Book of Mormon/Translation Errors from the KJV

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Translation errors in the King James Bible appearing in the Book of Mormon

Summary: Critics wonder why many of the quotes from Isaiah in the Book of Mormon are identical to the King James version. The Book of Mormon incorporates text which seems to be taken from the King James Version, including passages which are now considered to be mistranslations in the King James Version. If the Book of Mormon is an accurate translation, some claim that it shouldn't contain these translational errors.


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Question: If the Book of Mormon is an accurate translation, why would it contain translational errors that exist in the King James Bible?

Introduction to Question

The Book of Mormon contains quotations from the King James Version of the Bible. These quotations contain what are now considered by some scholars and critics to be translation errors on the part of the translators of the KJV. Thus the Book of Mormon includes some potentially erroneous elements in its translation. Some critics believe that the errors are evidence of plagiarism on the part of Joseph Smith in creating the Book of Mormon. The author of the CES Letter, Jeremy Runnells, asks "[w]hat are 1769 King James Version edition errors doing in the Book of Mormon? A purported ancient text? Errors which are unique to the 1769 edition that Joseph Smith owned?"[1] Other critics ask “if the Book of Mormon is ‘the most correct book of any on earth,’ why would it contain translational errors that exist in the King James Bible?”[2]

There are actually five separate questions that will almost certainly arise when confronting and dealing with the KJV translation errors in the Book of Mormon:

  1. The first is whether the claimed "translation errors" are actually errors.
  2. The second question is whether the translation errors give evidence that Joseph Smith was plagiarizing from the King James Bible in order to create the text of the Book of Mormon.
  3. The third question is whether the Book of Mormon's translation errors change the meaning of the text so drastically as to mislead the reader into bad understandings of God. Joseph Smith declared that the Book of Mormon was the most correct book on earth not because it contained no translation errors, but because by following what the Book of Mormon teaches, a person would get closer to God and his nature than by reading any other book. The critics above are almost certainly concerned with the mere presence of translation errors, but they misunderstand what Joseph Smith meant when he said that the Book of Mormon was the "most correct book". Latter-day Saints and others interested in the Book of Mormon are (or, perhaps, should be) concerned with the book's ethical and/or theological message and whether these translation errors alter the quoted passages' meaning in a way that makes the ethical/theological message of the respective passages erroneous.
  4. The fourth is why God would allow the text of the Book of Mormon to contain translation errors.
  5. The fifth question that will arise as one progresses through the entirety of this article is if the observations the author will make about this criticism and the theology of translation the author subscribes to are unorthodox or creating a version of Mormonism that doesn't or cannot exist.

We'll deal with these questions roughly in order. We'll start with the question of plagiarism and then get into the first, third, fourth, and fifth questions.

Response to Question

We Don't Have the Original Manuscripts of the Biblical Text. Even If We Did, There's Doubt that the Book of Mormon's Translation Would Be in Error

Before all else we write in this response, we should note that we do not have any of the original manuscripts of the Bible. Modern translations of the biblical text we have today come from the earliest known copies of the original manuscripts that are available to the translators at the time of their respective translation. Any claim that the Book of Mormon makes use of an "erroneous" translation of the King James Bible is going to be at least mildly suspect for that simple fact. We do have copies of the manuscripts and they may reproduce the text of the originals reliably, but there's no reason to be certain. There's good reason to doubt it including the fact that the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith teach that the extant biblical manuscripts don't accurately reproduce the original text.[3] It should be noted that we also do not intend to claim that the Book of Mormon necessarily preserves the original, pristine version of the biblical texts it quotes, alludes to, etc. In some cases, we simply can't know whether it does. Further, who's to say that the original manuscripts are better than either the King James or Book of Mormon translations? Speaks with more clarity and more accurately conveys what the biblical authors meant to communicate? What if the King James and Book of Mormon versions make the biblical authors they translate/quote clearer than the original biblical authors were in their original writings? Or correct other errors in their communication? What if the original authors meant to write one thing and wrote another? Do we really consider that a "translation error" then? If "translate" is being defined as merely "reproducing the text produced in one language in a different language" then perhaps yes we would consider the KJV/Book of Mormon translation as erroneous. However, translation is a much broader concept and can include expounding on the text and making amendments to either clarify the intent of the author or make the translation more readable and comprehensible to the translator's audience. The 1828 edition of Webster's Dictionary, which contains the definitions of words as they would have most likely been used by Joseph Smith, has no less than 7 different definitions of the word 'translate' that include such things as conveying or transporting an object or person from one place to another, changing, and explaining on top of merely rendering something in a new language.[4]

We often forget that there are three layers we have to identify and uncover when wanting to understand a text: what's in the author's mind and what he or she intended to write, what is actually written, and our own definitions of words which impact how we interpret what an author writes. Those definitions of words can sometimes be culturally separated from the original author such that we misinterpret what the author wrote. Sometimes the author doesn't write what he or she intended to communicate. With a translated text you add a fourth layer to identify and untangle from the other three which is the translation itself and what relation it has to its source text. Sometimes a translator has his or her own objectives, quirks, and other philosophies about translation that can either clarify or obscure the meaning and content of the source text. There's a sense in which we can never uncover the author's intentions because the mind is by its nature a private, subjective experience. We have to rely on the text that authors produce to accurately convey what is in their mind, but sometimes it doesn't do that because perhaps the authors weren't careful enough. We know that peoples of any culture are going to have culturally-conditioned definitions of words and sometimes we aren't able to learn enough about that culture so as to uncover the original definitions of words as the original authors of a text understood them. Thus there may be errors and we wouldn't know it and the supposed errors may not be errors at all and we wouldn't know it.

The most that we can say is that based on current manuscript evidence and scholarship, some of the King James translation of the Bible paralleled in the Book of Mormon is considered erroneous by some scholars and critics based on several questionable and either nearly or completely unverifiable assumptions. We can go no further.

With that, let's get to answering the questions listed above. We'll assume (just for the sake of argument and to satisfy our critics as much as possible) that the manuscripts of the biblical texts that we translate from today accurately reproduce the text of the Bible as written by its original authors as well as accurately reflect the authors' intent.

1. Do the translation errors prove that Joseph Smith plagiarized from his contemporary King James Version of Isaiah, Micah, and Matthew in order to create the Book of Mormon?

Book of Mormon Central, KnoWhy #38: What Vision Guides Nephi's Choice of Isaiah Chapters? (Video)

First we deal with the accusation of plagiarism. There are many reasons to reject a charge of plagiarism on the part of Joseph Smith:

  1. First, as a mild corrective to Runnells, the "errors" he finds in the King James Bible are not unique to the 1769 version. Five major editions of the KJV were published in 1611, 1629, 1638, 1762, and 1769. Many minor editions/revisions have been made since the 1769 edition. The 1769 text is the standard text of most King James Bibles today including that published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Only the 1611 and 1769 editions can be found online. The "errors" are contained in both editions. Readers can read the 1611 edition online and see for themselves. The more modern 1769 KJV used in Latter-day Saint scriptures can also be found online and checked. When we list all the potential errors below for commentary, we will provide links to the passages in question from the 1611 and 1769 editions for easy comparison and verification. When following the genealogy of the criticism, the authors on whom Runnels relies to make his argument did not claim that the translation errors are unique to the 1769 edition of the KJV. Rather, one of them merely noted translation errors and suggested that the King James Bible was a source for the Book of Mormon’s composition. The other also noted translation errors, but he did not claim that the errors were what singled out the 1769 edition. Rather, he noted the use of italics in the KJV to indicate a word that was not present in the original Greek text of the Bible and that "[t]he Book of Mormon sometimes revises the KJV italics that are only found in the 1769 and later printings."[5]:p.130 This, he believed, dated the Book of Mormon's composition to a more modern date rather than an ancient one. It proved the Book of Mormon wasn't ancient. That's an absurd claim since the revision of italics does not necessarily prove a modern origin for the Book of Mormon. It can only mean that a 1769 King James Bible or later printing is being used in some way as a base text for the Book of Mormon translation.[6] See here for more commentary on the revision of KJV italics in the Book of Mormon and its implications for the Book of Mormon. See here for commentary on translators using other documents as base texts for their translations. Stan Spencer argues that "[a]lthough the Bible that was used as a base text for the Book of Mormon was certainly the KJV, it was probably not the 1769 Oxford edition, which most King James Bibles today are based on. The text of that edition was not uniformly used in King James Bibles until after the Book of Mormon was translated. Many distinctive American editions of the KJV were printed in the latter part of the eighteenth and the early part of the nineteenth centuries, and these, along with the contemporary King James Bibles out of Cambridge, had many minor differences from the Oxford 1769 edition, some of which served to modernize the language. Some of these editions more closely match the Book of Mormon than does the 1769 edition — the 1828 Phinney Cooperstown Bible and the 1819 American Bible Society octavo edition being among the closest."[7]:p. 49 The King James Bible itself is a very conservative revision of the 1602 edition of the Bishop's Bible.[7]:p. 47n5 Thus it's likely, though the author hasn't yet verified it, that the same errors are contained in that edition of the Bishop's Bible. The original, 1568 edition of the Bishop's Bible is available online and may be checked if one is curious. Spencer also helpfully explains the following about why the KJV is used as the Book of Mormon's base text: "The use of the KJV as a base text for biblical passages in the Book of Mormon makes sense since it allows for any important differences to be easily seen. A completely independent retranslation of the Isaiah chapters would have differed more in wording than in meaning. The differences in wording would have invited fruitless criticism of the suitability of word choice in the Book of Mormon. The use of wording from the KJV precludes such a diversion of attention from the intended messages of the Book of Mormon. Even for short biblical interactions, the use of KJV wording makes it more clear that the Bible is indeed being quoted or alluded to. An independent translation of these shorter passages would have differed enough in wording from the KJV that some of these interactions would have been less clear."[7]:pp. 47–48
  2. Nephi and the Savior generally make it clear when they are quoting from Isaiah. Assuming that a modern person (or group of people) is the author of the text (which they aren’t), they are citing their sources directly which is definitionally not plagiarism. At worst, Joseph Smith (and/or his supposed co-conspirators) can only be said to be haphazardly using Isaiah to create the Book of Mormon, not plagiarizing Isaiah. As far as Micah is concerned, the Savior just launches into a word-for-word quotation/reproduction of what God the Father uttered to the prophet Micah in Micah 4:12–13 and 5:8–14 (3 Nephi 16:14–15; 20:16–20; 21:12–18, 21). Why can't he just reproduce what his Father uttered? Give the same prophecy to the Nephites? That's not really plagiarism on Joseph's part. That's the Savior citing his source, God the Father, and transmitting the same prophecy given to Micah to the Nephites.[8] Mormon does similarly with Micah 5:8 in Mormon 5:24. As far as the Sermon on the Mount is concerned, it's obvious that the Savior would teach the same message to all people if he has a singular, unified message to teach them. The Savior repeating himself is not plagiarism on the part of Joseph Smith. John W. Welch has documented important differences between the Sermon on the Mount recorded in the New Testament and what he calls the Sermon at the Temple (basically the Sermon on the Mount given at the Nephite temple in Bountiful) that show that Joseph Smith did not just mindlessly copy the Sermon on the Mount into the Book of Mormon.[9] Why would Joseph or his conspirators plagiarize the one source most familiar to their 19th century, Northeastern, frontier audience? Why would he copy whole chapters haphazardly when that audience was so familiar with his source material?
  3. A closer look at these duplicate texts actually provides us an additional witness of the Book of Mormon's authenticity.[10] One verse (2 Nephi 12:16) is not only different but adds a completely new phrase: "And upon all the ships of the sea." This non-King James addition agrees with the Greek (Septuagint) version of the Bible, which was first translated into English in 1808 by Charles Thomson. It is also contained in the Coverdale 1535 translation of the Bible.[11] Such a translation was "rare for its time."[12] John Tvedtnes has also shown that many of the Book of Mormon's translation variants of Isaiah have ancient support.[13] BYU Professor Paul Y. Hoskisson has shown that "[t]he brass plates version of Isaiah 2:2, as contained in 2 Nephi 12:2, contains a small difference, not attested in any other pre-1830 Isaiah witness, that not only helps clarify the meaning but also ties the verse to events of the Restoration. The change does so by introducing a Hebraism that would have been impossible for Joseph Smith, the Prophet, to have produced on his own."[14] This throws a huge wrench into any critic's theories that Joseph Smith merely cribbed off of the King James Isaiah. Why would Joseph Smith crib the KJV including all of its translation errors but then go to the trouble of finding the one phrase, "upon all the ships of the sea", from the Greek Septuagint and 1535 Coverdale Bible, make sure that his translation of Isaiah had support from ancient renderings of Isaiah, and make sure that his version of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon had authentic Hebraisms made to be part of the text as well? It's obviously possible that he did, but highly unlikely.
  4. The witnesses to the translation are unanimous that a Bible was not consulted during the translation of the Book of Mormon (click here or here to read their statements).[15] Stan Spencer helpfully observed that "[I]f Joseph Smith used a physical bible, he would have had to do so frequently, since biblical interactions are scattered throughout the Book of Mormon. Continuously removing his face from the hat to make use of a physical Bible would not have gone unnoticed by those who watched him translate."[7]:p. 59 Indeed, given the all the different quotations of whole chapters, phrasal interactions between the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon, as well as the phrasal interactions/similarities between the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, to conceive of Joseph Smith either memorizing these passages and phrases (for which, like the theory that Joseph consulted a Bible during the translation, there is no evidence) or consulting a Bible during the translation is ludicrous. Someone would have had to have noticed that. Yet no one reports a Bible.
  5. Latter-day Saint scholar Royal Skousen, using the Original and Printer's Manuscripts of the Book of Mormon, has provided a persuasive argument that none of the King James language contained in the Book of Mormon could have been copied directly from the Bible. He deduces this from the fact that when The Book of Mormon quotes, echoes, or alludes to passages in the King James Bible, Oliver (Joseph's amanuensis for the dictation of the Book of Mormon) consistently misspells certain words from the text that he wouldn't have misspelled if he was looking at the then-current edition of the KJB.[16] Joseph performed most of the translation in the open using the stone and the hat. Thus how do we get the language from the King James version of the Bible? Given this evidence, we could assume that the Biblical passages were revealed to Joseph during the translation process in a format almost identical with similar passages in the King James Bible and then amended them by revelation as he and the Lord felt was necessary. Of course, it's possible that Joseph Smith dictated every portion of the Book of Mormon that quotes Isaiah to Oliver so that Joseph is always looking at the Bible and Oliver isn't; but that's less likely given the consistency with which Oliver misspells the words (wouldn't there be at least one time, throughout all the time that Joseph and Oliver were translating, where Joseph Smith hands Oliver the Bible to more efficiently copy the passages and where Oliver then spells the words correctly?) and the fact that no witnesses to the translation report a Bible in use. When considering the data, Skousen proposes that, instead of Joseph or Oliver looking at a Bible, that God was simply able to provide the page of text from the King James Bible to Joseph's mind and then Joseph was free to alter the text as he pleased. In those cases where the Book of Mormon simply alludes to or echoes KJV language, perhaps the Lord allowed these portions of the text to be revealed in such a way that they would be more comprehensible/comfortable to his 19th century, Northeastern, frontier audience. Even if Joseph Smith were using the King James Bible as a base text, that would hardly be out of line with best practices for translators and hardly considered plagiarism. Some scholars do believe that Joseph Smith used a Bible during the Book of Mormon translation process. Always important to consider opposing views. Those scholars' arguments can be read in part here.
  6. Evidence Central, Evidence #361: Book of Mormon Evidence: Archaic Vocabulary (Article)

