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Rob Bowman

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

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ELF1024,

You wrote:

Well, then someone has been pulling your leg Bowman. It is my understand 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.

I agree with what you say here, but the fact is that some highly respected LDS scholars and apologists have tried to argue that Joseph didn't know the Bible well at all when he produced the Book of Mormon.

You wrote:

Do I think he memorized Isaiah? No! Do I think he was very familiar with the King James Version English? Absolutely!

Well, you can't have your cake and eat it too. If the dependence of the BOM on the KJV is to be explained by Joseph's knowledge of the KJV, then apparently he had either memorized large portions of Isaiah or actually used a Bible in some way in producing the translation, reports to the contrary notwithstanding. You'll have to choose one of those options or deny that the dependence of the BOM on the KJV had anything to do with Joseph's knowledge of the KJV.

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Well, you can't have your cake and eat it too. If the dependence of the BOM on the KJV is to be explained by Joseph's knowledge of the KJV, then apparently he had either memorized large portions of Isaiah or actually used a Bible in some way in producing the translation, reports to the contrary notwithstanding. You'll have to choose one of those options or deny that the dependence of the BOM on the KJV had anything to do with Joseph's knowledge of the KJV.

Actually Rob, I can have my cake &*%$ any way I choose to have it. My beliefs don't have to conform to your rigid standards.

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some highly respected LDS scholars and apologists have tried to argue that Joseph didn't know the Bible well at all when he produced the Book of Mormon.

I agree with them.

For the record.

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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.

From best I can tell, the witnesses to the "translation" process all seem to agree that this was not a translation in the conventional sense--rather Joseph Smith seemed to receive the text with the words literally appearing on the seer stone and/or Urim and Thumim ("tight control."). This, of course, would still be a "translation" in the sense of bringing across from one place/location to another as defined in 1828 Webster.

If it is assumed that the Book of Mormon is in fact a real translation of an actual ancient book, that raises the question of who the real "translator" is? In other words, if Joseph Smith received the text but did not translate (conventional sense) it, who did translated it? One proposal I find interesting is that perhaps the Book of Mormon was "pre-translated" by someone else for Joseph Smith, after which he received it. If this is the case, some being (let's say Moroni) may have translated the text, may have even used the KJV at times where it was helpful, and then Joseph Smith received it. This could also explain why there are some strange Hebraisms in the text such as the if/and construction--the translator maybe wasn't a native English speaker. In other words, the translation in the first instance was "loose control" perhaps by someone who spoke/understood "Nephite" much better than English. Later, Joseph Smith received that translated text by "tight control." Sounds crazy? Yes. Is it possible? Absolutely. It actually is one way of making sense of what we know about the translation process based on the witnesses and on things such as the KJV text showing up in the Book of Mormon.

Of course, some scholars (Brant Gardner comes to mind) reject the idea of tight control all together. In which case it hardly matters if Joseph Smith used the KJV to facilitate the translation. That is the simplest explanation. The problem with that view, in my opinion, is the evidence of the witnesses who seem unanimous in saying that Joseph Smith did not have access to a Bible during the translation process.

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I agree with what you say here, but the fact is that some highly respected LDS scholars and apologists have tried to argue that Joseph didn't know the Bible well at all when he produced the Book of Mormon.

Since DCP agrees with their statements, I guess I will have to ask what exactly it means to "not know the Bible well at all".

I am fairly sure that he didn't have the level of knowledge of someone who was formally educated in the Bible.

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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.

Why does that make the dependence of the BOM on the KJV an issue? Whoever did the translation (God or Joseph Smith), and whatever process was employed, I don

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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 like this very much. I'm obviously not as qualified as Daniel Peterson when it comes to translation, but I do a lot of translation myself (Spanish, Portugues, Latin and English). I agree very much with his assessment.

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ELF1024,

You wrote:

Actually Rob, I can have my cake &*%$ any way I choose to have it. My beliefs don't have to conform to your rigid standards.

You're right. You are free to be as irrational as you want to be.

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Dispensator,

The idea that Moroni or some other supernatural being "used the KJV at times where it was helpful" in revealing the words of the BOM to Joseph Smith is a hopelessly ad hoc way of getting around the problem. I hope you understand what I'm trying to say.

Thanks for your thoughtful and civil replies.

From best I can tell, the witnesses to the "translation" process all seem to agree that this was not a translation in the conventional sense--rather Joseph Smith seemed to receive the text with the words literally appearing on the seer stone and/or Urim and Thumim ("tight control."). This, of course, would still be a "translation" in the sense of bringing across from one place/location to another as defined in 1828 Webster.

If it is assumed that the Book of Mormon is in fact a real translation of an actual ancient book, that raises the question of who the real "translator" is? In other words, if Joseph Smith received the text but did not translate (conventional sense) it, who did translated it? One proposal I find interesting is that perhaps the Book of Mormon was "pre-translated" by someone else for Joseph Smith, after which he received it. If this is the case, some being (let's say Moroni) may have translated the text, may have even used the KJV at times where it was helpful, and then Joseph Smith received it. This could also explain why there are some strange Hebraisms in the text such as the if/and construction--the translator maybe wasn't a native English speaker. In other words, the translation in the first instance was "loose control" perhaps by someone who spoke/understood "Nephite" much better than English. Later, Joseph Smith received that translated text by "tight control." Sounds crazy? Yes. Is it possible? Absolutely. It actually is one way of making sense of what we know about the translation process based on the witnesses and on things such as the KJV text showing up in the Book of Mormon.

