Researcher William L. Davis announced his theory that Smith was inspired by John Bunyan’s work in the LA Review of Books (October 30, 2012).
Pratt references Bunyon’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress” in the following excerpt from Chapter 32 of “The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt”:
“No sooner was the key turned than the door was seized by Mr. Follett with both hands; and with his foot placed against the wall, he soon opened a passage, which was in the same instant filled by Mr. Phelps, and followed by myself and Mr. Follett. The old jailer strode across the way, and stretched out his arms like Bunyan’s Apollion, or like the giant Despair in Doubting Castle, but all to no purpose. One or two leaps brought us to the bottom of the stairs, carrying the old gentleman with us headlong, helter skelter, while old Luman sat and laughed in his comer of the prison, and Mrs. Phelps exclaimed, “O Lord God of Israel, thou canst help.” Old Mrs. Gibbs looked on in silent amazement, while the jailer’s wife acted the part of the giant Despair’s wife, Diffidence, and not only assisted in the scuffle, but cried out so loud that the town was soon alarmed. In the meantime we found ourselves in the open air, in front of the prison and in full view of the citizens, who had already commenced to rally, while Mr. Phelps and the jailer still clinched fast hold of each other like two mastiffs. However, in another instant he cleared himself, and we were all three scampering off through the fields towards the thicket.”
In 2009, BYU Profesor Royal Skousen reported 17th century writing patterns in the Book of Mormon. Prof. Skousen described these patterns in an article entitled “12 Questions and a Book”:
In the above link, Prof. Skousen describes the critical text project for the Book of Mormon, and he is asked: “What are some of the major findings of this project?” He replied:
(a) The original manuscript supports the hypothesis that the text was given to Joseph Smith word for word and that he could see the spelling of the names (in support of what witnesses of the translation process claimed about Joseph’s translation – namely, that he spelled out the Book of Mormon names, at least when the name first appeared).
(b) The original text is much more consistent and systematic in expression than has ever been realized.
(c) There are a number of errors in the text that have never been corrected in any LDS or RLDS edition, although none of them fundamentally alter the text.
(d) There are occasional errors in the original manuscript itself (see, for instance, the reading “Ishmael and also his hole hole” in 1 Nephi 7:5); errors could enter the text from its very earliest transmission; many of the errors in the original manuscript show that this manuscript was written down from oral dictation.
(e) Errors in the printer’s manuscript clearly show that this manuscript was produced by visual copying from another text, not by oral dictation.
(f) Joseph Smith’s editing for the second and third editions (1837 and 1840) represents human editing, not a revealed revision of the text.
(g) The original text includes unique kinds of expression that appear to be uncharacteristic of English in any time and place; some of these expressions are Hebraistic in nature.
(h) The early transmission of the Book of Mormon text does not in general support the traditional assumptions of textual criticism – namely, the assumptions that the transmitted text tends to remove difficult readings and lengthen the text; instead, the early transmission of the Book of Mormon text tends to introduce more difficult readings and to omit words and phrases.
(i) The vocabulary of the Book of Mormon text appears to derive from the 1500s and the 1600s, not from the 1800s. This last finding is quite remarkable. Lexical evidence suggests that the original text contained a number of expressions and words with meanings that were lost from the English language by 1700, including the following (with the date of their last citation in the Oxford English Dictionary given in parentheses):
to require ‘to request’ (1665) Enos 1:18 reads “thy fathers have also required of me this thing” [Ezra 8:22: “for I was ashamed to require of the king a band of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy in the way”]
sermon ‘talk, discourse, speech’ (1594) [conjectural emendation] Mosiah 19:24 should read: “after they had ended the sermon” (not the current reading “after they had ended the ceremony”)
to cast arrows ‘to shoot arrows’ (1609) Alma 49:4 reads “the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them” [Proverbs 26:18: “as a mad man who casteth firebrands arrows and death”]
to counsel ‘to counsel with’ (1547) Alma 37:37 originally read: “counsel the Lord in all thy doings” [similarly in Alma 39:10]
but if ‘unless’ (1596) Mosiah 3:19 originally read: “for the natural man is an enemy to God …and will be forever and ever but if he yieldeth to the enticings of the Holy Spirit”
to depart ‘to part’ (1677) Helaman 8:11 originally read: “to smite upon the waters of the Red Sea and they departed hither and thither”
extinct: in reference to an individual’s death (1675) Alma 44:7 reads: “and inflect the wounds of death in your bodies that ye may become extinct” [similarly in several other places]
the pleading bar of God (not in the Oxford English Dictionary, but three early 1600 citations have been found, including one in a legal context) [conjectural emendation] Jacob 6:13 should read: “until I shall meet you before the pleading bar of God”, not “the pleasing bar of God” [similarly in Moroni 10:34]
As noted, only two of these instances of archaic vocabulary (dating from Early Modern English) are found in the 1611 King James Bible.”
The two instances of Early Modern English vocabulary in the KJ Bible are “to require” and “cast arrows”.
Skousen’s identification of but if, sermon and to counsel as archaic phrases found in the Book of Mormon, but not in the KJ Bible, is of interest. John Bunyan used all these terms in “The Pilgrim’s Progress”:
“Then, said Evangelist, stand still a little, that I may show thee the words of God. So he stood trembling. Then said Evangelist, “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven.” [Heb. 12:25] He said, moreover, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” [Heb. 10:38] He also did thus apply them: Thou art the man that art running into this misery; thou hast begun to reject the counsel of the Most High, and to draw back thy foot from the way of peace, even almost to the hazarding of thy perdition.”
“Yea, he did hold me to it at that rate also, about a great many more things than here I relate; as, that it was a shame to sit whining and mourning under a sermon, and a shame to come sighing and groaning home: that it was a shame to ask my neighbour forgiveness for petty faults, or to make restitution where I have taken from any.”
“The next night, she, talking with her husband about them further, and understanding they were yet alive, did advise him to counsel them to make away themselves.”
In the “Acceptable Sacrifice”, Bunyan uses “cast arrows”:
“Men move not, they relent not, let God thunder never so terribly; let God, in the greatest earnest, cast abroad his firebrands, arrows, and death, in the most dreadful representations of wrath and judgment, yet still man trembles not, nor is any more astonished than if in all this God were but in jest, till he comes and falls to work with him, and forces him to cry out, What have I done? What shall I do?”
In “The Work of Christ as an Advocate”, Bunyan refer to pleading at the “bar of God”:
“Wherefore he saith, “If any man sin, we have an Advocate”; one to stand up for him, and to plead for his deliverance before the bar of God.” (Joel 3:2. Isa 66:16. Eze 38:22. Jer 2.). In the same work, Bunyan uses the term “But it”: “But if it was to plead good causes for which Christ is appointed Advocate, then the apostle should have written thus: If any man be righteous, we have an Advocate with the Father.”