    Skousen and Latter-day Saint linguist Stanford Carmack are adamant that Joseph Smith merely read the words off the seer stone/Urim and Thummim and did not consult a bible during translation of the Book of Mormon. A reason they believe this is that the Book of Mormon contains Early Modern English in its translation. They provide many examples that they believe predate Joseph’s English, the English of the 1769 edition of the King James Bible, and even the 1600s edition of the King James Bible. Skousen and Carmack have produced a plethora of publications arguing this. Readers are encouraged to read that work and decide for themselves.[17] Or they can check out the helpful, easy-to-read essay summary by Evidence Central to the right.
  7. It is known that Oliver Cowdery purchased a Bible on 8 October 1829. However, the Book of Mormon was already at press by this time, with the copyright being registered on 11 June 1829.[18] Prior to that time, the only Bible Joseph is known to have had access to was the Smith family Bible, which was not in his possession after he married and moved out of the Smith home. Joseph was poor and even poorer after moving away from home.[19] Yet Oliver purchased the Bible for Joseph in October 1829 from the same guy that did the type-setting for the Book of Mormon and Joseph later used that Bible for the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.[20] Why would Joseph, poor as he was, get a Bible if he supposedly already owned one that he consulted/plagiarized from?
  8. As the Church has made clear in the 1981 and the 2013 editions of the Book of Mormon[21] in footnote "a" for 2 Nephi 12:2: "Comparison with the King James Bible in English shows that there are differences in more than half of the 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, while about 200 verses have the same wording as the KJV".[22] This provides excellent evidence that Joseph Smith is not mindlessly cribbing off of the KJV version of Isaiah. A lot of these changes are indeed (around 30% of the Isaiah variants) merely changes to the italicized words of the King James passages.[7]:p. 50n11 But many others aren't. We can actually prove that Nephi is engaging with the text and making changes to Isaiah that “liken” Isaiah’s messages to Nephi’s then-current situation and theological understanding (1 Nephi 19:23). We can also prove that Nephi is selecting passages of Isaiah with an overriding, coherent theological agenda. That is demonstrated by Book of Mormon Central in the link above and to the right. Thus there is meaningful engagement with the text of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon rather than mindless copy and pasting.
  9. Royal Skousen, with extensive analysis of the Original and Printer's Manuscript of the Book of Mormon,[23] has concluded that the original manuscript, including the quoted Bible chapters, was written from dictation rather than copying of another document. One of the reasons he believes this is that Joseph Smith’s dictation consistently includes precise and sometimes unusual spellings of words not contained in the King James Bible nor any document in his immediate environment, suggesting that exact words were revealed to him and that he wasn't taking inspiration from other sources. An example of this is the name Coriantumr spelled with mr and not an mer as might be expected if Joseph were just getting ideas in his head of what to say and dictating them to Oliver or another one of his scribes. This suggests that Joseph could see words and that he could spell them out exactly to his scribes.
  10. Another reason Skousen believes the Original Manuscript was dictated only is that "[t]he manuscripts include consistent phraseology that suggests Joseph Smith was reading from a carefully prepared text rather than composing the English translation based on thoughts or impressions as he dictated."[7]:p. 88
  11. Emma Smith reported that, during the Book of Mormon translation, Joseph didn't know that Jerusalem was surrounded by walls, a more basic fact that someone should know about the Bible. If Joseph didn't know this basic fact about Jerusalem, can we expect him to be plagiarizing from the King James Bible during the translation of the Book of Mormon? Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph's mother, stated that "I presume our family presented an aspect as singular as any that ever lived upon the face of the earth-all seated in a circle, father, mother, sons and daughters, and giving the most profound attention to a boy, eighteen years of age, who had never read the Bible through in his life; he seemed much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of our children, but far more given to meditation and deep study." It seems that there is much evidence to suggest that Joseph Smith didn't become as familiar with the Bible as he would need to be in order for our critics' theories to be supported. They all require that Joseph be deeply familiar with the Bible: either memorizing long passages from it or consulting it frequently during the translation of the Book of Mormon.
  12. There is no evidence that Joseph Smith had an eidetic memory.
  13. Evidence Central, Evidence #1: Book of Mormon Evidence: Joseph Smith’s Limited Education (Article)

    There is no evidence that Joseph Smith was ever seen trying to memorize long passages from the King James Bible at, near, or leading up to the time of translation. Joseph's level of education may suggest that he was not even capable of memorizing such lengthy passages (or even shorter passages) required for the Book of Mormon.

Of course, there are other ways that critics have tried to establish that Joseph Smith plagiarized the King James Bible to create the Book of Mormon. For commentary on those criticisms, see the collection of articles at the link below.

2. Are the KJV translation errors really errors? If so, do they give us an erroneous ethical or theological message about God?

Now we deal with the question of whether the "errors" are really errors and, if so, whether they give us an erroneous ethical or theological message about God. It's important to keep in mind what a translation error actually is as we progress through the rest of this article. A translation error is to, for example, translate the Spanish word "rey" as queen when, in reality, it refers to a king. The word for queen in Spanish is "reina". A translation error is an incorrect claim in a target language regarding what a word in a source language refers to.

Royal Skousen, a Latter-day Saint linguist and scholar of the textual history of the Book of Mormon, has given us a representative list of what can be considered translation errors. Skousen did "not intend to list every possible error. Rather, [he] simply recognize[d] that the Book of Mormon translation will reflect errors because of its dependence on the King James Bible."[24]:p. 220

Skousen also has given us a list of cultural translations "where the original meaning is obscured by providing a translation that speakers from the Early Modern English period would have readily understood."[24]:p. 214 Some of these might be considered "errors" by our critics and so it may be important to include them here and provide commentary on them.

Along with these cultural translations and alleged translation errors, emerging scholarship is demonstrating that the Book of Mormon also holds significant intertextual relationships with the New Testament. That is, the Book of Mormon echoes, alludes to, and sometimes quotes New Testament language at length as a means of communicating the Book of Mormon’s message when, at least under some peoples' perspective, it probably shouldn't be using the New Testament. Critics have alleged that this demonstrates that Joseph Smith was plagiarizing the King James rendering of the New Testament in order to create the Book of Mormon. However, there are several reasons to reject these criticisms that we've outlined here.

One question that remains to be answered about the Book of Mormon's and New Testament's intertextual relationship is if the Book of Mormon perpetuates translation errors from the King James translators' rendering of the New Testament within its own text. That will have to be the subject of future, professional investigation from scholars. In the future, when we have the results of that investigation, those challenged by this criticism can utilize similar approaches used in this section of this article to respond to the criticism. Additionally, the FAIR Wiki editors will likely include analysis of those potential errors on this page.[25]

In correspondence with those who study New Testament intertextuality with the Book of Mormon, the author has found out that there are three items that may currently be considered "translation errors" by scholars. There may be more. The scholars indicated as much. However, none of these that immediately came to mind for them seem to threaten the Book of Mormon's authenticity in any significant way. Those are listed below.

The overall results of our investigation regarding translation errors are as follows:

  • In at least one case pointed to as an "error", the "error" wasn't an error at all but a good example of the diachronic nature of language—"diachronic" referring to how language changes and evolves over time. What the King James translators meant to refer to when they said "virtue", for instance, is not the same thing we mean to refer to when we say "virtue". They meant to refer to something like power and we mean to refer to something like strength in doing moral good or sometimes chastity.
  • In two cases below, the "errors" weren't errors at all and instead a case of modern translators using the conventions of their language. This is the case with Isaiah 6:2 and 6:6 (and corresponding passages in 2 Nephi 16:2 and 16:6 in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon) with their use of the word "seraphims" to refer to multiple seraphs. The problem is that the suffix -im in Hebrew already pluralizes the word seraph. But the King James translators are also referring to multiple seraphs but just using the conventions of English by adding an "s" to the end of the word to make that clear.
  • In some cases, the errors are merely translation variants (rather than errors) where one variant is not necessarily superior to another. This is because the meaning of the underlying Hebrew or Greek is uncertain.
  • In some cases, the meaning of the verses has been changed from the original text but it hasn't changed so drastically as to not be able to cover the more specific meaning of the passage ascertained in modern translations. In these cases, the translation can only be said to be too broad or general rather than necessarily erroneous. It’s like saying that “rey” refers to royalty. Technically correct, but too broad/general/not specific enough/vague.
  • In some cases, the translation errors are legitimately errors. These errors thus change the meaning of the respective passages; but they don't always change the intent of them.
  • In some cases, the intent of the passage is changed, but the changed intent does not necessarily reflect an inaccurate doctrinal understanding. It doesn't give us a wrong view about God, who he is, and what we need to understand about him to become like him.

In each case we are overall claiming that there is no translation variant, broadening of meaning, change in meaning, nor change in intent that either teaches incorrect doctrine or otherwise compels a reader into believing something false.

Thus, with this seven-tiered response (that we don't have the original manuscripts of the Bible as well as the six points above) the Book of Mormon can retain its status as the "most correct book". Skousen himself says that "[n]one of these scholarly objections matter much since the Book of Mormon is a creative, cultural translation. In other words, the use of the King James text, warts and all, is not only unsurprising, but it is in fact expected."[24]:p. 214 These lists below, along with the “errors” identified by Skousen, will also include close to 50 other "errors" identified by five critical sources.[26][27][5][28][29][30]

These lists catalogue, as far as the author can ascertain, every potential error that has been pointed to by critics and other scholars of the Book of Mormon to date.[31] These lists include exactly 78 of them.

As a reminder, these tables contain links to the passages from both the 1611 and 1769 editions of the King James Bible in order to refute Runnells' contention above that the translation errors are unique to the 1769 edition of the KJV.

We start with the basic translation "errors", then catalogue the cultural translations, and finish off with the New Testament "errors". The tables below include the errors' location in the Bible and Book of Mormon, the supposed erroneous translation, the passage in question, and commentary on the alleged error. They are organized in the order they appear in the Book of Mormon. Those troubled by other "errors" they may find in the Book of Mormon might seriously consider using a similar approach taken by the author of this article to resolve concerns. If someone finds an "error" that they'd like FAIR to comment on, or that person has already done that work and would like to submit it to FAIR to be included in this article, they are strongly encouraged to send that work/ask those questions to FAIR volunteers at this link.

