Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Joseph Smith Papers -- Impressions and Reflections No. 3

The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Vol. 1, 1832 -1839 (JSP Journals Vol. 1) has an exhaustive editorial method of interrelating all of the documents and marking the writer of each portion of the documents. Joseph Smith used a number of scribes, some of whom wrote in their own words. Only a minor portion of the text originally appeared in Joseph Smith's own handwriting. In considering those portions of the text actually in Joseph Smiths' handwriting, one of the more obvious conclusions is that the style, spelling, word choice and every other aspect of the writing differs dramatically from the text of the Book of Mormon. None of the writing of Joseph Smith (hereafter "JS") in his journals, unless directly quoting scripture, even vaguely reminds the reader of the narrative of the Book of Mormon.

It is this dissimilarity that likely gave initial impetus to the accusations that the Book of Mormon was written by someone other than JS. Interestingly, it is abundantly clear that JS never claimed authorship of the Book of Mormon. The title page of the Book of Mormon declares its ancient origin as "an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi and also of the Lamanites." It is only if you make the unwarranted assumption that the Book of Mormon is not what it claims to be that there is any issue over the authorship. Tellingly, in the 179 years since its publication, no one has come up with a believable alternative to the authorship. The Book of Mormon can only be what it purports to be, that is a translation of an ancient scriptural record.

One example will suffice. JS uses the term "Oh God" as in "Oh may God" several times in his writing in the first pages of the JSP Journals Vol. 1. See page 29 for a random example. However, the injunction is not found in the Book of Mormon and in fact is only partially used once in the entire scriptures in Job 11:5. The more expanded term, "Oh may God," does not appear at all.

It is not even remotely possible that a person who used such a phrase in his common speech could avoid its usage entirely in a long a complicated book, any more than I could avoid using "however" or "for example." The publication of the JSP Journals Vol. 1 is yet another testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. It is what it claims to be.

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