Book of Mormon

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The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ[1] is one of the four standard works, or scriptures, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). The other standard works are the Bible, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants.

Moroni gives Joseph Smith the plates
Joseph Smith Translating the Plates

Mormons believe that Joseph Smith, Jr. translated the Book of Mormon from a set of gold plates he received from an angel named Moroni[2]

“Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the 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 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 with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12).[3]

The Book of Mormon tells the story of the descendants of a man named Lehi, who took his family from Jerusalem to the Americas. According to the book, Lehi's wicked sons, Laman and Lemual, turned against his righteous sons, Nephi and Sam, and were cursed with dark skin.[4] Mormons believe that descendants of Lehi were the ancestors of some Native Americans; these people are referred to as "Lamanites" in the Book of Mormon:[5] A post-resurrection appearance in the New World by Jesus is also described in the Book of Mormon.


Nephi and Sam's descendants, the Nephites, eventually turned to wickedness and were destroyed by the more numerous Lamanites. One of the last Nephites, Moroni, buried the golden plates in what is now New York State to keep them from falling into the hands of the Lamanites and being destroyed.[6] Three Nephites were blessed with eternal life and still wander the Earth today serving others.[7]

In 1982, the subtitle, "Another Testament of Jesus Christ," was added to the title page.[8]

Mormons and other Latter-Day Saints believe that the book is of ancient origin and that the personages and events described therein are factual. At the same time, Mormons deny that the book is to be considered inerrant. Critics assert that its contents have been changed a number of times by LDS authorities; Mormons reply that the changes are merely grammatical corrections. For a fuller discussion of changes, see Changes in the Book of Mormon section below.


Historicity

The Book of Mormon is widely criticized for the absence of evidence supporting it. The list of missing artifacts includes almost forty entire cities (all cities named therein), animals (such as horses and cattle), metals (iron and steel), evidence of wars (involving multiple thousands of deaths), weapons (including swords, spears and armor), machinery and other technology cited within it - spanning the many hundreds of years covered by the narrative. Because no such supporting evidence has been found, the LDS church takes no official position on the geography of the Book of Mormon. Artifacts of such a nature (found in the Americas) have been found to have been introduced into the areas in question by Europeans colonists much later than the timeframe claimed in the Book of Mormon. Mormon Apologists have worked to find counterarguments and responses to all of these claims.[9]

Mormon apologists have responded by citing, for example, the first Book of the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi) in which discoveries of place locations thought not to have existed prior to discovery are to be found. An instance of this concerns the alleged discovery of the place known as "Nahom" as mentioned here ([5]), a burial place which was discovered and is said by Mormons to be referred to in no other text.[10] Likewise Old world geography in the Book has been pinpointed by apologists.[11]

Opponents have pointed to linguistic anachronisms in the text, such as it being written entirely in a Sixteenth-century King James style and its use of words such as French word "adieu". Mormon apologists argue that they have found numerous Semitic linguistic and literary traits within it which make it appear authentic, such as the inclusion of Chiasmus[12] and numerous other Hebrew traits within the text[13]

Mormons do ultimately confess that the main evidence and support for the Book of Mormon does not center upon history or language but upon faith that it is a divinely inspired document.

Mormon apologist Jeff Lindsay has compiled his own list Book of Mormon evidences.[14]

Contents

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ [15] is divided up into many sections or parts, including a Title Page, Introduction, The Testimony of Three Witnesses, The Testimony of Eight Witnesses, the Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, A Brief Explanation about The Book of Mormon, and the following main parts or divisions commonly referred to as "books," as in "The Book of Moroni," followed by the common abbreviation in parentheses: First Nephi (1 Ne.), Second Nephi (2 Ne.), Jacob (Jacob), Enos (Enos), Jarom (Jarom), Omni (Omni), Words of Mormon (W of M), Mosiah (Mosiah), Alma (Alma), Helaman (Hel.), Third Nephi (3 Ne.), Fourth Nephi (4 Ne.), Mormon (Morm.), Ether (Ether), Moroni (Moro.).

