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The Plagiary of the Daughters of the Lamanites

TitleThe Plagiary of the Daughters of the Lamanites
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2024
AuthorsGoff, Alan
JournalInterpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship
KeywordsDaughters of Shiloh; Daughters of the Lamanites; Narrative; Plagiarism; Priests of King Noah

Repetition is a feature of all ancient Hebraic narrative. Modern readers may misunderstand this quality of biblical and Book of Mormon narrative. Biblical and Book of Mormon writers believed that history repeated, with what happened to the ancestors happening again to their posterity. Fawn Brodie and her acolytes misapprehend Book of Mormon narrative when—instead of at least provisionally granting that God might exist, can intervene in history, and tenaciously reenacts events from the past while the recorders of such repeated stories firmly believed in the historical reality of the narratives they recounted—they attribute such repeated stories to Joseph Smith’s imputed plagiaristic tendencies. The story of the kidnapping of the Lamanite daughters by the priests of Noah (Mosiah 20) is a recurrence of the story of the mass kidnapping of the daughters of Shiloh (Judges 21), but to attribute such similarity to plagiarism by Joseph Smith is a grand and flagrant misreading of Hebraic narrative, its persistent allusive qualities, and its repetitive historiography. Such narratives were widespread in Levantine and classical antiquity, and neither ancient historians nor modern scholars take the relationship among such analogous stories to be one of plagiarism when their antiquity is undisputed. At least one additional construal of the Book of Mormon story’s meaning needs to be explored and considered against the backdrop of Hebraic narrative.