Forgeries related to Mormonism/Documents

FAIR Answers Wiki Table of Contents

Forged documents related to Mormonism


Jump to Subtopic:


Question: What is the "Ang Aklatan," and does it have anything to do with the Book of Mormon?

An analysis of the text demonstrates considerable dependence upon the Book of Mormon text itself. This suggests that the author/translator was responding to the modern Book of Mormon text

The source of this work says:

The Aklatan is a book which was translated by Elisha M. Enoc from a set of copper sheets he discovered after having a vision. The Aklatan contains a record of the ancient history of the Philippines, Taiwan, and Borneo. It also contains a record of God’s works among these ancient people. There are many prophecies about our day in the Aklatan.

The Aklatan was translated by Elisha M. Enoc through a series of dreams....

The Book of Visions was written by Elisha M. Enoc and contains a journal of the visions and visitations which led up to the translation of the Aklatan. The Selections form Ezekial are chapters 40 through 48 of Ezekiel copied directly from the Bible.

All of the translation work was done in 1987. But the first publication of the Aklatan contains only a limited number of the total books. This is because only a small portion of the knowledge in these books is to be brought forth. As the work of spreading this information progresses more books, which have already been translated, will be published. Once the temple is built and the Kingdom of Maharlika is completely established all the books will be publicly available.[1]

There are clear parallels to the Book of Mormon account. For example:

  • both works are said to have been written on metal plates (gold vs. copper)
  • both works were translated with divine aid
  • both works tell the account of an ancient people, its relationship with God, and its future fate and role in God's purposes.

However, in addition to these thematic issues, an analysis of the text demonstrates considerable dependence upon the Book of Mormon text itself. This suggests that the author/translator was responding to the modern Book of Mormon text.

Preparing the text for analysis

FairMormon researcher Ben McGuire performed some textual analysis, and reported:

Occasionally, I dabble in questions about statistical modelings of texts.[2]

I took one of my simple tools to compare texts. What I do is create a database, and include the texts I want to compare. Then I strip out the numbers and the punctuation (a process called normalization). This leaves me with a sequence of words. Next, I break the text into manageable chunks called locutions. I did this with the Lesser Gospel Written by Buka (it does take a little time so I only used the one text). The first part of it reads: “Now during the eleventh year of King Linurang there”. This becomes “Now during the eleventh”, “during the eleventh year”, “the eleventh year of”, and so on. Once I have completed this, I make a frequency chart of all of these phrases (giving me a list of all the unique four word phrases in a text). I used four words—primarily because experience has shown me that this gives us a good working range of statistics.

What can we learn from such analysis?

McGuire then describes how he interprets this data:

In general, two completely unrelated texts should share about a half of a percent to about a percent and a half in overlapping unique phrases (between .005 and .015). When we see books that use other books, this figure jumps above four percent (.04). So when I am making comparisons, I start looking at potential borrowing or dependence when I see that comparison rise above this four percent indicator.

Now this is a really rough estimate, and it doesn't replace more accurate stylometric approaches. But it is useful for ballpark analysis. The Book of Mormon uses a great deal of language from the King James Version. In fact running that comparison gives me a huge overlap of thirteen percent (.13).

Of course, the Book of Mormon doesn't try to hide this, it makes it quite clear that it is quoting whole chapters from Isaiah. And it also identifies a major source in the Brass Plates (a copy of something like our Old Testament).

How close are the Book of Mormon and Ang Aklatan texts?

McGuire continues:

When I compared the Book of Mormon to the Lesser Gospel written by Buka (part of , the ratio was just under 16%—significantly higher than the Book of Mormon's use of biblical language from the King James Version. It isn't just the shared four word phrases either—there are more extensive sections which copy longer passages nearly verbatim. And in connection with some of these shared phrases, we also see paraphrases. The similarity is much higher than this statistic conveys.

What does this mean to me? It means to me that the Book of Mormon was an influence on this book—to an even greater extent than the Old Testament influenced the Book of Mormon. You might argue that in places we have Jesus saying the same things in both texts, which is true. But analysis at the level that I do it pulls out all of these phrases that occur outside of this sort of dialogue as well. So I conclude that it was intentionally written by someone using the Book of Mormon as a model.

Additionally, McGuire noted thematic elements responding to some aspects of LDS doctrine and discourse:

It was interesting when it expanded on the notion of "other sheep"—it doesn't stop with saying that the Nephites or those in the Philippines, it goes on to say:

"And there are also other sheep which are not in this land, and they are not in the land of Jerusalem, and they are not of those other people whom I have already visited. For there are many more lands and there are even many more worlds. And I have been commanded that I should go unto them."

