Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Top Book of Mormon expert Royal Skousen to lecture’

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Published: Thursday, Feb. 7 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

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Omaha, NE

Article hit me as really strange. why would someone spend that much time doing that kind of research. Cannot he accept the book as written or does he need some scientific proof to make him feel better about it when he talks with others. First question that hit me was the title to the piece. How does one become an expert on the Book of Mormon and an expert about what exactly.

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

"Indeed, certain elements of Book of Mormon vocabulary may derive from a period prior to the King James Bible — which is certainly something to ponder."

This is what is fascinating to me. I have read numerous internet "theories" on why this is so, all of which are interesting, but I have yet to make a conclusion on why this is the case. Of course, I am completely incapable of coming to a conclusion. Not that I need one, but it is fun to wonder "what if?" I wonder if Dr. Peterson or Dr. Skousen will entertain us with an idea of why some vocabulary in the original texts pre-dates the time of the translation of the Bible. On second thought, I doubt highly respected scholars will form opinions on this as only speculation can be expected. And, any theory will probably be "weird" or certainly different from our expectations.

Also, I hope the lectures will be available to listen to. I probably won't be able to attend them.

Orem, UT

I don't see anything strange in Peterson's article, but flatlander's comment seems quite odd. Peterson TELLS what Prof. Skousen is a specialist on: He's studied the textual history of the Book of Mormon and created a "critical text" of it -- very much the way other scholars have studied the textual history of Darwin's "Origin of Species," Mark Twain's "Tom Sawyer," Homer's "Iliad," and, for that matter, the New Testament, and have created "critical texts" of those works. None of these efforts have anything to do with "scientific proof" that Homer's account is true or that Huck and Tom really lived. Those are totally separate questions.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

For most Mormons, LDS faith is not dependent on empirical evidence supporting the Book of Mormon’s historicity. I knew of a young man who became obsessed with the quest to the point that he came to believe he had nailed down the exact location of Zarahemla. He was an inactive member who was struggling against the notion that the Book of Mormon could not be understood by the logical mind, something I presume he had been taught at one time. He was unsure of his faith but the obsession to find proof was still with him.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT


A book as large as the Book of Mormon and with as many historical accounts, should be able to either be proven true through modern day scientific evidence, or thus proven false.

There really is no in between. If its true, prove it. Such is the requirement of anything in life we are supposed to take as true.

Silly would be the notion "math is complicated. Don't try to understand it really, just believe that it works"


Orem, UT

I'm not sure what Chris B.'s comment has to do with Peterson's article, but, if he really thinks the issue is so black and white, he must imagine that the Book of Mormon has been proven false.

But where's the "proof" that would convince all rational and fair-minded people? It doesn't actually seem to exist. Which suggests that Chris B.'s demand is simplistic. The Book of Mormon hasn't been proven true, but it also hasn't been proven false.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

Apologists and debunkers have more in common than they suspect. One is out to prove, the other to disprove. Neither is the basis for honest scholarship.

To approach history with integrity, you can’t predetermine the outcome. An honest scholar must the trail of evidence to wherever it leads and it often leads to some surprising places. I don't see how a scholar can be an apologist. You can't serve two masters.

Weber State Graduate
Clearfield, UT

To discount evidence when it becomes inconvenient and then draw it back for use when it becomes convenient under the pretext of "analogical modeling" is nothing more than intellectual dishonesty. Peterson does this quite often - purposely ignoring evidence which does not support his conclusions while laying claim to ostensible evidence that advances his supernatural beliefs.

Belief in the BoM is a matter of faith. I have much more respect for those who claim such belief as a matter of faith over the person who tries to incorporate scientific evidence in support of its authenticity despite the overwhelming empirical evidence against it. Leave the BoM where it belongs - in the arena of faith.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT


Agreed, it hasn't been proven true or false.

At this point, its on par with any story ever written by anyone, ever.

Orem, UT

Weber State Graduate:

What? Royal Skousen's "analogical modeling" is a linguistic theory, not a ploy for hiding uncomfortable data about the Book of Mormon. The two are unrelated.

Craig Clark:

The fact is that some of the greatest scholars and philosophers in history have been apologists, and that some leading scientists, scholars, and philosophers still today (e.g., Alister McGrath, John Polkinghorne, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne, William Lane Craig, Kenneth Kitchen, N. T. Wright, etc.) ARE apologists. So maybe you need to revise your notion that the two are incompatible. The actual evidence is against you.

layton, UT

RE: Craig Clark, To approach history with integrity, you can’t predetermine the outcome. An honest scholar must the trail of evidence to wherever it leads and it often leads to some surprising places. True,
(3 Ne. 21:9).For my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work” among the people of the land of America in the last days.

