Lost in Translation

The Book of Mormon declares that the Bible has been deliberately altered (see 1 Nephi 13:26-28). Mormons will often point to all the different translations of the Bible as proof that it has been changed. You can ask them something like:

  • Does translation always lessen scripture’s value or change its teaching?
  • What about the Book of Mormon? How many translations have been made of it? Is it less reliable in French or German?
  • Does the church put a disclaimer on the Book of Mormon in other languages as they do with the Bible? If not, why not?
  • If professional LDS translators can reliably take the English Book of Mormon into French, why can’t professional translators take the Greek New Testament into English?
  • If the Bible is in such bad shape, which verses are wrong, so I won’t use them?

The last question in this sequence I think is an excellent question.  Some LDS will point to the Joseph Smith translation as a means of finding out which verses in the Bible are wrong.  This begs the question, if those same verses are found (word for word) in the Book of Mormon, are they also wrong? Which is more reliable, the Book of Mormon or the Joseph Smith Translation?

For the record, I think translation does in fact lessen scripture’s meaning.  It’s an inherent problem in translation.  Studying the scriptures in their original languages holds immense value.  But that said, I don’t think any of the major translations of the Bible can be shown to have negligently translated the original language.

Many of the cultural Mormon arguments against the Bible are made out of a ignorance of the translation process.  There’s an understanding that modern English translation are updated from the KJV rather than taken directly from the oldest manuscripts.

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56 thoughts on “Lost in Translation

  1. You forgot one: How should Portuguese readers view the Book of Mormon, seeing that a different translation of it was published in the early 90’s?

  2. Thanks for these questions. I have some Mormon missionaries coming over and although it has went pretty well in the past, I think these questions will make the conversation even better.

  3. If the Bible is in such bad shape, which verses are wrong, so I won’t use them?

    This one drives me CRAZY. CRAZAZY. And when I’m really annoyed by it, CRAZAGA. I wish the LDS church would just come out and say which verses are wrong and quit letting individual members pick and choose, but I’ve gotten the impression they like it this way.

  4. I super-duper doubt God speaks New Testament Greek anyway. Or Hebrew for that matter.

    You’re right, Jesus spoke in Aramaic.

  5. I don’t know how many, and I wouldn’t hazard even a ballpark guess, but I agree that there are some LDS who don’t understand the translation process. I had a friend once who honestly believed that the Bibles Mormons use in non-English-speaking countries were translated from the King James Version rather than from the original languages. (In fact, they usually use the same Bibles that other Christians use, including some quite modern translations.)

    (And when I read about how some evangelicals oppose translations that use gender-inclusive language, I’m convinced they don’t fully understand the translation process either, or how language works. But that’s a whole other topic.)

    I think that most (I’m not saying all) of the LDS skepticism over the accuracy of the Bible is more of a cultural thing than something that is officially taught by the church, at least in recent years.

    From my perspective, the skepticism is misplaced. In some cases, the Bible does more to allude to some esoteric LDS doctrines than the Book of Mormon does.

  6. To clarify, my remark about the cultural skepticism over the Bible refers to its translation from ancient manuscripts. I am not disputing the teaching in the Book of Mormon about the Bible’s completeness, which (I think) is separate from the issues that the original post raised.

  7. I’ll go out on a limb.

    I think there is some pretty good evidence out there that the Josian reformers systematically removed all worship of Heavenly Mother (then known as Ashurah – consort of El, and later Yahweh) from the temple and common worship. Then the authors of the Five Books of Moses – Jewish priests during the Babylonian Exile – went through the existing records and further removed as much evidence of their existence.

    Whether you believe this or not depends on which Biblical scholars tickle your fancy.

  8. Jack: “I wish the LDS church would just come out and say ______.” That’s right: fill in the blank with a long list. {smile} There are very few official declarations from the Church—this used to bug me, but now I really enjoy it, and I think God likes it too.

