Isaiah in the Book of Mormon

In response to a recent question, the following extract ‘Isaiah in the Book of Mormon‘ from TMD Volume 2 was posted to ‘The Mormon Delusion’ facebook page and may be of interest.

Extract from The Mormon Delusion, Volume 2, Chapter 11.

Isaiah in the Book of Mormon

Smith copied chapter after chapter of Isaiah (chapters 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 29, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53 and 54), directly from the KJV into his BOM, claiming that they were copied from Hebrew (written on plates of brass), inscribed centuries before 600 BCE.

The BOM claims it was translated at various times between 588 BCE and 34 CE from those Hebrew records, into reformed Egyptian. Finally, Smith was led to gold plates which contained the records, in 1827. Smith then had God translate them into Jacobean English which matched the KJV.

One problem is that all real original Hebrew manuscripts were on papyrus, rather than brass. The earliest of documents available, date to hundreds of years later than 600 BCE and copies of copies were continually made over the years with previous copies then destroyed. As the Hebrew language continued to evolve from an ancient form over the centuries, as with any language, minor alterations and clarifications would have been evident in order to keep the records understandable for succeeding generations.

After many centuries had passed by and several translations later (for a thousand years, during the Dark and Middle Ages, the Bible was only available in Latin), we finally arrive at 1611 in England, when the KJV was produced. It referenced Tyndale’s New Testament; Matthew’s Bible; The Coverdale Bible; The Great Bible; The Geneva Bible; and even the (Roman Catholic) Rheims New Testament. There are of course a number of accepted errors in the King James translation.

If Smith’s claim was true, his version of Isaiah should be perfect (God translated it) and no errors in translation should be evident. It would be impossible for God to have translated from ‘reformed’ Egyptian (which had in turn, been translated directly from an original ancient Hebrew text on brass plates) and include any errors, let alone identical translation errors that mere mortals came up with after thousands of years and several translations later, in the KJV. Yet Smith’s God consistently did just that.

The KJV was constructed by making comparisons with several earlier translations, available in Greek and Latin, which had in turn been translated from Hebrew manuscripts, which themselves had been copied and recopied many times, over earlier centuries BCE. Various editions of earlier and later Bibles (to the KJV) give slightly different wording to Isaiah, and yet (with a few minor meaningless modifications to aid Smith’s story, which do not match any original early Hebrew documents), Smith’s BOM matches the KJV, almost verbatim, and that includes incorporating translation errors contained within it.

There are many examples of Smith’s Isaiah plagiarism which cannot be refuted (nor can they be explained) despite vain efforts by apologists. One evidence of Smith’s plagiarism running throughout is contained in the fact that translators for the KJV used italics in their work. This provides a most telling fraud on Smith’s part. When one language is translated into another, the idioms change. Where the translators found it necessary to add new words in order to try to explain what the earlier language may have meant, they used italics to indicate that their chosen words were not a translation, but rather their (then) modern interpretation of what may have been intended. Although Smith did not use some of the italicised words, in many instances he dutifully copied the italics as printed, without reference or alteration. They could only have originated from the KJV, not from God and not from any ancient plates.

The BOM text also matches identified KJV translation errors, which conflict with everything from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint and Masoretic text, to the later Young’s Literal Translation, again evidencing Smith’s source. No original document dating to before 600 BCE could contain such errors. Smith’s translation therefore should not contain any, if the original source truly was brass plates dating many years prior to 600 BCE. To give just one of the many such examples of this type of error, the BOM: 2 Nephi 7:1 and KJV: Isaiah 50:1. Both include these exact words:

Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves…

Joseph Smith copied the error, word for word, into his BOM. Considering the earlier part of this verse confirms that it was God doing the selling, “…whom I have put away? Or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you?” it is strange that the KJV was actually mistranslated here. It is even stranger that God Himself apparently also mistranslated it into Joseph Smith’s hat, word for word in the same way that the 17th century translators had. There are no odds you could lay on that, it is simply impossible for God to have done so, and this verse alone, conclusively proves Joseph Smith’s fraudulent claim regarding the Book of Mormon. The hoax is here exposed beyond any and all doubt, before even considering the hundreds of other evidences. No direct source, nor almost any translation, other than the KJV and its subsequent versions, including Webster’s (1833) and John Nelson Darby who used a revised Greek text (1867), both published after Smith’s BOM (1830), appears to make the translation error, before or after Smith’s time.