Of course, some scholars (Brant Gardner comes to mind) reject the idea of tight control all together. In which case it hardly matters if Joseph Smith used the KJV to facilitate the translation. That is the simplest explanation. The problem with that view, in my opinion, is the evidence of the witnesses who seem unanimous in saying that Joseph Smith did not have access to a Bible during the translation process.

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Oh, and I have to correct myself: Joseph Smith's dictation of Mosiah 14:12 did not change the word "bare," although the word was originally misspelled "bear"; it was not changed to "bore" until twentieth-century editions of the BOM. So that means that Mosiah 14 corresponds to the KJV of Isaiah 53 in 386 out of 387 words, or a full 99.7%.

Ironic, isn't it, that the only room left for God is in "sins"?

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You're right. You are free to be as irrational as you want to be.

Just because I don't happen to agree with you, doesn't make me irrational. It just means that I don't agree with you. Your inability to accept that some people just don't accept your limited point of view makes you appear rather amaturish and ads nothing of merit to the conversation.

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Mortal Man,

You wrote:

Ironic, isn't it, that the only room left for God is in "sins"?

Pretty funny comment. To state the matter more seriously, God's only supposed contribution to the "inspired" quotation of 387 words of Isaiah 53 was to add an "s" on the end of one noun.

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Mortal Man,

You wrote:

Pretty funny comment. To state the matter more seriously, God's only supposed contribution to the "inspired" quotation of 387 words of Isaiah 53 was to add an "s" on the end of one noun.

So is that to say that you don't find Isaiah 53 as inspired by God at all?

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Pretty funny comment. To state the matter more seriously, God's only supposed contribution to the "inspired" quotation of 387 words of Isaiah 53 was to add an "s" on the end of one noun.

I'm not aware of any believing Latter-day Saint who would agree with the presumption made by the two of you here, but do enjoy your mutual back-slapping, high fives, and guffaws.

They're revealing.

.

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Pretty funny comment. To state the matter more seriously, God's only supposed contribution to the "inspired" quotation of 387 words of Isaiah 53 was to add an "s" on the end of one noun.

Or as I stated before, it just means that the KJV translators did an excellent job translating Isaiah 53.

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stemelbow,

You wrote:

So is that to say that you don't find Isaiah 53 as inspired by God at all?

Is this a serious question? The answer, as you must know, is no, that is not what I am saying at all. I am saying that the supposed inspiration by which God allegedly enabled Joseph Smith to "translate" the quotation of Isaiah 53 in Mosiah 14 appears to have been limited to inspiring the addition of the letter "s" at the end of one word.

To sum up:

  • Isaiah 53: inspired.
  • Mosiah 14: a quotation of an inspired text, taken directly from the KJV.
  • Book of Mormon: not inspired, though it quotes inspired texts.
  • Joseph Smith: not inspired.

Clear?

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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.

How could he know the Bible very well. He had to spend inordinate amounts of time scouring the libraries, all over the country, for rare and obscure books, from which he memorizing vast amounts of trivia. There was just no time left for Bible study or farm work.

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Dan,

You wrote:

I'm not aware of any believing Latter-day Saint who would agree with the presumption made by the two of you here, but do enjoy your mutual back-slapping, high fives, and guffaws.

They're revealing.

No more so than your lack of a serious, substantive response.

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Mortal Man,

You wrote:

Pretty funny comment. To state the matter more seriously, God's only supposed contribution to the "inspired" quotation of 387 words of Isaiah 53 was to add an "s" on the end of one noun.

I think you and Mortal Man should discuss what he thinks of the Bible. I suspect you won't find it so amusing.

This is a two-edged sword, you know.

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Bill,

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.

I'm not talking about inerrancy. You obviously miss my point, so I'll explain it again.

1- Both JS and the NT authors had a standard translation of the Hebrew Bible. The Septuagint for the Apostles, the KJV for JS.

2- Both JS and the inspired NT writers sometimes quoted the standard cultural translation (LXX or KJV) even when it did not match the Hebrew Bible.

So my question is: why are the inspired NT writers inspired when they don't correct translation errors in the LXX, while JS is not inspired when he does not correct translation errors in the KJV?

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I think you and Mortal Man should discuss what he thinks of the Bible. I suspect you won't find it so amusing.

This is a two-edged sword, you know.

I 2nd this. Something tells me Rob wont find much humor when or if MM decides to do this.

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

I believe that He did.

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

Why wouldn't He?

What about those places where the KJV is inaccurate?

Which ones?

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

LOL! So the revelatory claims of the Book of Mormon here is relevant, but the inerrancy claims of the Bible isn't? :P

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