The Mistakes of Men: Can the Scriptures be Error-Free?
by John A. Tvedtnes
Criticisms of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its scriptures and teachings come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from outright lies to exaggerations from misunderstandings to logical fallacies, and occasionally touch on real issues or areas for which we do not have sufficient information. I find it ironic that with such a wide range of approaches from which to choose, most critics select falsehoods and exaggerations. I believe that they employ these methods because of their a priori assumptions–often false–about our religion and their misguided views of the Bible and of Christian history.
Another irony is that Fundamentalist Christians, with whom we share many values and beliefs, are the source of our most vehement critics. This is not to say that all those who fall into this portion of the Christian spectrum are critics, only that most of our critics come from their ranks. I believe that one of the reasons for this situation is the view of scripture held by such Christians, which impels some of them to find fault with the Latter-day Saint view of scripture.
All Christians, whether from the east or west, orthodox or Protestant, accept the Bible as the primary source of religious truth. Some Protestant denominations accept it as inerrant and the sole source of divine truth, while other Christian churches, such as the Roman Catholics, acknowledge apostolic tradition as the means by which the Bible is to be interpreted. Latter-day Saints accept the Bible and tradition, but only insofar as it squares with modern revelation, which we see as the standard by which God’s word to earlier generations is to be judged.
Over the past two centuries, with the discovery of an increasing number of ancient biblical texts, it has become clear that the process of canonization and of transmission of sacred writ has not been without its problems. This is generally acknowledged by Bible scholars, many of whom are Protestants whose more fundamentalist co-religionists reject them as “liberals.” In recent years, a new breed of Evangelical scholar has been emerging, many of them spurred on by the Evangelical Theological Society. Many of these new scholars acknowledge that Bible translations and manuscripts are not error-free and maintain that only the texts as originally recorded by the biblical authors were completely authoritative and free of mistakes.
Another irony is that this is precisely what Joseph Smith taught when he declared, “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.”1 When the prophet Joseph wrote in the eighth Article of Faith that “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly,” he was using the term “translate” in its earlier English sense of “transmit” or “transfer.”2
What irks some of our critics is that the same Article of Faith goes on to say that “we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God,” but without the qualification “as far as it is translated correctly.” These critics point to Joseph Smith’s own words to say that if the Book of Mormon is “the most correct of any book on earth,” it should contain no errors. To this, they add that Joseph is said to have translated the Nephite record “by the gift and power of God,”3 meaning, they surmise, that the book cannot be without errors if it is an authentic ancient record.
The fallacy lies in several areas: 1) No translation from one language to another can carry across the full meaning of the original, so there can be no such thing as a perfect translation.4 2) The translation process for the Book of Mormon seems to have involved some individual effort,5 which would mean that the final product had to pass through fallible human hands. 3) Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni, the three principal scribes who preserved the Nephite record, acknowledged that there could be errors in the record.6 4) Joseph Smith did not suggest that the there were no errors in the text of the Book of Mormon, only that there were no errors in its doctrinal teachings. He wrote, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”7
Many critics point to Joseph Smith’s declaration that the Book of Mormon contains the “fulness of the gospel,”8 and note that some principal Mormon doctrines, such as eternal marriage, baptism for the dead, etc., are not even mentioned in the book. Although Latter-day Saints frequently use the term “gospel” to refer generally to all truths to be learned through the restored Church, this is not the real meaning of the term. The gospel is the good news of Christ’s atonement, and its first principles are faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost. This is the definition given in the Book of Mormon,9 the Doctrine and Covenants,10 and the Pearl of Great Price.11 D&C 93:51 uses the term “the gospel of salvation,” while Abraham 2:11 speaks of “the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.”12 In Jacob 7:6, the gospel is defined as “the doctrine of Christ,” referring to the doctrine concerning Christ, rather than the totality of Christ’s teachings, since he had not yet been born when these words were uttered.13 Elsewhere, the Book of Mormon equates the “fulness of the gospel” with coming “to the knowledge of the true Messiah.”14 The Book of Mormon contains the most lucid explanation of the atonement of Christ15 and therefore clearly qualifies as containing the fulness of the gospel.
In Good Company
To me, it is fascinating to see the critics attacking the Book of Mormon on issues that would similarly be damaging to the Bible. And since most of our critics are Bible-reading Christians, I believe that the best approach is to use the Bible as much as possible in our responses. Let’s look at some examples.
