LDS Articles of Faith, Part XXXIX
Article 8, LDS Scripture, Book of Mormon, Part 6
The eighth LDS Article of Faith says, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon (B. of M.) to be the word of God.” LDS have questioned the translation of the Bible since the beginning of their church. But the 8th LDS Article of Faith doesn’t question the translation of the Book of Mormon (B. of M.) even though it was “translated” in a very strange way. On the LDS website, Gospel Topics admits that Smith used the same seer stone to translate the B. of M. that he used earlier to try to find buried treasures. And David Whitmer who was one of the three witnesses of the B. of M. wrote, “Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph (Smith) would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character would appear. Thus, the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man. The characters I speak of are the engravings on the golden plates from which the book (B. of M.) was translated…The language of the Nephites is called the reformed Egyptian language” (An Address to All Believers in Christ, by David Whitmer, p. 12).
From what Whitmer said it sounds like God did the translating and all Smith did was read the English to his scribe. But he still claimed he translated the B. of M. by the gift and power of God. The gold plates aren’t available because Smith said the angel took them back. No copies of the Reformed Egyptian writing on the gold plates was made. So, there isn’t a single copy of the B. of M. in the original language! So, how can anyone know if the B. of M. “translation” is accurate? Mormons criticize the Bible because the original manuscripts written by humans no longer exist. But they don’t exist is because some would be around 3500 years old and parchment disintegrates when it gets old. But there are thousands of copies of the original language manuscripts of the Bible. Yet, there isn’t even one copy in the original language for the B. of M.! And LDS don’t even have one complete copy of the original hand-written English B. of M. when it is less than 200 years old! So, when LDS question the lack of original manuscripts for the Bible and the reliability of its translation it is just a smoke screen to take the focus from how the B. of M. was translated and why they have no original B. of M manuscripts and no external evidence to support anything in it! If the Bible was translated by one man putting a rock in his hat and pulling the hat close to his face to exclude any light, would you accept that as a genuine translation? How many books have been translated that way?
The B. of M. mentions several things that are not supported by the Bible or historical records. In I Nephi 4, Nephi killed Laban and took the brass plates that contained a record of the Jews. Nephi’s father, Lehi, read the brass plates and found that he was a descendant of Joseph, the son of Jacob in the Bible. Why didn’t he know what tribe he was from since the Jews kept meticulous records of their ancestors and Lehi lived in Jerusalem before the captivity of the Jews? After their captivity the Jews knew what tribe they were from as can be seen in Ezra chapter 2 in the Bible. Alma 10:3 in the B. of M. says Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh who was one of the sons of Joseph in the Bible. So, the Nephites in the B. of M. were from the Biblical tribe of Manasseh. I Nephi 5:11 says Lehi also found that the brass plates contained the five books of Moses and II Nephi 25:24 says the Nephites keep the law of Moses. II Nephi 5:26 says, “I Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people.” Jacob and Joseph were Nephi’s younger brothers who were born in the wilderness about 10 years after Lehi and his family left Jerusalem in 600 B C. (I Nephi 18:7). The date at the bottom of that page is 590 B C, so Jacob and Joseph were about 20 years old when Nephi consecrated them as priests. Numbers 3:9-12 (in the Bible) says priests were to be Israelites from the tribe of Levi and descendants of Aaron (Ex. 29:9, 29, 44). The priests were also to be between the ages of 30 and 50, according to Numbers 4:3, 30, and 47. Jacob and Joseph, the sons of Levi and brothers of Nephi were too young to be Aaronic priests and they were also from the wrong tribe! So, Nephi was not following the law God gave to Moses.
III Nephi 24 and 25 in the B. of M. quotes Malachi 3 and 4 almost verbatim as it is in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. III Nephi 24-25 was supposedly written in 34 A D according to the date on the bottom of the page, but the KJV Bible wasn’t translated and published until 1611 A D. How could Nephi in 34 A D quote Malachi 3-4 from the KJV almost 1600 years before it existed? Even the words in italics supplied by the KJV translators are in III Nephi 24 and 25. The only way to explain how Malachi 3-4 got into III Nephi 24-25 is by plagiarism! Many of us have translated something from another language to English, so we know that no translator translates with the exact same words as another translator. Even the LDS books of scripture that have been translated into other languages have been re-translated because flaws were found in the first translation. Joseph Smith also “translated” the entire Bible which is called the Inspired Version or the Joseph Smith Translation or the JST. It is interesting to note that it also quotes Malachi 3-4 verbatim from the KJV. Smith only had a copy of the KJV when he made his “translation,” of the Bible so, he “translated” English to English! Other translations always translate from one language to another language. Although Smith claimed the B. of M. and his JST Bible were inspired by the Lord, when the Angel Moroni first visited Smith in 1823, he “quoted” some of Malachi 3-4 different than it is in the inspired LDS scriptures! The Pearl of Great Price (P. of G. P.) is also LDS scripture and Joseph Smith-History is one of the books in it. In Joseph Smith-History 1:36-37 Smith said the Angel Moroni quoted Malachi 4 with a little variation from the way it reads in our Bibles. He said Moroni quoted Malachi 4:1 thus: “For behold the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Moroni also quoted Malachi 4:5 thus: “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” And Moroni quoted Malachi 4:6 thus: “And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” But Smith said the word “turn” in this text should be “bind” or “seal” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 330.) Did these LDS scriptures all come by revelation from God?
Next time we will continue our discussion of the B. of M.