Search the Handbook

Mormon Handbook
Order Book | Download
$20                $5

Book of Mormon translation
« Brigham Young | David Whitmer »

B.H. Roberts

Brigham Henry Roberts was a member of the Quorum of Seventy and LDS church historian.
  • He helped establish the Improvement Era, an official LDS periodical, the predecessor to the Ensign.
  • He compiled and edited the History of the Church.
  • He compiled and edited the six volume Comprehensive History of the Church.

Book of Mormon Studies

Regarded as the foremost Mormon theologian of his day, Roberts was given a letter with questions about the Book of Mormon from a skeptic to answer. The nature of the questions:
  • when the Jews landed in the New World (600 B.C.) is not enough time to explain the diversity of native Indian languages.
  • Horses were introduced to the Americas by the Spaniards, thus their appearance in the Book of Mormon is an anachronisms.
  • The use of steel in the Book of Mormon is an anachronism.
  • The use of scimitars (an arabian sword) in an anachronism.
  • The use of silk was unknown to the Americas.

Unsatisfied with his inability to provide adequate answers to these questions, Roberts requested a meeting with the church's apostles. Roberts figured that since the church claimed to be led by continuous revelation, this matter required revelation to answer it.
Roberts went to work and investigated it from every angle but could not answer it satisfactorily to himself. At his request Pres. Grant called a meeting of the Twelve Apostles and Bro. Roberts presented the matter, told them frankly that he was stumped and ask for their aide in the explanation. In answer, they merely one by one stood up and bore their testimony to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon... Bro. Roberts could not criticize them for not being able to answer it or to assist him, but said that in a Church which claimed continuous revelation, a crisis had arisen where revelation was necessary. After the meeting he wrote Pres. Grant expressing his disappointment at the failure... These are some of the things which has made Bro. Roberts shift his base on the Book of Mormon. Instead of regarding it as the strongest evidence we have of Church Divinity, he regards it as the one which needs the most bolstering.

B. H. Roberts conversation with Wesley P. Lloyd, BYU Dean, recorded in his personal journal
As quoted in Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.23-24

An excerpt from Robert's letter to Mormon President Heber J. Grant expressing his disappointment after his meeting with the Mormon apostles:
B. H. Roberts I was very greatly disappointed over the net results of the discussion. There was so much said that was utterly irrelevant, and so little said, if anything at all, that was helpful in the matters at issue that I came away from the conference quite disappointed.
B. H. Roberts - Mormon Seventy and LDS church historian
Letter to Mormon President Heber J. Grant, January 9, 1922
As quoted in Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.48

The lack of any revelatory insight from the Mormon apostles left Roberts disappointed. He subsequently embarked on an exhaustive study on the Book of Mormon and its origins, with the notion that if the Book of Mormon is not true, than neither is the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints.
B. H. Roberts It is not necessary to suggest that maintenance of the truth of the Book of Mormon is absolutely essential to the integrity of the whole Mormon movement, for it is inconceivable that the Book of Mormon should be untrue in its origin or character and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints be a true Church.

B. H. Roberts - Mormon Seventy and LDS church historian
Letter to Mormon President Heber J. Grant, March 15, 1923
As quoted in Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.58

Roberts concluded from his studies that:
Roberts experience highlights the problem that the Mormon church, which claims to posses modern revelation, is unable to provide answers to the many questions that plague it.

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.