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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E & EE
Ann arbor, MI

Chris B,

The entire section containing the words "principal" vs. "among" was not written by Joseph Smith. It's in the introduction to the Book of Mormon, which I believe was written by Bruce R. McConkie in the 1979 edition. So I actually would claim that "oh that part doesn't count" since it wasn't in the original when Joseph Smith made the statement.

Cinci Man

"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"?"

Which version is the accurate version?

@Chris B

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

@Chris B

Read the Book of Mormon carefully. Desire sincerely to know of its truth. Have faith. Pray to get the answer from God Almighty of its truthfulness. Study its teachings. Be baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Continue to read, ponder, study and pray about the Book of Mormon throughout your life. Watch as time goes on as it changes your life and you grow undeniably closer to God and have His power in your life.

Then you will understand why Joseph Smith made the statement that the Book of Mormon is the "most correct book".

Lindon, UT

Chris B: The change from "principal" to "among" is not part of the original text that Joseph Smith translated, but is part of the introduction to the Book of Mormon. The present introduction was not even written at the time it was translated and its subsequent printing. I believe the current was written in the late 1900's, at which time the Church leaders believed that the Lamanites were the principal ancestors of the American Indians. Recent DNA studies tend to indicate that there may have been other peoples besides the Lamanites, that were also ancestors of the American Indians - thus the Introduction of the Book of Mormon wording was changed to accomodate that possibility, for clarification purposes.

The Title Page of the Book of Mormon, written by Mormon as part of the original record, was given to Joseph Smith to translate, and was translated as part of the Book of Mormon translation.

In this new printing of the Book of Mormon, one can identify what is the actual translation and what has been added as clarification. The actual translation is printed in "New Times Roman", and that which is not the actual translation, is printed in italics.

Unreconstructed Reb
Chantilly, VA

Chris B,

Others have responded to your "principle ancestors" issue. In addition to what they say, did you read the article? The whole point is to show how easy it is for a scribe or printer to err and make an unintended change. Skousen's goal has been to understand the details of how the text has changed from its "original" form (at least as it came from the lips of Joseph Smith) to the originally published version.

Understanding this process is interesting and believers can benefit from knowing where these changes have been made. But our faith in the "correctness" of the book has nothing to do with grammatical, spelling, or punctuation changes.

On a broader note, any of the non-LDS believers who want to gang up on imperfections with the Book of Mormon should never, ever, under any circumstances read higher biblical criticism. We wouldn't want you to have a double standard about scrutinizing your divine texts, now would we?

Auckland NZ, 00

Skousen has invested thousands of hours in the text-critical labour of philology over the earliest documents of BOM translation and drawn interesting conclusions about the mechanics of textual development. As a fellow philologist i am impressed by the immensity of his labour. But the side of the work in which Joseph used crystalline devices, peeping stones, and scrying powers (as he had done as a young man in other activities unrelated to the Book of Mormon) also calls for critical thinking. The top hat and seer stones in its shadowed depths were never in physical contact with the purported writing materials; the credulousness of the faithful over this matter has always surprised me.

Provo, UT

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

In no way does 'restoration' imply a 'replacement' of the Bible. If anything, the Book of Mormon compliments and adds a bit to the teachings of the Bible.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members believe that the Bible contains the word of God. The "Restoration" in 1830 was NOT due to the Bible. Rather, it was due to the then-existent religions that, over centuries, lost the practices and doctrines of the church established by Jesus Christ. Hence, the need for a restoration of the authority, priesthood, doctrine, ordinances and practices of the true church of God. There was no need for a replacement of the Bible itself.

Granted, Joseph Smith provided inspired translations of portions of the Bible, indicating that the Bible is defective. As it turns out, the Bible IS defective to some degree. Anyone with a bit of knowledge of the Hebrew culture and language can identify those defects with just a bit of effort. So, don't claim it's just a mormon thing when we say the Bible was translated perfectly over the millennia.

Westland, MI


The BoM was translated via the Urim and Thummim ONLY. The KJV records their existence in 7 separate verses, as shown below. The top hat and separate stones you mention were fabrications and false rumors introduced later.


Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

Reformed Egyptian is such a beautiful language.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

It's a wonderful book. A miracle.

A first century writing translated by a 19th century man into a 15th century language.

layton, UT

RE: zoar63 "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).

Can you explain JS thoughts on the JST non-translation of Genesis? “LORD”[all capitals] in the KJV is rendered Lord in the Inspired Version(JST), Per Dr. Robert Matthews.

LORD,3068 yeh-ho-vaw' (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jehovah, Jewish national name of God:-- (KJV) Translation Count , Total: 6519. Genesis = 141.

Lord, 136 Adonay , my lord. of men, of God. (KJV) Translation count ,Total : 434. Gen= 8.

