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KJV italicized text in the Book of Mormon
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KJV italicized text in the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon contains quotations of, echoes of, and allusions to the King James Bible. The quotations contain words from the King James Bible that are placed in italics. Italics in the King James Bible indicate that a word not present in the original Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic text has been added to the text to make the translation readable and comprehensible as well as sometimes clarify the meaning of the underlying text.
The Book of Mormon sometimes retains the italics as rendered in the King James Bible. In other cases it merely deletes the italics in places where the KJV deletes italics. In still other cases the Book of Mormon modifies words that are italicized in the KJV.
Some critics believe that the presence of the italics is an indication that Joseph Smith didn’t translate an ancient text and instead just plagiarized a copy of the King James Bible. Critic Jeremy T. Runnells, author of the CES Letter, explains that “[w]hen King James translators were translating the KJV Bible between 1604 and 1611, they would occasionally put in their own words into the text to make the English more readable. We know exactly what these words are because they’re italicized in the KJV Bible.” He then asks “[w]hat are these 17th century italicized words doing in the Book of Mormon? Word for word? What does this say about the Book of Mormon being an ancient record?” The assumption seems to be that the Book of Mormon, if truly a translation of an ancient text, should either not include these words or include different words that reflect the ancient, original text of the biblical passage in question. Since the italicized words from the KJV are included (which, as correctly indicated by Runnells, were inserted in the KJV beginning in the 1600s when the first edition of the KJV was created), this is evidence that the Book of Mormon is not ancient and that it was plagiarized, at least in part, from the King James Bible. Important to emphasize as a mild correction to Runnells that the italics did not merely make the English more readable but also inserted words not present in the original translation that clarified the underlying meaning of the Greek and Hebrew being translated.
Other critics look at how the Book of Mormon modifies the italics of the King James Bible that seem to suggest that Joseph was using a 1769 edition of the KJV to compose the text of the Book of Mormon. For example, critic Stan Larson argued the following in a 1993 book chapter relating to this subject:
The Book of Mormon text often revises biblical quotations at the very point where the original 1611 edition of the KJV prints the word or words in a different typeface in order to indicate that the words are not found in the Greek. This printing device was both inconsistently and sparsely applied in the 1611 KJV and improved in the 1769 printing. When Smith came to the KJV italics in the Sermon on the Mount, which he knew indicated that whatever was printed in italics was not in the original Greek, he would often either drop the word or revise it. The Book of Mormon sometimes revises the KJV italics that are only found in the 1769 and later printings. For example, the Book of Mormon drops the italics of the 1769 printing at Matthew 6:5, 7; 7:18 (3 Ne. 13:5, 7; 14:18), and the Book of Mormon changes the tense of the italics at Matthew 5:12 (3 Ne. 12:12). On the other hand, the Book of Mormon fails to revise places where the KJV text ought to have been printed in italics but is not. In two places the Book of Mormon copies the noun "men" from the KJV, where it is not in the original Greek and has been improperly added in the KJV.:pp. 130–31
Thus, Larson is arguing essentially the same conclusion: that the Book of Mormon text cannot be a genuine translation of an ancient text. Though he’s arguing from a different angle. He doesn’t reason to his conclusion based on the mere presence of KJV italics in the Book of Mormon like Runnells. He argues this based on the Book of Mormon’s interaction with the KJV italics. In some cases, the italics are simply dropped. In some cases, the italics are revised. In some cases, there is a passage that should have an italicized word but doesn’t. These interactions occur in places only where the 1769 edition of the KJV and later printings place italics. According to Larson, these considerations date the Book of Mormon’s composition (and, more particularly, the Savior's Sermon at the Temple recorded in 3 Nephi) to the 1800s.
Critic David P. Wright did the same kind of analysis for the Book of Mormon's alleged interaction with the italics of KJV Isaiah.:pp. 159–69. He concluded that the perceived interaction "demontrates in large measure the the BoM Isaiah derives from the KJV.":p.159. More broadly, he uses this "evidence" to argue that "the Isaiah of the BoM is a revision of the KJV and not a translation of an ancient document.":p.157.
