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BOM translation and inerrancy


inquiringmind

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If the BOM was inspired by God, recorded by prophets, and translated under divine inspiration, is it inerrant?

Why does Nephi say "Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness that is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself"? (1 Nephi 19:6.)

Why does Mormon say "if we could have written in Hebrew, there would have been no imperfection in our record"?

Wouldn't any human errors or imperfections have been edited out in the translation process?

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If the BOM was inspired by God, recorded by prophets, and translated under divine inspiration, is it inerrant?

Why does Nephi say "Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness that is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself"? (1 Nephi 19:6.)

Why does Mormon say "if we could have written in Hebrew, there would have been no imperfection in our record"?

Wouldn't any human errors or imperfections have been edited out in the translation process?

If God had translated himself, there wouldn't have been any errors. Just because I may be inspired in my actions doesn't mean I will perform them flawlessly. I will perform them, however, at a level that will satisfy God, the source of the inspiration, and that will be sufficient for His purposes.

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If the BOM was inspired by God, recorded by prophets, and translated under divine inspiration, is it inerrant?

No. As you pointed out, the book itself makes no claim to inerrancy - rather the contrary. I would note that the Bible makes no claim to inerrancy either.
Wouldn't any human errors or imperfections have been edited out in the translation process?

Why should they? If they were written under God's inspiration in the first place then He would have corrected anything He didn't want when they were first written, correct?

The book is called "the most correct book" by Joseph Smith, but he is speaking of its doctrinal content, not its grammar or the historical accuracy of every word. The doctrine is the important part.

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If the BOM was inspired by God, recorded by prophets, and translated under divine inspiration, is it inerrant?

Let me start with the last question. Is it inerrant? No. There is nothing in LDS understanding that has any scripture labeled as inerrant.

Now, returning to the beginning, it is certain that many men and women can be inspired by God and certainly that doesn't make them inerrant. They may be true to their inspiration, but that inspiration never guides 100% of their actions. God does not play us like puppets. We ". . . should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness." (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 58:27)

The last issue is the nature of the translation. That is the focus of much discussion, and there is no accepted understanding of how it occurred. Nevertheless, the known fact that there are mistakes in the text, and the known fact that Joseph Smith made some changes when he felt that the original wording did not sufficiently convey an idea, tells us that Joseph did not believe the translation to be inerrant.

Why does Nephi say "Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness that is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself"? (1 Nephi 19:6.)
He says it for the precise reason he indicates. He was human (though inspired) and his humanity might allow some error in the text--just as previous prophets, being human, had been subject to some error in the text.
Why does Mormon say "if we could have written in Hebrew, there would have been no imperfection in our record"?
In this case, probably a little bit of hyperbole. The comparison was between the sign system for the language. He is indicating that he felt that Hebrew would have been able to record more. Precisely how that is meant is not understood. Linguists do not believe that there are "primitive" languages. Everyone appears to be able to express what they need to (and invent words to cover what they hadn't had before). That suggests that Mormon isn't speaking of the actual language, but of the ability to encode language in symbols that we translate back into words (writing).
Wouldn't any human errors or imperfections have been edited out in the translation process?
This assumes that there is an inerrant translation process. While that is still the subject of some debate, I personally see no evidence that it could be deemed inerrant. In fact, even Royal Skousen, who holds to a much more rigid and divinely-given text than I do, still asserts that inerrant does not fit the evidence.
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"

Wouldn't any human errors or imperfections have been edited out in the translation process?"

Why should they? If they were written under God's inspiration in the first place then He would have corrected anything He didn't want when they were first written, correct?

If that is correct, the end product would still be inerrant, wouldn't it?

"Why does Nephi say 'Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness that is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself'?"

He says it for the precise reason he indicates. He was human (though inspired) and his humanity might allow some error in the text--just as previous prophets, being human, had been subject to some error in the text.

Thank you.

"Wouldn't any human errors or imperfections have been edited out in the translation process?"

