Snippets from ‘The Mormon Delusion’

Volume 4: The Mormon Missionary Lessons – A Conspiracy to Deceive.

Chapter 17:409-411. What is the role of the Book of Mormon?

…the Book of Mormon does not, after all, contain the ‘fullness’ of the Mormon gospel. In fact, outside of aspects that most other Christians believe, it really contains none of it at all. We might ask; where does the Book of Mormon speak of such things as the organisational structure of the Church – among many other things?

“The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Plural gods are not in the Book of Mormon.

Polygamy is expressly forbidden in the Book of Mormon.

God is not described as an exalted man.

Celestial marriage is not there.

Nephite men could not become Gods – at least God didn’t tell them that they could.

There are no ‘degrees of glory’, no Celestial, Terrestrial or Telestial kingdoms – but there is heaven and hell.

Baptism for the dead does not get a mention yet Mormons claim it biblical, citing 1 Corinthians 15:29. If it was good enough for people on one side of the world – then why not on the other?

Whilst there are ‘Priests’, there is no ‘Aaronic Priesthood’.

There is no eternal progression.

There are no temple ordinances (washing, anointing, endowment, sealing) and yet they supposedly built temples. Smith claimed the ordinances were performed from the time of Adam.

The Mormon concept of the Godhead is not there – but Smith’s monotheism shines through, page after page.

A ‘mother’ in heaven is absent from the book.

Each ‘dispensation’ had a ‘word of wisdom’ yet the Nephites did not. That is strange really, as Lehi and his family were Jews and according to the Book of Mormon they continued to practice Jewish traditions. That would include an entire health code which does not appear in the Book of Mormon.

The Mormon Church claim that the fullness of the gospel is contained in the Book of Mormon is a far cry from the truth. In reality, just the opposite is the case. In fact, some modern Mormon doctrine is completely contradicted in the Book of Mormon, as has been demonstrated several times in this volume.

Additionally, there are many things in the book which at first may appear innocuous enough but upon inspection are completely wrong when compared to known history – with or without faith. I covered many such things in TMD Vol. 2 but one thing I did not mention in that volume is an extraordinary idea mentioned in Mosiah 13:18-19.

Mosiah 13:18-19. But the seventh day, the sabbath of the Lord thy God, thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; 19. For insixdays the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

I said this was extraordinary but at first glance the reader may wonder why. Surely the Old Testament confirms the basis of the above thinking. I agree that indeed it does – but that is not the problem. The problem is that all the cultures discovered in the Americas used anything but a seven day week. Calendars used in Mesoamerica vary, but none match the Old World calendar. We wouldn’t expect them to, unless we believed the people came from there. Then someone in the Americas should have had a seven day week and the absence of such is what causes the problem. The Maya had various calendars. One consisted of a two-hundred-and-sixty day cycle divided into thirteen periods of twenty days. Moreover, each day was represented by its own god. These people could hardly have ‘evolved’ from one God who created the world in seven days, to twenty gods, each with their own day of the ‘month’.

Another calendar did have three-hundred-and-sixty-five days in its cycle. However, it was also divided into periods of twenty days. A quick calculation will tell you there must have been eighteen of them, leaving five spare days. These surplus days were called the ‘sleep’ or the ‘rest’ of the year. No ‘seven day’ periods were used anywhere. Yet another calendar consisted of a 3276 day cycle. This was sub-divided into four ‘quadrants’ of 819 days – the product of 7, 9 and 13, which were all sacred numbers to the Maya. The ‘long count’ calendar simply counted days from the creation of the world – which in our own terms was 11 August 3114 BCE. None of that sounds much like Old World dating to me. (See: Schele, L&F. 1990:78).

No pre-Columbian Native American calendars have been discovered which match Old World traditions, providing yet more evidence that the Book of Mormon was nothing but a nineteenth century work of pure fiction.

