This is a serialization of “A Faithful Reply to the CES Letter from a Former CES Employee.” You can download the whole PDF here, and you can also participate in the Latter-day Saint Survey Project by joining or creating one of the Canonizer camps in the links at the bottom of this post.
This is a line-by-line response to Jeremy Runnells’s October 2017 iteration of the CES Letter. Jeremy’s original text appears in green, the color of life. My response text appears in black, the color of darkness.
10. Another fascinating book published in 1809, The First Book of Napoleon.
What’s fascinating is that, by the logic you use in this flawed question, you prove that the true author of the CES Letter is none other than Keith Richards, guitarist for the Rolling Stones.
Another personal interlude, if I may.
I got an MBA from Brigham Young University in 1999. And in my first year of study, my finance professor taught us how to calculate the net present value of an asset. He said there are are four or five different methods to do just that.
“You know what that means, don’t you?” he asked the class.
“It means,” he said, “that none of them are any good.”
In other words, if there were one simple, easy, and reliable way to calculate an NPV, there would be no need for another.
Similarly, every time you add a new volume as the supposed smoking gun of where Joseph cribbed the Book of Mormon, you weaken your argument. If there were one verifiable and undeniable source for his plagiarism, there would be no need to come up with half a dozen others. And if Joseph really was combing through such voluminous amounts of maps and literature and memorizing all these disconnected snippets and then reciting them to Oliver without referencing the texts themselves and all doing so unnoticed, he was likely even more of a genius than even most Mormons would imagine.
But okay, let’s see what’s so fascinating.
The first chapter:
1. And behold it came to pass, in these latter days, that an evil spirit arose on the face of the earth, and greatly troubled the sons of men.
2. And this spirit seized upon, and spread amongst the people who dwell in the land of Gaul.
3. Now, in this people the fear of the Lord had not been for many generations, and they had become a corrupt and perverse people; and their chief priests, and the nobles of the land, and the learned men thereof, had become wicked in the imagines of their hearts, and in the practices of their lives.
4. And the evil spirit went abroad amongst the people, and they raged like unto the heathen, and they rose up against their lawful king, and slew him, and his queen also, and the prince their son; yea, verily, with a cruel and bloody death.
5. And they moreover smote, with mighty wrath, the king’s guards, and banished the priests, and nobles of the land, and seized upon, and took unto themselves, their inheritances, their gold and silver, corn and oil, and whatsoever belonged unto them.
6. Now it came to pass, that the nation of the Gauls continued to be sorely troubled and vexed, and the evil spirit whispered unto the people, even unto the meanest and vilest thereof…
…and it continues on. It’s like reading from the Book of Mormon.
Actually, it’s more like reading from The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain. Do I smell plagiarism? How else could the Napoleon writers come up with the phrase “it came to pass” in verses 1 and 6? Also, both books include the phrase “for many generations” and “unto the people.” Am I supposed to assume this is merely coincidence?
This, too, is clearly written to mimic King James English. It’s supposed to be like reading from the Bible. Which it is, as much or more than it’s like reading from the Book of Mormon.
When I first read this along with other passages from The First Book of Napoleon, I was floored.
Floored, huh? Whereas you were stunned, staggered, and astounded by the Late War parallels. Your thesaurus is about to run dry, although you still haven’t used “flabbergasted.”
Here we have two early 19th century contemporary books written at least a decade before the Book of Mormon that not only read and sound like the Book of Mormon but also contain so many of the Book of Mormon’s parallels and themes as well.
Nonsense. In both cases, all you’ve been able to come up with is some cosmetic similarities and two/three word snippets of similar texts in two books written in King James English. You’ve cited zero evidence of parallel themes.
The following is a side-by-side comparison of selected phrases the Book of Mormon is known for from the beginning portion of the Book of Mormon with the same order in the beginning portion of The First Book of Napoleon (note: these are not direct paragraphs):
They sure aren’t! In order to get this supposed parallel, you have to comb through twenty-five pages of the First Book of Napoleon and link up unrelated short phrases by means of ellipses, and then perform a similar surgery on the Book of Mormon text. Let’s take a look, shall we?
The First Book of Napoleon:
Condemn not the (writing)…an account…the First Book of Napoleon…upon the face of the earth…it came to pass…the land…their inheritances their gold and silver and…the commandments of the Lord…the foolish imaginations of their hearts…small in stature…Jerusalem…because of the perverse wickedness of the people.
Book of Mormon:
Condemn not the (writing)…an account…the First Book of Nephi…upon the face of the earth…it came to pass…the land…his inheritance and his gold and his silver and…the commandments of the Lord…the foolish imaginations of his heart…large in stature…Jerusalem…because of the wickedness of the people.
Keith? Is that you?
When I first saw this goofy sleight of hand as I was first replying to your letter, I reached at random for the nearest book I could find to demonstrate that this sort of exercise is deeply and profoundly stupid. That book was Life, the by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. It turns out that your CES Letter directly plagiarizes the work of a rock legend! And what really is odd is that they both start with same word! Am I supposed to just assume this is a coincidence?
The following are a side-by-side comparison of the beginning of the CES Letter and the beginning of Life by Keith Richards. Frankly, I’m flabbergasted.
Thank you… you’re going to have… a real insight… [into] the laws of the land… There is no direct evidence…I found [cocaine]… in that which is to come…
Life by Keith Richards:
Thanks and praises… you’re not going to have… a real education… on this little point of law… there is a problem here about evidence…we found cocaine in that damn car…
…and it continues on. It’s like reading from Letter to a CES Director!
Also, both the CES letter and Life mention elephants. (“There was a huge business of getting elephants on stage in Memphis.” – Life, page 12.)
Just one more coincidence, huh? You really expect me to believe that?
We get deeply trinitarian in our next installment. In the meantime, take a look at the Canonizer camps below. If you think I’m completely wrong, you can join a camp that says so – or create one of your own!