There are 15 thoughts on “Et Incarnatus Est: The Imperative for Book of Mormon Historicity”.

  1. Pingback: The Historicity of the Book of Mormon with Stephen Smoot - Called to Share

  2. Stephen,

    I enjoyed both the article and your interview, and completely agree with your thesis.

    In the interview you stated that the events of the Book of Mormon “happened in time and space” and, “in real time and place.” Both time and place are important elements in establishing historicity. Nephi, Mormon and Moroni were diligent in describing both time and place in their narratives. We have been relatively successful in deciphering the times but not the places. Your statement that it happened in the “New World” is true but highly ambiguous. The well published BYU Book of Mormon Map ( ) does not fit anywhere onto the terrain of the New World and is reminiscent of Tolkien’s “Middle-earth” map, reinforcing the concept of the Book of Mormon as fiction.

    I submit that the reason that so many Book of Mormon researchers cannot locate and agree on the terrain that fits the text is because of several false assumptions they are all making in interpreting the text. ( See my Interpreter Blog article of December 12, 2014. )

  3. Pingback: Episode 103: The Need for Historicity of the Book of Mormon with Stephen Smoot | Latter-day Saint Perspectives

  4. Nephi and Moroni’s concluding testimonies make clear that it is not the readers who are passing judgment on the Book of Mormon. Rather, the Book of Mormon, and its authors, are passing judgment on us, the readers. To reject the testimony of Nephi and Moroni, of Joseph Smith and the 11 official witnesses, is to reject the declared message of the Book of Mormon. A reader can say he likes King Benjamin’s sermon, or Mormon’s epistle against infant baptism, but if he rejects Moroni’s testimony, then he has missed the primary message of the Book of Mormon: Jesus Christ is Jehovah the Creator, and the Savior of mankind, and he is coming soon to arraign us before his judgment bar. We are warned that we are living in the narrative of the Book of Mormon, which includes that future event, and our refusal to acknowledge that fact will not save us from accountability to God. Moroni promises that he will meet us at the judgment bar. He will not be impressed by our insisting he does not exist. Jesus condemned those who draw near to him with their lips, but deny his power to do miraculous things, clearly foreshadowing the translation of the Book of Mormon. As the Lord promised Moroni, concerned about how his writings would be received, “Fools mock, but they shall mourn.” And he promised us that humility and faith in him, including his power to create a miracle like the Book of Mormon, would enable us to receive his grace, transmitted through the book.

  5. Thank you. To see the Book of Mormon as fiction is to decline to see the Book as it asks to be seen, as you eloquently set forth. To see the Book as fiction is to set aside how the Lord asks the Book to be seen, as set forth in modern-day scripture and to set aside how the Prophet Joseph and various and a multitude of witnesses describe the Book and its origins. To point out the problems inherent in seeing the Book as fiction rather than as a Book rooted in history is to point the best way forward for one to feel of the power, majesty and beauty of the Book.

  6. Excellent article, Stephen.

    I always find it strange that individuals feel so “compelled” by the evidence to accept the IFT in the first place. Trying to disprove or cast compelling doubt on the Book of Mormon’s historicity is a very tall order–especially when there are so many competing sets of data that in one way or another support the plausibility of its historicity and which usually make alternative theories for its production unlikely, inconsistent, and ultimately incoherent.

  7. Stephen, you fail now as you did at the time of your earlier post about the imperative for a historical Book of Mormon to understand the analogy. My post over at Worlds Without End invited a comparison between your perspective that the Book of Mormon must be historical based on the theological observations within your tradition (the ones you lay out here in this post) and an Orthodox Jew’s perspective on the authorship of the Torah and the perceived threat to a belief that Moses wrote the entire Law on Mount Sinai at the command of G-d. For an Orthodox Jew the supernatural origination does not end at the moment that Hilkiah discovers the scroll in the temple. That very scroll itself goes back to Moses and the Lord. Where you end in the Orthodox Jewish worldview is analogous to the discovery of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon underneath the foundation of the Nauvoo house by Lewis Bidamon. That has nothing to do with my satirical analogy. David Larsen seems like a nice fellow but his response did not engage with my satire back then and it does not help your case here in this post now.

