Source:Echoes:Ch10:8:Book of Mormon and the nineteenth century's expectations

Nineteenth century expectations versus Book of Mormon

Nineteenth century expectations versus Book of Mormon

Despite the efforts of critics to portray the Book of Mormon as a typical product of the nineteenth century, the book fails to conform to that mold. The easiest way to see the flaws in the environmentalist argument is to look at three clear products of the nineteenth century that were what folks of that period expected the Book of Mormon to be like: (1) the Book of Pukei, because as a satire of the Book of Mormon it exposes the elements that people of the nineteenth century thought would likely be included in the Book of Mormon; (2) Solomon Spaulding's "Manuscript Found," because many people in the nineteenth century, and even some today, claim it is the source of the Book of Mormon; and (3) Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews, because many critics in the twentieth century have argued that therein lies the origin of the Book of Mormon. All three accounts show bias towards Latin in phraseology and cultural background and discuss subjects that were common at the time: satire, romance, money digging, and speculation about the lost ten tribes. All three also depict the inhabitants of the New World as resembling the Native American tribes in the vicinity of New York and New England. As has been shown, the natives described in the Book of Mormon are not the Native Americans of the world of Joseph Smith. Further, the Book of Mormon scarcely mentions the major subjects of the Book of Pukei or "Manuscript Found," and it treats the subject of View of the Hebrews very differently. Moreover, rather than reflecting Latin influences, the Book of Mormon bears trademark features of having come from an ancient Near Eastern background—all the more remarkable because it was translated half a dozen years before Joseph Smith started studying Hebrew.89

Nineteenth-century accounts purported to be similar to the Book of Mormon all clearly betray their American cultural background in ways that significantly differ from what we find in the Book of Mormon. Why then, if the Book of Mormon is said to be a nineteenth-century book, does it not read like one?[1]


  1. John Gee, "The Wrong Type of Book," in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), Chapter 10, references silently removed—consult original for citations.