Evidence for the Reformed Egyptian Mentioned in the Book of Mormon

book of mormon reformed egyptian

Book of Mormon Central has released a video tackling the oft-criticized claim that the gold plates were written in Reformed Egyptian. Just yesterday I was conversing with someone on Twitter who attacked the claim that Reformed Egyptian ever existed.

“The Book of Mormon uses the term “reformed Egyptian” in only one verse, Mormon 9:32, which says that “the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, [were] handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech” and that “none other people knoweth our language.”

The book also says that its first author, Nephi, was taught both the “learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians” (1 Nephi 1:2), that the book was written in “reformed Egyptian” because that language took less space and was easier to engrave on gold plates than Hebrew, and that there was also an evolution of the Hebrew after the people left Jerusalem“.[1]

“Despite rampant “Egypt-o-mania” in the early nineteenth century, the notion of Jews writing in Egyptian was an unimaginable concept, and Joseph Smith was roundly criticized on this point by early Book of Mormon critics. In this respect, the Book of Mormon has aged better than its detractors.”2

reformed egyptian

The implication is clear: Scribes or students contemporary or nearly contemporary with Lehi were being trained in both Hebrew and Egyptian writing systems. The use of Egyptian script by Lehi’s descendants now becomes not only plausible, but perfectly reasonable in the light of archaeological discoveries made more than a century after Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon.4

Watch the video below, and then take the opportunity to share this with others. You can do so on Twitter by clicking the text below.

  1. Reformed Egyptian – Wikipedia

  2. Evidence for the Reformed Egyptian mentioned in the Book of Mormon – YouTube Video Description

  3. Tvedtnes and Ricks, “Semitic Texts,” 241.
  4. Tvedtnes and Ricks, “Semitic Texts,” 241.


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  • I am not impressed at all with creative unempirical evidence amassed by Mormon apologists for the purpose of perception shaping. Over a period of nearly seventy years, numerous university departments of Near-Eastern Languages and Culture, including UCLA, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. San Diego, Brown, University of Chicago, University of Texas, Stanford, and Rice have established that “reformed Egyptian” has never existed as a dialect or form of the classical Egyptian language. Such a language has never existed. For the Mormon Church, using Brigham Young University as its pseudo-academic medium, to publish such nonsensical claims without an ounce of credible empirical proof is reprehensible and tantamount to the sensational claims of Jack West in the 1960s and 70s when he used pictures and photographs of Mayan, Toltec, Incan, and Aztec ruins as evidence of Nephite and Lamanite civilizations in Mesoamerica and South America.

  • You take a purely fictional product of Joseph Smith, Jr.’s and Oliver Cowdery’s imaginations, such as the Book of Mormon, and attempt to make Christian people believe that it is a non-fictional, historical, account of three real civilizations that thrived on, either, the North and South American continents, or Mesoamerica, before the birth of Christ. With no real historical, geographical, archaeological, and anthropological evidentiary basis for civilizational existence, you try to also make those Christians believe that a group of Hebrews (Nephites), from the Holy Land, spoke an Egyptian dialect, not Hebrew, while living in Jerusalem and brought the dialect with them to “somewhere” on the North or South American continents, or in Mesoamerica (Central America) and recorded their history, in that Egyptian dialect, on gold plates. As there is no verifiable empirical archaeological and anthropological evidence “anywhere” in the Americas for saying that such civilizations actually existed, there is no evidence of any group of Hebrews speaking and writing an reformed Egyptian language 600 B.C.

    From the Flood to the Babylonian Captivity, the first mention of a “Hebrew” is in Genesis 14:13 where Abraham is identified as a “Hebrew” (Eevriy in Hebrew). In Exodus 2:6 Moses is identified as one of the “Hebrews” (Eevriym in Hebrew) and throughout the Hebrew Bible the children of Israel are often identified as “Hebrews.” A “Hebrew” is anyone who is descended from “Eber” (Ever in Hebrew), an ancestor of Abraham and Moses (See Genesis 10:24).

