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Radio Free Mormon: 216: VIEW OF THE HEBREWS

Was Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews a potential source for Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon?

That is the question RFM tackles in this important episode hosted by Dr. John Dehlin.

After having heard about this allegation since the 1980s, RFM finally took the time to get View of the Hebrews and methodically work his way through it.

The results are explosive!


9 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 216: VIEW OF THE HEBREWS”

  1. RFM, thanks for taking one for the team and slogging through this book. It’s clear that some of the key historical concepts incorporated into the Book of Mormon had been under discussion publicly for some time during the period when when Joseph was creating the BoM.

    One quick question — In View of the Hebrews, it was the 10 tribes (en masse apparently) that moved to the New World, whereas for Joseph Smith it was one family from the Southern Kingdom (Judah).

    Did Joseph Smith believe that some of the early LDS folks were actually genetically part of the 10 tribes? Or were they all adopted into the House of Israel?

    More broadly, what I’m wondering is whether keeping the 10 tribes “lost” had any particular ramifications in Joseph Smith’s theology.

    1. I think Joseph Smith was pretty clear that he still believed the ten tribes remained in a finite location somewhere in the north from which they would still return as part of the gathering in the last days prior to the Second Coming.

      I know the Book of Mormon talks about them as being a separate distinct group from the Nephites; and the D&C talks about them coming down from the North in a miraculous manner.

  2. Apologists compare similarities between Harry Potter and Star Wars to debunk the notion similarities between View of the Hebrews and the book of Mormon are plagiarism or borrowing.

    It’s interesting they chose two works of fiction for this purpose, whilst still purporting the Book of Mormon is non-fiction. Couldn’t they find two works of non-fiction to make their point?

    Moreover, how do apologists categorize view of the Hebrews? Is it fiction or non-fiction or a mix of both? How did Ethan Smith get so many thinks “correct” (according to Mormon belief)? Was Ethan Smith inspired? Did he “translate” ancient documents like Joseph?

    1. You make a number of very good points, Phil.

      I like the point about comparing fiction with fiction.

      It is more difficult to make the same argument with two non-fiction books, I suspect.

  3. RFM’s point that multiple works during that time pointed to the Lost Ten Tribes existing in the Americas is important. I have been doing a study evaluating the possible use of Adam Clarke in the Isaiah portions of the Book of Mormon. In Isaiah 49:12 Clarke says:

    “Many of the Indians in North America, which is also a woodland, have a great profusion of rites, apparently in their basis Jewish. Is it not possible that the descendants of the ten lost tribes are among those in America, or among those in Africa, whom European nations think they have a right to enslave?”

    1. I seem to detect a pattern among those who believe Native Americans to be of Jewish extraction also being opposed to their mistreatment.

  4. I just kept thinking about a scene in Coming to America.

    McDowell’s vs McDonald’s

    “While McDonald’s has the golden arches, McDowell’s has the golden arcs. McDonald’s has the Big Mac, but McDowell’s has the Big Mick. They both have two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions. But McDonald’s buns have sesame seeds. McDowell’s buns have no seeds.”

    Nothing to see here. They are not similar at all. The Book of Mormons has the Jews leaving from the South while View of the Hebrews has them leaving to the North…

  5. There are two corrections needed. One you made it sound that Lehi was of the tribe of Judah. He is not he is the Tribe of Manasseh or the lost ten tribes. Some of the tribe of Messaeh was brough back to the southern kingdom 2 Chronicles 30:1-11. Also John Dehlin asked if some of the Native Americans were Caucasian. The answer is yes. Haplo Group x is a European/middle east IE a caucasian dna marker as well as a Native American founding DNA marker.

  6. Great job. I once too started reading the View of the Hebrews, but could not finish it. Regarding the View of the Hebrews possible direct influence on the Book of Mormon, the View of the Hebrews is, to my knowledge, the first to combine the idea of a Hebrew ancestry of Native Americans and the mound builder myth. Yes, many had said and written that Native Americans descended from Hebrews, and many believed that a “superior white race” had thrived in America and had been destroyed by the ancestors of Native Americans. What the View of the Hebrews does is to argue that the superior white race and the ancestors of Native Americans were two branches of the same original Hebrew migration, just like the Book of Mormon does. This common origin idea ― I’ve heard from others more knowledgeable than I, it may have been Dan Vogel ― first appeared in the View of the Hebrews, and then in the Book of Mormon.

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