B O M
The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon
A. Isaiah 2:9, 10 - 2 Nephi 12:9, 10
B. Malachi 4:5, 6 - 3 Nephi 25:5, 6
Why I Believe, by Mormon writer George Edward Clark, pp. 122-123 states:
“Now, if Joseph Smith were a false prophet, an impostor, and wrote the Book of Mormon himself, quoting verbatim whole chapters from the Bible, he would have been inconsistent with his teachings, for in his eighth Article of Faith he said, ‘We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.’ Therefore, since he implied that our present King James version of the Bible is not all translated correctly, it is evident he would not copy what he professed was a mistranslation and embody that copy in a book which he purported to be a true record. The wording of those chapters, particularly the second chapter of Isaiah, differs greatly in the two books - one passage from each will suffice to illustrate:
“‘And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself: therefore forgive them not.’ (Isaiah 2:9)
“‘And the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not, therefore forgive him not.’ (Book of Mormon - 2 Nephi 12:9)
“It will at once be apparent that the latter translation has more clarity, is more consistent with itself, and bears witness of the fact that Joseph Smith did not copy the passage from the Bible, but suggests he translated it from God-inspired ancient records” - Bookcraft, Inc., Salt Lake City, 1952.
Notice how it is claimed that Joseph Smith did not copy from the King James Version (KJV) when he wrote the Book of Mormon (BOM) and therefore, it is claimed, the wording found in the Book of Mormon is an accurate wording of what the Bible originally said!
First we should actually examine the massive quotes of Old Testament scriptures found in the BOM. Yes, actually compare page after page of them with the equivalent verses found in the KJV. Page after page is identical. Even the many places where the KJV translators made obvious errors (either because of a less accurate text based on the relatively recent manuscripts that were used in those days or because of the limited knowledge of Biblical Hebrew by the translators of that time) are copied word for word.
And, with the discovery of very ancient manuscripts and the development of a more certain knowledge of the ancient Bible languages, the very few places where Smith made any significant changes from the KJV have invariably proven to be wrong. The above-quoted instances chosen by Clark make an excellent example.
It is very obvious that Clark is very wrong when he says that the writing of Isaiah as quoted in the BOM “differs greatly” from that found in the KJV ! All any interested person has to do is actually compare Isaiah chapters 2-14 with 2 Nephi chapters 12-24. Then compare any other translation of those very same writings of Isaiah (such as the New English Bible, or the Jerusalem Bible, or the New American Standard Bible). You can see that the odds against any two translators translating the same manuscripts in nearly identical wording are so astronomical as to be virtually impossible.
For example, the NASB, which has made a point of trying to retain the “traditional” wording and style of the KJV as much as possible in a modern translation, has translated Isaiah 12:1,
“Then you will say on that day, ‘I will give thanks to Thee, O LORD; for although Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, And Thou dost comfort me.’”
That compares with the NEB:
“You shall say on that day; I will praise thee, O LORD, though thou hast been angry with me; thy anger has turned back, and thou hast comforted me.”
Notice the attempt to retain as much as possible of the style and word choice found in the KJV. It is far from identical wording, nevertheless.
Now look at a translation that is less devoted to following the King James tradition but is, nevertheless, a scholarly translation of the manuscripts of Isaiah:
The Jerusalem Bible translates Is. 12:1,
“That day, you will say: I give thanks to you, Yahweh [Jehovah], you were angry with me but your anger is appeased and you have given me consolation.”
Now compare Is. 12:1 in the KJV and 2 Nephi 22:1 in the Book of Mormon:
KJV - “And in that day thou shalt say, O LORD, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.”
BOM - “And in that day thou shalt say: O Lord, I will praise thee; though thou wast angry with me thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.”
Notice that the only change, other than punctuation, is the change of capitalization in the name “LORD.” Here again Joseph Smith has made a change which is even farther from the truth than the KJV from which it was obviously copied.