  9. BrianJ ~ There are very few official declarations from the Church—this used to bug me, but now I really enjoy it, and I think God likes it too.

    God so does not like it. In fact I have irrefutable evidence that every time a Mormon says “in so far as it is correctly translated,” God kills a kitten.

    But seriously, elaborate. Why did you go from not liking it to being okay with it? Don’t you think it sort of undermines the church’s claim that it fills in the gaps other Christian churches leave open? If the church really has special access to God, why not fix the Bible?

  10. Oh, the “translated correctly” bugs me too. Not the original use of it (i.e., in the article of faith), but the way it’s tossed around drives me crazy. There are a lot of people who take the Bible literally and inerrant-ly; I like that little tag placed in the Article of Faith because it states that Mormons are not Bible fundamentalists—that’s how I understand the AoF anyway. And yes, I think that phrase applies just as equally to the Book of Mormon, etc. Even the D&C is subject to translation—not from Greek to English but from revelation (in whatever form) to Joseph’s English.

    As for going from not liking it to liking it, let’s first clarify what “it” is. I’m specifically talking about the Church’s “hands-off” approach to doctrine—well, official declarations of doctrine, anyway. It used to bug me because I wanted answers and more importantly I wanted them handed to me. There’s something blissfully easy about doing and believing what you’re told and not having to think about it—let alone all that wrestling in prayer stuff! But I’ve since grown (well, I think it’s growth) to appreciate the freedom to believe some things that are perhaps different than my fellow Mormons; I enjoy letting others have their own beliefs too; I enjoy the searching I have to do for myself; I enjoy the freedom to explore God without feeling that it’s merely a memorization game. And I think God likes it for some of those same reasons.

    (And to be clear: I never meant to suggest that God likes the way the “translated correctly” phrase is thrown around.)

    “If the church really has special access to God, why not fix the Bible?”

    I just don’t think it could ever be fixed. I don’t want a Bible that is seen as inerrant because I think there is no way that any book could perfectly transduce God’s will for me. That’s what the Holy Ghost is for (and even that medium is limited by my own weakness). Now, I don’t pretend that this is The Reason why the Church doesn’t fix the Bible, but it’s why I don’t want it to.

    Incidentally, in my line of work, the word “fix” is most often applied to the action of formaldehyde, which “fixes” (i.e., kills and immobilizes) a tissue for examination. An appropriate metaphor for how I feel about “fixing” the Bible.

  11. I think there is some pretty good evidence out there that the Josian reformers systematically removed all worship of Heavenly Mother (then known as Ashurah – consort of El, and later Yahweh) from the temple and common worship.

    Do you Barkerites ever give it a rest?

  12. I think many are missing the real point of doctrine that we LDS have about the bible. . .it’s not that it’s unreliable. . .and it’s not about being miss-translated from the “original language”. . .I think it’s that we believe what we have as the “original manuscripts” are themselves in an altered form. . .resulting not in an unreliable or false record, but incomplete as far as truths go. . .many plain and precious truths missing.

    The second point I have is that the purpose of the Book of Mormon is not to restore all truth, but to convince (with the bible) the Jew and gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of mankind.

    Further work was done during the Restoration to restore lost truth.

  13. I think the phrase “as far as it is translated correctly” merely refers to the quite sensible need to not read the present text of the Bible without question or with notions that it constitutes “all there is.”

    “Do you Barkerites ever give it a rest?”

    No. Even when we die, we shall come back and haunt you during Bible Study class.

    Incidentally, I’ve only recently been discovering Margaret Barker. I enjoy the fact that so many things that are so threatening to Bible fundamentalists are merely cool ideas for a Mormon.

    One of the reasons I enjoy being a Mormon.

  14. Seth,

    I am a Mormon. I think Barker is out to lunch. I can’t for the life of me understand why she is so popular among Mormons. Actually, I do understand why she is so popular among Mormons and it scares me.