    The language used by the descendants of “Eber” is called “Hebrew” (Eevriyt in Hebrew), but is never called “Hebrew” in the Hebrew Bible, but is instead referred to as the “Language of Canaan” (Isaiah 19:18) and the “Language of Judah” (II Kings 18:28, Isaiah 36:11, 13, Nehemiah 13:24, II Chronicles 32:18). While the Hebrew Bible may not refer to the language of the Hebrews as “Hebrew,” we do know that their language was in fact “Hebrew,” as attested to in the many inscriptions discovered in the land of Israel from this period of time.

    The original language of the Egyptians was Hamatic, after the son of Noah, which was totally unrelated to any Semitic language that was used 600 B.C. by the Hebrews. Hence, the Hebrew language was never associated with the early Hamatic or Egyptian. To think that a group of Hebrews in Jerusalem, around the year 600 B.C., would be speaking a form of Egyptian is nonsense. For Joseph Smith, Jr. to create such a fictional language as reformed Egyptian was to the original Mormon disciples something of a novelty, since none of them were educated, and intelligent, enough to realize that Smith was spouting a fantasy. Most of them weren’t aware of the dearth of horses on the American continents until the Europeans brought them over the Atlantic Ocean in ships. Their belief in the Book of Mormon was derived from their belief in Smith as a prophet. It wasn’t derived from common sense and the archaeological and anthropological facts about the Americas. Smith was charismatic enough to shape the perception of the original six Mormons and his alleged witnesses to the alleged golden plates, of which it is now admitted by the Mormon Church that Smith did not use them to write his Book of Mormon.

  • I get the feeling that there are some or maybe many that would be inclined to not believe the bible as we have it, without some kind of proof.

  • Mbender, believing the Holy Bible as a source of verified historical, archaeological, and anthropological facts is much easier and more cogent than believing the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham to be non-fiction. The historicity of the Bible has been established through biblical archaeology and anthropology since the mid-1800s. Over 5,000 copies of the books of the Bible have been discovered in the Holy Land to document the reliability of the Bible, as Paul the Apostle stated, “for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.” ‘Nothing” tangible has been discovered in North America, South America, or Mesoamerica to document the fictional civilizations mentioned. I recall the man, Jack West, who used the Toltec, Mayan, Aztec, and Incan civilizations and the ruins from their ancient cities during the 1970s to represent the Nephite and Lamanite civilizations in the BOM. This was a big bunch of malarkey, but many rank-and-file Mormons gobbled-up the propaganda he produced in films and in his book, “The Trial of the Stick of Joseph.” No Mormon likes to recall Thomas Stuart Ferguson and his six year quest for Book of Mormon proof in Mesoamerica and South America using professional archaeologists and a grant from Mormon Prophet David O. McKay of $300,000 in the early 1960s to establish the New World Archeological Foundation, the forerunner of BYU’s FARMS. Ferguson began his quest a believer in Mormonism, but ended his search not believing at all in the BOM or the BOA.

    How can you believe in something that has no real factual basis? Everything that Joseph Smith, Jr. wrote about, and in, the BOM has been proven false by science. The only thing that you can do to propose some truth in the BOM is to wildly speculate on things so bizarre that they are really unbelievable. It’s just like the DNA study with 5,000 native Peruvians that was done by BYU during the late 1990s, financed by James Ferguson of Arizona. It was to test what Mormon Prophet spencer W. Kimball had said to thousands of Peruvian Mormons in 1983, “That the Hebrew blood of Lehi was flowing in their veins.” The DNA study adduced that 98 percent of the Peruvians were products of Mongolian Siberia, with 2 percent European stock.

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Book of Mormon Central has released a video tackling the oft-criticized claim that the gold plates were written in Reformed Egyptian. Just yesterday I...
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