1. The Book of Mormon 1830
The Book of Mormon is considered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to be a divinely inspired book of equal value to the Bible. Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, claimed that he was directed by an Angel to a hill near his home in which he found golden tablets containing the full text of the book. With the books he found two objects called the Urim and Thummim which he described as a pair of crystals joined in the form of a large pair of spectacles. Unfortunately, after Smith finished his translation, he had to return the tablets to the Angel, so there is no physical evidence that they ever existed.
The book refers to a group of Jews that moved to and settled in America where Jesus visited them. Some segments of the Book of Mormon contain sections copied directly from the King James version of the Bible – the Bible that was most popular at the time and used by Joseph Smith. One example is Mark 16:15-18 which is quoted nearly word-for-word in Mormon 9:22-24. In addition, the book mimics the literary and linguistic style of the King James Bible. Linguistic experts have stated that the entire book is written by one man, and is not written by a combination of authors (the prophets as claimed by Smith). Additionally, the book refers to animals and crops that did not exist in America until Columbus arrived: ass, bull, calf, cattle, cow, domestic goat, horse, ox, domestic sheep, sow, swine, elephants, wheat, and barley.
The most compelling proof that Joseph Smith was perpetuating a fraud is the Book of Abraham. In 1835 Smith was able to use his Urim and Thummim to translate some Egyptian scrolls that he was given access to (at that time no one could read hieroglyphics). Upon inspection, Smith declared that they contained the Book of Abraham. He promptly translated the lot and it was accepted as scripture by the church. The scrolls vanished and everyone thought the story would end there. But it didn’t – in 1966 the original scrolls were found in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The scrolls turned out to be a standard Egyptian text that was often buried with the dead. To this day the Book of Abraham is a source of discomfort for the Mormon religion.