Wednesday, December 9, 2015
The Mysterious Book of Mormon by Charles J. Sundberg 1917
The Mysterious Book of Mormon by Charles J. Sundberg 1917
See also Babylon, Sumer and Ancient Egypt - 200 Books on DVDrom and Over 300 Books on Mormons (Latter Day Saints) on DVDrom
All things in this world of ours—and especially all literature which is considered worthy of reading and believing—should be worthy of critical investigation in order to determine whether or not it corresponds with other known truth. Therefore, why should the Book of Mormon be an exception to this rule. Yet our Mormon friends seem to believe this should be the case. There are some people even outside of Mormondom who believe it is wicked to scrutinize anything pertaining to religion for fear it might hurt the same. Thus we will sometimes find people who will argue that it is better to let such be in peace even though their faith and hope be all at fault— that it is better to let them have something to comfort them on their wearisome way. This may in a certain sense be true when one looks at it in that light. We do, however, take liberty to look at it differently. We believe, for example, that if we could destroy a mistaken idea and a false hope, it would be very similar to cutting away proud or dead flesh from a wound. We build up and aid at the same time we cut away, and create an opportunity for the growth of healthy, living flesh instead of the dead; or similar to the act of a surgeon who, in an operation, is cutting away an injurious and unnatural growth in order to give his patient and nature a chance for permanent healing which otherwise would have been impossible. Therefore above all things, it is the precious truth we want, which can be ours only by our own researches. Then, why should we blindly accept the Book of Mormon as being divine truth, more than any other work which as a history should not agree with other known history?
If it is true that Joseph Smith found the plates which are said to have contained the original text of the Book of Mormon (something we do not here seek to either prove or disprove) and which is claimed to be of very great importance to the world as a revelation from on high, then he made himself guilty of a great mistake when he gave it to the world in a way that an enlightened world could not consider but as an unnatural and embarrassing mystery. Why not, without any further ado, offer up the plates to Professor Anton of New York for translation, since that professor, according to the statement of Martin Harris, could understand Egyptian to such perfection that he testified that the original as well as the translation were, correct? Why the necessity of taking the trouble to read in the "seer stone" and from a hat in secluded chambers?—to flee from place to place and otherwise suffer depredation in order to hide from the world that which the world was to know?
Strange that Joseph Smith should he so fearful for the safety of the plates, when he knew that they were under the protection of an angel who could take them and restore them at will, and as it is also said that the angel took them and - is still keeping them in his care. If the Gentiles should have found those plates, what harm could they have done to them? Were the plates not worth more to the world to preserve than to destroy them?
When God reveals any truth he reveals it openly so that His children may comprehend it, and not covered up in such obscurity that it is liable to cause suspicion that some crafty agency of deception is at the bottom of it; such would cause more disbelief than otherwise and therefore is a poor means of revelation.
We have long since found that such is not in keeping with the systems and order of the divine laws of God. Look at the Book of Nature; is not this an open book for all to read? And if all have not been equally interested, but some may have read it better and found more in it than others, then this is not because God has any favorites but depends entirely on man himself.
Our Mormon friends often make the statement that there is more living testimony for the truth of the Book of Mormon than there is for the Bible, but where they got such an idea from is hard to comprehend. The Bible has in the Jew a living witness that can never be disputed, and although the Jews are scattered among all nations, peoples and tongues on the face of the earth, yet they have their sacred Bible and have in all their dealings and tribulations with other races been able to preserve their beloved language, the Hebrew. In this language we find them to this day performing their Mosaic worship. When and where a Jew finds a Bible in the Hebrew language, he is ready to acknowledge it as the history of his forefathers as well as the sacred Word of God. But where shall we find a people that will bear such record or testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon?
Although the Book of Mormon claims to be a history of the Jews, in the language of the Jews, the book says it is the language of the Egyptians, a language which it claims was spoken and written by the Jews at the time when Lehi is said to have lived in Jerusalem. But if we ask a Jew (even the most learned among them) what he knows of this book, or if he has heard of any time when the Jews had adopted the Egyptian language, or in any shape or form had used it in their worship or sacred writings- he shall most emphatically answer, "no." He shall tell us that the Jews never have and never will submit to such an act, but that the Jews have always held as tenaciously to their beloved Hebrew language as they have to their sacred religion. And as the Book of Mormon also claims to be the history of our Indians, suppose we ask the Indians what they know of this book—if they have the remotest idea of such men as Lehi and Mormon or any of their alleged forefathers mentioned in that book, the answer from them also will invariably be in the negative. Where, then, is that living testimony?
