Discovering the truth about Native Americans definitively not being related to the ancient Jews was like yanking out one of the bottom cards in a giant house of cards. It made the Church’s foundational claims about the Book of Mormon being an ancient book extremely wobbly and unstable. I took a serious look at the text of the book, specifically at things that had never made sense to me.
For example, I had always been bothered by items mentioned in the text of the Book of Mormon that I knew from my study of history did not fit with what scientists had known about the area. Things that were invented or developed
after the time being portrayed. These are called anachronisms, which simply means things that are “out of time” from when the text of the book was supposedly written.
In a linguistics lecture delivered by Richard Packham about anachronisms, he described a scenario about finding George Washington’s lost journal. At first it seemed genuine, but upon closer examination it contained references to objects and language the did not exist during Washington’s time, which called its authenticity into question. I will paraphrase it here:
Joseph Smith’s Language Problems – A Linguist Looks at Mormonism
Imagine that among your great-grandfather’s papers you found a manuscript that declared itself to be the journal of George Washington. What an amazing find to have the actual diary of the man! You began to read it found many things that were known to have happened, so it reinforced your belief that this might be a legitimate document. You also read many things that were not known, but could have happened, giving you no reason to doubt its legitimacy.
But then you hit a section that refers to Washington having received an urgent wire from one of his generals, and then taking the railroad train where he was met at the station.
To anyone even slightly aware of U.S. history, there was no telegraph during that time period, so there was no such thing as receiving a “wire” at that time. There were also, of course, no railroads or trains, nor stations. These inventions would not occur until the next century so why were they in Washington’s journal? Reading further you found a section that referred to the British army using a “5th Column” insurgency group. Given that the term “5th Column” was not invented until the Spanish-American war in 1898, about a hundred years after Washington’s time. How could this phrase show up in a document that was supposed to have been written in the late 1700s?
Anyone reading this document would quickly conclude that it was fraudulent. The existence of these anachronistic objects and phrases should remove any confidence that this was really Washington’s journal, but instead a rather clumsy attempt to pass itself off as one. I doubt hardly anyone would believe it was legitimate.
Applying the same level of criteria to the Book of Mormon, it was literally riddled with the mention of objects that did not exist at the time it was supposed to have been written. It was awash with words and phrases from languages that would not even exist until hundreds of years later. It contained hundreds of mistakes that only existed in books written in the 18th and 19th century that had been plagiarized into the Book of Mormon.
It also had significant grammatical errors in King James style English. I applied the same logic as I did with George Washington’s so-called journal. Here was the Book of Mormon, which was supposed to have been written/compiled between 2200BC and 400AD. And yet here were all these things mentioned that did not exist at the time period in question. Some of which had never existed in the Americas until Columbus arrived in 1492. What was I to make of that?
Book of Mormon Anachronisms
Isaiah: Isaiah is quoted extensively in the Book of Mormon. Yet modern scholarship shows that these writings had multiple authors who wrote over long periods of time, including after the time the Lehi supposedly left Jerusalem.
Baptism: Was simply not a thing in 600 B.C. Christian-style baptism was invented in 2nd Century AD.
King James Bible Mistakes: There are literally over 1700 mistakes from passages copied from the KJV bible into the text of the Book of Mormon. A specific published version of the KJV owned by Joseph Smith’s family.
Technology, that simply did not exist during Book of Mormon times:
Chariots or Wheels: There is not a shred of archaeological evidence of wheeled vehicles in the ancient Americas. Clark Wissler, the Curator of Ethnography at the American Museum of Natural History, noted: “we see that the prevailing mode of land transport in the New World was by human carrier. The wheel was unknown in pre-Columbian times.”
Apologists point to a few kids toys that were found that looked like they had wheels on them. “SEE?” they say, “That means that there MUST have been chariots! Never mind that no evidence has been found of a single solitary wheel, no artwork, no written or glyphic references, no wheel-making technology, no wheel-grooved roads. A couple TOYS makes up for all that!”
