Did Joseph Smith write the Book of Mormon by getting ideas from contemporary sources?
Taken from Bible and Westminster Confession
BOM Literary Sources
Joseph Smith Writings Computer Study
Some scholars who have examined the Book of Mormon have discovered that it seems to pull from many different sources that would have been available to Joseph Smith, possibly indicating that he was indeed the author, not the translator.
The most obvious source is of course, the Bible. Of the 300 proper names in the Book of Mormon, 141 of themare from the Bible, and more seem to be just variations on Bible names. For example, the biblical Abinadab becomes Abinadi, Kish becomes Akish, and Antipas becomes Antipus.
Furthermore, several Book of Mormon stories directly mirror Bible stories. These include…
Noah and the Jaredites - Building boats and filling them with animals.
Lazarus and Ammon - Being raised from the dead.
Herod and Akish - Wherein a woman dances in exchange for someone’s head to be brought to her on a platter
and Paul and Alma - Both persecutors of the church converted by a vision, and then become traveling missionaries.
The last three of those stories mentioned even use surprising amounts of the exact same wording from the Bible.
Another source parallel is Alma chapter 40, which has six points of doctrine matching the 32nd chapter of the Westminster Confession with only minor changes in wording.
A look at an atlas will also reveal many startling coincidences. For instance, it was on the Hill Cumorah that Moroni led Smith to the golden plates. Well of the coast of east Africa, there is an island group that bears the name Comoro, and its capital is Moroni. Other contemporary place names that correspond to Book of Mormon places include, Oneida and Onidah, Tinicum and Teancum, Antrim and Antum, and Angola and Angola.
But most startling is the amount of literary sources that Joseph Smith could have pulled from to come up with the overall story of the Book of Mormon. At least 15 books that predate the Book of Mormon discuss some of the following ideas….
A migration to the New World after the Tower of Babel
An ancient Israelite migration to the New World
Israelites being the ancestors of Native Americans
The Gospel brought to America in ancient times
Two brothers in North America continually at war until one is completely destroyed
An ancient race of white people in the New World who were destroyed by dark skinned people
An Indian lost book of God
Considering that every one of those points is a major feature of the Book of Mormon, one would be forced to consider that Smith may have written it himself, gaining inspiration from those books. In fact, a 1991 computerized word study from Bristol Polytechnic concluded that some passages from the Book Mormon, Joseph Smith’s writings, and early parts of the Doctrine and Covenants share the same author.
But of course, for many, this is not definitive proof. The LDS still believe in the book’s divine origins, and send out thousands of missionaries to convince others of the same. But take a closer look at these possible sources in the references at ldsvideo.org.