BYU professor Royal Skousen concludes his discussion on changes to the Book of Mormon original text

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  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 18, 2013 4:37 a.m.

    Religion is a matter of heart, faith and decision. To the critics, if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is not true, why spend time critiquing and finding fault? Go in peace and seek truth as you define it and can embrace it. What I cannot understand is the constant harping, nit picking commentary about something you are obviously not in harmony with and your main purpose appears to be to dissuade others from their faith to your position of non faith.

    Many posts seem angry or combative or unhappy. Your tone alone, regardless of content, is not influencing me to your point of view, as you offer nothing but negativity and ill-will. Why you spend time tearing down something you don't like is beyond me. Perhaps spending time in a positive pursuit would be more helpful.

    The discussion does reinforce the old comment: They can leave the Church, but can't leave it alone.

  • Fred W. Anson Lake Forest, CA
    March 23, 2013 5:17 p.m.

    From the introduction to "The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text" by Royal Skousen:

    "Over the past twenty-one years, editor Royal Skousen has pored over Joseph Smith’s original manuscripts and identified more than 2,000 textual errors in the 1830 edition. Although most of these discrepancies stem from inadvertent errors in copying and typesetting the text, the Yale edition contains about 600 corrections that have never appeared in any standard edition of the Book of Mormon, and about 250 of them affect the text’s meaning."

    In other words, the Book of Mormon has EXACTLY the same kind of manuscript text variants that source Biblical manuscripts do - the same variants that Mormons point to regarding our so-called "compromised" Bible. AND proportionally there are MORE of them relative to the size and scope of the manuscript record across a far shorter time period.

    Yet somehow we're supposed to believe that the BoM is more "correct" and more trustworthy than the Bible is? Hmmm . . . .

  • cjf Salt Lake City, UT
    March 22, 2013 6:52 a.m.

    Avoid the Book of Mormon and talk about the Book of Abraham. Nice diversion tactic by critics.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    March 21, 2013 7:52 a.m.

    "Actually, the project should be available for all to review so that it can also more easily face the scientific peer review process"

    Can you provide ANY instances where anything to do with Mormonism has been through a "scientific peer review process"?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    March 20, 2013 6:51 p.m.

    RE: Twin Lights, there WAS no NT when he wrote that. True,

    but now(Christians) like,” the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”(Acts 17:11)

    seeing God: Gen. 17:1 The LORD often appeared but not in His full shekinah glory(*Ex 33: 18-20)…For no one can see me and live.

    Gen. 18:1:They were angels see *Gen 19:1, or Christophany.

    Exodus 24:9-11, There is no detailed description here of what they saw.

    Gen 32:28, as a man he struggled with God.4 He struggled with the angel and overcame him;Hosea 12:4)*O.T.

    Exodus 6:2-3, Num. 12:6-8. see Hebrews 11:27

    Try the Perspicuity of Scripture. ”God is spirit’, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”(John 4:24 NIV)

    No one has ever seen God’; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known(John 1:18 ESV)

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    March 20, 2013 4:50 p.m.

    Twin Lights: If you go out to FAIRLDS and read what they have to say about the Doctrine and Covenants plus talks by many General Authorities what you will find is that what Brahmabull is saying is totally fabricated. One will learn that the revelations were received in many ways piece mail, not all of it at once. In fact, FAIR goes into a great deal of detail stating why dates, and verses were added or changed. This does nothing to convince critics or apostates about the truth but it does add that what is taught,"line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little there a little goes well with how the Lord reveals his word to his chosen prophets as well as each and every member if they are willing to gain an understanding. As Brother Osterman stated in a talk that much what anti-mormon literature prints is well fabricated and is used to deceive not to inform the faithful.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    March 20, 2013 4:30 p.m.


    Your wild assertion that "the original papyri have been independently translated several times and found to be accurate" is simply false. No matter how many times you repeat this nonsense, the facts simply don't support your claim.

    Please be honest in your comments – even the church doesn't support your argument.

    From FAIR, an LDS apologist website, and their take on the recovered papyri:

    "In fact, the Church ran a multi-part series with color pictures of the papyri in the Improvement Era...The series repeatedly affirmed that the recovered papyri contained Egyptian funerary materials."

    "The Egyptian characters on the recovered documents are a portion of the "Book of Breathings," an Egyptian religious text that instructed the dead on how to successfully reach the afterlife. This particular Book of Breathings was written for a deceased man named Hor."