Dead Sea Scrolls: Because of your sins you were sold…
Masoretic Text of Isaiah: Behold, you were sold for your iniquities…
The Great Isaiah Scroll (100 BCE) Behold, for your iniquities you have been sold…
Septuagint: Behold, ye are sold for your sins…
Wycliffe Bible (1384 ed. 1395): For lo! Ye ben seeld for youre wickidnesses…
Miles Coverdale’s Bible (1535): Beholde, for youre owne offeces are ye solde…
Geneva Bible (1560/1599): Behold, for your iniquities are ye sold…
The Bishop’s Bible (1568): Beholde, for your offences are ye solde…
Douay-Rheims (Latin Vulgate): Behold you are sold for your iniquities…
Young’s Literal Translation (1898): Lo, for your iniquities ye have been sold…
English Standard Version: Behold, for your iniquities you were sold…
New American Standard Bible: Behold, you were sold for your iniquities…
Amplified Bible: Behold, for your iniquities you were sold…
New Living Translation: No, you were sold because of your sins…
Contemporary English Version: I divorced her and sold you because of your sins.
New Century Version: Because of the evil things you did, I sold you.
Holman Christian Standard Bible: Look, you were sold for your iniquities…
New International Reader’s Version: You were sold because you sinned against me.
New International Version (U.K.): Because of your sins you were sold.
God’s Word Translation (1995): You were sold because of your sins.

It is not worth even bothering to comment on anything apologists have to say about this area. Delusional thinking precludes anything they say making any sense at all. Biblical scholars who analyse the psychology behind the concept conclude the analogy relates to people who sold wives or children, perhaps under pressure from creditors. In the original idea, God is the father, Zion is the mother and the Jews are the children. It could be argued that the Jews effectively sold themselves through their own iniquity. However, the point is that it is not what the original Hebrew said.

The fact is that it doesn’t much matter what arguments are put forward regarding translation, or who sold who, or even why, as it is irrelevant. It is not actually the point. The point is that the original text was written one way (it is God who sells them) and the KJV translators mistranslated (or simply chose a different way of writing) the original text. If Smith’s story was true, his BOM should have been written in a similar manner to the original account. Instead, he copied word for word, the KJV which matches no original text. Thus it was not revealed from God to Smith; it was sheer plagiarism on Smith’s part.

A complete thesis of well over two-hundred pages is available which is entirely devoted to The Use of the Old Testament in the Book of Mormon (Walters 1990). In his Abstract, Walters explains Smith’s journey though his use of Isaiah. He concludes that Smith may have written Mosiah and Alma first, then 3 Nephi to Ether and finally 1 Nephi to the Words of Mormon, following a logical transition through Smith’s usage of Isaiah:

“While 50% of all the verses from Isaiah are identical with the King James Version, including the italics the translators had inserted, the examination of the material following the above sequence, showed a decided tendency for the earlier portions to follow the KJV verbatim or nearly so. As Joseph Smith continued with the production of his book there was increasing liberty taken in altering the KJV. Not only were the italics either deleted or replaced, but the words of the text itself were altered. This alteration appeared to have had as its object both the removal of wording which Joseph Smith regarded as contradictory (i.e., the changes were harmonistic in nature) and an interpretive function to mold the passage so that it could be made to refer either to Joseph himself or to his Book of Mormon plot-line. In the process of alteration occasional errors were introduced into the Biblical material of both a grammatical and substantive manner.”

Walter’s conclusion regarding sequence is supported by the Church. The same sequence is identified in a Mormon student manual used in their Institute of Religion courses. When Joseph Smith began translating in 1827, he evidently started with the book of Lehi from Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates of Nephi (see heading to D&C 10).