    Also, dig deeper in Biblical studies. There is enough there to threaten anyone, Biblical fundamentalists, evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, etc. Biblical studies is an equal opportunity offender, that is provided one reads a wide variety of books. What one does with that threat is of course the definition of faith.

  15. Tim,

    Since I got on an off post rant I am ethically bound to answer your questions. I am a Mormon, but my answers will not be representative of all Mormons (how could they be?) nor representative of LDS leadership (I don’t know where they come down on this), nor of LDS doctrine (if such a thing exists, it’s dependent on who you ask, though the same applies to evangelicals, Catholics, etc.).

    Does translation always lessen scripture’s value or change its teaching?

    No, it doesn’t. For me the most important part of reading any ancient document is putting it in the proper historical context. Take it out of context and you are guaranteed to get a change in teaching and a reduced value (2 for the price of 1!).

    What about the Book of Mormon? How many translations have been made of it? Is it less reliable in French or German? It depends on the skill of the translating team. Some are more reliable than others, some are more readable than others, etc. It’s the same as translating the Bible. In some ways reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish is more pleasurable than the English. The Spanish translating team decided to translate “And it came to pass” in about 5 or 6 different ways, so it breaks up the repetitiveness.

    Does the church put a disclaimer on the Book of Mormon in other languages as they do with the Bible? If not, why not? They don’t. To be fair they don’t put a disclaimer on the Bible proper, just the Articles of Faith. It’s a quibble, but you can buy an LDS Bible stand alone which doesn’t have the Articles of Faith and so would have no disclaimer whatsoever.

    If professional LDS translators can reliably take the English Book of Mormon into French, why can’t professional translators take the Greek New Testament into English? They can and do. A text is a text.

    If professional LDS translators can reliably take the English Book of Mormon into French, why can’t professional translators take the Greek New Testament into English? See previous answer.

  16. Thanks for your response David. I’m glad to know your bound by the ethics of blog commenting. You forgot one. What about the Joseph Smith Translation?

    I think Barker holds as many problems for Mormons as she does solutions. She’s a double edged sword.

  17. BrianJ ~ But I’ve since grown (well, I think it’s growth) to appreciate the freedom to believe some things that are perhaps different than my fellow Mormons; I enjoy letting others have their own beliefs too; I enjoy the searching I have to do for myself; I enjoy the freedom to explore God without feeling that it’s merely a memorization game. And I think God likes it for some of those same reasons.

    I have no objections there, but you do realize that this could be one of the reasons evangelicals enjoy being evangelicals, right? I mean, Mormons say “I think that part is mistranslated” to arrive at different conclusions, evangelicals run the text through exegesis until they get the interpretation they like. I’ve long thought the two effects aren’t all that different, though the approaches certainly are.

    David Clark ~ Also, dig deeper in Biblical studies. There is enough there to threaten anyone, Biblical fundamentalists, evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, etc. Biblical studies is an equal opportunity offender, that is provided one reads a wide variety of books.

    You are a wise, wise man. I like you.

    Seth ~ Clarify for me really quick. You think it used to be acceptable and encouraged by God to worship Heavenly Mother, back in ancient Israelite times?

  18. Sorry, I forgot about the JST.

    From a canonical point of view, the Book of Mormon trumps the JST, since the BofM is canoncial while the JST is not.

    From a logical point of view, the BofM is directly dependent on the KJV. I don’t see any other explanation for why they are so similar, word-for-word in most cases, probably directly copied. So the BofM passages are about as reliable as the KJV, whatever that means.

    I think the problem is that many Mormons envision some Ur-Bible which the Book of Mormon restores for select passages. I don’t think such a thing exists for any book. There is no Ur-text for the Bible.

    I would take issue with LDS who claim that the JST shows which passages are wrong. The JST is an oddly formatted commentary on the Bible text. In practice I tend to research Biblical scholarship, weigh the options, and come to my own conclusions (which are probably wrong). I treat BofM biblical passages like I would the KJV. For the most part correct, but not the final word on the matter.

