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Whenever an ancient document is found which has questionable historical authenticity, there is a standard testing process that is done to determine whether the document is a work of fiction or non-fiction. This analysis has to start by assuming that the book is historically accurate, and then begin to look for discrepancies that cannot be justified. There are two problems with this process when it comes to the Book of Mormon. First, those who are analyzing the Book of Mormon are doing so because they already have a predetermined bias. They are either looking to prove it wrong or prove it is true. Those who want to prove it wrong will not start by assuming that the book is true, and once a discrepancy is found, they will not look for ways that it can be justified. The second is that the Book of Mormon does not contain any discrepancies that cannot be justified by those who wish to prove it true.
According to most adherents of the Latter Day Saint movement , the Book of Mormon is a 19th-century translation of a record of ancient inhabitants of the American continent, which was written in a script which the book refers to as " reformed Egyptian ". Both critics and promoters of the Book of Mormon have used linguistic methods to analyze the text. Promoters have published claims of stylistic forms that Joseph Smith and his contemporaries are unlikely to have known about, as well as similarities to Egyptian and Hebrew. Critics of the Book of Mormon claim there are places where the language is anachronistic and suggestive of a 19th-century origin consistent with Smith's upbringing and life experience, as well as the books and other literature published just preceding the time that the Book of Mormon was published. A problem with linguistic reviews of the Book of Mormon is that the claimed original text is either unavailable for study or never existed.
Daniel C. Peterson is founder of the Interpreter Foundation. Boyd F.