[UPDATED 06/10/08: I fear that a lot of people coming in here are missing the point that, while all the parallels below are quite real, the post itself is satirical; I do not really believe that Joseph Smith relied upon Arrian's work in bringing forth the Book of Mormon. See the 'Humor' tag above? Sigh.]

After careful study and research, I have determined the actual source literature that Joseph Smith drew upon in fabricating the Book of Mormon: Anabasis Alexandri (”The Campaigns of Alexander”) by Arrian, written in Greek in the early 2nd century AD. The parallels are uncanny and abound on virtually every page. And since there was an English translation (by J. Rooke) published in England in either 1812 or 1814, it’s clear that Smith would have had access to this document.1

Here are some of the striking similarities that I have found (and I reserve the right to keep adding to and editing this list):

Both volumes describe (inter alia) events in the Middle East and Asia centuries before Christ.

Both volumes focus heavily on a series of battles stretching out over years between two major civilizations that have long-standing conflicts with one another. These battles involve large armies, each under the direction of a major political/military leader. These armies directly clash with each other in a series of major battles; some of the battles take place at or across a major river.

Both volumes are written several hundred years after the campaigns in question and are based on contemporaneous or near-contemporaneous records of the campaigns themselves.

Both volumes describe an army led by a young, brilliant, brave military commander in his 20s who inspires his men, who wins virtually all of his battles, usually with much fewer losses than the other side, who is himself upon occasion wounded, and who dies at a relatively young age.

Both volumes are written by authors who have a very high opinion of said military commander.

Both volumes contain the complete text of letters exchanged between two major military/political leaders currently at war with one another. These letters deal specifically with exchange of prisoners and with each side calling upon the other to come to terms.

Both volumes deal with a complex set of city-states with changing allegiances. The two major armies (or forces detached from them) also attack, lay siege to, and capture cities controlled or loyal to the other side.

Both volumes describe intricate army maneuvers, including forced marches, night marches, ambushes, dividing up of forces, attacks from multiple sides, brief and extended sieges, and so on.

Both volumes describe armies waiting for and receiving (or not receiving) supplies and reinforcements.

Both volumes describe battles with casualties numbering over 200,000.

Both volumes describe cities and camps that are defended by digging trenches, piling up earth, and setting up a palisade (breastwork).

Both volumes describe attacks upon bandit-like peoples in mountain fortifications.

Both volumes describe one ruler offering his daughter in marriage to the ruler of a hostile civilization.

Both volumes describe the murder of a civilization’s ruler by a usurper who assumes his kingship, as well as other plots to kill or overthrow a ruler.

Both volumes describe the act of proskynesis (stretching one’s self full length upon the ground before a superior being).

Both volumes deal with religious issues and themes, including signs (some of which are astronomical) and prophecies (some of which are fulfilled).

Both volumes describe the chief capital city discussed in the volume as being destroyed by fire.

Both volumes describe key religious ceremonies being performed near a body of water in a wilderness.

Both volumes describe incidents of troops getting drunk, with unfortunate results.

Both volumes describe one civilization adopting more and more trappings of the other civilization, not always to its benefit.

Both volumes describe new cities being founded, and often being named after the leader who founded them.

Both volumes describe a variety of temples and specific forms of worship at those temples. Both volumes also describe animal sacrifice as part of a religious ceremony.

Both volumes describe a variety of types of governments, including hereditary kingships, non-hereditary kingships, democracies (of a sort), and others.

Both volumes mention horses, elephants, swords, spears, bows, arrows, javelins, chariots, and armor.

Both volumes describe long-distance travel via ships, as well as long treks overland.

Both volumes describe events taking place in a variety of geographical settings, including oceans, coastlines, mountains, deserts, valleys, hills, rivers, lakes, and jungles.

Some identical proper names (people and places) occur in both volumes, such as “Ammon”, “Babylon”, and “Egypt”.

Clearly, this is too much to attribute to coincidence! In fact, I believe a careful comparison of Anabasis Alexandri and the Book of Mormon will reveal far more similarities, big and small, than can be found between the Book of Mormon and, say, View of the Hebrews or the Spaulding manuscript.

Likewise, I would posit that there are far more similarities, page after page, between Anabasis Alexandri and the Book of Mormon than between the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith’s own early 19th Century American milieu.

So, clearly, Smith must have drawn upon Anabasis Alexandri in creating the Book of Mormon, rather than the usual sources cited by those seeking a naturalistic explanation for the Book of Mormon. QED. ..bruce..


[1] Griggs, C. Wilfred and Brown, S. Kent. “Joseph Smith in the British Museum: The Lost Years”, publication pending.

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