The first sentence of the Introduction is quite self-explanatory: "The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel." [16]

Other denominations

The Book of Mormon is accepted as Scripture by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and by other Latter-day Saints denominations, the largest of which, the Community of Christ (est. 1860), publishes its own versions of the Book of Mormon with different chapter and verse divisions and one with "modernized" language. Other Christian denominations, Catholic and Protestant, reject the Book of Mormon, considering it to be neither inspired nor ancient.

Theology of Book of Mormon

In contrast to later Mormon doctrine, the Book of Mormon teaches the following regarding the nature of God: 1) He has existed from eternity to eternity.[17] 2) His nature is unchanging.[18] 3) He is the only God.[19]

The doctrine of the Trinity is expressed clearly in 2 Nephi 31:21: “And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end.” Also Mormon 7:7: “. . . unto the Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which are one God, in a state of happiness which hath no end.” This clear teaching, however, is compromised by Mosiah 15:1–5, Mormon 9:12, and Ether 3:14. These passages present the sub-Christian doctrine of modalism wherein Jesus is the Father and the Holy Ghost; the three are just modes of appearance of the one God. Such confusion and contradiction of an essential doctrine in the Book of Mormon is evidence of either more than one author of the book or, if one author wrote all these passages, he was sorely lacking in theological understanding and insight.

That salvation comes by believing in Christ and that he died for our sins seems fairly well expressed by Mormon 7:5: “Know ye that ye must come to the knowledge of your fathers, and repent of all your sins and iniquities, and believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Son of God, and that he was slain by the Jews, and by the power of the Father he hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up.”

There are many other theological doctrines of a somewhat lesser importance that are addressed in the Book of Mormon. These include the mode of baptism, whether baptism was necessary for salvation, whether infants should be baptized, the “Restoration” idea that Christianity needed to return to its roots in the New Testament, and the doctrine of Universalism (false according to Alma 1:4). One of the leaders of the Restoration movement was Alexander Campbell, founder of the Disciples of Christ and a contemporary of Joseph Smith. Noticing that the hot issues under discussion in America in the 1820s and 1830s seemed to be all addressed in the Book of Mormon, he wrote:

This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his Book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in New York for the last ten years. He decided all the great controversies:—infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, the atonement . . . and even the question of free masonry, republican government and the rights of man.[20]

As explained at some length in what is probably the best-known biography of Joseph Smith, Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My History, discussions of Freemasonry were much in the news at the time the Book of Mormon was written.[21] In September of 1826 the owner of a printing press who was preparing a book that exposed the secret rites of Freemasonry was abducted from Batavia, New York. He was given a mock trial by Mason vigilantes and taken to Fort Niagara on the Canadian border, after which no more trace was found of him. When five prominent Masons were tried for the abduction, three were acquitted and the other two received sentences of less than a year. The public was outraged at this injustice, “and the Masons became the standing theme of conversation in field and tavern. . . The Democrats were appalled to count nineteen anti-Masonic conventions within twelve months and began to wonder if they might lose the election because their beloved Andrew Jackson was a Mason of high rank.”[22]

The controversy was introduced into the Book of Mormon in the form of the Gadianton Band, an evil group who had “their secret signs, and their secret words; and this that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant, that whatsoever wickedness his brother should do he should not be injured by his brother, nor by those who did belong to his band, who had taken this covenant. And thus they might murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country, and also the laws of their God.”[23] The Book of Mormon therefore took its stand on the burning question of the late 1820s: It declared that secret lodges were inherently evil and a threat to society. This is of particular interest because it was only a few years later that Joseph Smith, contrary to what was written in the book he had introduced, joined the Masons and introduced secret words, secret rites, and secret ceremonies to his followers, practices that are observed to this day in Mormon temples throughout the world.[24] This is one of the many areas where the LDS leadership, starting with Joseph Smith, diverged from the doctrines of their sacred book. Other examples are discussed in the "Conflict of the Book of Mormon Doctrines with Later LDS Doctrines" section.

In recognition of the fact that the Book of Mormon addresses theological and political issues that were at the forefront of debate in the early nineteenth century, some Mormon apologists have presented this as an example of God’s foreknowledge: God planned it so that the writers who wrote the original “Reformed Egyptian” text did not know it, but the issues they were writing about would be relevant to the society that would see the translation of their texts in a book to be published hundreds of years after the last chapter of their text was written and the plates were buried in Hill Cumorah.

