Book of Mormon and View of the Hebrews Parallels

24 April

 “If such may have been the fact, that a part of the Ten Tribes came over to America, in the way we have supposed, leaving the cold regions of Assareth behind them in quest of a milder climate, it would be natural to look for tokens of the presence of Jews of some sort, along countries adjacent to the Atlantic. In order to this, we shall here make an extract from an able work: written exclusively on the subject of the Ten Tribes having come from Asia by the way of Bherings Strait, by the Rev. Ethan Smith, Pultney, Vt., who relates as follows:…” – Times and Seasons, “Truth will prevail”, Vol. III. No. 15, CITY OF NAUVOO, ILL. JUNE 1, 1842, No. 51, Joseph Smith

view of the hebrewsThe quote above comes from the Mormon periodical Times and Seasons which Joseph Smith used to post a quote from a book called ‘View of the Hebrews’, authored by the Minister Ethan Smith (no relation).

Ethan Smith was a minster at a church in a neighboring community in Vermont when Joseph Smith came up with the idea to write and publish the Book of Mormon. He used the minister’s book as ‘proof’ in 1842 to further his claim that the lost ten tribes of Israel had migrated over the Behring Strait to build a new life on the American continent.

Questions arise when we look at what was going on during this time frame so let’s have a quick look at events from the early nineteenth century. As you may already know, America was going through its Second Great Awakening during this time and along with that phenomena another interesting fact was sweeping the country.

It was all the rage to believe that American Indians had descended from the ‘Lost Ten Tribes of Israel’. Those tribes were supposedly the people that were scattered circa BC 700 when the Assyrians pummeled the Northern Kingdom of Israel where ten of the tribes of Israel resided. Early nineteenth century Americans believed the Israelites had traveled over the Behring Strait and scattered once again and over time became the various American Indian tribes that resided here on the North American continent. This is where Ethan Smith enters the picture with his book ‘View of the Hebrews’.

Ethan Smith pastored a church in Poultney, VT which was adjacent to the county where Joseph Smith lived in NY. Oliver Cowdery, one of the BoM Witnesses, just so happened to be a member of Ethan Smith’s church from1821-1825 or 1826 during which time Ethan Smith wrote and published his book.

Cowdery met Joseph Smith on or near April 5-7, 1829 and within days of meeting each other Cowdery becomes a scribe for Joseph Smith and his publication of the Book of Mormon.  In the Pearl of Great Price 1:67 Joseph Smith writes; “Two days after the arrival of Mr. Cowdery (being the 7th of April) I commenced to translate the Book of Mormon, and he began to write for me.”

As luck would have it, the two works were so similar that it drew the immediate and undying attention of many from Smith’s time until today.

In 1927 the well respected LDS historian BH Roberts wrote a letter to LDS Apostle Richard R. Lyman with a laundry list of concerns he had with the Book of Mormon stating his conviction the prophet had ‘borrowed’ from Ethan Smith’s work, View of the Hebrews.  As time went on people in and out of the Church heard about this comparison compiled by Roberts and was circulated amongst several groups.

You can find a scaled down version of his parallels in Roberts’ scholarly work, ‘Book of Mormon Studies’, pp 324-344. This is what we’ve used in our comparison chart today – if you’d like to read all of his comparisons his book is available on Amazon.  I guarantee that if you’re a student of Mormon history, this is a must have for your library! You can read View of the Hebrews online at no charge at olivercowdery.com in addition to that there’s a lot of great information at the website mormonhandbook.com as well.

BoM View of the Hebrews Parallels

Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.240; “Did Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews furnish structural material for Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon? It has been pointed out in these pages that there are many things in the former book that might well have suggested many major things in the other. Not a few things merely, one or two, or half dozen, but many; and it is this fact of many things of similarity and the cumulative force of them that makes them so serious a menace to Joseph Smith’s story of the Book of Mormon’s origin.” – B.H. Roberts

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2 Responses to “Book of Mormon and View of the Hebrews Parallels”

  1. Trevor April 29, 2014 at 2:04 am #

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true and perfect. The members (including prophets) are not perfect. Your argument is that the members of the church are not true, therefore, the church is not true. Your argument is flawed. There is no LDS doctrine that states that the members of the church (including prophets) are perfect in every action. I think if you sit through any LDS 3 hour Sunday meeting you’ll see who the Church is centered around. Even so, I believe that the only person that can help you understand the truth is our Heavenly Father through the feelings of the Holy Ghost. That is, if you ask Heavenly Father with sincerity and real intent (you’ll act accordingly if you receive an answer) with faith… you can come to know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true and living Church of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know this is true. I have felt it through feelings of happiness. I have seen it through action driven faith. There is no other happiness as great as this. Heavenly Father wants us to have this happiness. He loves us. We can live with him again. This is ONLY possible through faith and repentance in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. The dark spirit would love nothing more than to see you and many others get hung up this issue. I promise if you ask for strength to work through this issue from our Heavenly Father it will help you understand in your own way. God bless.

  2. LifeAfter May 10, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    Hello Trevor, Thank you for taking the time to stop by our site and comment on one of our articles. As I read your response my heart broke for you. I used to be where you are not long ago. Given that I am a former Mormon I know what goes on during those “3 hour Sunday” meetings, and Jesus, the real Jesus doesn’t even come up.

    Many people know that Islam is true, that Catholicism is true, and others believe being a Jehovah Witness is the true way. What makes their truth different than yours? Both Catholics and Jehovah Witnesses would say they too believe in Jesus Christ, and that they’ve prayed and were giving “feelings” that showed them their religion was true. You can’t base something so important on feelings; you have to base it on something solid otherwise you’re going to be led astray.

    Jesus didn’t come to earth to set up a “church” or establish a religion He came here to save souls, to show everyone that He is the way, the truth and the life.

    If there’s one thing I’ve learn in and out of Mormonism it’s this: there’s no “perfect” church, and if there was they wouldn’t want you or me to be a part of them. I say this because we’re all sinners, and if any of us would join a “perfect church” that church would no longer be perfect. Do you understand what I’m saying?

    I hope and pray that one day you’ll long for a relationship with the real Jesus Christ. – Melissa Grimes

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