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Posts Tagged ‘BoM authenticity’

My final reason for leaving the Church in good conscience was the unraveling of my faith in the veracity of the Book of Mormon.  By its own admission, the Church and its claims to revelation fall apart if the Book of Mormon is a modern fabrication.

Many of the arguments against the BoM point to anachronisms in the text, the circumstances of its translation, the absence of archaeological evidence for the sizable and advanced civilizations it describes, recent DNA studies of Native American populations, etc.  Though many of these points are convincing, I find the text of the BoM itself to be the most damning argument against its veracity.

It is significant that the King James Version of the Bible is so readily found in the BoM.  Most members of the Church are well aware of the Isaiah chapters quoted in 2 Nephi and the near-quoting of Matthew in 3 Nephi.  Apologetic responses to the presence of the KJV—a translation of the Bible that was completed in 1611—appearing in a text that was supposedly completed around 400 AD typically take one of two forms:

  1. When Joseph came to sections during the translation process that mirrored the content/intent of KJV translations, he turned to what was the most widely-available and accepted translation of the Bible in his day.
  2. God is unchanging, so it should come as no surprise that his word appears the same whether recorded by Nephites in the Americas from 600 BC to 400 AD or Bible authors writing in the Near East.

Though either or both of these arguments may placate the fears of members or investigators who want the Church to be true, they are both weak upon further scrutiny.

Argument 1 first requires you to accept the idea that God would prefer the world’s “most correct book” to contain a flawed 1611 English translation of the Bible to an original inspired source.  Even if you grant that such a decision was made for consistency’s sake given that the KJV was the Bible in circulation in 19th century America, it runs into a wall when the KJV problem is fully displayed.  As demonstrated in the table I have compiled, the KJV is overwhelmingly present in the BoM.  The presence of New Testament phrases in every single book of the BoM puts to rest any appeal to Brass Plates (in a future post I’ll discuss how limited the Brass Plates would have been had they contained Old Testament writings up to 600 BCE).  Moreover, Joseph clearly couldn’t have turned to the KJV in just a couple major instances during the translation process.  The scope of the problem isn’t merely limited to 2 Nephi and 3 Nephi—the KJV finds itself throughout every book of the BoM in a pervasive way.

Argument 2 then becomes the default apologetic response once Argument 1 has been laid to rest.  Those who accept it as a valid explanation for the KJV verses in the BoM display an extremely limited understanding of how and when the Bible was originally written and how it was copied and translated leading up to the 1611 KJV.  Consider the number of scribes and copyists who stood between original authorship and the KJV.  The changes that occurred along the way, primarily in style and word choice (but in some cases in substance too), have been well-documented in comparisons of early manuscripts.  Refer to my table and consider what proponents of Argument 2 have to assert: that in each of these instances the BoM author chose the exact same words and style as authors that were separated from them by hundreds of years and thousands of miles.  Another strategy for addressing Argument 2 is to turn it back on the apologist—if God is unchanging and we have modern day prophets whose words are effectively scripture, the implication is that a talk given by Brigham Young on the law of tithing would be expected to contain the same style and word choice as a talk given by Gordon B. Hinckley on the same subject.

I don’t presume that addressing these apologetic arguments will change the minds of those who truly refuse to think critically and objectively about the BoM.  Most members have invested years of service and tens (or hundreds) of thousands of tithing dollars to the Church.  Social lives and family relationships often hinge on faithful Church attendance and a corresponding testimony in the BoM.  For those who are ready and willing to take the difficult step back and reexamine the BoM, however, the reliance of the BoM on the KJV is convincing evidence that the BoM was written sometime after 1611.

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