Our Mormon friends may infer that as the Israelites were for some time kept in captivity in Egypt, they then probably adopted the language of that land; but it is most improbable that they should have thus honored their captors and oppressors. As to this, we need not be in doubt when it is so well known that the Jews are now using and have continuously used the Hebrew language. As a further proof of this we will here relate a couple of incidents:
We believe that many of our Mormon friends still remember that about twenty-five years ago a stranger by the name of Isaacson arrived here in Zion and claimed to be a Jewish Rabbi who had been converted to the Mormon faith, and whom the authorities of the church embraced with great enthusiasm, so much so that they conceived of the thought that he was pre-ordained in the heavens to convert the Jews to Mormonism; and thus he was appointed to translate the Book of Mormon into the Hebrew language. It was not long, however, till our Mormon friends, for some cause, denounced him as much of a rogue as they before had proclaimed him a saint of the Most High. But what we here seek to make plain is the question, that if the language of the Jews is the Egyptian language, why then, for the benefit of the Jews, should the Book of Mormon first have been translated from Egyptian into English and then, by Mr. Isaacson, from English into Hebrew? Now, if this Jew (Mr. Isaacson) was a rogue he was evidently not a fool, for he soon discovered that the impossible was expected of him, namely to make the Jews believe that they were Indians or that the Indians are Jews; secondly, that the Jews should have discarded their own beloved Hebrew language and adopted the Egyptian; for, of course, in order to make the Jews believe in the Book of Mormon he would have to do this, and hence he fled to some other field.
Now, if it was the plan of an Allwise Providence that the Jews were to be converted and saved through the means of the Book of Mormon — and that their language is the Egyptian — then it is strange that the angel which otherwise was ever ready to give instructions to Mr. Smith, did not advise him to preserve at least one single copy in the original text, the Egyptian - and there would have been no occasion for such useless translating.
The other incident, that we wish to refer to, is: We find recorded in undisputable history that in the days of Christ the Bible (the Old Testament) existed in two languages—the Hebrew and the Greek - and that the Bible was translated from Hebrew into Greek about 200 years before Christ; mark you, not from the Egyptian. And what is more explicit, the translation took place in the city of Alexandria, Egypt, and still not from Egyptian but from Hebrew.
Notwithstanding these facts we read in the Book of Mormon (1st and 2nd verses): "I, Nephi, being born of goodly parents; therefore, I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father. I make a record of the proceedings of my day in the language of my father which consist of the learning of the Jews, the language of the Egyptians." Thus we find the beginning of the Book of Mormon. Does it appear truthful?
As we continue reading this narrative we find that the father of Nephi was Lehi, a Jew or Israelite, who had been living in Jerusalem among the Jews all his days- and yet it is said that his language as well as that of the Jews was the Egyptian. Some of our Mormon friends would have us believe that the Hebrew and the Egyptian are one and the same language. But if we inquire of the most learned and reliable Jews (who are in best position to know) they will most emphatically tell us that there is as much difference between these two languages as between day and night or as much difference as between any two languages on the face of the earth. In Myer's General History of the World we find that in the early time of history, even down to comparatively modern time, all languages were divided into three general divisions, namely, the Hamite, the Semite and the Aryan, and that the Egyptian language belongs to the Hamite division while the Hebrew belongs to the Semite division.
In the 3rd and 4th chapters of the Book of Mormon we read that Nephi was by his father Lehi sent back to Jerusalem to persuade a man by the name of Laban to let him have some brass plates, and when Laban could not be persuaded to give them up, Nephi slew him, took the plates and carried them away with him to America. On these plates, in the Egyptian language, says the Book of Mormon, was engraven the sacred laws and the whole history of Israel up to the time of King Zedekiah, or about the same time as that of Lehi (B. of M.- page 9). And now, therefore, we can not help to query: Should the killing of Laban and the robbery of such important plates not have been one of the most important events in the history of the Jews? And yet the Bible does not say one word about it, neither does the Bible say anything about this remarkable Lehi who, according to the Book of Mormon, was superior to any of the prophets mentioned in the Bible, some of them living contemporary with Lehi and some shortly after, who have written their books as contained in the Bible.
