By John McCort
“We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is correctly translated; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God” (Joseph Smith, “Articles of Faith,” Article.8). “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book” (Joseph Smith, “A Compendium Of The Doctrines Of The Gospel,” p. 273.) “If the Book of Mormon is the word of God then it is to be accepted with equal authority . . . Yea with greater authority, since it purports to be not only the word of God, but translated into the English language by the power of God.
The Mormon attitude toward the Bible is utter blasphemy. Joseph Smith stated that the Book of Mormon would get a man closer to God than even the Bible. Orson Pratt, a prominent, early Mormon leader, stated, “All therefore, is uncertainty as to the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts of the Old Testament; they can be proved to be changed, added unto and corrupted in almost every text …. Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original” (Orsow Pratt’s Works, p. 217-218).
The Mormons actually claim that the Book of Mormon is far superior to the Bible since it was translated into the English language by the power of God. This claim to inspired translation into the English language will prove to be the Achilles’ heel to the claim of Mormon inspiration. Not only do they claim the original plates were inspired but he actual translation into the English language was inspired. This means that there can be no mistakes in the process of translation.
“By and of the seer stone, sentences would appear, were read by the prophet and written by Martin Harris, and when finished, he would say written, and if correctly written, that sentence would disappear and another would appear in its place; but if not written correctly, it would remain until corrected. So that the translation was just as it was engraved upon the plates precisely in the language it was written” (Testimony of David Whitmer, one of the original three witnesses to the Book of Mormon). “Until the writing was correct in every particular; the words last given would remain before the eyes of the translator and not disappear” (B. H. Roberts, “Brief History Of The Church”). Therefore they Mormons cannot even claim any transcribing errors and mistakes in English grammar.
Nearly 20,000 changes have been made in the Book of Mormon since the original 1830 edition. These 20,000 changes represent a staggering embarrassment to the claim of Mormon inspiration. Do the Mormons claim that God made 20,000 mistakes when helping Joseph Smith translate the Book of Mormon. These errors and changes are not merely typographical errors. These are errors in grammar and even some contradictions.
Here are just a few of the changes that have been made in the Book of Mormon. In the original 1830 edition, Alma 20:30 read, “. . . they had arriven . . .” It remained that way until 1920 when it was changed to, . . . they had arrived . . . ” Alma 46:19, in the 1830 edition; read, “. . . waving the rent of his garment in the air that all might see the writing which he had wrote on the rent.” In the 1908 edition it was changed to read, “. . . waving the rent part of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had written upon the rent part.” 1 Nephi 5:11, in the 1830 edition, read, “. . . Adam and Eve, which was our first parents. . . .” In the 1908 edition it was changed to; “Adam and Eve, who were our first parents. . . .” In the original edition, Alma 32:5 read, “. . . the one which was the most foremost among them.” In the 1908 edition, it was changed to “. . . the one who was the most foremost among them.” In 1920, the passage was again changed to read, “. . . the one who was the ( ) foremost among them . . .” deleting the word most.
Not only has the Book of Mormon been changed, the supposedly inspired “Articles of Faith” have been dramatically altered. 90 words from the original “Articles of Faith” have been deleted in the modern editions. Fourteen words have been added to the modern editions which were not in the original. Four words have been changed from the original, edition to the modern edition. Since the “Articles of Faith” are comparatively short; these changes represent some very substantial alterations. In the original “Articles of Faith” there were fourteen articles. In the modern edition there are only thirteen articles with number eleven being omitted in its entirety.
Portions Identical to the King James Version
There is something that is very strange about the Book of Mormon. The golden plates, from which the Book of Mormon was supposedly translated, were, according to the Mormons, written about 600 B.C. Yet one-eighteenth of the Book of Mormon is identical, word for word, to the 1611 King James Version of the Bible. The thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians is quoted word for word. An entire chapter out of the book of Isaiah is quoted. How is it that: the Book of Mormon, which predates the King James Version by nearly 2,000 years, could have precisely the same language word for word? Another strange thing is that there are no quotations from the American Standard Version of the Bible. Another item which is equally strange is that the Book of Mormon even quotes the words that are in italics (which were supplied by the King James Version translators). In the Bible, the words in italics are words which are supplied by the translators and are not in the original text. How is it that the Book of Mormon would be identical to the King James Version in parts, and even contain the italicized words supplied by translators nearly 2,000 years later? Some of these supplied words do not appear in any other translation? Surely the Book of Mormon is a fraud.
The Book of Mormon: Inspired or Not?
The Book of Mormon does not claim for itself to be inspired. “Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon the plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even they did err of old” (1 Nephi 19:6). “And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old; and the record of this people being kept on the other plates of Nephi, wherefore I conclude this record declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge” (Jacob 7:26). The alleged authors of the Book of Mormon make no claim to inspiration and even allow the possibility of error in the original plates. How then could it be superior to the Bible and the book by which people get nearer to God; even nearer than the Bible?
The Mormon claim to inspiration almost boggles the imagination. Its stupendous claim to be far superior to the Bible is one of deluded conceit if not utter blasphemy. It is, at the very least, a colossal fraud.
Truth Magazine, XX:7, p. 6-7
February 12, 1976