Polygamy

The Book of Mormon forbids polygamy without exception:

Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord . . . Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife, and concubines he shall have none (Jacob 2:24, 27).
By their advocacy of the doctrine that the Book of Mormon is inspired by God and hence authoritative, the LDS Church is under the divine command to recognize anyone who practices polygamy must be labeled an apostate from the true faith. Polygamy, which is so degrading to women, is “abominable before me, saith the Lord.” The plain meaning of these verses was accepted without question in 1835 (the Book of Mormon was published in 1830), as shown by this entry in the first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants:
Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.[25]

This condemnation of polygamy was printed in every edition of the Doctrine and Covenants until 1876, at which time polygamy was authorized and the section condemning it was removed. There was, however, no attempt to change the text in the Book of Mormon, because too many copies had already been circulated.

How the change in doctrine to the acceptance of polygamy came about is explained by a letter written by Oliver Cowdery and dated January 21, 1838. Cowdery, one of the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, wrote the following about an conversation he had with Joseph Smith sometime in the early or mid-1830s:
When he [Joseph Smith] was there we had some conversation in which in every instance I did not fail to affirm that what I had said was strictly true. A dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger’s was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deviated from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself.[26]

Having been caught in adultery, Smith’s eventual recourse was, not to repent, but to declare that God gave him the extra wives. This explanation was formalized in a “revelation” supposedly given on July 12, 1843, by which time Smith had acquired many plural wives. He probably did not realize that, in justifying his actions by declaring a divine revelation, he was following in the footsteps of Muhammad, the false prophet of Islam. In surah (chapter) 4, verse 3 of the Qur’an, a man is allowed to have up to four wives and no more. For Muhammad, however, this eventually became too restrictive, and so he received a new revelation that he, as a prophet (but no one else) was allowed to have as many wives as he wanted (surah 33:50). The original revelation was countermanded or “abrogated” by the later revelation. Since this revoking and replacing happened so many times with Muhammad’s prophecies, the dogma of abrogation, where Allah contradicts and replaces what he said previously, has become an important doctrine of Muslim theology.

The same principle (abrogation) became operative in the LDS Church and continues to this day, so that the President of the Church, who supposedly has the authority of a prophet, seer, and revelator, can change any doctrine and the faithful are obliged to accept his authority to do so without question and without pointing out the inconsistencies with past doctrine. Thus polygamy, declared against the will of God in the Book of Mormon, became not only accepted but a virtue in the LDS church. The “revelation” that authorized the practice of polygamy among Latter-day Saints during the 19th Century is recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 132. John Taylor, third President of the Mormon Church, declared:
We are not ashamed here in this great metropolis of America * * * to declare that we are polygamists. We are not ashamed to proclaim to this great nation, to rulers and people, to the president, senators, legislators, judges; to high and low, rich and poor, priests and people, that we are firm, conscientious believers in polygamy, and that it is part and parcel of our religious creed.[27]
Instead of a sin against God (Book of Mormon), polygamy became an essential virtue. Brigham Young, Second President of the LDS Church, declared “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy."[28] And, in the Millennial Star: "The order of plurality of wives is an everlasting and ceaseless order, designed to exalt the choicest men and women to the most superlative excellence, dominion, and glory.”[29] Joseph Smith’s revelation about polygamy declared “For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant, and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory . . .”[30] Sin had become a virtue, and virtue a sin.


Succumbing to political pressure, however, the leadership of the LDS church eventually abrogated the “everlasting covenant” in which “if ye abide not that covenant, then ye are damned.” Polygamy reverted to its previous status as a sin: “Any who pretend or assume to engage in plural marriage in this day, when the one holding the keys has withdrawn the power by which they are performed, are guilty of gross wickedness. They are living in adultery, have already sold their souls to the devil, and (whether their acts are based on ignorance or lust or both) they will be damned in eternity.”[31] These reversals in doctrine show that Mormons are not expected to regard as their final authority the Book of Mormon or the Bible, but the changing doctrines of their leaders, whom they are expected to follow without question and especially without pointing out the inconsistency of Mormon doctrine over the years. As Jesus said,
Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’ (Mark 7:6, 7, ESV).