In regard to Laban and that he should have been in possession of the whole history and lawbook of the Jews in Egyptian or any other language, we will here refer to ail event recorded in the Bible which most positively stands as a contradiction to such a claim, namely: In the 2nd Book of Kings, 22nd and 23rd chapters; also, 2nd Chronicles, 34th and 35th chapters, we read that the Bible, the holy law-book of the Jews, had been for some time lost or hidden away from the people, so that it had caused erreat corruption and disorder among them; but in the 18th year of King Josiah he ordered that the temple should be repaired, etc., and during this work Hilkiah, the high priest, happened to find their Bible in some nook of the temple, which created much rejoicing and an era of great reforms of the people, as a result therefrom, and, according to data both from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, this happened about 26 years before Lehi is said to have left Jerusalem. Is it probable that during this time these important writings of the Jews were in the possession of Laban at Jerusalemno one but this Lehi should have known anything about it, or that he or Laban should not have made it known? And yet we are informed by the Book of Mormon that during this time Lehi had very zealously been preaching repentance to the Jews and that they had even been threatening his life, and the main cause of their falling away had been that they were not in possession of the Word of God, but yet Lehi had not told them that their precious book could be found in the house of Laban. Does this seem possible to be the truth?
Therefore, with reference to facts which must stand in harmony or connection with truth or untruth we will further make a few comparisons.
On page 33, verses 13 and 14, Book of Mormon, we read that the Gospel—this Book of Mormon—was first to be given to the Gentiles, through someone chosen for that purpose, and then from the Gentiles to "the remnants of our see;!"-—Lehi's seed, the Indians. And in connection with this we read on page 114. verse 12: "On the day that the book shall be given to the man of which I have spoken - it shall be hidden from the eyes of the world, so that none shall see it save that it be the man to whom it be given." This sounds quite strategic. What good is it to give anything to the world which should be hidden? It is quite conclusive that the man here alluded to is Joseph Smith and that he is here alluded to as a Gentile. On page 66 we may read of the same subject about a great seer that should come forth from the fruit of the loins of Lehi through Lehi's youngest son, Joseph, and the name, etc., of this seer should also be Joseph. This also coincides, so there is no doubt but that Joseph Smith is also here alluded to, and it sounds very premeditated; the most peculiar part of it is that here he is not a Gentile but the fruit of the house of Israel through the loins of Joseph-Lehi, and in order to be so he must be a Lamanite (an Indian).
A very strange thing is that in the Book of Mormon we find polygamy absolutely forbidden. Thus we read on page 132, verses 23 to 30: "Behold, thus saith the Lord: David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me. Therefore, thus saith the Lord: I have led this people out of Jerusalem that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the loins of Joseph. Wherefore there shall none of you have save it be one wife and concubines ye shall have none. For I, the Lord - delighteth in chastity of women, and whoredom is an abomination before me. For if I will, saith the Lord of hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people, otherwise they shall hearken unto these things."
Now it appears that, in the last part of this, a loophole has been provided, in order to get around the first and strict commandment, but it is a very poor one, because it is plainly stated that God calls polygamy whoredom, and it is not probable that he would raise up a righteous seed with whoredom at any time. But we find a peculiar thing about the Mormons and the Book of Mormon: that although they profess to believe it to be the Word of God, yet when there is anything in it which they would do well to live up to - then they do not believe in it.
