the Mormon Claim
Serious Errors In The Book of Mormon
There are two possible explanations for the origin of the
Book of Mormon. It is either of divine or human origin, and if it is of human origin that means that Joseph Smith concocted the Book. If this is true, then the
Book of Mormon should be full of errors. It is in fact replete with such errors, as I intend to show in these two "Part 6" posts to E-D.
Large portions of the Book of Mormon are very similar to the King James Version of the Bible, which of course was about the only English Bible available to Joseph Smith in the 1820's. It is also true that the King James Version contains some textual errors. I don't want to digress too far, but let's look at the issue of textual problems for just a minute. There are legitimate questions about some passages, whether or not they are a part of the original text. As a rule of thumb, many of the textual questions were unknown, let alone unsettled, by the time the King James was produced, and so it contains some passages or words that are not original. In most cases this is not a big deal, but when applied to the question of the origin of the
Book of Mormon, it is.
Consider the place where John was baptizing, according to John 1:28. Look in different translations and you will see that the KJV says "Bethabara", while virtually everything else says "Bethany." To make a long story short, the "church father" Origen (c. 230 AD) changed the text from Bethany to Bethabara, honestly thinking that he was correcting an existing mistake, not making one. The original text of John absolutely, positively, read Bethany, and that is absolutely the name of the place where John was baptizing at that time. But the KJV translators didn't know about the textual question, and so the KJV reads Bethabara, as I indicated above. This means nothing in the big scheme of things, but in the case of the
Book of Mormon it does, because if the Book of Mormon was of divine origin then the prophecy in 1 Nephi 10:9 about where the Christ would be baptized would have mentioned the proper place, even though in Smith's day it would have seemed wrong since the KJV said something else. But instead Smith copied the "prophecy" out of the KJV and so copied down the wrong place.
There are other similar mistakes where the Book of Mormon includes the spurious KJV readings in 3 Nephi 13:13 (cf. Matt 6:13), Mosiah 3:7 (cf. Luke 22:44), 3 Nephi 12:44 (cf. Matt 5:44), and 3 Nephi 13:4 (cf. Matt 6:4). And there are many more, but these will suffice to show the true origin of the
Book of Mormon. On a related note, 2 Nephi 15:25 copies the KJV translation error of Isa 5:25 (s/b "refuse" or "dung" not "torn").
There are also internal inconsistencies within the Book of Mormon, which is exactly what you would expect if Joseph Smith invented the text. For example, in 2 Nephi 5, we are told how when Nephi landed in the New World, things like gold, silver, and all manner of precious gems were too be found everywhere in abundance. Only a short time later, they built a temple much like Solomon's except that no gold, silver, or precious gems were used "because they were not to be found upon the land"! Another example: in early editions of the
Book of Mormon, Mosiah 21:28 read "King Benjamin", which is an anachronism because he was long since dead by the time of the events that supposedly occurred in that chapter. It has since been changed to "King Mosiah". In two places in the book of Alma, the word "cherubims" in early editions has since been changed to "cherubim". If you don't know why already, saying "cherubims" is like using "mices" as the plural of "mouse."
Mention the name B.H. Roberts to any Mormon, and they will instantly recognize him as one of the staunchest defenders of the Mormon faith. In 1922 he prepared an internal Mormon study about the possibility that Smith fabricated the
Book of Mormon, and he considered this whole topic of internal problems (more about this in my next post). He summarized this section of the study by saying "If...the view be taken that the Book of Mormon is merely of human origin; that a person of Joseph Smith's limitations in experience and in education, who was of the vicinage and of the period that produced the book - if it be assumed that he is the author of it, then it could be said there is much internal evidence in the book itself to sustain such a view. In the first place there is a certain lack of perspective in the things the book relates as history that points quite clearly to an undeveloped mind as their origin. The narrative proceeds in characteristic disregard of conditions necessary to its reasonableness, as if it were a tale told by a child, with utter disregard for consistency." He also wrote: ": "The allusions here to absurdities of expressions and incidents in the Book of Mormon are not made for the purpose of ridiculing the book, or casting undue aspersions upon it; but they are made to indicate what may be fairly regarded as just objects of criticism under the assumption that the Book of Mormon is of human origin, and that Joseph Smith is its author. For these absurdities in expression; these miraculous incidents in warfare; those almost mock - and certainly extravagant - heroics; these lapses of the main characters about conditions obtaining, are certainly just such absurdities and lapses as would be looked for if a person of such limitations as bounded Joseph Smith undertook to put forth a book dealing with the history and civilization of ancient peoples." I will deal more with this B.H. Roberts criticism in my "Part 6b" posting.
Returning directly to the Book of Mormon, there are also factual errors which betray its human origin. I would include serious grammatical errors here, since it should be kept in mind that the
Book of Mormon English "translation" was supposedly dictated word-for-word by the Holy Spirit (see the David Whitmer quote in my "money-digging" posting. The original
Book of Mormon contains literally thousands of such errors, most of which have since been corrected. But the most embarrasing errors have to the do with the Elizabethan language in the original
Book of Mormon. When Joseph Smith created the Book of Mormon, he evidently elected to use such KJV-like language throughout, even though that was not the way people talked in New York in the 1820's. Needless to say, he made all sorts of mistakes, EXCEPT in places where the
Book of Mormon plagiarized from the KJV.
As for factual errors, there are a number of anachronisms in the Book of Mormon. For example, there is the mention of "the most precious steel" in 1 Nephi 4:9, which supposedly occurred in 600 BC. That couldn't have been said then. The same goes with the mention of "crucifixion" in 2 Nephi 10:3. There was no such term at that time; if the prophecy was true it would have described someone hanging on a tree with nails or something of the sort, but would not have used the word. In Alma 46:15, believers are called "Christians" in about 73 BC, which contradicts both common sense and Acts 11:26. And 1 Nephi 22:15 quotes from Malachi 4:1 even though Malachi wasn't written until about 160 years after the events of that chapter.
There are also a handful of places where Christ supposedly quoted from the OT when he preached to the Nephites following his resurrection, only the quotations used in the
Book of Mormon are the slightly different NT quotations of those same OT passages. The worst one is when Jesus is supposedly quoting from Moses, but uses as Moses' words the record of Peter quoting the LXX version of them in Acts 3:22-25 including the part about Samuel and the other prophets! As if Moses spoke of "Samuel and the rest of the prophets"!
Finally, there is the small issue of dates. Throughout the Book of Mormon, Christ's birth is effectively given as the year 0 (or maybe 1 BC or AD). His 30th birthday comes up in 30 AD, etc. The fact is that Jesus was actually born about 4 or 5 years before that, as we now know, but Smith didn't. In all of these things, which I realize I have raced through in this posting, the internal evidence in the
Book of Mormon betrays its true human origin.
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