The Frustration And Embarrassment Of Mormon Scholars

The frustration and embarrassment of Mormon scholars can be understood when it is realized that after all the years of work by both Mormon and other archaeologists:

1. No 'Book of Mormon' cities have been located.

2. No 'Book of Mormon' names have been found in New World inscriptions.

3. No genuine inscriptions have been found in Hebrew.

4. No genuine inscriptions have been found in Egyptian or anything similar to Egyptian, which could correspond to Joseph Smith's "Reformed Egyptian."

5. No ancient copies of 'Book of Mormon' scriptures have been found.

6. No ancient inscriptions of any kind which indicate that the ancient inhabitants had Hebrew or Christian beliefs - all are pagan.

7. No mention of 'Book of Mormon' persons, nations, or places have been found.

8. No artifact of any kind which demonstrates the 'Book of Mormon' is true has been found.

9. Rather than finding supportive evidence, Mormon scholars have been forced to retreat from traditional interpretations of 'Book of Mormon' statements (For an example of this, see the latter portion of this pamphlet on the location of Cumorah).

Lacking any positive evidence for the 'Book of Mormon', Mormon scholars have had to spend a great deal of time in the sterile area of dealing with objections to 'Book of Mormon' claims, generally without any marked degree of success.

V. The Book of Abraham Disaster

In 1842 Joseph Smith published the Book of Abraham, which was allegedly a translation of some papyri found with an Egyptian mummy brought to the United States from Egypt a few years earlier. While Champollion was at that time struggling to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphics, no one could yet read them, so Joseph was safe in claiming to translate the papyri. He stated that the papyri were in the handwriting of Abraham himself. Latter-day Saints have accepted these supposed translations and they have been included in the 'Pearl of Great Price', a collection of Mormon scriptures in addition to the 'Book of Mormon'. In the confusion following Joseph Smith's death in 1844, the papyri appeared to have been lost.

However, they eventually became the possession of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where they lay forgotten in their files for many years. On November 27, 1967, newspapers announced that the Museum was turning them over to the Mormon church. This announcement was the cause of rejoicing among Mormons, but it soon turned into a nightmare. For now the papyri were available for the world to examine, and it was soon found by Mormon scholars that the papyri contained nothing about Abraham, but were a common type of Egyptian funerary papyrus usually found with mummies. Translation of these papyri has compelled a number of informed Mormons to reject the Book of Abraham as scripture, and some even doubt Joseph Smith was the prophet he claimed to be.

Some prominent Latter-day Saints, such as Dee Jay Nelson, have left the Mormon church as a result of these disclosures. Mr. Nelson is an Egyptologist and was asked by the LDS church to translate the Book of Abraham materials. His translation revealed the true nature of the documents, and Mr. Nelson made his findings public. The church refused to acknowledge his findings, and in December 1975, Mr. Nelson officially resigned from the church, stating that he did not want membership in an organization which refused to reveal the truth. Other well known persons in the LDS church have intellectually left the church, although they have officially maintained membership because of family pressures.

We conclude, therefore, that the 'Book of Mormon' remains completely unverified by archaeology. The claims Mormon missionaries have made are fallacious and misleading. Many honest and sincere people who have no background or training in the field of archaeology have been converted to Mormonism at least in part because of their false conviction that American archaeology has verified the 'Book of Mormon' record. May their eyes be opened to the wonderful light of truth as it is in God's Word, the Bible!


We shall now show that American archaeology has not only failed to verify the 'Book of Mormon', but that it has caused a division among Latter-day Saints concerning the interpretation of the geographical references in the 'Book of Mormon', and is forcing Latter-day saints to make a heart-searching decision which has eternal consequences.

I. The Interest in Archaeology in Joseph Smith's Day

In the 1820's there was a tremendous interest on the part of Americans in the origin and history of the New World. Settlers were familiar with the mounds and relics left by a race that had preceded them. Numerous books had been written about the possible origin and history of these prehistoric people, as well as about the great native civilizations of Mexico and Peru.

The most widely believed theory of the origin of the Indians during Joseph Smith's boyhood was that they were descendants of the Hebrews, and many subscribed to this theory. Of the many books published which advocated this idea was one entitled 'View of the Hebrews', written by Ethan Smith and published at Poultney, Vermont in 1823. So popular was this book that a second edition was brought out in 1825. It is quite possible, if not probable, that Oliver Cowdery carried a copy of this book with him when he left his boyhood home in Poultney and moved into western New York, where he soon came into contact with the Smith family. So striking are the similarities of the 'Book of Mormon' to 'View of the Hebrews' that some scholars believe that Ethan Smith's book was the primary inspiration for Joseph Smith's book.

At any rate, the 'Book of Mormon' capitalized on the current interest and popular theories about the Indians by purporting to be a history of the ancient inhabitants of America. Seeing in the 'Book of Mormon' an appealing answer to their curiosity, many people quickly accepted the book as a true record.

From the prefrix to the above text file:

The following is a reprint of the pamphlet "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon" by Hal Hougey (revised Ed. 6/83-6M). It gives a little insight into how far the Mormon church leaders are willing to go to "prove" that the Book of Mormon is an archaeologically "sound" book. For further information, and amplification on the subject, I heartily suggest the book "Archaeology and the Book of Mormon" by Jerald and Sandra Tanner (available through Utah Lighthouse Ministries, P.O. BOX 1884, Salt Lake City, Utah. 84110. List price is $3.00.)