Sunday, November 02, 2008

As Far As It Is Translated Correctly

Joseph Smith stated in the 8th Article of Faith, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly." In a way, the LDS 8th Article of Faith could also read, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is interpreted correctly." So, does this mean the LDS do not really believe the Bible? Or, does this mean the LDS believe the Bible as far as it is theologically expedient or convenient? Do, the LDS pick and choose what parts of the Bible we believe and which we do not? No way! The LDS Church accept the Bible as 100% word of God. Joseph Smith explained:

"I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors" (TPJS, p. 327).
"From sundry revelations which had been received, it was apparent that many points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled" (TPJS, pp. 9-10).

God warned Moses and the people of Israel in Deut. that they should not add or diminish to His word.

Deut. 4: 2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.
Deut. 12: 32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

God restates this command with applies specifically to the Book of Revelation itself and also in a general sense.

Rev. 22: 18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

It is the assumption of some Christians that God would never permit the Book of the Bible to be tampered with. God gave the command to not add or subtract to His word. But, is there any commandment that God has given that man has not broken? Is there any commandment that God has given that God has first given and then personally prevented man from breaking. Would God deny man agency in keeping or breaking any of His commandments? God commanded man "thou shalt not kill," but God does not prevent man from killing?

Unfortunately, man has been guilty of adding and subtracting from the Bible. Now, please do not misunderstand. There is nothing at all incorrect in the Bible. The Bible has been tested to be 100% true and faithful. But, Joseph Smith learned the issue with the Bible was that many books of the Bible have been lost, and many passages of scripture that when first given from heaven, were plain and easy to understand, now through the Millennia of scribes and re-translations have become ambiguous.

Joseph Smith discovered while translating the Book of Mormon that many plain and precious parts of the Old Testament had already been "muddled" by 600 BC. Again, it wasn't that anything the Old Testament said was wrong but that certain doctrines were no longer clear or missing entirely. Remember that Israel did not always write using classical Hebrew. Many Old Testament books were likely originally written using Canaanite, or Aramaic (Assyrian) or even Egyptian (Moses was the adopted son of Pharaoh). Whatever the original language, it is well known and accepted that the Ancient Israelites used a script known as Paleo-Hebrew which used the Phoenician alphabet before adopting the "square" Classical Hebrew script. Notwithstanding, the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi, prophesied also that the Bible as they had by 600 BC would not be dimmed any more my time, only that the Bible as we would have it today would contain less books.

1 Ne. 13: 23 ... The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.
1 Ne. 13: 26 ... for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.
1 Ne. 5: 19 Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time

While many books of the Old Testament were missing by 600 BC, and much ambiguity in language had crept into the translation, Lehi makes a prediction. Lehi predicts that any official manuscript of the Old Testament that is post 600 BC will be nearly identical to what we have today. And it turns out with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, that Lehi was correct. Especially the Isaiah scroll which dates to 150-100 BC, is identical to the version in the Old Testament we have today.

Is there evidence for tampering with the Bible? The biggest evidence is that because many plain and precious parts of the Bible had been lost is that Israel fell into apostasy and captivity in 600 BC. And again, because of adding and subtracting, many Jews failed to recognize Christ as their Messiah. The ambiguity which crept into the Bible through centuries of mis-translation opened the door for misinterpretations of what was once clear and concise at the time it was given by God to His prophet.

Some say, God would never permit the Bible to be tampered with. Did God prevent man from corrupting and defiling His temple? Did God prevent man from killing his Apostles and His church from going into apostasy? Did God prevent man from killing His Son Jesus Christ? The Bible and Book of Mormon is a type and shadow of Christ. Just as Christ was crucified and resurrected. The resurrection of God's word with the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the temple and God's Church, represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

When Joseph Smith was visited multiple times by the angel Moroni who showed him the location of the Gold Plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated, Moroni quoted from the Bible continually. Joseph Smith noted in many instances that Moroni quoted the Bible differently from the KJV version. It wasn't that the KJV was incorrect, but Moroni's version in many instances was more clear and concise. One instance was concerning Malachi 4:6. Joseph's conclusion about the difference in translation is:

D&C 128:18 I might have rendered a plainer translation to this, but it is sufficiently plain to suit my purpose as it stands.

And this was the motivation for Joseph Smith's desire and inspiration for translating the Bible. Other than a few verses here and there that say "God repented ...." or "leaving the principles of Christ, let us go on to salvation," the goal of Joseph in creating the "Inspired Version" of the Bible was to restore the clarity and plainness to the Bible by interpreting the Bible with the restored light and knowledge he had received by God.

Yes, LDS interpret the Bible through the lens of modern revelation. Without modern revelation we wouldn't understand the many sometimes ambiguous sometimes unambiguous passages which speak of apostasy, restoration, priesthood, and the temple. If any man denies that they read the Bible without any bias or pre-conceived ideas or beliefs, the truth is not in them. This claim is scientifically false and not at all intellectually honest, or just ignorant. While LDS interpret the Bible through the lens of modern revelation, other Christians interpret the Bible through the lens of the 4th-Century Creeds which were the product of doctrine by committee, and 5/4 split-decisions, enforced by the sword, which brought schism to the church and not the intended unity of the faith the Bible promises.

The Book of Mormon is said by Joseph Smith to be the most correct book on Earth. This is not because it is necessarily grammatically error free, but because is clear and plain, and more unambiguous. And as Joseph explained: "a man would get closer to God by abiding by its precepts then by any other book." There are a few LDS offshoots, like the FLDS, and the RLDS churches. But these small splinter groups didn't form over confusion regarding the Book of Mormon.

1 Ne. 13: 25 Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God.
1 Ne. 14: 26 And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel.

Again, there is no problem with the purity, faithfulness or righteousness of the Bible. The Book of Mormon says the Bible would come from the Jews to the Gentiles in purity. I believe the Bible 100%. The Bible is 100% pure and faithful. The issue here is one of clarity, plainness, brightness and unambiguity which has led to the many Christian denominations and non-denominations and not the unity of faith that the Bible promises. But, thanks to a merciful Father in Heaven, God has restored those plain and precious truths with the Book of Mormon and modern revelation. The Book of Mormon doesn't correct the Bible, it provides clarity.

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