which led men and women through the course of life from the Creation and Fall to the return to God. In , two years after the city of Zion was begun in , Missouri, the Latter-day Saints were expelled and required to start all over. In , Smith and his followers in , Ohio, were forced out of that area and moved to , Missouri, where his followers were forming another Zion. Their next resort, , Illinois, begun in , grew into the largest Mormon city to that point, with ten to twelve thousand inhabitants—until the Mormons were driven out and began the trek to what would become Utah.
The pattern was unrelenting: Mormons gathered until their enemies forced them out, requiring them to begin still another city. One of the perplexities of Mormonism is why a religion formed in was so constantly in conflict with the society around it. In each instance of persecution, particular local complaints contributed to the enmity. The Missourians suspected the predominantly Yankee Mormons of encouraging the immigration of free blacks.
In Illinois, Mormons were accused of counterfeiting, thieving, and being clannishly exclusive. But one issue underlay all the local concerns: Mormonism and democratic government clashed. They believed that because his revelations came first, he would sacrifice obedience to worldly government. He was determined, they were sure, to build his kingdom by force if necessary. But he went to court anyway, scores of times, assuring government officials he was submissive to legal processes.
Nothing he did could allay suspicion. There was always the question of which took precedence, the voice of the people acting through democratic government or the voice of God speaking through his prophet. Smith assured the world he had no intention of breaking the law, and a revelation admonished his followers to submit to legal proceedings. But the potential for conflict was always there, and in the case of plural marriage, Smith did put his revelation first.
A committee of Illinois anti-Mormons summed up the prevailing reasoning. We find them yielding implicit obedience to the ostensible head and founder of this sect, who is a pretended Prophet of the Lord. We believe that such an individual, regardless as he must be, of his obligations to God, and at the same time entertaining the most absolute contempt for the laws of man, cannot fail to become a most dangerous character, especially when he shall have been able to place himself at the head of a numerous horde, either equally reckless and unprincipled as himself, or else made his pliant tools by the most absurd credulity that has astonished the world since its foundation.
That was the essential anti-Mormon argument: The political implications were obvious. The Mormons could not forget the long string of abuses they had suffered at the hands of mobs. After their expulsion from , they vowed that they would never be subjected to such abuses again. In Illinois, they negotiated a strong city charter as a form of protection against further persecution and organized a state-sanctioned militia, the Nauvoo Legion, to withstand attack.
Over and over, they rehearsed the horrible tale of their sufferings, certain the manifest injustice of their treatment would evoke sympathy and bring redress. But few came to their aid. Governor of Illinois explained why. A democratic government, he wrote, is helpless to defend an unpopular group: It did not help that the temperature of Mormon rhetoric rose to match that of their enemies. Fearing mobs were forming in Illinois like those that had expelled the Mormons from , Joseph Smith let loose his anger and frustration. He had taken more than he could tolerate.
This language and the combination of powers bestowed on Mormons by the charter inflamed their enemies. By building up the Nauvoo Legion to thousands of men, Smith appeared to his enemies as a prophet armed. Using the Nauvoo Municipal Court to protect himself from arrest made him seem to set himself above the law. His acquisition of the major offices in the city, the courts, and the militia, as well as in the church, opened him to charges of megalomania.
By , hundreds of citizens from nearby towns were ready to invade Nauvoo and drive the Mormons out. His enemies may have feared Joseph Smith all the more because he was formidable personally. Joseph Smith seems rarely to have been intimidated. I could clearly see that Joseph was the captain, no matter whose company he was in, Knowing the meagerness of his education, I was truly gratified, at seeing how much at ease he always was, even in the company of the most scientific, and the ready off hand manner in which he would answer their questions.
Joseph Smith may have tried for the upper hand because of a sensitivity to insult. He came from a social class that bore the onus of contempt almost as a way of life. Poor tenant farmers like the Smiths were looked down upon as shiftless and crude. The ridicule that followed his stories of revelation may have magnified his unease and led him to compensate with abrasive behavior and brave flourishes.
He clung to his military title in the Nauvoo Legion as a badge of honor and expected recognition of his standing. When slighted, he would lash back. Grandin in Palmyra, New York on March 26, Since its first publication and distribution, critics of the Book of Mormon have claimed that it was fabricated by Smith    and that he drew material and ideas from various sources rather than translating an ancient record.