    From FAIR regarding the facsimiles:

    "It is noted that Joseph Smith's translation of the facsimiles does not agree with that provided by Egyptologists, and that some missing portions of the facsimiles were incorrectly restored."

    With all due respect, I suggest you get some readily available clarity on reality before you continue to misrepresent the facts.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    March 20, 2013 1:58 p.m.


    No matter how many times you keep repeating something, it doesn't make it true if the facts don't support your claim. Your wild assertion that the Joseph Smith papyri have been independently "translated several times and found to be true" is simply false.

    Even the church has admitted the surviving papyri are Egyptian funery documents and LDS Egyptian scholars John Gee and Michael Rhodes agree the BoA facsimiles are part of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. They offer an explanation that Joseph perhaps used other means to produce the BoA.

    Furthermore, LDS apologists at FAIR state on their website that the surviving Joseph Smith papyri "are a portion of the Book of Breathings, an Egyptian religious text...written for a deceased man named Hor...called the Hor Book of Breathings."

    I suggest you get a healthy dose of readily available reality before you continue to misrepresent the facts.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 20, 2013 1:04 p.m.


    Please reread my post. I said “Though it is certainly idiomatic (the right hand of power, etc.), it is also literal.” I was referring to the term “right hand of power” as an idiom and not as something literal.

    Perhaps hermeneutics can use the NT to interpret the OT. But that is not what Paul referred to when he said “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine . . .” Because, of course, there WAS no NT when he wrote that.

    As to anyone seeing God:
    Gen. 17:1
    Gen. 18:1
    Exodus 6:2-3
    Exodus 24:9-11
    Num. 12:6-8


    All I can say is that we study it and that I have taught it. Given a more topical outline, the current format is logical. Certainly no one is shying away from it. I will have to look at the D&C issue another day. I can only spend so much time here. Sorry.

  • Camoes Tooele, UT
    March 20, 2013 12:51 p.m.

    While the LDS Church has made some grammar and style changes to the text over the years, such as exceeding/exceedingly, is has yet to correct the glaring inconsistencies in the use of "ye/thou/you." Often, a speaker in the Book of Mormon, while addressing an individual, will use all three pronouns. People who read the Book of Mormon in translation do not have to endure such distractions. Of course, many English speakers don't know the difference between them anyway.

  • Rita52 ANN ARBOR, MI
    March 20, 2013 11:43 a.m.

    @brahmabull. The PofGP is a very complex book, with a great deal of temple symbolism, and difficult to study effectively in a general Sunday School class. It is taught as a course in adult Institute classes (I am taking one now, and learning a great deal about the temple and our relationship to it.) Ask your local Institute director for a schedule of classes.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    March 20, 2013 11:15 a.m.


    "....This book of scripture is the meat of "some" of the gospel teachings of the church."

    I don't expect the rest of the Christian world to ever accept the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price as authentic history and certainly not as scripture. But I think these volumes will some day in the distant future be studied for what insight they give to Joseph Smith's theological thought.

  • njpray Polson, MT
    March 20, 2013 10:57 a.m.

    While the lecture was on the Book of Mormon, and not on the Book of Abraham, because of some of the comments, I thought I would add my thoughts on Abraham. Just finished teaching the Pearl of Great Price in Adult Institute class. This book of scripture is the meat of "some" of the gospel teachings of the church. It is amazing in it's explanation of the creation, and the relationship of the planet Kolob to God's creations. Not for the "spiritually challenged", as it again is "meat" not "milk" when it comes to the teachings of the gospel. Beautiful in its context if read with a spiritual eye towards the mysteries of God. Read and re-read it's context, and enjoy the journey it can take you on!

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    March 20, 2013 10:46 a.m.


    You are aware that truth is subjective. You THINK it is true, but that doesn't make it so. I doubt it is true, and I could be wrong as well. You can't pretent that you have an absolute knowledge of this truth, because there are others that KNOW it isn't true. I will say that if you aren't willing to look at facts instead of truth, then you will continue to be in the dark.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    March 20, 2013 10:22 a.m.

    RE: Twin Lights ,the right hand of power is also literal. Wrong,

    DEXIOS is used in the N.T. indicates relationship and is translated idiomatically into "right hand". although (kheir) which literally translates to "hand" does not appear in any of the references to the "right hand of God"... .