King Benjamin’s death is recorded in Mosiah 6:5, but critics claim that when writing the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith forgot that he had made Benjamin die, and wrote of him living at a later time.16 The 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon shows this error, though subsequent editions, in an attempt to remove the problem, changed the name to King Mosiah in the later references.
Our normal response to this is that King Benjamin lived three years after his son Mosiah2 was made king. It was at the end of these three years that the expedition was sent to the Land of Nephi, where the plates of Ether were found. After relinquishing his kingship, Benjamin may have continued to act as a seer for the three-year interval. The chronology in this part of the Book is not all that clear and we do not know how long Ammon and his brethren were in the Land of Nephi. It could have been only a matter of weeks or months. It is not inconceivable then, that Benjamin passed away shortly after their return, which still would have been “after three years.”17 It is certainly possible that the keeper of the record of Zeniff or Mormon and Moroni18 may have erred in compiling the records. After all they were mortals, capable of making mistakes. It is also possible that this was an example of a scribal error, later corrected by Joseph Smith the translator.
It is interesting that the Bible has a situation similar to that found in the Book of Mormon. We read in 1 Kings 14:31-15:5 that Abijam (also called Abijah, as in the parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 12:16) became king of Judah after the death of his father Rehoboam and that, despite his sins, the Lord preserved his kingship for the sake of his ancestor David. Then, in 1 Kings 15:6-7, we read,
And there was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all the days of his life. Now the rest of the acts of Abijam, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And there was war between Abijam and Jeroboam.
The name Rehoboam is anachronistic, since he was dead and the passage was intended to describe events in the days of his son Abijam. The error is actually corrected in a few Hebrew manuscripts and in the Peshitta (Christian Aramaic) version to read, “And there was war between Abijah the son of Rehoboam.” The parallel passage in 2 Chronicles 13:2 reads, “And there was war between Abijah and Jeroboam.”
The first edition of the Book of Mormon refers to Christ as none other than “the Father” in 1 Nephi 11:21; 13:40, while later editions change such references to read “the Son of the Father.” The words “the Son of” were also added before his title “the everlasting God” in 1 Nephi 11:32. Similarly, in the 1830 edition, Mary is called “the mother of God,” while later editions call her “the mother of the son of God.”19 Critics suggest that these changes reflect the changing Mormon doctrine of God, as Joseph Smith came to reject the Trinity and accept the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost as three separate gods.
From a number of Book of Mormon passages, it is clear that the Nephites knew that Christ and his Father were separate individuals. Christ told the Nephites that his Father had sent him.20 He made it clear that his Father had given him the doctrines that he taught them21 and he mentioned specific commandments he had received from the Father.22 He spoke of going or ascending to his Father.23 Finally, he prayed to his Father in the presence of the Nephite multitude.24 Nevertheless, Christ proclaimed his own divinity by telling the Nephites that both he and the Father were “perfect”25 and that it was he who had given the law to Moses.26 When the people prayed directly to him, “calling him their Lord and their God,” he told the father “they pray unto me; and they pray unto me because I am with them.”27
It is true that Christ told the Nephites that he and the Father (he sometimes included the Holy Ghost) “are one.”28 This concept is found elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, where we read that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are “one (Eternal) God.”29 This unity–not of person or body, but of purpose and power–constitutes the Godhead, of which Christ is a member.
In a number of Book of Mormon passages, Christ himself is identified as “the Eternal God.” Nephi declared that his purpose in writing was to convince the Jews and the Gentiles “that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God.”30 This theme was picked up by Moroni, who wrote in the preface or title page to the Book of Mormon that the purpose of the record was “to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” Compare this with Mormon’s statement of purpose for his abridgement, that “the Jews…may be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.“31 He evidently borrowed the thought from 2 Nephi 25:16, where Nephi sought to persuade people “to believe in Christ, the Son of God.” Both passages read the same in the 1830 and later editions of the Book of Mormon.
Because of Christ’s divinity, the prophet Abinadi was able to declare that “God himself” would descend to the earth and atone for the sins of mankind.32 Indeed, it is because of his divine nature, being the Son of God in both the spirit and the flesh, that Christ was able to bring about the “infinite atonement” of which Jacob, Nephi, and Amulek spoke.33 Divine because of his paternity and mortal through his mother, Christ was able to serve as proxy for us in dying and as proxy for his Father in living again.