In regard to these facts we will further refer to page 113 (the pages referred to are from the new edition of the book), where we may read that God does nothing in the dark but only what is plain to the children of man (hence nothing to be hidden or in secret); that there should be no priestcraft; that none should set himself up as a light unto others in order to get advantage of them. Do our Mormon friends really believe in this? No, hardly. Do they believe that all men have the same privilege for salvation, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, white or black; that all are alike before God? No, because there are some races of people that the Mormon gospel is excluded from on account of their racial distinction. Thus they must believe that salvation depends on race-blood as well as their creed. (David Whitmer must have been right when he said that the revelations have been changed.) But when we find that the Mormons believe also in the pre-existence of spirits and that the bodies of all men are perfect images of the spirits that have previously been begotten in the heavens to be sent down for tabernacles here on earth, what do they then, for example, think of all the mixture of races in Mexico and South America? Do they believe that God has such a mixture of negro, Indian or Lamanite-blooded spirits in reserve for such purpose? And what race-privileges to salvation will, then, such people have?
On page 289 we may read that the Great Spirit (the Indian Great Spirit) created all things. Neither do the Mormons believe this- for they believe in a personal God who was once a man, who created all things.
Also, on page 588 we read that shedding of blood through secret combinations and secret oaths was most emphatically forbidden. Do our Mormon friends believe in this.?
On pages 70 and 71 we read that Nephi and as many of his family as would follow him, went out into the wilderness, and that he there, after the manner of Laban's sword, made many swords, so that they could defend themselves from the armies of the Lamanites; how they worked in all manners of workmanship, in all manners of ore and metals, including iron and steel; how they built great buildings, also a temple after the manner of the temple of Solomon, etc. Now, we know that later discoveries of antiquity have proven that iron and steel never existed on this continent until after the arrival of Columbus. But now let us consider the number of people that could have been engaged in these great works. We find that the followers of Nephi after the family of Lehi had been divided consisted of only three old men, namely Nephi and his elder Brother Sam and Zoram the servant of Laban, with their wives and children, also Nephi's two younger brothers Jacob and Joseph, having been born during the journey, and then according to the book we find that only a little more than twenty years had passed since Lehi left Jerusalem; in this time the family could not have reached into other generations. From the Bible we find that it required seven years- 153,000 workmen and 3,300 foremen to build the temple of Solomon (see 1st Kings 5: 13-16). Also, on page 72 of the Book of Mormon we read that because of their wickedness the Lamanites were cursed in the color of their skin, that they might be loathsome and not enticing to the people of Nephi in order that they might not mix with them; also that the Lamanites were to be a scourge to the Nephites to whip them in line, so that they (the Nephites), would not forget the commandments of God; and thus they (the Lamanites) were cursed with a sore curse that whosoever mixed with their seed, they should be cursed with the same curse. And then it came to pass that Nephi consecrated his two younger brothers to be priests over the land of the people—and well could it be said "over the land," for the people must have been very scarce; and now it was thirty years since Lehi left Jerusalem.
But now, if we turn over a few leaves of the book and read page 206, we shall find this curse quite without the desired effect, and that the daughters of the Lamanites were nevertheless enticing. And on page 480 we read that as soon as the Lamanites joined the church of the Nephites they became just as white as the Nephites; and if we continue a little further, to page 545, we will find that the dark race or the Lamanites entirely disappeared- so that there were no manner of "ites" in the land any more. But a little further on in the book we find them again—where and how they came to be is a problem not solved, for it does not say that they were cursed again. According to the Book of Mormon we are to believe that as soon as this dark colored race (the Indians) joined the church by baptism, they were made white. If this is to be accepted as true, why, then, are not Indians in our day made white when they join the Mormon church, inasmuch as it is said that the Mormon church is the same church with the same authoritative power? In the New Testament of the Bible we do not find anything so absurd as, for instance, that the Ethiopian who was baptized by Philip, became white. And again, on the other hand, if a white race can be made dark by wickedness, or sin, then the Christian white race would many a time have been made black as soot.
We find that during the translation of the Book of Mormon, Martin Harris in order to satisfy the curiosity of some of his friends- carried away 116 pages for their inspection and that these pages were stolen or lost and never found again, and that this caused a great disturbance to the proceeding of the translation—something which happened only because of their clandestinity or secret-making. And then because of fear that if they translated it over again they might not get it just like the first, they were for some time at a loss to know what to do. But finally fate came to their assistance. We wonder if the Nephite seers could have foreseen such a catastrophe, or what could have induced them to take the trouble to engrave upon brass plates another copy so like that it could fill the place of the first; if so, it seems that such a work should have been a special pleasure to them. But, says our Mormon friend, it was not such fear which bothered them—it was that the Gentiles would make some changes purposely to frustrate this important work of the Almighty, that was feared. But how could the Gentiles have succeeded in this if it were true that Joseph Smith was in possession of the original text; why could he not have proven by that which was correct?