After the loss of the 116 pages of manuscript, Joseph apparently started with the book of Mosiah, also found on the large plates. He had just begun the book of Mosiah when Oliver Cowdery was sent to him in early April of 1829. Five weeks later, 15 May 1829, they were on 3 Nephi and the Savior’s sermon on baptism to the Nephites. Not until arriving at the Whitmer residence in Fayette did Joseph translate the small plates of Nephi, which contain 1 Nephi through the Words of Mormon. The Prophet was commanded to translate the small plates to replace the 116 lost pages (see D&C 10:43–45). In the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon, John Whitmer’s work as a scribe only dealt with material from the small plates, thus substantiating this conclusion. (Church History in the Fullness of Times, Institute of religion Student Manual –Religion 341-343 p58).

It doesn’t much matter in which order the books in the BOM were written, but when the actual sequence is identified, it does serve to provide evidence of Smith learning to develop his art of plagiarism in his increasing manipulation of Isaiah and other Biblical writings to suit his own purposes as he went along.

Another major ‘Isaiah’ flaw comprises 2 Nephi 24:12 copied from Isaiah 14:12 which is fully dealt with in Chapter 16. (The Lucifer Mistake).

More ‘Old Testament’ in the Book of Mormon.

Jerald and Sandra Tanner point out a fascinating (and insurmountable) sequence of errors in the BOM relating to the Old Testament, in particular, the words of Malachi. You just don’t notice them until someone brings the details together and draws them to your attention. Firstly, Malachi’s words are ‘borrowed’ and quoted many years before they were written by Malachi. No earlier prophets are credited with these words from Malachi 4:1, whose dating is uncertain. We know it was later than 535 BCE, probably about 400 BCE:

“For behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up…”

In the BOM, the following is claimed as being written up to 170 years earlier, with no indication as to which prophet (before Malachi) was supposed to have said it. There is a verse in Isaiah (47:14) which indicates how Babylon and Chaldea would be destroyed; the Persians were about to take over Babylonian power. “Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them…” but that is as close as it gets. Malachi speaks about the final days:

“For behold, saith the prophet … the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned.” (BOM. 1 Nephi 22:15 BCE 588-570).

The Tanners point out that Malachi’s words were again ‘borrowed’ from Malachi 4:2 “…the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings;” and used in 2 Nephi 25:13 as “he shall arise from the dead with healing in his wings” around 559-545 BCE, again without reference as to which prophet (other than Malachi, who came later) actually said that.

They also show that 2 Nephi 26:4, 6 & 9 were taken from Malachi 4:1-2.

4. Wherefore, all those who are proud, and that do wickedly, the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, for they shall be as stubble.
6. …and they shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall consume them, saith the Lord of Hosts.
9. But the Son of righteousness shall appear unto them; and he shall heal them…

The Tanners continue with the details of their discovery:

“About 600 years after Nephi was supposed to have written these words, Jesus appeared to the Nephites and said: “…Behold other scriptures I would that ye should write, that ye have not.” (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 23:6) Jesus then told the Nephites to “write the words which the Father had given unto Malachi, which he should tell unto them…”

“And these are the words which he did tell unto them, saying: Thus said the Father unto Malachi – Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me…”

“For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.”

“But unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves in the stall.” (3 Nephi 24:1; 25:1-2)

These words, attributed to Jesus, very plainly show that the Nephites could not have the words of Malachi until Christ came among them. The Mormon writer George Reynolds stated: “As Malachi lived between two and three hundred years after Lehi left Jerusalem, the Nephites knew nothing of the glorious things that the Father had revealed to him until Jesus repeated them.” (Complete Concordance of the Book of Mormon, Salt Lake City, 1957, p.442) Now, if the Nephites knew nothing concerning these words until the coming of Christ, how did Nephi quote them 600 years before? (Tanner 1987:73). (Underlining in original).

Not only are the Tanners absolutely correct in their questioning (for which there is no answer other than the truth – Smith was a fraud), but, why did Smith later claim (in 1838) that the angel Moroni altered Malachi’s words (in 1823) and yet use the KJV when writing the BOM (in 1829), pretending that Jesus Christ himself quoted it verbatim to the Nephites? Why would Moroni use words that were different to those (Smith states) the Saviour had used and claimed were the words of Malachi? (See Chapter 6: Scripture Quoted to Joseph Smith by the Angel Moroni). No amount of apologetic squirming could ever overcome such nonsense as this.

(Copyright © 2009, 2013. Jim Whitefield)