Conflict of Book of Mormon Doctrines with Later LDS Doctrines

The conflict of the Book of Mormon’s condemnation of polygamy versus Joseph Smith’s ability to completely countermand that principle in a book that he maintained was given by divine inspiration set a precedent that has continued to the present. In case after case, the LDS leadership has issued decrees that conflict with principles taught in the book that they teach their Sunday School students is inspired by God. Another case illustrating this is the doctrine of the immutability and uniqueness of God as set forth in the Book of Mormon (and of course also in the Bible).

In 1836, Lorenzo Snow became a convert to the Mormon faith. The new convert was caught up in the spirit that he sensed among his new friends, and in that spirit he made a quite startling declaration, that his new spiritual guide Joseph Smith would “become as great as you can possibly wish—EVEN AS GREAT AS GOD.”[32] In 1840 he also got caught up in a spirit and thought he was given a new revelation that affirmed his earlier prophecy, and which he summarized in a couplet: “As man now is, God once was: As God now is, man may be.” On April 7 1844, Joseph Smith publicly declared his support of Lorenzo Snow’s new doctrine in a sermon that is known as the King Follett Discourse. Contrary to all Scriptures in the Bible and the pseudo-scriptures of the Book of Mormon that teach the eternal and immutable character of God the Creator, Smith boldly announced a new understanding of who God is:

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! . . . I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea . . . . he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself! . . . you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.[33]

The “Adam-God” doctrine, which was later also preached by Brigham Young, is therefore another example of the leadership of the LDS movement introducing doctrines that were not compatible with their own scripture. The following table illustrates these and other cases where a new “revelation” by the LDS leadership demonstrated their lack of belief in the authority of the Book of Mormon.

Doctrines: Book of Mormon vs. the Mormon Church
BOOK OF MORMON Later LDS Doctrine
THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD. Alma 11:28–30: “Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he [Amulek] answered, No. Now Zeezrom said unto him again: How knowest thou these things? And he said: An angel hath made them known unto me.” There is a plurality of gods. Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) 121:32, 132:18–20, 37.
GOD IS A SPIRIT. Alma 18:26–28: “And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit? And he said, Yea. And Ammon said: This is God.” Also Alma 22:8–11. God has a body. D&C 130:22.
ONLY ONE CREATOR GOD. 2 Nephi 2:14: “for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.” Mormon 9:11: “But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.” Plural gods in creation. Pearl of Great Price, Book of Abraham, chs. 4 & 5.
GOD IS UNCHANGING. Moroni 8:18: “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” Mormon 9:9: “For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing? And now if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is a shadow of turning, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.” God “was once a man like us:” Joseph Smith, in his King Follett Sermon, also taught by Brigham Young.
DEATH SEALS MAN’S FATE. Mosiah 2:38, 39: “Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God . . . that mercy hath no claim on that man; therefore his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment.” Also Alma 18:32–33. Chance after death. D&C 76:106–112, 88:99.
AFTER THIS LIFE, EITHER HEAVEN OR HELL. Mosiah 16:11: “If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation.” Also Alma 41:5. Three kingdoms in heaven. D&C 76:43, 70-112.
POLYGAMY CONDEMNED. Jacob 1:15, 2:24, 3:5; Mosiah 11:2 (see above). Polygamy commanded. D&C 132:1, 37–39, 61.
AGAINST PAID MINISTRY. 2 Nephi 26:31: “But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish.” Mosiah 27:5: “Yea, and all their priests and teachers should labor with their own hands for their support.” For paid ministry. D&C 42:71–73; 43:12–13; 51:13–14.
AGAINST SECRET SOCIETIES AND THEIR OATHS. The Gadiantons had “their secret signs, and their secret words; and this that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant, that whatsoever wickedness his brother should do he should not be injured by his brother . . . and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the laws of their country, and also the laws of their God.” Also Helaman 8:1–4; 3 Nephi 6:28–30, and Ether 8:15–16, 22–26. Secret oaths, garments, and handshakes adapted from Freemasonry are a part of Mormon Temple ceremonies.


Changes in the Book of Mormon

Any discussion of changes that have been made in the Book of Mormon since its original edition in 1830 needs to take into consideration several statements made by the individuals involved in that original publication. These include 1) Joseph Smith; 2) The Three Witnesses: David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris who financed the printing; 3) The professional printer who produced the book from the handwritten manuscripts.

