The Book of Mormon
In 1830, Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon, which he claimed was actually an ancient record comparable to the Bible. According to Smith, an angelic messenger revealed to him where this record was hidden, and "by the gift and power of God", Smith was able to translate the Hebrew-Egyptian hybrid text into English.
The Book of Mormon claims to document the migration of a Jewish family from Israel to the Americas in around 600 B.C. It further documents the populating of the western world by their descendants and the many great civilizations and battles that arose until A.D. 421. According to the Book of Mormon, the most important event in the history of the Americas was the visitation of Jesus Christ after His resurrection from the dead and His establishing of the church there.
Part of Mormonism's appeal in the nineteenth century was not only its claims of a restored Christianity, but also that it answered the question of the origin of the North American Indian - a subject that occupied much space in the collective nineteenth century American mind. According to the Book of Mormon, the question of the origin of the North American Indians was simple: they are the descendants of the Israelite immigrants that arrived in the New World approximately 600 years before the birth of Christ.
No doubt, many placed their trust in Smith's claims largely due to the Book of Mormon, which, unlike a simple creedal statement regarding the Bible actually was a bible. In others words, unlike creedal and doctrinal statements, the Book of Mormon was something solid and tangible, and could be subjected to test. As we shall see in the following section, the great attraction here was the very fact that the book could be tested. Whether or not the book could actually convincingly past any of the tests applied to it seemed an unimportant matter to many of its proponents.
The following points demonstrate that the Book of Mormon was not only unnecessary from a biblical standpoint, but historically unsubstantiated. Furthermore, that much evidence exists that actually points to the fraudulent nature of the book.
The Canon is Closed - Reasons
Mormons believe that it is in the Book of Mormon that the "fullness of the Gospel"is to be found. This belief presupposes that the Bible is inadequate and incomplete in matters pertinent to faith and conduct. The scriptures themselves however, argue against the notion that additional scriptures were needed beyond the last book of the Bible - the book of Revelation. Below are some reasons for believing that the cannon of Scripture ought to be regarded as closed.
1. On every canonical list throughout the church's history, the Book of Genesis sits at the beginning, the Book of Revelation at the end.
2. Genesis offers the most complete account of the beginning of the world, while the Book of Revelation gives the most complete picture of how things will end. Together they form appropriate "bookends" between which God has chosen to place his many other Scriptural truths.
3. The Book of Revelation contains the strongest warnings against adding to the Scriptures.
4. The New Testament was written at a time when at least some of the 12 original apostles were alive to authenticate or refute any documents pertinent to Christian doctrines or history. John died shortly after penning the Book of Revelation (c A.D. 95). Any additional scriptures (including the Book of Mormon) are without the support of Christ's original chosen witnesses.
Other "amazing" writings
Oftentimes Mormons will (contrary to their statements about not seeing a need to defend their faith) try to defend the Book of Mormon by saying that Joseph Smith simply could not have produced such a remarkable book. After all, they maintain, Smith was just an ignorant farm boy living in Palmyra New York. How could he have written such a remarkable book, which deals with Near Eastern cultures from centuries ago?
The fact is, the Book of Mormon really isn't that remarkable. As will be shown, its many linguistic and historic anachronisms make it hard to accept it as genuine. As for the idea that an "ignorant farm boy" could not have produced it, even a cursory perusal of English literature proves this claim absolutely false. Below are the names and some of the accomplishments of men and women who had educational levels comparable to Smith's, who produced written works of equal or greater literary value:
1. Pearl Curran (1883-1938)-From 1913 until her death in 1938, Pearl Curran wrote an incredible amount of material. In one night alone she produced 22 poems, and over a five year stretch, was able to record 1,600,000 words (about six times the length of the Book of Mormon). Her voluminous writings included works of historical fiction, one of which, "Hope Trueblood", earned the following review from the editors of the Sheffield Independent:
"Patience worth (Curran's pseudonym) must command a wide field of readers by the sheer excellence of Hope Trueblood, which contains sufficient high-grade characters, splendidly fashioned, to stock half a dozen novels."
From a Reader's Digest publication we read concerning this remarkable lady:
"Mrs. J.H. Curran, of St. Louis, Missouri, was no scholar. She had little knowledge of history, only a slight interest in books, and even less idea of the intricacies of language history. Yet from her poured a stream of writings that astonished the most eminent academics on both sides of the Atlantic." Strange Stories, Amazing facts", Readers Digest Association, Inc., 1976, p. 393
2. Mohammed (A.D. 570)-Mohammed, the founder of the Islamic religion is credited with producing the Koran, one of the most influential books of all time. Just as Mormons believe that Joseph Smith was not the author of the Book or Mormon (but simply its translator), Moslems believe that Mohammed was not the author of the Koran. They believe that Muhammad was merely the recipient of the Koran. Their chief argument for this claim, not unlike the Mormon claims about Joseph Smith, is that Mohammed was too unlearned to produce such a book.
"[Mohammed] was illiterate !! How can an illiterate person come up with such a rich, poetic, intellectual, and inspiring text that it rocked the entire Arabia? Mohammad (pbuh) never went to school! No one taught him. He had no teacher of any kind in any subjects…When Quran was revealed, the Arabic language was at its peak in richness, poetic value, literature, etc. Quran came and challenged the best literature in Arabic, the best poetry in Arabic of the time. Mohammad (pbuh) being illiterate couldn't possibly have come up with something so immaculate that it even exceeded the best of poetry, and literature in Arabic at the time of the language's PEAK development. Arabic language had never been so rich in expression, poetic value, vocabulary, and variety in literature, as it was in the time of Quran. At a time like this, Quran came and exceeded the best of Arabic in all aspects of the language: poetry, literature, expression, etc. Any classical Arabic speaker would appreciate the unbeatten, unchallenged, and unmatched beauty of the language of Quran. An illiterate man is simply not capable of writing such a book."
Though the idea that Mohammed was indeed illiterate remains debatable, it is certain that he had little or no formal education. Regardless, this intelligent and creative individual was able to produce a written work which according to many, exceeds the Book of Mormon in its literary value.
3. William Henry Ireland- In the late 18th century, Ireland began producing forgeries of Shakespearean plays which were so convincing that even the experts were fooled. Encouraged by his success, in 1795, Ireland produced a manuscript of King Lear and parts of Hamlet. Experts and critics alike were willing to testify to their genuiness. Still only a teen, Ireland claimed that he had discovered a previously unknown play of Shakespeare's. In two months he produced a play of 2800 lines. The work was so convincing that even dramatist Richard Sheridan was fooled:
"Although Sheridan questioned the play's quality, he did not doubt its authenticity, and bought it for about 300 [pounds] and a share of the profits from its production on the stage." Readers Digest, "Strange Stories, Amazing Facts", 1976, p. 476
Many more remarkable accomplishments by young people are documented in "At First Glance: Childhood Creations of the Famous", by Tuli Kupferberg and Sylvia Topp, Hammond Inc., New Jersey, 1978. The point is, the claim that the Book of Mormon must be authentic because Joseph Smith had little education is utterly fallacious.
