Reprints and Preliminary Reports
Certain well known patterns of human behavior are accurately depicted in the Book of Mormon. For example, Hugh Nibley has explored the pattern of the flight of the righteous into the wilderness. A striking new study now describes another pattern for our consideration.
Terrence Des Pres' article, "Survivors and the Will to Bear Witness," Social Research, 40 (1973), 668-690, points out that survivors of Hitler's and Stalin's death camps reacted in markedly similar ways. He says this is a "specific kind of experience. It has a definite structure." The survivor responds with determination to live on, not for himself, but to bear witness to the world in a poignant kind of testament indicting man's inhumanity to his fellows. The victims make a special promise among themselves that whoever comes through the ordeal will "take with him the burden of speaking for the others." An elaborate profile of survivor behavior results from Des Pres' research. Mormon and Moroni could hardly fit that profile more precisely. Thus the Book of Mormon is shown once more to be a profound human document of deep import, rather than a shallow composition dashed off by a rural New Yorker. A valuable discussion of this pattern in light of Des Pres' work is now available in Lisa Hawkins' and Gordon Thomasson's "I Only Am Escaped Alone to Tell Thee: Survivor-Witnessses in the Book of Mormon." (See attached order form.)
Gary Gillum has met a practical need by compiling a list of books currenty in print about the Book of Mormon, together with reprinted reviews of a number of them. F.A.R.M.S. does not hereby undertake to endorse or recommend these books, but the material in the Report will assist our participants who inquire about books currently available. The reviews will help you understand some of the books better, although useful reviews of books of this type rarely appear anywhere. Note too that the F.A.R.M.S. Comprehensive Book of Mormon, still available as a Preliminary Report, lists over 2,000 books, articles and papers on the scripture. (See attached order form.)
A new Reprint is Stanley B. Kimball's "Kinderhook Plates...Appear to Be a Nineteenth-Century Hoax," from the August, 1982 Ensign. This LDS Historian reports on the historical background of these metal plates, discovered in Illinois in 1843, and summarizes the documentary and technical evidence which leads to the conclusion that the plates were probably a planted hoax. It is interesting that Joseph Smith aparently did not fall for the scheme, even though some of his associates may have done so. (See attached order form.)
Franklin S. Harris III completed an M.A. thesis at the University of Texas, Arlington, in 1973 on evidence supporting the Book of Mormon. In a style reminiscent of his father, who produced the notable Messages and Evidences of the Book of Mormon (1953), young Harris has compiled interesting chapters on ocean voyages in ancient times, racial characteristics of some American Indians, and other provocative topics. His chapter 2 is offered by F.A.R.M.S. as a Reprint entitled "Ancient America: Native Accounts of Origins." It serves as a concise orientation to the major sources recorded in Spanish colonial times which provide information on native traditions and beliefs similar to the Book of Mormon account of Nephite, Mulekite, or Jaredite origins. Ixtlilxochitl, Sahagun, Torquemada, the Popol Vuh, and other ethnohistorical sources are discussed. (See attached order form.)
Another Preliminary Report has been available for some time as one of the 83 papers in the 1984 Book of Mormon Study Catalog, but it deserves special notice. In his "The Isaiah Variants in the Book of Mormon," John A. Tvedtnes presents an exhaustive listing and analysis of the use of Isaiah's words (including paraphrases) in the American scripture. He not only lists these occurrences but also comments on their significance and compares them with the texts of Isaiah as phrased in the major Bible translations and in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Seventeen categories are then used to classify the variations between the Isaiah texts in the Book of Mormon and in the King James Version. For example, Tvedtnes' categories A and C are "Book of Mormon superior to KJV as a translation from Masoretic Text Hebrew" and "Evidence of scribal error in ancient times, with evidence favoring Book of Mormon." Category K is "Book of Mormon variations from KJV with no explanation." Certain of the categories (such as A and C) are clearly supportive of the ancient authenticity of the Book of Mormon, while category K is considered unfavorable to authenticity. Of the 265 KJV variants rated, 89 favor the Book of Mormon, 129 are judged neutral or equal, and 47 are unfavorable to the Book of Mormon, given the current state of our knowledge of the various Isaiah texts. One of the author's conclusions is that "It is inconceivable that Joseph Smith could have made so many correct changes in the Isaiah text and placed them in a fraudulent book," particularly when "he was not schooled in such matters... ." Tvedtnes' piece is not the last word on the subject, but surely no one, critic or apologist, deserves attention hereafter until he has fully considered this Preliminary Report.