Isaiah 29:14 KJV, Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a Marvelous work and a Wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.

Is 29:14 Septuagint, Therefore behold I will proceed to remove this people, and I will remove them: and ” I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will hide the understanding of the prudent.”
“I will Destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” (1 Corinthians 1:19). Paul quotes the Septuagint, from where God denounces the policy of the Wise in Judah seeking an alliance with Egypt against Assyria

Weber State Graduate
Clearfield, UT


Such "linguistic theory" is used by Peterson as evidence to support BoM authenticity. To advance such evidence for consideration while at the same time discounting the overwhelming evidence against BoM authenticity, as Peterson often does, is intellectually unreasonable.

Although interesting, Skousen's "analogical modeling" does nothing more than advance an illusion of probability through the creation of assumed associations. Peterson frequently makes clever use of assumed associations while ignoring or brushing off evidence to the contrary. As a self-proclaimed scholar, such activity is simply untenable and calls into question the validity of all his claims.

Again, belief in the BoM is a matter of faith. As such, it should remain in the arena of faith.

Provo, UT

I studied the Book of Mormon in high school seminary, read and studied it 7-8 times whilst serving a mission. Took multiple classes on it at BYU and institute. Taught from it in gospel doctrine for 2 years and have read it about 20 some odd times in my life.

I've also read and studied books that analyze the Book of Mormom from differing viewpoints that aren't biased towards its claim to authenticity.

Not to be arrogant, I'm probably as much an expert on it as anyone and would invite an opportunity to discuss my findings and insights on it with Daniel or with Mr. Skousen.

sandy, ut

The more you read the Book of Mormon, the more it becomes clear that it cannot be what it is claimed to be. Yes, it has some good stories and spiritual ideas. But that doesn't make it true.

Fresno, CA

I had a Senior Seminar class with Prof. Skousen. He knows so much about the history of the manuscript etc and he is absolutely captivating to listen to. I wish I lived closer so I could go.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO


“....some of the greatest scholars and philosophers in history have been apologists...."

"....maybe you need to revise your notion that the two are incompatible. The actual evidence is against you.

With all due respect, apologetics doesn’t meet the rigorously high standards expected of first rate scholarship. Being faith-promoting is appropriate for the Sunday School manual and other general instructional material of the Church. But in a university level academic thesis or dissertation, peer review from outside the Church and BYU inner circles is essential if the study is to be taken seriously. Any flaw or weakness is fair game to be exposed by a process that’s supposed to do just that.

There’s nothing unreasonable about that. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Portland, Oregon

@Chris B,

I'm afraid I have to chuckle when I read your assertion that, "...should be able to either be proven true through modern day scientific evidence, or thus proven false."

(S)Yes, man knows everything. There is nothing more to discover or learn and man has the ultimate knowledge of all things, past, present and future. (/S) Pardon my sarcastic tenor, but man is hardly in a position to prove anything by himself.

We are taught that the way to know of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon is by faith; by exercising Moroni's Promise as related to us in Moroni 10:4 - "And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."

Why do we need the inanely pathetic science of weak, insignificant men when we have the power of the Holy Ghost to testify as to the Book of Mormon's truth?

sandy, ut


You can't be serious can you? Did you really just say that praying about something and getting an answer by the spirit is a more realistic and reliable method then analyzing facts? Think about that. So then when people do take Moroni's promise and the spirit tells them that it isn't true, is that also reliable, or does it only count when the answer is a positive?

Portland, OR

Looking up 'analogical modeling', one finds all roads lead to Skousen. Isn't anyone else doing this? He's been at this since before 1989. Time to get real.

In 1741, the sloop "Sea Flower", left Belfast and was 16 weeks at sea. 46 of its 106 passengers died of starvation with six eaten by those trying to survive. Atlantic voyages were treacherous.

In 600 BC, a group of Israelites traveled the vast oceans to find land in the Americas after being at sea for over 300 days.

Rather than looking at the writings, people should question the legitimacy of a work which totally ignores reality. It is almost like a fiction trying to be made real.

West Jordan, UT

Exactly what words are used in the Book of Mormon and where they came from are immensely important. The book is true and it invites any and all scrutiny. Honest investigators have asked for a hundred years, "How did a 19th century translator translate nephite and get nearly verbatim the same as 15th century translators got translating Greek into the New Testament, errors and all? Why did the first edition contain "bad English"? How could there be expressions that were unknown in the 19th century? The answer to these questions is that the Book of Mormon was REVEALED to Joseph word for word. He didn't use a bible, didn't even use the plates,just looked in the hat with the seer stone. Many eyewitness saw exactly that. We just don't learn it in Sunday School. And for those doubting the expertise of Royal and the importance of his work, you show your ignorance. Attend the lectures.

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