Faithful Latter-day Saint author Stan Spencer (not Larson), following Wright,:pp. 164–66. adds one more problem to account for. Spencer informs us that "[t]hese variants are usually minor but sometimes result in readings that conflict with the larger context of Isaiah’s message or create ungrammatical or even nonsensical sentences, particularly in the earliest text of the Book of Mormon.":p. 46 Spencer was not using modern editions of the Book of Mormon when making his comparisons and contrasts with the King James Bible but rather Latter-day Saint linguist Royal Skousen's first edition of The Book of Mormon: The Earliest Text (2009) which is the best reconstruction of the text of the Book of Mormon so as to attempt to capture it as it was originally dictated by Joseph Smith (a second edition was published in 2022). Some thoughtful readers might ask if these omissions and revisions that are harmful to the grammar and sense of the KJV knock the Book of Mormon from its status as the "most correct book."
Thus this article will respond to four critical questions:
- First, does the presence of the KJV italicized words in the Book of Mormon indicate that Joseph Smith was consciously aware of the italics, including their meaning, and that he used a King James Bible in order to produce the text of the Book of Mormon?
- Second, do the Book of Mormon's interactions with the KJV italics show that Joseph Smith was working from the 1769 edition of the King James Bible?
- Third, do the original Book of Mormon text's omissions and revisions of italics refute the teaching of Joseph Smith that the Book of Mormon is "the most correct book of any on earth"?
The fourth question is one that may arise from critics who respond to this article in the future or it may simply arise in the mind of the casual reader as they progress through this article: do the observations made by this author and the notions of translation subscribed to create a version of Mormonism that doesn't and/or cannot exist?
There’s Worthy Debate Over Whether Joseph Smith knew the meaning of the italics
Before all else, we should note that there is worthy debate among scholars of the Book of Mormon as to whether Joseph Smith knew the meaning of the italics.
For those that would argue that Joseph didn't know what the italics in the Bible meant, they might cite six lines of evidence:
- 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 know other basic facts about the Bible?
- Our critics rely heavily on an assumption that Joseph Smith was deeply familiar with the Bible at the time of the translation of the Book of Mormon. Those closest to Joseph Smith in his early life state otherwise. 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."
- 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). 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.":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.
- There is no evidence that Joseph even owned a bible at the time of the translation of the Book of Mormon. 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. 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. 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. Why would Joseph, poor as he was, get a Bible if he supposedly already owned one that he consulted/plagiarized from?
- The general lack of explanation of italics in Bibles of Joseph Smith's day. The original 1611 KJV does not explain the use of italics; in fact, it silently borrowed the idea from the Geneva Bible, which does explain the use of italics. The Geneva Bible explained its use of italics, the King James Bible did not.
- Royal Skousen claimed the following in a 1994 paper on the subject: "Calhoun and Robbins [two students of Skousen's also compared the italicized words in the King James Bible with the original text of the Book of Mormon (as found in the two manuscripts [the original manuscript and printer's manuscript]). And both discovered many examples where Joseph Smith deleted, added, or altered words that are not in italics in any of the King James printings they examined. Each concluded that there was no direct connection between the italics and the original Book of Mormon text. Simply giving examples where changes correspond with italics means nothing; one must look at all the changes including the ones that occur independently of italics.":p. 127
For those that believe Joseph did know the meaning of the italics, they argue this conclusion citing typically 4–5 lines of evidence:
- The distribution of KJV italics being revised as they come to the Book of Mormon and especially the Isaiah chapters of the Book of Mormon. Royal Skousen has determined that of all the differences in the biblical quotations in the Book of Mormon, 23% involve italics. Of all the italics contained in the KJV, 38% are changed in some way in the Book of Mormon. Skousen sees these facts as evidence that Joseph did not know the meaning of the italics since a much larger amount of changes do not involve italics. Though other scholars read those same percentages as significant; as evidence that Joseph did know the meaning of the italics.
- Critic David P. Wright cited a KJV Bible published in New York City in 1818—George D'Oyly and Richard Mant's The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Version with Notes, Explanatory and Practical—that explained the meaning of the italics.:p. 159, p. 213n5 Wright speculates that "[l]ay readers could have read such statements and circulated the information further by word of mouth. Ministers, too, would have learned the reason for italics either from these sources or through their education and no doubt would have shared it with their congregants.":p. 159.
