Friday, October 28, 2011

Book of Mormon Month - Day 28: Book of Mormon's consistency, complexity still amaze

Dan Peterson, a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic in the Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young University and a lifelong scholar of the Book of Mormon, wrote an article that helps outline the uniqueness of the Book of Mormon. Here is a short excerpt from the article:
Joseph smith figure north visitors center slc utah
Joseph Smith, by contrast, a Yankee farm boy with only a few weeks of formal education, dictated the Book of Mormon in slightly more than two months, and published it without significant revision.
To those who don't find this impressive, I say: Dictate an original manuscript of approximately a quarter of a million words between now and New Year's Day, and then get back to me. (I'm being generous. According to one count, the English Book of Mormon actually contains 268,163 words.) And anybody who attempts this feat, don't forget, will almost certainly be far better educated than Joseph Smith was.
The intricate structure and detailed complexity of the Book of Mormon seem far better explained as the work of several ancient writers using various written sources over the space of centuries than exploding suddenly from the mind of a barely educated manual laborer on the American frontier.
A good brief statement on this topic, from which I've drawn for this column, is Melvin J. Thorne's 1997 article "Complexity, Consistency, Ignorance, and Probabilities," which is available online."
"It is too complex," says Dr. Thorne of the Book of Mormon, "to have been written by Joseph in the manner and in the amount of time described by witnesses. Indeed, it is too complex to have been written by Joseph in the manner hypothesized by his enemies or critics. Ultimately, it appears to be too complex to have been written by Joseph or any of his contemporaries in the early nineteenth century under any conceivable set of circumstances other than the one Joseph describes — the translation by miraculous means of an authentically ancient document."