This assumes that there is an inerrant translation process. While that is still the subject of some debate, I personally see no evidence that it could be deemed inerrant. In fact, even Royal Skousen, who holds to a much more rigid and divinely-given text than I do, still asserts that inerrant does not fit the evidence.

Thank you.

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If that is correct, the end product would still be inerrant, wouldn't it?

Only if God wanted it to be inerrant. If God decided what the prophet had written was "good enough" and got the important bits across then He might not bother to correct the prophet on more minor details.
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Only if God wanted it to be inerrant. If God decided what the prophet had written was "good enough" and got the important bits across then He might not bother to correct the prophet on more minor details.

But what would God consider minor details?

Could He consider some things that we might think are important to be "minor details"?

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If God had translated himself, there wouldn't have been any errors. Just because I may be inspired in my actions doesn't mean I will perform them flawlessly. I will perform them, however, at a level that will satisfy God, the source of the inspiration, and that will be sufficient for His purposes.

Unless Joseph Smith knew how to read Reformed Egyptian, the actual translation from Reformed Egyptian to English had to be done by some supernatural being or power.

I've heard people theorize that the project may have been delegated to a supernatural being with a fallible knowledge of Reformed Egyptian and/or English, but that theory introduces its own assumptions and problems.

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But what would God consider minor details?

I would say that He could consider anything that didn't help His children return to Him to be a minor detail.

For instance, the NT says that Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days and was then tempted by the devil three times. I think a good example of a minor detail would be the exact number of days Jesus fasted. Could have been 40, could have been more like 25 or 30. The exact number of days is not really important.

Could He consider some things that we might think are important to be "minor details"?
Certainly. Humans have a good track record of making mountains out of molehills.

But the things that really are important - things that might actually prevent your salvation for instance - are not "minor details".

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What leads you to believe it would be inerrant? Please be specific.

I'm not sure I do, but you said "If they were written under God's inspiration in the first place then He would have corrected anything He didn't want when they were first written."

That would seem to imply that you believe it's inerrant, no?

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If the BOM was inspired by God, recorded by prophets, and translated under divine inspiration, is it inerrant?

Why does Nephi say "Nevertheless, I do not write anything upon plates save it be that I think it be sacred. And now, if I do err, even did they err of old; not that I would excuse myself because of other men, but because of the weakness that is in me, according to the flesh, I would excuse myself"? (1 Nephi 19:6.)

Why does Mormon say "if we could have written in Hebrew, there would have been no imperfection in our record"?

Wouldn't any human errors or imperfections have been edited out in the translation process?

No Scripture is inerrant, anything done by the hands of man is inerrant. The only inerrant scripture is the stone tables that Jehovah recorded the 10 Commandments on, all other scripture is written by man and subject to error.

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LDS Guy 1986:

Not quite. Even the Decalogue(of which there are two versions recorded in the Bible) is subject to being interpreted by man.

I didn't say that it can't be interpreted in error, what I said is that the words written on the stone by the hand of Jehovah is the only inerrant scripture. Jehovah is perfect and makes no mistakes ever, now if man reads the perfect words of Ja and like the idiots we are fails to understand the plain and simple message he tells than that doesn't make his perfect writing any less perfect. It only make us the foolish and brain dead people we are.

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LDS Guy 1986 and thesometimessaint:

Let's not forget how the Prophet Jeremiah personally felt about the decalogue:

Jeremiah 8:8 (NIV)

"'How can you say, "We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD," when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?"

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Unless Joseph Smith knew how to read Reformed Egyptian, the actual translation from Reformed Egyptian to English had to be done by some supernatural being or power.

I've heard people theorize that the project may have been delegated to a supernatural being with a fallible knowledge of Reformed Egyptian and/or English, but that theory introduces its own assumptions and problems.

