Search, Ponder and Pray
Growing up in the church, I was always taught to read the scriptures every day and study them. Ironically, it was studying the scriptures that casted the first doubts about the validity of the Book of Mormon.
I remember reading in the Book of Mormon certain chapters in 3 Nephi that were very similar to verses I had read in the New Testament. My initial reaction was that it was a testament of how both the Bible and the Book of Mormon are inspired works that Jesus would teach the same thing on the American continent that he did in Palestine.
Beginning of the End
However, when I cross referenced the chapters, I realized that the chapters were not just similar, they were exact word-for-word replicas. For example, 3 Nephi chapters 12-14 are word-for-word copies of the King James version of Matthew chapters 5-7.
As I read and compared the 2 books, I found it quite disturbing, as we are led to believe in the church that the Book of Mormon is a direct translation with the divine help from God from the Gold plates. In the LDS church, we are also led to believe that the Bible has all kinds of translation errors and the the Book of Mormon is there to clarify plain and precious things that have been removed from the scriptures as stated in 1 Nephi 13:28.
However, it was evident to me that Joseph Smith used sections of the King James version of the Bible and inserted them into the Book of Mormon. He didn't even try to hide this apparent plagiarism as the verses were pretty much all identical.
Joseph Smith Translation
According to the LDS church regarding the Joseph Smith Translation:
The Lord inspired the Prophet Joseph Smith to restore truths to the Bible text that had become lost or changed since the original words were written. These restored truths clarified doctrine and improved scriptural understanding.Joseph Smith felt it necessary to re-translate parts of the Bible. The term 'translate' is used loosely by the church and can have various meanings, but keep in mind that this transpired years after the the Book of Mormon was published. The Joseph Smith translation is not canonized in the LDS church, but is footnoted in LDS published versions of the King James Bible. The Joseph Smith Translation is also known as the "Inspired Version" of the Bible and is canonized as scripture by the Community of Christ, formerly known as the RLDS.
One example of these "re-translations" is found in Matthew 6:13, where the King James Version reads:
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil..."
The Joseph Smith translation reads:
"And suffer us not to be led into tempation..."
It is also footnoted in the LDS bible that the Syriac translation reads
"Do not let us enter into temptation."
This is a very important doctrinal change, as explained by the JST contents that the Lord does not lead us into temptation and therefore the King James version had a translation error.
Book of Mormon Equivalent
However, 3 Nephi 13:12 reads the same as the KJ version:
"And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil"
Book of Mormon: The Most Correct Book?
Now how is it that we are to believe that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book and that the Bible is flawed with translation errors, when parts of the Book of Mormon are exact copies, even including the translation errors from the King James version of the Bible. Then, after that, Joseph Smith is able to further clarify biblical passages by re-translating the verses to conform with the teachings, meanwhile, the Book of Mormon, which was supposed to be the most correct book still contains the exact same errors.
Discovering this shocked me and scared me and I stopped cross-referencing the scriptures from that moment on. I made myself believe that if I just kept reading the scriptures, praying and feeling the "confirmation from the spirit" that it was a much better way for me to know the truthfulness to the scriptures. I guess that I was simply following the first 2 of 6 ways that people deal with cognitive dissonance, as I talked about in a previous post.
Looking back, this discovery did not stop me from going on my mission, but it was the first Jenga piece as described in a previous post that ultimately led to my disillusionment.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Search, Ponder and Pray