  19. I like the way Stephen Robinson dealt with this issue sensibly in “How Wide the Divide?”. In regards to the wording “as far as it is translated correctly”, he writes “The wording is intended to communicate EXACTLY the same caution to Latter-day Saints that the phrases “when all facts are known,” “in their original autographs,” and “properly interpreted” from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy are intended to convey to Evangelicals.”

    I may be biased, because Robinson was hands down the best religious professor in my experience at BYU. I blogged about this mostly for fellow Latter-day Saints to make sure they’re telling the truth about the Bible. http://latterdayspence.blogspot.com/2008/06/are-you-telling-truth-about-bible.html

    The JST, in my view, offers additional and inspired ways of interpreting various passages of the Bible, but I do not take it to imply that those passages of scripture are “wrong” nor that those additions were necessarily originally in those texts.

  20. BrianJ said:

    Oh, the “translated correctly” bugs me too. Not the original use of it (i.e., in the article of faith), but the way it’s tossed around drives me crazy. … And yes, I think that phrase applies just as equally to the Book of Mormon, etc. Even the D&C is subject to translation—not from Greek to English but from revelation (in whatever form) to Joseph’s English.

    I agree what the “disclaimer” that the AoF has toward the Bible applies to the Book of Mormon as well (and, by extension, to later scriptures too). The language of the AoF here is ambiguous, though, and I’m probably in a minority.

    Also, it is important to remember that in Joseph Smith’s usage, the word “translate” usually meant more than converting from one language to another. It also had to do with how something was intepreted or understood. And to get back to the original post, that’s the problem with most of the questions raised. They understand “translate” only by its narrowest meaning and thus misstake LDS belief.

    David Clark said:

    I would take issue with LDS who claim that the JST shows which passages are wrong. The JST is an oddly formatted commentary on the Bible text. In practice I tend to research Biblical scholarship, weigh the options, and come to my own conclusions (which are probably wrong).

    I do the same thing. I agree that the main purpose of the JST isn’t to correct errors so much as it is to explain or interpret. I view it as inspired commentary.

  21. Eric, apparently we concur, along with what Robinson says and with which I quoted above.

    “Out of the mouths of two or three witnesses…”

  22. Kullervo,

    Simply that you can’t go to a stack of pages sealed in a ziploc bag with a note that says.

    Dear People,

    This is the Bible.

    Love, God.

    That would be an Ur-text from which all biblical manuscripts would derive and deviate. It would be easy to figure out which manuscripts have errors simply by opening the ziploc bag and comparing the texts.

    Some people try and circumvent the obvious problem of there not being a physical Ur-text by positing some kind of non-physical perfect Bible in existence. One example of this would be Mormons claiming that Joseph Smith tapped into some non-physical Biblical text in making the JST. I.e. the text doesn’t exist but God told JS what corrections to make because God knows what’s in the perfect non-physical Bible (the Ur-text).

    There are other variations on this theme. I think KJV only fundamentalists make the implicit assumption that the KJV is somehow a physical version of this Ur-text, which I guess means God really does speak 17th century English, and that if you don’t read their Ur-text then you are going to hell.

  23. Kullervo,

    More succinctly from answers.com:

    Urtext, the German term for an original version of a text, usually applied to a version that is lost and so has to be reconstructed by textual criticism. Some scholars believe that Shakespeare’s Hamlet is based on an earlier play that has not survived even in name; this hypothetical work is referred to as the Ur‐Hamlet.

  24. “Clarify for me really quick. You think it used to be acceptable and encouraged by God to worship Heavenly Mother, back in ancient Israelite times?”

    Yup. But you’ll never catch me suggesting this in my ward Gospel Doctrine class. Kevin Barney did a fun article on this titled:

    “How To Worship Our Mother in Heaven (Without Getting Excommunicated)”

    Article also mentions Daniel Peterson’s article “Nephi and His Asherah” which I also read and enjoyed. You can also check out Margaret Barker’s stuff.