It is claimed that Professor Anton first declared that the translation and the original were correct; but later, when Anton learned of its source, he denied that it was any Egyptian at all, but said that it was only a fabrication of reversed and upside-down figures and flourishes, etc. And if we look at it, what do we find? But let this be as it may- it stands to reason that if it was true that it really was Egyptian and the translation was correct, then Professor Anton would not have dared to deny it, for his own honor would have been too much at stake, as there are more than one who understand Egyptian. But why the Mormons esteem the Book of Mormon of so great importance in indeed a puzzle, for, as we have seen, what would be well for them to practice they do not believe in, and that which they would rather believe in they are not wholly allowed to practice.
On page 46 we read that the brothers of Nephi bound him so that the compass in their boat, on which they sailed to America, refused to work and they did not know which way to steer the ship, and a great storm arose so that they were driven back for three days. How strange that they nevertheless knew that they went backwards. "Why did they not turn about and steer in the opposite direction?
On page 156 we read that a Nephite king by the name of Mosiah went out in the wilderness to a land called Zarahemla, and that he and the people that were with him found another people, not Nephites but a body of other Jewish people, that had also come from Jerusalem some time after the Nephites; that there was great rejoicing among them when they learned that they also were from Jerusalem- from the House of Israel, and when Mosiah told them of the brass plates with the records of their fathers, etc. But in the next verse we read that their language had been so badly corrupted that they could not understand one another. Strange that they could so rejoice together when they did not understand either what was said or the language of the plates.
On page 216 we read that the Lamanites had obtained a very high culture; that they had become very mighty in wisdom of the world, etc. But on page 240, a short time after this, we find them just as low and degraded as ever.
On page 536 we find the Nephites and our modern Mormons just like they had been cast in one and the same would in that their greatest concern seemed to be what name their church should have (that it might be high-sounding enough). We find from the New Testament that it was not until some time after the death of Christ that any church was named after Christ at all—hence that Christ never gave any name to any church which it is claimed he organized in Palestine (see Acts 11:26).
On pages 292 and 293, also 442, of the Book of Mormon we read of how the people of the Nephites by most extreme and unreasonable miracles and terrorism were forced to believe and to submit to the commandments of God (or rather the church). Yea, on page 591 we read of something so absurd as that God brought forth most poisonous snakes to block the way for the unbelievers so that there was no possible way of escape but to fall in line with the faithful — and the question must necessarily again arise: Is it God's plan of salvation to save His children by force or will they be saved by their free agency and free will? Our Mormon friends used to tell us that way back in the spirit world a great council was held in order to set forth the best plan for salvation of mankind and that two personages presented themselves with their different propositions. The first one, which is said to have been Lucifer, proposed by his craftiness to save all by force, hence without any agency of their own. But the second one, Christ - proposed to save only those that would be saved by their own effort and free will, and this latter one was chosen. But in the Book of Mormon and wherever priest authority is dominating there the plan of the first one is taking the lead. We may also read (page 473) about a Lamanite by the name of Samuel who came as a preacher to the Nephites and who also by most exaggerative wonderworks persuaded many of the Nephites to join him, and when those who would not believe him got angry and wanted to drive him away, he acted with defiance and would not obey, so they threw rocks and shot at him with arrows, but the power of his calling was so great that they could not hit him. If we shall believe this to be true, then again the question will naturally arise: How was it that Joseph Smith could so easily be hit? Why should he not in this last and greatest dispensation have had as much power of his calling as this Lamanite in his time or dispensation? When we find the Book of Mormon so abounding with extraordinary visionary scenes it must require a considerable amount of crudelity for a believer, and when our Mormon friends emphatically profess to be in possession of at least as great power or virtue of their calling in this time as any other people in their time—then we feel it within our rights to somewhat question why our Mormons should be so far behind those people of the past.