    You do not accept that Moses wrote most (or all?) of the current text of the Torah. All of the Torah was given miraculously on Mount Sinai to Moses in Jewish tradition. The Book of Mormon was given miraculously on Mount Cumorah in Mormon tradition. Many are now beginning to not accept that the Nephis, Almas, Mormon, or Moroni wrote the current text of the Book of Mormon.

    That is a chiasmus that should clear up some of the confusion. This also should not be mistaken as an attack on Mormon belief or faith. This post for many Mormons that I know will be an attack on their own faith, claiming that the foundations of their belief in the Book of Mormon are “impotent.” Rather, my post at Worlds Without End a few years back, as well as my response now, is to invite you to self reflect on the damage you are causing your own community.

    • Your comments still fail to recognize that the comparisons are not analogous.

      We do not have any firsthand testimony from a historical Moses as to the reception of the Torah. We do, however, have abundant firsthand testimony from Joseph Smith delineating very clearly how he claimed to receive the Book of Mormon. Not centuries of Mormon tradition or speculation.

      “to self reflect on the damage you are causing your own community.”

      Your vague accusations of my injuriousness notwithstanding, you have not addressed the substance of my article. Perhaps you are incapable of doing such. Whatever the case, I am satisfied that the consequences of abandoning the historicity of the Book of Mormon is far more deleterious to the health of the Latter-day Saint religion than me forcefully denouncing what I think is an illogical and historically illiterate theory.

      • You are still not taking the analogy seriously, or the Orthodox Jewish perspective of the authorship of the Torah that I’ve outlined. Instead, you’re imposing a foreign perspective on that faith tradition and acting as if you are engaging in a faithful conversation with it. For an Orthodox Jew the statements in the Torah itself as well as (and especially) what the rabbis stated in the Talmud. That evidence is just as real as probing the miraculous descriptions of the authorship of the Torah to an Orthodox Jew as the statements from Joseph Smith you allude to above for a Latter-day Saint.

        • There seems to be another reason for the equivalence of the truth claims of the Book of Mormon and of Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy, and one not based solely on analogy. When in 1 Nephi 5:11-12, Nephi wrote that Lehi in searching the brass plates “beheld that they did contain the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world, and also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents; And also a record of the Jews from the beginning”. The natural meaning of Nephi’s words is that the brass plates contained Deuteronomy which was written by Moses. So the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon appears to establish the truth of Deuteronomy, not merely by analogy.

          • I’m not sure that the inclusion of Deuteronomy with the other books of the Torah by an unknown scribe on the Plates of Brass necessarily confirms that the book was actually written by Moses.
            Lehi could have assumed so, as have many others through the years.

  8. Thank you for an interesting article. I missed the first one, probably for the same reason that I almost missed this one; I had noted the IFT arguments and discounted them completely. Fortunately, I read this in spite of my bias.
    ” If the Book of Mormon is not historical, and if it is read only as fiction, then any pretense to its being an additional witness for the divinity of Jesus in any worthwhile sense is obliterated.” Well stated! Could not agree more strongly!

  9. Hutchinson is currently Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Ashland, Oregon. That would seem to belie the title of his most famous essay.

  10. Great article Stephen. Well done. Attacks on the historicity of the Book of Mormon remind me of C.S. Lewis’ clear thinking about our Savior:

    “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” – Mere Christianity

    Your article also reminded me that future evidence of the truth and historicity of the Book of Mormon will come forth:

    “The existing scriptures make mention of more than twenty other books that will yet be restored (see 1 Nephi 19:10-16). One day, in fact, ‘all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been … and which ever will be’ (2 Nephi 27:11). Hence the ninth Article of Faith is such an impressive statement, full of promise for the obedient.” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Not My Will, But Thine,” p. 18)

  11. Hutchinson’s compelling story model of scripture is definitely an odd one. I can be inspired C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Terry Goodkind, and Brandon Sanderson while still recognizing that none of these authors wrote scripture. One of the redeeming qualities of the Book of Mormon is that it is not merely a good story, but more importantly that it is a true story.

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