This fascinates me a little bit because it impacts an early discussion in Mormon thought. Consider what Brigham Young said on this topic in a General Conference address in 1854:

"Let me open the eyes of your understanding. There has never been a time when the creations of worlds commenced. They are from eternity to eternity in their creations and redemption. After they are organized they experience the good and the evil, the light and the dark, the bitter and the sweet as you and I do. There never was a time when there were not worlds in existence as this world is, and they pass through similar changes in abiding their creation preparatory to exaltation. Worlds have always been in progress, and eternally will be. Every world has had an Adam and an Eve, named so simply because the first man is always called Adam and the first woman, Eve. And the oldest son has always had the privilege of being ordained, appointed and called to be the heir of the family if he does not rebel against the Father, and he is the Savior of the family. Every world that has been created has been created upon the same principle. They may vary in their varieties, yet the eternity is one: it is one eternal round."[3]

Now, perhaps Brigham Young was wrong in his views. But, it seems clear to me that while this text of the Ang Aklatan draws on various ideas that we see in the LDS Church, I see here and in other places some differences and views that go beyond. In this way, I don't see the Ang Aklatan as being something original, rather it seems to me to be responding to certain ideas in the LDS Church.

In a way, this is similar to Ang Aklatan's claim that John the Revelator appeared and gave permission for something to be added to scripture. This is included as a response to a relatively modern sort of attack based entirely on a fundamentalist Christian interpretation of scripture as complete, authoritative, and self-revealing.


Outside of that context (which is a modern concern), we not only don't see a preoccupation with it, but we don't see a need for a corresponding response to it either. Early Christianity had a somewhat fluid canon—and yet this notion never seems to come up. At any rate, these kinds of responses are also a hint pointing towards a textual dependence not only to more recent literature but also to modern responses to scripture, and this leaves me a little concerned over the contents as well.

Thus, concludes McGuire:

It's not surprising that it sounds good to us. It uses this language and these ideas from the Book of Mormon (and not independently as far I can tell without really spending a lot more time with it). And we already believe the material that comes out of the Book of Mormon. It is where it goes beyond that we are likely to find ourselves running into conflicts. So, my thought is that it's worth being very cautious of this sort of thing.

Evidences of authenticity?

The Ang Aklatan website also offers a variety of "evidences" for the book's authenticity.

With all of the above in mind, the evidences from the website don't really work well. There is that metal plate which was translated in 2007. Not coincidentally, that was the same year that the first part of the Ang Aklatan was published. For this to work well as evidence, we would also need something to show that the text was actually written in 1987 (when it was alleged to have been written) instead of in 2007 when it was first published. The same is true of the alleged references to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. It would be a singular thing if it was written about in an ancient text, or even in a text written in 1987. Since the attacks occurred in 2001, they don't really matter as much for validating a text written in 2007.


Question: What do the Mentinah Papers or the Nemenhah People have to do with the Mormons?

To put it simply, absolutely nothing. Any connections are only in the minds of the people responsible for publishing these papers

What do the Mentinah Papers or the Nemenhah People have to do with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

As genuine records from a people connected to the Nephites, the papers cannot be taken seriously. In addition to the numerous points in which they are not consistent with the Book of Mormon, there are theological or procedural problems. If there were to be such scripture revealed at this time, it would come through the proper channels of priesthood authority. It would come from the current Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, not from obscure individuals who claim support from unnamed apostles.

The Mentinah Papers claim to be a history of a people called the Nemenhah. They claim to be translations of papers found in the mountains around Manti, Utah (Sanpete County) in the 1800s. They claim that they have been translated by wise men speaking languages descended from the languages at the time of the Book of Mormon. The papers have never been made publicly available, but the translations have been published both on the internet and in book form.

They claim to have taken the papers to Brigham Young who indicated that he would be unable to help them translate the papers into modern English. Since that time, their proponents claim that they have spoken to other apostles of the Church (whom they decline to name) who have encouraged them.

There has been a development in the story of those that have the papers in their possession. They initially did not identify the location of the people and their story, but now say that the main location of the Nemenhah people was in the area of Sanpete County, Utah. They have organized an American Indian church based on the teachings of the Mentihah papers.