Books that predate the Book of Mormon
In Joseph Smith's day, speculation abounded regarding the origin of the North American Indians. One National Geographic article stated:
"And their [Native American burial mounds] discovery led to wild speculation. Accounts of the 18th and 19th centuries, reflecting the attitudes of their times, simply could not credit the mounds to those 'forest primitives', the eastern Indians. Gradually conjecture crystallized into a myth of "Mound Builders', a highly civilized race that supposedly flourished before the Indians came." National Geographic, "Who Were the Mound Builders?", December, 1972, p. 787
Many books dealing with this issue were published prior to the Book of Mormon. Below I've listed a few. Are the striking similarities they bear with the Book of Mormon just a coincidence?
A View of the Hebrews By Ethan Smith (1825) - This book suggests that the 10 "lost tribes" of Israel migrated to the Americas, and that the Native American Indians were related to the Israelites. He also mentions an Indian legend of a "lost book" which would one day be returned. Like the Book of Mormon, Ethan Smith quoted heavily from the Book of Isaiah.
Sketches of Ancient History of the Nations by David Cusick (1828) - This source records Indian fables, one of which speaks of descendants of brothers who were continually at war until one group was finally destroyed in North America.
The History of the American Indians by James Adair (1775) - Adair lists what he feels are parallels between the Israelites and the Indians. Among these are the claims that the Indians spoke a corrupt form of Hebrew, honoured the Jewish Sabbath, practised circumscision, and offered animal sacrifice.
An Attempt to Shew the America Must be Known to the Ancients by Samuel Mather (1773) - Mather states that Americas was populated by two major migrations, one from the Tower of Babel, the other centuries later from Asia or Phoenicia. He also proposes that America was visited by the apostles or perhaps the 70.
History of the State of New York by John Yates (1824) - Yates believed that white-skinned people built many of the civilisations in the Americas, but were wiped out by the Indians.
The parallels between these sources and the Book of Mormon are impossible to miss. Admittedly, it is not possible to state with 100% certainty which if any of these was Smith's primary source for the Book of Mormon. We may be sure, however, speculation about the origin of the North American Indian abounded in Smith's day, and that many of the currently popular ideas (now discarded) appear in Smith's Book of Mormon.
The Fictitious Reformed Egyptian
Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was written in a strange Hebrew-Egyptian hybrid language which he called "reformed Egyptian." By the "gift and power of God", Smith claimed to have made a perfect translation of this text, which has since become known as the Book of Mormon.
Smith's claim that Jewish folks recorded their family history in an Egyptian script seems to run contrary to what we read in scripture, and what we find archaeologically. His reasons for making such a claim, however, are perfectly understandable. Smith was no dummy. He was almost certainly aware that anyone conversant in Hebrew would readily recognize that his Book of Mormon was no translation, but a 19th century work of historical fiction. The claim that the text was originally in Egyptian, and as yet poorly understood language, insulated him from criticism. Claiming that it was written in an unheard of Egyptian-hybrid language only served to further insulate himself and his questionable translating skills.
The problem for Smith, as noted above, is that claiming Israelites wrote their family history in any form of Egyptian makes not the slightest biblical sense . Below are portions of scripture which I believe negate Smith's claim that "Reformed Egyptian" was used by God's people.
1. An interpreter needed
Joseph was in Egypt in the 19th century B.C. At this early stage we read in Genesis 42:23 that the Egyptians spoke a different language from Jacob and his sons. In this passage we learn that communication was done through an interpreter.
2. Egypt had a Strange Language - The Psalmist writes:
"When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language. Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion." Psalm 114:1-2
Though the date of this Psalm remains uncertain, the fact that Judah and Israel are mentioned separately argues for assigning it to a date after the Kingdom was divided (post 931 B.C.) The Psalmist tells us that even during the Exodus (even after 400 years of slavery in Egypt, around 1450 B.C.) the Egyptians were regarded as a people of strange language. This is only one of several scriptures which argue for the idea that a distinction was maintained, even linguistically, between the Israelites and their Egyptian oppressors.
3. Asaph, one of David's musicians (c1000 B.C.) wrote:
"This he ordained in Joseph for a testimony, when he went out through the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not." Psalm 81:5 (A Psalm of Asaph)
If we take the Psalm at face value, Asaph himself visited Egypt and was unable to understand the language there. This is significant. Asaph is a recorder of God's inspired word no less than Jeremiah or Isaiah (Jesus said that "…all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me." Luke 24:44), yet this scribe was completely ignorant of the Egyptian language.
That Hebrew was used as far back as the 10th century is not only gleaned from the words of David's musician Asaph, but has also been confirmed through an archaeological discovery made at Tel Zayit in July, 2005. For more on this discovery see the article on the Jewish Virtual Library Site (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/) Also see John Noble Wilford, "A is for Ancient: Describing an Alphabet Found Near Jerusalem", The New York Times. Nov. 9, 2005
4. Distinction maintained
That a distinction was maintained between the Israelites and the Egyptians is seen in Genesis 43:32, where we read that the Egyptians regarded eating with Hebrews as an abomination. Furthermore, Genesis 46:33-34 describes how Joseph counselled his kin to declare their occupation as Shepherds to the Pharaoh:
"And it shall come to pass, when Pharosh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation? That ye shall say, Thy servants trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians."
The whole point in the Israelites declaring their occupation as shepherds to the Pharaoh was to ensure that a distinction was maintained between these two people groups.
5. "Jot and Tittle"
In John 7:19 Jesus declared that it was Moses who handed down the law. Concerning the language of the Torah, the Lord declared:
"For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." Matthew 5:18
A jot is the smallest letter in Hebrew alphabet. The tittle is the smallest character of the Hebrew alphabet used to distinguish one letter from a similar looking letter. Whatever the doctrinal significance of Jesus statement may be, the point cannot be missed that the Torah was seen as a decidedly Hebrew text. Jots and tittles are not part of the Egyptian alphabet.
6. Oldest Torah Portion - 600 BC
Jesus' claim that the Torah was written with Hebrew "Jots and Tittles" (as opposed to some Hebrew-Egyptian text) was further substantiated by a remarkable find made in 1979. The oldest portions of the Old Testament, dated to 600 BC (contemporary with Lehi's supposed journey to the Americas according to the book of Mormon) were portions of Numbers and Deuteronomy - the last two books of the law.
"In 1979 Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay found two tiny silver scrolls inside a Jerusalem tomb. They were dated to around 600 B.C., shortly before the destruction of Solomon's temple and the Israelites' exile in Babylon. When scientists carefully unrolled the scrolls at the Israel Museum, they found a benediction from the book of Numbers etched into their surface. The discovery made it clear that parts of the Old Testament were being copied long before some skeptics had believed they were even written." "Are the Bible Stories True?", Time Magazine, December 18, 1995, Volume 146, No. 25
The point should not be missed. In 600 BC, the Israelites were recording their scriptures in Hebrew. There is not a hint that any "reformed Egyptian" was employed for this purpose.
7. At war with Egypt
Mormon apologists bent on defending the idea that a "reformed Egyptian" text did indeed exist, often point out that Egypt and Israel were not always enemies. They usually argue that since these two nations had engaged in trade relations, it is highly likely that hybrid language would come into use.
