Other Books Will Come Forth (Welch)

Let me share a personal story to illustrate this point. During my time in law school at
Duke University, I attended a class in the Duke Divinity School from James Charlesworth. He was a very prominent Dead Sea Scrolls scholar working at that time on a translation of Jewish and Christian texts from around the time of Christ that had never been translated and published in English.

In this class, we were charged with reading a certain text. Charlesworth presented it as one of the most puzzling texts he had ever run across. His question was: Is it Christian or Jewish? He had no idea where it might have originated, because it was quite unlike anything else that he had ever seen.

He explained to this seminar that it tells a story about a man named Zosimus who leaves Jerusalem. He goes out into the desert, wanders and gets lost in a big mist of darkness. He then arrives at the banks of a big ocean or river. He cannot move. He is afraid because he wants to know the way to a life of righteousness. He prays earnestly, and out of the mist he sees the branch of a tree emerging. He holds onto that branch firmly and the tree transports him across the ocean and sets him down in a lovely, beautiful place beneath a tree. He then notices that this tree has white fruit on it that is delicious, and out of the root of the tree is coming a sweet river of fluid. He drinks this and he feels like he has found a life of joy in paradise.

Then, a man walks up to him and says, “Zosimus, what are you doing here? How did you get here?” Zosimus answers, “I prayed and the Lord brought me here.” The man says, “Well, then it must be okay for me to tell you a little bit about who we are. We left Jerusalem at the time it was about to be destroyed by the Babylonians. The Lord brought us over here to this part of the world where we have preserved the way of righteousness. We have been keeping our records, and we have been told that someday these records will go back to Jerusalem. If you have been brought here by the Lord, then I can show these to you.” The text then has about six or seven paragraphs of what was read and what Zosimus was taught.

Zosimus is exuberant and joyous that he now has accomplished his mission. He is then taken back across the ocean and he goes back to Jerusalem. Zosimus’ dream finishes with him building a monument of covenant where he takes the texts and the things that he has learned.

Now you can just imagine: there I was in Charlesworth’s class as he was talking about this recently discovered record from around the time of Christ. Later, he said, “Jack, I thought you were levitating.” I replied, “Well, this may sound strange to you, but it sounded very familiar to me.” I quickly mentioned just a few of the ways the Narrative of Zosimus seemed to be a cousin to 1 Nephi. There were many striking similarities.

I was assigned to come back the next class period with a more extensive comparison, which was easy to do. I had mentioned the Book of Mormon on several occasions before in this class which had always been received with mocking and scorn. But when I finished, the class was silent and Charlesworth said, “Well class, as you are thinking about what to make of the Narrative of Zosimus, you might want to think about what to make of the Book of Mormon.”

Then somebody asked, “Well, when was the Book of Mormon written?” And I answered, “it was translated in 1829 and published in 1830.” They then asked, “When was the narrative of Zosimus first found?” Charlesworth answered, “It was found in an old Slavonic text in Yugoslavia in 1880 and was first translated and published in Volume 10 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers in 1890. There is no way the Zosimus text was known to anyone before then.”

The class was now in an uproar. One of them joked, “Maybe Joseph Smith was a reincarnated Jewish Monk.” To which I answered, “I find it easier to believe the Moroni story than that.” But one smart-aleck classmate, who had always given me the most grief about the Book of Mormon, was the one who came up to me and asked, “Can I get a copy of that book?” I gave him one.

Later, when I met with Charlesworth in his office, he said, “I am beginning to understand why you are so drawn to these texts that I am interested in.” I replied, “Yes, and also because we have a prophecy in the Book of Mormon that says that other books would come forth.” “Really? Where?” he asked. I explained that the prophecy could be found in 1 Nephi, Chapter 13. Charlesworth jumped up and retrieved his copy of the Book of Mormon which was high on a high shelf, blew off the dust, and opened it up. I said, “Look in Verse 39.”

And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true. (1 Nephi 13:39)

Charlesworth looked at that and asked, “When was this written?” I said, “Let’s see, that would have been about 550–540 BC.” He said, “No, no, remind me, when was this published? When did this appear in English?” I said, “This verse was probably translated in June of 1829 and published in March of 1830.” “That’s impossible! No one could have known—none of these books had been found at that time.” At that point Charlesworth stated, “You Mormons, you cannot believe that anymore. You have to know that it is true. You have seen it come to pass in your lifetime.”

Taken from John W. Welch Book of Mormon Study Notes:


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