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Here is an excerpt from the CES letter:

The following is a side-by-side comparison of selected phrases the Book of Mormon is known for from the beginning portion of the Book of Mormon with the same order in the beginning portion of The First Book of Napoleon (note: these are not direct paragraphs):

THE FIRST BOOK OF NAPOLEON Condemn not the (writing)...an account...the First Book of Napoleon... upon the face of the earth...it came to pass...the land...their inheritances their gold and silver and...the commandments of the Lord...the foolish imaginations of their hearts...small in stature...Jerusalem...because of the perverse wickedness of the people.

BOOK OF MORMON Condemn not the (writing)...an account...the First Book of Nephi... upon the face of the earth...it came to pass...the land...his inheritance and his gold and his silver and...the commandments of the Lord...the foolish imaginations of his heart...large in stature...Jerusalem...because of the wickedness of the people.

By my research, the First Book of Napoleon came out in 1809, while the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith in 1830.

So what's going on here? Doesn't this imply that Smith copied out of this book? How does the LDS Church respond to this?

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  • Could you link to, or copy fully, the excerpts from the two documents, please. I think the point needs full substantiation for the sake of clarity and detail.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 21:52
  • @NigelJ I’d love to, but all that is cited is this archive link, when I get time I’ll add it.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 22:41
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    The words 'their inheritances, their gold and silver' are on P 10, Chap 1 Para 5. But the other words are somewhere else. Is this just picking stray words out of a whole document and matching them to stray words in another document ? In which case this is insubstantial.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 15, 2022 at 22:57

2 Answers 2

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By reading both texts side by side.


The quotes from the Book of Napoleon in the CES letter are in fact individual words & phrases cherry-picked from the first 25 pages of the document. (read the full first 25 pages here)

The Book of Mormon excerpts are not adjacent either--they've been cherry-picked from different pages, chapters, and authors.

This exercise can be conducted with virtually any two lengthy documents written in the same language.

Also, the first Book of Mormon quote in the CES letter is incorrect--the correct reading is:

condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ. (see here)

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    I wish I could delete my question! That was a poor criticism brought up by the letter.
    – Luke Hill
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 0:43
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    @LukeHill no worries, it's a common question Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 1:10
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To expound on the other answer here is an in-depth-comparison of where each comes from. The first book of Napolean is <161 pages and maybe contains ~200 words per page. The Book of Mormon is 531 pages and contains ~450 words per page. (Both are rough estimates). Even if it was copied, that leaves several hundred pages that don't have a 'source'.

THE FIRST BOOK OF NAPOLEON

Condemn not the (writing)1...an account2...the First Book of Napoleon3... upon the face of the earth4...it came to pass5...the land6...their inheritances their gold and silver and7...the commandments of the Lord8...the foolish imaginations of their hearts9...small in stature10...Jerusalem11...because of the perverse wickedness of the people.12

BOOK OF MORMON

Condemn not the (writing)1...an account2...the First Book of Nephi3... upon the face of the earth4...it came to pass5...the land6...his inheritance and his gold and his silver and7...the commandments of the Lord8...the foolish imaginations of his heart9...large in stature10...Jerusalem11...because of the wickedness of the people.12

The First Book of Napoleon (taking quotes in order, some also appear earlier then mentioned)

1 page 9/161 condemn not the feebly imitative manner of writing therein occasionally employed

2 10/161 and an account of all thy deeds

3 11/161 THE FIRST BOOK OF NAPOLEON

4 13/161 The dominion of the Tyrant extendeth itself upon the face of the earth

5 19/161 And behold it came to pass

6 19/161 It seizeth upon the inhabitants of the land of Gaul.

7 20/161 their inheritances, their gold and silver, corn and oil

8 22/161 And they not only despised the commandments of the Lord

9 27/161 in the foolish imaginations of their hearts, had vainly worshipped

10 /161 And this man, though small in stature

11 31/161 and threatened the city of Jerusalem

12 29/161 because of the perverse wickedness of the people.


The Book of Mormon (also in order as much as possible)

1 title page condemn not the things of God

2 introduction The record gives an account of two great civilizations.

3 1 Nephi 1 THE FIRST BOOK OF NEPHI

4 1 Nephi 1:11 And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth;

5 1 Nephi 1:12 it came to pass that as he read,

6 1 Nephi 2:4 And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance,

7 1 Nephi 2:4 and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things,

8 1 Nephi 2:10 firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!

9 1 Nephi 2:11 And this they said he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.

10 1 Nephi 4:31 And now I, Nephi, being a man large in stature,

11 1 Nephi 5:4 (10/531) but had tarried at Jerusalem, and had perished with my brethren.

12 Alma 59:11 (358/531) because of the wickedness of the people,

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