The problem for the Mormon apologist here is to demonstrate that scripture was recorded this way. Even if we grant, with much reservation, that "reformed Egyptian" ever existed (contrary to the archaeological data), it remains to be seen whether or not it was utilised in the recording of divine Scripture. It cannot be denied that Scripture represents a totally unique text than say, records concerning economic intercourse between these two nations. The Bible is ever so clear that a distinction was maintained between the sacred and the profane as far as Egypt was concerned.
In 1 Kings 9:24 and 2 Chronicles 8:11, we read how Solomon built for his Egyptian wife a house at Millo. Why was this done? The text goes on to say that this was because the ark of the covenant resided in Jerusalem, and the presence of this Egyptian, presumably, would have been dishonoring to God. If Solomon was obedient to the Law of Moses, he would have written out the entire Law himself at some point during his reign (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Can we honestly believe that he would have written it in Egyptian characters? Unlikely indeed!
After the death of Solomon, the nation was divided into two-Israel to the North and Judah to the South. The Bible is clear that throughout the Northern Kingdom's history, from 931 to 722 B.C., it was governed by a succession of unrighteous kings. Judah in the South, however, faired better, having been ruled by eight righteous kings. As a result, Judah lasted until her invasion by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. Notice that the consistently wicked nation of Israel, not Judah, had sought allegiance with Egypt, beginning with Jeroboam, shortly after the kingdom was divided (931 B.C.) In 925 B.C. the Pharoah Shishak, allied with Israel, led an invasion of Judah's cities
In 2 Chronicles 35:20-23 we read how Godly king Josiah initiated war with Pharoah Necho of Egypt in about 604 B.C. - the time that the Mormon prophet Lehi supposedly began writing his prophecies. The Pharoah defeated Josiah, and then proceeded to subject Judah to heavy taxation. Can we really believe that a godly Judean living at that time would record sacred Scripture in an Egyptian script?
8. Josiah's Copy of the Law (c 600 B.C.)
In 2 Kings 22:8, we read that Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law in the temple, which he brought to King Josiah. The text makes it clear that Josiah was ecstatic over the new discovery, and was eager to have his nation obey the Law in its entirety. This means that Josiah himself would have had to have copied out the entire 5 books of Moses in obedience to Deuteronomy 17:18:
"And it shall be, when he [the King] sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites…"
When we consider that Jesus said that the Pentateuch contained Jots and Tittles along with Josiah's obvious antipathy towards the Egyptians, it becomes very difficult to believe that Josiah would have copied the Torah scroll found in the temple into anything other than the Hebrew script.
9. Jeremiah's lament and warnings
The Book of Mormon opens with a family history of Nephi, a supposedly Jewish prophet of God. This history, we are believe was recorded at a time contemporaneous with the biblical prophet Jeremiah. Notice that the entire nation (including Jeremiah) mourned for the godly king Josiah after his death at the hands of the Egyptians (2 Chronicles 35:24-27). Again, how likely is it really to believe that a godly Jewish person living at that time would record their family history in any form of Egyptian?
Also consider the words of Jeremiah, which commanded the Jews not to seek the aid of Egypt:
"And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? Or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee…" Jeremiah 2:18
Further, we read in chapter 46 that the word of the LORD was against Egypt. "The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Gentiles; Against Egypt, against the army of Pharoah-necho, king of Egypt…" Jeremiah 46:1-2
In fact, all of chapter 46 is donated to declaring the judgments which were to come upon the nation of Egypt.
No textual history
One of the greatest evidences of the fraudulent nature of the Book of Mormon is the fact that it has absolutely no textual history. The oldest copy we have of this work was published by Joseph Smith in 1830. Though he claimed that this work was actually a translation from an ancient Hebrew-Egyptian hybrid text, there is absolutely no textual support for this claim. No ancient copies of the Book of Mormon, or even fragments of it have been found in any language. No allusions are made to it in any writings from any culture. This is very unlike the Bible, whose textual support is unmatched by any other ancient document. In the case of the New Testament, this rich textual history extends as far back as the very century in which the events it describes actually took place. That is, portions of New Testament manuscripts have actually been dated to the first century. To date, 88 manuscripts and fragments have been dated by papyrologists to within 200 years of the birth of Christianity. To date, nearly 25,000 portions of the New Testament have discovered in many languages, extending from the 1st through the 9th centuries.
It is obvious from studying these manuscripts that the New Testament Text has not undergone alteration, but may be confidently regarded as reliable. How the Book of Mormon pales in comparison. The sheer lack of manuscript evidence for it must proportional to the amount of blind faith that one must have in order to believe it.
Changes in the Book of Mormon
Knowledgeable Mormons are well aware that the Book of Mormon has undergone serious revision since 1830. Jerald and Sandra Tanner, both ex-Mormons, have meticulously documented every alteration (not including punctuation changes) that has occurred between the 1830 edition and 1964 edition of the Book of Mormon. They discovered that the text had been altered in 3,913 places. Most of these changes were done to correct the extremely bad grammar. Apparently, Smith was trying to make his "bible" sound biblical, and so used Elizabethan English. The problem was that he had no idea how to use such archaic language correctly. This poor understanding of Elizabethan English accounts for the many grammatical errors seen throughout the book (particularly the 1830 ed, though a few such errors still persist in the latest edition).
Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was the most perfect book ever written. The question then needs to be asked: If the Book of Mormon was so perfect, why was there a need to amend it almost 4,000 times?
Metal books unheard of
Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon was written upon thin metal plates that had the appearance of gold. Mormon depictions of the Book portray it has a great metal book, 6 inches thick, spiral bound. According to numerous portions of the Book of Mormon, this medium for passing along information was quite commonplace in ancient times (See: 1 Nephi 4:38 - "Plates of brass", 1 Nephi 9:1-4 - "Plates of Nephi", Mosiah 21:27 - "Plates of ore" , Mosiah 28:11 - Plates of gold", Jacob 3:14 - "Plates of Jacob"). The fact is, however, that this practise is unknown to anthropologists and archaeologists.
Though some ancient cultures inscribed certain texts onto metal, no work even approaching the length of the Book Mormon was been found. This medium for recording important Scriptural truths is therefore not reflective of ancient near-Eastern culture, and must be regarded suspect. Not only does the Mormon claim conflict with archaeological and anthropological findings, it clearly contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture itself, which is very clear that God's word was recorded predominantly onto either paper (papyrus) or animal skins in scroll form (parchments). For example, we read in Isaiah 34:4:
"And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll and all their host shall fall down…" The Hebrew word used here translated scroll is se^pher siphra^h (Strong's #5612). The description of this item being rolled together makes it rather clear that the writer has in mind either paper or leather scrolls. There's no way to "roll togther" a metal book such as the alleged original Book of Mormon. This same Hebrew term (#5612) is used in many instances throughout the Old Testament to describe the medium in on which the inspired word of God was recorded. In these places, the Old King James translators used the word "book", but, as we have just seen, "book" does not quite capture the true essence of a document capable of being rolled together. Concerning the medium on which the Pentateuch (or parts thereof) was recorded, we find this term used in Genesis 5:2, Ex. 17:14, 24:7, Deut. 17:18, 28:58, 28:61, 29:20, 29:21, 29:27, 30:10, 31:24, 31:26, Josh 1:8, 8:31, 8:34, 23:6, 2 Kings 22:8, . Other Old Testament references to the inspired text being written in scroll form are found in Josh 24:26, 2 Kings 22:8, 22:10, 22:11, 22:13, 22:16, 23:2, 23:3, 23:21, 23:24, 1 Chron 29:29, 2 Chron 25:4, 2 Chron 34:14-35:12, Neh 8:1, 8:3, 8:5, 8:8, 8:18, 9:3, 13:1. Jeremiah, supposedly contemporary with Lehi, was commanded (according to the Bible - Jeremiah 30:2):
"Thus speakest the LORD God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book." (A similar command is given in 36:2).The inspired writings of Jeremiah the prophet (c600 B.C.) were therefore recorded onto a medium that was able to the rolled up, unlike metal plates.