    Christ has a body with a left and a right, Mark 10:40. True. J S, Lectures on Faith, Q. What is the Father? A. He is a personage of glory and of power. (5:2.). What is the son? First, he is a personage of tabernacle.

    Biblical hermeneutics always let the N.T to interpret the O.T.. see Theophany’s.

    “No one has ever seen God [the father], but the one and only Son, who is himself God[the son] and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.(John 1:18 NIV)

    … (Moses) saw him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:27).

    @G L W8, In Mark 7:6-8 – Jesus quotes Is 29:13 the Septuagint – “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, in vain do they worship me….”

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    March 20, 2013 10:09 a.m.

    Twin - While I am aware of them rolling it into the OT studies, it used to be studied on its own. They stopped that a few years back and it seems to me to be getting studied in church less and less. It is not what Joseph Smith claimed it was. This naturally leads one to believe the rest of his works aren't what they are claimed to be either. Many of the passages in the doctrine and covenants have been moved, and dates changed. Get yourself a copy of the original Book of Commandments and compare it to the current D and C. It is shocking that they changed the dates of the revelations to make the whole story seem cohesive and make the timeline match..

  • Dave C. Crestline, CA
    March 20, 2013 10:05 a.m.

    If God wanted the Book of Mormon to be letter & word perfect, He would have done it Himself; but, instead He allowed imperfect mortals to do the work for Him. It never surprises me when mere mortals make misstaakess!!

  • byufootballrocks Herndon, VA
    March 20, 2013 9:56 a.m.

    To Brahmabull:

    The Book of Abraham is in fact studied in LDS Sunday School, which is very easy to verify.

    Since it covers Old Testament times, it is studied with the Old Testament as part of the rotating years of study.

    It is also studied in-depth in classes at BYU and BYU-Idaho, and there is a recent institute manual as well.

    Again, please, before you attack the church, please get your facts straight.

    The Book of Abraham is true. We don't apologize for it. It contains wonderful doctrines that explain the purpose of life, the gospel, and other important matters. We are very blessed to have it.

    Again, no apologies for the truth.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 20, 2013 9:42 a.m.


    We study the Book of Moses and the Book of Abraham as part of the OT. JS-Matthew as part of the NT. JS-History as part of the D&C and Church History segment.

  • prinze777 Fresno, CA
    March 20, 2013 9:36 a.m.

    It is just a shame that this collection isn't available for all CES students who are attending the other BYU campuses. I'm currently enrolled at BYU-I and I can't view the special collection online, even with my CES NetID. They really should have this special collection available for at least all of students attending church schools and not just BYU-Provo students. Actually, the project should be available for all to review so that it can also more easily face the scientific peer review process, but that is a discussion for a later date.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    March 20, 2013 9:24 a.m.

    People are really starting to reach to find explanations as to why the book of Abraham and the whole Pearl of Great Price is not what it claims to be. There is a reason the apostles took the pearl of great price out of the study courses in sunday school. It used to be part of church study. A few years back, it simply isn't included anymore. Too many questions were coming up about it and so they just stopped it. They claim it is one of the most important books of scripture of our time yet they don't allow it to be studied in church.

  • byufootballrocks Herndon, VA
    March 20, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    To: Weber State Graduate

    I don't know why when there is so much documented proof that you would repeat old tired attacks and spurious claims concerning the origins of the Book of Abraham:

    "Thanks to the scholarly work of independent experts in Egyptology, we now know the surviving Egyptian papyri and facsimiles have absolutely nothing to do with the writings of Abraham, the grand keys of the priesthood, or a planet called Kolob. Rather, they are simply Egyptian burial documents."

    This is patently false. To use your term, segments of the original papyri have been "independently" translated several times and found to be accurate, so there is simply no truth whatsoever to your claim, continually repeated ad nauseam by those making ad-hominine attacks on the church.

    The Book of Abraham will stand for all time because it is in fact true. It was an original document translated by a prophet of God.

    You are going to have to come up with something better than this to attack the church. In the meantime, I suggest you get some readily available clarity on this long-since dismissed matter concerning the Book of Abraham.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    March 20, 2013 9:12 a.m.

    skeptic writes: "It seems strange that messages and writing coming directly from god could be so messed up and questionable."

