Above the American Renaissance?: Could Joseph Smith Have Written the Book of Mormon? Was the Book of Mormon what Joseph Smith claimed it to be–an ancient sacred record whispering out of the ground to modern generations–or was it a product of what David Reynolds has called “the subversive imagination in the age of Emerson and Melville”? What would it have taken for Joseph Smith or one of his contemporaries to have written the Book of Mormon? What would it take for someone to write a book like the Book of Mormon today? As a literary and textual critic with a specialty in the American Renaissance, I postulate that six things would be necessary to produce a text that claimed to be of ancient origin–time, talent, knowledge, imagination, sophistication and an incredible amount of luck. I examine Joseph Smith’s qualifications in each of these areas and consider whether it was possible for him to have produced the Book of Mormon out of his own imagination and experience.
Robert A. Rees, Mark D. Thomas