LDS and the bible vs BOM

Why is the bible the word of god only if translated correctly, whereas the book of Mormon is always the word of god?

'Cause they have to bend the meaning of the Bible to fit the BOM. Even then it doesn’t work. But I think you mean “interpreted correctly” rather than “translated” correctly. Even an educated atheist can translate correctly.

It is Joseph Smith who wrote the LDS Articles of Faith and codified “as long as it is translated correctly” as a LDS belief. Of course, he was re-translating the Bible to fit his religious ideas, so it stands to reason, he meant “as translated by Joseph Smith”. However, Brigham Young did not get possession of the JST after Smith’s murder, so his followers do not use the JST of the Bible, except as referenced footnotes in the LDS version of the KJV and a few chapters of select text that are canonized in LDS scripture.

The argument here is that the Bible has been through multiple translations to get to English, whereas the BoM has only been “translated” once from a “tamper-free source”.

The questions now become:

  1. Where are the source documents to verify accurate translation as we can with the Bible manuscripts? Why must the BoM’s accuracy be a matter of faith when the Bible’s is not?

  2. Why should we consider staring at stones in a hat behind a drape to be translation of the “plates?” Furthermore, why has the LDS church gone to great lengths to obfuscate that fact, depicting Smith as translating from plates in all their art found in the Ward buildings? Should that affect credibility if methodology is something obscured instead of clarified openly?

At the end of the day; translation of the BoM, even in the loosest of terms - is not something that really fits. At best is is more similar to Muhammad’s claims of being given the Quran chapter by chapter, this is not translation. At worst, we can call it plagiarism, which is still not translation…

As you can read in their own articles of faith the word used is “translated” not “interpreted.”
[quote=The Articles of Faith
] 8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

You’ll also note that in the JST, the sections that are “corrected” by him that match up with verses in the BoM teaching the exact same things - are in “error” as they (the BoM) verses retain the original KJV wording and do not reflect the JST.

Most LDS folk would allow “translated and interpreted correctly” even if the official AoF only says translated. Of course they would be speaking of LDS interpretation. Also, most LDS folk would accept that the BoM might have errors. The end of the title page of the BoM admits as much: “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.” The BoM is often touted as the “most correct” book, but not a perfectly correct book.

Re: “As far as it is translated correctly” caveat on the Bible. Because the Bible should be translated correctly! :). Would you trust just any translation provided a dude that happens to speak a little greek? Neither would I, hence my reliance on much studied KJV (though other translations can be good too).

Re: lack of that caveat on the Book of Mormon. (Speaking as a believing Mormon here) There was only one translation of the Book of Mormon into English, made possible by God through the prophet Joseph Smith. God made sure that the translation was done correctly. I do realize that such matter of faith seems strange to non-Mormons, but it is a matter of faith.

I would agree that, in addition to having a good translation of scripture in English (or whatever tongue), one must also interpret that scripture correctly to properly understand the Word of God. And by “interpret” I mean to take the words from written English and translate them into your own thoughts (“Jane-Doe-ese” or whatever your-name-ese)

But, you can’t test the reliability of that translation, and the Book of Mormon has been changed from Smith’s original, in a manner that changes its interpretation. Was Smith’s pure translation done correctly, or are the changes the “most correct” version?

So sure, faith is very important, but our ability to reason is also a gift from God. Both work together.

Yeah, I see Smith-ese as an improper interpretation.

And that is you right (to state the 300%-obvious). People are entitled to have different views, and have their views respected.


Just because one feels entitled doesn’t mean they’re right!

Lol! Too true!


Welcome to the forum.

