Sundry Thoughts and Comments on the Book of Mormon

Following is a compilation of thoughts and comments about the Book of Mormon from church leaders, scholars, and others.

 

“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion. Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 194

 

“a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 194

 

Catholic sociologist Thomas O’Dea quipped in 1957, “the Book of Mormon has not been universally considered by its critics as one of those books that must be read in order to have an opinion of it.”

 

“It is a surprisingly big book,” remarked Hugh Nibley, “supplying quite enough rope for a charlatan to hang himself a hundred times. As the work of an imposter, it must unavoidably bear all the marks of fraud. It should be poorly organized, shallow, artificial, patchy and unoriginal. It should display a pretentious vocabulary (the Book of Mormon uses only 3,000 words), overdrawn stock characters, melodramatic situations, gaudy and overdone descriptions, and bombastic diction.” However, Nibley continues, “Whether one believes its story or not, the severest critic of the Book of Mormon, if he reads it with care at all, must admit that it is the exact opposite. … It is carefully organized, specific, sober, factual and perfectly consistent.” Hugh Nibley, Since Cumorah (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988), 337–338.

 

“A friend of mine once told me about his experience in coming to know and understand the gift of the Holy Ghost. He had prayed often and longed to know the truth of the gospel.

Although he felt at peace with his beliefs, he had never received the certain knowledge for which he hungered. He had reconciled himself to the fact that he might be one of those who would have to walk through this life relying upon the faith of others.

One morning, while pondering the scriptures, he felt something surge through his body from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. ‘I was immersed in a feeling of such intense love and pure joy,’ he explained. ‘I cannot describe the measure of what I felt at that time other than to say I was enveloped in joy so profound there was no room in me for any other sensation.’

Even as he felt this outpouring of the Holy Ghost, he wondered if possibly he was just imagining what was happening. ‘The more I wondered,’ he said, ‘the more intense the feelings became until it was all I could do to tearfully say, ‘It is enough.’” The Unspeakable Gift, Joseph B. Wirthlin, April 2003 General Conference

 

“During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them.” Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, first ed. (Liverpool: Published for Orson Pratt by S. W. Richards, 1853), pp. 84–85.

 

Some critics cast doubt on the Book of Mormon because it quotes the Bible. Hugh Nibley answered this form of criticism based on modern research:

“[One of the] most devastating argument[s] against the Book of Mormon was that it actually quoted the Bible. The early critics were simply staggered by the incredible stupidity of including large sections of the Bible in a book which they insisted was specifically designed to fool the Bible-reading public. They screamed blasphemy and plagiarism at the top of their lungs, but today any biblical scholar knows that it would be extremely suspicious if a book purporting to be the product of a society of pious emigrants from Jerusalem in ancient times did not quote the Bible. No lengthy religious writing of the Hebrews could conceivably be genuine if it was not full of scriptural quotations.”  Church News, 29 July 1961: 10, 15.

  

Even unbelieving students of the Book of Mormon who consider it a work of fiction would agree with Hugh Nibley’s assessment:

“The Book of Mormon is a colossal structure. Considered purely as fiction, it is a performance without parallel. What other volume can approach this wealth of detail and tight-woven complexity, this factual precision combined with simple, open lucidity? Any book we choose is feeble by comparison… the Book of Mormon combines these usually incompatible qualities in a structure of flawless consistency…. this terse, compact religious history of a thousand years is something utterly beyond the scope of creative writing.” (Hugh W. Nibley, Since Cumorah, p. 138-139).

 

The last testimony of Martin Harris was given to Elder William Harrison Homer, who was with him at the time of his death. Elder Homer recorded:

“The next day, July 10, 1875, marked the end. It was in the evening. It was milking time, and Martin Harris, Jr., and his wife, Nancy Homer Harris, had gone out to milk and to do the evening’s chores. In the house with the stricken man were left my mother, Eliza Williamson Homer, and myself, who had had so interesting a day with Martin Harris at Kirtland. I stood by the bedside holding the patient’s right hand and my mother at the foot of the bed, Martin Harris had been unconscious for a number of days. When we first entered the room the old gentleman appeared to be sleeping. He soon woke up and asked for a drink of water. I put my arm under the old gentleman, raised him, and my mother held the glass to his lips. He drank freely, then he looked up at me and recognized me. He said, ‘I know you. You are my friend.’ He said, ‘Yes, I did see the plates on which the Book of Mormon was written; I did see the angel; I did hear the voice of God; and I do know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God, holding the keys of the Holy Priesthood.’ This was the end. Martin Harris, divinely-chosen witness of the work of God, relaxed, gave up my hand. He lay back on his pillow and just as the sun went down behind the Clarkston mountains, the soul of Martin Harris passed on. …

          (Signed) William Harrison Homer.

 

“…if the Book of Mormon is true, then Jesus is the Christ, Joseph Smith was his prophet, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true, and it is being led today by a prophet receiving revelation.” (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1975, p. 65.)

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