    Who's to say it came directly from God? If Skousen is correct, that Joseph Smith was viewing English text and merely reading it to the scribe, then John Gilbert, compositor of the Book of Mormon, was on the right track in asking who really translated the book. It wasn't Joseph, and I would argue that it wasn't God either. I don't think God would make all the grammatical mistakes we find in the book. That leaves one other possibility: someone else who spoke both English and the language(s) on the plates. Hmm. Well, that opens some interesting possibilities.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    March 20, 2013 9:02 a.m.

    Faith doesn’t depend on tangible evidence that can prove that the Book of Mormon was inscribed on gold plates or that the Shroud of Turin is the actual burial cloth of Jesus. No amount of physical evidence will shake the faithful from what their convictions tell them is true; nor will it persuade the skeptics to believe what they find improbable.

  • johnnylingo62 Gray, TN
    March 20, 2013 8:16 a.m.

    Skeptic, all the gospels, and history recorded in the Holy Bible were written down by PEOPLE (human hands), not God. The Mosaic Tablets that God did write upon and given to Moses were put into the Ark of the Covenant - which is nowhere to be found. Prophets, or their scribes, wrote on papyrus, sheepskin, clay tablets, brass plates, gold plates, stones, etc. in their native languages. The important issue with Scripture is the Doctrine, the Commandments, the Will of God. The printing press didn't come along until Gutenburg in 15th century (1440), so most of God's messages were through His prophets who SPOKE to the people, wrote letters or journals and then those hearing may "take notes" and keep them to pass along. So, ALL of the old prophets' words were written in a NON-ENGLISH language. Who was the translator into Greek, into German, into English?
    If you want to know if something is "true" you can obtain your personal revelation by way of the Holy Spirit through prayer that can testify to your spirit if what you are reading, seeing, or hearing is true or not. Take advantage of God's invitation, "knock and receive".

    March 20, 2013 5:45 a.m.

    sharronna, your wrangling over the Septuagint Greek is pointless. Jesus spoke in either Aramaic or Hebrew, and in highly symbolic language as evidenced by his parables. Besides, in 3 Nephi he was speaking to a group that had modified the Hebrew over the centuries, and a set of "more righteous" people than the Nephites destroyed in the devestation recorded in that book. Certainly, he would have been more interested in speaking in terms they could clearly understand.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    March 19, 2013 9:31 p.m.

    Your suggestion to believe in the BOM might be OK, but what if it is the influence of the Adversary to lead one astray and god will say there were all kind of red flags to warn you remember I gave Moses tablets with out error, my work is perfect and not subject to change. Just wondering.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 19, 2013 8:36 p.m.


    Though it is certainly idiomatic (the right hand of power, etc.),it is also literal.

    Note 2 Chronicles 18:18:

    I saw the Lord sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.

    Also, Christ retains a body with a left and a right. See Mark 10:40.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    March 19, 2013 7:24 p.m.

    Three statisticians went target shooting in the woods. After setting up the target, the first one took aim and fired, missing the target by a couple of inches to the left. Immediately afterwards the second one fired, but missed the target by a couple of inches to the right. The third put down his gun exclaiming, "Great shooting lads, on average I reckon we got it..."

    Some people are content with completely missing the mark. They believe if they shoot enough times, the law of averages will eventually win people over.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    March 19, 2013 6:11 p.m.

    RE: Craig Clark, Joseph’s claim of translating an ancient record sound credible?

    3 Nephi 12:6 And blessed are all they that hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be *filled with the Holy Ghost. And (Mt 5:8 JST)
    (Mt 5:6 KJV) Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled= (**chortazō 5526).*to feed with herbs, hay; to fill, satisfy with food not the Holy Ghost.
    Example.(Luke 6:21 KJV &JST) Blessed are you that hunger now: for you shall be filled= (**chortazo)…
    Correct Greek word in (Acts 4:8)Then Peter, *filled=( pimplēmi,4130) with the Holy Ghost…

    Also the Matthew Greek apparatus has No MS support for the JST -- “with the Holy Ghost”.

    RE: Utes Fan a Western parable. How about a "Hebrew Idiom" like, "he's my right hand man." In the Hebrew this idiom denotes power and strength.
    Carried over to the Greek…" where Stephen saw "the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God." Acts 7:55, 56.

  • Utes Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    March 19, 2013 5:36 p.m.

