Bible vs. Book of Mormon, in light of a 2000 year old scroll

A common trope among unbelievers seeking to discredit Christianity is the idea that the Bible has been corrupted over the centuries. This is especially true for the Mormons, whose religion is based on this idea. Joseph Smith (the founder of Mormonism) claimed that all of the denominations of Christianity were utterly corrupt, and that he was restoring the church to how it was supposed to be. Central to this claim, alongside a supposed revelation from God, is the belief that stuff is missing from the Bible, and other stuff has been added. Muslims embrace a similar idea, as do many atheists and agnostics. Like I said, it’s a common trope.

It’s also contradicted by the oldest biblical text in existence. First discovered in 1970, the scroll was too charred and brittle to open without it disintegrating. This was the case until 2016, when the scroll was read with ‘virtual unwrapping’ (which is pretty cool). What did they discover? This copy of Leviticus is exactly the same as later texts, and what you’ll find (translated) when you crack open the book of Leviticus in your bible. It gets better. This scroll is, according to the article, 2000 years old. That means it was in use in (roughly) 16 AD. That’s old. It’s also contemporary with Jesus Himself. Since He was born in 0 AD, He would have been 16 years old when this scroll was being read in synagogue. This means we now have evidence for what we’ve believed for a long time; that God protects His word from error. The fact that we have this evidence is a stark contradiction to Mormon claims, which have no evidence to back them.

For example, Joseph Smith claims to have translated the Book of Mormon from a set of golden plates buried in the Hill Cumorah. He claims they were then taken away into heaven, leaving them conveniently unavailable for inspection. Hill Cumorah was also supposedly the site of a massive battle in which about 4 million people died. No evidence of this battle has been found, despite having a death toll 78 times that of the battle of Gettysburg.

This is by far the easiest claim for Mormons to prove, considering a battle with twice the kill count of Stalingrad would leave some kind of evidence, especially considering that the ancient people in the Book of Mormon are claimed to have had technology such as iron swords, armor, and chariots pulled by horses. That’s technology on par with Rome, whose iron weapons can still be found at places like Hadrian’s wall. By way of comparison, Rome’s bloodiest battle, the Battle of Cannae, had a combined toll of roughly 78,000 dead.

Proving that written text has not changed at all for 2,000 years is a much, much harder proposition than proving that a mind-bogglingly massive battle took place where God supposedly told you it happened. Yet, we have concrete proof that the book of Leviticus says the exact same thing now as it did when Christ walked the earth, while the Mormon has only blind faith to sustain a belief that what would be the largest battle in human history even happened at all.

One of the defenses Mormon leadership has offered is that God hid the evidence so that people would have to believe the Book of Mormon solely on faith. Compare that to the Christian (i.e. real) God, who doesn’t actively hide evidence to corroborate His word, but rather leaves us plenty of evidence to bolster our faith. Evidence like a scroll from the time Jesus walked the earth.

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