    A lot of Mormonism is just as uncomfortable with this subject as Evangelicals are. We don’t know a whole lot about Heavenly Mother, and honestly, I think a lot of Mormons prefer to keep it that way.

    But it’s always bugged me. So I was happy to see material addressing existing patterns in the Bible.

  25. I know what the word means. I just didn’t know you meant an extant urtext. Obviously there was an urtext: the original autographs.

  26. Jack: that makes sense about the similarity despite different approaches. Just for the record, I try not to say, “that part was mistranslated,” because (as I hinted above) I think everything is mistranslated. (Of course, some parts suffer more than others.) What really bugs me about the mistranslation argument is that it’s used to dismiss the text. I really enjoy reading arguments for mistranslation if they include what the writer thinks is a better translation. And for that reason, one of my favorite study tools is the NET online.

  27. There are two (easy) answers to this line of questioning.

    1. The BOM focuses on things that were removed from the Bible and the “gospel” (plain truths and covenants), See The BOM, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants for examples of theses. This is the primary issue Mormons have with the Bible, i.e. that it doesn’t have all of the truth from God.

    2. The translation issue is a bit of a red herring but it simply comes down to having a more realistic picture of the Bible:

    I think that post Joseph Smith, you have a fundamental shift in how you (should) view scripture, i.e. moving away from semi-magically preserved infallible, inerrant document to a more realistic picture of how such texts are created and edited over hundreds of years by people involved in religious contests.

    Based on the evidence, there are certainly additions and subtractions from the biblical texts, especially the Gospels. (Isn’t it almost universally recognized that Matthew as a revision of Mark?) Isn’t it reasonable to think that some things were modified and adjusted over time? What those specific things are doesn’t matter much to Mormons since they believe that continuing revelation fills all needed gaps. Its not important to correct all the problems with the old text if you have a source for new scripture.

    Don’t evangelicals also believe the Bible is the Word of God only so long as its translated correctly?

  28. Jared,

    Yes, we believe that scripture is only as valuable as the translation. The AoF has an implication that the Bible is not translated correctly (a sizable portion of Mormon culture believes this to be true). You don’t hear Mormons saying the Book of Abraham is true only as far as it is translated correctly. If Mormons mean “interpreted” or “understood”, then they should use those words rather than “translated”.

    I’d say Matthew is an amplified and contextualized Mark rather than a revision but it’s splitting hairs for our discussion.

    I think that post Joseph Smith, you have a fundamental shift in how you (should) view scripture, i.e. moving away from semi-magically preserved infallible, inerrant document

    I’d say you have perhaps moved away from a magical view of the inerrancy of scripture (as well you should). But you didn’t get that from Joseph Smith. If anything Joseph Smith gives us a greater magical view of scripture being directly imparted word-for-word from God’s own mouth. To in any way say that Joseph Smith was less magical about anything can’t even be called a stretch, it’s the opposite of his worldview. You’re reshaping Joseph Smith’s Mormonism in your own image.

  29. I think it is hard sometimes to find out exactly what Joseph thought theologically since it was typically his habit to think practically rather than academically.

  30. As a purely theoretical matter…

    Would it be impossible for God to provide a “perfect” revelation is He were obliged to use English to convey it?

  31. I think that post Joseph Smith, you have a fundamental shift in how you (should) view scripture.

    In one important sense this is true. One of my favorite books on the subject is Mormons and the Bible, by Philip Barlow. He argues that in the 19th century Mormons were quite progressive in their views of Bible, scripture, fallibility, openness to new scripture etc. It extended past Joseph Smith at least through Brigham Young. By comparison most Protestants at the time took more of a closed/fundamentalist position.

