Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Book of Mormon's consistency, complexity still amaze’

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Published: Thursday, Oct. 27 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Norman, OK


Provo, UT

My Hebrew professor at BYU is constantly sharing details with us about the strong connection between the language and names of The Book of Mormon and Hebrew. The root words, syntax, and other linguistic fingerprints of that book make it clear the originators had a Hebrew background.

And by the way, all the jokes about "It came to pass", that are constantly found, especially in Nephi's writings, is an English translation of a very short word found throughout the Old Testament that begins many verses. Most of them are left out in translations but in the original Hebrew, this word floods the Old Testament. Just one tiny example of many that I found interesting.


This article is very good. It points out the improbability of Joseph Smith writing this book. I don't believe any man or woman could have written the Book of Mormon in that space of time. Any legitimate scholar would have to agree the book was written by man at all. Joseph Smith translated it by the power of God, that is really the only explanation for the book.

Pullman, WA

The Book of Mormon is a book to be reckoned with. I recommend it to be prayerfully read by everyone. I love this book and feel closer to my Savior every time I open it. In addition to all of the things mentioned in this article, I like how I get something new and rewarding from it every time I read it, even though it might be my 35th or 36th reading of it.
I love it.

Medical Lake, Washington

I had a testimony of the book long before I heard words such as chiasmus. The other things, such as contained in this article, only serve to fascinate and intrigue me further. Elder Holland's General Conference address from October of 2010 is further testimony.

There will no doubt be many who will lend their opinion to this page and argue and degrade and contend. I've learned to let them. My testimony is not based on frustrated ramblings, or the murmurings of those who have an axe to grind, but the peace I feel inside every time I lean towards the Savior, which I do as much as I can.

Provo, UT

I still do not find it convincing.

And the apologetic game is hypocritical:

When the evidence and science go against you, you insist: "A spiritual testimony is the only basis for belief",

but when you can find some obscure "parallelism", you parade it around with an in-your-face attitude, in defiance of your own claims about spiritual testimony.

And then you vilify those of us who have taken Moroni's challenge and found a different answer than "the right one". You call us insincere, or too proud, or unworthy, or even "haters" and "anti's".

In all sincerity, I humbly testify to you all, I have sincerely, with real intent, studied the BOM and Mormonism for over 20 years, attending your meetings and participating as much as I am allowed, along with my active LDS wife. But none of the promised "witnesses" (spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social, or otherwise) have EVER been forthcoming.

I have heard the arguments, studied with the BYU professors, learned about chiasmus and parallelisms, and on and on, but the arguments are always weak, spurious, and circular: you find only what you are seeking (that is virtually a doctrinal axiom) and seek only what confirms belief.

Woods Cross, UT

I don't like to emphasize historical and scholarly arguments for the Book of Mormon. For many, this is whistling in the dark, and such arguments leave me cold. I think that the REAL test of the book lies in its ability to change lives.

Lehi, UT

Great article Mr. Petersen. Most if not all critics and hatemongers of the Book of Mormon have not read it. And some don't even want to read it or it will change their visceral animosity towards the LDS Church. As a convert, I have come to love the Book of Mormon! Again, no one will have been able to write/translate such a work without divine help.

El Rocko
Cedar Hills, UT


Utah Native
Farmington, UT

Did you mean chiasm or chiasmus? "And this is to say nothing of the extended chiasms throughout the book." The plural is chiasmi, but it's rarely used.

Greeley, CO

Great article!! However, I take exception to the phrase "a semi-literate young farmer." I consider Joseph Smith at the same intelligence level as Newton, Einstein, Galileo, etc. Heavenly Father does not work the kind of work that he performed with Joseph Smith just because we see Joseph as semi-literate. Joseph lacked the formal training that you and I have endured, but he was not in the least semi-literate.

Salt Lake City, UT

I know the Book of Mormon to be true, not because of the improbability of Joseph Smith writing it, but because, after study and prayer, the Holy Ghost confirmed that testimony in my mind and in my heart.

I appreciate the complexities that Dr. Peterson references. However, in the end, it is still about exercising faith as one reads, ponders, and prays about the book.

Orem, UT

Thanks to Dan Peterson for another great article, and to Deseret News for printing it.