Location in Canon Erroneous Translation Passage Commentary
Alleged KJV Translation Errors in the Book of Mormon
1. 1 Nephi 2:5 and Exodus 15:4 Red Sea This one isn't so much a quotation of a biblical passage per se but the use of a particular biblical name. The Book of Mormon and King James Bible consistently call the sea that Moses and the children of Israel crossed when fleeing from the Egyptians the "Red Sea". (1611 | 1769) Critics contend that this is based on a mistranslation of the Hebrew yam sûp. Instead of "Red Sea", critics content that it should read "Reed sea". We have responded to this theory elsewhere on the wiki.
2. Isaiah 49:4 ~ 1 Nephi 21:4 Work "Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation would be "reward" instead of work. The verses concern Israel's response to God who in verse 3 calls Israel his servant in whom He will be glorified. Israel responds prophetically through Isaiah that Israel, in her own judgement, is weak and frail as a servant but that nonetheless, God will judge her for it and consider rewarding her. Thus, the verses do change the meaning of the verses and the intent. The intent can be argued as correct, however, in that God does work on us and through us to effectuate his purposes. Paul tells the Phillipians that "it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."[32] In the previous chapter, Isaiah 48, God tells Israel "I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction."[33] The Book of Mormon already teaches that God is our reward. Nephi teaches us that beautifully in his psalm recorded in 2 Nephi 4.[34] The verse can alternatively be read to mean that Isaiah is saying that his ministry is blessed by God and ordained of him, which is also true doctrine. Isaiah recounts how God called him in Isaiah 6.
3. Isaiah 49:5 ~ 1 Nephi 21:5 Though Israel be not gathered "And now, saith the Lord that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation would be "to restore Jacob to him, and that Israel be gathered to him." This changed meaning and intent is not incorrect. The Book of Mormon already states that Isaiah is meant to gather Jacob (which is Israel), so why state it again? Why not keep the "though Israel be not gathered." It doesn't teach any incorrect doctrine whatsoever.
4. Isaiah 49:8 ~ 1 Nephi 21:8 Have I heard thee "Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;" (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation would be "I answer/have answered you." Interestingly, in the ancient Near East, hearing and doing something or responding to them were functionally the same thing. You didn't hear someone if you didn't respond to them. Something similar may be going on here. The passage just means to say that the Lord heard the cries of Israel and helped them, which is already affirmed with "in a day of salvation have I helped thee".
5. Isaiah 49:24 ~ 1 Nephi 21:24 Or the lawful captive delivered "Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered?" (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation would be "Can...captives (be) retrieved from a victor?" Translations vary between saying captives of the "mighty", "tyrant", "righteous", "victor", or "conquerer". The verse can only be considered a translation variant rather than an error. "The rhetorical questions function here as assertions of divine power insofar as the LORD can make these things happen".[35]:p. 1047n24–26 God is asserting that he can free the Israelites taken captive by those that oppress them. Thus, regardless of the correct translation, the intent of the verse is not changed substantively.
6. Isaiah 50:4 ~ 2 Nephi 7:4 Know how to speak a word in season "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned." (1611 | 1769) Critics think that the underlying Hebrew is unintelligible and that the KJV is likely wrong. This passage, according to them, is apparently taking the word läcût to mean "to speak/do in season." How it is to be understood is not clear. Some modern scholars, with hesitation, take the verb to mean "to aid/help/succor." This can only be considered a translation variant. Even with the wording as is, it clearly teaches that Isaiah's gift is to speak to him that is weary. That can only mean a form of succoring/aiding.
7. Isaiah 51:4 ~ 2 Nephi 8:4 Rest "Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people." (1611 | 1769) Critics think that the metaphor "make my judgment to rest/repose for a light" is odd. Many modern versions take the verb (which the KJV translates "make rest") with the beginning of the next verse (sometimes with emendation). The sentence construction is a bit odd but it doesn't substantively change the meaning of the verse, which is that God's judgement (sometimes translated "justice") will be a light for the people. Where exactly would the judgement "rest"? Not certain. Maybe on the wicked? Regardless, the rhetorical goals of the verse are accomplished. Some might think that the verse is communicating that God will cease to judge and that this will be a light to the people, which would indeed be incorrect teaching; but that interpretation has doubt cast on it quickly when read with the first clause ("for a law shall proceed from me") of the sentence in mind.
8. Isaiah 2:4 ~ 2 Nephi 12:4 Rebuke "And he shall judge among the nations and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (1611 | 1769) "The Hebrew verb here lacks the negative sense of rebuke—that is, it means 'to judge' rather than 'to reprove'; note the preceding parallel line: 'and he shall judge among the nations'."[24]:p. 217. Bold added. The act of judging or arbitrating disputes between peoples may mean that God actually will rebuke peoples that come down on the negative side of God's judgements. In any dispute, there will be rebukes that God can send forth for the wrongdoing that parties in a dispute have committed towards each other or that solely one party has inflicted on the other. The Lord tells us that he chastens us and scourges us because he loves us in Proverbs, Hebrews, and Helaman.[36]
9. Isaiah 2:6 ~ 2 Nephi 12:6 Please themselves in the children of strangers "Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is closer to things like "they strike hands with foreigners," "make bargain/covenant with foreigners," or "are crowded with foreigners." The verse concerns the idolatry of Israel. "Pleasing themselves" is ambiguous because it could certainly be used (though, admittedly, awkwardly) to refer to making deals with the people of idolatrous nations. It could refer to any type of positive activity with foreigners/strangers. Regardless of the positive activity, it is clear that doing it with foreigners symbolizes the kind of idolatry and apostasy the Lord/Isaiah mean to refer to in this verse. Thus it's unclear that there's a substantive change of meaning and, even if there were, the passage would still accomplish what it sets out to do.
10. Isaiah 2:9 ~ 2 Nephi 12:9 Boweth down "And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself not: therefore forgive them not" (Book of Mormon, 1830 Edition) (1611 | 1769) A critic has asserted that the correct translation is "and the mean man boweth down not, and the great man humbleth himself [not]: therefore forgive them not."[28] Interestingly, the current edition of the Book of Mormon contains just this translation. "And the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not, therefore, forgive him not." The only difference between the critic's proposal and the current edition of the Book of Mormon is that the Book of Mormon replaces them in "forgive them not" to him and omits the second not that the critic has in brackets. Though this doesn't seem to be significant in that the essential message of the of idolatry is not affected. But both the critic and Latter-day Saints still have errors to account for here. Every single modern translation of these verses rejects using "not" after "boweth down". The correct translation is actually how it is rendered in the King James Bible! The critic claims to have been working from the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon and making comparisons to the an online version of the 1769 KJV with apocrypha. The 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon (the first edition) has this verse rendered as "and the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself not: therefore forgive him not." Skousen in his earliest reconstruction of the Book of Mormon text renders it as "and the mean man boweth down and the great man humbleth himself; therefore forgive them not."[37]:p. 108 This is the correct translation of the text. Skousen notes a rather complex textual history of this verse in his Analysis of Textual Variants.[38]:pp. 656–60 Thus the Book of Mormon actually originally had the correct translation of this passage and it was changed likely by the first printer and typesetter of the Book of Mormon, John Gilbert. Thus, from here on out, we cannot be talking about a translation error that Joseph Smith indulged in, but one that modern editors of the editions of the Book of Mormon have indulged in. But now what about modern editions of the Book of Mormon that don't have the correct translation? Are they in true error? In context, Isaiah is condemning the house of Jacob for idolatry and bowing themeselves down to idols mentioned in verse 8. Thus that's why the correct translation refers to people being humbled and bowing because they're being humbled and bowing to the idols. The modern editions of the Book of Mormon would be in error if whoever composes the text today meant to refer to the idols. But the modern editions could be referring to God. If the mean man and great man don't bow to God, then they're committing idolatry and God shouldn't forgive them. In the 1830s edition, its saying that the mean man bows down and the great man doesn't bow down. This could be read to mean that the mean man bows down to the idols and the great man doesn't bow down to God. Let the reader of this article judge for herself, but, for the author of this article, it seems that no matter which edition we're consulting here, we are not compelled to read the essential intent of the verse wrongly and, indeed, with careful reading, it seems that the essential intent of the verse will be captured by careful, studious readers no matter which translation/edition is consulted here.
11. Isaiah 2:16 ~ 2 Nephi 12:16 Pictures "and upon all the ships of Tarshish and upon all the pleasant pictures" (1611 | 1769) The better translation according to Skousen is "and upon all the pleasant ships".[24]:p. 217. Bold added. Though there are plenty of biblical translations that render this verse similar to how it is rendered in the Book of Mormon. Translations vary between referring to ships, pleasant imagery or pictures, or crafts. The author judges this a translation variant rather than an error. Isaiah intends to use the rhetorical device of accumulatio to communicate and emphasize that everything will be brought down and taken away so as to eliminate pride. Either ships, crafts, or pleasant imagery/pictures can do/be a part of that. Thus the intent hasn't changed at all and no doctrinal error occurs.
12. Isaiah 3:2 ~ 2 Nephi 13:2 Prudent "The mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient" (1611 | 1769) "In the phrase 'the prudent and the ancient', the adjectival noun prudent is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word for divining. This phrase is translated, for instance, as 'the diviner and the elder' in the English Standard Version."[24]:p. 217 The verse concerns the Assyrians' coming invasion of Israel and carrying them away into captivity. The New Oxford Annotated Bible notes that "[t]he Assyrians were well known for deporting the leading figures and skilled craftspeople of a conquered society in order to exploit their talents elsewhere in the empire and to destabilize the conquered society to prevent further revolt."[35]:p. 984n3.1–12. Thus, the intent of the verse is to use accumulatio to communicate and emphasize that the most talented and wisest of Israelite society were going to be taken away captive by the Assyrians. That can include the prudent. Also, diviners may be described as prudent.
13. Isaiah 3:3 ~ 2 Nephi 13:3 Orator "The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator." (1611 | 1769) "Here in the Hebrew the sense of orator is 'enchanter'. The English word derives from the Latin verb meaning 'to pray' (see definition 1 under orator in the [Oxford English Dictionary])."[24]:p. 217. Bold added. Same commentary here as made for 2 Nephi 13:2
14. Isaiah 3:8 ~ 2 Nephi 13:3 Provoke the eyes of his glory "For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory." (1611 | 1769) The Book of Mormon actually changes this verse. In the Book of Mormon it is rendered "For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen: because their tongues and their doings have been against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of his glory." Three other translations render it similarly. Not too significant a change in either meaning nor intent though. The Hebrew of the verse does literally give "rebel against the eye of his glory". The essential idea is that Judah and Jerusalem rebel against God or defy him and his holy presence, glory, or royal authority by their words and actions. The essential intent of the verse is still captured despite the admittedly odd structuring of the sentence and readers will still capture the intent by reading about "tongues and doings against the Lord". That can only lead one to conclude that they provoke the Lord to anger by rebelling against him with their words and actions. So many scriptures speak of and depict God's anger provoked by and directed to those that rebel against him that to cite any here seems pointless.
15. Isaiah 3:22 ~ 2 Nephi 13:22 Wimples "The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles and the wimples, and the crisping pins" (1611 | 1769) "The Hebrew word refers to a wide or flowing cloak. The English word used by the King James translators, wimple, is quite different: 'a garment of linen or silk formerly worn by women, so folded as to envelop the head, chin, sides of the face, and neck; now retained in the dress of nuns' (the first definition under the noun wimple in the Oxford English Dictionary)."[24]:p. 219. Bold added. The verse is using the rhetorical device of accumulatio to communicate and emphasize that everything will be taken from the "daughters of Zion" (v. 17) so that they will be humbled. Whether a cloak or a wimple, it doesn't change the intent of the verse.
16. Isaiah 3:22 ~ 2 Nephi 13:22 Crisping pins "The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins" (1611 | 1769) "The modern-day equivalent of crisping pin would be curling iron. The Hebrew is generally interpreted here as referring to purses or handbags."[24]:p. 216. Bold added. Same commentary as that given for “Wimples”.
17. Isaiah 3:24 ~ 2 Nephi 13:24 Rent "And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle, a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty." (1611 | 1769) "There are two Hebrew verbs, both with identical consonants, but with different meanings: one means 'to tear' and the other means 'to go around or to surround'. The noun rent derives from the first verb, but the noun rope or cord (meaning to go around the body) derives from the second. Here the word girdle takes the archaic meaning 'belt'. Modern translators have typically rendered this line in Isaiah 3:24 as 'and instead of a belt, a rope'."[24]:p. 217. Bold added. The intent of Isaiah is to contrast the former dignity and pride of the daughters of Zion with their current shame. Interestingly, in the ancient Near East, uncovering someone's nakedness was a way to make them feel shame (see, for example, Isaiah 47:3 which reflects this attitude) so keeping "rent" (i.e. cut/gap) where perhaps a person's belt line was would uncover someone's buttocks and genitals and is an appropriate way to make the contrast between current dignity and subsequent shame or lower social status. The intent of the passage isn’t changed and is still correct.
18. Isaiah 5:2 ~ 2 Nephi 15:2 Fenced "And he fenced it and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes." (1611 | 1769) "The Hebrew verb for fenced in Isaiah 5:2 is now translated as 'to dig about' or 'to hoe or weed'; in other words, "he dug about it and cleared it of its stones."[24]:p. 216. Bold added. The verse here is a part of verses 1–7 that describe Isaiah's Song of the Vineyard. The New Oxford Annotated Bible notes that it "allegorically portrays the Lord as Isaiah's friend...who worked so hard to ensure a productive vineyard only to be disappointed when it yielded sour grapes. The allegory, which is explained only at the end, draws in the audience, as many in ancient Judah would have had extensive experience in vineyards. Its conclusion makes puns to make its point, viz., the Lord expects justice (Heb "mishpat") but sees only bloodshed (Heb "mispah") and hopes for righteousness (Heb "tsedaqah") only to hear a cry (Heb "tse'aqah)."[35]:p. 986n1–7. Thus, the Lord does all this hard work to get a good vineyard but fails. Fencing can be a part of efforts to get a productive vineyard and those efforts can fail. Again, we have a change in meaning but no change in intent. Some biblical translations retain “fenced” in their rendering of the verse.
19. Isaiah 5:17 ~ 2 Nephi 15:17 Then shall the lambs feed after their manner "Then shall the lambs feed after their manner, and the waste places of the fat ones shall strangers eat." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is "then lambs shall feed as at their pasture/meadow" or "in their old pastures." The passage is contrasting the type of success one can have with the Lord and the grave misfortune one can have when one does not follow the Lord. The previous verse to this (v 16) begins that contrast. The intent of the passage is to say that lambs shall return to their normal feeding. Thus saying that they return to their old pasture to feed and saying that they'll feed "after their manner" is really not a substantive change in meaning. The author judges this as a translation variant rather than an error. Even if a change in meaning, the change is so minuscule as to render no change in intent.
20. Isaiah 5:25 ~ 2 Nephi 15:25 Their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. "Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is "their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets." Though there's very little difference between corpses and carcasses. To say that their corpses are torn is functionally the same thing as saying that they're refuse.
21. Isaiah 5:30 ~ 2 Nephi 15:30 And the light is darkened in the heavens thereof "And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if one look unto the land, behold darkness and sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is "the light is darkened by/in its clouds." Whether the light is darkened in the sky or by clouds, the intent of the verse isn't changed.
22. Isaiah 6:2 ~ 2 Nephi 16:2 It "Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly" (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is "above him" (referring to the Lord in v. 1) instead of "above it" (which would be referring to the train of his garment in v. 1). Though it's uncertain if saying that the angel standing above the garment train is a denial that the angel stood above God.
23. Isaiah 6:2 ~ 2 Nephi 16:2 Seraphims "Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly" (Book of Mormon, 1830 edition) (1611 | 1769) The current edition of the Book of Mormon just has seraphim without the s. Skousen's earliest reconstruction of the verses as well as the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon have "seraphims".[37]:p. 114 Under a certain perspective, a more correct translation of these verses would indeed render it as only "seraphim" and not "seraphims" with an s. That is because the suffix -im in Hebrew already indicates that the object is pluralized. Though one could argue that there really is no error in translation given that the KJV translators were just using English conventions in order to assure readers that the object was pluralized.
24. Isaiah 6:6 ~ 2 Nephi 16:6 Seraphims "Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar" (Book of Mormon, 1830 edition) (1611 | 1769) The current edition of the Book of Mormon just has seraphim without the s. Skousen's earliest reconstruction of the verses as well as the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon have "seraphims".[37]:p. 114 Under a certain perspective, a more correct translation of these verses would indeed render it as only "seraphim" and not "seraphims" with an s. That is because the suffix -im in Hebrew already indicates that the object is pluralized. Though one could argue that there really is no error in translation given that the KJV translators were just using English conventions in order to assure readers that the object was pluralized.
25. Isaiah 6:13 ~ 2 Nephi 16:13 Whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves, so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof. "But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is "whose stock/stump remains when they are felled (or: their leaves fall): its stock/stump is the holy seed." Though the verse retains the substance of meaning proposed by the critic. The verse means to communicate that "[a] part of Israel would return, and like the oak and terebinth, which though they are eaten or consumed right to their substance or stumps, yet they possess a seed in them that can regenerate."[39]:p. 367 "Despite the horrific imagery of a mere ten-percent survival rate (tenth part), the account concludes with a hopeful image of new growth from the ravaged stump that will constitute the holy seed of restoration (see Ezra 9:2)."[35]:p. 989n11–13 Is saying that the "substance" of the tree remains really a denial of the stump/stock being that substance? Are the rhetorical goals of the verse not accomplished by changing "stock/stump" to "substance"?