The story purports to tell of the descendants of Hagoth, and others who traveled north from the Nephite lands, from the Book of Mormon. The story seems to take some of the "loose ends" found in the Book of Mormon and tell what is not present in the Book of Mormon. For example, Moroni is described as joining the Nemenhah after the great battles that destroyed his people in about AD 400. He joins with the body of believers and becomes a great leader among them. It tells of Corianton, son of Alma, who left the Nephite lands with his wife, Isabel, and established a great and righteous city in the northeastern part of the land. Although the narration contains much original ideas and stories they all seem to be off shoots of the Book of Mormon story. It describes great conferences held among the people of the north and the people of the Pacific Islands.

There are doctrinal issues that are presented in the Mentinah narrative. For example, the Everlasting Covenant is described as the Gods trying to organize the world for the benefit of their spiritual children. But they cannot seem to get it quite right. Then some beings representing what we think of as the Holy Ghost come and give the Gods corrections to what they were doing. Hence the “New” and everlasting covenant. If it were not for this multitude of beings coming and making this correction, all of creation would have failed in its purposes.

The narrative describes a form of temple worship that is to be practiced in sweat lodges. It then prophesies that when the people once again turn to sweat lodges for their temple worship it will be a sign that the Church is in apostasy. Naturally, this sort of worship is now taking place among the newly established church that they are promoting.

There are other doctrinal issues as well.

There are some good things written in the narrative, such as good counsel about the relationship between a husband and wife. The Mentinah Papers promote a cooperative life, but do it in a manner that is not consistent with proper principles as understood by the Church.


Question: What is The Sealed Book of Mormon, translated by Mauricio Berger?

Introduction to Question

This book, published in 2019, is claimed to be a translation of the sealed portion of the gold plates that were given to Joseph Smith Jr.

Mauricio A. Berger is from Brazil and was a member of the Catholic Church, then the Jehovah's Witnesses, then The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His membership in the Church has now been withdrawn.

Berger claims that in 2007 he was taken to meet the Angel Moroni, who gave him the gold plates, the interpreters, and the sword of Laban. He has published images of the plates and the sword of Laban.

Claims are occasionally made that some individual has received the sealed portion of the gold plates and has translated that portion. Mauricio Berger is one such individual. In 2019, he published his translation of part of the sealed portion of the plates he claims to have been given. The book is published by the United Literary Order of the Last Days and is called The Sealed Book of Mormon, Translated from the Plates of Mormon by the Gift and Power of God.

According to The Sealed Book of Mormon, the sealed portion of the gold plates contained:

  • The Sealed Book of Moses, purporting to be a vision of Moses recorded by himself concerning the happenings of the earth during each dispensation
  • The Acts of the Three Nephites, purporting to be an account written by Jonah, who is supposedly one of the sons of Nephi the disciple
  • The Prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite, purporting to be a summary of Samuel's prophecies
  • The Revelations of John, purportedly written by the three Nephites and describing their vision that was similar to John's vision as now included in the New Testament
  • The Book of Morian-Cumer, purporting to be a summary by Moroni of the writings of the brother of Jared

How can one view this situation as a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Response to Question

Two of Berger’s witnesses have already recanted their testimonies.

Berger had 11 witnesses to testify of the truthfulness of his work. At least two of the book's first witnesses, Bob Moore and Roberta Chinnery, have recanted their testimony.

Berger’s book does not align with the Book of Mormon

According to the Book of Mormon, the sealed portion of the gold plates "contains the complete record of the vision of the brother of Jared ( see Ether 4:4–5; [ 5:1 ]). This vision included 'all things from the foundation of the world unto the end thereof' (2 Nephi 27:10–11; see also Ether 3:25). So basically the Lord revealed to the brother of Jared the history of mankind, and the sealed portion of the plates was Moroni's translated copy of it."[4]

Nowhere in the Book of Mormon is there any indication that the sealed portion of the gold plates contains anything other than the record of the brother of Jared. Thus, Berger's book contains numerous material that, according to the Book of Mormon, should not be present in the translation of the sealed portion.

The sealed portion will likely not be revealed until a much more specific time.