- Stan Spencer analyzed many of the Book of Mormon's interactions with the KJV Isaiah italics and argued that the Book of Mormon's interaction with Isaiah italics cannot be due to chance.:pp. 49–55
- The practice of crossing out italicized words in the Joseph Smith Translation. The manuscripts are available for people today and one can see that there appears (at least to some) to be a strong focus of the revisions on the italicized words given how frequently Joseph Smith and/or his scribes crossed them out. The production of the JST began in June 1830 (after the publication of the Book of Mormon and the organization of the Church) and continued intermittently until 1833. Minor revisions were made here and there until Joseph Smith's martyrdom in 1844.
- The presence of statements from Joseph Smith's contemporary environment suggesting that there was a broader familiarity with the meaning of the italics. An editorial for the Evening and Morning Star (January 1833) stated the following: "The book of Mormon, as a revelation from God, possesses some advantage over the old scripture: it has not been tinctured by the wisdom of man, with here and there an Italic word to supply deficiencies.—It was translated by the gift and power of God." A few months later (July 1833), the same paper had an editorial that states "[a]s to the errors in the bible, any man possessed of common understanding, knows, that both the old and new testaments are filled with errors, obscurities, italics and contradictions, which must be the work of men." Roughly ten years later (September 1843) in the Latter-day Saint news paper Times and Seasons, another Latter-day Saint writer stated that "[m]uch has been said about the bad translations of the Bible. . . . Every school boy seems to know that when either of the sectarian translators failed in making the two ends of a sentence meet, he filled up the vacuity with italic, by which means God has been greatly helped towards expressing himself so as to be understood by the learned world." An 1831 article (critical of the Church and its claims) in The Sun, a newspaper in Philadelphia, states the following: "Finally, after frequent and fervent prayer, Jo's spectacles were restored to sight, and he again permitted to open the book. -- Jo had, during his spiritual blindness, by the assistance of some one, commited several chapters of the New Testament to memory; and, the better to carry on his deception with the deluded Harris, had inquired, and found out the words inserted by the translators; (which are distinguished by Italics, both in the New Testament and the Old.) So, in order to convince Harris that he could read from the plates, Jo deposits them in his hat, applies spectacles, and refers Harris to a chapter in the Bible which he had learned by rote; and which he read from the plates, with surprising accuracy; and what astonished Harris most, was, that Jo should omit all the words in the Bible that were printed in Italic. And, if Harris attempted to correct Jo, he persisted that the plates were right, and the Bible was wrong." The source of this article's assertions is unknown to the author of this article (couldn't locate any reference in the source to Martin as a source), though Stan Spencer says that it was "based apparently on an interview with Martin Harris".:p. 62.
Both perspectives are viable and, as of yet, still in the debate among scholars of the Book of Mormon today.
Three Hypotheses For How and Why the Italicized Words in Book of Mormon Were Modified
Stan Spencer laid out three hypotheses for the italicized words of the KJV in the Book of Mormon including how and why they were revised or omitted as they were revised and omitted.
- The first of these was created by Elder B.H. Roberts. Roberts hypothesized that the italics interaction represents what was on the actual Book of Mormon plates. In Spencer's words: "Roberts attributes the differences in the Book of Mormon to ancient variants in the Nephite plates, presumably reflecting the record on the brass plates, at least in the chapters Nephi and Jacob say they are reading, According to Roberts, the version of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon is consistently “superior [in] sense and clearness.”:p. 56 Spencer calls this the Ancient Variants Hypothesis.
- The second hypothesis Spencer calls the Italics Revision Hypothesis. This is the theory held by people like Stan Larson, David P. Wright, and faithful Latter-day Saint Book of Mormon scholar Brant Gardner. This theory holds that Joseph Smith was intentionally targeting italics in the King James Bible, knowing what they meant, and intentionally revising them or dropping them.:pp. 56–58
- The third hypothesis, Spencer's own theory, he calls the Missing Words Hypothesis. This theory holds that Joseph was given a vision of a biblical passage in his mind with missing KJV italics and that part of the work of translation for Joseph Smith was to decide whether to supply words to the passage and, if so, what words to supply.
Now we deal with the questions raised above.
1. Is the presence of italics from the KJV Bible evidence of plagiarism on the part of Joseph Smith to create the Book of Mormon?
The italics make the English text of the Bible more readable, clear, and comprehensible. If Joseph Smith and God were trying to keep a good translation of the text and especially one that is readable, clear, and comprehensible, why wouldn’t God and Joseph Smith just keep those same italics in the Book of Mormon? It’s nonsensical to claim that the mere presence of the italicized words is in and of itself damning.