26. Isaiah 7:14 ~ 2 Nephi 17:14 Virgin "Therefore, the Lord himself shall give you a sign—Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (1611 | 1769) This passage in Isaiah 7:14 and its proper translation is one of the most contested in all of scripture. The verses have been crucial for Christians who want to support Matthew's use of the passage in his Gospel to theologically support the notion that the Savior would be born of Mary, who was a virgin. Jews and the majority of biblical scholars contend, and not without merit, that the proper translation of the verse is to have merely "young woman" instead of "virgin". What's more, Christians have needed to contend that prophecies can have more than one fulfillment since the verses could be referring to a son of Ahaz that would be named Immanuel in context. Christians want them to also cover Christ. Some of our critics contend, based on this mistranslation, that the idea of the virgin birth is anachronistic to the time of Nephi, but we have responded to that in depth elsewhere on the Wiki. The issue of translation has been explored elsewhere by non-Latter-day Saint Christian scholars as well as Latter-day Saint scholars.[40] Perhaps the best commentary was offered by the editors of netbible.org who observed that the Hebrew term translated as "virgin" (ʿalmah), in the vast majority of cases, refers to just a young woman who has reached sexual maturity, but that it can be and has been used in select instances to refer to a virgin (e.g. Gen 24:43). Thus, one's view of the doctrine of virgin birth may be entirely unaffected by disputes over translation.[41] There are other issues to deal with if wanting the verse to work as a reference to Christ, but as far as a translation of the verse, we've explicated all the most relevant issues. It should be remembered that one of the reasons that Isaiah 7:14 and 2 Nephi 7:14 retain the "virgin" translation may very well be because Nephi had already seen a vision of the virgin Mary (1 Nephi 11:13, 15) and, like Matthew, may have wanted Isaiah 7:14 to say "virgin" as part of a theological commentary on Isaiah that we know that he was engaged in given the substantive differences between the KJV and Book of Mormon versions of Isaiah.
27. Isaiah 7:15 ~ 2 Nephi 17:15 That "Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the logical relation of the second clause to the first is not clear. It is as if eating butter and honey leads to moral knowledge. Clarification is needed. Compare the NJB: "On curds and honey will he feed until he knows how to refuse the bad and choose the good." Certainly clarification of the logic is preferable here, but the rhetorical goals of the verse are still accomplished given this translation, and there are no grave errors to be detected in it as constructed.
28. Isaiah 8:1 ~ 2 Nephi 18:1 Man's pen "Moreover the Lord said unto me, Take thee a great roll, and write in it with a man’s pen concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert the better translation is "common/ordinary letters" or "common/ordinary stylus." The concern here is over "man" and what the significance of saying "a man's pen" is. It's certainly not clear enough to communicate that Isaiah means that the pen is common or average. But it's also not erroneous.
29. Isaiah 8:6 ~ 2 Nephi 18:6 Rejoice "Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah’s son;" (1611 | 1769) Critics assert the better translation is "but melt (with fear) before Rezin and Remaliah's son." Experts affirm that the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.[35]:p. 991nC Most modern translations have "rejoice" instead of "melt in fear". The critic is most likely correct that the passage is best rendered as something closer to "melt in fear" or "faint before". But the passage can still make sense with "rejoice". The passage concerns the Lord's dissatisfaction with Ahaz in refusing to accept a divine offer of protection that is offered in the alliance of King Rezin and Remaliah. Ahaz and the Kingdom of Judah reject the flow of the waters of Shiloah (the Lord's help), yet they claim to rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah, the kings of Ephraim and Syria. They claim to be their brothers and sympathize with them, but reject them when they want to not fear the mighty Assyrian army. They go to Assyria and pledge vassalage to it even when they rejoice in Rezin and Remaliah. Thus the passage can be about their hypocrisy, which is technically not incorrect.
30. Isaiah 8:12 ~ 2 Nephi 18:12 All them "Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert the better translation is "...to all that this people calls a confederacy/conspiracy." The Book of Mormon omits the "them" from Isaiah 8:12 and just has "say ye not a confederacy to all to whom this people shall say a confederacy". The Book of Mormon's sentence construction doesn't really change substantively from this critic's proposal.
31. Isaiah 8:22 ~ 2 Nephi 18:22 And; and they shall be driven "And they shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert the better translation is "or he may look below, but behold, distress and darkness, with no daybreak, straitness and gloom, with no dawn" (NJPS) and "then (he will look) down to the earth, there will be only anguish, gloom, the confusion of night, swirling darkness" (NJB). Most modern translations render this verse as "driven" or "thrust" into thick darkness. The meaning of the underlying Hebrew is uncertain.[35]:p. 991nC Thus this can only be considered a translation variant. The intent and overall meaning of the passage is not affected. The passage concerns Isaiah warning people to not practice necromancy as was often practiced (and condemned) in ancient Israel (Isaiah 19:3; Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 18:10–11). With the practice of necromancy, Israel will only see greater and greater darkness and distress.
32. Isaiah 9:1 ~ 2 Nephi 19:1 Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation "Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is "For if there were to be any break of day for that [land] which is in straits" (NJPS); "But there will be no gloom for her that was in anguish" (RSV); and "For is not everything dark as night for a country in distress" (NJB). It seems that the substantive meaning of the verse is not changed from the critic's proposals. The verse simply means that the dimness or gloom will not be like it was when these nations mentioned were distressed or vexed. There will be a change.
33. Isaiah 9:1 ~ 2 Nephi 19:1 Grievously afflict "Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations." (1611 | 1769) The better translation is "but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan".[24]:p. 216 The Book of Mormon actually changes this verse quite a bit from the original one in Isaiah 9:1. Isaiah 9:1 reads: "Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations." 2 Nephi 19:1 reads: "Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterwards did more grievously afflict her by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations." Thus, the Book of Mormon makes the verse refer to the Red Sea. Critics have made fun of the Book of Mormon for this and leveled other criticisms. See here and here for commentary on the criticisms that have arisen. There's a question that arises now: could the translation of "grievously afflicting" actually be some sort of modification by Nephi that provides commentary on Nephi? We know that there were modifications done by Nephi to affect the meaning and intent of Isaiah's scripture as a sort of commentary on Nephi's present situation that Nephi calls “likening” (1 Nephi 19:23). Could there be something similar going on here? As a guess, this may have something to do with the difficult journey that Lehi, Nephi, and their family faced by the borders of the Red Sea as they traveled down the Arabian Peninsula. Skousen actually tells us that he believes that "Red Sea" was not an accident by scribes of the Book of Mormon translation. He believes that "Red Sea" was actually on the plates that Joseph Smith translated from. He deduces this from the fact that there is no manuscript evidence that scribes of the Book of Mormon translation text inserted "Red" next to "sea" even in the original manuscript of the translation of the Book of Mormon. Also, there are four uses in the Bible of the phrase "by the way of the Red Sea" (Numbers 14:25; Numbers 21:4; Deuteronomy 1:40; Deuteronomy 2:1). Familiarity with the phrase, Skousen argues, perhaps led Nephi to add the word "Red" to sea in his copying of Isaiah. Either that or "Red" was actually a part of the text and Nephi didn't add anything to it. Furthermore, out of 82 occurrences of the word "sea" in the Book of Mormon, there is no manuscript evidence that scribes added "Red" to the word "sea", even as a mistake that was then corrected.[38]:pp. 732–33 Skousen retained "Red Sea" in his reconstruction of the earliest text of the Book of Mormon: the text as it came from the mouth of Joseph Smith (or at least the best reconstruction of it).[37]:p. 119 Again, Nephi was "likening" Isaiah to his current situation and understanding all throughout the Book of Mormon quotations of Isaiah by changing text (1 Nephi 19:23). It's likely that something similar is going on here. Thus, it's not an error, but (on this theory at least) an intentional emendation by Nephi to creatively liken the scriptures Isaiah wrote to his present situation that was then correctly translated by Joseph Smith from the plates to the English language. Thus, the intent of the verse is changed and does actually lead us into an incorrect understanding of what Isaiah meant to communicate about God’s nature. But it isn’t an error of what Nephi meant to communicate about God with his likening of Isaiah. If Nephi is likening this passage to himself and his then-current situation and understanding, then there is no error. It would again just be Joseph Smith’s translation of Nephi’s “likening” of Isaiah. Thus Isaiah meant to say honor, but Nephi changed it to being about affliction of his family by God while they were traveling near the Red Sea.
34. Isaiah 9:2 ~ 2 Nephi 19:2 Shadow of death "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the Hebrew term almäwet which this verse translates should be simply "darkness." It is not connected with the term mäwet "death." Several modern translations render this verse with shadow of death. The verse merely "symbolizes the mortal world where there is darkness, and death."[39]:p. 374 Whether saying "the land of darkness" or "the land of the shadow of death", the meaning or referent is still the same: the mortal earth.
35. Isaiah 9:5 ~ 2 Nephi 19:5 For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise "For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is "For every boot that tramps with noise/in battle." Skousen's reconstruction of the earliest text of the Book of Mormon changes this verse to read "For every battle of the warrior with confused noise and garments rolled in blood—but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire."[37]:p. 119 The verse concerns imminent military oppression. "Military oppression is symbolized by the yoke (10.27; 14.25), the bar (10.24), the rod (10.24; 14.4; Gen 49.10), and trampling boots."[35]:p. 993n4–5 The "confused noise" of the battle, with some steady reading, could be correctly interpreted as the trampling boots. Regardless, Isaiah means to say that the military oppressors will be overthrown and that all of the oppression will be burned and be fuel for fire. With steady reading and interpretation, a person can still come to the accurate conclusion that all of it—the battles with confused noise and the garments rolled in blood, will be burned. Meaning has changed, intent hasn't.
36. Isaiah 10:4 ~ 2 Nephi 20:4 Without me "Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is "so that they do not cower among the prisoners" (REB); "Nothing remains but to crouch among the prisoners" (RSV). The verse is meant to merge with the rhetorical question of the previous verse which reads (NRSV) "To whom will you flee for help and where will you leave your wealth, so as not to crouch among the prisoners or fall among the slain?" The verse can still make sense as constructed in the KJV and Book of Mormon, since the verse simply means to say that "[d]uring the day of visitation the wicked will fall in the destruction or become prisoners with other captives."[39]:pp. 376–37 The without me can then function as the Lord saying "without my intervention and aid, these people will have to crouch among prisoners or die". Meaning has changed but not significantly.
37. Isaiah 10:15 ~ 2 Nephi 20:15 As if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood "Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against them that lift it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself, as if it were no wood." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the Hebrew should be translated "as if a rod raised the one who lifted it, as if a staff lifted the one who is not wood." The verses concern the Lord declaring his superior power against the Assyrians. The Lord uses the imagery of an axe and saw and essentially says that they can't declare their superiority over the one who wields them. The verses still accomplish their rhetorical goals. The meaning has changed, the intent has not.
38. Isaiah 10:18 ~ 2 Nephi 20:18 As when a standardbearer fainteth "And shall consume the glory of his forest, and of his fruitful field, both soul and body: and they shall be as when a standardbearer fainteth." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is something like "and it will be as when a sick man wastes away," "and it will be as when a weak person despairs," or "and it will be as when someone falls in a fit." Most translations have something like the first suggestion. Though at least a few carry something like "as when a standard-bearer faints". The superior translation clearly seems to be "when a sick man wastes away" since the verse is trying to describe how the Lord "destroys both soul and body as well as that man's "forest and fruitful field". The verse may still work with "standard-bearer faints", however. Ellicot's Commentary for English Readers notes that "[t]he 'standard-bearer' was chosen for his heroic strength and stature. When he 'fainted' and gave way, what hope was there that others would survive? A more correct rendering, however, gives As a sick man pineth away." Similarly, Pulpit Commentary notes that "[u]tter prostration and exhaustion is indicated, whichever way the passage is translated."
39. Isaiah 10:27 ~ 2 Nephi 20:27 The anointing "And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is something like "the yoke shall be destroyed because of fatness." They assert that some emend the text of the masoretic text of Isaiah (the earliest manuscript of Isaiah we have) since it doesn't make clear sense. Most modern translations agree with the critic though some retain a reference to an anointing with oil. The literal meaning of the Hebrew is "because of oil".[39]:p. 378 The way to translate that Hebrew is still uncertain. Thus this can only be considered a translation variant. The essential message of this passage is that the yoke of Assyria's oppression against Israel will be taken off. Different translations of the Hebrew give different imagery. With fatness, the yoke will be taken off or fall off of Israel because they have become fat and the yoke is too small. The Douay-Rheims translation of this verse makes the imagery mean that the oil will rot off the yoke. Anointing is typically associated with ordaining someone to success. Thus, with the translation as it stands in the KJV and Book of Mormon, perhaps the imagery can be that God has ordained or anointed Israel to be successful before her enemies and thus the yoke will be destroyed because of God's protection of Israel. Thus, given different translations, the meaning certainly changes, but the essential intent does not.
40. Isaiah 11:3 ~ 2 Nephi 21:3 Make him of quick understanding "And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears" (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is something like "He shall sense the truth by his reverence for the Lord" (NJPS); "And his delight shall be the fear of the Lord" (NAB). The chapter speaks about a coming Messiah. The majority of translations render this passage like the second suggestion from the critic. The gist of the verse as constructed in the KJV and Book of Mormon is that the Messiah will be filled with great knowledge and a lot of knowledge as he respects/fears the Lord. That perfectly encapsulates the Savior or anyone else that would be assigned as the Messiah. Thus meaning and intent have changed but changed intent does not reflect inaccurate doctrine.
41. Isaiah 13:12 ~ 2 Nephi 23:12 Wedge "I will make a man more precious than fine gold; even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir" (1611 | 1769) The better translation is "more precious. . .than the gold of Ophir".[24]:p. 218 Regardless of the translation, the essence is that a man is being made more precious than piece of gold from Ophir. No significant alteration in meaning.
42. Isaiah 13:15 ~ 2 Nephi 23:15 That is joined "Every one that is found shall be thrust through; and every one that is joined unto them shall fall by the sword." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation is "who are caught/captured. The verse intends to create a type of parallelism between the first and second clauses. It doesn't seem to be a substantive nor erroneous shift in meaning to say that all who are caught will be killed and all who are joined to the people who are caught will be killed. Interestingly, the Book of Mormon changes "found" in Isaiah 13:15 to read "proud" and substitutes "the wicked" for "them" such that the verse reads "[e]very one that is proud shall be thrust through; yea, and every one that is joined to the wicked shall fall by the sword."
43. Isaiah 13:21 ~ 2 Nephi 23:21 Satyrs "But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there." (1611 | 1769) "The Hebrew word here in the singular is sa'ir, which in the Hebrew refers to hairy demons or monsters that inhabit the deserts. This word has been incorrectly translated into its phonetically similar Greek word satyr, which refers to a woodland god that is half-human and half-beast."[24]:p. 218 Either way we just have a mythical creature dancing. No significant change in meaning. The vast majority of biblical translations render this as wild goats, goat-demons, or satyrs (mythical half-human, half-goat creatures).
44. Isaiah 13:22 ~ 2 Nephi 23:22 Of the islands "And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged. For I will destroy her speedily; yea, for I will be merciful unto my people, but the wicked shall perish." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation would be to omit "of the islands" and render it simply "wild/desert beasts" or specifically "jackals" or "hyenas." The verse concerns the Lord's/Isaiah's prediction that Babylon will revert to its primitive condition when it is overthrown. Whether "hyenas" or "wild beasts of the islands" crying in the towers of Babylon, it doesn't matter and doesn't change the intent of the verse.
45. Isaiah 13:22 ~ 2 Nephi 23:22 Dragons "And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged. For I will destroy her speedily; yea, for I will be merciful unto my people, but the wicked shall perish." (1611 | 1769) Critics assert that the better translation would be to replace "dragons" with "jackals". The majority of biblical translations render this verse with "jackals" instead of dragons though at least a couple keep dragons. One places "hedgehogs" here and another "wild dogs". We can make similar commentary here as we did for the "of the islands" error. The verses concern a reversion of Babylon to a primitive condition when the Lord desolates it. Whether jackals or dragons in the palaces, it doesn't really matter. The verses are just meant to depict the desolated and grim condition of Babylon after the Lord ravages it. Meaning has changed, intent has not.
46. Isaiah 14:2 ~ 2 Nephi 24:2 Handmaids "And the people shall take them and bring them to their place; yea, from far unto the ends of the earth; and they shall return to their lands of promise. And the house of Israel shall possess them, and the land of the Lord shall be for servants and handmaids; and they shall take them captives unto whom they were captives; and they shall rule over their oppressors." (1611 | 1769) Skousen says that "In this verse the sense of handmaid is 'a female slave', especially since the paired noun servant means 'a male slave'. In biblical contexts, handmaid usually means 'a female personal servant', but not here."[24]:p. 216 But a handmaid in the 1828 Webster's Dictionary understands a handmaid to be a "maid that waits at hand; a female servant or attendant." Thus it's not certain why Skousen considers this to be an error. A significant number of biblical translations render it as "handmaids".
47. Isaiah 14:4 ~ 2 Nephi 24:4 Golden city "And it shall come to pass in that day, that thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say: How hath the oppressor ceased, the golden city ceased!" (1611 | 1769) The better translation is "how hath the oppressor ceased, the assaulting ceased".[24]:p. 216 This is Isaiah's taunt song against Babylon. Calling Babylon "the golden city" that is laid down and humbled is a great way to taunt Babylon given that Isaiah would then be contrasting their former glory with their current misery. Three other biblical translations render it as "golden city". Scholar Seth Erlandson makes a compelling case for translating this passage as "golden city".[42]
48. Isaiah 14:5 ~ 2 Nephi 24:5 Scepter "The Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers." (1611 | 1769) Skousen proposes that the better translation is "the Lord hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the rod of the rulers".[24]:p. 218 But the vast majority of translations render this verse with "scepter" or "sceptre" instead of rod. Either way, it does not seem that the essential object being referred to nor the ethical message change. In Skousen's reconstruction of the earliest text of the Book of Mormon (the best reconstruction of the original words dictated by Joseph Smith), the text reads "scepters" in the plural.[37]:p. 127 This also doesn't seem to significantly change the essential meaning of the text.
49. Isaiah 14:12 ~ 2 Nephi 24:12 Weaken "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! Art thou cut down to the ground which did weaken the nations!" (1611 | 1769) "There are two meanings for this verb in the Hebrew: one means 'to weaken', the other 'to defeat or to lay prostrate'. In this context, the second of these works better and is the one adopted in modern translations, such as the English Standard Version: 'How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!'"[24]:p. 218 The essential message of bringing the nations down and humbling them is not altered given this variation. Six other biblical translations render this verse as weaken.
50. Isaiah 14:29 ~ 2 Nephi 24:29 Fiery flying serpent "Rejoice not thou, whole Palestina, because the rod of him that smote thee is broken; for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent." (1611 | 1769) "The correct rendition of the Hebrew for Isaiah 14:29 should be 'a flying fiery serpent'. The compound fiery serpent is represented in the Hebrew by a single word saraf, which comes from the verb saraf 'to burn'; here we have a flying serpent whose sting burns (in other words, 'a flying poisonous serpent')."[24]:p. 216 Regardless, we have a mythical serpent creature on the attack. No significant alteration in meaning. Four other biblical translations render it as the Book of Mormon does here.