The New Testament is equally clear that God's inspired was recorded in scroll form. The very first verse of the first New Testament book reads:
"The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."
The Greek word translated here "book" is "biblos" (Strong's #976). According to "The New Strong's Complete Dictionary of Bible Words", Thomas Nelson, 1996, p. 594, this term is "properly, the inner bark of the papyrus plant, i.e. by implication a sheet or scroll of writing."
Other portions which refer to the New Testament in scroll form include John 20:30, Rev 1:11, 22:7, 22:9, 22:10, 22:18, and 22:19.
Likewise, the Old Testament is referred to throughout the New Testament as existing in scroll form (as opposed to metal plates). For example, see Mark 12:26, Luke 3:4, 4:17, 4:20, 20:42, Acts 1:20, 7:42, Gal 3:10, Heb 9:19.
That important documents, inspired or otherwise were recorded on paper (papyrus) or parchment (animal skins) is indicated in Paul's instructions to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:13):
"The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring with thee, and the books, but especially the parchments."
Temple construction impossible
The Book of Mormon claims that around 20 people migrated from the Holy Land to the Americas 600 years before the birth of Christ. We are told in 1 Nephi chapter 5 that within 18 years of their arrival, these immigrants were able to construct a temple "like unto the temple of Solomon; and that "the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine" (1 Nephi 5:16).
The whole idea is absolutely ludicrous when we consider that according to the Bible, Solomon's temple took 7 ½ years to construct, and required 153,000 workers and 30,000 overseers (1 Kings 5:13, 15; 6:1, 38; 9:21; 2 Chronicles 2:2; 17-18).
In Joseph Smith's day, speculation abounded regarding the true origin of the North American Indians. As noted above, the idea that the Indians were of Jewish descent was not original to Smith. Several books had been published on the subject prior to the Book of Mormon.
The idea that the Indians descended from Jewish immigrants from the Holy Land may have sounded plausible in the early 19th century, but is completely laughable with the advent of DNA testing. To my knowledge, no less than 6 different DNA tests have been done which have utterly decimated the Mormon account of Native American origins. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the first Americans migrated from Eastern Asia, probably across the bearing straight, entering North America through Alaska and then migrating south. The following quotes from experts in the field of genetic testing were gleaned from a series of interviews, portions of which may appear in the outstanding DVD documentary by Living Hope Ministries (http://www.lhvm.org/):
"Currently on the available evidence there's nothing to suggest a relationship whatsoever with Israelites." Dr. Simon Southerton is a molecular biologist and former Mormon Bishop
"I've been working as an anthropologist either as a graduate student or professional since the early 1980's. I personally have never seen any evidence of Hebrew origin of Native Americans. I don't know of any of my colleagues in mainstream anthropology who are trying to prove a Hebrew origin for Native Americans." Dr. Stephen L. Whittington is a Biological Anthropologist, University of Maine.
"There is no compelling evidence for a connection between Jewish populations and Native American populations based on genetics." Dr. David Glenn Smith, Molecular Anthropologist, University of California-Davis
"I've been involved in a number of research projects that had examined DNA variations in ancient populations in the Americas. I don't know of any data that suggests particular similarity of native American populations to any population of the middle east." Dr. Dennis O'Rourke, Molecular Anthropologist, University of Utah
Mormon Anthropologist Thomas Murphy commented on the DNA evidence by saying:
"Mormon Scholars can pretend like this evidence doesn't exist, which I think is dishonest. We can confront it and we can challenge it. I don't think we (Mormons) would be successful in challenging the data, in fact I don't know of any Mormon scientists that are challenging the finding of geneticists... Most Mormon scholars who commented on the subject, including myself, agree that the American Indians could not possibly be the descendants of the Lamanites. That for the American Indians as a whole, it is genetically impossible (for relation to Lamanite descendants), it's also archaeologically impossible. It's also historically and linguistically impossible."
Lemba tribe - a Case study
Not only does the lack of Jewish genetic markers in the North American Indians refute the Book of Mormon's claims, but an interesting case study made of a tribe in South Africa may be said to "put the last nail in the coffin."
The Lemba tribe in South Africa has preserved in its memory the story of their immigration from Israel at a time very close to Lehi's supposed departure. According to the Lemba, who appear indistinguishable from the other folks in Africa, they are of Jewish ancestry. It was noted that their dietary and ceremonial laws, such as male circumcision and Semitic- sounding clan names seemed to support the Lemba account of their origin. With the advent of DNA testing, the Lemba's claims have been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt. They do indeed possess Jewish genetic markers. (For more on this see: www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/israel/familylemba.html, also see, Owens, K. and M. King. 1999. Genomic views of human history. Science 286: 451-453)
It is therefore reasonable to expect an explanation of the Mormon apologist for why the Lemba's account of their history is corroborated by the presence of Jewish genetic markers, but the Book of Mormon's claims are not.
Native American Memory
The various Native American tribes have all preserved an account of their origins through oral tradition. As far as I'm aware, none of these creation / origin stories can be said to unambiguously support the Mormon claim that these peoples are of Jewish descent.
When all the various lines of evidence are brought together - the Native American morphology, cultural attributes, and archaeological discovery- the overwhelming consensus among anthropologists is that the first Americans entered the New World either from Asia across the bearing straight, or sailed under the glaciers across the North Atlantic ocean.
Alfonso Oritz, himself a Tewa, writes
"I too have been to Soviet Asia and seen cave art and an old ceremonial costume remarkably similar to some found in America." Alfonso Oritz, "Through Tewa Eyes: Origins", National Geographic, October 1991, p. 7
In either case, the first Americans entered the New World in North and migrated southward. This is not written in stone, of course, and there is no biblical conflict with the idea that multiple trans-Atlantic or pacific voyages have been made in the remote past. The point is, the fantastic origin and history of the first Americans as indicated by the Book of Mormon is not supported either by modern anthropological investigation or by the Native American oral tradition. In many cases, the ancient Native American creation / origin accounts actually corroborate current scientific consensus. For example, consider the ancient Tewa song (as recorded in National Geographic, "Though Tewa Eyes: Origins", October 1991):
"Yonder in the north there us singing on the lake. Cloud maidens dance on the shore. There we take our being. Yonder in the north cloud beings rise. They ascend onto cloud blossoms. There we take our being. Yonder in the north rain stands over the land…Yonder in the north stands forth at twilight the arc of a rainbow. There we have our being."
Oritz, further writes,
"Our ancestors came from the north…The Tewa know not when the journey southward began or when it ended, but we do know where it began, how it proceeded, and where it ended. We are unconcerned about time in its historical dimensions, but we will recall in endless detail the features of the 12 places our ancestors stopped. We point to these places to show that the journey did indeed take place." Alfonso Oritz, "Through Tewa Eyes: Origins", National Geographic, October 1991, p. 7
That the first American entered the New World in the North under the glaciers seems to be corroborated by this Paiute Legend:
"Ice had formed ahead of them, and it reached all the way up to the sky. The people couldn't cross it…A raven flew up and struck the ice and cracked it. Coyote said, "These small people can't get across the ice." Another raven flew up again and cracked the ice again. Coyote said, "Try again, try again." Raven flew up again and broke the ice. The people ran across." Paiute Legend, cited in National Geographic, "The First Americans", December, 2000, p. 43
The Book of Mormon states in Almah 16:13 that:
"…Almah and Amulek went forth preaching repentance to the people in their temples, and in their sanctuaries, and also in their synagogues, which were built after the manner of the Jews."
According to a footnote in the Book of Mormon, Almah and Amulek's preaching activities took place in the Americas around 78 BC. The overwhelming consensus of scholarly opinion is that synagogue construction began in the Holy Land after Jerusalem's destruction (586 B.C.).
"The synagaouge seems to have arsien as a place of instruction and prayer during the exile when temple worship at Jerusalem was impossible; a basis for its origin may be reflected in Ezk. 20:1." The New Concise Bible Dictionary, Edited by Derrik Williams, Inter-Varsity Press, Lion Publishing, Oxford, England, 1989, p. 537
Synagogues originated around 586 B.C. in Babylon during the years of captivity." Steve Herzig, "Jewish Culture and Customs: A Sampler of Jewish Life, Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, 1989, p 68.
"SYNAGOGUE (from the Greek, meaning "assembly"). The Bet Knesset ("House of Meeting" - the Hebrew equivalent for synagogue) can be traced back to the period following the destruction of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E. The exiled Jews in Babylonia gathered at first in private homes, later in special buildings, to read from the Scriptures and to observe holidays." Junior Jewish Encyclopedia 4th Ed., Shengold Publishers, Inc., New York, 1961
Since Lehi's supposed departure from Jerusalem predated this event (600 B.C.), we may rightly ask how Almah could have known what the synagogues of the Jews were like. Historical anachronisms such as this make it difficult to regard the Book of Mormon as a factual historical account.
The furious wind
The Book of Ether states that after the dispersion of peoples at the tower of Babel, certain individuals constructed barges on which they sailed towards the Americas. According to Ether 6:5:
"And it came to pass that the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land, and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind."
How fast were these barges being pushed? The statement that the wind was "furious" would lead us to believe they were really moving, certainly faster than a man can walk. According to Ether 6:11-12:
"And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water. And they did land upon the shore of the Promised Land."[Which we are to believe was the North American continent].
What are we to make of the alleged facts and figures the Book of Mormon has just provided us with? If the "furious wind" only pushed the barges 10 mph (which is slower than the text implies), a journey lasting 344 days would have carried them 82,560 miles.. Since the circumference of the earth at the equator is only 24,902 miles, the barges could have traveled around the earth 3 times in 344 days! In order for such a journey to take 344 days, we must conclude that the "furious wind" wasn't all that furious. Is this not the type of oversight that an uneducated farm boy would make while composing a work of historical fiction?
Though some uncertainties exist, the vast majority of places (cities, mountains, rivers, etc) mentioned in the Bible are readily identifiable today. In other words, the Bible is supported by a definite geography; hence, many Bibles include pages of maps to help readers understand the geographic settings and movements of the peoples it describes.
The Book of Mormon is quite another story. The geography of the Book of Mormon is vague at best and none of the sites it describes have been unambiguously identified.
Christians first Named
The Book of Mormon states that believers were first called Christians in the Americas around 73 B.C (Alma 46:16). The Bible on the hand states in Acts 11:26 that believers were first called Christians in Antioch around A.D. 40. Using simple God-given commonsense we ought to be able to figure out which statement is true.
The word "Christian" is of Greek origin, coming from the word "Christos" (from which we get the word Christ - "the anointed one"). The Hebrew term comes to us as "Messiah." Since the Book of Mormon is said to be a Hebrew-Egyptian text describing a pre-Christian Hebrew culture (isolated from the Old World), we may well ask what this Greek term was doing in their vocabulary.
The whole idea that Jewish folks were running around calling themselves Christians in the years preceding the birth of Christ (in a culture removed from Greek influence) is pretty hard to swallow. It smacks more of an oversight on Smith's part as he penned the Book of Mormon, than an actual historic account.
Chronology - Jeremiah in prison
According the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 1:4), Lehi's supposed journey from Jerusalem took place in the first year of Zedekiah's reign. Zedekiah reigned from 597-587 B.C. - so Lehi's journey took place in 597.596 B.C.) In 1 Nephi 7:14 we read that the biblical prophet Jeremiah had already been thrown in prison. This lay in direct contradiction with the biblical record, which states in Jeremiah 32:1-2 that it wasn't until Zedekiah's 10th year (587 B.C.) that Jeremiah was imprisoned.
Malachi quoted - wrong chronology
The Book or Mormon reads (1 Nephi 22:15):
"For behold, saith the prophet, the time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men; for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that must be burned."
The footnote in the Book of Mormon states that these words were uttered between 588-570 B.C. What does the passage say? It is a citation of a previous prophet's pronouncements, but which prophet? Notice that the passage is almost a word-for-word quotation of the biblical prophet Malachi. So what's the problem?
The overwhelming consensus of scholarly opinion on the matter places the ministry of Malachi around 435 B.C. - after the so-called citation by the Book of Mormon prophet.
The following are some indicators of a 435 B.C. date for Malachi:
1. The temple has already been rebuilt and sacrificial system re-instituted
2. A Persian governor is in authority (could not have been during either of Nehemiah's governorships, which took place in 445 and 433 BC)
3. The sins mentioned parallel those that Nehemiah dealt with
Renown biblical scholar Gleason Archer states ("A Survey of Old Testament Introduction", Moody Press, 1964, pp. 431-432):
"…hence a fair estimate would be about 435 BC. Even rationalist critics…find no objection to this date…"
Levities role at the alter
The Book of Mormon states (Mosiah 2:3) that the Nephites and the Lamanites offered sacrifices and burnt offerings according to the Law of Moses. This is an impossible claim since according to Exodus 28-31, Numbers 3:7, Nehemiah 7:63, 65, and Hebrews 7:12, only those of the tribe of Levi could attend at the alter.
Jeremiah 39:6 states that:
"…the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah."
The history presented in the Book of Mormon is in hopeless contradiction to the Bible. Helaman 8:21 states that one of
Zedekiah's sons was not slain:
"Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem."
I can't see any way of reconciling this contradiction reasonably. If "Mulek" was a son of King Zedekiah, then he would have been a noble of Judah. Jeremiah is clear that all the nobles of Jerusalem were killed.
Paul states in 1 Corinthians 4:6:
"And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written."
