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The Book of Mormon and Automatic Writing

TitleThe Book of Mormon and Automatic Writing
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsRees, Robert A.
JournalJournal of Book of Mormon Studies
Pagination4-17, 68-70
KeywordsAuthorship; Automatic Writing; Historicity; Prophet; Smith, Joseph, Jr.; Translation

Some critics of the Book of Mormon have suggested that Joseph Smith produced the book through a process known as “automatic writing,” a rapid flow of language claimed to be generated through paranormal means such as trance-like states or claimed communications with spirits. This paper presents an overview of some prominent claims of automatic writing and examines the historical and scientific evidence for the authenticity of at least some of these cases. After discussing the similarities between these works and the Book of Mormon, the paper outlines a number of features in the Book of Mormon that clearly differentiate it from any known case of automatic writing, features such as the presence of Near Eastern and Mesoamerican geographic, cultural, and linguistic details that were unknowable to anyone in 1830. Based on this and other evidence, the Book of Mormon does not fit the profile of automatic writing but is best explained by Joseph’s own account of its ancient and divine origins.