When the Book of Abraham was first published in March 1842, the title of the work, as it appeared in the Times and Seasons, read thusly: “A TRANSLATION Of some ancient Records that have fallen into our hands, from the Catecombs of Egypt, purporting to be the writings of Abraham, while he was in Egypt, called the BOOK OF ABRAHAM, written by his own hand, upon papyrus.” A look at the manuscripts of the Book of Abraham shows that this explanatory “title,” as it were, for the Book of Abraham dates to the earliest stages of the book’s production. Our earliest (surviving) manuscript for the Book of Abraham, which Brian Hauglid designates Ab1, and which the scholars at the Joseph Smith Papers Project date to “Summer–Fall 1835,” reads: “Translation of the Book of Abraham written by his own hand upon papyrus and found in the CataCombs of Egypt.” Continue reading
The Book of Mormon must be read as an ancient, not as a modern book. Its mission, as described by the book itself, depends in great measure for its efficacy on its genuine antiquity. —Hugh Nibley
To many non-Mormon readers, the Book of Mormon’s insistence on its historicity is troublesome. Modern scholars are quite comfortable in safely doting over quaint and long-forgotten religious texts that are considered neither genuinely historical nor scriptural by modern believers. The Book of Mormon, by contrast, claims to be “an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites . . . [and] an abridgment of the Book of Ether,” that was “written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation” (Book of Mormon Title Page). This has created an extremely awkward situation for religious historians who, in the words of Terryl Givens, “want to salvage Joseph Smith’s prophetic role . . . by avoiding what they see as the embarrassing ramifications of his naked prose or the fragility of the book’s historical claims.” This awkwardness makes these uncomfortable historians “hard-pressed to devise nonliteral readings” of the Book of Mormon. Why so? “Joseph’s prophetic writings [are] grounded in artifactual reality, not the world of psychic meanderings. It is hard to allegorize—and profoundly presumptuous to edit down—a sacred record that purports to be a transcription of tangible records hand-delivered by an angel.” Continue reading
The atheist controversialist Richard Dawkins has, on a few occasions, centered Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon in his polemical crosshairs. When he does speak about Mormonism, Mr. Dawkins typically brings up the Jacobean English of the Book of Mormon as evidence against its authenticity. In his aggressively anti-religious book The God Delusion, for example, Mr. Dawkins dismisses Joseph Smith as the “enterprisingly mendacious inventor” of the Book of Mormon, which Mr. Dawkins sneeringly writes off as “a whole new bogus American history, written in bogus seventeenth-century English.” Continue reading
The 183rd Annual General Conference of the Church featured, among other things, remarks by three General Authorities that touched on the importance of members to sustain and defend the Church.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles began his remarks in the priesthood session with the following, “As bearers of the priesthood, we have the responsibility to stand strong with a shield of faith against the fiery darts of the adversary. We are role models to the world, protecting God-given, inalienable rights and freedoms. We stand in defense of our homes and our families.” Elder Hales then related an anecdote from his youth. Continue reading
Abstract: Michael R. Ash is a Mormon apologist who has written two thoughtful books and a number of insightful articles exploring a wide range of controversial issues within Mormonism. His recent book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt is an outstanding apologetic resource for individuals searching for faith-promoting answers that directly confront anti-Mormon allegations and criticisms. Ash does an excellent job in both succinctly explaining many of the criticisms leveled against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and articulating compelling answers to these criticisms.
Review of Michael R. Ash. Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt. Redding, CA: Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 2008. x + 301 pp., with index. $19.95 (paperback). Continue reading