What skills were needed to write the Book of Mormon? Brian’s going to dig into Joseph Smith’s background. Did Joseph have the education and oral skills to write the Book of Mormon?
GT: One of the one of the things [Colby Townsend] mentioned was illiterate in Joseph Smith’s day didn’t have the same connotation that it has in our day. In our day, somebody who’s illiterate cannot read, cannot write. They’re illiterate. They have no reading or writing skills. Whereas, in Joseph Smith’s day, that’s not what illiterate meant. It meant more of, he was uncultured. He hadn’t read Shakespeare. He hadn’t read other things. But he had read the Bible and he clearly knew the Bible extremely well, and he could write. So, illiterate in Joseph Smith’s day doesn’t have the same connotation as it does in our day. Is that your understanding as well?
Brian: I think I read that same post or same paper.
GT: It was an interview with Colby.
Brian: Oh, or I listened to your interview. That’s what it was, so very good. I don’t think we need to get hung up on one word, illiterate. I imagine everything that Colby researches is accurate, but people weren’t just saying he’s illiterate. They’re saying he’s ignorant, that he was poorly educated, not were very well educated. If you look at what’s out there, you said Joseph knew the Bible very well. We have two eyewitnesses who said he didn’t. Now those eyewitnesses are just cast aside by the naturalists because they don’t like what they’re saying. But they were there. It’s Emma and David Whitmer who are telling us Joseph didn’t know the Bible that well. So, these claims—there’s contradictory evidence, except we really don’t have anybody saying he was very much knowledgeable of the Bible. It’s an assumption based upon the Book of Mormon, by the naturalists. You can’t go to the historical record and find somebody who said in 1829, Joseph was an expert on the Bible. There are no quotes that say that, so we have to be careful there.
Brian: But, there’s several who said Joseph didn’t go to school when he could have. He could write. We know that he wrote one letter. He dictated some revelations before the Book of Mormon was finished. But, as far as having any real experience with this, you cannot document it from the historical record. If we look at his oratory skills, then, one of the most popular quotations is that in 1823, Lucy Mack Smith remembered Joseph would have stories for the family. He occasionally would tell them about the ancient inhabitants of America. He would talk about the animals that they rode and their clothing, which unfortunately, those details aren’t in the Book of Mormon. She was remembering inaccurately, if he is in fact, talking about the Book of Mormon and what was going to be in it. But the problem is, nobody else remembers Joseph telling these stories. He wasn’t getting a Ph.D. in composition and rhetoric and working as a professional storyteller. He’s telling his family some stories that, in his context, and in Lucy’s context, came from the angel Moroni. So, to say that because he’s doing this, therefore, he could dictate the Book of Mormon six years later, is really not justified. It’s a leap of logic that deserves attention by anybody who wants to go there. And nobody really does. They just say he was telling stories in 1823, therefore, he could dictate the Book of Mormon. Again, [that’s] something that deserves attention.
Do you think Joseph had the skills to write the Book of Mormon without God’s help? Check out our conversation….
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