It is impossible for such a civilization-changing technology like the wheel to be used for roughly 1000 years, and then magically leave no trace of itself.
Silk: Silk is the material that is created from the cocoon of the Asian moth Bombyx mori. The apologetics here are even more of a stretch than usual. They try to claim that other materials were used to make a “silk-like-material” spun from the hair of a rabbit’s belly! Or they say it came from the pods of the ceiba tree, or (of course) a not-yet-discovered species of moth. Of COURSE! That must be it!
By this logic, I could prove that there was a gunman on the Grassy Knoll during the Kennedy Assassination by claiming there was some
Compass: The problem here is that the compass was invented in China during the Han Dynasty between the 2nd century BC and 1st century AD, where it was used for fortune-telling and harmonizing buildings using the art of feng shui. Compasses were not adapted for navigation until the Song Dynasty in the 11th century.
There is no evidence of the technology ever being used prior to that time, and certainly not in the Americas. The double whammy here is that in addition to the technology itself being an anachronism, the word “compass” is also anachronistic.
Windows: The Book of Mormon refers to windows that could be “dashed to pieces” which indicates the use of glass panes. The Romans were the first known to use glass for windows, a technology likely first produced in Roman Alexandria around 100 AD. They were essentially blown glass jars flattened out, although with poor optical qualities.
Since the Jaredites were supposed to have existed during the same time as the Tower of Babel (~2200 BC), the Jaredites would have been about 2300 years too early for glass windows.
Steel & Iron: No evidence has been found in the Americas of iron being hardened to make “steel” in ancient times. Although some primitive metallurgy existed in South America, metal production was only used for adornment purposes. Metallurgy did not spread to Central America until 800 AD, well after Book of Mormon times.
Metal Swords & Cimiters: There is no evidence that metal swords were produced in the ancient Americas. Apologists make the absurd claim, that “sword” does not mean “sword” but instead means “machuatl” which were wooden clubs laced with shards of obsidian forming a sort of mace. NOT THE SAME THING.
The use of the word “Cimiters” is especially problematic since the word did not exist prior to 450 AD, which is about 1000 years after Lehi was claimed to have left Jerusalem.
Flora & Fauna that did not exist in the pre-columbian Americas:
Cattle & Cows: There is no evidence that Old World cattle (Bos) inhabited the New World prior to European contact in the 16th century AD. Apologists try to claim that the Book of Mormon must have meant “bison”, but given the word-for-word translation method of the Book of Mormon, and the fact that there is no archaeological evidence of American bison having been domesticated, this continues to be an issue.
Elephants: No elephants have existed in the Americas. Elephant relatives like mammoths, dwarf mammoths, and mastodons roamed the Americas but became extinct around 13k years ago, well before the times of the Book of Mormon.
Swine: There have not been any remains, references, artwork, tools, or any other evidence suggesting that swine were ever present in the pre-Columbian New World. Apologists claim that the Book of Mormon meant “peccaries”, but again given the word-for-word translation method of the Book of Mormon, this is simply unbelievable.
Barley & Wheat: The introduction of domesticated modern barley and wheat to the New World was made by Europeans after 1492. While apologists claim that the Book of Mormon meant another plant called “Little Barley” (Hordeum pusillum), this plant is not a species of barley at all, but a diploid grass.
Horses: They went extinct in the Americas 10k years ago and were re-introduced in 1493 with the European advance. Horses did not exist in the Americas during Book of Mormon times.
Linguistic, Languages, words, phrases that could not exist in the Book of Mormon:
“Christ” vs. “Messiah”: These are essentially the same word in two different languages. The Hebrew word for “messiah” is “mashiach” meaning literally “[the] anointed [one]” and is used 47 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. In the New Testament, which was written in Greek, the Hebrew word ‘mashiach’ is translated into the word “christos” which also means “anointed”. The Greek word eventually Anglicized into “christ” to refer to Jesus (which of course happened centuries after the supposed Book of Mormon time period). The book uses both words with eager abandon. Which leaves me with a couple questions:
1. How does the bastardized Anglicized word “Christ” end up in an ancient Hebrew text?
2. Why does the Book of Mormon say that “Christ” is his
name? It’s not like Christ is Jesus’ last name. It means “anointed one”.
