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BYU professor discusses Book of Mormon translation

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  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    March 6, 2013 4:47 p.m.

    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.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    March 7, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    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..

  • dhsalum Saint George, UT
    March 7, 2013 12:29 p.m.

    "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.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    March 7, 2013 12:33 p.m.

    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?

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    March 7, 2013 1:01 p.m.

    @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
    March 7, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    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.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    March 7, 2013 1:36 p.m.

    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.

  • AGF Taylorsville, UT
    March 7, 2013 1:53 p.m.

    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
    SINGULAR
    I,me,my,mine;
    thou,thee,thy,thine;
    he,him,his,his;
    she,her,her,hers;
    PLURAL
    we,us,our,ours;
    ye,you,your,yours;
    they,them,their,theirs.

    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

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    March 7, 2013 2:34 p.m.

    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.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    March 7, 2013 2:49 p.m.

    @Sharrona

    "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

  • dhsalum Saint George, UT
    March 7, 2013 3:12 p.m.

    @Shazandra

    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.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    March 7, 2013 3:12 p.m.

    @Shazandra

    "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
    March 7, 2013 3:16 p.m.

    @ 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 LAYTON, UT
    March 7, 2013 3:44 p.m.

    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
    March 7, 2013 3:58 p.m.

    Shazandra,

    "....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.

  • gdog3finally West Jordan, Utah
    March 7, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    @Patriot.

    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
    March 7, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    @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
    March 7, 2013 4:56 p.m.

    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
    March 7, 2013 4:56 p.m.

    @ 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
    March 7, 2013 5:02 p.m.

    @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.)

  • E & EE Ann arbor, MI
    March 7, 2013 5:09 p.m.

    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 FT MITCHELL, KY
    March 7, 2013 5:09 p.m.

    @Shazandra
    "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
    March 7, 2013 5:14 p.m.

    @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".

  • panamadesnews Lindon, UT
    March 7, 2013 5:17 p.m.

    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
    March 7, 2013 5:42 p.m.

    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?

  • TimBehrend Auckland NZ, 00
    March 7, 2013 5:47 p.m.

    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.

  • stuff Provo, UT
    March 7, 2013 5:59 p.m.

    "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.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    March 7, 2013 6:09 p.m.

    @TimBehrend:

    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.

    Exod.28:30.
    Lev.8:8.
    Num.27:21.
    Deut.33:8.
    1Sam.28:6.
    Ezra.2:63.
    Neh.7:65.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    March 7, 2013 6:36 p.m.

    Reformed Egyptian is such a beautiful language.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    March 7, 2013 6:49 p.m.

    It's a wonderful book. A miracle.

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

  • sharrona layton, UT
    March 7, 2013 6:58 p.m.

    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
    March 7, 2013 7:49 p.m.

    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
    March 7, 2013 8:17 p.m.

    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.

  • kargirl Sacramento, CA
    March 7, 2013 10:06 p.m.

    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.

  • Attom Kansas City, MO
    March 8, 2013 12:09 a.m.

    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
    March 8, 2013 12:29 a.m.

    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.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    March 8, 2013 12:30 a.m.

    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
    March 8, 2013 8:16 a.m.

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

  • johnnylingo62 Gray, TN
    March 8, 2013 8:29 a.m.

    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 NORTH SALT LAKE, UT
    March 8, 2013 8:34 a.m.

    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?

  • Shimlau SAINT GEORGE, UT
    March 8, 2013 8:35 a.m.

    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.

  • johnnylingo62 Gray, TN
    March 8, 2013 8:38 a.m.

    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
    March 8, 2013 9:39 a.m.

    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.

  • Lledrav West Jordan, UT
    March 8, 2013 9:41 a.m.

    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.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    March 8, 2013 10:34 a.m.

    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.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    March 8, 2013 10:36 a.m.

    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
    March 8, 2013 10:43 a.m.

    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.

  • Neanderthal Pheonix, AZ
    March 8, 2013 10:46 a.m.

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

    'MOST correct' doesn't mean no errors.

    @Michigander:
    "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.

    @Lledrav
    "... 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.

  • mdp Bountiful, utah
    March 8, 2013 11:06 a.m.

    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
    March 8, 2013 11:15 a.m.

    "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
    March 8, 2013 11:36 a.m.

    Patriot:

    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
    March 8, 2013 11:36 a.m.

    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.

  • AGF Taylorsville, UT
    March 8, 2013 11:59 a.m.

    Neanderthal
    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.
    --AGF

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    March 8, 2013 12:30 p.m.

    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.

  • zoar63 Mesa, AZ
    March 8, 2013 12:55 p.m.

    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."

  • Alfred Pheonix, AZ
    March 8, 2013 12:57 p.m.

    @mdp:
    "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.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    March 8, 2013 3:22 p.m.

