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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I add this at the end of this discussion, only to say that the Book of Mormon is, just what Joseph Smith said it is. No one will force anyone to believe it is, or isn't the Word of God. This is something everyone has to find out for themselves.

Gray, TN

Continued...JS History
35 Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.
36 After telling me these things, he commenced quoting the prophecies of the Old Testament. He first quoted part of the third chapter of Malachi; and he quoted also the fourth or last chapter of the same prophecy, though with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles....
My Comment: the KJV of the Bible Joseph used had some "errors" or "non-perfect translation" than what should have been written in English in Malachi. Does this discount the book of Malachi - No. Does the "variation" that Moroni provides to Joseph discount the Bible's authenticity - No. Does Moroni's variation help us better understand the intent - yes:
...Instead of quoting the first verse as it reads in our books, he quoted it thus:
please go to JS History verse 37 to see

Diligent Dave
Logan, UT

Several have covered the most correct book concept. From supposed KJV errors to correct use of Jacobean English pronouns, etc, I reassert that the doctrine in the book is what is correct. And, affirm that -if there be errors- (& many of those posting here have brought out some of those errors), then indeed, as warned in the BofM itself, they are the - errors of men. Humans do make errors. But again, we shouldn't be so eager to jettison the baby with the bath water!

The claimed divine source of the Book of Mormon, IMO, has a tremendous quantity and quality of evidence behind it. From Lucy Mack Smith's biographical account of how young Joseph taught and entertained his parents and siblings, recounting to them many aspects of Nephite and Lamanite life, to then excommunicated William Smith affirming the veracity of the Book of Mormon, relying on the trustworthiness of Joseph, his brother himself - even though William and Joseph were often at odds with each other, are some important starting points. Add to that the unique and insightful doctrinal discourses, from King Benjamin speech to Alma the Younger's incredible justice/mercy/atonement explanation, these affirm divine sources.

West Jordan, UT

As time goes on the world will eventually accept the Book of Mormon as an ancient text whether they accept the church or not. They will want to study the Hebrew terms in the original text that have been taken out. Skousens name will be the first word in all of these future studies. Anyone who says this doesn't matter is myopic. Aside from the text, how Joseph produced it is significant because its an absolute miracle. That book is very complex, very full of intricate Christian doctrine. For an uneducated man to use NO reference materials, cover his face with a hat, and dictate that book in 70 days time is a miracle. God gave him the words which he read off. And those who think God would speak in perfect English need to read more scripture.

sandy, ut

Lledrav - He didn't dictate the entire book in 70 days. Now just what do you think he was doing in those several months at a time inbetween supposed translation? There was no translation, the scribes and witnesses confirm that the plates weren't even used during translation... He was looking in a hat and then the words would appear. How is that translation? Translation is looking at one character and translating it and writing down the translation. This was not the case. He looked in a hat and the text appeared. He didn't even need the plates to be present since he wasn't looking at them. It isn't ancient text.

sandy, ut

For me it all comes down to the translation process. It doesn'tmake sense. Joseph had the Urim and thummim to translate at first. Then God took them away because of Joseph's transgression but still allowed him to translate using a magic stone and looking into a hat. It simply doesn't make sense, and when something doesn't make sense it usually isn't true.

Mister J
Salt Lake City, UT

re: Liberal Ted on 3/7

**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. **

Yet, it needs occasional updates, revisions, etc... How comically ironic?

PA Gardener 3/7

**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**

So, I want to learn Physics? I don't need to open a textbook; I pray?

I'd have better luck getting tutored by Sheldon Cooper.

Pheonix, AZ

@Chris B:
"If a book was the most correct book ever, it wouldn't have errors."

'MOST correct' doesn't mean no errors.

"The BoM was translated via the Urim and Thummim ONLY."

There must-a been maybe several copies of the Urim & Thummim... since a set was found with the Plates at Cumorah. And how did Smith know what he saw with the plates was, in fact, a Urim & Thummim? The Bible does not clarify the purpose of a Urim & Thummim.

@Diligent Dave:
"From Lucy Mack Smith's biographical account of how young Joseph taught and entertained his parents and siblings..."

Where did Joseph Smith get the detail of the life of ancient Americans his mom referenced in her writing? It's not in the BoM.

"... and dictate that book in 70 days time is a miracle."

Could-a been as much as 3 years and 70 days. Smith tells us he was required to visit Cumorah each year for 3 years before he could get the Plates. Why? He might have used the 3 years to put the work together and then claim it was done in just 70 days to enhance authenticity.

Bountiful, utah

If I understand what Skousen said, the BoM is a revelation (in English), and not a translation from the original languages. Interesting concept.

LDS Revelations
Sandy, UT

"At each of these stages, from Joseph Smith reading it off all the way, to setting the type, there is potential for error," Skousen said."

Skousen forgets to consider that what we know about the translation process suggest that error prevention was built into the process and should have minimized the chance of error in translation to near zero. David Whitmer's account of the process (one of the most detailed) says that after the scribe had written what was read from the seer stone, that it was read back to Joseph and that the next english line of text would not appear on the stone until it was correct. So the same gift and power of God used to translate helped avoid errors in the manuscript.

Also it should be noted that most historians think that the BoM as we have it today was translated by using the seer stone placed in a hat method— and that the spectacles — later called the Urim & Thummim— was used for the lost 116 pages but likely not in translating the book we now have.