RE:dhsalum (3NephiA.D.34,KJV, doxology)" Early on in the Roman Catholic Liturgy, the Lord's Prayer was concluded with a doxology ,For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever”.
But was not part of the original Greek Scriptural text and consequently is*Not included in most modern Bible translations. *There is unanimity support.

Mormon Apostles need to create create a new translation or at least update footnotes on lower criticism.

PA Gardener
Towanda, PA

Interestingly Joseph Smith once said: " The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching" (TPJS, p. 191). Applying that teaching to this Book of Mormon correctness discussion is pretty simple. I see the Book of Mormon not as an end in itself for authenticity but as the means of supporting God's authenticity. Yes there were commas, etc. added to this book but that won't change it's fundamental role as a 2nd witness for Christ.

I also like what Joseph Smith stated: "Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject" (TPJS, p. 324). My belief is that he did just that as he translated the Book of Mormon. He did the best he could given the feeble nature of written and spoken language to express the word of God as expresed by God's prophets. Other prophets like Isaiah were no different in their efforts in expressing God's word. And in "my book" they succeeded in inspiring many to seek and follow God.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

One must take the Book of Mormon on faith. It is by faith that a true answer is received. One must believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. One must believe that he will answer your prayer. One must study and ponder the contents of the Book of Mormon and then ask with sincere heart, nothing wavering to obtain a firm testimony of the Book of Mormon from the Holy Ghost.

We can debate all about the most correct book, how it was translated and where it took place but until one is really willing to take it to our Heavenly Father to obtain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, all else is just about looking for a sign it is true.

Too many people try to prove its truth versus letting it prove its truth. Every time I read the Book of Mormon I gain something new and profound from it. I read and ponder the book consistently. I'm not perfect and neither is the Book of Mormon. Neither is the Bible for that matter. They are written by prophets who have weaknesses just as you and I.

Sacramento, CA

Perhaps it should be remembered that translating from one language to another and keeping the true meaning intact is not the same as taking apart a table and restaining it and putting it back into the same, fully-functioning table. If a "pomme" is French for apple, and "pomme de terre" is French for potato, but literally translates to "apple of the earth", as a simple example, what does my friend in France offer her family at dinner as a side dish, if she speaks English, but not much French? We hope, do we not, that she does not translate literally, and offer the apple of the earth in her dessert, while frying up the pomme with steak as a meal with the salad. While this is a bit absurd, of course, my point is that the difficulty, even with divine help, for a young man in the 1830s to translate the kind of book he didn't often read, followed by mechanical typesetting, had to result in errors, well-meaning though they may be. Let those who are without mistakes give the first Fail! It sha'n't be I.

Kansas City, MO

Something I believe to be quite plausible is regarding how Moroni attests to the record being written in reformed Egyptian. He says that if there were room enough on the plates, they could have written in unaltered Hebrew and then the the record would have no imperfections. This then, begs the question of how much more difficult it was for Joseph to translate a record probably with many spelling errors in the first place from the original scribes.

Red Headed Stranger
Billy Bobs, TX

Chris B.,

Like many other things, you are talking about things that you really don't understand. The full quote from Joseph Smith is:

"I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book." History of the Church, 4:461

Now, in context, do you think that Joseph was actually talking about spelling? Or grammar? Or a preface that someone would write 150 years in the future? No. Joseph was talking about using the book as a guide to get back to God. The Book talks about Jesus Christ, faith, repentance, baptism, The Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, resurrection, forgiveness, pride, comforting those who stand in need of comfort, Jesus Christ, priesthood, prayer, grace, becoming holy, Jesus Christ, temples, scriptures, the gross sin of war, sacrifice, covenants and enduring in good. Oh yeah, it talks alot about Jesus Christ. Don't take what others say about it to be true. You talk alot about BYU and Mormons, but your comments betray that you really don't know a thing about us.

Salt Lake City, UT

Skousen's "scholarship" sheds little light on the question of whether or not the Book of Mormon is an actual "translation." I have always considred it a remarkable work, but as with most religion one is taking someone else's "word for it."

Clifton Palmer McLendon
Gilmer, Texas

Fools mock, but they shall mourn -- Ether 12:26

Gray, TN

Joseph wrote his history in the Pearl of Great Price, found in Joseph Smith History 33-36:
33 He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do; and that my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.
My Comment: So true... as seen by the critical comments posted here and elsewhere, now and during Joseph's life.
34 He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;
Comment: "FORMER INHABITANTS" I believe equals the Nephites who were destroyed - the Lamanites did not keep (write) the record included on the Gold Plates that Joseph translated, but they are the remnant of the original settlement of Lehi's family.
to be continued...

L. Dean McCams

A number of LDS scholars have highlighted in their research the fact that the seer stone Joseph used was the same one he used for scrying, and that typically he did not use a seer stone found with the plates. I remember learning that Joseph placed his seer stone into his hat and read the text off the stone. To what degree does Skousen discuss this?

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