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Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon (2nd Edition) Paperback – September 1, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0786408269 ISBN-10: 078640826X Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland; 2 edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078640826X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786408269
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,562,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Invaluable for the vivid account it gives of Smith's background, his personality, and the turbulent first years of his church…the crispest, best-structured account…excellent." --Free Inquiry

"Carefully researched...thoughtfully presented." --The Journal of Mormon History

"Intriguing...copious...extensive bibliography...excellent...highly recommended." --Imagine

About the Author

Technical writer and editor David Persuitte lives in Washington, D.C.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 50 REVIEWER on September 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
In the Introduction to this 1985 book, the author writes, "I have chosen to make full use of the documentation and to let the evidence speak for itself... All this material will show that The Book of Mormon was a product of the early nineteenth century rather than a history of Ancient America."

Here are some additional quotations from the book:

"I found, in short, that The Book of Mormon appeared to have had its conceptual origins in 'View of the Hebrews.'" (Pg. 2)
"...these records indicate that the Cowdery family had an association with the same church that Ethan Smith was to become pastor of in 1821... It is reasonable to expect, then, that Oliver Cowdery eventually became acquainted firsthand with Ethan Smith." (Pg. 8)
"The important point about William's statement is that it confirms Lucy's narrative that the revival and the enrollment of the family members in the Presbyterian Church did not take place until after Alvin's death. So despite Joseph's later statement that the family members joined the church as a result of a revival supposedly occurring in 1820, it seems that they actually joined that church because of an 1824 revival." (Pg. 30)
"Oliver Cowdery could have supplied Joseph with a copy (of 'View of the Hebrews'). Oliver had left Poultney for New York State 'about' the year 1825, the same year in which the second edition of Ethan Smith's book was published." (Pg. 57)
"Regardless of what motivated Joseph to try to join the Harmony Methodist Episcopal Church (in 1828), his attempt to do so ... conflicts with his later claims about his first vision." (Pg.
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119 of 156 people found the following review helpful By David Persuitte on April 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
I am the author of this book. I am writing this in response to the two reviewers who suggested that the reader visit a web-site review of my book by L. Ara Norwood. The review--which was published by FARMS, a Mormon apologetics group--in fact, ignores or misrepresents much of what I presented in my book, so I feel the need to respond.

Note that the current edition of my book was published in 2000, but the FARMS review is 16 years old and is of the 1985 edition. This is important because the current edition is much expanded over the 1985 edition and presents considerably more documentation, including numerous additional parallels between the Book of Mormon (BM) and Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews (VH). It also answers and refutes many of the criticisms found in the FARMS review and other Mormon sources

In referring to the chapters dealing with the early life of Joseph Smith, Norwood states: "All of these chapters are written to paint the particular portrait of Joseph Smith as conceived by Persuitte--that of a deceiver. Consequently, he borrows heavily from anti-Mormon sources for his information." In fact, most of my source documents were contemporaneous with Joseph Smith, and many consist of writings by friends and family of Joseph Smith. Much of this material deals with Joseph's "money-digging" confidence scheme. If Joseph did, in fact, engage in such a scheme, he was a deceiver. And, in fact, it is well established--and even accepted by knowledgeable Mormons--that Joseph did engage in a money-digging confidence scheme and was brought before a justice of the peace for engaging in that activity. Methinks Norwood doth protest too much when I was simply laying out the facts.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Superbug Safety on April 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
I read the first edition and really liked it. It goes into detail about how much of The Book of Mormon was directly lifted from the book "View of the Hebrew." There are some pretty slanderous things said about Joseph Smith, and the overall tone reminds me of Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason," but I doubt that someone who's already a firm believer in the Mormon faith will be swayed by it. The overall theme of "how can anyone believe this?" can be grating, but the evidence itself is hard to deny.
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38 of 52 people found the following review helpful By T. Bachman on September 23, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It will come as a shock to many members of the LDS church that there are quite a number of very good reasons to doubt that young Joseph Smith was as careful with the truth as we, as members, always were led to believe he was. For those members wishing to understand how even a fanatically devout Mormon could ever come to view Joseph as more of a charismatic and talented storyteller than a conscientious truth-teller, Persuitte's book is a pretty good starting point. He goes over just about every problem there is in the many (often fundamentally contradictory) versions of Joseph's accounts of his experiences, with particular emphasis on the parallels between Joseph's book, and Pastor Ethan Smith's book (Oliver Cowdery's family's pastor), "View of the Hebrews". (Persuitte believes that the latter book served as a sort of template for Joseph's Book of Mormon).

I think Persuitte might have done with a bit less of his own personal speculation; for example, his suggestion that Joseph might have used cheat notes in his hat comes off as a bit fanciful (not that it's impossible). What I mean is, the evidence that Persuitte marshals in showing that Joseph didn't tell the truth about his experiences is so overwhelming, that his occasional speculative attempts at fleshing out every last little corner of the story almost seems to detract a bit from it all.

Persuitte's prose might also have done with a bit more dash; as it is, it is straightforward and fairly colourless, almost rather technical-sounding.

But as I said, Persuitte does a good job of covering just about every base there is: Joseph's early career in confidence scheming, his early trial, the contradictory versions of the stories, etc.
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Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon (2nd Edition)
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