updated 12/3/2010 2:21:53 PM ET 2010-12-03T19:21:53

An expert in religious texts said Friday that the writings of the former street preacher accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart are not entirely original, but drawn heavily from other books.

Brian David Mitchell's "Book of Immanuel David Isaiah" is a 27-page manifesto dated April 6, 2002, a few months before the kidnapping. It's thought to be an expression of Mitchell's religious beliefs that spells out his divinely inspired calling to battle the Antichrist at the end of the world.

    1. Hoffman withdrew $1,200 hours before death: sources

      Philip Seymour Hoffman withdrew a total of $1,200 from an ATM at a supermarket near his New York City apartment the night before he was found lifeless in his bathroom with a syringe still in his left arm, sources told NBC News.

    2. NYC mayor will skip St. Pat's parade over gay ban
    3. Indiana man back home 18 years after abduction
    4. 32 states in the path of another wild storm
    5. Judge vows quick ruling on Va. marriage ban
Brigham Young University professor Daniel C. Peterson told jurors the book, and a subsequent edition drafted after Mitchell's arrest in 2003, quotes heavily from commonly known religious texts, including the Bible, particularly the Old Testament and its Book of Isaiah, the Book of Mormon and hymn books. The book also draws from modern writings, including Betty Eadie's story of her near-death experience, "Embraced by the Light."

"I think the composition of these writings is much the way a student would compose a term paper," Peterson said.

Mitchell, 57, is on trial in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court on charges of kidnapping and unlawful transportation of a minor across state lines for the purposes of illegal sex. If he is convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Smart was 14 when she was kidnapped.

Now, 23, she has testified that she was forced to enter a polygamous marriage with Mitchell, endured near daily rapes, was forced to use drugs and alcohol, and was taken to California against her will.

Defense attorneys don't dispute that Smart was taken from her home at knifepoint on June 5, 2002, or held captive for nine months. They argue, however, that Mitchell is mentally ill and can't be held responsible for the crimes.

  1. Only on NBCNews.com
    1. OWN via Getty Images
      From belief to betrayal: How America fell for Armstrong
    2. pool via Reuters file
      US to Syria neighbors: Be ready to act on WMDs
    3. China: One-child policy is here to stay
    4. NRA: Practice Range
      New 'Practice Range' shooter game says it’s from NRA
    5. 'Gifted' priest indicted in crystal meth case
    6. AFP - Getty Images
      China's state media admits to air pollution crisis
    7. AFP - Getty Images
      French to send 1,000 more troops to Mali
The defense wrapped it's portion of the case on Thursday, after seven days of testimony from about two dozen witnesses.

An expert in interpreting religious texts, Peterson is the first witness called by prosecutors in the rebuttal phase of the trial.

He said a chief theme of Mitchell's book is the belief that the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has fallen into apostasy. Aside from that role, most of Mitchell's beliefs appeared to be consistent with the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Peterson said.

Mitchell was a member of the church, but has been excommunicated.

"One of the things that strikes me about the (book) is the barrenness," Peterson said. "In terms of doctrine, there's nothing new."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments