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Rob Bowman

1 Nephi 10:7-10 and John the Baptist

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In 1 Nephi 10:7-10, we can see strong evidence that the Book of Mormon is the work of an English-speaking person living sometime after the publication of the KJV and not in any relevant or contextually meaningful sense a translation of an ancient text dating from before the time of Jesus Christ. The argument here is a cumulative-case argument in which independent lines of evidence converge to support the same conclusion.

I begin by quoting verses 7-8 (with letters added for reference purposes):

7 And he spake also concerning a prophet who should come before the Messiah, to prepare the way of the Lord— 8 a Yea, even he should go forth and cry in the wilderness: b Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; c for there standeth one among you whom ye know not; and he is mightier than I, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. d And much spake my father concerning this thing.

The “prophet who should come before the Messiah,” of course, is John the Baptist. The words of verse 8 allude to Isaiah 40:3, and Monte Nyman claims that “Isaiah is the obvious source of Lehi’s teachings since he uses almost the verbatim language of the present text of Isaiah.”[1] However, the wording of the quotation from Isaiah 40:3 demonstrably derives directly from the Synoptic Gospels. Notice the precise parallel of the entire statement attributed to John between the Book of Mormon quotation and the Synoptics (differing only in adding the superfluous “and,” not found in any of the biblical versions), as compared to the different wording of the statement in the KJV (and Hebrew text, as more accurately represented by the NRSV) and the LXX:

Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight” (1 Ne. 10:8b).

Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Matt. 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4).

Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isa. 40:3 KJV).

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (NRSV).

Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight the paths of our God” (Isa. 40:3 LXX).

As the NRSV indicates, in the Hebrew text the phrase “in the wilderness” is actually part of the “cry,” an exegesis supported by the Hebrew parallelism (“in the wilderness…in the desert”).[2] There is nothing wrong with the Greek and English translations that do not include the phrase in the cry; the point is that the Book of Mormon quotation does the same thing, reflecting its dependence on the NT. This dependence is strongly supported by the fact that the second line is quoted as “make his paths straight,” a wording closer to the LXX than to the Hebrew but identical with the wording of the Synoptics’ quotation.

Immediately following the quotation from Isaiah 40:3 as it appears in the Synoptic Gospels, the Book of Mormon describes John the Baptist in language that has no precedent in Isaiah, or anywhere else in the OT, and that clearly comes from both Mark and especially from John:

“…for there standeth one among you whom ye know not; and he is mightier than I, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose” (1 Ne. 10:8c).

“There cometh one mightier than I after me…” (Mark 1:7 KJV).

“I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; he it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose” (John 1:26-27 KJV).

The verbal parallels to Mark and especially to John are enough to establish a literary relationship, but there is more evidence of a completely different kind that further confirms this relationship and proves that the Book of Mormon is dependent on the NT Gospels for this statement. John’s description of Jesus as someone so superior to him that John considered himself unworthy to loosen his sandal reflects a very specific cultural context in the Palestinian Judaism of the first century. Removing a man’s sandals was an important and menial task in that culture, in particular because of the physical geography of the land. Palestine was characteristically extremely dusty, and one’s sandals would quickly become filthy from normal walking outdoors. Removing another man’s sandals was a task routinely assigned in that culture to household servants or slaves. There is evidence that such responsibilities were assigned to servants in the broader Hellenistic world—so that John’s statement would be meaningful to Gospel readers outside Palestine—but in the environment of Palestine the practice was a commonplace.[3] Rabbinical statements later recorded in the Talmud, which reflected that same culture and environment as John and Jesus, refer to the practice and even comment that it is too menial a task for a rabbi’s disciple to perform (e.g., b. Ketub. 96a; b. Pesah. 4a). Some rabbis argued that even a Hebrew slave should not be asked to perform the task; it was so demeaning that it was to be relegated to a Gentile slave.[4] John the Baptist’s statement, then, means that he was so inferior to Jesus that he was unworthy even to perform the most menial, demeaning task for Jesus—that is, that the difference between them was even greater than the difference between a master and his slave. John’s self-description presupposes that the role of slaves in taking care of their masters’ shoes was a commonplace in his culture.

We have no reason to think that this cultural allusion would be meaningful to Lehi’s family, who left Palestine more than 600 years before John the Baptist would make his statement. 1 Nephi 10:8 is one of just two references to shoes in the Book of Mormon (the other, 2 Nephi 15:27, is unrelated). All of the evidence that we have for this cultural convention dates from half a millennium or more after the time of Lehi. Not only is the convention not mentioned in the Old Testament, but removing someone else’s shoe in the Old Testament would have a decidedly different connotation, as it was part of an action intended to show disrespect to the shoe’s owner (Deut. 25:9-10)!

That 1 Nephi 10 is dependent on the Gospel of John is further confirmed by the next two verses:

“9 And my father said he should baptize in Bethabara, beyond Jordan; and he also said he should baptize with water; even that he should baptize the Messiah with water. 10 And after he had baptized the Messiah with water, he should behold and bear record that he had baptized the Lamb of God, who should take away the sins of the world” (1 Ne. 10:9-10).

“These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:28-29 KJV).

Having clearly alluded to John 1:26-27 in 1 Nephi 10:8c, the Book of Mormon immediately goes on to allude just as clearly (if not more so) to John 1:28-29 in 1 Nephi 10:9-10. This is not a matter of a few words or groups of words in one text that happen to parallel words in another text. The connection between 1 Nephi 10 and John 1 cannot be dismissed as arbitrary or happenstance (as one might, hypothetically, dismiss verbal parallels between the Book of Mormon and Shakespeare). 1 Nephi 10:8-10 is indisputably talking about the same subject matter as John 1:26-29 (John the Baptist’s ministry) and does so using some very distinctive language found only in John 1 and in texts dependent on John 1. Two specific verbal elements stand out in this regard.