 

Snippets From The Mormon Delusion

Volume 2 Chapter 11:186-187

Fundamental Flaws in the Book of Mormon

Smith pretended to locate Adam’s altar, again in his own area; so the Church has to continue with a belief in Adam and Eve as a reality rather than an etiological myth, even though science proves otherwise. Additionally, no ‘Adam’ would mean no ‘fall’ and no need for ‘redemption’. It is comical that fossils, millions of years old, were found in the rocks which Smith claimed made up the altar and yet (according to Mormon doctrine) death did not enter the world until after the fall of Adam. The web site www.lds-mormon.com holds the following devastating information: www.lds-mormon.com/bomquest.shtml#BOM  

“Why does the Book of Mormon include a very literal account of such things as Noah’s Ark (Ether 6:7), Adam and Eve, or the Garden of Eden (Alma 42:2)? If Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel story of the languages or many of the other things mentioned in the Bible aren’t literal (and they aren’t by any stretch of the imagination) – neither are the portions of Book of Mormon history relying on these items as literal. Similarly, why did Joseph Smith state that Adam and the Garden of Eden were literally located in Missouri?”

“Like Roberts, James Talmage believed that the 5,931-year-old Adamic race had been preceded on earth by pre-Adamic life. The usually cautious father boasted to his son that in discussions among the Twelve he had been “bold enough to point out” some conclusive evidence against (Joseph Fielding) Smith’s position. He had personally inspected a pile of stones at Spring Hill, Missouri, declared by Joseph Smith to be part of “the altar on which Adam offered sacrifices,” and had seen that it contained fossilized animals. “If those stones be part of the first altar,” he reasoned, “Adam built it of stones containing corpses, and therefore death must have prevailed in the earth before Adam’s time.” (The original quote is from a letter written by James Talmage in 1931 to his son, Sterling Talmage, also a geologist. It is quoted in Ronald L. Numbers. The Creationists. The Evolution of Scientific Creationism. (Berkeley: University of California Press), 1992. The section on Creationism in Mormonism (pp. 308-314) is excellent. This quote is from page 311).

The Bible Delusion. Pp. 194-196.

Hang on a Minute (HOAM) Moment 99

God and His Father.

Revelation 1:6 is a curious verse. “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Does that not state that God has a father? Well, yes, it does, but – is it a correct translation of the intended message?

Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) confirms the KJV contains a translation error. It should read “and did make us kings and priests to his God and Father, to him [is] the glory and the power to the ages of the ages! Amen.” That’s more like it. Christians generally accept God as eternal – and certainly not in need of a father. The American Standard Version, the New English Bible, and several other versions of the Bible also follow the YLT correctly interpreted wording.

Hang on and consider this. Sometimes, a particular sect will jump on an obscure verse, and without any knowledge or understanding of the underlying facts, invent their own take on things. Jehovah’s Witness leaders have managed it; completely misunderstanding (or perhaps deliberately misconstruing?) the simplest of two dimensional geometric concepts, ‘circle’, making themselves look very foolish indeed. (See HOAM 53 and Appendix C for details).

This is another such instance and the charlatan who pounced on the idea of God having a dad was none other than the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith. Unfortunately for him, and subsequently for the Mormon Church today, Smith left a very telling and irrefutable trail of truth relating to his inconsistent use (or complete misuse) of Revelation 1:6 that unequivocally confirms him to have been a complete and utter fraud.

In Smith’s infamous King Follett sermon (at the funeral of a man of that name who was killed by a bucket of bricks falling on his head during a well construction) Smith starts on about plural Gods for the very first time in public. It was on 7 April 1844, a couple of months or so before Smith’s death. Several thousand people were there and following the disclosures in Smith’s talk, many Mormons left the fold as they considered it to be heresy. Considering what he came out with, that is perfectly understandable. Smith’s sermon was faithfully recorded in the Mormon ‘History of the Church’, Volume VI, Chapter 14.

Taking as his text Revelation 1:6, Smith starts off with a statement that shocked many of his followers: “God… is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. …He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth… and I will show it from the Bible.”