51. Isaiah 29:16 ~ 2 Nephi 27:27 Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay "And wo unto them that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. For shall the work say of him that made it, he made me not? Or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, he had no understanding?" (1611 | 1769) Critic David P. Wright claims that a better translation would be: "How perverse of you! Can the potter be considered as the clay? Can a work say of its maker, 'He did not make me,' and can what is formed say to the one that formed it, "He has no creative intelligence?'" Wright is correct that this verse's translation is changes the meaning of the original text significantly. Isaiah means to use a metaphor that "shows the foolishness of mortals who pretend to be mightier than their Creator (cf. D&C 10:5–34)."[39]:p. 391 The best interpretation by the author would be to say that the wicked people who hide their works in darkness are telling God that His "turning of things upside down" will be esteemed as the potter's clay. The "turning of things upside down" might refer to God calling the bad, good and the good, bad and that this will be esteemed as the failing of a mortal man. Isaiah already warns us about those who "call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20). How many people that claim that God's moral compass as revealed in scripture is twisted and do so precisely because they don't have their moral compass oriented correctly?There's nothing that teaches something incorrect in that interpretation. Thus the meaning has certainly changed and it is a change in intent of what Isaiah meant to say, but the changed intent does not give an incorrect message about God or people. The Book of Mormon, in line with the more correct translation outlined by Wright, already teaches us that God is all-searching and all-wise.[43]
52. Isaiah 29:21 ~ 2 Nephi 27:32 Reproveth "And they that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of naught." (1611 | 1769) "The verb reprove is used four times in the Book of Mormon, all in biblical quotes. The King James use of reprove adds a negative sense that is not in the Hebrew original. In all cases, the neutral verb judge would be a more appropriate translation."[24]:p. 217. Bold added. Some translations render this verse similar to how the Book of Mormon and King James Version do. The act of judging or arbitrating disputes between peoples may mean that the judge at the city gates actually will reprove peoples that come down on the negative side of his judgements. In any dispute, there will be reproofs and/or punishments that the judge or arbiter can bring down for the wrongdoing that parties in a dispute have committed towards each other or that solely one party has inflicted on the other. Reproof and punishing are acts that a judge or arbitrator does. The intent of the passage is to point to the judge at the gate and the judge can both arbitrate and reprove.
53. Isaiah 53:8 ~ Mosiah 14:8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? "He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken." (1611 | 1769) Critics think that the first phrase might be rendered as the KJV has it though many moderns translate it as "by oppression and judgment he was taken away" (so NIV). The second phrase is obscure in the Hebrew. It has been rendered variously: "who could consider his stock/descendants," "who could consider his fate," "who could describe his abode," or "who could plead his cause." This can only be considered a translation variant. It's not one that's ideal since "declaring a generation" isn't very clear in meaning, though it can plausibly be interpreted to include the critic's suggestions and especially the last one.
54. Matthew 23:37 ~ 3 Nephi 10:5 Chickens "And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not." (1611 | 1769) A critic asserts that this is a translation error.[28] He believes that it should be rendered "chicks". This is not a translation error, but a great example of the diachronic nature of language. It is true that today we do not use "chickens" to refer to a hen's young. We instead use chicks. However, the King James translators did and so did Joseph Smith. The 1828 Webster's Dictionary tells us that "chicken" means "[t]he young of fowls, particularly of the domestic hen, or gallinaceous fowls."[44] We've shifted today to using "chicks" to refer to a hen's young whereas our English-speaking ancestors of yore used "chickens".
55. Matthew 5:27 ~ 3 Nephi 12:27 By them of old time "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:" (1611 | 1769) Newer translations of the Bible, based on the earliest extant manuscripts, omit the phrase "by them of old time". But there is no significant change of meaning nor intent in the verse, and Jesus is quoting Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18. Those are certainly references to prophets "of old time" relevant to Jesus. This cannot be considered an error. Only an evidence that the Book of Mormon has the King James Bible as its "base text" for translation. Stan Larson takes this further and says that "by them of old time" is a mistranslation of the Greek tois archaiois. It is more properly rendered as "to them of old time" suggesting that God is the one that told the prophets "thou shalt not commit adultery".[5]:p. 121 Larson is correct in his claim,[45] but that doesn't negate the Book of Mormon's historicity (as he so foolishly argues) nor does it mean that the Book of Mormon can't retain its status as the "most correct book". The ethical message is the same: don't commit adultery and don't look on someone to lust after them. Whether it was said by the prophets of old (which is still correct) or to the prophets of old doesn't matter at all!
56. Matthew 5:30 ~ 3 Nephi 12:30 Should be cast into hell "And if they right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell." (1611 | 1769) Stan Larson asserts that this should read "that thy whole body should go into hell" instead of "be cast into hell". Larson asserts that the earliest manuscripts support this reading.[5]:p. 122 The differences, however, seem to be trivial, and "cast into hell" can be the translated phrase from the earliest manuscripts. Many modern biblical translations render this verse as "cast into hell".
57. Matthew 5:44 ~ 3 Nephi 12:44 Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and ... which despitefully use you "But behold I say unto you, love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you;" (1611 | 1769) This translation does contrast with newer translations based on earlier manuscripts. The newer translations render it more simply. Always along the lines of just "But I say to you that you shall love those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you."[46] The verses meaning nor intent seem to change in any significant ways. Obviously there's no doctrinal error.
58. Matthew 6:4 ~ 3 Nephi 13:4 Openly "That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly." (1611 | 1769) The word "openly" in this verse is omitted in most biblical translations. That the Lord will reward us openly is repeated in verses 6 and 18 of Matthew 6 and verses 6 and 18 of 3 Nephi 13. "Openly" is omitted in most biblical translations of those verses as well. Some believe that "openly" is implied in the original Greek while others don't. Regardless of the correct translation of the Matthean verses, it's arguably still correct doctrine/teaching. Proverbs 10:22 informs us that "The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it." 2 Corinthians 9:8 informs us that "God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work". In other words, God is able to bless us abundantly with riches and provisions so that we can continue to do good to other people both at home and abroad. Is that not blessing us "openly"?
59. Matthew 6:13 ~ 3 Nephi 13:13 For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever, Amen "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen." (1611 | 1769) Critics believe that this verse, known as the doxology, was not original to Jesus; that Jesus didn't actually say this. The earliest manuscripts of the Bible do not contain these phrases. We've argued that the inclusion of the doxology in 3 Nephi 13:13 is not a problem for the Book of Mormon. See here for our response. The doxology is obviously not a doctrinal error about God. It's repeated
60. Matthew 7:2 ~ 3 Nephi 14:2 Again "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (1611 | 1769) Stan Larson asserts that the "again" at the end of 3 Nephi 14:2 is erroneous.[5]:p. 123 John W. Welch responded as follows in the FARMS Review: "Example 3 concerns the difference between 'measured to you' (which appears in older Matthean texts) and "measured to you again" (which appears in KJV Matthew 7:2 and 3 Nephi 14:2). Larson says that I 'downplay the difference among the variants at Matthew 7:2' (p. 123). He does not say, however, why I find the difference to be negligible. The difference is over the presence or absence of the Greek prefix anti- (English again). I believe that 'with or without this prefix on the verb, the sentence means exactly the same thing.'[47] Indeed, the similarity is such that 'this variant was not considered significant enough to be noted in the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament.'[48] Larson tries to salvage his point by arguing that 'it can usually (but not always) be shown what Greek text the Latin, Syriac, and Coptic versions were based upon' and 'it is often such fine distinctions that are clues in textual criticism' (p. 123). But if one were to imagine a world in which no Greek manuscripts of the New Testament existed, scholars would not stake their reputations on claiming to know for sure (given the clear sense of the passage) whether antimetrethesetai or metrethesetai stood behind an English translation that renders Matthew 7:2 as 'measured again.' Similarly, one cannot be sure what Aramaic verb originally was used here or what version of a Nephite verb stood on the plates of Mormon behind the translation 'measured again.' In light of the fact that Luke 6:38 contains the word antimetrethesetai ('measured again'), is there any reason not to believe that early Christians used the words antimetrethesetai and metrethesetai interchangeably? Larson has not shown that this is one of those cases where one can determine from the translation what the underlying text was, or that this is one of those 'fine distinctions' of textual analysis (because there is virtually no distinction in meaning here). If no difference exists, Larson has not proved that 3 Nephi 14:2 is in error."[49] Welch's responses to the translation errors of Matthew should be read and considered. Be sure to see his article listed under the citation just made. Other excellent points in response to Larson were made by Royal Skousen and John Gee.[50]
61. Isaiah 52:15 ~ 3 Nephi 20:45 Sprinkle "So he shall sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him, for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider." (1611 | 1769) The Hebrew verb for sprinkle doesn't make sense in context here. Other translations have made this verse something like "the nations shall marvel upon him". Joseph Smith in his "New Translation" of the Bible replaced sprinkle with gather, showing the difficulty of rendering this verse.[24]:p. 218 Some translations render it as nations gathering to God, standing in wonder of him, or being startled by him. The majority of biblical translations render it as sprinkle. Scholars today are still not certain about the meaning of the Hebrew. If that's the case, then this can't be considered a translation error. At worst, it can only be a translation variant.
62. Micah 5:14 ~ 3 Nephi 21:18 Groves "And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities." (1611 | 1769) "Here the noun grove is used to refer to a sacred grove used for cultic rites. However, the original Hebrew in these passages refers to Asherim, that is, wooden images of the Canaanite goddess Asherah."[24]:p. 217. Bold added. Given that 'groves' refers to areas where cultic, idolatrous rites were practiced, the Book of Mormon does not alter the essential message of Isaiah in its essence: that idolatry is wrong (Mosiah 13:12-13) and that God was going to take action to remove idolatrous practices from the Israelites. Three other biblical translations render this verse as "groves".
63. Isaiah 54:11–12 ~ 3 Nephi 22:11–12 Stones and architectural details mentioned "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones." (1611 | 1769) Critics claim that some of the stones and architectural details in this verse have been rendered differently and better by modern scholarly translations. Compare the REB: "Storm-battered city, distressed and desolate, now I shall set your stones in the finest mortar and lay your foundations with sapphires; I shall make your battlements of red jasper and your gates of garnet; all your boundary stones will be precious jewels." So the main differences are to substitute "finest mortar" for "fair colours", "battlements" for windows", "red jasper" for "agates", "garnet" for "carbuncle". Carbuncle is garnet so that doesn't make much sense. A battlement is a type of window so it likewise doesn't make much sense to fuss over it. Agate is similar to jasper. The overall intent of the passage is to state that "[t]he new Jerusalem is adorned with precious stones and gems by builders supernaturally instructed; cf. Ezekiel 28:13–19. Christian apocalyptic literature draws on this imagery to describe the new Jerusalem (Rev 21.18–21)."[35]:p. 1053n11–17
Location in Canon Erroneous Translation Passage Commentary
KJV Cultural Translations in the Book of Mormon
1. Isaiah 3:18 ~ 2 Nephi 13:18 Cauls "the Lord will take away the bravery of tinkling ornaments and cauls" (1611 | 1769) "The Oxford English Dictionary defines caul as 'a netted cap or head-dress, often richly ornamented'. The Hebrew today is usually translated today as a headband."[24]:p. 214 Isaiah's intent is to communicate that the Lord will take away the most prized possessions of the women of Jerusalem because those possessions cause arrogance. Whether headbands or cauls being taken away, it doesn't change the essential message of Isaiah.
2. Isaiah 3:18 ~ 2 Nephi 13:18 Tires like the moon "and cauls and round tires like the moon" (1611 | 1769) "In the Hebrew, the word tire refers to something round, either a crescent or perhaps a round pendant for the neck. The use of tire here in Isaiah 3:18 originated in the 1560 Geneva Bible: 'in that day shall the Lord take away the ornament of the slipper and the cauls and the round tires', where tire is a shortening from attire and refers to an ornament for a woman's head. The 1568 Bishop's Bible expanded on this by placing an internal note in square brackets after round tires: 'and the cauls and the round tires [after the fashion of the moon]'. This interpretative remark was apparently derived from the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, where the word used for 'crescent ornament' or 'little crescent' was a diminutive of the word for moon. The 1611 King James translators decided to embed this remark within the text itself by omitting the brackets, thus 'and round tires like the moon'. Since this interpretative prepositional phrase was not in the original Hebrew, it should have been placed in italics in the King James text."[24]:p. 215 This doesn't appear to be translation error. Rather just a variant.
3. Isaiah 3:24 ~ 2 Nephi 13:24 Stomacher "and instead of a stomacher, a girding of sackcloth" (1611 | 1769) "The Hebrew word here, patigil, is otherwise unattested. The Greek Septuagint translated it as 'a tunic of mixed purple', which has led to the general translation of this article of clothing as 'a fine garment' or 'a rich robe'. Miles Coverdale, in his 1535 Bible, translated it more specifically as stomacher, 'an ornamental covering for the chest (often covered with jewels) worn by women under the lacing of the bodice'."[24]:p. 215 As the Hebrew remains uncertain, this can only be seen as a translation variant rather than error. The essential message of Isaiah in contrasting fine, luxurious things with things of lower social status and shame remains unharmed.
4. Isaiah 7:23 ~ 2 Nephi 17:23 Silverlings "where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings" (1611 | 1769) "The Hebrew here literally reads 'a thousand of silver', where the presumed measure of weight is the shekel. The Greek Septuagint translated this phrase as 'a thousand shekels'. The use of silverlings in the English translation originated with Miles Coverdale's 1535 Bible. The English word silvering was chosen because it was morphologically analyzed as a silver + ling, but its value was not the same as a shekel's."[24]:p. 215 The intent of the scripture appears to remain unharmed.
5. Isaiah 7:25 ~ 2 Nephi 17:25 Mattock "and all the hills that shall be digged with the mattock" (1611 | 1769) "This is a tool that in the Hebrew is based on the verb meaning 'to pick' or 'to hoe'. The English mattock refers to a tool that is more specific than simply a pick or a hoe."[24]:p. 215 The intent of the passage seems to remain unchanged.
6. Isaiah 11:15 ~ 2 Nephi 21:15 Dry-shod "he shall. . .make men go over dry-shod" (1611 | 1769) "The past participial phrase dry-shod is equivalent to the adverbial phrase 'with dry shoes'. Here the Hebrew as well as the Greek and the Latin translations simply use the phrase 'in sandals', without any reference to getting one's sandals wet."[24]:p. 215 The adverbial phrase still makes sense in context, however. The whole verse in Isaiah 11:15 reads as follows: "And the Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dry-shod." Scholars recognize that this is an allusion to the Exodus when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea with dry feet.[35]:p. 997n15
7. Isaiah 13:14 ~ 2 Nephi 23:14 Roe "and it shall be as the chased roe" (1611 | 1769) "In English, a roe is a species of small deer. The word in the Hebrew refers to a gazelle. The word gazelle entered English in the late 1500s and early 1600s and would not have been readily available to the King James translators. All the earlier English translations, dating back to Miles Coverdale's 1535 Bible, had the phrase chased doe rather than chased roe."[24]:p. 215 Both the gazelle and roe work as illustrations of the imagery of fleeing to one's own people and lands. Thus the intent of the passage is not changed.
8. Isaiah 14:29 ~ 2 Nephi 24:29 Cockatrice "for out of the serpent's root shall come forth a cockatrice" (1611 | 1769) "The cockatrice is a mythical serpent with a deadly glance that is hatched by a reptile from a cock's egg. However, the Hebrew word here is based on a verb meaning 'to hiss' and simply refers to a viper or adder."[24]:p. 215 This verse is just giving "imagery explaining that while an oppressor of the Philistines may perish, another, more severe will follow." It's "a metaphor suggesting that Philistia's next oppressor (the cockatrice or deadly viper) will somehow be related to its first (the serpent of snake), perhaps a descendant."[39]:p. 388 Either a cockatrice or viper/adder can accomplish the rhetorical goals of the verse. Some might think that a cockatrice is somehow more powerful than a fiery flying serpent. That may be the case. Who exactly knows the power differentials that Philistia's next oppressors would have though? The prophecy may refer to Babylon since they were part of the Assyrian empire and yet overcame the Assyrian empire and destroyed Jerusalem around 587 BC. We don't know and maybe can't know. "Philistia attempted to revolt against Assyria" in 715 BCE and "Sargon put down the Philistine revolt in 713 BCE" just two years later.[35]:p.1001n14.28–32
9. Matthew 5:15 ~ 3 Nephi 12:15 Candle "do men light a candle and put it under bushel?" (1611 | 1769) "The corresponding Greek means simply 'a lamp', in fact, a small oil lamp."[24]:p. 214. Bold added. The intent of the passage is to use the metaphor of hiding a light when needed to guide towards goodness and truth. Both a candle and lamp can do that.
10. Matthew 5:15 ~ 3 Nephi 12:15 Candlestick "nay, but on a candlestick" (1611 | 1769) "The corresponding Greek word means 'a lamp stand' (that is, a specific stand for placing a lamp)."[24]:p. 214 The intent of the passage is to say that a person shouldn't hide their spiritual light but show it to others. Both a lamp/lampstand and candle/candlestick are effective imagery for communicating that message.
11. Matthew 5:40 ~ 3 Nephi 12:40 Coat "if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also" (1611 | 1769) "The Greek word for coat is chiton 'tunic', which actually refers to an inner garment worn under the coat, next to the skin, whereas the Greek word for cloak is himation, a more general word used to refer to an outer garment (such as a coat or a cloak)."[24]:p. 214 "Jesus is saying that, if we are sued even for a trifling amount, rather than countersuing and ratcheting up the hostility, we should be willing to give up what is rightfully ours to defuse the situation."[51]
12. Matthew 6:28 ~ 3 Nephi 13:28 Lillies "consider the lilies of the field" (1611 | 1769) "Here the Greek word krinon, modified as being 'in the field', most likely refers to a colorful wild flower."[24]:p. 215. Bold added. The verses are Jesus' words that are meant to suggest that the birds of the air, flowers of the field, and other things do not worry about the span of their lives nor worry about what they're going to eat to survive and yet the Lord provides for them. The intent of the verse is unchanged.
Location in Canon Erroneous Translation Passage Commentary
Alleged KJV New Testament Translation Errors in the Book of Mormon
1. Mark 16:15–18 ~ Mormon 9:22–24; Ether 4:18 Longer ending of Mark in the books of Mormon and Ether "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned; And these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover" (1611 |1769) See our commentary on this issue here.
2. 1 John 5:7 ~ 2 Nephi 31:21 The potential presence of the Johannine Comma in 2 Nephi 31:21 "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." (1611 |1769) This one is considered a stretch even by the scholar with whom the author corresponded. The passages from 1 John 5:7 and 2 Nephi 31:21 just don't line up like the critics might want them to.
3. 1 Corinthians 13:1 ~ Moroni 7:47 The use of “charity” in Moroni 7, relying upon the KJV rendering of “agape”. Apparently it should just be rendered "love". "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not acharity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." (1611 |1769) It's difficult to know exactly how passages like Moroni 7:47 would be translated. There we learn that "charity is the pure love of Christ". Should we translate that passage as "love is the pure love of Christ"? Or "agape is the pure love of Christ"? Maybe the latter, but it doesn't seem to be a substantive improvement on just retaining "charity" in the verse.