First, the expression “Lamb of God” only appears in the Bible in John 1:29, 36, and as far as I have been able to determine does not appear in any extant ancient literature pre-dating the Gospel of John. Of course, one might suppose that God simply revealed to Lehi and Nephi the exact words that John the Baptist would say and that the apostle John recorded in John 1:29. One might further argue that Lehi and Nephi might have had enough background information in the Old Testament to make sense of the expression. Such background is found notably in the reference to the sacrificial lamb in the account of Abraham’s attempt to sacrifice Isaac, in the Passover lamb in the book of Exodus, and in the reference in Isaiah 53 to the suffering Servant who would go as a lamb to the slaughter on account of our sins. If this were the only parallel between 1 Nephi 10 and John 1, it would be plausible, from the LDS perspective, to explain the parallel in this fashion.

Second, however, the reference in 1 Nephi 10:9 to the coming prophet baptizing “in Bethabara, beyond Jordan,” is certainly dependent on the KJV of the Gospel of John. Bethabara was a variant reading of John 1:28 that gained ascendancy following the third-century Christian scholar Origen, who favored this reading (against what he admitted was nearly all of the manuscript evidence known to him). Contemporary translations overwhelmingly agree that the correct reading is “Bethany beyond Jordan” (of the dozen translations I consulted only the NKJV, an updated version of the KJV, had “Bethabara”). It is the reading of the earliest manuscripts and has the strongest overall support from a text-critical perspective. The qualification “beyond Jordan” (i.e., in the region known as the Transjordan, on the eastern shore of the river) evidently identifies this Bethany as a different place than the well-known Bethany “near Jerusalem” (John 11:18).[5] Nyman is aware of the problem and offers no rebuttal to the arguments favoring “Bethany” instead of “Bethabara.” In a footnote, he quotes Joseph Smith’s claim that “the world will prove Joseph Smith a true prophet by circumstantial evidence” (TPJS, 267) and comments, “The evidence of Bethabara will fall into this category.”[6] Nyman therefore indirectly acknowledges that at present the evidence of the place-name is evidence against the Book of Mormon, though he holds out hope this situation will somehow be reversed. Similarly, Sidney B. Sperry asserted dogmatically, “The inspired Book of Mormon, you see, says that ‘Bethabara’ is the correct reading and that our modern scholars are wrong in choosing the reading ‘Bethany.’”[7]

John Tvedtnes admits that the Greek manuscript evidence weighs heavily in favor of “Bethany” but suggests that “some early manuscript of the gospel of John accidentally replaced the name Beth-abara with the more familiar Beth-aniah, known as the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha,” and that “subsequent scribes copied the error.”[8] While one cannot prove this suggestion to be impossible, it remains highly unlikely. A reading which has the support of the earliest manuscripts is the presumptively correct reading, and the qualification “beyond Jordan” (which no one questions was part of John’s Gospel) shows that John himself was careful to distinguish this location from the town of Bethany.

Another hypothetically possible response to the problem would be to acknowledge that the place-name is wrong and dismiss the inaccuracy as unimportant, on the grounds that Mormons do not view the Book of Mormon as inerrant. However, the real problem here is not merely that the Book of Mormon uses the wrong place-name, but that the place-name it uses is clearly dependent on the postbiblical tradition that Joseph Smith received in the KJV. This makes it certain that 1 Nephi 10 is dependent on the Gospel of John in the KJV. It is not an independent reference (by way of prophetic revelation) to the future coming of John the Baptist.

A further difficulty with regard to this reference to “Bethabara, beyond Jordan” concerns the lack of any plausible reason for the inclusion of this geographical reference in 1 Nephi. The apostle John clearly had reasons for referring to the specific location where John the Baptist was baptizing. For one thing, John (the apostle) was there—he was the unnamed disciple who was with Andrew as disciples of John the Baptist when they met Jesus and began following him (John 1:35-42).[9] The apostle includes numerous specific place-names in his account, often references to places not mentioned in the other Gospels or elsewhere in the Bible, such as Cana (2:1, 11), Aenon (3:23), Sychar (4:5), Tiberias (6:23), the pool of Siloam (9:7, 11), Solomon’s porch (or portico, 10:23), and the Kidron Valley (18:1). These locations were personally meaningful to him and presumably to many of his earliest readers. John also uses the two locations named Bethany to frame his narrative of Jesus’ ministry movements, with Jesus beginning in “Bethany beyond Jordan” (1:28) and climaxing at “Bethany near Jerusalem” (11:18) where he raised Lazarus from the dead. John 1-11 is the first major section of the Gospel, focusing on the “signs” that Jesus performed prior to his Passion, whereas John 12-21 focuses on the Passion and Resurrection as the final, redemptive “signs” that reveal Jesus as the life-giving Son of God (cf. 20:30-31).[10]

While the place-name of the location where John met Jesus was meaningful to him and has a meaningful role in the narrative of his Gospel, there is no plausible purpose for the reference to “Bethabara, beyond Jordan” in 1 Nephi 10:9. The location did not have that name (as this was a later variant, as explained above) and was not called Bethany in the time of Lehi. The Greek form used in John 1:28, Bethania, was apparently a Hellenized and Latinized name for what the Old Testament called “Bashan.”[11] Had 1 Nephi used the Hebrew form “Bashan,” of course, there would have been no need for the qualification “beyond Jordan,” which clearly comes from the Gospel of John. Since Lehi and his family were leaving Palestine and never returning, the reference to a relatively obscure geographical location that would have no symbolic or religious significance to them, by a place-name that did not yet exist, would serve no plausible purpose for Lehi, Nephi, or the ancient readers of Nephi’s record.

One might speculate that the geographical reference was miraculously included for the benefit of future readers, as evidence of the divine inspiration of the Book of Mormon. Such an explanation would first of all be ad hoc because the passage says nothing to suggest that the information was not supposed to be meaningful to Lehi or Nephi or his ancient readers. In fact, there are statements in 1 Nephi 10 that indicate it was supposed to be meaningful to Lehi and his family. Nephi says that Lehi was “exhorting them to all diligence” (1 Ne. 10:2) with his words and was speaking specifically to Nephi’s “brethren” (vv. 11, 15). This explanation also fails because if the specific place-name was revealed in order to show modern readers that the Book of Mormon contained supernatural knowledge one would expect that it would get the name right!

If “Bethabara, beyond Jordan” would have no particular significance for Lehi, for Nephi, or for Nephi’s ancient readers, and if a Book of Mormon use of this place-name turns out not to be good evidence of the inspiration of Lehi or the Book of Mormon, then why is it in the Book of Mormon? The simplest answer is also the most obvious. Joseph Smith claimed to be producing an inspired translation of an ancient book that was produced by inspired prophets who had specific prophetic knowledge of the future (even knowing the name “Jesus Christ,” for example). In keeping with this concept of what the Book of Mormon was supposed to be, Joseph Smith wrote into the narrative stories about Lehi, Nephi, and the later Nephite prophets having all sorts of explicit knowledge about the future. The account of Lehi predicting the ministry of John the Baptist and even some of the words that John would say (as found in the NT Gospels) is an obvious example.

We have, then, several reasons from this short passage (1 Ne. 10:7-10) to think that it originates in the nineteenth century as a text dependent on the Synoptic Gospels in verse 8 and on John in verses 9-10:

(1) The quotation of Isaiah 40:3 attributed to John the Baptist in 1 Nephi 10:8 is dependent on the Synoptic Gospels’ quotation of that verse.

(2) The words attributed to John the Baptist in 1 Nephi 10:9-10 show close verbal dependence on the Gospels, especially John 1:26-29.

(3) The cultural background knowledge assumed in the statement about not being worthy to loosen the Messiah’s shoes was a commonplace in Palestine during the time of John the Baptist and Jesus but evidently not in the time of Lehi and Nephi.

(4) John the Baptist’s description of Jesus as “the Lamb of God” is found only in John 1:29, 36, and that expression (in any context) occurs only there and in literature dependent on that passage, unless 1 Nephi 10:10 is the sole exception.

(5) 1 Nephi 10:9 follows the textually inferior variant “Bethabara” as the place-name of the location where John was baptizing. This name for that location is found only in manuscripts and translations of John 1:28 and in literature dependent on that text, unless 1 Nephi 10:9 is the sole exception.

(6) It is improbable, and would be ad hoc to claim, that God would inspire Lehi, Nephi, or Joseph Smith to use the wrong place-name, leaving the only likely explanation that Joseph Smith was responsible for this mistake.

(7) The place-name (whether Bethabara or the correct Bethany) would have no meaning to Lehi, Nephi, or their ancient readers, and the explanation that the Book of Mormon includes this information for the benefit of modern readers stumbles on its use of the incorrect place-name and is also ad hoc.

It may be possible to suggest creative scenarios to explain away some of this evidence (though I think any such explanations are likely to be ad hoc). However, the multiple and independent lines of evidence make this a strong cumulative-case argument that 1 Nephi 10:7-10 is a nineteenth-century creation dependent on the KJV, rather than an ancient document supernaturally translated in the nineteenth century by divine inspiration.

NOTES

[1] Monte S. Nyman, I Nephi, Write This Record: A Teaching Commentary on The First Book of Nephi and The Second Book of Nephi, Book of Mormon Commentary 1 (Orem, UT: Granite, 2003), 130.

[2] E.g., W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison Jr., A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, ICC (London: T & T Clark, 1988), 1:293.

[3] See Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 130, and the extensive citations given there.

[4] Davies and Allison, Matthew, 1:315; R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 113.

[5] On Bethany beyond Jordan, see especially Rainer Riesner, “Bethany Beyond the Jordan (John 1:28): Topography, Theology and History in the Fourth Gospel,” Tyndale Bulletin 38 (1987): 29-63. I am indebted to Riesner’s article for some of the points made in this paragraph.

[6] Nyman, I, Nephi, 131 n. 7.

[7] Sidney B. Sperry, “The Book of Mormon and Textual Criticism,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 4 (1995):183.

[8] John A. Tvedtnes, “1 Nephi 10:9. John the Baptist at Bethabara.” Book of Mormon Research, n.d.

[9] On the identification of the unnamed disciple with “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 19:26-27; 20:2-4, 8; 21:7, 20-25), i.e., the author of the book, see Richard A. Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 390-93.

[10] See almost any New Testament introduction, Bible dictionary, or commentary for this analysis, which does not depend on acceptance of the theory that the Gospel utilizes an earlier “signs source.” For perhaps the most recent example, see C. Marvin Pate, The Writings of John: A Survey of the Gospel, Epistles, and Apocalypse (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 37.

[11] See Riesner, “Bethany Beyond the Jordan,” for the evidence supporting this identification. All plausible alternate identifications have similar problems for the appearance of the term in the Book of Mormon.

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“…for there standeth one among you whom ye know not; and he is mightier than I, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose” (1 Ne. 10:8c).

“There cometh one mightier than I after me…” (Mark 1:7 KJV).

“I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not; he it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose” (John 1:26-27 KJV).

The verbal parallels to Mark and especially to John are enough to establish a literary relationship, but there is more evidence of a completely different kind that further confirms this relationship and proves that the Book of Mormon is dependent on the NT Gospels for this statement. John’s description of Jesus as someone so superior to him that John considered himself unworthy to loosen his sandal reflects a very specific cultural context in the Palestinian Judaism of the first century. Removing a man’s sandals was an important and menial task in that culture, in particular because of the physical geography of the land. Palestine was characteristically extremely dusty, and one’s sandals would quickly become filthy from normal walking outdoors. Removing another man’s sandals was a task routinely assigned in that culture to household servants or slaves. There is evidence that such responsibilities were assigned to servants in the broader Hellenistic world—so that John’s statement would be meaningful to Gospel readers outside Palestine—but in the environment of Palestine the practice was a commonplace.[3] Rabbinical statements later recorded in the Talmud, which reflected that same culture and environment as John and Jesus, refer to the practice and even comment that it is too menial a task for a rabbi’s disciple to perform (e.g., b. Ketub. 96a; b. Pesah. 4a). Some rabbis argued that even a Hebrew slave should not be asked to perform the task; it was so demeaning that it was to be relegated to a Gentile slave.[4] John the Baptist’s statement, then, means that he was so inferior to Jesus that he was unworthy even to perform the most menial, demeaning task for Jesus—that is, that the difference between them was even greater than the difference between a master and his slave. John’s self-description presupposes that the role of slaves in taking care of their masters’ shoes was a commonplace in his culture.

We have no reason to think that this cultural allusion would be meaningful to Lehi’s family, who left Palestine more than 600 years before John the Baptist would make his statement. 1 Nephi 10:8 is one of just two references to shoes in the Book of Mormon (the other, 2 Nephi 15:27, is unrelated). All of the evidence that we have for this cultural convention dates from half a millennium or more after the time of Lehi. Not only is the convention not mentioned in the Old Testament, but removing someone else’s shoe in the Old Testament would have a decidedly different connotation, as it was part of an action intended to show disrespect to the shoe’s owner (Deut. 25:9-10)!

You assume that the situation before 600 BC was a lot better than the 1st century AD, that the roads were not dusty, and that removing a master's shoe was not a menial task. Would a man have removed his own shoes or would he have had his domestic servants do so? Would bowing before someone in order to remove their shoes not be considered a humiliation? Were shoes not considered dirty?

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If “Bethabara, beyond Jordan” would have no particular significance for Lehi, for Nephi, or for Nephi’s ancient readers,

You don't think "The Place of the Ford" beyond the Jordan would have had any significance for Lehi and co.?

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You don't think "The Place of the Ford" beyond the Jordan would have had any significance for Lehi and co.?

It had to have been a matter of considerable pride for those of the Northern Kingdom, even amongst the expatriates whose grandfathers had fled the Assyrians, that it was a fellow Josephite, Joshua, who led the invasion of Canaan proper. The Joshua 4 ritual of conquest and "rebaptism" had to have been held in particular remembrance by the CisJordanian Mannasahites and their Ephraimite cousins. The 12 pillars of remembrance a reminder not only of the great 12 Patriarchs of the tribes, but also that the heavens themselves were witness to Israel's greatness and the righteousness of their cause.

Oh, my, yes, the choice John made to Baptize where he did was very well chosen: A reminder that Israel passed through water in leaving Egypt; a reminder that Israel passed through water in entering Canaan; and a reminder that each man, woman and child of Israel must pass through water in order to enter G-d's rest.

And oh, my, yes, the branch of Joseph planted far from the Levant, who passed through water in order to enter the new land, would very much understand the significance of John's Baptism.

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volgadon,

You wrote:

You assume that the situation before 600 BC was a lot better than the 1st century AD, that the roads were not dusty, and that removing a master's shoe was not a menial task. Would a man have removed his own shoes or would he have had his domestic servants do so? Would bowing before someone in order to remove their shoes not be considered a humiliation? Were shoes not considered dirty?

No, I am not making any of those assumptions. The issue is whether Israelites before 600 BC were so accustomed to having slaves who performed this particular task on their behalf that a mataphor based on such a practice would be easily recognizable to them. Physical geography of a land may remain generally unchanged but culture is constantly changing. Not only is there zero evidence for the practice within about half a millennium of 600 BC, but I cited evidence showing that removing someone else's shoe had a contrary connotation in the OT era.

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The issue is whether Israelites before 600 BC were so accustomed to having slaves who performed this particular task on their behalf that a mataphor based on such a practice would be easily recognizable to them.

Who beareth the burden of establishing that there was not such a practice in pre-Captivity Canaan?

Nephi asserts implicitly there was. RB says, "Nope. No evidence."

So . . . who cleaned other folks' dirty shoes in Jeremiah's Jerusalem . . . and when did the world so change that, by the time of John, it was a particularly nasty job fit only for barnyard slaves? What changed? How did it change? Why did it change? When did it change?

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No, I am not making any of those assumptions. The issue is whether Israelites before 600 BC were so accustomed to having slaves who performed this particular task on their behalf that a mataphor based on such a practice would be easily recognizable to them.

Could you point to any culture in which a man with servants or slaves would remove his own footwear? This is particularly true of cultures where stature is associated with honour and dignity.

Physical geography of a land may remain generally unchanged but culture is constantly changing.

Right, but the culture in regards to removal of footwear remained static for about two thousand year after Christ, where is the indication that this was not the case earlier?

Not only is there zero evidence for the practice within about half a millennium of 600 BC, but I cited evidence showing that removing someone else's shoe had a contrary connotation in the OT era.

You have cited evidence of a yebamah, a woman, publically humiliating a male kinsman. The halitzah (removal of the shoe) was a token of levirate marriage. If the male kinsman refused to fulfil his duty as redeemer, then the yebamah could come in and publically remove the symbol of what should have been hers, and spit in the kinsman's face, a further sign humiliation.

This tradition existed in talmudic times, side-by-side with removing shoes as something a servant would do for a master. Why is it ridiculous to assume that the same holds true for earlier times? After all, the only mention of removing shoes in the gospels is in John's metaphor. We know more about this custom only because we have more extra-biblical material from that era than we do for the OT.

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(2) The words attributed to John the Baptist in 1 Nephi 10:9-10 show close verbal dependence on the Gospels, especially John 1:26-29.

(4) John the Baptist’s description of Jesus as “the Lamb of God” is found only in John 1:29, 36, and that expression (in any context) occurs only there and in literature dependent on that passage, unless 1 Nephi 10:10 is the sole exception.

Lehi, Nephi, and Moroni were intimately acquainted with the writings and visions of John, having seen him in vision and

having been instructed in detail about him by an angel. Nephi identified him as an apostle of the Lamb. 1 Nephi 14:18-30,

Ether 4:16.

Bernard

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Hi Rob,

Pardon me for interrupting, but over here you wrote:

My claim is not that Jesus was resurrected because the Bible says so. I can show on historical grounds that Jesus rose from the dead without treating the Bible as inspired. Evangelical scholars have been doing this for generations. The Gospels and other NT writings, especially Paul's, are treated as historical documents, and their testimonies weighed using historical methods of analysis to determine what we can know historically about what happened to Jesus. Simply approaching the documents critically, we can show that (1) Jesus was crucified by order of Pontius Pilate in early April, AD 33, (2) his body was buried in a nearby tomb, (3) the tomb was discovered by friends and enemies to be empty a few days later, (4) the body was never found, (5) Jesus' disciples had experiences they were convinced were appearances of the risen Jesus, (6) Saul of Tarsus, while an avowed enemy of the Christian movement, had an experience that he was convinced was an appearance of the risen Jesus to him, and (7) these experiences motivated the disciples to risk censure, persecution, and even death in order to spread the message, despite the fact that (8 ) none of the disciples ever became wealthy, powerful, or otherwise materially benefited from their story. The combination of these facts, ascertained from the sources without assuming their inspiration or complete truth, leads to the conclusion that the evidence clearly shows that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to his disciples. This argument is not circular; it does not beg the question.

If you have the time, Bill needs your help defending these claims in the other thread.

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In 1 Nephi 10:7-10, we can see strong evidence that the Book of Mormon is the work of an English-speaking person living sometime after the publication of the KJV and not in any relevant or contextually meaningful sense a translation of an ancient text dating from before the time of Jesus Christ. The argument here is a cumulative-case argument in which independent lines of evidence converge to support the same conclusion.

...[blah blah blah]...

[11] See Riesner, “Bethany Beyond the Jordan,” for the evidence supporting this identification. All plausible alternate identifications have similar problems for the appearance of the term in the Book of Mormon.

It amazes me the lengths people go to "prove" the Book of Mormon false. Actually, I take that back. It doesn't amaze me, because the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion, and trying to prove that it's false is of course the logical focus of attacks. Forgive me, you should be attacking the Book of Mormon if your goal is to prove that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is false (that sounds pretty funny - you're trying to prove the Church of Jesus Christ as false, almost oxymoronic).

So, from this lengthy treatise on 4 verses of 1 Nephi, I'm supposed to be convinced the rest of the book is uninspired (if I actually were to believe your arguments)? Nevermind that God through the Spirit has told me otherwise (Matt. 16:17). Forget my life-long experiences with the restored Gospel and the Book of Mormon and the daily, quiet assurances that continually strengthen my faith. I'm to throw that all away? Please. But for argument's sake, let's say that your argument is correct (which I obviously don't believe), that Joseph copied these 4 verses from the KJV of the Bible. So? Where did the rest of the text come from? You want me to believe an uneducated farm boy dictated this intricately woven tapestry of a story/history in approximately 60 days - heck, I don't think anyone could have come up with the Book of Mormon if they had 50 years to write it. It's that miraculous to me. It's amazing what your eyes will see when you open them.

I'm obviously new to this board and I am unfamiliar with you and your work, but I'm assuming you are a well known critic of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. So I ask you, with all sincerity, a few questions, because I honestly want to know the answers. I've asked these questions before and never get an answer. And I'm not trying to be argumentative or demeaning, seriously:

What is your (and others like you) purpose? To "save" us misguided members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? And what if you were successful with helping these misguided Latter-day Saints turn from their faith and denounce the Book of Mormon? Are you going to be there to help them along the "true" path? Are you really concerned for our welfare? And what if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was not true? What then is the true Church? If there is not one true church, and we are all just part of the body of Christ, as I've heard others claim, why do you care if the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is false or not?

I really, really would like answers to these questions.

Cheers.

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While the place-name of the location where John met Jesus was meaningful to him and has a meaningful role in the narrative of his Gospel, there is no plausible purpose for the reference to “Bethabara, beyond Jordan” in 1 Nephi 10:9.

While the place-name of the location where Judeans were held captive was meaningful to 6th-century exiles and has a meaningful role in the narrative of Deutero-Isaiah, there is no plausible purpose for telling the 8th-century residents of Jerusalem to "Go forth from Babylon! Flee from the Chaldeans!"

Since Lehi and his family were leaving Palestine and never returning, the reference to a relatively obscure geographical location that would have no symbolic or religious significance to them, by a place-name that did not yet exist, would serve no plausible purpose for Lehi, Nephi, or the ancient readers of Nephi’s record.

Since Cyrus had not yet been born and the Israelites were nowhere near Babylon, the reference to a completely unknown man and distant place-name would serve no plausible purpose for Isaiah's people.

One might speculate that the geographical reference was miraculously included for the benefit of future readers, as evidence of the divine inspiration of the Book of Mormon.

One might speculate that the geographical reference to Babylon, Cyrus and the Chaldeans was miraculously included for the benefit of future readers, as evidence of the divine inspiration of the Book of Isaiah.

Such an explanation would first of all be ad hoc

Yup.

because the passage says nothing to suggest that the information was not supposed to be meaningful to Lehi or Nephi or his ancient readers.

But Isaiah's ancient readers were somehow different?

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Hello Rob,

Like you, I'm convinced that the KJV of the New Testament has had a direct impact upon the translation of the Book of Mormon. I will take issue, however, with the following assertion:

The verbal parallels to Mark and especially to John are enough to establish a literary relationship, but there is more evidence of a completely different kind that further confirms this relationship and proves that the Book of Mormon is dependent on the NT Gospels for this statement. John’s description of Jesus as someone so superior to him that John considered himself unworthy to loosen his sandal reflects a very specific cultural context in the Palestinian Judaism of the first century. Removing a man’s sandals was an important and menial task in that culture, in particular because of the physical geography of the land. Palestine was characteristically extremely dusty, and one’s sandals would quickly become filthy from normal walking outdoors. Removing another man’s sandals was a task routinely assigned in that culture to household servants or slaves. There is evidence that such responsibilities were assigned to servants in the broader Hellenistic world—so that John’s statement would be meaningful to Gospel readers outside Palestine—but in the environment of Palestine the practice was a commonplace.[3] Rabbinical statements later recorded in the Talmud, which reflected that same culture and environment as John and Jesus, refer to the practice and even comment that it is too menial a task for a rabbi’s disciple to perform (e.g., b. Ketub. 96a; b. Pesah. 4a). Some rabbis argued that even a Hebrew slave should not be asked to perform the task; it was so demeaning that it was to be relegated to a Gentile slave.[4] John the Baptist’s statement, then, means that he was so inferior to Jesus that he was unworthy even to perform the most menial, demeaning task for Jesus—that is, that the difference between them was even greater than the difference between a master and his slave. John’s self-description presupposes that the role of slaves in taking care of their masters’ shoes was a commonplace in his culture.

We have no reason to think that this cultural allusion would be meaningful to Lehi’s family, who left Palestine more than 600 years before John the Baptist would make his statement. 1 Nephi 10:8 is one of just two references to shoes in the Book of Mormon (the other, 2 Nephi 15:27, is unrelated). All of the evidence that we have for this cultural convention dates from half a millennium or more after the time of Lehi. Not only is the convention not mentioned in the Old Testament, but removing someone else’s shoe in the Old Testament would have a decidedly different connotation, as it was part of an action intended to show disrespect to the shoe’s owner (Deut. 25:9-10)!

In the ancient Near East, the shoe served as a symbol of one’s status or position. In his article “aqeb `heel' and aqab `to supplant' and the Concept of Succession in the Jacob-Esau Narratives,” published in Vetus Testamentum 46 (1996): 190-212, Meir Malul has demonstrared that words relating to “foot,” “walking,” “shoe,” and the like, occur in Akkadian as well as biblical Hebrew for the act of succeeding to another's place in relationship to persons and to property.

In your comment, you referred to the symbolic act of removing the shoe of the levir in Deuteronomy 25:9-10, yet I believe you've overlooked an important point. The removal of the shoe when the levir refused to carry out his duty signified that the man had surrendered his right to “come in his brother’s place and take over his status, the shoe standing for the foot which should have been planted in the slot vacated by the deceased brother, thus, supplanting him” (see Ibid. pg. 204, footnote 39).

I do not believe that this was the action John the Baptist had in mind. You are correct that within ancient Judaism, both Mekilta Exodus 21:2 and b. Ketub. 96a specifically state that untying the master’s sandals was the one demeaning task never required of a Hebrew servant. For John to be unworthy of even this task clearly signified that John did not even deserve to function as Jesus’ slave. I would be really surprised, however, to learn that these ancient Rabbinic views prohibiting a slave from performing the demeaning labor of unlatching a sandal did not trace back to a period in Jewish thought long before the time of Christ. Moreover, if the removing of the levir's shoe is read in connection with John's act then the statement would have held considerable meaning.

Since the shoe represented one's position and/or status, John the Baptist’s statement that he was unworthy to remove Christ’s “shoe” would have signified that Jesus held a stewardship and/or status that John himself was neither capable of assuming and/or taking away from Christ. Think of the English idiom "to fill one's shoes." Therefore, I believe your suggestion that such a performance would have held no meaning to Israelites prior to the time of Christ beyond "showing disrespect" to the shoe's owner fulfills the old proverb that in your argument "for want of a nail the shoe was lost."

Best,

--DB

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In 1 Nephi 10:7-10, we can see strong evidence that the Book of Mormon is the work of an English-speaking person living sometime after the publication of the KJV and not in any relevant or contextually meaningful sense a translation of an ancient text dating from before the time of Jesus Christ. The argument here is a cumulative-case argument in which independent lines of evidence converge to support the same conclusion.

I begin by quoting verses 7-8 (with letters added for reference purposes):

<snip>

I find your petty criticisms of the Book of Mormon to be getting boring. I just did a quick calculation, and found that around 6% of the Book of Mormon can be said to have been copied or originated from the Bible. (That is less than the amount of OT quoted within the OT, and there are is considerable amount of OT quoted in the NT.) I would rather focus on the 94% of the Book of Mormon that is original material, rather than on the 6% that is (allegedly) copied from the Bible, such as this great himn by Nephi:

2 Nephi 4
:

28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.

29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.

31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?

