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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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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 Joseph Smith proven to be a false prophet April 18 2002
By A Customer
This is by far the most detailed analysis, from an historical point of view, of the character of the founder of the Mormon Church, along with a careful study of how he created THE BOOK OF MORMON. After reading this book, one has to be pretty much convinced that Joseph Smith was a thorough con man, deceiver, liar, and egomaniac. He even wanted to be declared a king. Like his counterpart in Waco, Texas-- he used his power and authority in his church to fulfill his lusts, marrying at least 30 women.
Most of the early chapters deal with Joseph before he conceived how to create THE BOOK. Here he is shown to be lazy, shiftless, unreliable; but he had the gift of a colorful storyteller and the ability to fool people; for example, he deceived many into thinking he could find buried treasure if they paid him a fee. Though illiterate, he tried with great persistence to produce a writing that would make himself wealthy;
and he was able to use several contemporary sources and the BIBLE to borrow many ideas and even words and phrases. Persuitte does a marvelous job of tracing the manner in which Joseph plagiarized concepts. He uses the newspapers, journals, letters, affidavits, and court records of Joseph's times to back up his conclusions. And although it is not his major thesis to attack Mormonism or ridicule current-day believers, by his thorough scholarship he (in effect) makes it clear that the foundation of the Mormon Church is based on a scoundrel who cheated on his own wife, cheated acquaintances out of their money, and died in prison at the hands of a public that could no longer tolerate the threats he made to society.
It's an account that is both fascinating and convincingly presented by Persuitte.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Latest Scholarship on a Controversial Figure Nov. 18 2001
Joseph Smith is one of the most important religious figures in the history of our country, yet he has been little studied. This is due in large part to the resistance of the church he created, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints "Mormons" to real historical scholarship into this era of Mormon history.
Persuitte has gone some distance toward rectifying this problem. This book details Smith's life in a neautral and documented fashion. He is particularly good in his detailed analysis of the documents that Smith created in his lifetime, including The Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and what is now called the Doctrine and Covenants.
The story is a fascinating read and the reader is given the tools with which to decide about Smith's life and his creations.
While I recommend this book very highly, I must say my favorite biography of Smith remains No Man Knows My History by Fawn M. Brodie, a flawed but wonderful account of Smith's life. Very readable!
By the way all you believers out there: Lighten Up! The truth can't possibly hurt you.
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