This video discusses the many discoveries over the last century of ancient engraved metal plates, some in stone boxes and some bound with rings, which reverse all of the scoffing from critics in the 1800’s of Joseph Smith’s story of receiving the Book of Mormon record on ancient engraved metal plates and is another evidence of the restoration.
Okay, so on this Evidences video I want to talk a little bit about ancient metal plates. Let’s start with a quote from Latter Day Saint scholar, Paul Cheesmen. He said, “At the time of Joseph Smith’s remarkable discovery of the golden plates, it is evident that a knowledge of any ancient culture writing on metal anywhere in the world was not public knowledge.”
Then Tad Callister, in his book that he just released, a Case for the Book of Mormon, said the following. “Even if there was limited knowledge before 1830 of some metal plates used for record keeping, it was obvious that the critics of Joseph’s day did not know about or believe it. Otherwise, they would never have promoted the argument that the golden plates were a myth. For example, Martin Thomas Lamb, a Protestant minister wrote, ‘no such records were ever engraved upon golden plates or any other plates in the early ages.'”
Hugh Nibley wrote, “It is often too easy to forget that nothing in the coming forth of the Book of Mormon excited louder howls of derision than the fantastic idea of a sacred history being written on gold plates and then buried in the ground.” Callister continues, “To now argue that Joseph Smith, on a rural farm located on the then existing frontiers of America, knew of some limited findings of ancient metal plates and used that knowledge as the basis for his story of the golden plates, while his many critics were completely unaware of such findings, seems most unlikely. At Joseph’s time, the belief that ancient civilizations did not keep records on metal plates was almost universally held.”
I’ll get us into a couple more details on that in a minute, but first let me show you some of these plates that have been found. This is some really fascinating things here. So if you look at this first one here, this was the plates. King Darius of Persia, dated to 515 B.C. These were found in 1933 by a German archaeologist in a sealed stone box, if that sounds familiar to you there.
Then let’s go to another one here. This is ancient golden plates found in modern-day Bulgaria, in the 1950s. These were dated at 600 B.C. I really liked these because they showed an example of a bound by metal plates with the metal rings, which again sounds familiar.
Here on the next screen, gold plates of Pyrgi, modern-day Italy, town of Santa Severa, found in 1964, and these were dated to 500 B.C. If you look at here, this was actually a find in the Dead Sea Scrolls. A copper scroll found in Qumran by an archaeologist in 1952. It’s a Hebrew text been inscribed on two rolls of copper and dates to between 50 and 100 A.D.
Now I wanted to read a quote here from the LDS scholar, Jeff Lindsay on this topic of there were a couple people that have written, this is what Tad Callister is referring to, a few spots now they can find that people have mentioned this ancient writing on metal plates by Jahn and by Von Humboldt.
So here Jeff Lindsay addresses as he says, “There also were people who had written about some of the ancients writing on metal, but this knowledge had by some scholars was not widely known by any means, and is very unlikely to have been known by Joseph Smith or his associates. There is no evidence, for example, that Joseph Smith had access to Jahn’s book, which does not appear to have been available in the nearby Manchester Library. Do we have any critics…”.
Now think about this. “Do we have any critics in the 1830s pointing to von Humboldt or Jahn as sources that Joseph must have used to add plausibility to props in his story. Do we find them noting that ancient writing of scripture on metal plates per se, was a plausible notion Smith had derived from earlier sources? No, we find them guffawing at every turn. From what I’ve seen, among the many reactions of early critics to the story of gold plates, we find shock, dismay, outrage, sarcasm, righteous indignation, scorn, mocking and related rejections.”
“What I have not seen is the least acknowledgement of plausibility in the external physical trappings of the Book of Mormon story. For example, we do not find learned critics admitting that ancient peoples in the New World could have written sacred texts on metal plates and buried their record in stone boxes as Joseph described, particularly if they had ties to the Old World where such practices were well known. We do not find critics dismissing Joseph’s story as an obvious build on established knowledge about ancient writing on metal plates. What critics failed to recognize is that neither I nor Nibley are arguing that nobody knew about ancient writing on metal.”
“Neither do we argue that Joseph Smith could not possibly have known that writing on metal was known in the ancient world. We argue that this was not common knowledge and that these basic concepts were rejected and ridiculed along with everything about the Book of Mormon, a book that has become less ridiculous with time. Remember Stevens biographer wrote that ‘Steven’s work in 1839 caused an entire reorientation in the minds of Americans who viewed the native inhabitants of the continent as mere savages.'”
