This video clarifies possible issues with Biblical passages found in The Book of Mormon. It addresses the following questions: Did Joseph Smith just plagiarize from the Bible? Why were some passages changed in the JST but the same passages were not changed when the The Book of Mormon was first translated? How did Biblical passages actually get transcribed into The Book of Mormon? And If the scholars who claim Isaiah to be written by multiple authors, some of which wrote after Lehi left Jerusalem, then how did those parts of Isaiah end up in The Book of Mormon?
Okay, today’s video we’re going to be talking about biblical passages in the Book of Mormon, some of the challenges with it.
If you’ll look on the screen there are four things we’ll talk about. Was Joseph plagiarizing the Bible by putting it in the Book of Mormon? Two, changes later made in the Joseph Smith Translation weren’t made earlier in the Book of Mormon. Three, how did Bible passages get into the Book of Mormon? And then fourth, the Isaiah problem. If multiple Isaiah authors and if part was written after Lehi left Jerusalem, then it wouldn’t have been on the brass plates.
So, first of all, about plagiarizing the Bible. Only about 7% of the Book of Mormon are biblical passages. So, we have to say, if Joseph could do 93%, he obviously could do 100%. And why would he put things in there to deceive with passages that his readership would clearly be able to identify?
I love a quote from Hugh Nibley, we’ll put on the screen here. He said, “They screamed blasphemy and plagiarism at the top of their lungs, but today any biblical scholar knows that it would be extremely suspicious if a book purporting to be the product of a society of emigrants from Jerusalem in ancient times did not quote the Bible. No lengthy religious writing of the Hebrews could conceivably be genuine if it was not full of scriptural quotations.”
To quote another writer of Christianity Today, the magazine, “Passages lifted bodily from the King James Version and that it quotes not only from the Old Testament, but also the New Testament as well.” “As to the passages lifted bodily from the KJV,” Nibley went on to say, “How else does one quote scripture if not bodily? And why should anyone quoting the Bible to American readers of 1830 not follow the only version known to them?”
In fact, if you look in the Bible, about 10% of Jesus’ daily communications were actual quotes, literally, from the Old Testament. Even modern day translators, or scholars, working on the Dead Sea Scrolls have used the King James translation of the Bible, some of them up to 90% of the scroll was actual King James Version translations. Only differences were there were identified spots within the manuscripts, Hebrew manuscripts.
Also, there’s interesting changes on the differences between the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus gave to the Nephites versus that in Jerusalem. And [inaudible 00:02:23] went through and identified the differences. And some of the ones that were, I thought, just two examples that were great. One was where Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs are the kingdom of Heaven.” To the Nephites he added, “Who come unto me.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me.”
Then also, where he said, “Blessed are those that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” In the Book of Mormon, it says, “They shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.” So, just some examples of things that were added along with those biblical passages.
Now, the next topic about things changed in the JST. First of all, things that changed in the JST that were verses that were biblical passages in the Book of Mormon, there wasn’t anything material that was changed in there.
Also, the Joseph Smith Translation was more of, you could say, a commentary in a sense. That it was a more educated, mature, and sophisticated Joseph translating those. He also had a very flexible view of scripture. For example, in D&C 128:18, when he quoted Malachi. He said, after quoting Malachi in section 128 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the quote was, “I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands.” Then he went on and talked about some doctrine related to that.
Brigham Young also said, here’s a great quote, he observed that, “Should the Lord Almighty send an angel to re-write the Bible, it would in many places be very different from what it now is. And I will even venture to say that if the Book of Mormon were now to be re-written, in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation.”
Now, Joseph said that the Book of Mormon was the correct, most correct book of any book on earth. But there were still, even on the title page of the Book of Mormon, it states that, “Now if there are faults, they are mistakes of men.” There.
So, moving to the third topic is how did we actually get the Bible in the Book of Mormon?
Now, the one challenge with this approach are several of the witnesses of the translation talked about Joseph not having any material with him throughout the translation process. In fact, Emma said, “He couldn’t have had anything, I would have seen it. He couldn’t have hid such a thing from me.”
So, another possibility could have been the Lord inspiring him through the seer stone with these passages. We’re told in John that the Lord can bring things to our remembrance and inspire us, especially with spiritual matters. So, these verses could have been brought through the seer stone in either a very tight word for word way or more of a looser way that allowed Joseph also to put it in to the verbiage of the day, the terminology, the King James English that he was using at that time.
Okay, the last thing to talk about is the Isaiah problem. And the challenge with this is that some scholars believe that there were sections of Isaiah possibly written by a different author after 600 B.C., after Lehi left Jerusalem. So, it couldn’t have been on the brass plate, so to speak.
And some of the big reasons they think that, scholars believe, is because there’s mention of Babylon, the Babylonian captivity, and then also Cyrus who saved the Jews, essentially, by conquering Babylon in 539 B.C. So, a few of these things are mentioned. So, that’s one of the biggest reasons. There’s also some style differences and some vocabulary differences. But those have been really inconclusive, realistically. So, the focus is on these historical settings.
There are some possible ways to look at this. One is that there could have really just been one Isaiah. And then you really don’t have a problem with this being in the Book of Mormon. It was there on the brass plate. Another way to think of this is there could have been an original Isaiah that was then tweaked a little bit by future redactors or editors that put some things in. Especially Cyrus the Great, they may have said, “Hey, this was the redeemer that Isaiah was talking about.” And then they put that in there. Cyrus is not in the Book of Mormon, but Babylon is.
Now, Babylon was often thought of as the way to escape. We want to escape from Babylon. That was an important concept for people in the Book of Mormon, as well as for the latter days, which is what the Book of Mormon was really for. And if you look at these chapters that were in the Book of Mormon, that were part of this later Isaiah, possibly, that was considered chapters really 40 through 66, possibly after Lehi left Jerusalem. It was chapters 48 through 52. And if you look specifically at those in the Book of Mormon, they have to do with fleeing from Babylon, but particularly about the latter day gathering of Israel.
So, I think the Lord really wanted to have that in the Book of Mormon. And so, he could have easily gotten it into the Book of Mormon through showing Joseph on the seer stone that these needed to be there in the language of the day, the King James translation. And so, a way for that, and another scripture:
D&C 1:24, “Behold, I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.”
And then Joseph said, “This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted, by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed.”
And then I would like to finish with one last scripture that was in Ether 12:25. Where Moroni was talking about the struggle in writing and how people may mock them down the road as they read some of these things.
Verses 25 and 26 of Ether 12, “Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness, and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words. And when I had said this, the Lord spake unto me, saying: fools mock, but they shall mourn; and my grace is sufficient for the meek, that they shall take no advantage of your weakness.”
I hope you enjoyed the video and I hope it helped a little bit.
FairMormon website – many sub topics covering this area of study: https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Bo…
Latter-day Saints’ Q&A is a video series not produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but by me, an ordinary member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an independent voice, with a passion for studying Church history and defending the faith. In this series, I provide evidences for the restoration, and address tough questions posed by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offering faithful answers based on accurate research and historical references which will be posted at the end of each video.