Amulek declared that “the Son of God…is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are,”34 by which we understand that he is the creator.35 Isaiah prophetically called him both “the Mighty God” and “the Everlasting Father.”36 Consequently, the original titles of Christ in the 1830 Book of Mormon version of 1 Nephi 11:21, 32; 13:40 are correct and, since he is divine, Mary can correctly be called “the mother of God.” The changes were made as points of clarification, not as changes in doctrine, for both the Book of Mormon and the Latter-day Saints accept all three members of the Godhead as separate divine beings, with the Father being the one we worship in the name of our intermediary, Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, the alternation between the titles “Christ,” “Father,” and “God” are very common in various Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. For example, different manuscripts use either “Lord,” “Christ,” or “God” in 1 Corinthians 10:9. “Lord,” “Jesus,” “God Christ,” and “God” are variants found in Jude 1:5. Even more variants are found for John 6:69, where we have “Christ,” “Christ, the Holy One of God,” “Christ the Son of God,” “Christ the Son of the living God,” “The Son of God,” and “the Holy One of God.” But it is the variants in Colossians 2:22 that show how much variety different scribal traditions can read into the text; its variants include “God Christ,” “God who is Christ,” “God who is in Christ,” “God the Father of Christ,” “God and Father of Christ,” “God and Father and Christ,” as well as simply “God” or “Christ.” Another interesting manuscript variant is in John 1:18, where we read, in different manuscripts, either “the only-begotten God” or “the only begotten Son.”37
It is clear that the Book of Mormon shares this feature with the Bible and it is further clear, when one examines all of the evidence, that both volumes of scripture consider Jesus to be divine and the second member of a Godhead whose members are separate individuals.
According to Mosiah 2:3, the Nephites offered “sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses.” Some critics are quick to point out that the Nephites were from the tribe of Manasseh38 and that, according to the law of Moses, only the tribe of Levi, and particularly the sons of Aaron, could give attendance at the altar.39
Yet even in the Bible, there are instances where men of non-Levite lineage who offered sacrifices. One example that comes to mind is that of Gideon, a judge of Israel, who, like Lehi, was from the Josephite tribe of Manasseh. Commanded of God to build an altar, Gideon made an acceptable burnt offering to the Lord, and was in no way condemned for his action.40 The prophet Samuel was from the Josephite tribe of Ephraim yet he also offered sacrifices.41 Scholars are agreed that the idea that only descendants of Aaron could offer sacrifices was a late (post-exilic) concept in ancient Israel. It led to such anomalies as the later chroniclers (who revised the history found in the books of Samuel and Kings) assigning Samuel (pronounced Shemuel in Hebrew) to the tribe of Levi in 1 Chronicles 6:33-38 in order to justify his having offered sacrifices. It is interesting that the first sacrifice offered for the Israelites after they left Egypt was performed not by a Levite, but by Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, a non-Israelite.42
Archaeological and Geographic Considerations
The critics contend that it would have been impossible for a group as small as Nephi’s followers, only thirty years after leaving Jerusalem43 to build a temple like that of Solomon,44 which took over seven years and 183,000 workmen and overseers to construct.45
The fact that Nephi’s temple was made “after the manner of the temple of Solomon” does not mean that it was of the same size and complexity, only that it had the same basic design (which had symbolic meaning in ancient Israel). Indeed, Nephi said of his temple that “it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple.”46 So there were obvious differences between the two structures, most notably, in the size and the precise materials and decorations used.
In the 1960s, Israeli archaeologist Yohanan Aharoni uncovered at the site of Arad, south-southeast of Jerusalem, an Israelite temple that stood during the time of Solomon’s temple. Though much smaller than the temple of Solomon, it was built on the same basic pattern, with an outer court, inner court, and holy of holies. The inner court was six cubits by twenty cubits in length, reminding us that the tabernacle of Moses had six boards on the short sides and twenty on the long sides.47 The sacrificial altar in that enclosure was made of unhewn stones, as the Lord commanded Moses.48 The altar measured three cubits in height and five cubits on either side, thus identical in size to the altar constructed for the tabernacle.49 Like the tabernacle and the temple of Solomon, the Arad structure had incense altars, one on either side of the three steps that led up to the holy of holies. Aharoni suggested that this temple served a small military garrison that occupied the site anciently.
