Reformed Egyptian is the language that Joseph Smith claimed the Golden Plates (or the Book of Mormon) was written in.

But this seems to be a problem considering that there are no non-LDS scholars that accept it as a legitimate language.

So how do Mormons defend this language as real using actual evidence, rather than "just take it on faith?"

  • lmgtfy? p.s. This question seems to have an unnecessarily adversarial tone. It might be nice to use the official name of the church. Also, who says a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can't just accept this on faith?
    – zanlok
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 18:54
  • 2
    @zanlok You definitely misread this question! I don't use Mormon in an adversarial way. I have many LDS friends who use the same terminology. I understand that someone can take it on faith, but I am asking for apologetic arguments.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 19:06

2 Answers 2


I don't see that any defense is necessary. We're talking about a language used only among a few leaders of an extinct people, the only record of which we have is the Book of Mormon itself. No scholars have seen the language (other than the apocryphal Anthon Transcript). On what basis would they be able to claim it never existed, or confirm its existence? The Book of Mormon claims, "... none other people knoweth our language ...".

  • So is it impossible for their to be a defense?
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 20:38
  • 3
    @LukeHill It's already impossible for there to be an attack. "No non-LDS scholars accept it as a legitimate language" is not really an attack - how could they if there isn't really any example of the language we have? There isn't anything to study or argue about. You can only conjecture and say "of the known american languages, so far none have shown connections to Egyptian" (which I have no idea whether it's true). As the answer states, we are talking about a written language limited in who used it, for what purpose, from a (sub-?)culture that got extinct and probably suffered book burning.
    – kutschkem
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 8:16
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    @kutschkem Is not the real reason for a neutral stance with the LDS what you mentioned in your answer to this Q? christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/67153/… "Joseph wasn't given the ability to read and understand the plates, and then carry out a translation with this knowledge. He was given the translation directly [via seer stones in a hat that he peered into].” No need to defend any such language if knowledge of it isn't needed to translate. That theory could prevent any attack, surely?
    – Anne
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 14:19
  • @Anne That doesn't really solve anything though? The language is mentioned in the text, so there is a claim, in the text of the Book of Mormon, that "Reformed Egyptian" existed and was the language the plates were written in. That would still be there even if Joseph had directly received the text as revelation (as he did) but hadn't had physical plates (I believe he had them but as I wrote in my answer you could argue they were ultimately not really necessary to have).
    – kutschkem
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 14:42
  • @kutschkem The way it looks is that whatever the hieroglyphics were and whatever name they were called was irrelevant, because they were translated without any knowledge of that language. So there's no need for anybody to defend the language claimed. Even if it was a known language, Joseph Smith still didn't know it, and didn't need the plates to come up with the Book of Mormon. Having plates present while he looked into the seer-stone hat made irrelevant the claim that they were in any particular language.
    – Anne
    Commented Dec 8, 2021 at 17:35

While not official doctrine there are languages that might/could be referred to as reformed Egyptian (I am not stating that any one of these are the Reformed Egyptian from the Gold Plates, just that they could fall under the umbrella of reformed Egyptian)

the word reformed is used in the Book of Mormon in this context as an adjective, meaning “altered, modified, or changed.” This is made clear by Mormon, who tells us that “the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, [were] handed down and altered by us” and that “none other people knoweth our language” (Mormon 9:32,34)1

1 Reformed Egyptian, William Hamblin

See also (apologetic responses):

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