    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.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    March 8, 2013 3:28 p.m.

    re:Alfred

    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
    March 8, 2013 3:48 p.m.

    "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.

  • TOO Sanpete, UT
    March 8, 2013 4:03 p.m.

    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?

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    March 8, 2013 4:12 p.m.

    re:Weber State Graduate

    No one "boldly demands" that anyone accept the truth of the Book of Mormon. Actually quite the opposite is true. There is an "invitation" to read, to ponder and to pray about this book of scripture and to do so with an open mind and heart. Nothing more. The truth will come via the Holy Ghost ...again to the open minded and honest in heart ...as do all the teachings of Savior in the New Testament. To discover the truth of spiritual things one must be willing to experiment in the "spiritual laboratory" and comply with all the rules governing that realm the same as does any scientist when attempting to discover scientific fact from theory in the physical realm. See Moroni 10:3-5

  • Tu Ne Cede Malis Phoenix, AZ
    March 8, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    Anytime your response to someone's question about religion is to say "God works in mysterious way" then you have lost the argument.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    March 8, 2013 5:04 p.m.

    RE: TOO,where does it mentioned J S in the Bible.
    *That seer… his name shall be called Joseph(Smith), and it shall be after the name of his father. ( Gen 50:33 JST)?
    * Joseph Smith Jr.,” Joseph son of Jacob, prophesied of the future mission of the Prophet JS twenty-four hundred years before the LDS prophet was born…(50:33 JST ).(Religious truth defined by J Fielding S (p.256-257) *JS, prophecy about himself. NOT found in Greek LXX or Dead Sea Scrolls.

    @ where did it mention Jesus by name in the O.T.? Jesus Christ this is the only name …(Gen 6:53 JST)

    RE: Red Headed Stranger,John 9:2 ,the apostles ask about the male born blind. "Did he or his parents sin?" How could someone be punished for sin from birth unless that person first existed before birth?
    The Rabbis had developed the principle that “There is no death without sin, and there is no suffering without iniquity, they were even capable of thinking a child could sin in the womb or that the soul might have sinned in a preexistent state. Jesus plainly contradicts these beliefs.

  • Well.ok Lehi, UT
    March 8, 2013 5:58 p.m.

    Witness after witness of the translation process spoke of Joseph seeing the words in seer stone/hat/translator and then having them transcribed. Some even go as far to say that the words would not disappear until they had transcribed them correctly. How then were there so many grammatical errors if JS was seeing the words and having them transcribed directly?

    Why would God use an antiquated form of English such as King James English in the BoM? It simply doesn't make any sense.

  • TOO Sanpete, UT
    March 8, 2013 7:39 p.m.

    Sharrona,

    I don't think you understood the point of my post. I am a member. I said those were the arguments people would use on my mission that I would face.
    I know the scriptures exist in the JST, but that holds no H2O when you use the JST with a person who already believes we're "adding" to the Bible.

    I would teach that last verse in John. Then I would mention those questions when they would ask me where it said Joseph Smith in the Bible--where does it mention Christ in the OT, etc. You can't use a JST in the Bible to teach a person who thinks Mormons are a cult--it adds to their point.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    March 8, 2013 9:05 p.m.

    @Neanderthal:

    "And how did Smith know what he saw with the plates was, in fact, a Urim & Thummim?"

    Because that is what Joseph Smith said the Angel Moroni instructed him that they were on the night of Sep.21, 1823 [see Joseph Smith--History 1:35]. That is why JS knew EXACTLY what they were and what they would be used for.

  • BevWel Grants Pass, OR
    March 9, 2013 1:21 p.m.

    I know the Book of Mormon is true and is scripture to us for our day! I know this because I asked God the Father of us all. The spirit I felt is undeniable and has sustained me through many trials in this life. The books about the Book of Mormon are interesting but do not change the meaning and purpose of the book which is to bring us to Christ. I am sure there were some errors of type and content but the principles taught are the same in spite of any small errors. Let's not split hairs with God's work.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    March 9, 2013 1:57 p.m.

    @Bill in Nebraska
    "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."

    Why ask God for the belief that it's true when you should be asking IF it is true? If you're going into a prayer with a pre-determined answer you are looking for, you're generally going to get that result.

  • Neanderthal Pheonix, AZ
    March 9, 2013 4:35 p.m.

    @AGF:
    "Why do you think JS dictated? Because he didn't know how to write."

    Was he truant? No. He certainly could read else how did he come across James 1:5?

    "And you're saying he wrote it all down and dictated from copy in hand?"

    Could be. He may have had 3 years or more. By the way, per the JS history, scribes didn't view the plates during translation due to a curtain draped between them and JS.

    "Why do you think the lost MS was a disaster? If he'd had copy in hand he could have easily dictated it again."

    Yes, but the enemies who had the lost MS could still have printed out a modified/changed version to thwart the work.