A recent Mormon prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, at least twice, publicly declared that he did not know they taught that and he didn’t know much about it. (See: San Francisco Chronicle, 13 Apr 1997:3/Z1 Don Lattin, religion editor; also Time Magazine, 4 Aug 1997).

Yet Hinckley knew Smith had declared “It is plain beyond disputation…” Smith quoted Revelation 1:6 directly from the KJV: “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Regarding the phrase, “God and His Father” Smith then declared “It is altogether correct in the translation.” This was because he wanted to propound his new concept that God had a father and there are many Gods, supporting his teaching that human men can also become Gods; something the Mormon Church is somewhat quieter about these days. However, when I was a member (1960-2003) that is exactly what we were taught. Even today, whatever the Church may claim, it is a fundamental doctrine still taught in Mormon temples.

However, Smith either forgot, or more likely he simply ignored, the fact that between eleven and fourteen years earlier he had produced an ‘Inspired Revision’ of the Bible, at which time he still held a singularly monotheistic view. When he had been ‘inspired’ to correct the Bible, he altered that very verse in order to clarify the tradition that God of course does not have a father. Yet here, in 1844, he completely ignored his own earlier ‘Inspired Revision’ and claimed the KJV was ‘altogether correct’ – just to suit his newly developed theology.

In Joseph Smith’s ‘Inspired Revision’ of the Bible, Revelation 1:6 reads “…and hath made us kings and priests unto God his Father. To him be glory and dominion, forever and ever. Amen.” This is broadly in line with Young’s Literal Translation and probably the only thing Smith actually ever got right – and that was a fluke!

If Smith’s claim that the KJV is “altogether correct in the translation” is accepted by the Church in order to justify their plural Gods theology; then they must also accept that he lied in his Inspired Revision, proving that it was not inspired after all. If his Inspired Revision was inspired, then he lied about plural Gods in 1844. Either way, he is caught in his duplicity and his lies – and that is the true mark of a false prophet. It is also something the Mormon Church can neither deny, nor remotely ever explain. So much for religion – and supposed ‘prophets’ who make things up as they go along.

Nonsense from the Book of Mormon.

There are no first-hand original texts of anything found in the Bible, therefore nothing is remotely reliable. However, we do have the original text for the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith claimed God revealed to him, word by word, on a pebble in his hat. There have been thousands of subsequent alterations to God’s original words. Below is just one example of how Smith’s God spoke.

“And they were led by a man whose name was Coriantumr; and he was a descendant of Zarahemla; and he was a dissenter from among the Nephites; and he was a large and mighty man; therefore the king of the Lamanites, whose name was Tubaloth, who was the son of Ammoron. Now Tubaloth supposing that Coriantumr, he being a mighty man, could stand against the Nephites, insomuch with his strength, and also with his great wisdom, that by sending him forth, he should gain power over the Nephites; therefore he did stir them up to anger, and he did gather together his armies, and he did appoint Coriantumr to be their leader, and did cause that they should march down to the land of Zarahemla, to battle against the Nephites. And it came to pass that because of so much contention and so much difficulty in the government, that they had not kept sufficient guards in the land of Zarahemla; for they had supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the heart of their lands to attack that great city Zarahemla.” (1830 Book of Mormon, pp.408-9 which now comprises Helaman 1:15-18).

I doubt any Mormon missionary ever recommended that in its original form as suitable reading for an investigator. It seems Smith’s God was as illiterate as the man himself.

See more in The Mormon Delusion, Volume 4, Chapter 6.

The Bible Delusion. Pp. 81-83.

In March, I posted the story about Balaam’s talking donkey. What supposedly happened next is much less known and just as bizarre. This is the follow up story.

Hang On A Minute Moment 34

Seven Altars, Seven Oxen and Seven Rams – Times Three.

This HOAM moment simply begs to begin with: “If you believe this, you will believe anything.” It will soon become clear as to why. This is the story of Balaam; not the part you may be familiar with, where he has a conversation with his donkey (see Chapter 17, ‘God’s Talking Animals’); but what happened after Balaam continued on his journey. We are in Numbers 22-24.

