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A new LDSFAQ page, "Book of Mormon Plagiarism Theories and The Late War," deals with a popular new attempt to frame Joseph Smith as a plagiarist. Accurate descriptions of ancient war, of olive culture, of ancient kingship riturals, and so forth?It's another case of mistaking chance parallels as plagiarism or fraud, leading to premature rejoicing over the "destruction" of the Book of Mormon. Simple: just cut and paste from the ever-growing list of Books that Joseph Smith allegedly might have used to glean ideas for the Book of Mormon.Given that, the scattered parallels that critics point to in making case for plagiarism consistently fail to impress, and come nowhere close to explaining the origins of that truly impressive masterpiece of ancient literature, the Book of Mormon.Regarding the books that allegedly were used in Joseph's devious plagiarism, we should actually read the books and see just what one could glean from them.This page discusses allegations that the Book of Mormon was derived from modern sources, not from ancient writings.It is a continuation of my LDSFAQ page on alleged problems with the Book of Mormon, one of several pages in a collection of "Frequently Asked Questions about Latter-day Saint Beliefs." This work is the responsibility of Jeff Lindsay alone.He was in Harmony when he was translating the 116 pages in 1828, and in Harmony while translating the vast majority of the existing Book of Mormon during April and May of 1829.So, if Joseph wanted to do scholarly research while writing about Lehi or while working on other parts of the Book of Mormon, we should consider what resources Harmony, Pennsylvania might have offered.
But the mere possibility of access to numerous books does not mean that Joseph was familiar with them.
This recently identified "best source" to show plagiarism is a strange and obscure book about the War of 1812 written in scriptural style, The Late War Against the United States by Gilbert J. This was also mentioned at Mormanity and initially debunked at Mormon Interpreter by Ben Mc Guire. Finding numerous scattered and often contrived parallels between two texts can be entertaining, but may have offer no valid clues about the origins of a text in question.
Four other Mormanity posts get into the details of this interesting but failed attack on the Book of Mormon: Apart from the misleading accusation that Joseph Smith simply plagiarized from the Bible in crafting the Book of Mormon (see John Tvedtnes, "Was Joseph Smith Guilty of Plagiarism? Parallels abound when you are looking for them, but the critics utterly fail in showing that the Book of Mormon is a modern fraud, or in offering a mechanism for producing the Book of Mormon on the basis of the parallels they have found.
If the Book of Mormon really is derived from other nineteenth century writings, why is it so curiously different, and so able to become increasingly plausible over time?
In fact, the Book of Mormon makes much more sense as an ancient Semitic record composed in Mesoamerica than as nineteenth-century fiction. Sorenson, "The Book of Mormon as a Mesoamerican Record" in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, ed. Reynolds, (Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1997), pp. In this monumental survey, Sorenson offers an interesting footnote about the knowledge that Joseph could have gleaned from writings available in his day, which I quote fully on a page at https://
Could Harmony have been the source of some vast frontier library that anti-Mormons seem to think Joseph used?