    "Why do you think Cowdery copied it all in the Printer's MS? They didn't want a repeat of the lost MS disaster.

    Interesting situation... that the 116 pages was a duplicate (Lehi Plates vs. Small Plates of Nephi) to head off an eventual lost MS problem 2,500 years later.

  • Shazandra Bakersfield, CA
    March 9, 2013 8:38 p.m.

    Oi vey... 'My people perish for lack of knowledge'... Opinions are great, discussion and debate are lovely. Most prefer to remain in the realm of reality while engaged thusly. Go to your source documents, stop offering what you "think" Joseph meant. Ask those of us who grew up in the Church, who faithfully attended seminary/institute/Church universities, and then who taught for years from church curricula what our experiences were.

    Consider these points and go to reputable academic sources about Biblical manuscripts (mss), textual criticism, hermaneutics.
    1- Sheer ignorance re the translation process in 2013 is inexcusable. No LDS here has stated it accurately yet.
    2- No non-LDS institution of any kind authenticates any of JS's translations, creations, aspirations.
    3- Ask your Prophet to settle these debates: He claims direct access. End of problem.
    4- We know what was repeated and taught by every successor about BoM accuracy. Get out your Church History volumes.
    5- Stop devaluing the Journal of Discourses when they contradict current doctrines, but quote it when you agree.
    6- Ditto for the Bible. Take a position and remain true. Ditto for the JST.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    March 9, 2013 9:15 p.m.

    alt134: It is not an IF. You must ask that it be true. That is how the truth comes out. If you are asking IF it be true then you have doubt that that it may not be true and the truth will not come forth.

    There is no if in this at all. No SHAZANDRA/OF THE CROSS; You tell us how it was translated, since you seem to know so much. No matter what we say we are going to be wrong. Truth is you have no idea except with what you have read yourself.

    The Journal of Discourses for the most were reprints of talks given. These were given by others and not actual writings of the Presidents of the Church. But then again you all ready know that.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    March 10, 2013 5:16 a.m.

    @Neanderthal
    "but the enemies who had the lost MS could still have printed out a modified/changed version to thwart the work."

    There is no evidence that anyone has the lost MS, no reason why they couldn't have gone through with this conspiracy theory anyway if someone did have it (you just need to do a bit more work/changing that's all), and honestly, it just sounds like a convenient excuse to explain away having a different translation than the first one. This is one of the biggest sticking points for me in the category of "if all of this was a hoax... this is totally a good way to go about handling this issue". Speaking of the word if...

    @Bill in Nebraska
    "If you are asking IF it be true then you have doubt that that it may not be true and the truth will not come forth."

    So I have to believe it's true for me to receive a belief that it is true? Still seems like circular logic to me. If I didn't have any doubt why would I be asking in the first place?

  • MrTuscadero Houston, TX
    March 10, 2013 3:03 p.m.

    I is far easier to believe that the Book of Mormon is literally true than it is to believe that the Mormon church has any validity whatsoever should the Book of Mormon be untrue. Since there is no proof either way, one either chooses to believe or chooses not to believe. The apologists in the restored priesthood seem to be looking for a way to develop a third choice -- but their efforts are as futile as trying to trisect an angle. After all, the ability to believe and not to believe at the same time would create mental instability that would put a fanatic to shame.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    March 11, 2013 11:06 a.m.

    Bill - so just to get this straight... you have to believe it is true with no doubt before you ask god in prayer that it is true?? yeah that sounds logical. If that is the case you wouldn't need to ask in the first place. Many have asked and received a different answer than you. you aren't better then these people, you just got a different answer because you had it in your mind already. Boy, you can talk yourself into anything Bill.

  • snowman Provo, UT
    March 12, 2013 5:03 p.m.

    Shazandra: The Journal of Discources i snot nor has it ever been a teaching tool

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    March 15, 2013 9:56 a.m.

    History is replete with people who produced copious works, amazing accomplishments, and large followings. If these demonstrate anything, it is that human kind has always struggled with gullibility, and living up to its rational endowments - NOT that there is some supernatural being behind every work or event we have trouble explaining.

    Lack of formal education in Joseph Smith's day says nothing about his intelligence or capabilities, nor does it rule out his plagiarizing, paraphrasing, borrowing liberally, and collaborating with others who did have formal education. As such, there is nothing inexplicable about there being "ancient-appearing" literary forms, linguistic patterns, and references in Joseph's writing.

    What IS puzzling is why there should be so much of the 19th century in Joseph's "translations"? It is a lazy and wholly inadequate explanation to simply dismiss such anachronisms with "it was a revelation AND a translation"!

    The more science progresses, the more anachronistic and contrived Joseph Smith's legacy becomes. It makes for an increasingly bad fit with everything else we are coming to know about the universe. And the parlor tricks (Moroni's Challenge) are less and less persuasive to more and more rational people of all ages.