Balak (king of the Moabites) had sent for Balaam in order to have him curse Israel. When Balaam finally showed up, Balak took Balaam “into the high places of Baal” (22:41), from where they could see the Israelites. Balaam instructed Balak to build seven altars and prepare seven oxen and seven rams for sacrifice. Presumably, the sacrifices were to be made to Baal. Balak was not of Israel and Balaam was there to curse the people of the very God he supposedly worshiped. Would Balak have offered sacrifices to Balaam’s God?

Equally, would Balaam sacrifice to Balak’s chosen deity? Sacrifices make no sense here, unless Balaam felt they were needed to get God to actually speak to him; in which case, would Balak really go along with such an idea? They both then offer a bullock and a ram on each altar, so who knows? Balaam tells Balak to stand by the burnt offerings while he goes off to talk to God. Whatever God shows him, he will relay to Balak.

Balaam duly meets with God in a “high place” and tells him all about the sacrifices (which God should already have been aware of – as he is God). The Lord “put a word in Balaam’s mouth” (v.5). Balaam goes back to Balak and all the princes of Moab who are patiently waiting for him. Balaam’s message from God is in v.8: “How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied?” Balaam realises he is dicing with death and appears to want to die at this point. Balak asks what Balaam has done to him; he had invited him to curse the Israelites and yet it appears he has blessed them. Balaam pleads that he is only relaying what God told him.

If you think this is an unbelievable story – there is more to come. Balak persuades Balaam to go with him to another high place (the top of Pisgah) to curse the Israelites from there. They build another seven altars and sacrifice a further seven bullocks and seven rams.

Once again, Balaam instructs Balak to wait by the burning offerings while he goes off to talk with God. Once again, God puts a word in Balaam’s mouth. Once again, Balak and all the princes are waiting to hear what Balaam has to say. Balaam has received a commandment to bless rather than curse Israel; which he has done; and there is nothing more he can do about it. He tries to explain, in effect, that they are the Lord’s chosen people and cannot be cursed.

Balak doesn’t seem to take any of it in. Perhaps he suffered from cognitive dissonance? Not that any of this is real. In the Bible, many stories have two, or even three, repeats of the same plotline. This one is no exception. Believe it or not, the Bible claims Balak made a third attempt to get Balaam to curse Israel; he was nothing if not persistent.

Off they go, to yet another high place (Peor); they build yet another seven altars and burn yet another seven bullocks and rams on Balaam’s instruction. During Balaam’s visit with God, this time there is a lengthy description of how wonderful Israel looks from the mountain and how God is with them. Balaam relays all this to Balak who is beside himself with anger. He complains that he had sent for Balaam to curse Israel and yet he has blessed them three times. He tells Balaam to go away.

Before he leaves, Balaam explains Israel will “smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth… Edom shall be a possession, Seir also shall be a possession for his enemies; and Israel shall do valiantly… Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever… the Kenite shall be wasted, until Asshur shall carry thee away captive… ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever.” (24:16-24).

Believe it or not, after all that, “Balaam rose up, and went and returned to his place: and Balak also went his way.” (v.25). You would have thought that Balak would have throttled Balaam rather than just let him go.

Still, in a bizarre twist of fate, when God later commands the Israelites go to war against the Midianites, they kill every single one of the men – and they also kill Balaam. “Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.” (Numbers 31:8). Balaam had apparently encouraged Israelite men to bed Midianite women and God was more than unhappy about that.

New ‘First Vision’ film from the Mormon Church

The new film is avaialble here.

This new portrayal of the First Vision claims to draw on nine known accounts “to provide additional insight.” It doesn’t include anything from most of them because so many aspects contradict each other. The film is essentially the same as previous portrayals.

Joseph Smith did not record the ‘official version’ of his First Vision, as now used by the Mormon Church, until the year 1838, and it wasn’t even published until 1842, some twenty-two years after his supposed experience.

