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CES Letter Core Question

What are 1769 King James Version edition errors doing in the Book of Mormon?

1769 KJV Errors


What are 1769 King James Version edition errors doing in the Book of Mormon? A purported ancient text? Errors which are unique to the 1769 edition that Joseph Smith owned?

17th Century Italics


When King James translators were translating the KJV Bible between 1604 and 1611, they would occasionally put in their own words into the text to make the English more readable. We know exactly what these words are because they're italicized in the KJV Bible. What are these 17th century italicized words doing in the Book of Mormon? Word for word? What does this say about the Book of Mormon being an ancient record?

ISAIAH 9:1 (KJV)
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 Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.
2 NEPHI 19:1
Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations.

CES Letter, Page 9

Debunking Reply

KJV verses only account for 2% of the Book of Mormon. It's likely Joseph felt that the KJV wording sufficiently conveyed the message of those passages that he encountered while translating.


It's crystal clear that there are word-for word passages from the King James Version of the Bible found in the Book of Mormon. LDS scholars have been saying this for years. Why is this?

Critics Reasoning

The critics will say that Joseph just plagiarized. Let's explore this. Why would he do this?

Was Joseph an idiot? Did he think nobody would notice that entire chapters in 2 Nephi 12-24 nearly mirrored Isaiah 2-14? That's highly unlikely. Most critics don't argue that Joseph was an idiot. Instead, they often make the point that he was super intelligent and able to craft the book on his own.

Was he trying to expand the length of the Book of Mormon? That doesn't hold weight either. Only ___ of the Book of Mormon directly follows the KJV. So that means the other __% came from somewhere else.

The More Likely Reason

The likely reason is because those KJV passages best conveyed the message that he encountered during the translation process.

The Lord tells us that the Book of Mormon was "given after the manner of their language." (D&C 1:24). It's in Joseph's words. It's what resonated with him and his audience. The King James Bible was the primary spiritual language of the time. It's the language that spoke to them.

The Lord commanded Joseph Smith to "study it out" (D&C 8) in his mind as a part of translation. This implies working things out. Word choice, etc.

One plausible explanation that author Stephen Gibson put forward was:

"instances where the Book of Mormon parallels the Bible, Joseph Smith must have noted the parallels and used the King James Bible to guide him in his choice of words. If the Book of Mormon agreed with the Biblical text in meaning, he apparently utilized the Biblical text, italicized words and all. However, when the plates differed from the Biblical text, he followed the text on the plates. For example, of 433 verses of Isaiah quoted in the Book of Mormon, 46 percent are identical to those in the Bible, while 54 percent are modified to some extent.” It should be noted, however, that none of those contemporaries involved in the translation process recall Joseph consulting the Bible or any manuscripts.

Translation was Actually Revelation

This will be addressed more elsewhere. It's a fact that Joseph didn't sit at his desk with a reformed Egyptian lexicon and matching characters and deriving translations. A reformed Egyptian lexicon didn't even exist.

Title Page of Book of Mormon, circa Early June 1829

The Book of Mormon was revealed by the “gift and power of God." That's the only description Joseph gave of the translation process.

Other Considerations

There are numerous accounts by those involved in the translation that say Joseph didn't access any manuscripts. So how do we reconcile those accounts with the clear examples of KJV in the Book of Mormon? It's hard to know but it seems as if they might have been wrong. Some have sought to reconcile the statements by speculating that God might have touched Joseph's memory to share the KJV passages that he had once read. Perhaps, but it's all conjecture.

There is some debate about a "tight" versus "loose" translation. Those arguing for a tight translation often look to two Book of Mormon witness statements in particular. David Whitmer & Martin Harris. MORE DETAILS COMING.

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