Works that have been suggested as sources include the King James Bible ,   The Wonders of Nature ,   View of the Hebrews ,    and an unpublished manuscript written by Solomon Spalding. Smith stated that the title page, and presumably the actual title of the edition, came from the translation of "the very last leaf" of the golden plates, and was written by the prophet-historian Moroni. The Book of Mormon is organized as a compilation of smaller books, each named after its main named narrator or a prominent leader, beginning with the First Book of Nephi 1 Nephi and ending with the Book of Moroni.
The book's sequence is primarily chronological based on the narrative content of the book. Exceptions include the Words of Mormon and the Book of Ether. The Words of Mormon contains editorial commentary by Mormon. The Book of Ether is presented as the narrative of an earlier group of people who had come to America before the immigration described in 1 Nephi.
First Nephi through Omni are written in first-person narrative, as are Mormon and Moroni. The remainder of the Book of Mormon is written in third-person historical narrative, said to be compiled and abridged by Mormon with Moroni abridging the Book of Ether. Most modern editions of the book have been divided into chapters and verses. Most editions of the book also contain supplementary material, including the "Testimony of Three Witnesses " and the "Testimony of Eight Witnesses ".
The books from First Nephi to Omni are described as being from "the small plates of Nephi". It tells the story of a man named Lehi , his family, and several others as they are led by God from Jerusalem shortly before the fall of that city to the Babylonians in BC. The book describes their journey across the Arabian peninsula , and then to the promised land, the Americas, by ship.
Following this section is the Words of Mormon. The Book of Third Nephi is of particular importance within the Book of Mormon because it contains an account of a visit by Jesus from heaven to the Americas sometime after his resurrection and ascension. The text says that during this American visit, he repeated much of the same doctrine and instruction given in the Gospels of the Bible and he established an enlightened, peaceful society which endured for several generations, but which eventually broke into warring factions again.
The portion of the greater Book of Mormon called the Book of Mormon is an account of the events during Mormon's life. Mormon is said to have received the charge of taking care of the records that had been hidden, once he was old enough. The book includes an account of the wars, Mormon's leading of portions of the Nephite army, and his retrieving and caring for the records. Mormon is eventually killed after having handed down the records to his son Moroni.
According to the text, Moroni then made an abridgment called the Book of Ether of a record from a previous people called the Jaredites. The Jaredite civilization is presented as existing on the American continent beginning about BC,  —long before Lehi's family arrived shortly after BC—and as being much larger and more developed. The Book of Moroni then details the final destruction of the Nephites and the idolatrous state of the remaining society.
The Book of Mormon contains doctrinal and philosophical teachings on a wide range of topics, from basic themes of Christianity and Judaism  to political and ideological teachings. Jesus is mentioned every 1. Stated on the title page, the Book of Mormon's central purpose is for the "convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations. The book describes Jesus, prior to his birth, as a spirit "without flesh and blood", although with a spirit "body" that looked similar to how Jesus would appear during his physical life.
See Godhead Latter Day Saints. In furtherance of its theme of reconciling Jews and Gentiles to Jesus, the book describes a variety of visions or visitations to some early inhabitants in the Americas involving Jesus. Most notable among these is a described visit of Jesus to a group of early inhabitants shortly after his resurrection.
In the narrative, at the time of King Benjamin about BC , the Nephite believers were called "the children of Christ". Many other prophets in the book write of the reality of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In the Bible, Jesus spoke to the Jews in Jerusalem of "other sheep" who would hear his voice. The book delves into political theology within a Christian or Jewish context. Among these themes are American exceptionalism. According to the book, the Americas are portrayed as a "land of promise", the world's most exceptional land of the time.
On the issue of war and violence, the book teaches that war is justified for people to "defend themselves against their enemies". However, they were never to "give an offense," or to "raise their sword The book recommends monarchy as an ideal form of government, but only when the monarch is righteous. The book supports notions of economic justice, achieved through voluntary donation of "substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor.
Joseph Smith characterized the Book of Mormon as the "keystone" of Mormonism, and claimed that it was "the most correct of any book on earth". As part of this effort, a new edition was printed with the added subtitle "Another Testament of Jesus Christ". The importance of the Book of Mormon was a focus of Ezra Taft Benson , the church's thirteenth president. Hinckley challenged each member of the church to re-read the Book of Mormon before the year's end. Since the late s, church members have been encouraged to read from the Book of Mormon daily.
The LDS Church encourages discovery of the book's truth by following the suggestion in its final chapter to study, ponder, and pray to God concerning its veracity. This passage is sometimes referred to as "Moroni's Promise". The Community of Christ also publishes a "Revised Authorized Edition", which attempts to modernize some language.
