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Rob Bowman

Isaiah 53 and the dependence of the Book of Mormon on the KJV

281 posts in this topic

Of the many chapters of the book of Isaiah duplicated in the Book of Mormon, Isaiah 53 presents an especially interesting case study. Mosiah 14 in the Book of Mormon begins with an introductory quotation formula (

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Or he was inspired to translate it the same way it is in the KJV. So what?

OMG(osh), anti-Book of Mormonism is tedious.

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The only reasonable conclusion is that Joseph Smith utilized the KJV in his rendering of Isaiah 53 in Mosiah 14.

No competent Mormon scholar denies this, at all. For an extensive treatise on this issue, I suggest you look no further than here.

Royal Skousen has been making that argument for at least twenty years. No one is denying (including Don Bradley, who assisted Skousen in his initial study) that Mosiah 14 is text-dependent on the KJV.

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The only reasonable conclusion is that Joseph Smith utilized the KJV in his rendering of Isaiah 53 in Mosiah 14.

I agree. So what?

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The only reasonable conclusion is that Joseph Smith utilized the KJV in his rendering of Isaiah 53 in Mosiah 14.

That MAY be the only reasonable conclusion if you reject modern revelation, divine inspiration, and belief in a God who knows everything (inlcuding the verbiage of the KJV). So, do you reject all of those things?

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Well, since the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God.

And, since NO ONE here knows exactly how that process worked.

How, exactly is this a problem?

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It doesn't bother me at all that the BOM Isaiah text is likely dependent on the KJV of Isaiah. There are many possible explanations for it in my mind.

It's interesting to me, however, that the change of "sin" to "sins" is, in fact, supported by the DSS version of Isaiah. I think it's significant that one of the two words changes reflects a better reading of the (likely) original text.

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kolipoli,

I have that book and have read quite a bit of it. Skousen does acknowledge that the KJV is "the base text for the Isaiah quotations in the Book of Mormon" (373) but then seems to try to blunt the force of this acknowledgment. Thus, he argues that the KJV is itself largely identical to earlier English versions (373-76) and then comments, "So an important question is whether the biblical quotations in the Book of Mormon actually come from the King James Bible' (376). The rest of his essay seeks to give what is apparently a negative answer to that question by appealing to variants in the BOM quotations and other considerations (376-89).

I do not see how Skousen can reconcile the dependence of the BOM on the KJV, which he only partially concedes, with his theory of "tight control" of the English translation of the BOM (e.g., "Translating the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Manuscript," in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, ed. Noel B. Reynolds [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1997], 61-93). These two claims appear to be mutually exclusive.

No competent Mormon scholar denies this, at all. For an extensive treatise on this issue, I suggest you look no further than here.

Royal Skousen has been making that argument for at least twenty years. No one is denying (including Don Bradley, who assisted Skousen in his initial study) that Mosiah 14 is text-dependent on the KJV.

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Mark,

Are you suggesting that God supernaturally revealed to Joseph Smith the wording of the KJV line by line? Of course, God can quote the KJV, but would he? What about those places where the KJV is inaccurate?

That MAY be the only reasonable conclusion if you reject modern revelation, divine inspiration, and belief in a God who knows everything (inlcuding the verbiage of the KJV). So, do you reject all of those things?
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What about those places where the KJV is inaccurate?

"Inaccurate" according to who?

An incurrate arguement is comical coming from you Rob, considering the times we've gone in circles around that concept pertaining to the Bible.

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Are you suggesting that God supernaturally revealed to Joseph Smith the wording of the KJV line by line?

I have no problem with a God who works by supernatural means? Do you?

Of course, God can quote the KJV, but would he? What about those places where the KJV is inaccurate?

These are questions better directed to God, not me. I would only be speculating.

I've answered your questions. Will you answer mine?

Do you reject modern revelation, divine inspiration, and belief in a God who knows everything (inlcuding the verbiage of the KJV)?

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Mark,

Are you suggesting that God supernaturally revealed to Joseph Smith the wording of the KJV line by line? Of course, God can quote the KJV, but would he? What about those places where the KJV is inaccurate?

Does it disturb you when the New Testament quotes the Septuagint even when it disagrees with the Hebrew text (e.g. Isa. 7--there are many others)? Why would an inerrant Bible do that? Why didn't God inspire the NT writers to make more accurate translations from Hebrew?

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This evidence proves beyond reasonable doubt that Mosiah 14 is dependent on the KJV translation of Isaiah 53. Now, why is this significant? Because Mosiah 14 is supposed to be an inspired translation of text inscribed on the gold plates that Joseph Smith said contained the entirety of the Book of Mormon. Keep in mind that the Book of Mormon purportedly was written in Reformed Egyptian. This means that our Mosiah 14 would be a nineteenth-century English translation of an ancient Reformed Egyptian translation of the Hebrew text of Isaiah 53. The KJV of Isaiah 53, on the other hand, is a seventeenth-century English translation of the Hebrew text of Isaiah 53, with some likely influences in its wording from past English versions and through them from the earlier Greek and Latin versions of Isaiah 53, none of which would have had any effect on the Reformed Egyptian version of Isaiah 53 in Mosiah 14. As a translation of a translation, then, we would not expect the English version of Isaiah 53 quoted in Mosiah 14 to be particularly close in wording to Isaiah 53 in the KJV. Yet the two are virtually identical.

I would say that this is more verification of the correctness of the translation process of the KJV Isaiah 53 than it is any kind of an error with the Book Of Mormon or Joseph Smith. The fact that both Smith and the translators of Isaiah got it nearly the same shows that the KJV was a good translation of that chapter to start with.

So Kudos to the men who did Isaiah 53.

