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Latest revision as of 13:21, 1 October 2014

The Possible use of a Bible During the Translation of the Book of Mormon

Parent page: Book of Mormon/Translation

Anderson: "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.” [1] 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. [2]


Barney: "three types of evidence favoring the conclusion that Joseph understood the meaning of the italicized words"

Kevin Barney: [3]

I think there are basically three types of evidence favoring the conclusion that Joseph understood the meaning of the italicized words. First, and most importantly, is the distribution of the variants in Joseph’s inpired translations, which show a clear (though by no means absolute) tendency to revolve around the italicized words. Skousen and Wright agree roughly on this distribution, which is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30%, give or take, but they draw different conclusions from it. My experience spending a fair amount of time examining variants is that the italics were a significant factor.

Second is the practice of often crossing out italicized words in the “marked Bible” used as an aid in preparing the JST. Anyone with access to the critical text can see this phenomenon for herself, since they have actual pictures of the marked Bible text.

Third are near-contemporary statements from Joseph’s milieu evincing a familiarity with the purpose of the italics. A prominent example is this from a W.W. Phelps editorial in the Evening and Morning Star (January 1833):

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.[4]

Notes

  1. Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), p. 141.
  2. Richard Lloyd Anderson, "By the Gift and Power of God," Ensign (September 1977).
  3. Kevin Barney, "KJV Italics," bycommonconsent.com (13 October 2007)
  4. W.W. Phelps, The Evening and the Morning Star (January 1833)