Friday, March 21, 2008

Book of Mormon Q&A

If the dead sea scrolls are nearly identical to our current Bible, why would Joseph Smith need to re-translate the Bible?

1 Ne. 5:19 Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time. And he prophesied many things concerning his seed.

Lehi prophesied in the Book of Mormon that the Brass Plates of 600 BC would not be dimmed any more by time except that the Bible we now have in our possession would not have as many prophesies or writings in it. So, what this means is that the Jews were already in a state of apostasy at that time which is why they went into Captivity and that Jewish scribes had already violated Deut. 4:2. So, Joseph Smith and Lehi were correct in predicting that the Dead Sea Scrolls would be identical to our current scriptures except our Bible would be lacking as many books/prophets as the Dead Sea Scrolls which is also true.

This also explains why when the Book of Mormon quotes the Brass Plates its very close to the King James. #1 Book of Mormon was grammatically Hebrew written in Egyptian script. #2 Book of Mormon quoted and referred to the Brass Plates often #3 Lehi said the Brass Plates would not be dimmed any more by time thereafter. #4 Joseph Smith would use King James English to translate because it was the most common/popular language of scripture of his day and region.
The Book of Mormon says Christ will be born in Jerusalem but the Bible says Bethlehem. Is the Book of Mormon wrong?

Thats like my wife saying she is from Atlanta when really she is from Stone Mountain, GA (an Altanta suburb). It depends on the nature of the question and the reference frame of those asking, which one is more correct. If I am talking to people not from the Atlanta area and I am from some obscure little suburb people might not know where I am talking about if I say my wife is from Stone Mountain, or Roswell, or Tucker.

So, it is correct for the Book of Mormons to say that Christ would be born in Jerusalem because Nephi says he did not teach them the geography specifically.

2 Ne. 25: 6 But behold, I, Nephi, have not taught my children after the manner of the Jews; but behold, I, of myself, have dwelt at Jerusalem, wherefore I know concerning the regions round about; and I have made mention unto my children concerning the judgments of God, which hath come to pass among the Jews, unto my children, according to all that which Isaiah hath spoken, and I do not write them.

So, according to my wife, if she is talking to someone from another country and she says she is from Stone Mountain, GA. They think she lives on some mountain in North Georgia. And the detail becomes a point of confusion and not clarity.

How can the Book of Mormon consider itself to be the “most correct book” when the book itself admits there exist errors (in printing and writing)?

When I ask my devoted and faithful Christian friends to characterize their faith and beliefs in comparison to the beliefs of others, they invariably give 2 answers: (1) I don't believe 100%, everything that my preacher or religion teaches, (2) I believe the Bible 100% while everyone else picks and chooses what they want to believe from the Bible. Those responses illustrated a very significant weakness of the Bible. Through ages of mis-translation and mis-interpretation, the Bible has become rather ambiguous. Consequently, it can too easily be mis-interpreted to justify just about any belief. That is exactly why the Bible (in its current form), has to be given the responsible for so many denominations and non-denominations who claim to believe in the Bible 100%.

Now, please do not be angry with me for being critical of the Bible. I love the Bible. It is the word of God as far as it has been translated or interpreted correctly. I have felt the power and beauty in its words and teachings. I will be ever grateful that the Bible has been preserved throughout these many centuries. That said, many would argue that it's the Bible that is perfect, and the people who are imperfect. But those same people who argue for the unambiguity of the Bible are the same ones who think they follow the Bible 100% while everyone else is a picker and chooser. All, I know is I have met hundreds of devoted, faithful Christians of many religions and faiths who are all striving to live 100% of the teachings of the Bible and who all have very different beliefs.

Therefore, the Bible really has failed in it's stated purpose to bring all believers to "a unity of the faith." The ambiguity of the Bible is exactly why the Book of Mormon as well as modern and personal revelation is so important. Joseph Smith considered the Book of Mormon "the most correct book" of any book on Earth. I have pondered for many years about what Joseph Smith meant when he said that for many years. And now I think I have finally realized (in part) what aspect of the Book of Mormon qualifies it as "the most correct."
The Book of Mormon is the most correct because it is doctrinally unambiguous. Many critics criticize the book over its historicity but they miss the boat when it comes to the purpose of the book. The greatness of the Book of Mormon is that is so very difficult to misunderstand and misinterpret. The Book of Mormon itself says that together, the Book of Mormon and Bible: "shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord" (2 Ne. 3:12, ).

Now there are a couple small churches that have split off from the LDS church (RLDS, FLDS). However, the reason for the split is not the Book of Mormon. I can attend an LDS meeting in China, Africa, New Zealand, Philippines, California, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Utah and the sermons, lessons, and doctrines taught are exactly the same. And we don't have any professional clergy. No Divinity colleges. All the talks, Sunday School Lessons, and sermons are given by the congregates themselves and they are almost 99.5 % of the time consistent. I do not find any contradictions in between the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants or the Bible. It all fits seamlessly together in my mind and heart.

What is Reformed Egyptian?
The Book of Mormon wasn't Egyptian. The Book of Mormon was written in Hebrew using Egyptian character script because it was smaller and more compact (Morm. 9:32),(1 Ne. 1:2). This is like the relationship between Urdu and Hindi. They are the same language but Urdu is written with Perso-Arabic script and Hindi in Sanskrit. Historians used to think that Jews would never consider writing in a foreign alphabet. However, here is a link to an example of a newly discovered Simetic language written in Egyptian characters:

The fact that the Book of Mormon was really written in Hebrew explains why it retains all of its Hebraisms and is rather grammatically awkward sounding. It actually is a better transliteration that it is a translation into English.
Is the Book of Mormon wrong for saying that a man could raise up on his hands after getting his head cut off?

The answer to that one is in the Bible:
Judg. 5:26 She put her hand to the nail, and her right hand to the workmen’s hammer; and with the hammer she smote Sisera, she smote off his head, when she had pierced and stricken through his temples.

Okay, after seeing Al qaeda try to cut off Daniel Pearl's head (I didn't) we should have some appreciation for how difficult it is. So, we see here that to smite off someones head does not mean to "cut off the head" it means to "deal a death blow" to the head. Therefore, when Nephi smites off Laban's head with his sword, it doesn't mean he cut it off. Can you imagine the blood that would have been on his clothing that he later put on to fool Zoram.

And then there is good ol' Shiz the Jaredite in the Book of Ether. The Book of Mormon says that he got his head smote off and then "Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died." Now, this makes no physiological sense at at all if Coriantumr had really cut off his head. But he didn't. Joseph Smith really knew his Biblical Hebrew and understood that to smite off means to deal a death blow and not to head chop.

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