3. Why did God allow the KJV errors to exist in the Book of Mormon?

All the tabulated data above supports the conclusion that the Book of Mormon, if indeed a translation of an ancient text (which we obviously affirm), is a cultural and creative translation of that text. But exactly how/why did God allow the translation errors to exist in the Book of Mormon?

The only description of the translation process that Joseph Smith ever gave was that it was performed by the "gift and power of God," and that the translation was performed using the "Urim and Thummim." Joseph Smith stated the following in July 1838:

Question 4th. How, and where did you obtain the book of Mormon? Answer. Moroni, the person who deposited the plates, from whence the book of Mormon was translated, in a hill in Manchester, Ontario County, New York, being dead, and raised again therefrom, appeared unto me, and told me where they were; and gave me directions how to obtain them. I obtained them and the Urim and Thummim with them; by the means of which I translated the plates and thus came the book of Mormon. (Joseph Smith, (July 1838) Elders Journal 1:42-43.)

Here is a theology of translation that may feel a bit foreign and a bit strange to some Latter-day Saints, but that may only be because they’ve never studied this question as directly and intensely before:

We have some of the Lord's own words about the nature of revelation to Joseph Smith. The Lord speaks to his servants "after the manner of their language that they may come to understanding" according to the Doctrine & Covenants (Doctrine & Covenants 1:24). That same idea is confirmed in 2 Nephi 31:3. He can sometimes exalt and use error for his own holy, higher purposes. The formal name for this is “accomodation” in the study of theology. We've talked about it on our page regarding the nature of prophetic revelation from a Latter-day Saint point of view. God can accommodate erroneous translations and even perspectives for higher, holier objectives. That should be comforting to us. Latter-day Saints should take comfort in fact that the Lord accommodates his perfection to our own weakness and uses our imperfect language and nature for the building up of Zion on the earth. Don't Latter-day Saints believe that the fulness of humanity is divinity? That humans are of the same species as God and can become like him? Joseph Smith himself quoted from Malachi 4:5–6 in Doctrine and Covenants 128:17–18. You can read the full quote here. Notice what he says at the top of verse 18: "I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands.” Joseph Smith is comfortable with obtaining a translation that is functionally sufficient. It doesn’t need to be 100% perfect in order to be divine and achieve divine purposes.

It seems entirely within the realm of possibility that the Lord could have revealed the text of the Book of Mormon, warts and all, to the mind of Joseph Smith through the seer stone and Urim and Thummim. The Lord can start with the plates, use Joseph's culturally-saturated mind as a springboard and filter for further modification of the text, and then provide that "accommodated", functionally-sufficient translation, word-for-word, on the seer stone and Urim and Thummim. This eliminates any complaints that our critics, including Mr. Runnells,[28] might have about loose translation versus tight translation.

We should be on the Lord’s and Joseph Smith’s page if we’re going to keep our faith in them and know what they want us to know.

4. Has the author of this article created an unorthodox version of Mormonism?

The last question we deal with is one of orthodoxy. We are warned in scripture to not create a God after our own image (Doctrine & Covenants 1:16). Some former-members-of-the-Church-turned-critics have mockingly made a distinction between "chapel Mormonism" and "internet Mormonism"—a distinction we've responded to elsewhere on the FAIR Wiki. The essential claim that our critics will make is that the Book of Mormon is thought to be pristine and without any kind of potential error by leaders and "regular members" of the Church and that this article and its observations put the author and his readers out of step with the authoritative pronouncements of leaders of the Church.

Though our critics would be mistaken about what is and isn't orthodoxy on this matter. First, they will have misunderstood Joseph Smith's statement about the Book of Mormon being the "most correct book" on earth. We've provided a link to an article at the very top of this article that shows how Joseph Smith meant that the principles that the Book of Mormon teaches would get a man closer to God than any other book. Second, Joseph Smith himself would be open to using all fields of inquiry in order to understand something pertaining to the Kingdom of God. That is demonstrated in places like Doctrine & Covenants 88:77–80 and the instructions given to the School of the Prophets. We haven't denied nor supplanted any core claim of the Church. The core claim of the Church would be that "Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, an ancient record". We've only nuanced a core claim. We've said that "Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, an ancient record, by using much of the King James translation of the Bible that was available to him" and we've used rigorous reasoning and study to substantiate this claim and deal with any potential negative ramifications of that data. Fourth, as our answer to question #3 demonstrates, the author can document his theology of translation from the scriptures: the "law to govern [the Lord's] Church" as Doctrine & Covenants declares (Doctrine & Covenants 42:59). The data above confirms what scripture and other revelation teaches about the nature of revelation. The article is more in line with orthodoxy than the critics! In fact, here is something interesting that Brigham Young taught:

Should the Lord Almighty send an angel to re-write the Bible, it would in many places be very different from what it now is. And I will even venture to say that if the Book of Mormon were now to be re-written, in many instances it would materially differ from the present translation. According as people are willing to receive the things of God, so the heavens send forth their blessings.[52]

Even Brigham Young recognized that the Book of Mormon's translation could take different shapes.

Our critics, should they claim that we've created a new version of Mormonism, are simply wrong.

Conclusion

If the errors do not lead us into bad understandings of God and do not prove that Joseph Smith was a plagiarist and mountebank, then why does God need to have a perfect translation? There is no need. We shouldn’t hold the Book of Mormon to a standard it (nor God nor Joseph Smith) didn't claim for itself.


Ensign (Sept. 1977): "If his translation was essentially the same as that of the King James version, he apparently quoted the verse from the Bible"

Richard Lloyd Anderson (Ensign, September 1977):

In fact, the language in the sections of the Book of Mormon that correspond to parts of the Bible is quite regularly selected by Joseph Smith, rather than obtained through independent translation. For instance, there are over 400 verses in which the Nephite prophets quote from Isaiah, and half of these appear precisely as the King James version renders them. Summarizing the view taken by Latter-day Saint scholars on this point, Daniel H. Ludlow emphasizes the inherent variety of independent translation and concludes: “There appears to be only one answer to explain the word-for-word similarities between the verses of Isaiah in the Bible and the same verses in the Book of Mormon.” That is simply that Joseph Smith must have opened Isaiah and tested each mentioned verse by the Spirit: “If his translation was essentially the same as that of the King James version, he apparently quoted the verse from the Bible.” [53] Thus the Old Testament passages from Isaiah display a particular choice of phraseology that suggests Joseph Smith’s general freedom throughout the Book of Mormon for optional wording. [54]

NOTE: Witnesses to the translation process, including Joseph's wife Emma, state that Joseph Smith never consulted a Bible or any other book as he was dictating. If Joseph did indeed quote passages from the Bible word-for-word, as Richard Lloyd Anderson suggests, he did it without the aid of having a physical Bible present during the translation. For details, see Question: Could Joseph have used a Bible during and simply dictated from it during Book of Mormon translation?.


Question: Were the Isaiah passages in the Book of Mormon simply plagiarized from the King James Bible?

Nephi and Jacob generally make it clear when they are quoting from Isaiah

If a Christian is making an accusation of plagiarism, then they are, by the same logic, indicting the Bible which they share with us. Close examination of the Old Testament reveals many passages which are copied nearly word for word including grammatical errors. Micah, who lived hundreds of years after Isaiah, copies word for word in Micah 4:1-3 from Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 2:2-4 without once giving him credit.[55] We also find the genealogy from Genesis 5:10-11,36 repeated in 1 Chronicles, much of the history in Samuel and Kings is repeated in Chronicles, and Isaiah 36:2 through Isaiah 38:5 is the same as 2 Kings 18:17 through 2 Kings 20:6.

Although Old Testament scripture was often quoted by Old and New Testament writers without giving credit, Nephi and Jacob generally make it clear when they are quoting from Isaiah. Indeed, much of 2 Nephi may be seen as an Isaiah commentary. Of course, Nephi and Jacob do not specify chapter and verse, because these are modern additions to the text (as Joseph Smith somehow knew). It is ironic that critics of the Book of Mormon find fault with its "plagiarism," even though its authors typically mention their sources, while they do not condemn the Bible's authors when they do not.

Additionally, the Church has made clear in the 1981 and the 2013 editions of the Book of Mormon [56] in footnote "a" for 2 Nephi 12:2 that: "Comparison with the King James Bible in English shows that there are differences in more than half of the 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, while about 200 verses have the same wording as the KJV"[57] Thus it doesn't appear that the Church is afraid of having its members understand the similarities and differences between the King James Version of the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

Finally, it may be that the use of King James language for passages shared by the Bible and the Book of Mormon allows the Book of Mormon to highlight those areas in which the Book of Mormon's original texts were genuinely different from the textual tradition of the Old World's which gave us the Holy Bible of today.

A closer look at these duplicate Isaiah texts actually provides us an additional witness of the Book of Mormon's authenticity

A closer look at these duplicate texts actually provides us an additional witness of the Book of Mormon's authenticity.[58]

The 21 chapters of Isaiah which are quoted (Chapters 2-14, 29, and 48-54) either partially or completely, represent about one-third of the book of Isaiah, but less than two and one-half percent of the total Book of Mormon. We also find that more than half of all verses quoted from Isaiah (234 of 433) differ from the King James version available to Joseph Smith.[59] Perhaps it may be said that the Book of Mormon follows the King James (Masoretic) text when the original meaning is closer to how the King James renders the passages in question.

