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Rob Bowman

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

281 posts in this topic

ELF1024,

You wrote:

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.

Kudos to them indeed, but even if the KJV translators did their job perfectly, we would not expect an English translation produced two centuries later of a Reformed Egyptian translation of the Hebrew text of Isaiah 53 to agree with the English wording of the KJV 99.5% of the time. This evidence proves that Mosiah 14 is directly dependent on the KJV, not on the purported text of the gold plates.

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kolipoli,

You wrote (emphasis added):

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.

Your qualification is highly misleading. Quoting a passage of 387 words with 99.5% verbal identity is not merely "reflective" of the KJV language in some way.

You wrote:

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....

Sperry's position is incompatible with Skousen's theory of "tight control" of the BOM translation text. You can't mix these two theories together to deal with the phenomena. You must choose.

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Why didn't God inspire the NT writers to make more accurate translations from Hebrew?

I noticed how Bowman DODGED that question.

I wonder who else did.

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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.

I think some didn't quite get your point.

Some people didn't catch that you REMOVED "Joseph Smith" from Bowman's statement.

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Kudos to them indeed, but even if the KJV translators did their job perfectly, we would not expect an English translation produced two centuries later of a Reformed Egyptian translation of the Hebrew text of Isaiah 53 to agree with the English wording of the KJV 99.5% of the time.

Why not?

The funny thing is, that if it was signifigantly different you would be aruging that Joseph Smith couldn't have been insprired because the translation was so different.

You either accept it that the Book of Mormon was an inspired translation or you don't.

This evidence proves that Mosiah 14 is directly dependent on the KJV, not on the purported text of the gold plates.

No Rob, it's not proof. It's your explanation. It doesn't really prove anything, other than your desperate to try to make your own belief more convincing to yourself. But hey, whatever lets you sleep better at night.

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Nor do I think he did.

Speaking of "funny" and "trotting."

So did JS use a Bible or didn't he? Whether he memorized the chapters beforehand or read them straight off the page to OC doesn't really matter does it? Why not state your position clearly, rather than playing these rhetorical games?

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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.

Swallow.

Everybody knows that.

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Your qualification is highly misleading. Quoting a passage of 387 words with 99.5% verbal identity is not merely "reflective" of the KJV language in some way.

Your interpretation of what I mean by the term "reflective" is misleading. Would the term "mirror" been a better choice?

Sperry's position is incompatible with Skousen's theory of "tight control" of the BOM translation text. You can't mix these two theories together to deal with the phenomena. You must choose.

You've set up a false dichotomy by assuming that Sperry and Skousen's positions are mutually exclusive. They're not. In fact, they're much more compatible than you're willing to concede. That Joseph dictated precisely at various moments in the text does not and has never meant that he never appealed to the language of the KJV when text appearing on the seer stone containing a message in a familiar idiom to Smith. The translation that became the BoM was produced in a language familiar to Smith, in a language he could understand. I could easily produce my own translation of Genesis 1, but I appeal to the KJV because it is part of the idiom of my faith and friends. You're assuming the KJV played a much broader role in the production of the BoM than the evidence actually suggests.

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Bill,

You asked:

No.

You asked:

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

I'm not changing the topic. I'm demonstrating that you have a double standard in these matters. When it happens in the Bible, its irrelevant. When it happens with Mormon Scripture, its crucial.

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Sperry's position is incompatible with Skousen's theory of "tight control" of the BOM translation text. You can't mix these two theories together to deal with the phenomena. You must choose.

Apologists can't give up tight control because most of their Hebraisms and certain word print studies depend on it. Plus there's the spelling-out-names business.

They can't give up loose control because it's their only defense against anachronisms and Bible dependencies.

It is expedient for them to switch freely between the two.

What's usually missing in these discussions is the recognition that early-19th-century residents of NY expected ancient American writings to contain OT texts. Joseph Smith quoted KJV Isaiah because Ethan Smith quoted KJV Isaiah.

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Swallow.

Everybody knows that.

Is that

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Do the manuscripts suggest the text was not dictated at the points in which the Bible is copied? Does Mosiah 14 appear without punctuation or any other organization? Did JS take breaks mid-way through any KJV renderings and pick it back up where he left off without any notice of where he left off?