I echo what Stevenrushing (and Jane_Doe) already said.
LDS do not hold to inerrancy (of the Bible or BOM) the way Catholics and Protestants do. LDS like Catholics also do not hold to “sola scriptura.” If we were to get more in the grass, many LDS use the standard works as “materially sufficient,” but not “formally sufficient” though I am not sure I have heard them say this (only seen evidence that they work from this premise). I lean this direction myself.
LDS leaders and most LDS apologists have at least recently leaned away from pointing to errors in the Bible. My view is that the simplistic notions of Biblical inerrancy present today and popular even among most folks (scholars and leaders of churches with some Catholic inclusion and some Catholic exclusion) in the 1800’s are at odds with the evidence. More complex notions of Biblical inerrancy (concerning faith and morals, in the original autographs, …) are quite defendable.
BTW, as mentioned above, one cannot compare the text of the BOM to the gold plates. This is certainly true. But the more complex notions of Biblical inerrancy involving autographs suffer a lesser but similar problem: there are no autographs in existence. The explosion of manuscripts mitigates significantly this problem for the Bible, but there are trivial (IMO) matters that cannot be resolved with certainty (when attempting to reconstruct the autographs).
Charity, TOm

At least we know the Bible came from real human experience. Not like the Book of Mormon or Koran, that come out of no where. At least it was originally written in known languages, and we have contemporary documents in those same languages. At least we have a continuous line of cultures and people who handed on the teachings and documents of the Bible, rather than it just falling out of the sky.

Textual criticism, involves looking at the content of the Bible in the context of where it came from. Culture, time, history, etc. It’s impossible to put the Book of Mormon in the context of culture, time or history. Unless you have evidence of pre-Columbian, practicing Jews, in a Hebrew-based religious culture, you just have what you believe.

With the discovery of ancient scripture, in multiple places, that can be compared and translated using modern methods, this gives us modern translations that are superior to the KJV. There is no such thing for the Book of Mormon.

We can base our faith in reality, not fantasy.

Textual criticism, involves looking at the content of the Bible in the context of where it came from. Culture, time, history, etc. It’s impossible to put the Book of Mormon in the context of culture, time or history. Unless you have evidence of pre-Columbian, practicing Jews, in a Hebrew-based religious culture, you just have what you believe.

With the discovery of ancient scripture, in multiple places, that can be compared and translated using modern methods, this gives us modern translations that are superior to the KJV. There is no such thing for the Book of Mormon.

We can base our faith in reality, not fantasy.
OK! I hardly think I base my faith in fantasy, but if such classifications are important to you I can understand why you make them.
Concerning the “Culture, Time, History, …”:
I have frequently pointed to Sorenson’s “geography model.” In doing so I have only rarely mentioned the work of ethnohistorian Brant Gardner. Brant takes the BOM and places it in Mesoamerica (certainly informed by Sorenson), but then finds that overlaying what we know of the culture of Mesoamerica with his reading of the BOM illuminates the text. Here are his words:

It has been a fascinating project and in some ways a blind leap of faith. Considering my background in Mesoamerican religious ethnohistory and Sorenson’s foundational work, I determined to read the text against a Mesoamerican historical and cultural background. When I started, I didn’t know if it would work, but I began as though it would. I soon found that whenever I attempted to look ahead I was going to be wrong. I had to plug along a verse at a time. It was not so much a process of fitting the Book of Mormon into a Mesoamerican setting as it was the text opening my eyes to the world in which it was written. The authors had to tell me their story; I couldn’t impose one on them. Why did the people in the Book of Mormon have the specific problems they had? Why did Nephite apostasy always take a very similar form? Why was victory defined so differently from my understanding of European history? Why did some faith-promoting stories in the text make so little sense if you looked at the story carefully? The authors seemed to patiently explain how their particular culture at their particular time provided the background that seemed to naturally answer such questions. Of course, I mean that metaphorically. The text, seen through the plodding and gradual travel through time and space, was not only a different kind of fit than I had imagined, it was a better one.
Brant’s work has become a 4 volume commentary on the BOM, but back when he was a frequent poster on ZLMB and other sites he put out his first draft. It is here:
Anyway, I agree with the idea that the BOM and the Bible are known through our interaction with God and the text not through our interaction with artifacts and the text. That being said, proving the Bible is an accurate historical text does little for demonstrating that God spoke to Moses or even that Christ was the Son of God (the Bible was written by human hands and copied by human copyists hopefully with divine over site). But demonstrating that the BOM fits remarkably well into 2nd Temple Judaism (see the works of non-Mormon Margaret Barker) and then into Mesoamerica goes a long way towards demonstrating that the BOM is a miraculous text as there is no naturalistic path for the reception of the BOM.
Charity, TOm

Yeah, I view the BoM as fantasy. Haven’t seen reason to not.