Additionally, we often find differences in Book of Mormon Isaiah texts where modern renderings of the text disagree.[60] One verse (2 Nephi 12:16), is not only different but adds a completely new phrase: "And upon all the ships of the sea." This non-King James addition agrees with the Greek (Septuagint) version of the Bible, which was first translated into English in 1808 by Charles Thomson. [61] Such a translation was "rare for its time."[62] The textual variants in the two texts have theological import and ancient support. John Tvedtnes has documented many in this study of the Isaiah variants in the Book of Mormon. A critic, David Wright, responded to Tvedtnes and Tvedtnes’ review of that critic’s response can be found here.

Accounting for the Rest of the Book of Mormon

If Joseph or anyone else actually tried to plagiarize the Book of Mormon, critics have failed to show the source of the remaining 93% (when all similar texts are removed). A 100% non-biblical book of scripture wouldn't have been much more difficult to produce.

Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, "Was Joseph Smith Smarter Than the Average Fourth Year Hebrew Student? Finding a Restoration-Significant Hebraism in Book of Mormon Isaiah"

Paul Y. Hoskisson,  Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, (2016)
The brass plates version of Isaiah 2:2, as contained in 2 Nephi 12:2, contains a small difference, not attested in any other pre-1830 Isaiah witness, that not only helps clarify the meaning but also ties the verse to events of the Restoration. The change does so by introducing a Hebraism that would have been impossible for Joseph Smith, the Prophet, to have produced on his own.

Click here to view the complete article


Question: Why are many of the quotes from Isaiah in the Book of Mormon identical to those in the King James Bible?

Witnesses to the translation process are unanimous that Joseph did not have any books, manuscripts, or notes to which he referred while translating

There are several problems with the idea that Joseph simply copied passages from the Holy Bible.

1) Witnesses to the translation process are unanimous that Joseph did not have any books, manuscripts, or notes to which he referred while translating. Recalled Emma, in a later interview:

I know Mormonism to be the truth; and believe the church to have been established by divine direction. I have complete faith in it. In writing for [Joseph] I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat , with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.
Q. Had he not a book or manuscript from which he read, or dictated to you?
A. He had neither manuscript or book to read from.
Q. Could he not have had, and you not know it?
A. If he had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me.[63]

Martin Harris also noted that Joseph would translate with his face buried in his hat in order to use the seer stone/urim and thummim. This would make referring to a Bible or notes virtually impossible:

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...[64]

2) It is not clear that Joseph even owned a Bible during the Book of Mormon translation. He and Oliver Cowdery later purchased a Bible, which suggests (given Joseph's straitened financial situation) that he did not already own one.[65]

3) It is not clear that Joseph's Biblical knowledge was at all broad during the Book of Mormon translation. It seems unlikely that he would have recognized, say, Isaiah, had he encountered it on the plates. Recalled Emma Smith:

When my husband was translating the Book of Mormon, I wrote a part of it, as he dictated each sentence, word for word, and when he came to proper names he could not pronounce, or long words, he spelled them out, and while I was writing them, if I made a mistake in spelling, he would stop me and correct my spelling, although it was impossible for him to see how I was writing them down at the time. .?. . When he stopped for any purpose at any time he would, when he commenced again, begin where he left off without any hesitation, and one time while he was translating he stopped suddenly, pale as a sheet, and said, "Emma, did Jerusalem have walls around it?" When I answered, "Yes," he replied, "Oh! I was afraid I had been deceived." He had such a limited knowledge of history at the time that he did not even know that Jerusalem was surrounded by walls.[66]

Emma also noted that

Joseph Smith could neither write nor dictate a coherent and wellworded letter; let alone dictating a book like the Book of Mormon. And, though I was an active participant in the scenes that transpired, . . . it is marvelous to me, “a marvel and a wonder,” as much so as to any one else.[67]

And, if Joseph was merely inventing the Book of Mormon story, he picked some of the more obscure and difficult Bible passages to include.

4) If Joseph was forging the Book of Mormon, why include Biblical passages at all? Clearly, Joseph was able to rapidly produce a vast and complex text that made no reference to Biblical citations at all. If Joseph was trying to perpetrate a fraud, why did he include near-verbatim quotations from the one book (the Holy Bible KJV) with which his target audience was sure to be familiar?

The differences in wording between the KJV and the Book of Mormon highlight the areas in which there were theologically significant differences between the Nephite versions and the Masoretic text

Even academic translators sometimes copy a previous translation if it serves the purpose of their translation. For example, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) provided previously unknown texts for many Biblical writings. However, in some translations of the DSS, approximately 90% is simply copied from the KJV.

Surely we are not expected to believe that the DSS translators dropped back into King James idiom and just happened to come up with a nearly identical text! They, in fact, unabashedly copied the KJV, except where the DSS texts were substantially different from already known Hebrew manuscripts.[68]

Why was this done? Because, the purpose of the DSS translation is to highlight the differences between the newly discovered manuscripts and those to which scholars already had access. Thus, in areas where the DSS manuscripts agree with the Biblical texts that were already known, the KJV translation is used to indicate this.

This is not to argue that there may not be a better way to render the text than the KJV—but, it would be counterproductive for the DSS committee spent a lot of time improving on the KJV translation. A reader without access to the original manuscripts could then never be sure if a difference between the DSS translation and the King James (or any other) translation represented a true difference in the DSS text, or simply the choice of the DSS translators to improve existing translations.

The situation with the Book of Mormon is likely analogous. For example, it is possible that most of the text to which the Nephites had access would not have differed significantly from the Hebrew texts used in later Bible translations. The differences in wording between the KJV and the Book of Mormon highlight the areas in which there were theologically significant differences between the Nephite versions and the Masoretic text, from which the Bible was translated. Other areas can be assumed to be essentially the same. If one wants an improved or clearer translation of a passage that is identical in the Book of Mormon and the KJV, one has only to go to the original manuscripts available to all scholars. Basing the text on the KJV focuses the reader on the important clarifications, as opposed to doing a new translation from scratch, and distracting the reader with many differences that might be due simply to translator preference.

Since there is no such thing as a "perfect" translation, this allows the reader to easily identify genuine differences between the Isaiah texts of the Old World and the Nephites.

Bible text itself quotes extensively from past scripture

When considering the presence of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, it is also interesting to note that one Bible scholar has found that the four gospels attest to the fact that Jesus Christ and the apostles consistently quoted scripture. He calculated that over "ten percent of the daily conversation of Jesus consisted of Old Testament words quoted literally" and nearly 50% of the Lord's words as quoted by John were quotations from the Old Testament.[69]

When we consider the fact that Isaiah is the most quoted of all prophets, being more frequently quoted by Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John (in his Revelation) than any other Old Testament prophet, it should not surprise us that both the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants also quote Isaiah more than any other prophet.[70] The Lord told the Nephites that "great are the words of Isaiah," and the prophet Nephi confessed, "my soul delighteth in his words... for he verily saw my Redeemer, even as I have seen him" (2 Nephi 11:2).

New Testament writers literally quoted hundreds of Old Testament scriptures including 76 verses from Isaiah

It is clear that the writings of Isaiah held special significance for Jesus Christ and Nephi (see 2 Nephi 11:8, 2 Nephi 25:5; 3 Nephi 20:11; 3 Nephi 23:1-3). Isaiah's prophecies might also have been quoted frequently because they were largely concerned with latter-day events. The Saints understand Isaiah to have foretold the restoration of the gospel through Joseph Smith (see Isaiah 49:), the gathering of Israel in the last days (Isaiah 18:), the coming forth of the Book of Mormon (Isaiah 29:), wickedness in the last days (Isa. 33), and the Savior's second coming, and the millennium (Isaiah 13:, Isaiah 26:, Isaiah 27:). While he also wrote about the Savior's first coming (Isaiah 32:1-4) and events in his own time (Isaiah 20,23:), most of what he wrote about is yet to be fulfilled.[71]

When one considers that New Testament writers literally quoted hundreds of Old Testament scriptures including 76 verses from Isaiah[72] it should not surprise us that Book of Mormon writers did likewise. After all, these writings were part of the old world scriptures brought with them to the new world 1 Nephi 19:22-23). If the prophets of the Book of Mormon had not quoted Isaiah we might have questioned the authenticity of their words. That they did quote him extensively shows that they understood his writings as did Jesus and other apostles and prophets.

Paul has been cited as the most original of all New Testament writers but investigations of his epistles show that Paul often quoted from classical writers, orators, dramas, law courts, sports commentaries, and ancient religious rites. Even the well-known Pauline formula of "faith, hope, and charity," which appears also in the Book of Mormon, has been traced to Babylonian writings.[73]

Analysis of Specific Passages

2 Nephi 14:5

Walter Martin claims that Isaiah 4:5 is followed (mistakenly) by (2 Nephi 14:5). The phrase "For upon all the glory shall be a defense" should actually be "For over all the glory there will be a canopy."

Martin ignores that as translation literature, the Book of Mormon may well follow the KJV when the documents upon which the KJV is based match those of the Nephite text. Book of Mormon variants likely reflect only theologically significant changes not available in the Old World textual tradition.


2 Nephi 22:2

Some have questioned the use of the name JEHOVAH in 2 Nephi 22:2 and the use of some italicized King James Version words in the Book of Mormon. It seems clear that Joseph Smith was led to translate many passages as they appear in the King James Bible and made changes specifically by exception. Use of the proper name "Jehovah" which is an anglicized form of the Hebrew Yahweh, was common in the Bible[74] and was also in common use in Joseph Smith's day.[75] Although the name Jehovah is of more recent origin than the original Book of Mormon plates, it does not mean this name could not properly be used in translating a more ancient Hebrew title denoting the eternal I AM. Why should Joseph Smith be criticized for using the same name that King James scholars used?


Question: Did Joseph Smith ignorantly include an error from the Bible into the Book of Mormon when including the Lord's Prayer in 3 Nephi 13:13?

The text is arguably both an original teaching of Jesus and something associated with the Lord's Prayer, and thus is entirely supportable as a teaching of Jesus during His ministry as recorded in the Book of Mormon

Critics of the Book of Mormon point to the ending of the Lord's Prayer as found in 3 Nephi 13:13 which reads "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen." This phrase, called the doxology, is missing from early manuscripts of Matthew 6:13 but is included in the King James Version of the Bible. The argument is that Joseph Smith ignorantly included a late addition to the Bible into the Book of Mormon, thus proving the Book of Mormon to be a creation of Joseph Smith and not an ancient text.[76]

The issue of recovering the earliest form of Matthew is a matter of manuscript discoveries and continued scholarship. But the doxology is arguably both an original teaching of Jesus and something associated with the Lord's Prayer, and thus is entirely supportable as a teaching of Jesus during His ministry as recorded in the Book of Mormon.

The problem with the criticism is that it presumes that, based on an appeal to the Bible, the doxology was not spoken by Jesus to the Nephites

The problem with the criticism is that it presumes that, based on an appeal to the Bible, the doxology was not spoken by Jesus to the Nephites. The presumption is that the Book of Mormon record should properly match our earliest manuscripts for Matthew rather than being in its own right an historical record of Jesus' words to the Nephites. This criticism also is based on the related assumptions that Matthew properly recorded the entire words of Jesus and that the doxology was not used by Jesus during His mortal ministry in connection with the Lord's Prayer. The critics err in all of these instances.

It is not known when the doxology was first used by Christians, but the doxology might first be prefigured in 1 Chronicles 29:10-11 where the following phrases appear:

"Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all."

It is clear that early Christians believed that Jesus spoke those words and that the words were associated with the Lord's Prayer

The first extant text of the doxology in association with the Lord's Prayer is found in the Didache, an ancient Christian document written in Greek and dating from no later than the early second century and possibly as early as A.D. 70.

It is clear that early Christians believed that Jesus spoke those words and that the words were associated with the Lord's Prayer. We cannot know whether Matthew simply did not record those words or if Matthew's record had been corrupted early on to remove those words. It is possible that Jesus taught the Lord's Prayer on multiple occasions and didn't always use the same form, making Matthew's account neither incomplete nor corrupt, merely a record of one of several sermons that include the Lord's Prayer. It is even possible that during His mortal ministry Jesus spoke the doxology yet never combined the doxology with the Lord's Prayer, but that He combined those teachings during His three-day ministry among the Nephites.