As the KJV translators (and every other real Bible translator, even those who have followed in the KJV tradition) knew, the only personal name of the most high God ( %&%* [YHWH in Hebrew] or “Jehovah” in the usual English transliteration and “Yahweh” in probable Hebrew transliteration) appeared over 6000 times in the ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament. But the KJV translators translated it correctly in only a few places (e.g. Ps. 83:18 which reads identically in Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version). All the other 6000+ times it appeared in the ancient manuscripts, the KJV translators knowingly mistranslated YHWH (“Jehovah”) as “LORD” (notice that small capitals were used for the last three letters).
Yes, they kept the falsely translated “LORD” (in all capitals) to distinguish it from the Hebrew word that was honestly translated “Lord.” Therefore, any time you see “LORD” with all capitals in the KJV (also “GOD” with all capitals) you know the original manuscripts actually used the proper name of God: JEHOVAH (YHWH), and whenever you see “Lord” (with lower case letters) you know the original manuscripts actually used the Hebrew word that honestly means “Lord” (Adonai)! - (See p. 36 of LDS publication, Jesus The Christ, 1981 ed. for acknowledgment of this truth by the LDS Church.)
Some of the Bibles which honestly translate God’s name in all 6000+ places in the inspired scriptures: American Standard Version, Young’s Literal Translation of the Holy Bible, The Bible in Living English (Rotherham), King James II Version, and New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.
Now notice that the KJV (although purposely mistranslating “Jehovah”) at least shows that Isaiah actually wrote “Jehovah” (YHWH in Hebrew characters) in Is. 12:1 (not “Lord”) by using “LORD” (all capitals) there. (The NASB and the NEB quoted above also follow that dishonest tradition.) Joseph Smith, however, even took away the only distinguishing feature that informed the reader that “Jehovah” had actually been written by Isaiah and not the mistranslated “Lord”! Notice, he has removed the capitalization of the last three letters of that word and thereby indicated that Isaiah actually wrote the word which means “Lord” or “Master” in the Bible Hebrew instead of God’s Holy name: Jehovah (which means literally “He who proves to be” or “He who will be”).
And, although Joseph Smith properly used “Jehovah” at 2 Nephi 22:2, that only goes to prove that he copied from the KJV.
You see, Isaiah actually wrote “Jehovah” nearly 80 times in chapters 2-14 and yet the KJV translators purposely chose to mistranslate it (“LORD”) in every case except for one place in Isaiah 12:2. How could we possibly account for Joseph Smith mistranslating “Jehovah” as “Lord” nearly 80 times, and then, the one time he translates it correctly as “Jehovah” he does it in the one place in the first 14 chapters of Isaiah that the KJV translators, for whatever reason, also happened to correctly translate it?
It’s incredible, unless Joseph Smith was copying the King James Version, errors and all!
A simple, straightforward example of Smith’s copying KJV errors can be found at 2 Nephi 19:6 (Isaiah 9:6, KJV). The LDS publication, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, 1957 ed. by Hiram M. Smith of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, tells us about the words “Wonderful, Counselor” found at Is. 9:6 in the KJV:
“The comma which appears ... between these two words should be eliminated.” - p. 591. (See most modern Bibles.)
Modern Bible scholars admit that the KJV is improperly translated here and LDS Apostle Smith agrees in this LDS publication. And yet, Joseph Smith copied this very same KJV error into his BOM at 2 Nephi 19:6 and into his own Inspired Version of the Bible at Is. 9:6.
Now let’s look at another place where Joseph Smith deviated from the KJV. As shown by Clark, Mormons consider 2 Nephi 12:9 in modern editions of the Book of Mormon as not only the proper translation of Is. 2:9, but proof that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and the BOM was translated perfectly and is, therefore, the most accurate word of God available today.
Joseph Smith and the LDS Church have claimed that the Jews had the word of God in accurate form until the Catholic Church changed it starting in the 4th or 5th century A.D. (1 Nephi 13:23-28)
But modern discoveries, such as the Isaiah Scroll found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and dated from 100 B.C. to 200 B.C., show that Isaiah 2:9 reads the same in the manuscripts used by the KJV translators as it did even long before Jesus lived on earth (and, obviously, before the Catholic Church could have made any alterations).
