Annotated Book of Mormon
Evaluated According To My Current Knowledge

Introduction

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Book of Mormon Annotations

The Introduction to the Book of Mormon is not included in this work since it appears to be copyrighted material. Any quotes from the Introduction below will comply with fair use principles. Visit the Church’s official site to read the Introduction.

 

The second paragraph of the introduction explains that there was a civilization that came “when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians” (emphasis added).

This declares the Tower of Babel account a literal and factual event. If true, this would mean that until about 4,200 years ago (according to Bible chronologies I’ve seen including those at www.churchofjesuschrist.org) there was only one language on the earth, then at the Tower of Babel event, all languages were confounded (except for the Jaredites). This is not compatible with what we know about the evolution of language. (See also Omni 1:22, Mosiah 28:17, Helaman 6:28, Ether 1:33)

This version of the Introduction to the Book of Mormon states, “After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.” Prior to 2006 the Introduction said, “After thousands of years, all were destroyed, except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.”

The wording prior to 2006 is more congruent with the:

  • Teachings of the prophets and apostles until 2006,
  • Doctrine and Covenants Revelations about Lamanites, and
  • Narrative of The Book of Mormon itself.

However, paleontology, archaeology, philology, and population genetics demonstrated that the pre-2006 version of the Introduction is not remotely plausible.

In the Wentworth letter, Joseph explained:
     “In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites and came directly from the tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country” (Church History, p. 707).

The fourth paragraph of the Introduction indicates that, “On September 21, 1823, the same Moroni, then a glorified, resurrected being, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and instructed him relative to the ancient record and its destined translation into the English language.”

For the sake of discussion let’s assume the account of Moroni’s visit is accurate. Joseph records that this happened in 1823. Yet he did not have the keys necessary to discern angels. Those keys were given in 1843 in D&C 129 which acknowledges the LDS teaching that the devil can appear as an angel of light and provides the keys to determine whether an apparition is a true angel or devil. “If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything you may therefore detect him” (D&C 129:8). So, according to Mormon scripture, Joseph had no way to discern whether the visitor was a messenger from heaven or “the devil as an angel of light.”

The sixth paragraph of the Introduction quotes Joseph Smith as saying, “that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth.”

The claim that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth is certainly extraordinary. And, as Carl Sagan used to say, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” For example, if someone claimed I should invest all my retirement funds in their business because it was sure to provide higher than normal returns with almost no risk, I would find the claim extraordinary. Can you think of any reason not to demand extraordinary evidence before I even think of investing my money in the business?

 

I have compiled my annotations for the Book of Mormon because I think it is important to demand extraordinary evidence regarding Joseph’s claims about the book. I hope others will find it useful.

 

As Hugh Nibley a renowned defender of the Book of Mormon put it, “The Book of Mormon can and should be tested. It invites criticism” (Comments on the Book of Mormon Witnesses).

The eighth and ninth paragraphs from the Introduction indicate that those who follow the instructions of Moroni 10:3-5 “will gain a testimony of its [the Book of Mormon’s] truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost” and that other things can be known by this method (emphasis added).

Yet, the Spirit of God tells Catholics theirs is the only true religion. And don’t forget the Muslims, the Spirit of God also tells them that Islam is God’s one and only true religion. And, so on and so forth. The problem with relying on the “power of the Holy Ghost” is that it relies on interpretation of feelings and perceptions that are completely subjective and cannot be distinguished from one’s own feelings or from the experiences of others that led them to believe contradictory truth claims.

There are many examples of the Spirit of God convincing people that their Church is God’s only true church; here is just one video with many examples retrieved November 17, 2016, presented respectfully by Chris Johnson:  My LDS Journey - Follow the Spirit

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