First, the Lord declared that the words of the sealed portion would not be revealed "until the day that they [the Gentiles] shall repent of their iniquity, and become clean before the Lord. And in that day that they shall exercise faith in me...that they may become sanctified in me, then will I manifest unto them the things which the brother of Jared saw" (Ether 4:6–7). It may be for this reason that Bruce R. McConkie explained that the sealed portion of the gold plates will be translated during the Millennium.[5]

God would not reveal the sealed portion of the scriptures to members of the Church who are not the prophet

Any new scripture from God for the Latter-day Saints would be given to the President of the Church:

  • Joseph Smith: "The Presidents or [First] Presidency are over the Church; and revelations of the mind and will of God to the Church, are to come through the Presidency."[6]
  • James E. Faust: "Who is to declare the doctrine of the Church? It is well established by revelation and practice that the current President of the Church and his counselors have the keys to declare the doctrine of the Church."[7]
  • Harold B. Lee: "When there is to be anything different from that which the Lord has told us already, he will give it to his prophet not to some Tom, Dick, or Harry that is thumbing his way across the country; and not through someone, as another story relates, who swooned and came up and gave a revelation. I have said, 'Do you suppose that when the Lord has his prophet on the earth, that he is going to take some round-about means of revealing things to his children? That is what he has a prophet for, and when he has something to give to this Church, he will give it to the President, and the President will see that the presidents of stakes and missions get it, along with the General Authorities; and they in turn will see that the people are advised of any new change."[8]

Their words are substantiated by scripture. The Lord declares in Doctrine and Covenants 28 that the President of the Church is the only one authorized to receive revelations on behalf of the whole Church (Doctrine and Covenants 28:2). By following the President of the Church and his counselors and accepting new scripture only from them, the Latter-day Saints are protected from false doctrine and will receive the true words of Jesus Christ (Doctrine and Covenants 1:14, 38; 112:20).

Conclusion

Our hearts go out to Berger and those that have been deceived by these claims. It is easy to be deceived by these types of things; but this article should serve as a reminder to remain on spiritual guard. It will also be useful in identifying those scriptural principles that we can follow to protect ourselves against deception.

Oliver Cowdery's 1839 Defence in a Rehearsal of my Grounds for Separating Myself from the Latter Day Saints

Summary: Although this document purports to have been published in 1839 by Oliver Cowdery, the earliest copies in existence are dated 1906. The document was "discovered" by the Reverend R. B. Neal, who was a leader in the American Anti-Mormon Association. No references to this document exists prior to 1906. This document was believed to be authentic for many years, until it was discovered that it consists primarily of a selection of Cowdery's phrases taken from various issues of the Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate that were removed from their original context and placed in a different context. A number of talking points appear to have been reworded from David Whitmer's 1887 An Address to All Believers in Christ. Historians now agree that this document is a forgery.

Mark Hofmann

Summary: Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency, purchased several apparently nineteenth-century documents from Mark Hofmann. They later turned out to be forgeries. Critics say that if Gordon B. Hinckley were a true prophet, he would not have been fooled into buying the forgeries.

Church reaction to Hofmann forgeries

Summary: Did the Church acquire the "Salamander letter" with the intent of 'suppressing' it? The reality is that the historical record is clear that the Church did nothing to hide the Hofmann "Salamander Letter," even though to some it appeared to pose problems for the Church's story of its origins.

"Lost 116 pages"

Summary: The author claims to have been commanded to translate the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon, as well as the lost 116 pages. As part of his 'prophetic call,' the author produced what he claims is a translation of the lost 116 pages, or "Book of Lehi." This portion of Mormon's abridgement (from Lehi to King Benjamin, roughly) was lost by Martin Harris after the manuscript was loaned to him by Joseph Smith (See D&C 3, D&C 10).

Notes

  1. "About," Ang Aklatan: A Book About the History and Future of the Maharlika (accessed 14 June 2014). http://angaklatan.wordpress.com/about/about/
  2. For a discussion of McGuire's methodology, see "The Late War Against the Book of Mormon," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 7 (2013), 323-355. McGuire's description of his work on the Ang Aklatan is here published for the first, and is based on reply to a question forwarded to FairMormon.
  3. Brigham Young, "For This Is Life Eternal," in Eldon Watson (editor), Brigham Young Addresses (1982), 2:230.
  4. "What is the 'sealed portion' of the Book of Mormon, and will we ever know what’s in it?" New Era 40 (October 2011): 31.
  5. Bruce R. McConkie, "The Bible, a Sealed Book," Supplement, A Symposium on the New Testament, 1984; in Teaching Seminary: Preservice Readings [2004]).
  6. "Chapter 16: Revelation and the Living Prophet," in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith
  7. James E. Faust, "The Abundant Life," Ensign 15 (November 1985).
  8. Harold B. Lee, "The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator," address to CES religious educators, July 8, 1964: 11; in "2.2 The Prophet Is the Lord's Spokesman," in Teachings of the Living Prophets Student Manual [2016]).