I’m going to give you four quick examples of critics who, in 1857, the critic John Hyde, Jr., in Mormonism, it’s Leaders and Designs, wrote, “We must remember that it is a Hebrew youth who has lived at Jerusalem all his days until he leaves for the wilderness. The writing material then in use, and it was only very few who could use them, would be those such a youth would be familiar with. Now, the Jews did not use plates of brass at that time. Their writing materials were 1. tablet smeared with wax, 2. linen rubbed with a kind of gum, 3. tanned leather and vellum, 4. parchment, or 5. papyrus. All the writings of the Jews, long anterior and subsequent to Zedekiah, were in rolls. These rolls were chiefly parchment and papyrus.”
“The use of this material superseded the stones filled with lead. Hesiod’s leaden table, Solomon’s wooden planks, the wax tables, so clumsily and easily erased. This material rolled up could be bound with flax and sealed. The Jews used this material. The Egyptians, whose language Nephi gives his father, used this material. Contradiction and inconsistency are stamped on any other assertion. This is another strong proof of imposture.”
Then if you look here, the learned Reverend M.T. Lamb in 1887, in his book, comes to this forceful conclusion. “But after a very careful study of the book, a conscientious and painstaking examination of all the evidence gathered both for and against it, the author of these pages has been forced to reject every one of the claims. He is compelled to believe that no such people as are described in the Book of Mormon ever lived upon this continent. That no such records were ever engraved upon golden plates or any other plates in the early ages.”
Now, two more. LaRoy Sunderland, in his pamphlet, 1838, “The Book of Mormon purports to have been originally engraved on brass plates. How could brass be written on? This book speaks of the Jewish scriptures having been kept by Jews on plates of brass 600 years before Christ. The Jews never kept any of their records on plates of brass.”
Last one here from 1920. Stuart Martin said, “It does not seem to have been pointed out to the youth Joseph Smith that gold will corrode if left in the earth for the number of years those plates were supposed to have been buried.”
Now to show you the number of plates that have been found in the old world. If you glance at the screen here, two pages worth of all of the different places. You’ll see there in Asia. This is the old world, Europe, Egypt, more Egypt, Mesopotamia, Palestine, Turkey, 62 different finds there at this point.
Then as far as the New World, here. So in the John Lloyd Stephens, in the Incidents of Travel in Central America, in 1839, he published this. His biographer gave us an important insight into the impact of Stephen’s work. He said, “The acceptance of an Indian civilization demanded, to an American living in 1839 when the first edition of Stephens appeared in England, an entire reorientation, for to him, an Indian was one of those barbaric tepee dwellers against whom wars were constantly waged, nor did one ever think of calling the other Mesoamerican indigenous inhabitants of the continents civilized. In the universally accepted opinion of the day, they were like their North American counterparts, savages.”
So John Sorenson, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at BYU, he talked about finding metal plate writings here in the New World. He says, “The position of orthodox archaeologists for many years had been that metals were not used in Mesoamerica before about 900 A.D. Nonetheless, the years passed and the earth continued to yield its treasured truths. One basic lesson we learned from the experience is that the experts were quite wrong. Metals were indeed in use in Book of Mormon times and Mesoamerica. What kind of evidence is there? The most compelling consists of actual specimens found when an early date is positively indicated. Over a dozen of these significantly precede 900 A.D. The earliest piece so far notably dates back to around the first century B.C. It’s a bit of copper sheeting found on top of an altar in the valley of Mexico. Several ancient American languages had a word for metal. Work in comparative linguistics shows that metals must have been known and presumably used at least as early as 1500 B.C., which dates back to the time of the Jaredites.”
So in conclusion, these are the last two quotes I wanted to share. Tad Callister. In this conclusion in his book he says, “The critics insistance that metal plates were not used to record ancient histories only magnifies the improbability that Joseph could have known of their existence. Therefore, his reference to metal plates as a medium for ancient writings is all the more astounding, nothing short of divine disclosure.” And then Hugh Nibley in 1952, “It will not be long before men forget that in Joseph’s day, the prophet was mocked and derided for his description of the plates more than anything else.”
So I hope you enjoyed this video. I think it’s a great example of being patient. Many of these evidences will come forth with time. It’s fascinating of all the criticisms that were had on this specific topic early on, they now look rather silly when you see all the findings, particularly over the last century that have come about. I hope you enjoyed the video. Subscribe for more.
A Case for the Book of Mormon by Tad Callister
Of Faith & Reason by Michael Ash
Latter-day Saints’ Q&A is a video series not produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but by me, an ordinary member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an independent voice, with a passion for studying Church history and defending the faith. In this series, I provide evidences for the restoration, and address tough questions posed by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offering faithful answers based on accurate research and historical references which will be posted at the end of each video.