So if Christians were obedient to this command, they would have had an entirely wrong idea about what really happened to Zedekiah's sons. After all, Jeremiah 39 could hardly be clearer that all of Zedekiah's sons were killed.. Is this really how the God of the Bible operates?
"And it came to pass" - misused
The phrase "and it came to pass" is a prominent feature of the Old King James Bible, and is used to translate the versatile Hebrew term "weyehi". This verb may also be translated "he was" or "it was". In Genesis chapter one we read, "There was evening and there was morning…" The "was" in this phrase is "weyehi". The same rendering of "weyehi" is seen in Genesis 5:32: "And Noah was five hundred years old…"
When the Old King James renders the term "and it came to pass" it does so correctly, and always within a chronological context. In other words, the phrase "and it came to pass" is always followed to by a reference to time. Some examples:
"And it came to pass when they were in the field…" Genesis 4:8
"And it came to pass on the day when the LORD spake unto Moses…" Exodus 6:28
"And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness…" Numbers 17:8
"And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over Jordan…" Joshua 4:1
"And it came to pass when Israel was strong…" Judges 1:28
Notice that in each phrase there is a reference to time: "when they were in the field", "on the day that the LORD spake unto Moses", "on the morrow", "when all the people were passed over Jordan", "when Israel was strong", etc
If the Book of Mormon really was a translation from a Hebrew text, then we ought to expect the same usage of "and it came to pass". This is not what we find.
"And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem." 1 Nephi 1:7
"And it came to pass because of their rebellion we did cause that our swords should come upon them." Alma 57:33
"And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord…" Ether 1:35
Though the Book of Mormon use of "and it came to pass" parallels the correct usage seen in the King James Bible, in most cases, like the three examples given above, it does not. It is far more likely that the Book of Mormon is not a translation of an ancient text at all, but is a nineteenth century forgery which was heavily influenced by the Old King James Bible. This suspicion becomes all the more probable as other linguistic issues concerning the Book of Mormon are considered.
"And, behold, it came to pass"
Like the phrase "and it came to pass", the term "behold" is another prominent feature of the Old King James Bible. It's usage in the Book of Mormon likewise represents a major departure from the Hebrew idiom. For example, consider 1 Nephi 3:13
"And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry."
The phrase is utterly impossible in Hebrew. The term translated "and" is integrally connected to "it came to pass". It is simply not possible to insert the Hebrew term "Hinneh" (behold) between the two parts. Therefore, 1 Nephi 3:13 and others like do not represent a Hebrew original, but a forgery intended to sound "biblical".
Incorrect pronoun use
It's no secret that the Old King James Bible differs stylistically from the English we commonly use today. The most prominent difference is the use of certain archaic pronouns (the "thee's" and "thou's"). In Joseph's Smith's day, this Elizabethan English was already archaic, and it is clear that he was uncertain about its proper usage. Consider 1 Nephi 11:7:
"And behold this thing shall be given to thee for a sign, and after thou hast beheld the tree which bore the fruit which thy father tasted, thou shalt also behold a man descending out of heaven, and him shall ye witness; and after ye have witnessed him ye shall bare record that it is the Son of God."
Here the verse begins with the second person singular pronouns "thee" and "thy", but ends using the second person plural pronoun "ye". It's obvious Smith wanted his "bible" to sound biblical, but really didn't understand how to use such archaic English. Mosiah 4:22 is another example:
"…and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done."
Again, the writer addresses a plural audience (ye), but switches mid-sentence to the singular (thou). Again, we must suspect that the Book of Mormon is really a nineteenth century hoax, heavily influenced by the Old King James Bible.
The Book of Mormon contains huge sections from the Bible - particularly the prophet Isaiah. Though minor variations exist, these sections repeat the King James text verbatim. Remember, Smith claimed to be translating an ancient work "by the gift and power of God". So it is rather curious therefore, that in several places Smith chose to follow the King James Bible's unique - and not always the most accurate - readings. To me, this is a sure sign that the Book of Mormon is not a genuine translation, but a nineteenth century hoax heavily influenced by the King James Bible. 2 Nephi 13:16 is a case in point.
Directly quoting Isaiah 2:16 the text reads:
"And upon all the ships of the sea, and upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures."
The KJV reads:
"And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures."
Both translate chemda^h (Strong's #2532 - Delight) uniquely as "Pleasant". Likewise, both translate s´eki^ya^h (Strong's #7914-a conspicuous object) as "Pictures".
In context, the verse is talking about impressive sea-going vessels. Hence, other translations render these words alternatively as:
NIV - "every stately vessel"
NKJV - "all the beautiful slopes"
RSV - "All the beautiful craft"
LXX - "upon every display of fine ships"
ASV - "upon all pleasant imagery"
GWT - "…all the beautiful boats."
NASB - "…all the beautiful craft."
NLB-"…all the proud ocean ships."
That Smith would follow the KJV here strongly implies he was influenced by it, rather than a genuine Hebrew/Egyptian text.
Fenced vs dug
Speaking metaphorically of Israel as a vineyard, Isaiah writes (5:2)
"And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it…"
The Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 15:2) follows this reading "he fenced it". The problem is, the Hebrew word translated "fenced" (Hebrew "Azaq" ,Strong's #5823) actually means "to grub over". What does "grub over" mean? The Webster's Dictionary defines Grub as: "to dig in the ground."
Hence Peter Flint's rendering of the verse from the Dead Sea Scrolls Bible: "He dug it out."
Again, the fact that Smith chose to follow the KJV's unique reading would argue against his claims of having independently translated an ancient Hebrew text.
Work vs reward
Both Isaiah 49:4 and 1 Neph 21:4 read: "My work is with my God."
The word translated "work" is the Hebrew pe?u^lla^h (Strong's #6468) and may be translated as "labour", "reward", "wages", "work."
The context makes it clear that here pe?u^lla^h should have better been rendered as "reward", or "wages". Hence Peter Flint's translation of this portion of Isaiah in the Dead Sea Scroll Bible": "My reward is with my God."
It's rather spuscpicious that Smith's translation just happened to match the KJV's unique rendering once again.
Things vs sons
Not every quotation from the Bible in the Book of Mormon is word for word identical. In a few places, minor variations do exist. Mormon's believe this is because Smith was translating a more pure text than what was used to translate the KJV.One such variation exists in Isaiah 51:19. The KJV reads:
"These two things are come unto thee." While the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 8:19) reads: "These two sons are come unto thee." Which translation appears more "correct?"
Every extant copy of Isaiah formulates this verse in the feminine. The word "sons" (banim) however, is obviously a masculine term and the sentence would have to be formulated accordingly. It is highly unlikely that the Book of Mormon represents the masculine original, seeing there is not a shred of manuscript evidence to support such a claim. The Book of Mormon is not only incorrect, but this verse shows that its author had little or no understanding of the Hebrew language.