32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!

33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.

34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.

Or this marvellous testimony by Abinadi:

Mosiah 13
:

1 AND now when the king had heard these words, he said unto his priests: Away with this fellow, and slay him; for what have we to do with him, for he is mad.

2 And they stood forth and attempted to lay their hands on him; but he withstood them, and said unto them:

3 Touch me not, for God shall smite you if ye lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver; neither have I told you that which ye requested that I should tell; therefore, God will not suffer that I shall be destroyed at this time.

4 But I must fulfil the commandments wherewith God has commanded me; and because I have told you the truth ye are angry with me. And again, because I have spoken the word of God ye have judged me that I am mad.

5 Now it came to pass after Abinadi had spoken these words that the people of king Noah durst not lay their hands on him, for the Spirit of the Lord was upon him; and his face shone with exceeding luster, even as Moses' did while in the mount of Sinai, while speaking with the Lord.

6 And he spake with power and authority from God; and he continued his words, saying:

7 Ye see that ye have not power to slay me, therefore I finish my message. Yea, and I perceive that it cuts you to your hearts because I tell you the truth concerning your iniquities.

8 Yea, and my words fill you with wonder and amazement, and with anger.

9 But I finish my message; and then it matters not whither I go, if it so be that I am saved.

Or this marvellous revelation given to the Brother of Jared:

Ether 3
:

6 And it came to pass that when the brother of Jared had said these words, behold, the Lord stretched forth his hand and touched the stones one by one with his finger. And the veil was taken from off the eyes of the brother of Jared, and he saw the finger of the Lord; and it was as the finger of a man, like unto flesh and blood; and the brother of Jared fell down before the Lord, for he was struck with fear.

7 And the Lord saw that the brother of Jared had fallen to the earth; and the Lord said unto him: Arise, why hast thou fallen?

8 And he saith unto the Lord: I saw the finger of the Lord, and I feared lest he should smite me; for I knew not that the Lord had flesh and blood.

9 And the Lord said unto him: Because of thy faith thou hast seen that I shall take upon me flesh and blood; and never has man come before me with such exceeding faith as thou hast; for were it not so ye could not have seen my finger. Sawest thou more than this?

10 And he answered: Nay; Lord, show thyself unto me.

11 And the Lord said unto him: Believest thou the words which I shall speak?

12 And he answered: Yea, Lord, I know that thou speakest the truth, for thou art a God of truth, and canst not lie.

13 And when he had said these words, behold, the Lord showed himself unto him, and said: Because thou knowest these things ye are redeemed from the fall; therefore ye are brought back into my presence; therefore I show myself unto you.

14 Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son. In me shall all mankind have life, and that eternally, even they who shall believe on my name; and they shall become my sons and my daughters.

15 And never have I showed myself unto man whom I have created, for never has man believed in me as thou hast. Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image.

16 Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and man have I created after the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.

17 And now, as I, Moroni, said I could not make a full account of these things which are written, therefore it sufficeth me to say that Jesus showed himself unto this man in the spirit, even after the manner and in the likeness of the same body even as he showed himself unto the Nephites.

18 And he ministered unto him even as he ministered unto the Nephites; and all this, that this man might know that he was God, because of the many great works which the Lord had showed unto him.

19 And because of the knowledge of this man he could not be kept from beholding within the veil; and he saw the finger of Jesus, which, when he saw, he fell with fear; for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord; and he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting.

20 Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil; therefore he saw Jesus; and he did minister unto him.

Or these memorable verses written by Mormon:

Moroni 8
:

25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins;

26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

And countless other such inspired, revealed, and inspiring passages that can be found in the Book of Mormon. These are the kinds of things that I want to focus on, rather than constantly being hounded by your petty and useless criticism.

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I find your petty criticisms of the Book of Mormon to be getting boring.

Don't be so hard on Rob. I think his criticisms are a lot of fun. Rob reminds me of those pitchers in the home run derby that lob the ball over the plate at around 65 MPH so that batters can easily knock it out of the park. ;)

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...in your argument "for want of a nail the shoe was lost."

:rofl:

Rob reminds me of those pitchers in the home run derby that lob the ball over the plate at around 65 MPH so that batters can easily knock it out of the park.

Oh I think Rob's pitches are quiet a bit faster than that. I'd clock this one at 100 MPH. Unfortunately, Isa. 40:3 is a rock in a single-Isaiah glass house.

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I find your petty criticisms of the Book of Mormon to be getting boring. I just did a quick calculation, and found that around 6% of the Book of Mormon can be said to have been copied or originated from the Bible. (That is less than the amount of OT quoted within the OT, and there are is considerable amount of OT quoted in the NT.) I would rather focus on the 94% of the Book of Mormon that is original material, rather than on the 6% that is (allegedly) copied from the Bible

If the 6% demonstrates that the 94% is original in the sense that it originally came from the mind of a 19th century author, wouldn't that rise to a level above boring?

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Odd that there is no question that Isaiah was inspired to write what John the Baptist would preach and say, but the same thing done by Nephi is proof of plagerism...?

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Oh I think Rob's pitches are quiet a bit faster than that. I'd clock this one at 100 MPH. Unfortunately, Isa. 40:3 is a rock in a single-Isaiah glass house.

I agree that Deutero-Isaiah is a 100 MPH plus pitch, but Rob does not believe that Isaiah 40 is an exilic text. From my perspective, I don't believe that those who accept the Bible as scripture can raise any criticisms of Mormonism above 65 MPH. The true challenges for Mormonism come from humanists.

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In 1 Nephi 10:7-10, we can see strong evidence that the Book of Mormon is the work of an English-speaking person living sometime after the publication of the KJV and not in any relevant or contextually meaningful sense a translation of an ancient text dating from before the time of Jesus Christ.