On page 434 we read that one-hundredth part of all the writings of the Nephites had not been written on the plates from which the Book of Mormon is an alleged translation. If this were true, then there should be many other records of identically the same kind, of the same style of hieroglyphics as well as language, as according to the Book of Mormon there was no other language in use among the Nephites, and of course the Lamanites would not be apt to either speak or write in any other. And then, again, the question arises: Why are not the ancient records of modern discoveries from scientific researches of antiquity of the same kind as that from which the Book of Mormon was translated? If it had been, then it would be a great testimony for the truth of that book. But now, unfortunately for such testimony, it is altogether different; not the slightest resemblance either in hieroglyphic construction or language, and yet these discoveries have been made among the most prominent Indian tribes in Mexico and in Central and South America, namely the Aztec, Maya and Inca Indians. And what is still more a disproof to the truth of the Book of Mormon is that this ancient history covers the same period of time as that claimed by the Book of Mormon, and much farther back. (For full information in this matter read Bancroft's History of Researches and Discoveries of Antiquities of America, as well as other history. Here we cannot find a single mark, trait or feature which can in any way indicate either Judaism or Christendom, but only the contrary.)
Possibly there are some of our Mormon friends who believe that other records which will correspond with the original text of the Book of Mormon will yet be found which will then testify to its truth. But if such were possible, then the history in stone already discovered would have to be stamped out as a lie, and such a possibility is most unthinkable. Neither can we fall back on the conclusion that both can be true; that the one could testify of the other, for the difference is too great—the one claiming to be a history of a Hebrew people, and the other unmistakably a history of a race of far different customs, traditions and language, so much so that if the one is true, the other must absolutely be a myth; there is no middle way. This irrefutable stone history was witnessed by the author of this article at the world's fair at San Diego, California, and thus with his own eyes seen and he made careful observations and comparisons—as also have thousands of people from nearly all parts of the world.
Now we find there are quite a number of scientists who have made most careful investigations into the antiques of America and who all agree that the old Maya language has better survived its identity than many civilized languages. But it is not Egyptian, nor in any possible manner resembling the figurative appearances which Joseph Smith claimed to be Egyptian.
Anyone having somewhat studied the life questions, nature, requirements and aspirations of the Indians (to say nothing of the color of their skin), can readily see the difference of them and the Jews. Behold their war dances, etc., etc. All testifies of another race, with different habits, notions and general conception of life both as to religion and secular conditions. If the Indians are Lamanites or descendants of the people of which the Book of Mormon claims to be a history, why then should not their chiefs or any of them bear the names of their grandfathers—names that we find in the Book of Mormon, such as Lehi, Laman, Koriantumr, etc.? Among the Jews we find it very common that they, out of respect for their forefathers, bear the names of these forefathers.
As before stated, the Book of Mormon tells us (see pages 71, 153, 186) that the Nephites worked in iron and steel, etc. But all research of Indian antiquities has failed to find any of these metals. Weapons of war and tools of various kinds have been discovered, mostly of stone, tipped with copper or bronze. Had those people, as claimed by the Book of Mormon, and like the Jews, known how to work in iron and steel, they would most certainly have used it in preference to stone and copper for edge-tools, etc.
These few remarks have especially been written for the benefit of honest seekers of truth—those who are free and willing to receive it from whatever source it may come; hence, they are not for anyone to be offended at, or for those who are in fear that their house may be built on so loose sand that the utmost care must be taken not to touch it lest it shall fall.
Now it should be self-evident to anyone that we have the most right to believe in that which appears to be the most rational, reasonable and likely truth, and the least moral right to insist upon believing that which appears least likely to be the truth.
Therefore, in closing these remarks, the author is again constrained to candidly ask: Can we conscientiously afford to deny or treat with indifference all these contradictions found in the Book of Mormon (of which we have here referred to only a few), and also reject and set at naught all scientific achievements and discoveries regarding the very people of whom the Book of Mormon claims to be a history, in order to still maintain that the Book of Mormon is true?
Where are those brass plates with that Egyptian text, etc., to prove that the stone history of the Mayas is not true? Our Mormon friends will probably reply that the angel has them. And we will implore the angel to produce them and condemn us, if he can, for having doubted them having an existence in fact.
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