Testimony of Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith claimed that when he and the witnesses went out to pray concerning the printing that had been done, a voice spoke from heaven telling them that the translation was correct:

. . . we heard a voice from out of the bright light above us, saying, “These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear.[34] . . . I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth.[35]

Testimonies of Martin Harris, David Whitmer, and Oliver Cowdery

Martin Harris claimed that Joseph Smith received the translation directly from God and that the translation was perfect. George Reynolds, a member of the First Council of the Seventy, quotes the following from a letter to the Deseret News by Edward Stevenson:

Martin explained the translation as follows: By aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear and were read by the prophet and written by Martin, and when finished he would say, “Written,” and if correctly written, that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used.[36]

David Whitmer also described the translation process in such a way that it would be expected that the translation was such that every word that was written down was exactly as revealed by divine or angelic supervision:

I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the 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 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 with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.[37]

Testimony of the Printer

John Gilbert of Palmyra, New York, was the printer who worked from the manuscripts that were brought to him, doing the typesetting, printing, and binding to produce the book. Gilbert had the following to say about the restrictions that were placed on him regarding any changes as the book went to press:

Hyrum Smith brought the first installment of the manuscript . . . On the second day—Harris and Smith being in the office—I called their attention to a grammatical error, and asked whether I should correct it? Harris consulted with Smith a short time, and turned to me and said: “The Old Testament is ungrammatical, set it as it is written.” . . . Cowdery held and looked over the manuscript when most of the proofs were read. Martin Harris once or twice, and Hyrum Smith once . . . if there are any discrepancies between the Palmyra edition [i.e. the book as published] and the manuscript these men should be held responsible.[38]

George Reynolds quotes the following from an interview with Gilbert:

Gilbert: “Hyrum Smith always brought the manuscript to the office; he would have it under his coat, and all buttoned up as carefully as though it was so much gold. He said at the time that it was translated from plates by the power of God, and they were very particular about it. We had a great deal of trouble with it. It was not punctuated at all. They did not know anything about punctuation, and we had to do that ourselves.”

Reynolds: “Well; did you change any part of it when you were setting the type?”

Gilbert: “No, sir, we never changed it at all.”

Reynolds: “Why did you not change it and correct it?”

Gilbert: “Because they would not allow us to; they were very particular about that. We never changed it in the least. Oh, well; there might have been one or two words that I changed the spelling of; I believe I did change the spelling of one, and perhaps two, but no more.”[39]
Gilbert’s statement that he was not responsible for the grammatical and spelling mistakes in the first edition is verified by a photograph of a page from the hand-written original manuscript of the Book of Mormon.[40] In the photograph, the manuscript agrees with the printed 1830 copy in four places, places that were changed in subsequent printed editions.

Despite all the attestations from persons involved in the translation process that the wording of the original Book of Mormon was divinely supervised, a comparison of the present editions of the Book of Mormon with the original 1830 edition shows almost 4,000 changes.[41] Most of these changes are matters of spelling or grammar, which itself is inconsistent with the supposed supernatural supervision over all details of the translation process that was just described. Some changes, however, are more significant. An example of a change dealing with an error in the essential narrative is the change that was made in Mosiah 21:28, where the name of the king was changed from Benjamin (1830 edition) to Mosiah. The reason for the change was that, according to the Book of Mormon’s chronology, King Benjamin would have been dead at the time of Mosiah 21:28, and so this was corrected to give the then-current king, Benjamin. Modern LDS interpreters acknowledge the mistake, saying the error was in the original “Reformed Egyptian” from which the English translation was made. This raises the question: Why did not the divine agent who was supervising the translation process make the correction? Also, it is somewhat difficult to understand how Mosiah, the supposed writer of the original, would have been confused about who was a king in his time. A more logical explanation is that the nineteenth-century AD writer of this complicated narrative got temporarily confused in his cast of characters.