Smith’s first written claim to a First Vision was in 1832. The record appears within the work A History of the life of Joseph Smith, partly written by his then scribe, Frederick G. Williams and partly (including this version of events) in Smith’s very own handwriting. In it, Smith declares that between the ages of twelve and fifteen he became exceedingly distressed concerning the situation of the world and of his own sins, and concluded that mankind had: “apostatised [sic] from the true and living faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

This is an astonishing conclusion for Smith to have written down in his own hand in 1832 as it completely contradicts the later official 1838 version wherein Smith claims that he went to the grove “to know which of the sects was right” and that “at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong.” We now know this was not the case from Smith’s personally handwritten claim of 1832; and yet the film, rather than ‘drawing’ on that first hand account, ignores the 1832 claim and has Smith state “I knew not who was right and who was wrong…”

Smith’s 1832 account goes on to state that he was in his sixteenth year of age [age 15]. In the later official version, he was only fourteen. Within the pillar of light – originally written as ‘fire’, which Smith crossed out – the Lord, assumed to be Jesus Christ, appeared alone and addressed Smith as his son. Naturally, there is no fire in the film.

In 1835, within a week, Smith attempted two further First Vision accounts. In the first one, Smith relates what he told “Joshua the Jewish Minister” (an alias for ‘Matthias the Prophet’ who was actually from another cult). One personage appeared in the pillar of “flame”, then a second personage appeared who forgave Smith’s sins and testified that “Jesus Christ is the son of God”, thus clearly identifying the fact that neither visitor was actually the Saviour as He is only spoken of in the third person. Neither ‘personage’ is specifically identified but Smith confirms he saw “many angels” during the vision – and that is all. A Church essay on the subjest claims “This account also notes the appearance of angels in the vision” leading people to assume that this is in addition to God and Jesus appearing, as members are so familiar with the later backdated story. They neglect to say that it ONLY notes angels, and that no forms of deity are mentioned as appearing at all. Smith states that he was about fourteen years old: “when I received this first communication.” Smith didn’t invent the ‘God and Jesus appearing together’ idea until much later – in 1838.

Smith then continues in his diary to relate to Joshua “another vision of angels” when he was seventeen, thus indicating that the First Vision was deemed by Smith, in 1835, to be one of angels rather than one of deity. One would expect to see this record included in Mormon Church history alongside others appearing in History of the Church, Vol. 2 but it is conspicuous by its absence. The Church has simply ignored the account (along with Smith’s visitor) and it has been left out of Joseph Smith–History altogether.

Erastus Holmes visited Joseph Smith the following Saturday afternoon, on 14 November 1835, enquiring about the Church and asking to be instructed. Smith recorded what he said to Holmes, in his diary. Relating the experience of his First Vision, Smith states that he was about fourteen years old when “I received the first visitation of Angels”, unambiguously confirming his intended meaning when he had spoken to Joshua just a few days earlier. Smith also writes that he told Holmes about later visitations concerning the Book of Mormon.

Clearly, in late 1835, Smith was still sticking with the idea, in two separate accounts in his own diary, that it was an angel (or angels) rather than deity that first visited him in 1820 at age fourteen.

The exact wording of this version of the First Vision from Smith’s diary was later faithfully published, word for word, in the Church newspaper. (Deseret News, Vol. 2. No. 15, Saturday, 29 May 1852). This published First Vision account by Joseph Smith specifically included the words: “I received the first visitation of Angels.”

However, when the account was later entered into History of the Church (V2:312), Joseph Smith’s own wording was deliberately altered. Rather than tell the truth about what Joseph Smith claimed at the time he wrote of the experience, the account was falsified by others. It was changed from “first visitation of angels” to read “first vision” instead, in order to make it consistent with the later, more dynamic idea the First Vision ultimately became, which was not to be one of angels as Smith had earlier claimed, but one of actual deity. Many angels appear in these accounts and yet there are none in the film – even as ‘extras’. So, there’s the rub; ‘it draws on nine accounts’ – and yet it only includes what is convenient and omits details that Smith himself recorded.