2. Does the Book of Mormon's interaction with the King James italics prove that it came from the 1800s?
Given that we don't know and likely can't know whether or not that Joseph Smith had knowledge of the meaning of the italics in the Bible, this question is likely unanswerable. If we don't know and likely can't know, though, it then follows that we likely have no rational reason to be concerned about this.
3. Do the Changes in Italics Knock the Book of Mormon from Its Status as the "Most Correct Book"?
Another question that will certainly arise as anyone studies the issue is if the changes in italics knock the Book of Mormon from its pedestal as the "most correct book"?
First, it's important that we keep in mind what it means for the Book of Mormon to be the "most correct book". We have responded to that question elsewhere on the wiki. It may be important to keep in mind that Joseph called the Book of Mormon the most correct book in 1841 when the second edition of the Book of Mormon, with revisions done by Joseph Smith, was completed.
Second, it's perhaps important to pick among the hypotheses Spencer outlines above in relation to the changes in italics in the Book of Mormon. The author favors Spencer's theory but acknowledges that there may be some cases in which there really are ancient variants that correspond to the changes in italics made in the Book of Mormon. Thus a sort of hybrid of Spencer's and Roberts' theories.
Today's edition of the Book of Mormon is very readable and comprehensible, but the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon was less so. Stan Spencer in his article lines up passages from the King James version of Isaiah and Royal Skousen's reconstruction of the earliest text of the Book of Mormon (the text as it would presumably have fell from the lips of Joseph Smith) and shows how the changes sometimes have "negative effects on the sense, clarity, or grammar of the text" of the KJV Isaiah.:p. 49 In some cases, the omissions and revisions are drastic enough to lead people into potentially incorrect understandings of various facts. This seems to be part of the reason why Spencer lines up the theories described above and proposes his Missing Words Hypothesis.
In order to give the fullest answer to this criticism, one would have to go through each of the omissions and revisions of italics and determine what sort of message is communicated by the drop or revision: how a person would interpret each passage given the omissions and revisions. They would then have to see if that message is an erroneous theological or ethical message about God.
Stan Spencer's paper, linked to/cited below, discusses 10 of these changes that are hurtful to the original biblical passages' sense and clarity. Royal Skousen, a Latter-day Saint linguist and scholar of the textual history of the Book of Mormon has studied the italicized words and discussed them in volume 3, part 5 of his Book of Mormon Critical Text Project entitled The King James Quotations in the Book of Mormon. We've listed here every change that could potentially deemed misleading regarding the intent of the biblical passages being quoted and edited and listed them here for commentary. In the left column will be the potentially misleading changes and in the right column will be commentary from the author of this article about why they don't need to appear threatening. Those that are dealing with this question might consider studying Skousen's volume and Spencer's article and, if they feel that there is a change in italics that they feel deserves commentary in the following table in this article, making that known with documentation to FAIR editors at this link. We will indicate in the table below whether the change in question is retained in the most recent edition of the Book of Mormon. These revisions are organized in the order they appear in the Book of Mormon
|Supposed Harmful Change||Commentary|
|1 Nephi 20:5 ~ Isaiah 48:5. 1 Nephi 20:5 deletes the italicized it in Isaiah 48:5's "I have even from the beginning declared it to thee" creating the awkward "And I have even from the beginning declared to thee".||The text is indeed awkward but doesn't lead ineluctably away from understanding the intent of the passage.|
|2 Nephi 8:17-18 ~ Isaiah 51:17-18. There are six omissions in italics and one addition that create awkward readings. The following is from the KJV Isaiah with omissions bolded and additions in carrots: "Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury; thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out. There is <—And> none to guide her among all the sons whom she hath brought forth; neither is there any that taketh her by the hand<,> of all the sons that she hath brought up." Thus the verse now reads: "Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of his fury—thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling wrung out—And none to guide her among all the sons she hath brought forth; neither that taketh her by the hand, of all the sons she hath brought up."||The passage is very awkward but doesn't lead ineluctably away from intent. At worst it just makes the passage awkward or incoherent, and the intent of the original passage is already taught elsewhere in the Book of Mormon.|
|2 Nephi 15:25. In the earliest text of the Book of Mormon, the last sentence fragment states that "For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand stretched out still. This instead of "his hand is stretched out still." This pattern is repeated in 2 Nephi 19:21, 20:4, and 24:27.||The omission seems to make the sentence awkward but not incomprehensible and not leading into inaccurate understandings of God.|
|In 2 Nephi 16:5, the omission of “is” and “am” from the KJV’s “Woe is me for I am undone because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell” makes this sentence ungrammatical and potentially confusing.||Indeed, ungrammatical and a bit confusing. Not incorrect though, and still leading into correct understanding of the passage's intent; and that's what matters most for this question. The most recent edition of the Book of Mormon has "unto" after "Woe is".|
