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What is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints view of historical-critical methods? The method calls for understanding the world behind the ancient text, accepting that the text has human origins, but still contains divine inspiration. However, with regards to the controversies surrounding the Book of Mormon concerning historical inconsistencies, and the fact that the no one except Joseph Smith, the presumed translator of the golden plates, has access to the original language of the text (Reformed Egyptian), how can the historical-critical method be applied to this book in the same way it is applied to the Bible or the Quran? More so, how is it possible to defend the faith when the culture or world behind the text is a mystery or unknown?

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This website may be useful: maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/… The title is from a non-Mormon perspective. –  Anonymous Aug 12 '13 at 3:52
    
Wow. I think I just answered my own question. However, the site has a disclaimer that the article is not necessarily endorsed by The Official Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. BYU is also the publisher of CultureGrams. If no one publishes a response, then I think I'd answer my own question with the source from BYU, even though, to be honest, the writer of the article seems a bit hostile toward the historical-critical method. –  Anonymous Aug 12 '13 at 4:18
    
A related question may be about textual criticism, or lower criticism. In my extended talks with mainline LDS elders (missionaries and some higher-up from their church who came along), they consider the changes in the BoM to be correcting printing errors, rather than updating a faulty text. The plausibility of this explanation largely depends on one's presuppositions, I think. Smaller LDS groups attempt to "restore" the BoM via textual criticism, for instance (cf. this‌​). –  metal Aug 12 '13 at 15:59
    
@Anonymous gime me some time and I will have an answer for this. Just saw it today, and I'm still at work. –  ryan Aug 14 '13 at 17:56
    
@ryan Cool. I'm also working on my own answer to my own question, using the links provided above. –  Anonymous Aug 15 '13 at 3:23
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1 Answer 1

The official stance seems to be that it's a non-issue.

The official narrative is what it is. It claims that Joseph Smith was singled out by God through the angel Moroni to receive the golden plates, and the means to translate them via God's supernatural fiat. If true, one wouldn't need external validation. If it came directly from God through His supernatural power, well, God's word is all we need. God doesn't need humans to verify His revelation, humans just need to have faith in it.

From FAIR wiki, an LDS site dedicated to LDS Apologetics:

It is important to remember that what we do know for certain is that the translation of the Book of Mormon was carried out "by the gift and power of God." These are the only words that Joseph Smith himself used to describe the translation process.

As Elder Russel M. Nelson stated in the July 1993 Ensign, the "details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known." We do know, based upon witness accounts, that Joseph employed instruments designated for that purpose: The Nephite interpreters and his own seer stone. Many have offered their own opinions about how these devices "functioned" in the process, but it should be kept in mind that these opinions are given by people who never performed the translation process itself: They can only report on what they observed the Prophet doing at the time. We also know that at some later point in time, both the Nephite interpreters and Joseph's seer stone were referred to using the term "Urim and Thummim." Whether Joseph used the "original" Urim and Thummim (i.e. Nephite interpreters or "spectacles") or his own seer stone to perform this sacred task is beside the point, and it does not diminish the power of the resulting work. One should read the Book of Mormon itself and evaluate its message rather than get wrapped up in the detail of its exact method of translation.

and further down...

Church response

In 1993, Elder Russell M. Nelson stated that "[t]he details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known." 1

All that we know for certain is that Joseph translated the record "by the gift and power of God." (DC 135:3)

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