This method of falsifying truth went on to become a regular habit within the Mormon Church. They actually have a name for it. They call it ‘lying for the Lord’ and it still continues to this day. It is more than evident in this ‘faith promoting’ film in which Smith has a pious humble voice and God and Jesus speak with American English accents. It’s funny that throughout the D&C, Smith has God and Jesus use no end of very badly phrased 17th Century Early Modern English and yet here God and Jesus use modern day language.

Research reveals underlying claims surrounding the vision were also untrue and even BYU confirms  that Smith lied about being persecuted for saying he had seen God and Jesus in the early years. (Scroll down the page that opens – past ‘Open Document’ to read “Joseph Smith discussed this transcendent vision only privately with a few trusted friends during the Church’s first decade.”) Thus, Smith lied several times in PoGP: JS History v.20-28, claimig persecution between 1820-1823 for saying he had seen the vision.

The Smiths didn’t even live in Manchester in 1820 – and there was no revival that year. Full and real documenteed evidence surrounding the First Vision claim is available here:

A video explanation of events is also avalable in the second half of my Exmormon Foundation Presention from 2010 here:

 

 

Snippets from The Mormon Delusion. Volume 2. Chapter 4.

Moroni, the Angel Formerly Known as Nephi

The Pure and simple truth
is rarely pure and never simple.
Oscar Wilde 1854-1900.

In a General Conference talk given in April 2005, President, Gordon B. Hinckley, Prophet of the Mormon Church made the following remarks:

I hold in my hand a precious little book. It was published in Liverpool, England, by Orson Pratt in 1853, 152 years ago. It is Lucy Mack Smith’s narrative of her son’s life.

It recounts in some detail Joseph’s various visits with the angel Moroni and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.

The book tells that upon hearing of Joseph’s encounter with the angel, his brother Alvin suggested that the family get together and listen to him as he detailed “the great things which God has revealed to you.” (Ensign, May 2005: The Great Things Which God Has Revealed; citing Smith, Lucy 1853:84).

Hinckley was apparently holding an original 1853 edition of the book, quoting from page 84. The quote actually runs from the bottom of page 83 on to page 84 in the original text and so Hinckley, in all probability, really was actually holding an original copy. He calls it “a precious little book” and appears to approve of the original edition. What he does not say is that the book was banned by Brigham Young, collected, burned and then rewritten, a completely falsified version later being published, as if it were the original.

It was initially recommended for everyone, and the 16 November 1854 edition of the Church newspaper, The Deseret News, reported that it was deemed suitable for children. It was used as a ‘reader’ in Church schools in the Utah territory. It was subsequently ‘disapproved’ by Brigham Young in 1865. The original 1853 edition was then suppressed and gathered in, both in England and Utah and burned or destroyed, according to The Deseret News, 21 June 1865. Young then had the book ‘revised’ and eventually, in 1901, a falsified reprint of the book was published by the Church.

It was rewritten, rather than being revised in the way that an historian would make revisions by adding footnotes, showing errors and corrections. Rather, the actual text was rewritten and then published, just as if it were the original work, with well over two thousand words added, deleted or changed, without reference, along with a further seven-hundred-and-thirty-six words deleted with the proper indication, according to Jerald and Sandra Tanner. (Introduction to photo reprint of Smith, Lucy 1853, UTLM).

Although this may seem bizarre, it is in fact typical of the way the Mormon Church has rewritten its history and thus hidden previous, sometimes more accurate and revealing accounts and records, often providing no reference to any changes. In their book, Changes in Joseph Smith’s History, the Tanners note that the Church added or deleted over 62,000 words in work Smith himself had written. These changes were made after Smith’s death. It is reasonable to ask why the personal written record of a prophet of God would need 62,000 word changes, if he was indeed a prophet. Perhaps the same question should be asked of the Book of Mormon, purported to be (declared by God himself) the most correct book ever written, which also had thousands of changes made after the first (supposedly correct) edition, and continues to have significant changes made in new editions, even today.