Polysemy is a term which describes the variability of certain English words. For example, the word "wherefore" can be used interrogatively ("Why?") or conjunctively ("therefore"). Though this word "wherefore" has this ability in English, the Hebrew word for "Why?" (Maddua) and "therefore" (?al) are quite distinct. Notice now how Isaiah 5:4 is rendered in the Book of Mormon:
"Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?" Isaiah 5:4
"Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes it brought forth wild grapes." 2 Nephi 15:4
Notice what has happened here. Smith has manipulated the text, perhaps to avoid the charge of plagiarism. But notice how he has altered it. He has simply changed the sense in which "wherefore" is used. In the KJV it is interrogative. In the Book of Mormon it is conjunctive. As noted above, though the English term "wherefore" has that kind of flexibility, the Hebrew terms do not. Again, no extant version of Isaiah renders the way Smith has. It is obvious he was simply manipulating the text of the KJV, rather than independently translating an ancient Hebrew document.
Notice that the exact same situation exists in Isaiah 50:2 and 2 Nephi 7:2. The Bible reads: "Wherefore when I came, was there no man? When I called, was there none to answer."
The Book of Mormon states: "Wherefore when I came there was no man; when I called, yea, there was none to answer."
A similar situation to Smith's use of the term "therefore" exists regarding Smith's rendering of the term "for".
"I have called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness." Isaiah 13:3
"I have also called my mighty ones, for mine anger is not upon them that rejoice in my highness." 2 Nephi 23:3
"Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty." Isaiah 2:10
"Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the LORD, and the glory of his majesty shall smite thee." 2 Nephi 12:10
In both portions of text, the word "for" in the KJV ("mippene" ) is used prepositionally ("because of").
The Book of Mormon uses the word "for" conjunctively. This would require an entirely different Hebrew word (The term "Ki" would be appropriate). Again without MSS support for the claim that the Book of Mormon is right, we must suspect that Smith was using, and occasionally manipulating, an old King James Bible as the bases for his own work.
Boweth vs boweth not
Isaiah 2:8-9 states:
"Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made. And the mean man boweth down, and the great man humbleth himself, therefore, forgive him not."
The meaning of the verse ought to be clear. People in Isaiah's time were bowing down and worshipping idols. The problem extended from the mean man ("Adam", the common man) to the great man ("ish", good, great, mighty, of high degree). The LORD therefore commanded that they were not to be forgiven.
Now consider the Book of Mormon's rendering (2 Nephi 12:8-9):
"Their land is also full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made. And the mean man boweth not down, and the great man humbleth himself not, therefore, forgive him not."
For some reason Smith added the word "not" to the passage, completely altering the meaning. In Smith's version, a hopeless contradiction exists. The passage begins by stating that the people were worshipping their idols, but ends saying that they were not bowing down (to them). Therefore they were not to be forgiven. Smith's version is a senseless mess, no doubt owing to his lack of comprehension of the passage.
Found vs founded
Here is another case where a variation between the KJV and the Book of Mormon casts serious doubt on Smith's claims. Consider these two texts:
"As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols…" Isaiah 10:10
"As my hand hath founded the kingdoms of the idols…" 2 Nephi 20:10
One could understand how, if Smith was merely copying from a KJV or if it was being read to him, he could have recorded the word "founded" instead of "found." In Hebrew, however, the difference is far more profound.
The term translated "Found" is the Hebrew Strong's #4672-"Matsa"
The term translated "Founded" is the Hebrew Strong's #3245-"Yasad"
Again, the Book of Mormon finds no textual support for this variation. This along with the obvious similarity between "found" and "founded" in English, makes it virtually certain that Smith was simply working from a KJV Bible rather than some ancient Hebrew manuscript.
Raiment vs remnant
Another telling variation between the Book of Mormon and the KJV:
"But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet."Isaiah 14:19
"But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the remnant of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet." 2 Nephi 24:19
For some reason, Smith substituted remnant for raiment. Of course the two terms have nothing to do with each other ("Raiment" is a translation of the Hebrew "Le-Boosh" - Strong's # 3830: Garment, clothing, vesture; whereas "Remnant" is a translation of the Hebrew "Yeter" - Strong's #8499: remainder, the rest, what is left over)
One Mormon missionary countered this point by stating that according to the dictionary, a remnant could refer to a piece of thread. In his mind, a piece of thread was equal to an entire article of clothing. Not quite. Besides, it is a distinct possibility the Old KJV language has obscured the meaning of this verse.
The verse is probably not referring to articles of clothing as the "raiment of those that are slain." Rather, the text is probably declaring that the one to whom the words of rebuke are directed would be clothed with them that are slain. In other words, the bodies of those slain would cover him - these corpses would become his "clothing"; his "raiment". Lest you think this interpretation improbable consider that several able translators have adopted it:
"You are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword…" Isaiah 14:19 (NIV)
"but you are cast out, away from your sepulchre, like a loathed untimely birth, clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword…" Isaiah 14:19 (RSV)
"But you have been cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch, clothed with the slain who are pierced with a sword…" Isaiah 14:19 (NASB)
"But you are thrown out of your tomb like a rejected branch. You are covered with those who were killed in battle…" Isaiah 14:19 (GWT)
"but your body is thrown out like a broken branch; it lies in an open grave, covered with the dead bodies of those slain in battle…" Isaiah 14:19 (LB)
The Book of Mormon's version, therefore, without textual support, is unlikely indeed. Most probably, the raiment / remnant switch was due to Smith's carelessness while copying from the KJV (since the words do look alike in English).
The word "cherub" is not a translation, but a transliteration from the Hebrew. Specifically, a cherub is generally believed to be an angelic, heavenly being. In Hebrew the plural form of cherub would not be cherubs, but cherubim (like the plural of "mouse" is not "mouses", but "mice").
In many places the KJV translators mistakenly pluralized the already plural "cherubim" and rendered it "cherubims" (Genesis 3:24, Exodus 25:18-20, Numbers 7:89, 1 Samuel 4:4, etc). These translators were highly educated men, and they produced what I feel is the best English Bible in the world today. Even so, oversights like this do crop up from time to time. This is to be expected, however, since the translators themselves only stated that they did the best they could with the materials and skills they had at their disposal. At no time did any of them claim that their translation was inspired and infallible. Smith on the other hand claimed that his book was absolutely perfect, and that his translation was through the "gift and power of God." Why then, did he follow the KJV error in mistranslating "cherubims" (Almah 12:21, 42:2-3)? Uneducated in Hebrew, Smith was obviously simply plagiarizing the KJV Bible, unaware of the error he was copying into his own book.
Sea vs Red Sea
Isaiah 9:1 reads:
"Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Nephtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the nations."
2 Nephi 19:1 reads:
"Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Nephtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by way of the Red sea, beyond the Jordan, in Galilee of the nations."
For some reason Smith has placed the Red Sea in Galilee! I brought this up to a couple of Mormon missionaries and asked them if they knew where the Sea of Galilee was. They did not. Neither did they know where the Red Sea was. I showed them on a map that the only sea in Galilee is the Sea of Galilee! The Red Sea is more than 200 mile to the south! Here we have an obvious geographical error. The Mormons I talked with just shrugged their shoulders and assured me that the Book of Mormon was correct; this despite the fact that there is absolutely no manuscript evidence for Smith's version.
