Comments about ‘BYU professor discusses Book of Mormon translation’

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Published: Thursday, March 7 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

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Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT

If a book was the most correct book ever, it wouldnt have errors. But things have been changed many times since Joseph Smith wrote the book. I know recently the word "principal" was changed to "among" in describing the native Americans.

If the native americans aren't the principal ancestors, then the book was wrong(at least partially). And if it was the most correct book, it wouldn be partially wrong.

layton, UT

RE:Joseph Smith Book of Mormon there is potential for error,
The KJV/3 Nephi Sermon on the Mount. LDS Scholar Dr. Larson finds 12 examples where JS copied the 1769 KJV errors.

Mt 6:13 KJV and 3Nephi 13:13 Both have the doxology, For thine is he Kingdom and power and the glory forever amen. The KJV is based on 9th to 12th century texts. Earlier and better manuscripts do not contain the doxology. Only One example.

“A great portion of 3 Nephi seems to be "borrowed and lifted" from the KJV Bible. Larson found that 3 Nephi holds exactly the same sort of errors that are unique to the 1769 version of the KJV Bible Joseph Smith owned.”

Stan Larson, The MS discoveries since the KJV have provided a much better understanding of the Sermon on the Mount. Greek MS 200 A.D. thru Latin, Syriac, Coptic and patristic early support, which leads to the original text. These are earlier and better texts of Matthews Sermon on the Mount. There is unanimity support by modern scholars, but The BoM never takes us to a verifiable text in antiquity..

Saint George, UT

"There is unanimity support.."

That doesn't make sense, sharrona. You must be entirely wrong about everything you have ever written.

See? If you can be nitpicky, then so can I.

Cedar Hills, UT

It is hard for me to see the value or justification ...at the end of the day..in getting paid by a university for 25 years to produce some trivia about the original text of the Book Of Mormon. At the end of the day I say..well that's kind of interesting ...and that's about it. I can see studying the dead sea scrolls or some other ancient finding because it provides new knowledge particular to the existing bible but I'm not sure what a study like this Book Of Mormon one really provides..value wise. Are we really getting our bang for the buck?

Westland, MI

@sharrona: You need to read 2 Nephi 29:

[8] Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

[9] And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.

[10] Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.

The same Spirit that spoke to the apostles in Old Jerusalem, spoke to the disciples in ancient America.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO

It is true that the Book of Mormon references no texts for those passages that are verbatim as they read in the King James Bible. Apologists suggest that Joseph would have relied on the King James text as being authoritative. That explanation is at least plausible which is about the only encouraging thing I can say for it.

Bakersfield, CA

This is not scholarly translation on any level, all due respect to my former and beloved BYU profs- Skousen, Nibley, Madsen, et al.

Dr. Hugh Nibley told me in person that he felt "Joseph would one day be vindicated as a translator" of authentic documenst. He was unmoved that no academic institution or non-LDS linguist gave any credence to a single verse of any of Smith's works. He said he had "a testimony of the Prophet Joseph, and I work back from that, not the reverse."

Congrats to the long years of study. But just consider the "What if" proposition:
What if the Bible is accurate (as millions of scholars attest) and you don't need a "restoration"?

The problem with sticking to the restoration defence is that you must have a defective Bible. Mormon theology does not restore a single textual Biblical priesthood, temple rite, Church office or position, or lost ritual. Even baptism for the dead was referred by the Apostle Paul as "they" who practice it, not as "we" who do.

Taylorsville, UT

Whichever English ghost supplied the visible script in the lenses needed a lesson in the Tudor pronouns and verb conjugation.

Nominative, accusative, possessive, predicative/substantive

I/we/ye/they think;
thou thinkest;
he/she thinketh.

AV follows this system strictly: thou/thee is singular and ye/you is plural. With Shakespeare ye/you is used as polite singular. Current editions of the Book of Mormon still mangle the pronoun system, not to mention sentence structure in general. --AGF

Provo, UT

Why can't the original text be restored and made available for all to see?

How else do we know the manuscript that Joseph Smith produced was actually a translation of golden plates or of any other medium?

Are we supposed to just take his word for it? Why?

What about the Kinderhook Plates? We have those and we know they were a fraud.

Mesa, AZ


"A great portion of 3 Nephi seems to be "borrowed and lifted" from the KJV Bible. Larson found that 3 Nephi holds exactly the same sort of errors that are unique to the 1769 version of the KJV Bible Joseph Smith owned."

During the time of Joseph Smith the King James version of the bible was the most prevalent among the people. It would only make sense that the translation would be in the words of the King James bible seeing as it would be many years before these discoveries by scholars brought new light about the sermon on the mount and as to the earlier texts, those 19th century people did not have access to them.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isa 55:8-9

Saint George, UT


You either do not understand the old testament or you do not understand mormonism if you believe that there is no biblical rite practiced today in the LDS church.

