Friday, November 26, 2010

Book of Mormon Translation, and The Logical Conclusion



"The details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights. David Whitmer wrote: "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 principle scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another 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" (Apostle Russell M. Nelson, "A Treasured Testament," Ensign, July 1993, p. 61. Citing David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ p
12).

The story regarding the translation of the Book of Mormon as we have just read, is from a first hand account of what happened. And in this account of the translation process, there are several things to notice.

  1. Joseph Smith used his seer stone in part during the translation process
  2. In the darkness of his hat, a "spiritual light" would shine, and something like parchment would appear
  3. On the parchment would appear the character, and underneath that was the English translation
  4. The translation was told to Oliver Cowdery who would write it down
  5. Oliver Cowdery would then repeat what was written back to Joseph to see if it was correct
  6. Then, and only then, would the character disappear, and the next character appear

Those six points are not a disputed fact, they are not presented from a source that is biased against mormons, but from a mormon apostle, and recently. This was then published in the mormon magazine, "Ensign" and distributed.

So, since we read that Joseph Smith would see the reformed Egyptian character in his hat (which as a side note, no reformed Egyptian has ever been found to date), he would get the English translation underneath the character, and  he would then tell Oliver Cowdery, his scribe, and it was then repeated back, and since we read that this was by the power of God, the translation process of the Book of Mormon should be the most accurate translation process for any sacred book. This account indicates strongly that this was very much a word for word translation.

One more item to note is, while the writers of the Bible were moved by the Holy Spirit to write the words which they were given down, Joseph Smith was simply translating a record that was already there, and God Himself was supposed to be giving Joseph Smith a word for word translation. Remember, only when the word was written down by Smith's chief scribe, Oliver Cowdery, and repeated back to Joseph to ensure its accuracy, was the character to disappear, and the next one to appear.

If we couple this account, with the statement made: ""I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion,..." -- Joseph Smith (as quoted in HC 4:461)", we can see that this should absolutely be true. In fact, this account leaves no room for error in the translation process.

So if we take this account seriously, and take Joseph Smith at his word, what is it that we find?

1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon
1 Nephi 11:18
"And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin which
thou seest, is the mother of [. . . . ] God, after
the manner of the flesh

1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon
And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou
seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh."

1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon
1 Nephi 11:21
"And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the [. . . . ] Eternal Father!..."

1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon
"And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!..."

1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon
Mosiah 21:28 changed in 1964 ed.
"...king Benjamin had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings;..."

1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon
"...king Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings;..."

1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon
3 Nephi 22:4
"...for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, [. . . . ] and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more."

1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon
"...for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more."

1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon
3 Nephi 16:10
"and thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you at that day, When the Gentiles shall sin against my Gospel, and shall subject the fulness of my Gospel, and shall be lifted up..."

1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon
"And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel,[. . . . ] and shall be lifted up..."

1830 Edition of the Book of Mormon
1 Nephi 13:40
"...and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is [. . . . ] the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world..."

1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon
"...and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the World..."

This is but a small number of over 3,900 changes that have been recorded in the Book of Mormon. As you can see, these changes made by the church later, begs the question: Was it God who got it wrong when He was telling Joseph Smith the translation process? Or was it Joseph who got it wrong during the translation process?

The problem is, either of these two answers present huge problems for mormonism. If it was God who got the story wrong, then God is a God who is full of error, and mistake. A God who cant get even the simplest of details correct, and a God who contradicts His own nature which is to be perfection.And a god who is imperfect, is not all powerful, or all knowing, otherwise he would know he was making a mistake.

If it is Joseph who got it wrong, then how is it that the characters disappeared after being written down and repeated by his scribe, Oliver Cowdery? And if Joseph got these wrong, where did he get them wrong from? It cant be God if He is perfect, and if it is Joseph, this is the work of a man, and not of the power of God. So, which is it?

It also cannot be explained away that this account is not accurate, as it has been promoted by the apostles of the mormon church as a, "precious insight" into the translation process. Remember also, this has been published into mormon publications, such as the "Ensign" church magazine.

In conclusion, the mormon is faced with a serious dilemma. Do they trust an imperfect God? Or a man who obviously did not translate anything by the power of God, as he demonstrably is shown to have made numerous errors? Either conclusion is devastating, and no doubt a painful choice. Perhaps, this is the first time you have questioned anything from your church, or maybe for you this is just another inconsistency that you cannot answer.

My mormon friends, the answer will undoubtedly hurt, and be painful, but remember that even though the truth can be terrifying, and brutally hurtful, it is still truth, and we are told in the one and only Holy Inspired text, the Bible, that, "and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." John 8:32

I pray that you will take seriously these questions, and that you will turn to the God of the Bible, the one and true living God, and that He will draw you to Him.

Jamie

(changes taken from utlm 3,913 changes)

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