    However, in another important sense this is false. Again, Barlow points out that in the 20th century one sees a role reversal. Now orthodox Christians, excepting fundamentalists, tend to be more liberal and progressive in their views of the Bible than do Mormons. The key events in the change were the correlation movement in the Mormon Church, Bruce R. McConkie’s conservatism/fundamentalism, and entrenching the KJV as the official LDS Bible. At the same time Evangelicals and Catholics were loosening up on accepting non-traditional/non-conservative exegesis, Evangelicals were moving away from fundamentalism, and the orthodox Christian world produced fresher Biblical translations. Not all groups accepted all translations, but each group widened their definition of what was an acceptable Bible translation. Mormons and orthodox Christians have swapped places.

  32. Seth ~ Yes, I remember seeing the link to Kevin’s article back on Todd Wood’s blog. I need to sit down and read it sometime. Kevin Barney’s an old friend; he was a classics major at BYU for his undergrad, too, and even though he’s from my dad’s generation we still managed to have some of the same teachers.

    Margaret Barker… yeah, I’m quite familiar with Barker. Don’t get me started.

    For my own part I’ve definitely parted ways from those within Protestantism who wish to find a divine feminine within Christianity. I’m egalitarian, but I’m not that egalitarian.

    BrianJ ~ Just to clarify, I did not mean to pigeonhole you with those LDS who outright dismiss the text. You said:

    I really enjoy reading arguments for mistranslation if they include what the writer thinks is a better translation.

    Incidentally, so do I.

    I’m actually learning a lot from people’s comments on this thread, so thanks everyone. And here I thought I had nothing new about Mormons to learn…

  33. Joseph Smith may have been more open to the fallibility of the Bible, but I don’t think that’s true of the rest of LDS scriptures. He really only pointed out the flaws of the Bible to allow the LDS scriptures to gain a higher priority. Thus you get statements like “the Book of Mormon is the most correct book ever. .yada yada yada.”

    (Culturally there are many LDS who are fundamentalist to anything the leadership of the church says).

  34. BrianJ said:

    … one of my favorite study tools is the NET online.

    Yes, it’s excellent. And where the translators have put theological bias into the text, they explain why and often provide the alternatives. I find the NET very useful.

  35. Tim,

    On translation:

    I think you are overeading the translation issue. I can’t think of one time in church where anybody said any particular verse in the bible was not translated correctly. The “cultural” attitude is not that the bible is somehow flawed and dismissable, but that we don’t have the whole store there and that its not perfect. I think that most Mormons probably see the Bible as fundamentally correct, if incomplete. Evangelicals and other sola scriptorians seem to make a big issue of this because the Bible is all they got.

    LDS scriptures clearly have a higher priority culturally, in part because they were written for a latter-day audience and because their is an assumption that they are more pure than the Bible. Obviously containing things that the Bible does not have.

    On Magic:

    Whether or not Joseph believed in magic or whether his worldview was majical is irrelevant to the discusion. (Just as irrelevant as to whether Paul believed in magic rather than scientific explanations) I am not talking about Joseph Smith’s mormonism. The point of Mormonism is that its NOT Joseph Smith’s religion. I am simply pointing out what I think the implications of Joseph Smith’s contribution are.

    “If anything Joseph Smith gives us a greater magical view of scripture being directly imparted word-for-word from God’s own mouth. “

    This is more magical than an unseen guiding hand that prevents the author from making mistakes as he writes a letter? Sure, all relevlation is “magical” in the sense of being supernatural, but it seems a bit more straightforward and believable to think that if there is a God he would just tell prophets what he wanted them to write.

    On the post-Joseph shift:

    Here I am not trying to describe what the current Mormon view is (which is a relatively fundementalist interpretation of the bible) rather what it should be if we take what happened to Joseph seriously. (If Joseph was a prophet like Moses, then we should be able to tell some things about how God worked with Moses and the others by observing how he worked with Joseph. )

  36. rather what it should be if we take what happened to Joseph seriously. (If Joseph was a prophet like Moses, then we should be able to tell some things about how God worked with Moses and the others by observing how he worked with Joseph. )

    Yes, if we take what happened to Joseph seriously and assume that God worked with all other prophets in the same way, then we can assume that the words of scripture came down from God’s mouth into the prophet’s ears and they imparted them to us word-for-word. If that is the case, then the fundamentalist position is correct.

