Does the discovery of metal plates in the Middle East prove the Book of Mormon is true?

In 1952 LDS scholar Hugh Nibley made the statement “it will not be long before men forget that in Joseph Smith’s day the prophet was mocked and derided for his description of the plates more than anything else.” You see, at the time Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon, he was heavily criticized because no expert believed anyone in the Middle East ever wrote anything on metal plates.

Mormons therefore have every reason to get excited about the news that ancient metal plates have been found in the Middle East. But hold on, let’s not get too excited.

1. We don’t know if the plates are real, or forgeries.

2. Even if they are “real”, we don’t know if that means they are really 2,000 years old.

3. We don’t know where they came from. They do not necessarily mean that people in the Middle East of 2,000 years ago wrote on metal plates. They could have been brought to the Middle East from somewhere else.

4. Even if they prove to be authentic and contain Christian writings, that doesn’t mean anything on them will have any bearing on the Book of Mormon except as supporting evidence for the idea of metal plates having been used anciently.

Strangely enough, I find myself in agreement with ChristianityToday.com, which essentially says with regards to the metal plates, “Hold on, let’s wait until all the details come forth.”

That said, there is other evidence of metal plates being used in the Middle East, so it’s not as though this is the first time anything of the sort has been found. But if these plates are found to be authentic and contain Christian writings from near the time of Christ, it would certainly go a long way towards doing away with any prejudice against the Book of Mormon due to the previously disrespected idea of metal plates being used in the Middle East in ancient times.

Comments

  1. The discovery that people in the Mid East over two thousand years ago wrote on metal plates would not be surprising. It would not come close to "proving" the Book of Mormon. It is worth noting that Mormons seize on any bit of evidence, however slight, that the Book of Mormon is true, while ignoring the mountain of evidence that it is a poorly written, and rather boring fraud.

  2. Hey John,

    Have you read the Book of Mormon?

  3. Read,ponder&pray about it then conclude.

  4. Neil Breed,

    Yes, I have read The Book of Mormon. Needless to say, I did not get a "burning in my bosom." I have also read the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

  5. One need not "read, ponder, & pray." One need only take the claims of the Book of Mormon seriously and look at the evidence like you would any other claim. When someone tells you that the Native Americans are Hebrews who came here with forty or so people and developed into millions very rapidly — despite ancient birthrates, the lack of antibiotics, infant mortality, etc… making that impossible — you can simply judge the claim based on the available evidence. You can look at the DNA of the Native Americans and see if that lines up. Or, the fact that the Native Americans were not a metal age people with horses, and elephants, the wheel, chariots, etc… Joseph made a very simple claim which, had it been true, we would all know about it by now. What we know is that he missed the mark by a mile. And no amount of reading, pondering, & praying is going to change that basic fact. That Joe figured out how to get people to ignore the facts and instead prefer a "burning" in their bosoms was his genius. What's amazing to me is that people just assume Joseph was right when he told them that's the way to discover the truth (read, pray, & ponder — the burning in the bosom), and never even question whether this method has ever worked, or has any record of reliably lining up with the actual facts.

    • Where does the Book of Mormon say that the Nephites and Lamanites turned into "millions" of people?

      "Joseph made a very simple claim which, had it been true, we would all know about it by now. "

      What if the civilization of the Book of Mormon was very limited in geography and population size? Your conclusion is based on an assumption that has no basis in Mormon doctrine.

  6. Ether 15:2 "there had been slain by the sword already nearly atwo millions of his people"
    http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/ether/15.2?lan

    Also the geography is quite clear. They talk about how many days travel it was from one location to another.

    They also reference the narrow neck of land frequently.

    And unless you subscribe to the 2 cummorah theory (which has no basis in Mormon Doctrine) you know they made it as far as NY.

    Also Joseph smith said that Lehi landed in Chile.

    And Coriantumr is close enough to Lehi's traveling people that they meet up.

    So at a minimum you are talking about Chile to NY.

    If you say they travelled a heck-of-a-lot, then it can be a smaller area… but in no way small (serpents in the south lands, separation of Nephites and Lamanites, etc…)

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