In , Community of Christ President W. Grant McMurray reflected on increasing questions about the Book of Mormon: Veazey ruled out-of-order a resolution to "reaffirm the Book of Mormon as a divinely inspired record. This position is in keeping with our longstanding tradition that belief in the Book of Mormon is not to be used as a test of fellowship or membership in the church.
The Founder of Mormonism; a Psychological Study of Joseph Smith, Jr. (1903) (Electronic book text)
There are a number of other churches that are part of the Latter Day Saint movement. These groups all have in common the acceptance of the Book of Mormon as scripture. It is this acceptance which distinguishes the churches of the Latter Day Saint movement from other Christian denominations. Separate editions of the Book of Mormon have been published by a number of churches in the Latter Day Saint movement, along with private individuals and foundations not endorsed by any specific denomination.
The archaeological, historical and scientific communities do not consider the Book of Mormon an ancient record of actual historical events. Their skepticism tends to focus on four main areas:. Most adherents of the Latter Day Saint movement consider the Book of Mormon to generally be a historically accurate account.
One of the more common recent arguments is the limited geography model , which states that the people of the Book of Mormon covered only a limited geographical region in either Mesoamerica , South America , or the Great Lakes area. The LDS Church has published material indicating that science will support the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon was dictated by Joseph Smith to several scribes over a period of 13 months,  resulting in three manuscripts.
The lost pages contained the first portion of the Book of Lehi ; it was lost after Smith loaned the original, uncopied manuscript to Martin Harris. The first completed manuscript, called the original manuscript, was completed using a variety of scribes. Portions of the original manuscript were also used for typesetting.
It was then discovered that much of the original manuscript had been destroyed by water seepage and mold. Surviving manuscript pages were handed out to various families and individuals in the s.
George Albert Smith
Only 28 percent of the original manuscript now survives, including a remarkable find of fragments from 58 pages in The second completed manuscript, called the printer's manuscript , was a copy of the original manuscript produced by Oliver Cowdery and two other scribes. Observations of the original manuscript show little evidence of corrections to the text. In , the manuscript was bought from Whitmer's grandson by the Community of Christ, known at the time as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Critical comparisons between surviving portions of the manuscripts show an average of two to three changes per page from the original manuscript to the printer's manuscript, with most changes being corrections of scribal errors such as misspellings or the correction, or standardization, of grammar inconsequential to the meaning of the text.
The printer's manuscript was not used fully in the typesetting of the version of Book of Mormon; portions of the original manuscript were also used for typesetting. The original manuscript was used by Smith to further correct errors printed in the and versions of the Book of Mormon for the printing of the book.
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In the late 19th century the extant portion of the printer's manuscript remained with the family of David Whitmer , who had been a principal founder of the Latter Day Saints and who, by the s, led the Church of Christ Whitmerite. During the s, according to the Chicago Tribune , the LDS Church unsuccessfully attempted to buy it from Whitmer for a record price.
LDS president Joseph F. Smith refuted this assertion in a letter, believing such a manuscript "possesses no value whatever. The LDS Church had not sought to purchase the manuscript. The original publication did not have verse markers, although the individual books were divided into relatively long chapters. Just as the Bible's present chapter and verse notation system is a later addition of Bible publishers to books that were originally solid blocks of undivided text, the chapter and verse markers within the books of the Book of Mormon are conventions, not part of the original text.
Publishers from different factions of the Latter Day Saint movement have published different chapter and verse notation systems. The two most significant are the LDS system, introduced in , and the RLDS system, which is based on the original chapter divisions. The following non-current editions marked major developments in the text or reader's helps printed in the Book of Mormon. Although some earlier unpublished studies had been prepared, not until the early s was true textual criticism applied to the Book of Mormon.
One aspect of that effort entailed digitizing the text and preparing appropriate footnotes, another aspect required establishing the most dependable text. To that latter end, Stanley R. Larson a Rasmussen graduate student set about applying modern text critical standards to the manuscripts and early editions of the Book of Mormon as his thesis project—which he completed in To that end, Larson carefully examined the Original Manuscript the one dictated by Joseph Smith to his scribes and the Printer's Manuscript the copy Oliver Cowdery prepared for the Printer in — , and compared them with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd editions of the Book of Mormon to determine what sort of changes had occurred over time and to make judgments as to which readings were the most original.
