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The most salient and obvious opportunities to add "credibility" were completely missed, as if there was simply no connection between these books and the Book of Mormon. Finding a random phrase or concept on one page out of hundreds that bears some resemblance to a Book of Mormon concept hardly proves plagiarism. The mere mention of revelation, visions, angels and gold plates brought serious persecution from others. Religious immunity has been the refuge of most eminent forgers in the past, beautiful thoughts and pious allegories, deep interpretations of scriptures, mystic communication to the initiated few, these are safe grounds for the pia fraus ("pious fraud"). It does not even exploit the convenient philological loophole of being a translation: as an inspired translation it claims all the authority and responsibility of the original.
The critics have never been able to provide a reasonable explanation for why Joseph Smith would bother to plagiarize a document like the Book of Mormon. His life was in jeopardy before the Book was published, and the text even prophesied of the persecutions and rejection by the world that would come with this volume of scripture. 124, November 1962, pages 274-277, offered insight into what is known about plagiarists and their behavior, and contrasted it with Joseph Smith: Long ago Friedrich Blass laid down rules for testing any document for forgery [Friedrich W. After you have perpetrated your forgery, go into retirement or disappear completely. Granted that any explanation is preferable to Joseph Smith's, where is any explanation?
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://
It is known, for instance, that Joseph briefly attended schools in Palmyra in 1818 and that he used several elementary textbooks in arithmetic and reading.
While a few things about the ancient Americas were known to educated people of Joseph's day, so much of what was in print was unsupported speculation.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.), and if they were, ask if there is at least some hint that he actually used any of the books.In light of the growing body of impressive evidences of authenticity supporting the Book of Mormon, critics are increasingly striving to find hints in various books of Joseph Smith's day that might have suggested material for Joseph to use.