Mission Impossible

(Near the close of a school year, prior to summer break, Dr. Hugh Nibley would often give his Book of Mormon students the following challenge:)

by Hugh Nibley

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is the following:

During the Summer,, write a book of at least 500 pages. Your book must have genuine spiritual, redeeming and inspiring substance. It must be a volume that people will want to read again and again., marking it, pondering it, cross-referencing it and quoting it. You must claim that it is more than a commentary or a key to the scriptures, but that it is original ancient scripture., real history, God's word to man of old and today. It's substance must be such that thousands of public sermons can be drawn from it, millions can draw personal solace from it and will think so highly of it that they will revere it as scripture from God. Millions must be able to say that your book changed their lives and many will even go so far as to give up fortune, fame and their futures for it.

Your book must be so controversial that it will create a host of active enemies. Your book must be so widely published that it attracts the criticism and even hatred of many learned people. Your book must declare that it is the authentic product of the Near East and somewhere in the American continent. It must thrive on investigation. It must be able to withstand the scrutiny of historians, literaries,, anthropologists, archaeologists, geologists and religionists whose only goal is to tear down your work and denounce you personally. They must search in vain for a "ghostwriter" or some source from which you got your story.

Your volume must contain thousands of examples of authentic ancient writing styles. It must contain the story of at least three separate groups of people who travel to a new land. You must present these people in your book so that they are real people, having the cultural characteristics of their homeland from which they left and then of the new land to which they travel. It must cover a historical time period of over 2,,000 years. It must cite the writings of unknown ancient prophets, giving them names. You must come up with hundreds of names for people in your book which must prove to be authentic. You must make hundreds of geographical and anthropological statements about an existing area in the Americas which you have never visited or read about. You must claim to have several ancient authors, each one with a distinctive, identifiable writing style. You must have the audacity to have Jesus Christ visit your people and you must quote his words with authority and completeness and even add more than what is in the Bible.

You must write your book while continuing your normal activities of daily distractions and earning a living. You must not consult any outside source materials. You must dictate it in starts and spurts,, never going back to review what you have previously written.

You must come up with eleven witnesses who will be willing to forever affix their signatures to the introductory pages of your book declaring that they had seen an angel and had handled gold plates from which you personally translated your book. These eleven people must stand by this statement throughout their entire lives, though some will become disaffected with you.

You must stand by your book all the days of your life. You must claim that it was an inspired work, divinely revealed by an angel and that its contents are eternally important. You must claim that the whole future of the world is linked to your little volume. Furthermore, you must self publish your book through the donations of committed friends and never accept any money for it even though it becomes a best seller.  And finally, you must face the very real possibility that you may have to forfeit your life to stand behind your book.

Nibley, Hugh