Smith began to take full account of Larson's work and to publish a Critical Text of the Book of Mormon. The third volume of that first edition was published in , but was already being superseded by a second, revised edition of the entire work,  greatly aided through the advice and assistance of then Yale doctoral candidate Grant Hardy , Dr. Thomasson , Professor John W. However, these were merely preliminary steps to a far more exacting and all-encompassing project.
In , with that preliminary phase of the project completed, Professor Skousen took over as editor and head of the FARMS Critical Text of the Book of Mormon Project and proceeded to gather still scattered fragments of the Original Manuscript of the Book of Mormon and to have advanced photographic techniques applied to obtain fine readings from otherwise unreadable pages and fragments.
He also closely examined the Printer's Manuscript then owned by the Community of Christ —RLDS Church in Independence, Missouri for differences in types of ink or pencil, in order to determine when and by whom they were made. He also collated the various editions of the Book of Mormon down to the present to see what sorts of changes have been made through time.
Thus far, Professor Skousen has published complete transcripts of the Original and Printer's Manuscripts,  as well as a six-volume analysis of textual variants. Yale University has in the meantime published an edition of the Book of Mormon which incorporates all aspects of Skousen's research. Differences between the original and printer's manuscript, the printed version, and modern versions of the Book of Mormon have led some critics to claim that evidence has been systematically removed that could have proven that Smith fabricated the Book of Mormon, or are attempts to hide embarrassing aspects of the church's past    with Mormon scholars viewing the changes as superficial, done to clarify the meaning of the text.
The LDS version of the Book of Mormon has been translated into 83 languages and selections have been translated into an additional 25 languages. In , the LDS Church reported that all or part of the Book of Mormon was available in the native language of 99 percent of Latter-day Saints and 87 percent of the world's total population.
Translations into languages without a tradition of writing e. Typically, translators are members of the LDS Church who are employed by the church and translate the text from the original English. Each manuscript is reviewed several times before it is approved and published.
In , the LDS Church stopped translating selections from the Book of Mormon, and instead announced that each new translation it approves will be a full edition.
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Such films in LDS cinema i. The Journey and Passage to Zarahemla In , a long-running religious satire musical titled The Book of Mormon , by the South Park creators, premiered on Broadway , winning 9 Tony Awards , including best musical. The LDS Church, which distributes free copies of the Book of Mormon, reported in that million copies of the book have been printed since its initial publication. The initial printing of the Book of Mormon in produced copies.
The Book of Mormon has occasionally been analyzed in a non-religious context for its literary merits. The author labored to give his words and phrases the quaint, old-fashioned sound and structure of our King James's translation of the Scriptures; and the result is a mongrel -- half modern glibness, and half ancient simplicity and gravity. The latter is awkward and constrained; the former natural, but grotesque by the contrast. Whenever he found his speech growing too modern -- which was about every sentence or two -- he ladled in a few such Scriptural phrases as "exceeding sore," "and it came to pass," etc.
If he had left that out, his Bible would have been only a pamphlet. Terryl Givens wrote, "Searching for literary wonders in the Book of Mormon is a bit like seeking lyrical inspiration in the books of Chronicles or Judges. True or not, the Book of Mormon is a powerful epic written on a grand scale with a host of characters, a narrative of human struggle and conflict, of divine intervention, heroic good and atrocious evil, of prophecy, morality, and law.
Its narrative structure is complex. The idiom is that of the King James Version, which most Americans assumed to be appropriate for divine revelation The Book of Mormon should rank among the great achievements of American literature, but it has never been accorded the status it deserves, since Mormons deny Joseph Smith's authorship, and non-Mormons, dismissing the work as a fraud, have been more likely to riducule than to read it.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Book of Mormon disambiguation. Historical authenticity and criticism. Book of Mormon chronology. Historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon. List of Book of Mormon translations. This article is missing information about further criticism positive or negative.
Please expand the article to include this information. Further details may exist on the talk page. The Transformation of America, — , Pg. Outline of the Book of Mormon. Retrieved July 30, Mormonism - Shadow or Reality? No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith 2d ed.
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith. Losing a Lost Tribe: Archived from the original on Joseph Smith , xxii— Macmillan Publishing , pp. No man knows my history: Rough Stone Rolling New York: Knopf, , One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church.
Studies of the Book of Mormon. Salt Lake City, UT: Reeve, Rex C, ed. The Complete Original "Spaulding" Manuscript. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. It appears that Mormons are generally content to picture the Book of Mormon story in a setting that is factually wrong. For most Mormons, the limited geography models create more problems than they solve.