Lucy Mack’s book contains many interesting things, including her own (and particularly her husband’s) dreams which almost exactly parallel Lehi’s vision story, which the young Joseph Smith would have heard his parents repeat from the time he was about six years old and which later appeared in his Book of Mormon as the dreams of prophets over two thousand years earlier. (This is covered in detail in Chapter 9).

In Hinckley’s remarks above, he indicates that the book contains details of various visits by the angel Moroni. In actual fact, if he really is referring to the original 1853 edition, as he says he is, then Hinckley is at least mistaken, if not lying. In the book, Lucy refers to the angel as Nephi and not Moroni. Page 79 specifies that Nephi is the visiting angel. In the 1954 reprint (now page 75), it has been changed to Moroni in the falsified text. The reason Lucy thought the angel was called Nephi is because that is who Joseph Smith told her it was, and he recorded it that way himself. Initially, Smith’s records simply say that an angel visited, which in itself is strange when compared with the final official account. Apart from a couple of isolated instances in 1835 and 1838, when Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery both quote Moroni as the visiting angel, Smith reverted completely, to the idea that it was Nephi who was the angel, in his later writings and publications, none of which were changed or retracted during his lifetime. Only later was the name changed to Moroni in the accounts, without reference, by other people.

In April 1842 Smith wrote in Times and Seasons:

“He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi.” (Times & Seasons. 15 Apr 1842. V.3. No.12:753).

Exactly the same statement formed part of the story in the Latter Day Saints Millennial Star, published in England in August 1842. Smith had not ‘corrected’ it, following the April printing of Times and Seasons, of which Smith himself was Editor.

“He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi.” (Millennial Star, Aug 1842. V.3:53).

The name is repeated a second time in the Millennial Star in an editorial comment, identifying that the saints in England certainly accepted the name of the angel was Nephi

“…the glorious ministry and message of the angel Nephi which has finally opened a new dispensation…” (Millennial Star, Aug 1842. V.3:71).

Smith did not die until 1844, some two years later, and he never published any retractions or made alterations to his own writings. Although previously using the names of both Nephi and Moroni, Smith ultimately seemed to settle on Nephi as his personal choice. Most importantly, the original handwritten manuscript of The Pearl of Great Price, dictated by Joseph Smith himself, shows that the name of the angel was Nephi. Only after Smith’s death did someone interpolate the name Moroni above the line of the handwritten text.

Jerald and Sandra Tanner say that in 1976 they were able to examine the duplicate copy of the handwritten manuscript, Book A-2. The manuscript, which was not even started until about year after Smith’s death, has the name of Nephi as the angel, just as the original, with someone later interpolating Moroni above the line, along with the original manuscript, Book A-1. This clearly shows that as an original copy of Smith’s work, started after his death, the original name of Nephi was not changed by Smith, but rather altered by someone else, long after his death. (Tanner 1987:142-C).

The falsified name of the angelic visitor was of course incorporated into canonised scripture. In 1851, the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price included Smith’s original statement that:

“He called me by name and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi.” (PoGP 1st Edition 1851:41).

Orson Pratt “published The Pearl of Great Price in 1878, and removed the name of Nephi from the text entirely and inserted the name Moroni in its place”. (Tanner 1987:137 c. Textual changes in The PoGP, Walter L. Whiple, BYU thesis p.125 typed copy). This was twenty-seven years later.

Current editions of History of the Church use the same words that Smith used in Times and Seasons in 1842 but the angel’s name has since been changed from that of Nephi to Moroni, again without reference. (HC V.1:11). This is yet another falsification which occurred after Smith’s death. (Tanner 1971:13).

Richard L. Anderson, a Mormon writer, admits the change in The Pearl of Great Price but argues that it was necessary as “the ‘Nephi’ reading contradicts all that the prophet published on the subject during his lifetime”. (Improvement Era. Sep 1970:6-7).