    I’ve got no problem in believing that it’s possible for God to have given scripture to us in this way. (in some cases I think he probably did).

  37. Would it be impossible for God to provide a “perfect” revelation is He were obliged to use English to convey it?

    I think that when God deals with man there are some things that he has to accept as “good enough” since they aren’t going to be perfect. That’s how I view the Bible (and the Book of Mormon for that matter). Over 200 years since Christ had taught His Apostles had passed before the early church fathers got together and canonized the 27 books in the New Testament Bible. When there finally was a synod to examine what should be preserved as canonical, I’m sure that some sort of agenda worked its way into the process and that a less than perfect, but still “good enough” book was produced. Those men were guided by God and if God didn’t like their work then He would have inspired it to go another way.

    I think this same thing is true with the Book of Mormon. When Mormon abridged all of the records and when Joseph Smith translated it, a book that was “good enough” to fulfill its purpose was produced, not a perfect book.

    Mormons (myself included) would benefit from relaxing a little bit when it comes to how “accurate” scriptures are and rather be grateful for the many people through the ages who have, with the inspiration of God, done their best to preserve God’s words in a form that allows me to come closer to Christ.

  38. To me the notion of corruption in the New Testament goes less towards what is distorted or falsified and more towards what is missing or omitted. I am a new member to the LDS church, so maybe my view is not mainstream, but I view the 13th article of faith to actually be essential here. We seek after all true and virtuous things including many that have been lost over time. The process of synthesis of the various books into what we know as the bible obviously involved the loss of precious truths ( we can look at lists of lost epistles or books mentioned in the bible itself). As a church member I believe that the Books and Abraham and Moses are just portions of what has been lost and what may be recovered in these latter days. Just as I believe the Book of Mormon shines light on passages in the bible ( and vice versa) so to do I believe that these new revelations and doctrines will help to reveal greater truth in the texts we today hold in our hands and hearts.

  39. “Would it be impossible for God to provide a “perfect” revelation if He were obliged to use English”
    Maybe if he used a posh English accent, or perhaps even a mystical Irish voice. But continental English? no way.

  40. I enjoyed John A. Tvedtnes’ Defining the Word: Understanding the History and Language of the Bible on this subject if only because it is compact and an easy read on this subject.

    Plus, I found Nibley’s explanation about how Joseph Smith “translated” these ancient records in The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri to be particularly enlightening. He was so full of the spirit of revelation that when Hyrum Smith asked him to record the revelation known as D&C 132, Joseph said he did not need the Urim and Thummim and that he could recite the revelation word for word.

  41. He was so full of the spirit of revelation that when Hyrum Smith asked him to record the revelation known as D&C 132, Joseph said he did not need the Urim and Thummim and that he could recite the revelation word for word.

    Alternately, he was so confident that he could just make some shit up and people would buy it.

  42. To me the notion of corruption in the New Testament goes less towards what is distorted or falsified and more towards what is missing or omitted. I

    If Mormons mean to use the word “complete” they should use it instead of the word “translate”. It’s your article of faith and you have the ability to change your canon. Change it already and stop telling me that “translated” means “complete”.

    Nibley’s influence apparently goes way beyond horses = tapirs.

  43. If Mormons mean to use the word “complete” they should use it instead of the word “translate”. It’s your article of faith and you have the ability to change your canon. Change it already and stop telling me that “translated” means “complete”.

    Again, I’m just one of many Mormons, but I’ve already stated that that’s not how I interpret Article of Faith 8.

  44. Even if he spoke with the voice of James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman?

    They would do fine for minor revelations, but for major theophanies only David Attenborough’s voice would do.

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