Mesa, AZ


"The problem with sticking to the restoration defence is that you must have a defective Bible."

So why is it that the earliest New Testament manuscripts can only be dated to the third Century A.D.?

Where are the complete earlier manuscripts that compose the books of the NT? Do we have the all intact letters of the apostles that make up a large portion of the NT? And what about the four gospels do the originals of those exist someplace? Fragments of manuscripts only provide evidence to support authenticity of just a part of a specific book in the NT not the entire book though.

Liberal Ted
Salt Lake City, UT

@ Chris B

I'm not understanding your arguement. It says "The most correct book". It didn't say it is the one and only true book with zero errors. There is also a disclaimer that if there are errors, that they are of men and to not judge the book by those few simple spelling or punctuation errors, but instead read, ponder and pray and talk to God about the book whether it is true or not.

If you ever take time to read the book. Several authors make such statements in being careful how you judge them and to ignore the weakness of their writing, but, look and understand and pray about the content that they are giving you.

m.g. scott

Re: Chris B

I was about to respond, but Liberal Ted said it best. I'll only add that I think what Joseph Smith would have been referring to was the "principles" the Book of Mormon teaches make it the most correct.

Craig Clark
Boulder, CO


"....The problem with sticking to the restoration defence is that you must have a defective Bible. Mormon theology does not restore a single textual Biblical priesthood, temple rite, Church office or position, or lost ritual....."

For those who see differences in how sacred writ is interpreted as the norm, no amount of defects in the Bible will ever matter. For those who see the Bible as inerrant scripture, the very idea of defects in the text is incomprehensible.

West Jordan, Utah


Well said. 25 years to produce inductive circles of justification at a university of any kind is not academic to say the very least. I mean the end outcome would be the same regardless of the parameters of study because the objective is to have the answer needed for the university and the church. Therefore we have the conclusion before the premis form is ever created. Inductive logic at its' very worst.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT

@Liberal Ted,

"There is also a disclaimer that if there are errors, that they are of men and to not judge the book by those few simple spelling or punctuation errors"

Sorry, doensn't hold.

The American Indians are either the principal ancestors of the people in the Book of Mormon or they are not.

Are they or are they not?

They are the principal ancestors or not?

Whether they are principal ancestors or simply "among" is not just a punctuation change.

The words "principal" and "among" are not equal and have different meanings. They are not simply differnences in spelling in punctuations.

You can't claim the book is the most correct book, and then claim "oh that part doesn't count" when things are corrected.

Either it was the most correct book and still is, or it wasn't(and still isnt).

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

I'm not LDS but I have read the Book of Mormon. Does the Church believe it was translated from an ancient text? Do they believe that the actual words were given to Joseph Smith or the ideas which he translated into words? It seems as far as the Book of Abraham is concerned they are backing off of that idea - at least that is my impression.

caleb in new york
Glen Cove, NY

@ Shazandra - if a concept was completely lost from the Bible, how would the Bible expert know that it was lost? The Bible expert wouldn't, unless he/she was informed by the author of the Bible or by another authoritative source.

you are right that Paul says "they" in reference to the practice of baptisms for the dead, but his reference did not denigrate the practice. Rather he referenced the practice as SUPPORT for the reality of the resurrection. If he thought those who practiced baptisms for the dead were errant or apostate, I doubt he would have referenced them for support for the concept he was trying to emphasize.

The Bible helped inspire Joseph Smith to attempt to receive personal revelation regarding a question that is not clearly answered in the Bible. Speaking to God and Jesus Christ in person was a far quicker way for Joseph Smith to learn about God than studying the Bible was.

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

@Chris B

The statement of "principal ancestors" was in the introduction to the Book of Mormon. It was introduced in 1981 I believe. Joseph Smith made the statement of the Book of Mormon being the "most correct" book. He obviously was not referring to the phrase "principle ancestors" since that phrase came decades later. So, his statement is for the correctness of the text of the book, NOT the introduction page.

That said, his statement refers to the correctness of the book in applying its teachings in our lives, in addition to the text. His statement does NOT guarantee absolute perfection. His statement does NOT say that there will never be a correction. Even the Book of Mormon's title page says "if there are faults they are the mistakes of men". And also in the book in Mormon 8:17 it says "And if there be faults they be the faults of a man." Given this, we should expect some corrections. Especially if those corrections are mainly so that WE understand better, or as our understanding increases over time (such as with the understanding of the origins of the Lamanites and American Indians.)

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