Maybe God did just quote the KJV for him, or rendered it very similarly.

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Dispensator,

You wrote:

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.

I doubt that any of them are compatible with the theory of "tight control" of the BOM translation text that currently dominates LDS scholarship. If you have such an explanation, by all means share.

You wrote:

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.

It's a trivial change that does not affect the meaning of the text significantly and that is understandable as either accidental or as a deliberate alteration by Joseph Smith, so although it's a possible "hit" it isn't much of one. By contrast, Joseph missed an opportunity to make a far more substantial revision to the immediately preceding verse. The KJV of Isaiah 53:11 and Mosiah 14:11 both read, "He shall see of the travail of his soul." The LXX reads, "From the travail of his soul he shall see light," a reading not taken seriously by translators or scholars until it was discovered that it was also supported by both of the DSS of Isaiah. The word "light" is now found in several modern translations (e.g., the NAB, NIV, NJB, NRSV) and is widely recognized as correct (e.g., Geoffrey Grogan in the new 2010 Expositor's Bible Commentary 6:805). "A threefold cord is not quickly broken, and MT

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Bill,

You wrote:

I'm not changing the topic. I'm demonstrating that you have a double standard in these matters. When it happens in the Bible, its irrelevant. When it happens with Mormon Scripture, its crucial.

I'm not criticizing the BOM for being merely something less than inerrant. I'm pointing out that the evidence shows that the English Book of Mormon is directly dependent on the KJV and is therefore not an independent, inspired translation of a Reformed Egyptian translation of the Hebrew text of Isaiah 53.

Just mumble "you're right but so what" or whatever allows you to slough off the issue, but don't misrepresent my argument.

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Mortal Man,

You wrote:

Apologists can't give up tight control because most of their Hebraisms and certain word print studies depend on it. Plus there's the spelling-out-names business.

They can't give up loose control because it's their only defense against anachronisms and Bible dependencies.

It is expedient for them to switch freely between the two.

Now that's what I call a bull's-eye.

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I think some didn't quite get your point.

Some people didn't catch that you REMOVED "Joseph Smith" from Bowman's statement.

Yes. I noticed that.

So did JS use a Bible or didn't he?

I believe that he did not. I believe that I said that I believed that he did not. I believe that I said it quite clearly.

Whether he memorized the chapters beforehand or read them straight off the page to OC doesn't really matter does it?

Not much. And I don't believe he did either of those things.

Why not state your position clearly, rather than playing these rhetorical games? Are you going to stand up and be an apologist or just keep juggling & tap dancing?

Don't try to blame your careless reading on me.

And drop the belligerence for at least a few minutes. It grew tedious long, long ago.

Apologists can't give up tight control because most of their Hebraisms and certain word print studies depend on it. Plus there's the spelling-out-names business. They can't give up loose control because it's their only defense against anachronisms and Bible dependencies.

Nice attempt at mind-reading. It's wrong, though.

I, for one, reject the dichotomy because of my experience with translation.

I regard "tight control" and "loose translation" as extremes on a continuum. When I translate, which I do on most days from (or into) one language or another, my approach varies between "tight" and "loose" from one sentence, or even one phrase, to another. Languages simply don't map onto one another as neatly as a rigid dichotomy between the two would seem to demand. Every translation is more or less loose.

But you have the professional anti-Mormon Rob Bowman's endorsement, which, I suppose, has to count for something.

It is expedient for them to switch freely between the two.

It's simply true to my experience with language, which is considerable and professional.

I suspect that some critics can't give up the rigid dichotomy because they need a simplistic straw man at which they can sneer and toward which they can exude contemptuous superiority.

What's usually missing in these discussions is the recognition that early-19th-century residents of NY expected ancient American writings to contain OT texts. Joseph Smith quoted KJV Isaiah because Ethan Smith quoted KJV Isaiah.

Where did he say that?

Oh. Never mind. Just more presumptuous mind-reading.

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What's usually missing in these discussions is the recognition that early-19th-century residents of NY expected ancient American writings to contain OT texts. Joseph Smith quoted KJV Isaiah because Ethan Smith quoted KJV Isaiah.

Ah, the silly old "Joseph plagiarized from Ethan" theory.