    I didn't attend the lecture, but I am sure the topic was not the Book of Abraham. Still, the BOA reminds me of a old Western parable:

    A sharp-shooter arrives in town claiming to be able to shoot far more accurately than anybody else. When challenged by a few skeptics in town, the sharp-shooter says "see that target way off yonder in the distance? I will shoot twelve balls right into it." The skeptics notice a rock off in the distance, and watch as the sharp-shooter aims. He fires a dozen shots towards the rock several hundred yards in the distance. The skeptics run and expecting to find a rock plastered with bullets, instead find the sharp-shooter completely missed the target. The skeptics laugh him to scorn and leave the scene. Little did they know that 15 feet beyond the rock was a tree trunk with a dozen balls in an 'X' pattern that the sharp-shooter had done.

    Don't stop at the "rock" with the BOA, but find the "tree stump". Books like "One Eternal Round" by Hugh Nibley (and others) offer amazing insights into just how inspired Joseph Smith was with the BOA.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    March 19, 2013 4:52 p.m.

    Joseph Smith’s own description of how he and his scribes did the actual work of transcribing the English manuscript is not a description of translation. If in the BOM preface Joseph had just said he brought forth the book by the gift and power God, by revelation or inspiration and left it at that, he would have been on firmer ground and spared apologists like Skousen and Peterson from feeling constrained to go through such labored contortions to make Joseph’s claim of translating an ancient record sound credible.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 19, 2013 3:29 p.m.

    Not one word in the Book of Abraham is untrue! Read it and can not find anything in there that is not true no matter how it was translated.

  • John Wilson Idaho Falls, 00
    March 19, 2013 2:30 p.m.

    Thanks for the nice article. I wish there had been space for more examples. I also enjoy reading Daniel Peterson's thoughts on this and many other subjects.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    March 19, 2013 2:25 p.m.


    "What is one to believe?"

    Believe in the Book of Mormon as the word of God based upon its internal doctrinal evidence (agrees with KJV).

    Reject the Book of Abraham, as noted by Weber State Graduate above, based upon its internal contradictions of scripture (KJV and BoM) and the outstanding 2012 scholarly work on the JS Egyptian Papyri by Dr. Robert K. Ritner which reveals for all time the BoA as a bogus and fraudulent Joseph Smith "translation".

  • WaybackCougar Salt Lake City, UT
    March 19, 2013 2:14 p.m.

    All of the skeptical comments so far relate to what is really meant by "translation." In the case of Joseph Smith I maintain that it was not translation as we think of it, but a spiritual process. Yes, one witness had the impression that Joseph actually saw words, but he had no way of knowing that. Could he see through Joseph's eyes?

    Joseph clearly could not translate ancient languages, but through the seer stones he could receive spiritual impressions about actual ancient writings and events. The plates were never necessary other than as a testament that the work was true. The papyri only prompted Joseph to receive spiritual impressions about Abraham. I agree that the facsimiles should not be touted as documents that were actually "translated" and the illustrations should probably be removed from the Pearl of Great Price.

    What is important about both the Books of Mormon and Abraham is what they actually have to say. Critics dwell on the periphery. Do the words that were written down on paper actually come from God? That is the true question. I believe that they do. But I, too, have to rely upon spiritual impressions to believe.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    March 19, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    It seems strange that messages and writing coming directly from god could be so messed up and questionable. It makes it seem like even god can't get things done right one time the first time. What is one to believe.

  • Well.ok Lehi, UT
    March 19, 2013 11:27 a.m.

    This is a very interesting project and I appreciate the work Skousen has done. I wonder how would come to terms with the fact that there were so many errors (even if they didn't conflict doctrine), yet witnesses of the translation process say that the words on the seer stone Joseph used would not disapear until they had been transcribed perfectly.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    March 19, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    "...the project must be run according to the most rigorous academic principles," Peterson said.

    Unfortunately, "the most rigorous academic principles" seem to have been ignored by LDS apologists regarding the surviving Egyptian papyri and facsimiles used in the "translation" of another LDS scriptural book -- the Book of Abraham.

    Thanks to the scholarly work of independent experts in Egyptology, we now know the surviving Egyptian papyri and facsimiles have absolutely nothing to do with the writings of Abraham, the grand keys of the priesthood, or a planet called Kolob. Rather, they are simply Egyptian burial documents.