This, what you’ve posted, is like reading FAIR. No one can follow it, you know? Too many leaps and bounds.

except when it doesn’t. We do have evidence that the BoM has a “naturalistic path” for “reception.” it’s called plagiarism of the books View of the Hebrews, The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain of which more regarding the similarities can be read about here in this link, The First Book of Napoleon, and of course the KJV of the Bible.

Compare the beginning of The First Book of Napoleon with the beginning of the Book of Mormon:

[quote=The First Book of Napoleon]Condemn not the (writing)…an account…the First Book of Napoleon…upon the face of the
earth…it came to pass…the land…their inheritances their gold and silver and…the
commandments of the Lord…the foolish imaginations of their hearts…small in
stature…Jerusalem…because of the perverse wickedness of the people.

[quote=Book of Mormon]Condemn not the (writing)…an account…the First Book of Nephi…upon the face of the
earth…it came to pass…the land…his inheritance and his gold and his silver and…the
commandments of the Lord…the foolish imaginations of his heart…large in
stature…Jerusalem…because of the wickedness of the people.

So, yes, historicity of the scriptures matters. Otherwise they could simply be copies of existing texts that are given “minor adjustments” and interspersed with actual scriptures so that they can be sold off as an “inspired work” or in this case, a “miraculous revelation.”

While the above examples do severely damage the credibility of Smith’s claims to being a “translator” that can all be undone by allowing the plates to be viewed and the linguistics analyzed and translated. If they match the BoM as it is today with little deviation then it would be difficult to deny the authenticity of the find, and then Smith’s ability to “translate” by looking at a stone in a hat behind a curtain would be a true miracle! But we all know this won’t happen.

We also know that Smith failed twice in attempts to translate again. Once with the Kinderhook plates and again with the Book of Abraham (BoA). In the case of the latter, since the Egyptian Hieroglyphs can now be read, we know his translation of the images to be false. We also know that the rest of the papyrus matches nothing found in the BoA as it sits in the Pearl of Great Price (PoGP is accepted as scripture and included in the combination scripture sets sold by the LDS Church). In the case of the former we know the kinder hook plates to be a hoax as the testing of the metal showed it to be a 1800’s fabrication and thus Smith’s claim of authenticity and subsequent translation to be a fabrication.

So, if he fabricated the Kinderhook plates translation and the facsimile translation of the BoA, why then should we believe the BoM as an authentic translation, especially when there is evidence suggesting it may have indeed been a fabrication using plagiarism? If reason is given to us from God, to avoid being deceived, why should we abandon reason in the face of evidence and accept the BoM as true? After all, faith is belief in something when there is an absence of evidence. In this case, the BoM does indeed have an absence of evidence to support it - but there isn’t a total absence of evidence all together. There is, in this, case evidence speaking to the contrary of the BoM’s authenticity. There is a term that means believing something when there is evidence to the contrary, but faith isn’t it.

Some people get really into historicity of scriptures. Like my sister, who has a degree in middle-eastern history, has been to Jerusalem, and all that. She’ll show me pictures of things and… truthfully I get really bored. I just don’t find God in a photograph as a supposed tomb site. I don’t find God in an old manuscript. Yes, this could be evidence that a guy name Jesus lived, as did a guy named Herod… but know of that proves to me that this guy named “Jesus” is the divine Son of God and my Savior.

So yeah, historicity arguments for/against any set of scripture really bore me, cause that’s not how I find God. Rather, I find God in what I see today, what I see in me: what I see in the world around me that I touch, feel, smell, taste, and sense. All my senses, all my logic, my heart, my scriptures, the spirit: they are all covered in fingerprints of God. And those fingerprints paint a story of a loving Father, a creator, and someone so passionate about creation that He would do anything to save it. That’s where I find God.

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