3. How the hell did
both of these words end up in the same verse?! What would that even look like in the original text? Since the two words were the same, it must have looked like: “I have a ball, which I will call “ball”. But somehow, the Book of Mormon uses both words, one of which is a gross anachronism.
Greek Names: How did all these Greek names end up in the Book of Mormon? The Hellenization of Jerusalem, where the Greek language was introduced and adopted, would not happen until 100-200 years after Lehi supposedly left Jerusalem. Their exposure to the Greek language would have been minimal-to-none. Even then, the names likely would have been transliterated into their Hebrew forms (for example “Esaias” in Greek is “Isaiah” in Hebrew). And what about the Jaredites from the Book of Mormon? They supposedly existed around 2200 BC at the Tower of Babel. How do perfectly formed Greek names from 9th century BC end up in their story before the Greek language even developed?
Also, these authors were supposedly Hebrews writing in Egyptian glyphs or a pseudo-Demotic script. How would Greek even be represented? Phonetically? Even if somehow Greek names were translated into Hebrew, written in some form of Egyptian, then translated into 19th Century sloppy King James English, how likely is it that the names would come out
exactly like Greek names today? Or is this one case where God can’t say “bison” on Joseph’s magic peep stone, but he’ll give you perfectly formed Greek names? Is the Mormon God really that much of a C-student?
“Jehovah” vs. “Elohim”: Even a cursory read of The Book of Mormon shows that it is Trinitarian in its view of the Godhead. It was not until much later that Joseph Smith started to change his view into the Godhead as distinct beings – Elohim as the name of God the Father, and Jehovah as the name of God the Son.
The problem here is that “Elohim” is the word for “god” in Hebrew, not someone’s name. Jehovah (bastardized Anglicization of YHWH – likely pronounced “YahWeh”) is what god called himself. These are not two different people. Just like you could say “sarcastic man” to refer to me, or you could say, “Aaron.”
“Isaiah” vs. “Esaias”: Isaiah is quoted extensively in the Book of Mormon, and Joseph would frequently invoke Isaiah and other Biblical prophets in his writings and other pronouncements. But his understanding of who these prophets were had a few blinds pots.
Although Joseph spoke of “Isaiah” and “Esaias” as two different people, they are actually just two different words for the same name, in Hebrew and in its Greek version. Typically in 19th century bibles, they used “Isaiah” in the Old Testament which was translated from Hebrew, and they used “Esaias” in the New Testament. Same dude, different languages. Yet somehow, Joseph Smith (who did not know that) claimed that
both of these guys appeared to him in some kind of angelic visitation. Another C-student.
“Church” vs. “Synagogue: These concepts and words did not exist when Lehi left Jerusalem, yet they magically appear in the Book of Mormon.
Adieu:Um… non-ancient French word… in this supposed ancient text.
See Richard Packham’s description of these linguistic issues. Location Names Were Taken from Places Nearby
One of the key turning points in my research was discovering that many names of places and people referenced in the Book of Mormon, were places in New England during Joseph Smith’s exact time period. These facts are difficult to sweep under the carpet of “coincidence”.
Book of Mormon place names compared to actual Northeast US/Southeast Canada place names
Actual Place Names
Book of Mormon Place Names
Alma, Valley of
Noah, Land of
Ripliancum, Waters of
Some apologists attempt to discredit the similarities by claiming the location of a couple of the places is slightly off. Nice try, apologists. That’s like saying this car is not a Chevrolet because its parked in the wrong spot. The fact that the NAMES EXISTED is enough to raise a credible issue.
Remember that it only takes ONE anachronism to demonstrate that a book is fraudulent. Take another look at the previous list and draw your own conclusions.
Exmo: How I Killed the Mormon God, Chapter 10: Anachronisms of Objects & Language | ©2017 Aaron Case. All Rights Reserved.