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View of the Hebrews

Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews, published seven years before the Book of Mormon is thought to be source material for Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon.

LDS Historian and apostle Brigham Henry Roberts (B. H. Roberts) conducted an exhaustive comparison and analysis of these two books and concluded there is merit to this criticism.
  • Contrary to popular belief, the Book of Mormon was not the first to suggest that Jews are the ancestral origins of American Indians:
    It is often represented by Mormon speakers and writers, that the Book of Mormon was first to represent the American Indians as descendants of the Hebrews: holding that the Book of Mormon is unique in this. The claim is sometimes still ignorantly made.

    B.H. Roberts - Mormon Seventy and LDS church historian
    Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.323
  • Many publications and materials predated the publication of the Book of Mormon:
    For years such materials as were then found and discussed, theories as to the origin of the American Indians, including "the ten lost tribes" theory of Hebrew infusion into the American race, together with frequent mention of cultural traits favorable to this supposed Hebrew infusion-all this was matter of common speculation in the literature of America, before the publication of either Priest's American Antiquities or the Book of Mormon.

    B.H. Roberts - Mormon Seventy and LDS church historian
    Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.152
  • Joseph Smith had access to these early works:
    It is altogether probable that these two books—Priest's Wonders of Nature and Providence, 1824; and Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews 1st edition 1823, and the 2nd edition 1825—were either possessed by Joseph Smith or certainly known by him, for they were surely available to him.

    B.H. Roberts - Mormon Seventy and LDS church historian
    Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.153
  • We know that Joseph Smith was familiar with View of the Hebrews as he quoted page 220 from it:
    If such may have been the fact, that a part of the Ten Tribes came over to America, in the way we have supposed, leaving the cold regions of Assareth behind them in quest of a milder climate, it would be natural to look for tokens of the presence of Jews of some sort, along countries adjacent to the Atlantic. In order to this, we shall here make an extract from an able work: written exclusively on the subject of the Ten Tribes having come from Asia by the way of Bherings Strait, by the Rev. Ethan Smith, Pultney, Vt., who relates as follows:... -Smith's view of the Hebrews. Pg. 220.

    Joseph Smith - Mormonism founder
    Times & Seasons, 3:813-814

The Parallels

A summary of B.H. Roberts comparison of View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon:
View of the Hebrews Book of Mormon
Published 1823, first edition
1825, second edition
1830, first edition
Location Vermont
Poultney, Rutland County

Note: Oliver Cowdery, one of the Book of Mormon witnesses, lived in Poultney when View of the Hebrews was published.

Sharon, Windsor County

Note: Windsor County is adjacent to Rutland County.

The destruction of Jerusalem
The scattering of Israel
The restoration of the Ten Tribes
Hebrews leave the Old World for the New World
Religion a motivating factor
Migrations a long journey
Encounter "seas" of "many waters"
The Americas an uninhabited land
Settlers journey northward
Encounter a valley of a great river
A unity of race (Hebrew) settle the land and are the ancestral origin of American Indians
Hebrew the origin of Indian language
Egyptian hieroglyphics
Lost Indian records

A set of "yellow leaves" buried in Indian hill. Roberts noted the "leaves" may be gold.

Joseph Smith claims the Book of Mormon is a translation of ancient Indian records from gold plates buried in a hill.

Breastplate, Urim & Thummin
Prophets, spiritually gifted men transmit generational records
The Gospel preached in the Americas
Quotes whole chapters of Isaiah
Messiah visits the Americas

Quetzalcoatl, the white bearded "Mexican Messiah"

Good and bad are a necessary opposition
Generosity encouraged and pride denounced
Polygamy denounced
Idolatry and human sacrifice
Sacred towers and high places
Hebrews divide into two classes, civilized and barbarous
Civilized thrive in art, written language, metallurgy, navigation
Government changes from monarchy to republic
Civil and ecclesiastical power is united in the same person
Long wars break out between the civilized and barbarous
Extensive military fortifications, observations, "watch towers"
Barbarous exterminate the civilized
Discusses the United States
Ethan/Ether Roberts noted: "Ethan is prominently connected with the recording of the matter in the one case, and Ether in the other."
Source: B.H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.240-242,324-344
  • Roberts noted the abundance of parallels
    Did Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews furnish structural material for Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon? It has been pointed out in these pages that there are many things in the former book that might well have suggested many major things in the other. Not a few things merely, one or two, or half dozen, but many; and it is this fact of many things of similarity and the cumulative force of them that makes them so serious a menace to Joseph Smith's story of the Book of Mormon's origin.

    B.H. Roberts - Mormon Seventy and LDS church historian
    Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.240
  • See also Did Joseph Smith author the Book of Mormon?