The Bible vs. The Book of Mormon
The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon (DVD), Produced by Living Hope Ministries (www.sourceflix.com), 2005, 66 min.
The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon is a fascinating and informative documentary that looks at key issues for Mormons, and anyone considering joining the LDS Church. The first sentence in the introduction to the Book of Mormon claims, “The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible.” Is the Book of Mormon an authentic ancient scripture? Is the Book of Mormon supported by the evidence of archaeology, as the Bible is?
The documentary seeks to examine and compare physical evidence capable of confirming whether or not the Bible and the Book of Mormon present an accurate record of the lands and people of antiquity each respectively describes. The miracles and spiritual truths described in the Bible and Book of Mormon can not be physically examined. Early on in the documentary the question is asked, “Does the Book of Mormon account match the geography and archaeology of the New World [i.e., the Americas] and does the Bible match similar accounts of the Old World [i.e., the Fertile Crescent]?”
The Book of Mormon is canonized Mormon scripture that describes the migration of two Jewish people groups from the Ancient Near East to the Americas. According to the Book of Mormon, the first group called Jaredites sailed to the New World shortly after God confused the language at the tower of Babel at about 2,000 B.C. (Ether 1; cp. Gen. 11:1-9). Once in the New World they multiplied into millions of people who eventually killed each other off in a civil war at around 600 B.C. (Ether 15). The second migration to the Americas left Jerusalem during the sixth century B.C. (1 Nephi 18:23-25). It consisted of a Jewish family fathered by Lehi. In the Americas, the Lamanites were named after Lehi’s son Laman, and the Nephities were named after Lehi’s son Nephi. The Lamanitites killed off the Nephites and are the “principal ancestors of the American Indians. ” (Introduction, Book of Mormon, 1981 edition).
What kind of evidence would an advanced civilization of millions of people leave after centuries of living in the Americas? What physical evidence would one expect to find after two million men were “slain by the sword” (Ether 15:2), in addition to the slaying of their wives and children at Hill Cumorah in New York State? Add to this an additional battle where multiple tens of thousands (about 230,000 total) of people were massacred “with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war” on the same Hill Cumorah centuries later (Mormon 6:1-8:41). What could we reasonably expect to find?
Like the Book of Mormon, the Bible presents itself as a historical record of certain people groups living at specific places during specific times. The Bible records thousands of years of Israel’s history along the Fertile Crescent and specifically mentions lands as far away as Spain (Rom. 15:24-28). One would expect the accounts of the Bible to leave an unmistakable imprint on the region.
The documentary features interviews with scholars in their respective fields of archaeology, anthropology, historical geography, textual criticism, linguistics, Old Testament, and New Testament. These individuals give their expert testimony with respect to the accounts of the Bible and the Book of Mormon concerning the following categories: geography, people and empires, cities, flora and fauna, metallurgy and writing, language and literacy, coins, warfare, and temples.
On a number of issues, the LDS Church leader’s interpretation of the Book of Mormon is quite different than the views held by Mormon apologists. The documentary prioritizes the LDS Church leader’s interpretation of the Book of Mormon over the views held by Mormon apologist.
The tone and presentation of the documentary should not be offensive to most Mormon viewers. You could watch this documentary with your Mormon friends to show them why Christians find it difficult accepting the Book of Mormon as being comparable to the Bible.
So, is the Book of Mormon comparable to the Bible? The answer appears to be a “No” among non-Mormon scholars. Both religious and secular scholars and even a number of LDS scholars acknowledge there is a wealth of physical evidence supporting the accounts described in the Bible, while the accounts described in the Book of Mormon have absolutely no tangible evidence connecting it to the real world. If the Book of Mormon is not historically credible, how confident should we be in its spiritual message?
1 In the Introduction of the Doubleday edition of the Book of Mormon, the phrase “the principal ancestors” was changed to “among the ancestors”. What prompted this change? Could it be because modern Mitochondrial DNA studies support the view that the principal ancestors of Native Americans are Asiatic people, not the American Indians?