More serious are the changes that were thought necessary to some statements in the original 1830 version about the essential nature of God. Although the Book of Mormon sometimes presents the traditional Christian understanding of God’s Trinitarian nature, with three divine Persons who are one in their divinity but distinct in their personalities, the original edition of the Book of Mormon contradicts this doctrine (and itself) in other places.[42] If the Book of Mormon was so important to mankind that God supervised its original writing in a miraculous way, and then after many centuries had it revealed in a miraculous way to Joseph Smith, and in a further miracle supervised its translation into English, then we would not expect that God would do all these signs and wonders in order to reveal his truth to mankind if the “revelation” that was the object of the multiple miracles was misleading and self-contradictory in a topic as important as the very nature of God. Such confusion is more compatible with the theory that the Book of Mormon is the product of a nineteenth-century AD author or authors who had general knowledge of biblical themes but whoever supplied its doctrinal tenets was deficient in their understanding of the most basic tenets of the historic Christian (and biblical) faith.


Who Wrote the Book of Mormon?

To be supplied

Resources

Jerald and Sandra Tanner, 3,913 Changes in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, ND).

Notes and references

  1. The Book of Mormon; Title page since 1982: The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Original title page: The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi.
  2. "History of Joseph Smith," History of the Church Vol. 1
  3. A Treasured Testament, Russel M. Nelson, (Ensign, July 1993), 61.
  4. GospelDoctrine.com
  5. Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
  6. The Book of Mormon
  7. "Clyde J. Williams on the Three Nephites and the Doctrine of Translation," Thoughts on Gospel Doctrine Lesson 42, Deseret Book.
  8. A Short Introduction to the Book of Mormon
  9. [1]
  10. FAIR Wiki- Mormon Apologetic resource- Nahom
  11. [2]
  12. Chiasmus
  13. [3]
  14. [4]
  15. http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bm/contents
  16. http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bm/introduction
  17. Moroni 8:18: “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.”
  18. Moroni 8:18: “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.” Mormon 9:9: “For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing? And now if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is a shadow of turning, then have ye imaged up to yourselves a god who is not a god of miracles.”
  19. 2 Nephi 2:14: “for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.” Mormon 9:11: “But behold, I will show unto you a God of miracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same God who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.”
  20. Alexander Campbell, cited in Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946), pp. 69–70.
  21. Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 63–66.
  22. Ibid., 64, 65.
  23. Book of Mormon, Helaman 6:22, 23. See also Helaman 8:1–4; 3 Nephi 6:28–30, and Ether 8:15¬¬–16, 22–26.
  24. Michael W. Homer, Joseph’s Temples: The Dynamic Relationship between Freemasonry and Mormonism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2014).
  25. Doctrine and Covenants, section 101, verse 4.
  26. Letter written by Oliver Cowdery and recorded by his brother Warren Cowdery; see photograph in Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Mormon Kingdom (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1968), vol. 1 p. 27.
  27. The Life of John Taylor, Third President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by B.H. Roberts (Salt Lake City, 1892), 355.
  28. Journal of Discourses Vol. 2, p. 269.
  29. Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 226.
  30. Doctrines and Covenants, section 132.
  31. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1958 ed., pp. 522–23.
  32. Eliza R. Snow Smith, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1884), 10.
  33. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1976), 345–47.
  34. Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church (Salt Lake City: Deseret) Vol. 4, p. 54–55.
  35. <Ibid., Vol. 4, p. 461.
  36. George Reynolds, The Myth of the “Manuscript Found,” Or, the Absurdities of the “Spaulding Story” (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1883), p. 71.
  37. An Address to All Believers in Christ by David Whitmer (Richmond, Missouri: 1887), p. 12.
  38. Memorandum made by John H. Gilbert, September 8, 1829, Palmyra N.Y.; printed in Joseph Smith Begins His Works, Vol. 1, Introduction.
  39. Reynolds, Myth of the “Manuscript Found,” p. 59.
  40. Published in Francis W. Kirkham, A New Witness for Christ in America: the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Brigham Young University, 1959–1967), Vol. 1, p. 218.
  41. Tanners, 3,913 Changes.
  42. Examples are 1 Nephi 13:40 in the 1830 edition, “the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior” that has been changed to “the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior” in current editions. First Nephi 11:21 originally read “Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!” This has been changed to “Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!” Contrast this confusion of the Divine Persons with the correct understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity in 2 Nephi 31:21: “And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end.”

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