|In 2 Nephi 16:7, the omission of “it” from the KJV’s “he laid it [a live coal] upon my mouth” produces the illogical, “he laid upon my mouth.”||In context, Isaiah is having God's holiness and purity transferred to him and he is becoming transformed by it. Thus this passage, implying that the seraph lays on Isaiah's mouth, is not necessarily out of alignment with the intent of the passage. The passage just means to communicate that God can forgive our sins and make us pure with his holiness, which is testified of throughout scripture. Noone is compelled to believing anything false by reading the scripture as it read originally. The modern edition of the Book of Mormon retains it.|
|In verse 8, the omission of “am” from “Here am I send me” makes the English text awkward, at least.||Indeed, awkward. Not incorrect though, and still leading into correct understanding of the passage's intent; and that's what matters most for this question.|
|In 2 Nephi 16:9, the KJV’s “Hear ye indeed but understand not and see ye indeed but perceive not” becomes “Hear ye indeed but they understand not and see ye indeed but they perceive not.” This change results in an awkward switching back and forth between second person and third person and between the imperative and indicative moods. It also alters the meaning contrary to the statement in the next verse, which has God again dictating impediments to understanding and perception.||Spencer overplays the awkwardness and incorrectly perceives a change in meaning in the subsequent verse. The modern edition of the Book of Mormon changes some of the verbs to the past tense: "Hear ye indeed, but they understood not; and see ye indeed, but they perceived not."|
|The omission of “it” from “ask it either in the” in 2 Nephi 17:11 implies, illogically, that the asking (not the sign) is to be done in the depths or heights.||It's uncertain why Spencer finds this so illogical. The message is virtually the same. The Lord is telling Ahaz to ask for the sign in either the heights or depths. Further, it's confirmed in places like the Book of Mormon that we can and should pray everywhere. The prophet Zenos in the book of Alma taught as much.|
|In 2 Nephi 17:17, the omission of “even” could lead the reader to wrongly believe that Judah was king of Assyria. The italicized “even” in that verse in the KJV is important because it discourages such a misinterpretation.||The even actually doesn't do hardly anything to discourage the reading of Judah as the king of Assyria. This problem has to be fixed with punctuation, which the original Book of Mormon text did not have and was added later by Joseph Smith and revised in subsequent editions of the Book of Mormon. Future editions of the Book of Mormon with better punctuators may be necessary. The modern edition omits "even". it may also need to alter the sentence structure much differently than the original Hebrew text to make sense of the passage.|
|Similarly, the italicized “namely” that is omitted in the Book of Mormon from 2 Nephi 17:20 is important in clarifying that the king of Assyria is not the one hiring a razor; he is the razor.||This also doesn't provide much utility in clarifying the meaning of the text. Punctuation, scholarly commentary, and maybe other modification of the text may be necessary for future editions of the Book of Mormon. This isn't a fault in translation. The modern edition of the Book of Mormon also omits "namely".|
|The replacement of “it” with “which” in 2 Nephi 17:23 muddles the meaning of Isaiah’s message. The text as it stands in the KJV makes sense — the deserted land, once fruitful, will be overrun with briars and thorns. With “which” in place of “it,” the Book of Mormon appears to instead say, in an incomplete sentence, that briars and thorns will be purchased with a thousand silverlings (i.e., a thousand silver coins).||The text doesn't necessarily force you to read it that way but Spencer's reading makes sense. Even with it it doesn't really encourage a correct reading of the text. Really there should be a they instead of it and the sentence structure should be rearranged as to emphasize that the deserted land will become overrun with briars and thorns. Readers are probably not likely to spend too much time on this verse when it's just muddled as it is in the KJV and BoM. But the essential intent of the passage seems unharmed and, if the reader is reading the preceding and succeeding verses, they're most likely going to just interpret it as Isaiah speaking about a prior state of serenity and a subsequent state of disaster. This passage is merely "a negative oracle describing the dire consequences, particularly the subjectaion of Judah by the Assyrian Empire, that will befall Jerusalem and Judah as a result of Ahaz's refusal to accept Isaiah's promises." The modern edition of the Book of Mormon retains "which" instead of it".|
|The original version of 2 Nephi 19:5 in the earliest editions of the Book of Mormon deletes the italicized is from the KJV Isaiah 9:5 such that the KJV Isaiah 9:5 reads "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" and 2 Nephi 9:5 reads "For every battle of the warrior with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire."||The most likely way of interpreting this passage for reads is to see the first clause as the beginning of an accumulatio and still retaining the correct intent.|
|3 Nephi 22:9 is part of a longer quotation of Isaiah 54. The King James version of Isaiah 54:9 reads "For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee." 3 Nephi 22:9 deletes the first is as such that the verse now reads "For this, the waters of Noah unto me, for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee."||Read in one way, the verse is awkward, but read in another, the Lord could be read to say that he is rhetorically commanding the waters to come unto him, which is still in line with the correct intent in mind. Either way the correct intent is discernible.|
None of the changes surveyed seem to knock the Book of Mormon from its status as the most correct book.