Perhaps the meaning of the words came by supernatural power, but Joseph still had to articulate them in his own language and according to his own world view (with the exception of proper nouns). I know that is probably not congruent with what we know of the translation process, but it makes sense to me :P

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I have so many questions but I cannot ask them directly yet as I do not believe I am allowed to create posts at this point, which is fine :P I was wondering about the BOM and if there is any historical corroboration for the events written about, such as the move from Israel to the Americas, and other events that occur, various battles and such. I am currently reading the BOM for the first time, so I am still working on learning various things. There is quite a bit of historical evidence (archaeological, etc) for the Bible and I was wondering if the same holds true for the BOM. I eagerly await your answers! ;)

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I have so many questions but I cannot ask them directly yet as I do not believe I am allowed to create posts at this point, which is fine :P I was wondering about the BOM and if there is any historical corroboration for the events written about, such as the move from Israel to the Americas, and other events that occur, various battles and such. I am currently reading the BOM for the first time, so I am still working on learning various things. There is quite a bit of historical evidence (archaeological, etc) for the Bible and I was wondering if the same holds true for the BOM. I eagerly await your answers! ;)

rofl.gifrofl.gifrofl.gifrofl.gifrofl.gif

I'm sorry, Lareliw, I'm not laughing at you. That's a most excellent question and it deserves a good answer. That's precisely what I think this board is for. But when you see the can of worms you just opened...you will probably be right next to me on that floor.

The majority of us here will say yes. (I even go so far as to say that based on what we have now, the Book of Mormon has about as much chance of not being historical as a pot of water placed on a hot stove has of freezing.) We have some board members, such as Brant Gardner, Dan Peterson, Kerry Shirts, Larry Polsoun, and many others here who have done extensive research and have found some beautiful evidence placing the Book of Mormon in the setting it claims for itself.

On the other hand you have a few who will claim that there is no evidence, some of them even say that we know enough about the Ancient Americas to say that it is impossible for the Book of Mormon to be historical.

Yours under the Puckish oaks,

Nathair /|\

ps. please don't take me too seriously, I am a major smart alec. Gwidion ap Don is one of my mentors and he wouldn't let me refrain. I'd never live it down. I'm glad you are here and that you are asking such important questions.

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Hahaha, believe it or not I do have a sense of humor :P I know it is quite a can of worms, most things that really get into the heart of things usually are! I suppose the "best" thing to do would be to conduct some research myself, but honestly, no idea where to begin! It is the historian in me that is always asking the placement questions, but ultimately is up to God and faith ;)

rofl.gifrofl.gifrofl.gifrofl.gifrofl.gif

I'm sorry, Lareliw, I'm not laughing at you. That's a most excellent question and it deserves a good answer. That's precisely what I think this board is for. But when you see the can of worms you just opened...you will probably be right next to me on that floor.

The majority of us here will say yes. (I even go so far as to say that based on what we have now, the Book of Mormon has about as much chance of not being historical as a pot of water placed on a hot stove has of freezing.) We have some board members, such as Brant Gardner, Dan Peterson, Kerry Shirts, Larry Polsoun, and many others here who have done extensive research and have found some beautiful evidence placing the Book of Mormon in the setting it claims for itself.

On the other hand you have a few who will claim that there is no evidence, some of them even say that we know enough about the Ancient Americas to say that it is impossible for the Book of Mormon to be historical.

Yours under the Puckish oaks,

Nathair /|\

ps. please don't take me too seriously, I am a major smart alec. Gwidion ap Don is one of my mentors and he wouldn't let me refrain. I'd never live it down. I'm glad you are here and that you are asking such important questions.

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Hahaha, believe it or not I do have a sense of humor :P I know it is quite a can of worms, most things that really get into the heart of things usually are! I suppose the "best" thing to do would be to conduct some research myself, but honestly, no idea where to begin! It is the historian in me that is always asking the placement questions, but ultimately is up to God and faith ;)

Two great sources of information are www.fairlds.org (a third party LDS Apologetics organization) and www.maxwellinstitute.byu.org (this is FARMS the Official Apologetics organization of the LDS Church)

Both have a wealth of information about BoM geography and many more LDS topics.

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