I spent some time looking over the Book of Mormon, and although I think the basic story line is kind of simplistic, I think the sermons that are scattered throughout are quite beautiful and insightful. I decided that these sermons are probably what holds the LDS church together. Because the beautiful sermons ring true, I surmised that this is why Mormons believe everything else must be true- even if there is evidence against it. I told my husband that it is too bad that the Book of Mormon isn’t more respected in the world because it does have gorgeous language. I decided that it was disregarded because it was claimed to be a true history. I thought that if Joseph had simply said it was a fictional story it might have become classic literature. My husband was pleased with my assessment.
However, this assessment was dashed. I already had learned that much of the basic outline of the story in the Book of Mormon was taken from The Book of Hebrews and some from the Apocrapha, but I thought the sermons were completely original. Not at all. I learned from the book: An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins that a big chunk of the sermons were taken directly from the KJV Bible and hardly changed at all. Compare the following:
Alma 19:2,5,8-9, 12 to John 11:3-4, 11, 23, 26-27, 39
Mathew 13:3-8 to Alma 32:28-43
Hebrews 3:7-13 to Alma 12:33-36
Hebrews 3:15-18 to Alma 12:37
Hebrews 7:1-4 to Alma 13: 7, 15, 17-19
Heb. 7:22 and 6:19 and 11:8 to Eth 12:4
Moroni just happens to say the exact same thing as Paul on Faith- in the exact same order- compare Paul: 1 Cor 13:2, 4-8 and Moroni 7: 44-46.
Here is more of Moroni copying Paul hundreds of years before Paul was born – (Paul) 1 Cor 12: 4-11 and Moroni 10: 8-17
“We may assume that God reveals similar concepts to different people at different times and that such similarities in theme are to be expected. The lingering question is whether such concepts could be expected to be found in identical sequences of ideas, phrases, and sentences.” Look at the similarities between Paul and Alma’s stories: Both were wicked before their dramatic conversion, both were traveling about persecuting the church when they saw a heavenly vision. Their companions fell to the earth and were unable to understand the voice that spoke. Both were asked in a vision why they persecuted the Lord. Both were struck dumb/blind, became helpless, and were assisted by their companions. They went without food before converting. Both preached the gospel and both performed the same miracle. While preaching, they supported themselves by their own labors. They were both put in prison. After they prayed, an earthquake resulted in their bands being loosed. Both used the same phrases in their preaching.
There are so many other examples, I can’t write them all here- you can read them yourself and get more information from the book: An insider’s View of Mormon Origins by Grant H. Palmer, a three time director of LDS Institutes of Religion in California and Utah, a former instructor at the Church College of New Zealand and an LDS seminary teacher at two Utah locations. He has been active in the Mormon History Association and on the board of directors of the Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association. He was the high priest group leader in his ward when he wrote the book.
My husband did find these comparisons to be quite similar and didn’t have a good response.