God's covenant name - missing
The KJV Old Testament is replete with the word LORD. This (all capitols) let's the reader know that there in the Hebrew text stands God's covenant name YHVH (sometimes rendered in English as Yahweh, Yahveh, Jahweh, or Jahveh). Trace how many times LORD appears in the Old Testament. It's obvious that God wanted us to know and revere His Holy name (it's unfortunate that most Bibles have replaced it with LORD in my opinion).
Interestingly, Jeremiah 23:27 states that God's people had forgotten His name for Baal. Baal is the Hebrew Strong's # 1168 and is defined as "master", "owner", and "lord".
The KJV, though an outstanding translation, I think erred in not preserving God's covenant name in the text. Remember that the translators themselves never claimed that their translation was inspired or absolutely perfect. They simply did the best they could, which, in my opinion, was enough to produce the best English version of the Bible in the world today. Smith on the other hand is a different story. He claimed to have produced a perfect book by the power God.
Curiously absent from this "perfect book" which we are told is "comparable to the Bible", is any mention of God's covenant name. Considering the absolute importance God's name is given in the Old Testament, its absence in the Book of Mormon is more than curious. It is a telltale sign that the Book of Mormon is forgery, heavily influenced by the KJV Bible.
Jacob 4:1 reads:
"Now, behold, it came to pass that I, Jacob, having ministered much unto my people in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates)…"
This passage seems to indicate that only the most important details were recorded by the prophet because engraving them onto the metal plates was difficult. One would be excused for wondering why these Jewish folks living in the Americas didn't simply record their writings the way their brothers in the Holy Land did - on paper scrolls. Obviously it would have been far less difficult, and would have been a whole lot easier the carry around than a hundred pound metal book.
Even if we grant that the Book of Mormon was recorded using this difficult method, why in the world then is it so wordy? The endlessly repetitive phrase "it came to pass" appears more than 2,000 times in the Book of Mormon (often used in a way very incongruent with the Hebrew idiom). The phrase, as noted above, is a prominent feature in the KJV (though used correctly). As far as unnecessary wordiness goes, 4 Nephi 4:6 wins the prize. This passage uses 57 words to merely tell us that 59 years had passed! It is very reasonable therefore, to suspect that the Book of Mormon was never recorded on "plates of brass", but is in reality a nineteenth century work of historical fiction.
Everyone and his dog know that the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and that all 39 of its books were completed some 400 years before the birth of Christ. The New Testament, on the other hand, was written in the Greek language in the first century. It is a well-known fact that the Greek language and culture spread far and wide throughout the ancient east due to the conquests of Alexander the Great (4th century BC).
According to the Book of Mormon, Jews had fled to the Americas before theGreek culture had gained any sort of foothold in the near east. At the time of Lehi's supposed departure from Jerusalem, Babylon was the reigning super power. The Med-Persian Empire would conquer it in the sixth century BC. As just mentioned, it was not until the 4th century under Alexander that the Greek language began to really gain a foothold.
It is curious therefore, to find so much Greek influence in the Book of Mormon - a book which was supposedly written by Jewish prophet-scribes who were far removed from any such influence. For example, Book of Mormon uses the word "Christ" when speaking of Jesus. "Christ" is really a transliterated English word from the Greek "Christos" which means "anointed one". In Hebrew, the term is ma^shi^yach, which we transliterate as "Messiah". The inclusion of "Christ" is therefore curious, and leads one to suspect that Smith was simply using "biblical" terminology while concocting his Book of Mormon.
A second example is the use of the word "bible" which is used no less than 9 times in 2 Nephi 29:3,4,6. The word "Bible" is a transliterated Greek word - biblos (plural, biblion) - which simply means "book."
In Ecclesiastes 12:12, Solomon states that:
"…of making many books there is no end…"
Here the term translated "books" is the Hebrew siphra^h (Strong's #5612). The prophecy in 2 Nephi 29: 3 states: "And because my words shall hiss forth - many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible."
If this prophecy was truly written in a Hebrew script, then siphra^h would likely have been the term used. A proper rendering of 2 Nephi 29:3 should have been something like:
"And because my words shall hiss forth - many of the Gentiles shall say: Books! Books! We have got Books, and there cannot be any more books.
There simply is no reasonable explanation for the use of this Greek term other than to suppose that Smith, knowing that opposition to his Book of Mormon from Bible - believing Christians was inevitable, inserted this "prophecy" into the text. In his zeal to give his book credibility by "predicting" the arguments of his Christian detractors, Smith actually tipped his hand. The use of a Greek word like "Bible" really shows the fraudulent nature of the Book of Mormon.
Moroni 7:47 states:
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail-But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever…"
This is an obvious rip-off of Paul's words in 1 Corinthians chapter 13:3-8
"And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth no thave not charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be propheies, they shall fail; whether there by tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away."
The word translated "charity" here is the Greek "Agape" (Strong's #26) which means "love" in the purest sense of the word. The term "charity" is somewhat archaic these days, and in Joseph Smith's time, hence virtually all other translations render the word "Agape" simply as "love".
Notice how the book of Mormon defines this archaic term for us: "charity is the pure love of Christ". The same definition of "charity" is given in Moroni 8:17 ("And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love…"). Retaining the archaic term, then defining it like strongly suggests that what we have in the Book of Mormon is simply and English work, dressed up to look "biblical".
Romans and the Book of Mormon
Isaiah 65:2 states:
"I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts…"
The apostle Paul cites this verse and paraphrasing a bit in Romans 10: 21, renders it:
"But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people."
In the Book of Mormon (Jacob 6:4), supposedly written between 544 and 421 BC we read:
"And how merciful is our God unto us, for he remembereth the house of Israel, both roots and branches; and he stretches forth his hands unto them all the day long; and they are a stiffnecked and a gainsaying people…"
Note how Jacob 6:4 looks more like a quote of Paul's words (written centuries later) than Isaiah's. In both Jacob 6:4 and Romans 10:21, the verb "stretch forth" is used instead of "spread out." Likewise, both Romans and Jacob refer to the people as "gainsaying" which is really not an exact equivalent of the Hebrew sa^rar, which according to the Strong's is defined as "to turn away, that is, (morally) be refractory:- X away, backsliding, rebellious, revolter (-ing), slide back, stubborn, withdrew."
The term rendered "gainsaying" in Romans 10:21 is the Greek "antilego¯" which is defined as: "to dispute, refuse:-answer again, contradict, deny, gainsay (-er), speak against." It is rather curious that the Book of Mormon echoes a New Testament text this way.
It's obvious that the author of the Book of Mormon was acquainted with the New Testament, which argues against the BC date for the book of Jacob.
Mormons often point out that Joseph Smith was a man of poor education, and therefore could never have produced such a remarkable book as the Book of Mormon. Below are sections from the "remarkable" book that could easily be attributed to an imaginative but poorly educated farmer:
"And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children…" Almah 13:1
How does one cite their minds forward to something that happened in the past?
"… and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried their weapons of war for peace." Almah 24:19 What in the world is a weapon of peace and could it possibly be used as a weapon of war?
"… they being shielded from the more vital parts of the body…"Almah 43:38 How does one shield oneself from one's own vital parts of their body? Senseless!
"Now, immediately when the judge had been murdered - being stabbed by his brother by a garb of secrecy, and he fled…" Helaman 9:6 How is one stabbed by a garb (clothing) of secrecy?