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 and the more authoritative, first-hand accounts of witnesses that say that the Book of Mormon translation was given word-for-word.
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 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. Third, 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, and during the translation process he revised or dropped italics in the KJV which may have been missing and he supplied while translating the Book of Mormon" and we've used rigorous reasoning and study to substantiate this claim and deal with any potential negative ramifications of that data. Fourth, it's probable that the statements from the witnesses that say that the Book of Mormon translation came word for word do not cover every single aspect of how the translation may have worked. Those statements cover those portions of the translation with which those witnesses were most intimately familiar and actually experienced. Do those experiences cover the Book of Mormon's interaction with KJV italics?
Joseph Smith only said that the translation was done by the gift and power of God. Brigham Young taught the following:
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.
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.
There is no reason to be concerned about the prophethood and integrity of Joseph Smith with his inclusion of and "interaction" with the KJV italics in his translation of the Book of Mormon.
- ↑ Jeremy T. Runnells, CES Letter: My Search for Answers to My Mormon Doubts (n.p.: CES Letter Foundation, 2017), 14.
- ↑ 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.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 David P. Wright, "Isaiah in the Book of Mormon: Or 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.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 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.
- ↑ 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.
- ↑ 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.
- ↑ Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism (Urbana and Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1987), 95–100.
- ↑ 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 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, no. 1 (1994): 101n165.
- ↑ Kent P. Jackson, Frank F. Judd Jr., and David R. Seely, “Chapters, Verses, Punctuation, Spelling, and Italics,” in The King James Bible and the Restoration, ed. Kent P. Jackson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2011), 108–12.
- ↑ Royal Skousen, "Critical Methodology and the Text of the Book of Mormon," Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6, no. 1 (1994): 121–44.
- ↑ Kevin Barney, "KJV Italics," By Common Consent, October 13, 2007, http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/10/kjv-italics/.
- ↑ Royal Skousen, "The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon: Presentation on Parts 5 and 6 of Volume 3 of the Critical Text Project of the Book of Mormon," Book of Mormon Central, accessed December 24, 2022, https://www.bookofmormoncentral.org/sites/default/files/documents/Blog%20entry/2020/Presentation%20parts%205%20and%206%20Hinckley%20Center.pdf.
- ↑ W.W. Phelps, “The Book of Mormon,” The Evening and the Morning Star 1, no. 8 (January 1833): 58.
- ↑ “Errors of the Bible,” The Evening and the Morning Star 2, no. 14 (July 1833): 106.
- ↑ "Minutes of A Conference," Times and Seasons 4, no. 20 (September 1, 1843): 318; emphasis in original. Quoted in Kent P. Jackson, “The King James Bible and the Joseph Smith Translation,” in The King James Bible and the Restoration, ed. Kent P. Jackson (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2011), 203.
- ↑ “Mormonites,” The Sun, August 18, 1831, http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/PA/Phil1830.htm.
- ↑ Royal Skousen, The History of the Text of the Book of Mormon: Part 5, The King James Quotations in the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2019), 182–210.
- ↑ Alma 33:3–7
- ↑ Marvin A. Sweeney, "Isaiah," in The New Oxford Annotated Bible, ed. Michael D. Coogan, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018), 990n18–19.
- ↑ Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:311.