I still remember with perfect clarity the moment someone first placed a Book of Mormon in my hands. He told me a quick, 3 or 4 sentence summary of the book's contents, then challenged me to read it and pray about it.

Within days of starting to read the Book of Mormon, I gave up partying, cut my hair, and began to get my life together. I knew it was true, and that meant that I had to get myself on a totally different road from the one I was on.

Decades later I look back at where I would have been, and compare it to where I am now. I'm grounded, healthy, and happy, with a wonderful wife (and 7 kids!), and a heart overflowing with gratitude for my Savior, Jesus Christ, and for the loving guidance (and correction) of a Heavenly Father.

I have a lot to be thankful for, including for the Book of Mormon. It not only changed my life, but it may well have saved it.


The original text of the Book of Mormon isn't quite as impressive as the current edited version as far as consistency and complexity goes. The language is extremely repetitive and themes, characters, and names are out of order. I encourage everyone to read the earlier versions and compare them to the later version. Still I think the Book of Mormon rivals similarly themed books of the time such as View of the Hebrews.

To me the most valuable part of the book is that it gives us a glimpse into the mind of 19th century America and the ideas that concerned them such as secret societies, infant baptism, and racism, as well as their guesses as to the origin of the Native Americans through a Christian lens.

American Fork, UT

Dan is right on - if we are honest in our evaluation of this book, it could only have come in the manner Joseph said it did.

As a young man growing up in Indiana, my parents challenged me many times to read the Book of Mormon. I never did - I lied and said I did, but I never read it.

That is until I actually got in the MTC. An instructor there challenged me one day, saying, "if you're going to go to France and share this book with people, shouldn't you know whats in it?"

That night I opened the Book of Mormon and read - I finished it in less than one week. I was absolutely astounded - it was true! What my parents and church leaders had been telling me for years was true. I remember feeling overcome with profound emotion and gratitude.

That experience absolutely changed my life.

An honest, sincere and even an analytical review of this book proves it is another testament of Christ.

I have taught Gospel Doctrine for years and in all my rsearch I have found no error in this book - in fact, I'm more convinced now than ever!

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

Literate and intelligent are not the same thing. The one thing that his contemporaries on both the pro and anti side consistently said was that before 1830 he was only semi-literate. Yes he could read some basic things but was not well read and did not like to read. Again that does not mean that he was not intelligent just that he was not well read and did not like to read.

Lincoln, NE

Thank you Dr. Petersen for this wonderful, insightful article.

West Valley City, UT

I thought this article was about the Broadway musical.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

HAve you actually sat down with an 1830 edition and the current edition and looked at them side by side? A few years back I took my replica 1830 and the online edition and went word for word. Yes there were about 4000 word changes however they are not as you suggest. the vast majority were simply grammar For example the phrase "after that" used only by Nephi who left Jerusalem and Moroni was changed to "after". There was one spot were a name was changed when the City of Zarahemla was discovered and they had Gold plates from the Jaredites they could not translate they are told King Benjamin can translate and in latter editions Joseph changed it to King Mosiah. However that Benjamin's name was used in fact makes sense. When the people left he was king he stepped down after they had left something they would not have known. So when they found the people of Zarahemla they would have still believed Benjamin was king. That is the only real name change I came across.

Bakersfield, CA

May I offer another perspective? I took Hebrew at BYU ('70-71) with Ann Madsen, before she rec'd her doctorate. Our professor did not share the excitement about chiasmus, because he knew which passages were identical to the KJV. Obviously comparing Isaiah's writings will provide a palate for Hebraic comparisons. Spiritual feelings are in the eye of the beholder, right? I have Muslim friends who wax teary-eyed while quoting entire Qu'ranic sections. Does that lend crdeibility to its veracity for non-Muslims?

I loved the BoM for 35 years and received many years of inspiration from the narratives. But being inspired by a book does not add anything to its validity. Observe the Qu'ran, the Jewish Tanach and Talmud, and the plethora of spiritual and New Age writings that continue to inspire humanity... My LDS nephews read more Harry Potter than any other book. My nieces are totally enamored by the Twilight vampire series.

It is an issue of faith, regardless of historic evidence. After a totally unexpected spiritual experience 25 years ago (last May), I became infatuated with the Holy Bible, any valid translation. It is what Jesus claimed, "Words of Life". Nothing has compared since.

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