View of the Hebrews
1825 2nd Edition
Complete Text by Ethan Smith
Edited with an Introduction by Charles D. Tate, Jr.
Volume Eightin the Religious Studies Center Specialized Monograph Series
Published by the Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah
© 1996 by Brigham Young University
All rights reserved
Any uses of this material beyond those allowed by the exemptions in U.S. copyright law, such as section 107, “Fair Use,” and section 108, “Library Copying,” require the written permission of the publisher, Religious Studies Center, 167 HGB, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah 84602. The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of Brigham Young University or the Religious Studies Center.
Ethan Smith. View of the Hebrews: 1825 Second Edition (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1996) vi—viii.
In 1823, the Reverend Ethan Smith, pastor of the Congregational Church in Poultney, Vermont, published a book in which he claimed that the American Indians were descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel. He published an enlarged and expanded second edition in 1825 under the following title: View of the Hebrews; or The Tribes of Israel in America.
Because there have been many who have not believed Joseph Smith’s account of how he obtained the gold plates and translated them “by the gift and power of God,” they have looked for other possible sources. Many of those persons have written articles and books since 1903 claiming that Joseph Smith had a copy of Reverend Smith’s book and either copied it directly or, at the very least, got the idea for writing the Book of Mormon from it. But the fact is that there is no direct evidence that Joseph Smith had any knowledge of or contact with View of the Hebrews before 1840, when the Times and Seasons quoted several paragraphs from it that had been quoted in another book. That was ten years after the Book of Mormon was published. However, that fact has not hindered those who want to claim an origin for the Book of Mormon other than the one Joseph Smith reported.
The introduction in the present volume traces the history of the claims and counterclaims of a relationship between the Book of Mormon and View of the Hebrews. Because it has not been republished since 1825 (aside from photocopy printings), those wishing to study View of the Hebrews have had difficulty finding a copy. Consequently, too few have seen the book to ascertain whether the claim that it is a source of the Book of Mormon can be substantiated.
We present here the 1825 second edition of Ethan Smith’s View of the Hebrews. This is a careful and accurate reproduction of the original, without modern editorial intervention into the text. In an attempt to make it easier for our readers to study this volume, we have identified, wherever possible, the scriptural and Josephus references Smith cited. We have also added a scripture index at the end of the book. Typical of his time, Smith often adjusted his Bible references to say more directly what he wanted his readers to see in them. He might quote part of a verse, then jump down a few lines to quote part of another verse, then go back to get part of the first, then finish off with another part of the second verse quoted. All this was presented as one continuous verse. We have left the scriptures as he wrote them, giving the references we could find in brackets.
We acknowledge here our debt to those who have made significant contributions to this volume: Judith Hale Everett, who helped from the beginning of the project, proofreading the typesetting and researching sources; Heidi Gassman, Jason O. Roberts, LeGrande W. Smith, and Cord M. Udall, who also provided invaluable service; Charlotte Pollard, who ran the office, did the typesetting, and saw the project off to the press; and Professor Kent P. Jackson, who took over the Religious Studies Center publications office after I retired and who herded the project to completion. Professor Emeritus Keith A. Meservy, Department of Ancient Scripture, provided the Josephus references which are included.