I want to say to you, read the book, the Pearl of Great Price, and read the Book of Abraham. The Pearl of Great Price I hold to be one of the most intelligent, one of the most religious books that the world has ever had; but more than that, to me the Pearl of Great Price is true in its name. It contains an ideal of life that is higher and grander and more glorious than I think is found in the pages of any other book unless it be the Holy Bible. It behooves us to read these things, understand them: and I thank God when they are attacked, because it brings to me, after a study and thought, back to the fact that what God has given He has given, and He has nothing to retract." - Levi Edgar Young, Conference Report (April 1913), 74

"...it must be evident to all who seriously consider the matter, that if the Book of Abraham as given to us by Joseph Smith be true, it must have been translated by a greater than human power." - George Reynolds, The Book of Abraham: Its Authenticity Established as a Divine and Ancient Record (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1879), 4

Friday, January 7, 2011

RC Webb - The Case Against Mormonism

Despite its foreboding title, Robert Charles Webb's book The Case Against Mormonism, is an apologetic work defending Mormonism against the common anti-Mormon arguments prevalent at the time it was published. Webb himself was not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, but was favorable to their cause.1 The book was published in 1915 in New York, and came mostly as a response to Reverend Henry C. Sheldon, a Professor at Boston University, who had written a book entitled A Fourfold Test of Mormonism.2 Sheldon briefly discusses the Book of Abraham facsimiles and the responses of Egyptologists consulted by Reverend Franklin S. Spalding, and previously by Jules Remy. Webb's book briefly addresses these particular issues, as well as Sheldon's approach. This portion of Webb's book is included below.3

1 'Robert Charles Webb' was a pseudonym for James Edward Homans.  Homans was a Harvard graduate who had studied at the Harvard Divinity School.  He was an Episcopalian and was a writer by profession. He was friendly towards the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and had published articles and books relating to Mormonism previous to this publication, and subsequent thereto; see Kevin Barney, "Robert C. Webb," By Common Consent; also see Sidney B. Sperry, "The Story of Research on The Pearl of Great Price," in Pearl of Great Price Conference, December 10, 1960, ed. James R. Clark (Provo, UT: Department of Extension Publications, Adult Education and Extension Services, Brigham Young University, 1964), 6-11; additionally, see James E. Talmage Diary, dated December 1, 1915 (typescript in my possession):  "About noon I received a call, as per prior arrangements, from James E. Homans.  We lunched together and spent some time in the discussion of the work on which Mr. Homans has been for some time engaged, the preparation of articles and books on subjects relating to Mormonism.  Mr. Homans delivered to me today a copy of a 157 page work entitled "The Case Against Mormonism" by himself.  Instead of his own name he uses on the title page the pen-name, Robert C. Webb, under which he has written in this particular field of literature. The book is a reply to a little work which appeared somewhat over a year ago, entitled, "A Fourfold Test of Mormonsim" by Prof. Henry C. Sheldon, of Boston University.  The Webb's [sic] reply is published by L.L. Walton of the Sturgis and Walton Company. In company with Mr. Homans I visited the offices of Sturgis and Walton, and ordered five hundred copies of "The Case Against Mormonism" to be shipped at once to the office of the Deseret News, Salt Lake City."
2 Henry Clay Sheldon, A Fourfold Test of Mormonism (New York: Abindgon Press, 1914), 23-25
3 Henry C. Sheldon's book is not included in the Documents on this blog because there is no original insights produced in his writing; he simply summarizes Remy's findings, which is available here; and Spalding's findings, which is available here.


  1. Great blog you have here! I'm LDS, and have been investigating the BoA for a few years now. It seems that Joseph got a lot right.

  2. Cabe,
    Thank you, I appreciate your comments. I'll have quite a bit of material and information regarding Joseph Smith as a translator once I get through posting relevant public domain material. I have been kind of slow this month with work occupying most of my time. Please check back often, as I'll have quite a few items to post shortly. - Thanks, Tim

  3. Good job on the bibliography! Keep up the good work.

  4. Thanks Brother Hamblin - I'm a fan. I link to your blog from my other blog LDS Studies - http://www.lds-studies.blogspot.com/

  5. Here's a new book I just noticed on BOA
    The Facsimiles in the Pearl of Great Price: The Prophet Joseph Smith's "Explanations" [Paperback]
    Clifford James Stratton (Author)
    On Amazon

  6. Thanks for the reference. Some time this month I'll get the bibliography more updated. I have about 20 items or so to add - including this new book. Thanks, Tim.