Yes, Isaiah 2:9 reads the same now as it did in 100 B.C., at least! All the ancient manuscripts prove there has been no change. The two uses of “not” added by Joseph Smith were never part of Isaiah 2:9.
The KJV translators added a couple words to Is. 2:9. They evidently felt that something like “mean” and “great” were implied, so they added these words; they were not in the ancient Hebrew manuscripts. (See NIV, NEB, RSV, NAB, NWT, etc.)
How strange that Joseph Smith, nevertheless, not only thought that something like “lowly” and “elevated” was implied but just happened to choose to add the precise wording (“mean man” and “great man”) that had been improperly added by the KJV translators!
So we see that very often, when Smith copied the KJV verbatim, he copied translational errors or unjustified interpretations of the KJV translators. And when he changed the wording of the KJV, he usually changed it incorrectly!
Is. 2:8 (or 2 Nephi 12:8) helps us understand the intended meaning of Is. 2:9. Their land is full of pagan idols which they bow down to! It is not strange, then, that Is. 2:9 says these men are not to be forgiven because they either “bow down to” or “debase themselves with” (the Hebrew can have either meaning) these idols! Smith’s insertion of “not” destroys the intended sense of the original Hebrew! (Compare modern translations.)
Another examination of 2 Nephi 12:9 should be a comparison of the original (1830) edition of the BOM as Joseph Smith first wrote and published it (the very version he declared to be “the most correct of any book on earth”) and the modern edition of the BOM.
p. 87, 1830 ed. BOM: “and the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself not: therefore forgive him not.”
p. 74, 1977 ed. BOM: “And the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not, therefore, forgive him not.”
Someone (Smith himself?), in later editions, changed the BOM. Originally Smith had inserted only one “not,” and, although not in harmony with the ancient manuscripts or the obvious intended meaning according to context, it still makes a lot more sense than the changed modern BOM edition.
In the original Smith version we see the “mean man” does bow down. That means the “ordinary,” “lower class” man bows to something. Context shows, as we have seen, that false idols are being bowed to, but Smith must have misunderstood and is saying the “mean” (lowly in rank) man is bowing to GOD, and the great man humbleth himself not (to GOD). Otherwise the final statement would be senseless.
So, in his first edition, Smith says the ordinary man bows down (to God). And the great man, since he won’t bow to God, God will not forgive him. So, although greatly mistaken, Smith has made an understandable statement, at least, in the original 1830 ed.
But, after later editions changed the wording again, it was no longer even a sensible statement. The newer editions added another “not” but forgot to change “him” back to “them.” So now we have both the ordinary man and the great man not bowing down, and yet God will “forgive him not”!
However, if you want still another Smith version of this scripture, we can see Is. 2:9 in Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version of the Bible:
“The mean man boweth not down and the great man humbleth himself not; therefore forgive them not.”
Here is a more probable, more consistent rendering by the Living Bible:
“and idols - the land is full of them! They are man-made, and yet you worship them! Small and great, all bow before them: God will not forgive you for this sin.” - Is. 2:8,9, LB.
So God will not forgive either the great or the small (“mean”) man who have both bowed down (to false gods)! In spite of Joseph Smith’s different “inspired” versions of this verse and the LDS church’s changes of his “inspired” versions, they still (as of 1977, at least) haven’t translated it correctly!
The verse following Is. 2:9 is also revealing. The KJV at Is. 2:10 reads -
“Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD [Jehovah], and for the glory of his majesty.”
You will find that all Bible translations have that same basic meaning at Is. 2:10 because all the ancient manuscripts have those words in the original Bible language.
But Joseph Smith in the BOM wrote:
“O ye wicked ones, enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the Lord, and the glory of His majesty shall smite thee.” - 2 Nephi 12:10.
Notice that “O ye wicked ones” (and “shall smite thee”) has been added by the LDS prophet and has never been in the ancient manuscripts (which the Jews had “in purity” - 1 Nephi 13:25 - until after the time of Christ - 1 Nephi 13:26).
