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Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon [Hardcover]

David Persuitte
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 1 1985 0899501346 978-0899501345
Just as a growing interest in millennialism at the turn of the century has rejuvenated religious debate and questions of the fate of the world, so did Mormonism develop from millennial enthusiasm early in the nineteenth century. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, and a provocative, even controversial figure in history, believed that he had been given the authority to restore a corrupted Christianity to the true church. The primary source of Smith's latter-day revelation is The Book of Mormon, and to fully understand his role as the founder of the Mormon faith, one must also understand The Book of Mormon and how it came to be. Unfortunately, the literature about Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon is permeated with contradiction and controversy.
This impressive work, now in an expanded and revised second edition incorporating new findings, presents new biographical information about Smith and resolves many of the controversies concerning his character. Through an extensive comparative analysis it posits as a probable conceptual source for The Book of Mormon, a book written by New England minister Ethan Smith entitled View of the Hebrew; or the Tribes of Israel in America. The results of this research were presented together for the first time ever in the first edition of this work and are instrumental in shedding much new light on the path Joseph Smith took toward founding the Church of the Latter-day Saints.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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"invaluable for the vivid account it gives of Smiths background, his personality, and the turbulent first years of his church -the crispest, best-structured account -excellent"--Free Inquiry --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

David Persuitte is a technical editor living in Arnold, Maryland. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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East Poultney, Vermont, at first glance appears to be not much different from numerous other small villages that dot the countryside of the Green Mountain State. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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2.0 out of 5 stars You folks didn't even try, did you Oct. 10 2007
I'm a disaffected Mormon. I have real issues with the church. Yet I veer between smirking and grinding my teeth at the attempts of anti-Mormons to criticize the church.

All eight of the reviews of this book were written by people obviously antagonistic toward the Mormon church. The fact that 100% of the reviews were more interested in bashing the church than in reviewing the quality of the book, the fact that 100% of the reviews couldn't contain the gloating their authors felt, the fact that 100% of them rated the book the maximum number of stars--is a big red flag to me that 100% of the reviewers came to the book with a big hairy anti-Mormon bias.

Over and over again, my experience has been that people antagonistic toward the Mormon church are more interested in sensational bashing of the church than in legitimate cirticism. "The Godmakers" is a classic clinical study of this. It contained more twisted, distorted, and flagrant lying about the doctrine of the church than accurate information. As someone who has seen the church from the inside for over half a century, I'm telling you, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to criticize the church--why resort to disingenuous sensationalism?

My question to the eight reviewers is, why didn't you at least pretend to have an objective viewpoint? Your gloating is obvious. You didn't even try to contain it.

As for the book itself... Joseph Smith lifted the Book of Mormon completely from "View of the Hebrews"? This is a theory that was debunked a long time ago. At most, "View" gave Smith an idea that he ran with and developed on his own. The similarities between the two books are too superficial for one to have been derived from the other.
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5.0 out of 5 stars From Fiction To Non-Fiction to Scripture May 18 2004
Joseph Smith is one of the greatest false prophets in the history of humanity. His "sacred" text called the Book of Mormon is one of the worst "scriptures" I have ever read. Its literary value is worthless and it adds nothing to the Bible (except in the many, many places where Smith copied word for word from the King James Bible).
This book offers insights into the origins of the Book of Mormon. David Persuitte is not writing to defend Christianity nor is he writing to tear down Mormonism but is writing a book about the Book of Mormon from an historical and literary point of view. His conclusion is much to what you would expect of the Book of Mormon, Smith utlizied his ability to tell strange tales about the American Indians, history of pre-Columbus America, and religious works of his day to write the Book of Mormon.
If you have never read the Book of Mormon I would encourage you to get a copy of it. Anyone with a decent knowledge of history and archeology will soon see that Smith's writing is not historical and his "truths" are nothing but lies.
For more information see also Fawn Brodie's excellent work NO MAN KNOWS MY HISTORY, Sandra Tanner's MORMONISM: SHADOW OR REALITY, and Stan Larson's THE QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN PLATES.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great background to Smith and his golden book May 13 2004
David Persuitte, a technical writer from Virginia, wrote the first edition of this book in 1985. Now, a decade and a half later, Persuitte has added many more facts in this, the 325-page second edition. This is extremely worthwhile reading for any serious student of Joseph Smith and the religion he founded in 1830.
Persuitte's premise is that Smith had few original bones in his body. Of course, it is obvious that Smith knew how to plagiarize because about a fifth of the Book of Mormon is copied straight out of the King James Version Bible, including the errors made by the English translators. Anyone who is honest would have to admit that Smith really didn't translate these words from the Book of Mormon "plates." But Persuitte believes that Smith also stole his ideas from the sources available to him in his day, especially from Vermont minister Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews (first published in 1823), which had been published only a few years before. Using numerous side-by-side comparisons throughout much of the book and tying in other 19th century works and ideas, Persuitte is able to write, "Considered as a whole, this material makes it quite clear that The Book of Mormon was a product of the early nineteenth century rather than being a 'history' of ancient America" (p. 3).
All in all, this is a book fully worthy of reading and marking up before putting it back on the shelf for future reference. Persuitte has done a valuable service for all who want to show that Joseph Smith's story was not his own.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Nail in the Coffin Oct. 27 2003
By Gnarly1
If Joseph Smith did not rely extensively (perhaps even exclusively) on Ethan Smith's "View of the Hebrews" in writing the Book of Mormon, then the two (unrelated) Smiths are parties to the greatest literary coincidence in history.
Persuitte is so detailed in his comparison of the two books that he has put to rest any doubt that "View of the Hebrews" is father to the Book of Mormon.
Persuitte also demonstrates that Joseph Smith's plan for the Book of Mormon evolved from a non-religious "history" of the pre-Columbians to a sacred text.
Going beyond the Book of Mormon, Persuitte does a very thorough job of summarizing the evidence against the other famous Smith "translation" - the Book of Abraham from the Chandler papyri.
This book is well researched and cogently written. It won't change the opinions of the faithful, but no book written on Mormonism by a "gentile" ever will.
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