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT


Royal Skousen is not being paid just to study the Book of Mormon. He is a professor of linguistics whose primary responsibility at the university is to teach students. His research into language helps qualify him to do this and keeps him current in his field. His Book of Mormon studies will have far-reaching effects over the years, well beyond his impact in the classroom. If you look at the research of most university professors, it is easy to wonder why on earth any university or foundation would ever fund such stuff. But, collectively, this material adds to our understanding of our world, even attaching tiny microphones to corn stalks to try to determine the stress caused on plants by pollution.

Diligent Dave
Logan, UT

Neanderthal asked me, "Where did Joseph Smith get the detail of the life of ancient Americans his mom referenced in her writing? It's not in the BoM."

Correct, it is not. One must suppose he got it during his annual preparation to receive the gold plates during visits he had with Moroni, and apparently many other of the other ancient American prophets, who tutored him (in September of each year). It also appears he was shown, probably at those times, in vision, the ancient inhabitants of the Americas, in action, much as Nephi, Isaiah, and John the Revelator were shown both the past and the future, in vision.

This points, IMO, to the divince source of the Book of Mormon. Without such visits, visions, etc, he would not know what he conveyed to his parents and siblings. Certainly, as Joseph's mother put it, such family home gatherings were, given the subject matter presented, singular in nature. For what other family could have been engaged in similar activity?

@mdp That the translation into English was shown to him doesn't mean it was a translation.

@Brahma Bull - Joseph Smith used seemingly ordinary stones also while translating with Martin Harris.

Taylorsville, UT

Pheonix, AZ

It's your lucky day; I'm gonna educate you a wee bit. Why do you think JS dictated? Because he didn't know how to write. And you're saying he wrote it all down and dictated from copy in hand? Why do you think the lost MS was a disaster? If he'd had copy in hand he could have easily dictated it again. Why do you think Cowdery copied it all in the Printer's MS? They didn't want a repeat of the lost MS disaster.

The same sort of reasoning or lack thereof is what allows the Spa(u)lding conspiracy theorists to invent nonsense--there was no previous copy; it was dictated from scratch.

Weber State Graduate
Clearfield, UT

The BoM is a religious book -- nothing more, nothing less. Those who choose to accept its veracity do so as a matter of faith, not through any demonstrable evidence of antiquity since the plates are not available for examination by scholars.

Trying to "prove" BoM antiquity is simply a waste of time and only panders to those who have trouble reconciling the lack of evidence with their faith. The book does have value, but mostly to those who believe in its teachings and by those who willingly accept the claim of authenticity made by Joseph Smith himself.

The trouble begins when one boldly demands that others also accept its authenticity, without any corroborating evidence, based upon supernatural confirmation alone.

Mesa, AZ

The purpose of a critic is to find fault and point out errors and weaknesses but with that as the goal they will never discover the spiritual teachings found in the Book of Mormon that can enlighten their understanding of Book’s purpose which is that it is a second witness for Jesus Christ. Their preconceptions will prevent them from doing so

This is what Joseph Smith was referring to when he said, "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book on earth, and the keystone of our religion and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book."

Pheonix, AZ

"If I understand what Skousen said, the BoM is a revelation (in English), and not a translation from the original languages.

The Book of Abraham seems to be of similar construct.

Cedar Hills, UT

re:Kent C. DeForrest

I understand he is a professor at the Y in religion however this study of his seems to be very redundant and really brings no new knowledge about the Book of Mormon. Delving into the verbiage of the original translation for 25 years and comparing it to the current Book Of Mormon is just so much trivia and nothing more and hardly justifies any money by the university. If he wants to do this on his own time at his home as a hobby perhaps then ok ... knock yourself out... but for the university to fund this sort of thing is ridiculous and wasteful. How much time at the university did he spend on this...that he is getting paid for? Is there a new course going to be taught based on his findings? As I said - a study of the Dead Sea Scrolls or something similar is very interesting and important because it represents new learning and potentially new scripture or at least enlightenment of existing scripture in the bible and is the sort of thing a highly compensated professor should be spending his time doing.

Cedar Hills, UT


Actually the Book of Mormon is a translation "aided" by inspiration and revelation. Joseph was indeed translating actual characters as professor Charles Anthon verified. The Book Of Mormon - unlike the bible - was translated by a prophet with prophetic gifts as a seer - whereas the bible was interpreted and debated over by monks and others who were not entitled to the same spiritual gifts and thus all the errors of mistranslation in the various versions of the bible.

Tu Ne Cede Malis
Phoenix, AZ

"Joseph Smith restored the LDS Church in the early 1800s"

Joseph Smith did not "restore" the LDS Church in the early 1800's. He "founded" the LDS church in the 1800's.

Sanpete, UT

The way I would explain it to investigadores on my mission was this. This is the last verse in the book of John.

"And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."

If all the books of the world could not contain all the things that Jesus did, how do you claim the Bible has it all?

People would often ask me where it mentioned Joseph Smith in the Bible. If he was a true prophet, it would say his name. I would say: where did it mention Jesus by name in the Old Testament? Where did it say Mary? Where did Moses talk about Isaiah? Where did Adam talk about Jeremiah?

The Bible is a great book. But my firm testimony is that the Book Of Mormon adds more than what we already have. Why are you complaining? Where does it say in the Bible that there can't be more?

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