And here we see an example of the logical fallacy know as "false choice" or a false dichotomy.

We are TOLD that we MUST believe either,

1) "the Book of Mormon is the work of an English-speaking person living sometime after the publication of the KJV"

OR,

2) "a translation of an ancient text dating from before the time of Jesus Christ"

Where as IF "the work" is simply the work of bringing forth (translating) "an ancient text dating from before the time of Jesus Christ", no "false dichotomy" exists.

This fallacy is in addition to the "burden of proof" fallacy already pointed out.

Oh, wait!!!

I am sorry, THIS is the kind of "scholarship" that I am supposed to think is "thoughtful" and "far from sloppy".

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If the 6% demonstrates that the 94% is original in the sense that it originally came from the mind of a 19th century author, wouldn't that rise to a level above boring?

I don't believe that any of it came from the "mind of a 19th century author," including the "6%" that our critics allege to have been copied from the KJV.

Does that answer your question?

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I agree that Deutero-Isaiah is a 100 MPH plus pitch, . . .

What does that mean exactly, please enlighten me.

. . . but Rob does not believe that Isaiah 40 is an exilic text.

For what it is worth, neither do I.

From my perspective, I don't believe that those who accept the Bible as scripture can raise any criticisms of Mormonism above 65 MPH.

I don't think they can raise any criticism of the Book of Mormon, period.

The true challenges for Mormonism come from humanists.

I think there is something seriously wrong with your analytical thinking if that is what you really believe.

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Regarding Rob's point (4)

(4) John the Baptist’s description of Jesus as “the Lamb of God” is found only in John 1:29, 36, and that expression (in any context) occurs only there and in literature dependent on that passage, unless 1 Nephi 10:10 is the sole exception.

Consider John W. Welch here, "The Lamb of God in Pre-Christian Texts."

Welch compares 1 Nephi with the Testament of Joseph 19, and an article by J. C. O'Neill, "The Lamb of God in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs," Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2 (1979): 2–30, which argues that the phrase "Lamb of God" existed prior to Christianity.

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=98&chapid=1043

Also, from Margaret Barker exploring the issue of why John the Baptist's identification of Jesus as the Lamb of God meant something to his audience in light of existing expectations:

Wordplay was characteristic of the prophets and visionaries. The Aramaic word tly' can mean either 'Lamb' or 'Servant.' . . . John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Lamb of God (John 1:29), by which he must have meant the Servant.10

Most of the evidence for the Servant is found in the prophecies of Isaiah. There are four passages, usually known as the Servant Songs, which describe him (Isaiah 42:1–4; 49:1–4; 50:4–9 and 52:13–53:12).11

The Lamb is the key figure in the Book of Revelation and the Servant is the key figure in other parts of the New Testament. Jesus is depicted as the Servant. At the baptism, Jesus heard the voice from heaven speaking the words of the first Servant Song: 'Thou art my beloved son, with thee I am well pleased' (a version of Isaiah 42:1, quoted in Mark 1:11). John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Lamb, but Jesus himself heard the words of the Servant Song. . . .

A glance at these examples will show that they come from Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul and Peter, that is, from all the major authors of the New Testament. Jesus as the Servant was not a minority viewpoint, but the original claim of the Christians.12

10. Margaret Barker, The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Which God Gave to Him to Show to His Servants What Must Soon Take Place (Revelation 1.1) (Edinburgh: Clark, 2000), 133.

11. Ibid., 134.

12. Ibid., 136, emphasis in original.

One of the things I like about the best LDS apologists is that I learn far far more from them about critical views and open problems than I learn about the strengths of the LDS tradition from the critics, who aspire to the role of the policeman who says, "Nothing to see here folks... move along."

Kevin Christensen

Bethel Park, PA

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Ok, so help me out here.

We have the passover lamb as a type and shadow of Christ, LONG BEFORE Lehi left Jerusalem.

Ex 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:

. . .

11 ¶ And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s passover.

. . .

21 ¶ Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.

. . .

43 ¶ And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron, This is the ordinance of the passover: There shall no stranger eat thereof:

. . .

46 In one house shall it be eaten; thou shalt not carry forth ought of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof.

47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.

Lev. 14:10 And on the eighth day he shall take two he lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish, and three tenth deals of fine flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and one log of oil.

Lev. 23:18 And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the Lord.

Ezek. 46:4 And the burnt offering that the prince shall offer unto the Lord in the sabbath day shall be six lambs without blemish, and a ram without blemish.

We have the fulfillment of the ULTIMATE passover sacrifice.

John 19:36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken.

Heb. 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

1 Pet 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

Rev. 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

And we have statements that this sacrifice was "from the foundation of the world" by Peter, John and the author of Hebrews.

And then we are supposed to have a problem with Christ being called "the Lamb of God" prior to the New Testament?

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Quote number one:

]I don't think they can raise any criticism of the Book of Mormon, period.

Now, from the exact same post:

Quote number two:

] think there is something seriously wrong with your analytical thinking if that is what you really believe.

Now, question. Do you imagine that being unable to see any criticisms whatsoever that one could raise in opposition to your point of view means that you are qualified to pass judgment on what constitutes "analytical thinking"?

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Now, question. Do you imagine that being unable to see any criticisms whatsoever that one could raise in opposition to your point of view . . .

It was not about “my point of view;” it was about the Book of Mormon. And I stand by that. I don’t think there is any (valid) criticism that can be made against the Book of Mormon that can challenge it authenticity as a book of scripture and a revelation from God. “Criticism” per se can be made, sure—but not one that stands any chance of winning.

. . . means that you are qualified to pass judgment on what constitutes "analytical thinking"?

You bet! Why not?

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