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Are you suggesting that God supernaturally revealed to Joseph Smith the wording of the KJV line by line?

Like I said, NO ONE here knows exactly how the process worked, or even how many others (angels) may have been involved.

But don't let this fact get in the way of preconceptions.

Of course, God can quote the KJV, but would he?

Here you are presuming that it must have been God, personally, dictating the text. Perhaps He sent an angel (messenger) to be responsible. And perhaps said angelic messenger had access to the KJV and felt it was accurate enough (excluding the two changes) for God's purposes.

That is just one reasonably possible explanation.

And why not use the KJV? Was it a bad translation?

What about those places where the KJV is inaccurate?

Inaccurate as a Greek to English translation? Or inaccurate as conveying a doctrinally correct concept?

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No competent Mormon scholar denies this, at all.

Yes, they do.

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I agree. So what?

So you agree that Isaiah 53 was not on the Brass Plates?

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The only reasonable conclusion is that Joseph Smith utilized the KJV in his rendering of Isaiah 53 in Mosiah 14.

The only reasonable conclusion is that the KJV was utilized in the English rendering of Isaiah 53 in Mosiah 14.

Other than that reformulation, I don't see much to take issue with in the OP. I'm fine with it.

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Does it disturb you when the New Testament quotes the Septuagint even when it disagrees with the Hebrew text (e.g. Isa. 7--there are many others)? Why would an inerrant Bible do that? Why didn't God inspire the NT writers to make more accurate translations from Hebrew?

It should disturb Evangelicals when Jesus misquotes Isaiah from mistranslations in the Septuagint. However, it would have been easier for Jesus to get a copy of the Septuagint than for a carrier pigeon to fly a Deutero-Isaiah scroll across the Pacific.

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kolipoli,

I have that book and have read quite a bit of it. Skousen does acknowledge that the KJV is "the base text for the Isaiah quotations in the Book of Mormon" (373) but then seems to try to blunt the force of this acknowledgment. Thus, he argues that the KJV is itself largely identical to earlier English versions (373-76) and then comments, "So an important question is whether the biblical quotations in the Book of Mormon actually come from the King James Bible' (376). The rest of his essay seeks to give what is apparently a negative answer to that question by appealing to variants in the BOM quotations and other considerations (376-89).

I do not see how Skousen can reconcile the dependence of the BOM on the KJV, which he only partially concedes, with his theory of "tight control" of the English translation of the BOM (e.g., "Translating the Book of Mormon: Evidence from the Original Manuscript," in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited: The Evidence for Ancient Origins, ed. Noel B. Reynolds [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1997], 61-93). These two claims appear to be mutually exclusive.

Your assumption of course, is that if the BoM is reflective the KJV language in any way, Joseph Smith must have plagiarized therefrom, for no "divinely inspired" person would appeal to the KJV to portray a text purporting to be of ancient origins.

It is clear that the BoM relies heavily on the KJV for the rendering of Isaiah passages. That is not to say however, that the BoM is not what it claims to be. I'm rather open to the idea that Joseph appealed to the language of the KJV to reflect the ambiguous and archaic idiom of Isaiah in the first place. As Sidney Sperry noted years ago:

Of about 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, the prophet Joseph Smith changed or modified about 234 of these in the course of his translation, leaving about 199 verses the same as in the King James Version. In the course of our researches on the Book of Mormon we have never been able to prove historically, that is, with adequate documentation, that Joseph Smith or his scribe had at their sides copies of the King James Version of the Bible to which they made reference as the translation of the Nephite record proceeded. We shall not claim another miracle, however, in the translation, but will simply assume, as most translators would, that the prophet realized the greatness of the King James Version and used it to help him in his work of translation when he came upon familiar scriptures. It is true that the Book of Mormon does contain many verses of scripture, other than those in Isaiah, which agree verbatim with their parallels in the King James Version.
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Mark,

You asked:

I have no problem with a God who works by supernatural means? Do you?

No, but that isn't the issue here.

You wrote:

Do you reject modern revelation, divine inspiration, and belief in a God who knows everything (inlcuding the verbiage of the KJV)?

I already explicitly agreed that God knows the wording of the KJV and could quote from it if he wished. I also of course believe in divine inspiration. I don't reject the possibility of modern revelation a priori, but we would still need to assess whose claims to modern revelation to accept, since there are a myriad of modern groups claiming such revelations.

I had asked:

"Of course, God can quote the KJV, but would he? What about those places where the KJV is inaccurate?"

You replied:

These are questions better directed to God, not me. I would only be speculating.

I've answered your questions.

Actually, you just ducked them.

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Thanks for keeping me in check Mortal Man. After writing it, it felt a little over-arching. I'll make sure to bring it up the next time I chat with Kerry.

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Bill,

You asked:

Does it disturb you when the New Testament quotes the Septuagint even when it disagrees with the Hebrew text (e.g. Isa. 7--there are many others)?

No.

You asked:

Why would an inerrant Bible do that? Why didn't God inspire the NT writers to make more accurate translations from Hebrew?

I won't let you change the topic here. inerrancy is not relevant to the issue of this thread.

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Other than that reformulation, I don't see much to take issue with in the OP. I'm fine with it.

That's funny; I recently watched a video of one of your talks where you trotted out Emma's assertions that Joseph could not possibly have used any book or manuscript during his translation sessions.

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I won't let you change the topic here. inerrancy is not relevant to the issue of this thread.

Ah, but it is.

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That's funny; I recently watched a video of one of your talks where you trotted out Emma's assertions that Joseph could not possibly have used any book or manuscript during his translation sessions.

Nor do I think he did.

Speaking of "funny" and "trotting."

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