Regarding Isaiah, there's one little problem with it: The Book of Mormon does not quote most of the Isaiah verses that VoTH quotes. Likewise, VoTH does not quote most of the Isaiah verses that The Book of Mormon quotes. VoTH quotes in the standard 19th century expository way, selecting the verses that support the author's argument, while The Book of Mormon quotes in blocks. Accordingly, the number of actual verses quoted by both books is, in each case, a subset of all the verses quoted in the book, and is statistically consistent with each book quoting independently of the other.

The persistence of really bad theories for the origin of the Book of Mormon demonstrates just how hard up the anti-Mormon fraternity are for a decent theory.

Regards,

Pahoran

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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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Anyone making a source critical evaluation of the BOM Isaiah quotes would easily conclude they are specifically from the KJV. Nearly all apologists I've seen tackle the issue concede this point. However I've yet to see anyone answer the HOW or WHY. The HOW it happened is important because putting a KJV bible on the table as part of the composition of the BOM completely contaminates the sanctity of the translation process and contradicts the testimony of those involved. It has become necessary to concede that the KJV was used but not in the easy manner of just opening a bible but rather by some magical revelation, memorization, or remote viewing. With this more difficult process now in place the next necessary question is WHY. Why go to all the trouble of a magical mechanism for delivering the KJV text to Joseph and his scribes. If you are going to use a magical method then why all the effort just to end up with a inferior & error ridden text when you had a very early, approaching autograph form of Isaiah available.

In my opinion this is probably our best clue to the actual process of the BOM composition. We have direct evidence that the witness statements concerning the translation process aren't factual. Now that it's clear that a bible is in the room as textual source it's easy to bring anyone or anything into the room to compose the BOM narrative.

Phaedrus+

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Dan,

If Joseph Smith didn't use the KJV in producing the Book of Mormon, then whatever supernatural being you wish to claim inspired his translation must have used the KJV. Is this your position?

You wrote:

I, for one, reject the dichotomy because of my experience with translation.

I regard "tight control" and "loose translation" as extremes on a continuum. When I translate, which I do on most days from (or into) one language or another, my approach varies between "tight" and "loose" from one sentence, or even one phrase, to another. Languages simply don't map onto one another as neatly as a rigid dichotomy between the two would seem to demand. Every translation is more or less loose.

This is not a satisfactory answer to the problem because it confuses two similar-sounding questions. The issue is NOT whether the English BOM is a "tight" or "loose" translation from the purported Reformed Egyptian text. The issue is whether the production of the words used in the English BOM was tightly controlled in the claimed revelatory process or only loosely controlled in that process. That is, did Joseph receive the very words to use in rendering the BOM, or was he given the gist of the passage and then produced the translation using his own wording, including the wording of the KJV that he already knew? This has nothing to do with whether Mosiah 14 is a "tight" or "loose" translation of the Reformed Egyptian text. Mosiah 14 could be a woodenly literal translation or an outright paraphrase of the alleged Reformed Egyptian text and still be either the product of a "tight control" method (or not, as the case may be).

You wrote:

But you have the professional anti-Mormon Rob Bowman's endorsement, which, I suppose, has to count for something.

It didn't take long for the ad hominem comments to start flowing. I am a professional biblical scholar by training who happens to have been doing a lot of research and writing for the past two years on LDS-related topics. Nearly all of my professional activities over the past thirty years have had nothing to do with Mormonism. Even during the past two years I have taught several courses, spoken at several conferences, and written a great deal of material on other topics. Perhaps you could focus on the issues instead of trying to divert attention to personalities.

You wrote:

I suspect that some critics can't give up the rigid dichotomy because they need a simplistic straw man at which they can sneer and toward which they can exude contemptuous superiority.

I'm here precisely because I want to make sure I avoid straw man arguments. How about you?

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I'm here precisely because I want to make sure I avoid straw man arguments.

Oh is THAT why, I was wondering....

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I, for one, reject the dichotomy because of my experience with translation.

I regard "tight control" and "loose translation" as extremes on a continuum. When I translate, which I do on most days from (or into) one language or another, my approach varies between "tight" and "loose" from one sentence, or even one phrase, to another. Languages simply don't map onto one another as neatly as a rigid dichotomy between the two would seem to demand. Every translation is more or less loose.