Significantly, this addition by Joseph Smith violates the rules of the Bible language as used by all Bible writers (whether the original writers or later Bible translators). Joseph Smith, at this point, apparently didn’t have a perfect understanding of the Elizabethan English (as used in the KJV) usage of “thee,” “thou,” “you,” “ye” and, therefore, erroneously used “ye” in his addition to this verse: “O ye wicked ones.”
The pronouns beginning with “y” (“ye,” “you,” “your,” “yours”) in Elizabethan English always refer to a plural “you.” The pronouns beginning with “th” (“thou,” “thee,” “thy,” “thine”) always refer to a singular “you.”
Therefore, when Isaiah said: “enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust,” he was addressing a single individual.
And when Joseph Smith added “O ye wicked ones,” he made it plural. So with this addition he destroys the original meaning of the sentence!
Apparently Joseph Smith was informed of this error because he later changed it in a different “inspired” work.
Now IF the BOM was inspired by God in the manner Joseph Smith claimed, it must be correct. So the BOM’s translation of Is. 2:9, 10 must be correct. However, we have already seen that it is not correct. Repeated changes by the LDS Church itself show this for Is. 2:9. Changes from the incorrect rendering of the BOM made in Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version also show that he recognized that something was wrong there.
Remember, in the BOM (1830 edition as well as recent editions) it says:
“O ye wicked ones enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the Lord and the glory of his majesty shall smite thee.”
However, Joseph Smith, in his Inspired Version translates Is. 2:10 -
“O ye wicked ones, enter into the rock, and hide ye in the dust, for the fear of the Lord and his majesty shall smite thee.”
He made an additional error here (the deletion of “the glory of” as written in the BOM). It, nevertheless, sounds better to the reader who speaks modern English. More importantly, though, he, in effect, admitted that the first use of “thee” in this verse in the BOM could not be used with the introductory “ye” that he had originally inserted into the text. But instead of removing his original error (“O ye wicked ones”), he changed the original text of Isaiah again by changing “thee” to “ye.”
At least by so doing he has made the introductory plural subject (“ye”) agree with itself (“hide ye”) in number, as it must to be correct.
However, in so doing he has made another error in Elizabethan English. “Ye” (like “thou”) must be used as the subject in a sentence. “You” (like “thee”), however, must be used as an object.
So “thee” in the original (and in the BOM) is correctly used as an object. To change it to the plural object form, Smith should have used “you” not “ye” (“and hide you [i.e. ‘yourself’] in the dust”)!
So once again the BOM changes have led us farther from God’s truth. Some other changes from the original publication of the BOM and the modern version (and there are many) are at 1 Nephi 20:1 where “or out of the waters of baptism” has been added to the original 1830 edition, p. 52. And, “which” in the original version has become “who” in modern versions. Yes, the original BOM published by Joseph Smith was nearly identical with the KJV at 1 Nephi 20:1 and later versions changed that.
Remember, Clark told us
“it is evident [Joseph Smith] would not copy what he professed was a mistranslation and embody that copy in a book which he purported to be a true record.”
Well, Joseph Smith tells us he knew the KJV had errors when, long before he wrote the BOM, an angel quoted Malachi chapter 4 differently from the KJV. Smith tells us the “correct” translation of Malachi 4:5, 6 as he learned it from the angel in 1823:
“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 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.” - Pearl of Great Price, p. 51.
- This is certainly strikingly different from the KJV!
So how did Joseph Smith “translate” and publish Malachi 4:5, 6 in his BOM seven years later? 3 Nephi 25:5, 6 tells us:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”
THIS IS IDENTICAL TO THE KJV (except for Smith’s usual change of the already mistranslated “LORD” to the even more erroneous “Lord”)!
So, to paraphrase Clark,
“it is evident [Joseph Smith] would [and did] COPY what he professed was a mistranslation and embody that copy in a book which he purported to be a true record.”
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“There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith...told the truth.... No man can reject that testimony..., for he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” - Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th Pres. of LDS Church, Doctrines of Salvation.