He doesn’t qualify all that the prophet published that it contradicted, and in fact many of Smith’s (and others) writings don’t even mention the name of the angel at all. It is usually ‘the angel’ or ‘an angel of the Lord’ or a ‘messenger’ sent by commandment of the Lord. There did however, seem to be some confusion as to which name to ultimately pick, as Oliver Cowdery called the angel a ‘messenger’ and then a few weeks later ‘Moroni’, in 1835 (Messenger and Advocate Feb 1835: V.1:79; Apr 1835: V.1:112) and Smith did once call the angel ‘Moroni’ in 1838 in the publication Elders’ Journal (Vol 1:3). These are the only references to Moroni, along with D&C 27:5 which includes the name Moroni, but this was not in the original D&C revelation. It was inserted – along with well over three-hundred other words (attributed directly to the Lord himself) some years later, in the 1835 edition. The Book of Commandments version of the 1830 revelation contained no angel’s name at all. 1

Other than the couple of references where the name Moroni appeared in 1835 and 1838, the angel then firmly became Nephi in Smith’s writings. Prior to 1835, no name is given at all. By 1842, in published newspapers, in Smith’s own history, and in The Pearl of Great Price, given that Smith consistently used the name of Nephi, apparently it is the name that he had settled upon and intended to be used for his angel. (See: Chapter 5, Summary of Accounts of Joseph Smith’s Early Visions). Contrary to Anderson’s sweeping statement that using ‘Nephi’ contradicted all that the prophet published, that was not the case at all. It was actually the other way around. Smith only called the angel Moroni once. It would have been far easier to have deleted the name of ‘Moroni’ and to have used ‘Nephi’ instead.

Conclusion

Certainly Smith appears to have wanted to ultimately name his visiting angel Nephi. He was, after all, Smith’s first main character in his Book of Mormon. As time passed and Moroni became a more natural, appropriate and logical candidate for the role, as he had supposedly been the one to bury the fictitious gold plates, the angel ‘became’ Moroni. All things considered, it appears that it was a tidying up process after Smith’s death, to make the sequence of events into a more logical, effective and believable overall story.

Had the story actually been true, given the number of times Smith claims he was visited, Moroni’s name should most certainly have been given from the start in most, if not all accounts, especially Smith’s own records. In the event, Smith’s first record of the event in 1832 (nine and five years after the 1823 and 1827 visitations respectively) describes the visitor as “an angel of the Lord” who told him that the plates were “engraven by Maroni” [later Moroni] with the visiting angel not giving his own name at all.

This clearly indicates that when Smith first considered his experience, the angel had certainly not introduced himself as Moroni (or Nephi) as the angel spoke of Maroni [Moroni] in the third person, and did not give his own name. Had the name of Moroni been given as the name of the angel, Smith’s initial writings would have had to read differently and the name of Nephi would never have appeared in the first place.

As with the First Vision, the fabricated story of Moroni’s visits evolved over many years. It all started with the idea of finding gold plates using his money digging seer stone that he found in a well; it developed through to spirits and angels with no name; finally becoming a divinely instructed occurrence involving an angel who Smith ultimately decided to call Nephi, who is now known as Moroni. (Faulring 1989:56-7). An effigy of the angel Moroni now appears, clad in gold leaf, atop Mormon Temples, with the angel Nephi relegated to the pages of the Book of Mormon.

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Notes

  1. Book of Commandments 28:6 (1833:60). Doctrine and Covenants Sec. 50:2 (1835:180). (Now Sec 27:5). Revelation given as 4 September 1830 in the Book of Commandments and changed to August 1830 in the D&C. The original 1830 revelation, published as Section 28 in the Book of Commandments in 1833 has seven verses. In the current version of the same revelation which appears as Section 27 in the Doctrine and Covenants, there are well over three-hundred words added, two deleted and several changed from the original, all without reference. They are written in the first person, as if spoken by the Lord himself, although added several years after the supposed original revelation. It is thus extended to fifteen verses.