I have an idea. Let's do a brief demonstration between closely related languages and use a single text. I'll render the German, then a fairly tight translation. Problems with this approach will be obvious. Here we go:

Ueber all Gipfeln ist Ruh'

In allen Wipfeln spuerest du

Kaum einen Hauch.

Die Voegelein schweigen im Walde.

Warte nur

Balde ruhest du auch

Over/above all peaks is peace/rest

In all treetops feelest/perceivest thou

Hardly a breath

The birdies are silent in the forest

Just wait

Soon restest/diest thou also

The German speaker will be upset by the loss of the sound games the poet played (hearkening back as he does to earlier times when alliteration was all the rage in the far North of Europe). The English speaker will look at this dreadful stuff and wonder why the translater can't choose between English renderings of German words, and why there's no rime 'ner reason 'ner rhythm to the supposed poem.

Here is a more poetic and infinitely "looser" translation into English:

Above, all the summits

are still.

In all the tree-tops

you will

feel but the dew.

The birds in the forest ceased talking.

Wait: after walking

you shall rest, too.

Germans will still think it's dreadful. This English speaker doesn't think much of it, either, even though it's more aesthetically pleasing than the tighter one I did (note, for example, the inexplicable change in tense when referring to the silent birds and using dew instead of breath).

It could easily be asserted that the two English outputs depended upon two different but similar German inputs. Yet the source material remains the same.

USU "Thankee kindly, Herr Professor" 78

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zerinus,

You wrote:

There are obvious differences between it and the KJV; but the similarities are more interesting. They are so close in fact that you could argue that the KJV is plagiaruzed form the Geneva Bible! So it looks like plagiarizing Bible translations has been a very old and honourable practice.

No one, not even the KJV translators themselves, would ever deny the influence of earlier English versions on the KJV. Please note that I said, "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" (emphasis added). But we have been told that Joseph Smith didn't know the Bible (in any translation) well at all and did not use the KJV at all when producing the Book of Mormon. Rather, we are told that he translated the Book of Mormon independently of the KJV, and that its wording was revealed to him supernaturally a line or so at a time. That's why the dependence of the BOM on the KJV is an issue.

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Thanks, USU, for quoting one of my very favorite Goethe Gedichte. Best thing on the thread thus far.

If Joseph Smith didn't use the KJV in producing the Book of Mormon, then whatever supernatural being you wish to claim inspired his translation must have used the KJV. Is this your position?

Yup.

This is not a satisfactory answer to the problem because it confuses two similar-sounding questions. The issue is NOT whether the English BOM is a "tight" or "loose" translation from the purported Reformed Egyptian text. The issue is whether the production of the words used in the English BOM was tightly controlled in the claimed revelatory process or only loosely controlled in that process. That is, did Joseph receive the very words to use in rendering the BOM, or was he given the gist of the passage and then produced the translation using his own wording, including the wording of the KJV that he already knew? This has nothing to do with whether Mosiah 14 is a "tight" or "loose" translation of the Reformed Egyptian text. Mosiah 14 could be a woodenly literal translation or an outright paraphrase of the alleged Reformed Egyptian text and still be either the product of a "tight control" method (or not, as the case may be).

I'm perfectly happy with it being a tightly-controlled revelation. No problemo.

It didn't take long for the ad hominem comments to start flowing.

You're right. You were insulting Mormons in general almost immediately in that other thread, and, as soon as I appeared, insinuating that I was lying about what I wrote in Offenders for a Word.

It was shameless and offensive, and you've gone considerably down in my estimation for it.

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But we have been told that Joseph Smith didn't know the Bible (in any translation) well at all and did not use the KJV at all when producing the Book of Mormon. Rather, we are told that he translated the Book of Mormon independently of the KJV, and that its wording was revealed to him supernaturally a line or so at a time. That's why the dependence of the BOM on the KJV is an issue.

Well, then someone has been pulling your leg Bowman. It is my understanding that Joseph Smith spent a good deal of time reading the Bible in his young life. His understanding of scripture was one of the reasons why he took to his knees in the grove of trees. To say that Joseph was some Bible ignorant New York hick is to mis-character-ize him, not that such a thing would be new.

Do I think he memorized Isaiah? No!

Do I think he was very familiar with the King James Version English? Absolutely!

Did he use the KJV during his translation? Not according to published accounts.

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