Notes

  1. Jeremy T. Runnells, CES Letter: My Search for Answers to My Mormon Doubts (n.p.: CES Letter Foundation, 2017), 14. Emphasis added.
  2. Grant H. Palmer, An Insider's View of Mormon Origins (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002) 10, 83. ( Index of claims ); Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised) (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), 205. ( Index of claims ); La Roy Sunderland, “Mormonism,” Zion’s Watchman (New York) 3, no. 7 (17 February 1838) off-site
  3. "History of Joseph Smith by his Mother Lucy," 592; 1 Nephi 13:28; see 13:23–29. Cited in Kent P. Jackson, Understanding Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2022), 34–35.
  4. American Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. “translate”; https://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/translate.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Stan Larson, "The Historicity of the Matthean Sermon on the Mount in 3 Nephi," in New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology, ed. Brent Lee Metcalfe (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1993), 115–63.
  6. Runnells originally relied on sources that are not cited nor linked to in the first few editions of the CES Letter. In editions past 2013, he links to an old version of a Wikipedia page (accessed December 2, 2022 by the author of this FAIR Wiki article) to make his argument. Though the editor of that Wikipedia page that made the claim that the errors are unique to the 1769 edition may have been relying on either Runnells or Runnells' unknown sources and very likely misunderstood and thus misrepresented the argument as originally made by Wright and Larson. A similar argument to Runnells' is made in Grant H. Palmer, An Insider's View of Mormon Origins (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002), 10. Palmer relies on David P. Wright, "Joseph Smith's Interpretation of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon," 181–206 and Larson, "The Historicity of the Matthean Sermon," 115–63. Those two, and more especially Larson, seem to be the originators of this criticism. Palmer doesn't seem to make the argument that the translation errors in the Book of Mormon are unique to the 1769 version, but rather that scholars (Larson and Wright) have dated the Book of Mormon's composition to the 1830s because of the Book of Mormon's seeming use of the 1769 KJV, including its errors. That is a correct reading of the argument that Larson and Wright make. They argued that the Book of Mormon includes KJV translation errors and, separately, that the Book of Mormon's use of KJV italics is what pinned the Book of Mormon to the 1769 edition. Runnells, however, including his sources, has certainly misunderstood the argument that Palmer, Larson, and Wright were making because he relied on the erroneous Wikipedia page. The newest iteration of the Wikipedia page (accessed December 2, 2022) seems to correct for this error, but it seems to hold on at least partially to the argument that the errors are unique to the 1769 edition of the KJV. Significantly, it says that there are translation variations (instead of errors) that are contained in the 1769 edition of the KJV and the Book of Mormon. But it seems to suggest that the variations are unique to the 1769 edition because it opens by saying that "The KJV of 1769 contains translation variations which also occur in the Book of Mormon." That's technically a correct statement, but why specify that the variations come from the 1769 edition unless wanting to hold on at least partially to the original argument? Moving along in that section and reading the table of that section, it gives examples of how the 1611 (and not the 1769) edition of the KJV and the Book of Mormon share translation variants. It's an odd page to be sure, but it makes important points that hint at the errors in Runnells' claims. Runnells now relies on the Larson and Wright articles that Palmer used, the new Wikipedia page, an old anti-Mormon webpage called 2Think.org, the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, as well as an online edition of the 1769 KJV with apocrypha to make his case. Though he has neglected correcting for the fact that the translation errors he identifies exist in other editions of the KJV. Thus this is either evidence of laziness or duplicity. Runnells is known for moving the goalposts and claiming that apologists strawman his arguments in order to make it appear like his CES Letter hasn't made any significant, lazy mistakes in research on a frequent basis, and he may claim in the future that all he meant to do was point to the KJV errors themselves and say that Joseph Smith probably used the 1769 edition that he owned in order to create the Book of Mormon, but the wording of his criticism clearly evinces the fact that he believes that the errors are unique to the 1769 edition. Why take pains to state "1769" and "unique to the 1769 edition of the KJV that Joseph Smith owned" in the quote from the CES Letter at the top of this article? Elsewhere Runnells pointedly underscores as fact that "[t]here are 1769 KJV Bible edition errors unique to only that edition present in the Book of Mormon." See Jeremy Runnells, "What are 1769 King James Version edition errors doing in the Book of Mormon?" CES Letter, accessed December 22, 2022, https://cesletter.org/debunking-fairmormon/book-of-mormon.html#2.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Stan Spencer, "Missing Words: King James Bible Italics, the Translation of the Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith as an Unlearned Reader," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 38 (2020): 45–106.
  8. For the most thorough coverage of the Micah material in the Book of Mormon, see Dana M. Pike, "Passages from the Book of Micah in the Book of Mormon," in They Shall Grow Together: The Bible in the Book of Mormon, ed. Charles Swift and Nicholas J. Frederick (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2022), 393–443.
  9. John W. Welch, Illuminating the Sermon at the Temple & the Sermon on the Mount (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1999), 125–50.
  10. See Michael Hickenbotham, Answering Challenging Mormon Questions: Replies to 130 Queries by Friends and Critics of the LDS Church (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort Publisher, 2004),193–196. (Key source)
  11. The implications of this change represent a more complicated textual history than previously thought. See discussion in Dana M. Pike and David R. Seely, "‘Upon All the Ships of the Sea, and ‘Upon All the Ships of Tarshish': Revisiting 2 Nephi 12:16 and Isaiah 2:16," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14, no. 2 (2005): 12–25. For earlier discussions, see Gilbert W. Scharffs, The Truth about ‘The God Makers’ (Salt Lake City, Utah: Publishers Press, 1989; republished by Bookcraft, 1994), 172. Full text FairMormon link ISBN 088494963X.; see also Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon (Kolob Book Company, 1964),100–102.; Hugh W. Nibley, Since Cumorah, 2nd edition, (Vol. 7 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988),129–143. ISBN 0875791395.. See also Royal Skousen, “Textual Variants in the Isaiah Quotations of the Book of Mormon,” in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. Donald W. Parry and John W. Welch (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1998), 376.
  12. "Thomson's Translation," Wikipedia, accessed August 15, 2022, http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomson%27s_Translation.
  13. John A. Tvedtnes, “Isaiah Variants in the Book of Mormon,” in Isaiah and the Prophets: Inspired Voices from the Old Testament, ed. Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1984), 165–78. David Wright responded to John Tvedtnes' chapter there. Tvedtnes responds to Wright in John A. Tvedtnes, "Isaiah in the Bible and the Book of Mormon," The FARMS Review 16, no. 2 (2004): 161–72.
  14. Paul Y. Hoskisson, "Was Joseph Smith Smarter Than the Average Fourth Year Hebrew Student? Finding a Restoration-Significant Hebraism in Book of Mormon Isaiah," Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 17 (2016): 151–58.
  15. John W. Welch, "Documents of the Translation of the Book of Mormon," in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations, ed. John W. Welch, 2nd ed. (Provo, UT: BYU Press; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2017), 126–227.
  16. "The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon," Interpreter Foundation, accessed August 15, 2022, https://interpreterfoundation.org/the-history-of-the-text-of-the-book-of-mormon/.
  17. Stanford Carmack, “A Look at Some ‘Non-Standard’ Book of Mormon Grammar,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 11 (2014): 209–62; “What Command Syntax Tells Us About Book of Mormon Authorship,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 13 (2015): 175–217; “The Implications of Past-Tense Syntax in the Book of Mormon,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 14 (2015): 119–86; “Why the Oxford English Dictionary (and not Webster’s 1828),” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 15 (2015): 65–77; “The More Part of the Book of Mormon Is Early Modern English,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 18 (2016): 33–40; “Joseph Smith Read the Words,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 18 (2016): 41–64. “The Case of the {-th} Plural in the Earliest Text,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 18 (2016): 79–108; “The Case of Plural Was in the Earliest Text,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 18 (2016): 109–37; “How Joseph Smith’s Grammar Differed from Book of Mormon Grammar: Evidence from the 1832 History,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 25 (2017): 239–59; “Barlow on Book of Mormon Language: An Examination of Some Strained Grammar,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 27 (2017): 185–96; “Is the Book of Mormon a Pseudo-Archaic Text?Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 28 (2018): 177–232; “Bad Grammar in the Book of Mormon Found in Early English Bibles,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 36 (2020): 1–28; “Pitfalls of the Ngram Viewer,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 36 (2020): 187–210; “Personal Relative Pronoun Usage in the Book of Mormon: An Important Authorship Diagnostic,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 49 (2021): 5–36; “The Book of Mormon’s Complex Finite Cause Syntax,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 49 (2021): 113–36; “A Comparison of the Book of Mormon’s Subordinate That Usage,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 50 (2022): 1–32; Royal Skousen, “The Original Text of the Book of Mormon and its Publication by Yale University Press,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 7 (2013): 57–96; “The Language of the Original Text of the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies Quarterly 57, no. 3 (2018): 81–110; Royal Skousen with the collaboration of Stanford Carmack, The Nature of the Original Language, Parts 3–4 of The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon, Volume 3 of The Critical Text of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: FARMS and BYU Studies, 2018).
  18. John A. Tvedtnes and Matthew Roper, "Joseph Smith's Use of the Apocrypha: Shadow or Reality? (Review of Joseph Smith's Use of the Apocrypha by Jerald and Sandra Tanner)," FARMS Review of Books 8, no. 2 (1996): 326–72.
  19. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana and Chicago, Illinois: University of Illinois Press; Reprint edition, 1987), 95–100. ISBN 0252060121.
  20. Robert J. Matthews, A Plainer Translation": Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible: A History and Commentary (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1985), 26; cited in footnote 165 of John Gee, "La Trahison des Clercs: On the Language and Translation of the Book of Mormon (Review of New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology by Brent Lee Metcalfe)," FARMS Review of Books 6/1 (1994): 51–120. off-site
  21. These were the only editions consulted for this point. More editions may render the same however the author did not have access to them at this time.
  22. See page 81 of either edition of the Book of Mormon
  23. Royal Skousen, “How Joseph Smith Translated the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Manuscript,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7, no. 1 (1998): 25–31, h; “The Archaic Vocabulary of the Book of Mormon,” Insights 25, no. 5 (2005): 2–6.
  24. 24.00 24.01 24.02 24.03 24.04 24.05 24.06 24.07 24.08 24.09 24.10 24.11 24.12 24.13 24.14 24.15 24.16 24.17 24.18 24.19 24.20 24.21 24.22 24.23 24.24 24.25 24.26 24.27 24.28 24.29 24.30 24.31 24.32 24.33 Royal Skousen, The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon, Part Five: King James Quotations in the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2019).
  25. This same thing may apply to Old Testament phrasal interactions with the Book of Mormon. If that type of scholarship/criticism also emerges in the future, we will be sure to include analysis of that here on this page.
  26. David P. Wright, "Joseph Smith's Interpretation of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 31, no. 4 (Winter 1998): 182.
  27. David P. Wright, "Isaiah in the Book of Mormon...and Joseph Smith in Isaiah," in American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon, ed. Dan Vogel and Brent Lee Metcalfe (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2002), 157–234.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 Jeremy Runnells, "1769 KJV Errors in Book of Mormon Sources and notes on presence of 1769 King James Version edition errors in the Book of Mormon - a supposed ancient text," CES Letter Foundation, accessed December 2, 2022, https://cesletter.org/1769-kjv-errors/.
  29. We've also referred to an old Wikipedia article that contained claims of errors.
  30. "Topics," 2Think.org, accessed December 11, 2022, https://www.2think.org/hundredsheep/annotated/topics.shtml#KJV%20Translation%20Errors.
  31. This line was written December 11, 2022.
  32. Phillipians 2:13
  33. Isaiah 48:10
  34. 2 Nephi 4:30
  35. 35.0 35.1 35.2 35.3 35.4 35.5 35.6 35.7 35.8 35.9 Marvin A. Sweeney, "Isaiah," in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, ed. Michael D. Coogan, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).
  36. Proverbs 3:11-12; Hebrews 12:5-6; Helaman 15:3
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 37.4 37.5 Royal Skousen, ed., The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text, 2nd ed. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2022).
  38. 38.0 38.1 Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon Part Two: 2 Nephi 11 – Mosiah 16 (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2014).
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 39.4 39.5 Dennis L. Largey, ed., Book of Mormon Reference Companion (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2003).
  40. Jason R. Combs, “From King Ahaz’s Sign to Christ Jesus: The ‘Fulfillment’ of Isaiah 7:14,” in Prophets & Prophecies of the Old Testament (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 2017), 95–122; Donald W. Parry, “An Approach to Isaiah Studies,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 34 (2020): 246–55; Garrett Kell, “Is Jesus Really the Virgin–Born Child in Isaiah 7?” The Gospel Coalition, May 9, 2020, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/jesus-virgin-child-isaiah/.
  41. NET Bible, “Isaiah 7” footnote 25.
  42. Seth Erlandsson, The Burden of Babylon: A Study of Isaiah 13:2-14:23 (Lund, Sweden: Berlingska Boktryckeriet, 1970), 29–32. Quoted in Robert S. Boylan, "Seth Erlandsson on מדהבה meaning 'golden city' in Isaiah 14:4," Scriptural Mormonism, November 11, 2022, https://scripturalmormonism.blogspot.com/2022/11/seth-erlandsson-on-meaning-golden-city.html?q=golden+city.
  43. 2 Nephi 9:44; Mosiah 27:41; Mosiah 29:19
  44. American Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. “chicken”; https://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/Chicken.
  45. Eric D. Huntsman, “The Six Antitheses: Attaining the Purpose of the Law through the Teachings of Jesus,” in The Sermon on the Mount in Latter-day Scripture, ed. Gaye Strathearn, Thomas A. Wayment, and Daniel L. Belnap (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2010), 96, 107n14.
  46. Thomas A. Wayment, The New Testament, A Translation for Latter-day Saints: A Study Bible (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 2019), 14.
  47. John W. Welch, The Sermon at the Temple and the Sermon on the Mount (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990), 155.
  48. Ibid.
  49. John W. Welch, "Approaching New Approaches," FARMS Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6, no. 1 (1994): 159–60.
  50. Royal Skousen, "Critical Methodology and the Text of the Book of Mormon," Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6, no. 1 (1994): 121–29; John Gee, "La Trahison des Clercs: On the Language and Translation of the Book of Mormon," Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6, no. 1 (1994): 67–71, 99–101.
  51. "What the Bible says about Outer Cloak (From Forerunner Commentary)," Bible Tools, accessed September 22, 2022, https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/11587/Outer-Cloak.htm.
  52. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:311.
  53. Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 141.
  54. Richard Lloyd Anderson, "By the Gift and Power of God," Ensign 7, no. 9 (September 1977).
  55. See A. Melvin McDonald, Day of Defense (Sounds of Zion Inc., 1986; 2004), 49.
  56. These were the only editions consulted for this point. More editions may render the same however the author did not have access to them at this time.
  57. See page 81 of either edition of the Book of Mormon
  58. See Michael Hickenbotham, Answering Challenging Mormon Questions: Replies to 130 Queries by Friends and Critics of the LDS Church (Springville, UT: Cedar Fort Publisher, 2004),193–196. (Key source)
  59. See Book of Mormon note to 2 Nephi 12:2
  60. See also See also Kirk Holland Vestal and Arthur Wallace, The Firm Foundation of Mormonism (Los Angeles, CA: The L. L. Company, 1981), 70–72.
  61. The implications of this change represent a more complicated textual history than previously thought. See discussion in Dana M. Pike and David R. Seely, "'Upon All the Ships of the Sea, and Upon All the Ships of Tarshish': Revisiting 2 Nephi 12:16 and Isaiah 2:16," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 14/2 (2005): 12–25. off-site wiki For earlier discussions, see Gilbert W. Scharffs, The Truth about ‘The God Makers’ (Salt Lake City, Utah: Publishers Press, 1989; republished by Bookcraft, 1994), 172. Full text FairMormon link ISBN 088494963X.; see also Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon (Kolob Book Company, 1964),100–102.; Hugh W. Nibley, Since Cumorah, 2nd edition, (Vol. 7 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988),129–143. ISBN 0875791395.
  62. Wikipedia, "Thomson's Translation," <http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomson%27s_Translation> (11 February 2015).
  63. Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Advocate 2 (Oct. 1879): 51
  64. David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ (Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887), 12; Cited frequently, including Neal A. Maxwell, "By the Gift and Power of God," Ensign (January 1997): 34–41.
  65. John A. Tvedtnes and Matthew Roper, "Joseph Smith's Use of the Apocrypha: Shadow or Reality? (Review of Joseph Smith's Use of the Apocrypha by Jerald and Sandra Tanner)," FARMS Review of Books 8/2 (1996): 326–372. off-site
  66. Emma Smith to Edmund C. Briggs, "A Visit to Nauvoo in 1856," Journal of History 9 (January 1916): 454.
  67. Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Advocate 2 (Oct. 1879): 51
  68. “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, (1 Oct. 1879): 290.
  69. Jay P. Green Sr., The Interlinear Bible, Hebrew-Greek-English (Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1995), 975.
  70. See LDS KJV, Bible Dictionary, 707.
  71. Bruce R. McConkie, "Ten Keys to Understanding Isaiah," Ensign (October 1973): 78–83.
  72. See LDS KJV, Bible Dictionary, 756-59
  73. Hugh W. Nibley, Since Cumorah, 2nd edition, (Vol. 7 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), 128. ISBN 0875791395.
  74. See Exodus 6:3; Psalms 83:18; Isaiah 12:2; Isaiah 26:4.
  75. See such scriptural examples as DC 109:34,42,56,68; DC 110:1-3; DC 128:9. See also Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 220, 221, 250–251. off-site
  76. H. Michael Marquardt, Literary Dependence in the Book of Mormon: Two Studies, 2000. Accessed on April 14, 2008, on the Institute for Religious Research (IRR) website.