Book of Mormon Central is on a mission, and that mission is to increase understanding and faithful engagement with the Book of Mormon.
Book of Mormon Central is a team of ardent students of the Nephite scripture working together to share the wonders of this inspired masterpiece with the world.
The team consists of archivists, researchers, writers, editors, reviewers, illustrators, narrators, audio engineers, video engineers, web designers, web and mobile developers, graphic artists, and social media publishers in addition to support personnel.
They just released another YouTube video detailing the complexity of the Book of Mormon, as further evidence that the Book of Mormon was not a work of Joseph Smith, but of dozens of ancient Nephite prophets who testified of Jesus Christ in their own styles and based on their unique circumstances.
Below is a screenshot from the video detailing the many different literary techniques and styles that have been discovered in the Book of Mormon.
Check out the video below. It was incredible done and does a wonderful job of portraying just how difficult it would have been for an uneducated farm boy to fabricate this book on his own accord.
Many early critics of the Book of Mormon believed it lacked any literary merit whatsoever. For instance, one man claimed that Joseph Smith was a “blockhead” and that the Book of Mormon was “the most gross, the most ridiculous, the most imbecile, the most contemptible concern … to be palmed off upon society as a revelation.”
Yet over time, even some of the Book of Mormon’s most skeptical critics have felt compelled to change their tune. For instance, Joseph’s famous biographer, Fawn Brodie, saw him as “a mythmaker of prodigious talent.” And Harold Bloom, a Yale-trained literary scholar, considered Joseph Smith to be a “religious genius.”
This dramatic shift may lead some to wonder: how did Joseph the “blockhead” suddenly transform into Joseph the “genius” in the eyes of his critics?
In truth, this change had little to do with Joseph himself, and much more to do with the 588-page book that he dictated to scribes in less than three months. As people began to analyze the text more carefully, it became clear that it was far more complex and sophisticated than most had ever imagined.
What makes the Book of Mormon’s sophistication so remarkable is that it can be demonstrated on so many different levels.
The text has over 200 named characters, over 150 named locations, multiple migrations, distinct cultures, 3 calendar systems, a system of weights and measures, complex source texts, genealogies, lineage histories, political histories, authentic legal cases, realistic battles, multiple literary genres, embedded flashbacks, brilliant doctrinal discourses, numerous fulfilled prophecies, and well over a thousand proposed intertextual relationships and Hebrew literary elements.
Amazingly, these features are all intricately woven together into a coherent narrative which is essentially free from error.
For instance, the Book of Mormon has over 600 passages of geographic relevance scattered throughout its text, and yet virtually every city, land, body of water, hill, or region maintains a consistent spatial relationship with other geographic features.
Another example of consistency comes from the lengthy genealogical record found in the book of Ether. The first chapter introduces a list of thirty different kings beginning with Ether and going back to Jared. This list then serves as a framework for the rest of the book, which precisely chronicles the reigns of its kings—except in reverse order.
Trying to keep track of the various sets of plates, through their transmission through prophetic caretakers, and how they are all tied together can be a formidable task. Yet careful analysis has shown that the source texts of the Book of Mormon have been masterfully abridged into a coherent and unified record.
In the book of Helaman, Samuel the Lamanite prophesied of the coming of “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and of earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning.” This 21-word name-title happens to be a verbatim quote from King Benjamin’s speech, given nearly 250 pages earlier, thus offering a remarkable example of the Book of Mormon’s intertextual relationships.
Chapters 17 through 27 in the book of Alma actually contain a flashback within a flashback, allowing readers to view the destruction of Ammonihah from two different perspectives. Yet these separate narrative threads are expertly woven together and seamlessly converge back into the original storyline.
In Alma 11 we find a developed system of weights and measures. Not only does it have parallels to ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian systems, but its units of exchange are surprisingly practical.
The Book of Mormon contains a number of uniquely developed doctrines, such as the Plan of Salvation. Despite the fact that each prophet adapted these core doctrines to his people’s various circumstances, it is clear that they shared a very nuanced and consistent set of related theological ideas.
Perhaps most impressive of all are the Book of Mormon’s variety and quantity of Hebraisms—or features typical of the ancient Hebrew literary tradition and culture. These Hebraisms are consistent with the text’s claimed Israelite background, and many of them can be quite sophisticated.
For instance, the entire chapter of Alma 36 is a unified chiasm, which introduces 17 key concepts and then repeats them in reverse order. Another parallel structure, called gradation, repeats each successive concept to create a unity of ideas and build up to a climactic conclusion.
At least 50 types of poetic, grammatical, or literary Hebraisms have been identified in the Book of Mormon. Many of them show up in the dozens, and some of them, like chiasmus, show up in the hundreds.
This brief sampling can hardly convey the full depth and breadth of the Book of Mormon’s impressive complexity. But it’s enough to demonstrate that the book is anything but ridiculous—as many early critics believed.
Some have even compared the Book of Mormon—with its immersive world and characters—to popular fantasy novels such as J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
Yet, to put things in perspective, Tolkien was an English professor who spent decades developing and revising the world of Middle Earth and the characters who inhabited it.
In contrast, Joseph Smith was an uneducated farmer who dictated the entire book of Mormon, in the presence of multiple witnesses, in no more than 74 working days, without any notes or reference materials, without any substantive revisions, and without relying on scribes to help him remember where he had left off after interruptions.
Whether a genius or not, it seems highly improbable that anyone, even a trained literary scholar like Tolkien, could have created and then flawlessly juggled so many complex features under these conditions.
Yet somehow, the young 23-year-old Joseph Smith accomplished it, without any prior literary experience to speak of.
As Daniel Peterson has noted, “The intricate structure and detailed complexity of the Book of Mormon seem far better explained as the work of several ancient writers using various written sources over the space of centuries than exploding suddenly from the mind of a barely educated manual laborer on the American frontier.”
For this reason, the Book of Mormon’s complexity, consistency, and sophistication provide excellent evidence that it truly was translated by the gift and power of God, just as Joseph Smith repeatedly testified.
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