In recent years, critics have been claiming that while the Bible has been proven true by archaeologists, no Book of Mormon cities can be identified by name in anywhere in the New World. Most archaeologists would not agree with the extravagant claims for the Bible, and the debate between minimalists (those who believe there is little or no support for the Bible from archaeology) and maximalists (those who believe there is much archaeological support for the Bible) grows in intensity each passing year.
But let’s just deal with the question of identifying sites, which is a rather complex one for both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Only 55 percent of the sites mentioned in the Bible have been identified to the satisfaction of scholars, and many of these are guesses only. For example, in the last century, three different archaeological sites have been identified as the biblical city of Debir, which was conquered by Joshua, and the latest identification was made in the late 1970s.
Some laymen seem to think that the identification of biblical sites is certain and that the names of the sites are actually found there, like modern road signs (“Entering Jericho”). This is not the case, however. Before the 1930s, no Palestinian site was known from an in situ inscription, and since then, only a handful have been identified by inscriptions–Dan, Jerusalem, Gezer, Lachish, Arad, and Ekron. In fact, one of them, Ekron, was confirmed as recently as the summer of 1996. Arad is a particular problem, for although a bowl with the name Arad inscribed on it was found at the site known by that name to the Bedouin, there are no remains from the time of Moses, Joshua, and the judges on the site, as the Bible requires.50 This led one of the excavators, Yohanan Aharoni, to speculate that another nearby site was the Arad of that time.
One thing that has made biblical sites easier to identify is the fact that many of them have retained their ancient names. This is because the conquerors and inhabitants of Palestine/Israel have always spoken related Semitic languages. Thus, the Israelites spoke Hebrew, while the Jews returning from the Babylonian captivity spoke a related language, Aramaic. Aramaic was retained as a liturgical language (and, in some villages, as a spoken language) by the early Christians, who were converted Jews. The seventh century A.D. brought the Arabs, whose language is also related to Hebrew. Even during the so-called “Latin” (Crusader) Kingdom of Jerusalem, the official language was Syriac, an Aramaean dialect. (The term “Latin” referred to their religion, Roman Catholicism.) On the other hand, a number of other languages are spoken in Mesoamerica, where the Nephites and Lamanites lived, and while there have been studies showing that some of them have Hebrew words, they are not Semitic languages. Consequently, the place-names in that area are no longer related to Hebrew. So the identification of Book of Mormon sites is complicated.51
Despite these difficulties, some progress has been made in Book of Mormon geography. There is general agreement among serious Book of Mormon scholars that the city of Nephi was at Kaminaljuyu, outside Guatemala City, and that the city built near the narrow neck of land by the Jaredite king Lib is to be identified with San Lorenzo.52
Two Old World sites mentioned in the Book of Mormon, but unknown from the Bible, have also been identified. There is general agreement among Book of Mormon scholars that the site called Bountiful by Lehi’s party is in the lush Dhofar region of Oman, in the southeastern part of the Arabian Peninsula. Nahom, the place where Ishmael died, has been identified in the northern part of Yemen, where three altars from about Lehi’s time and mentioning the site have been found.53
Critics have often taken pleasure in pointing out what they consider to be anachronisms in the Book of Mormon. They note, for example, that Nephi, who lived about 600 B.C., had a bow of “fine steel,”54 but such weapons were unknown at that time. Steel, they contend, is an alloy that was not known to the ancients. The steel blade of Laban’s sword55 is thus also an impossibility.
It is ironic that those who level this criticism at the Book of Mormon fail to take the King James Version of the Bible to task for its use of the term “bow of steel” in three passages56 and the use of the term “steel” in Jeremiah 15:12. The Hebrew word behind these passages is actually the term used for copper and its alloys, notably bronze.
The word “steel,” today used to refer to a specific range of iron alloys, did not always have that meaning. Steel as we know it had not yet been invented at the time the King James Bible was translated. In those days, “steel” referred to anything hard, which could apply to bronze or various other metals as also to iron. Even in Joseph Smith’s day, one of the meanings given in Webster’s 1828 dictionary for “steel” was “extreme hardness,” while the verbal form means “to make hard.” The second entry under the noun “steel” says the word is used figuratively for “weapons; particularly of defensive weapons, swords, spears and the like.”
Hugh Nibley has pointed out that Nephi’s bow was probably a composite weapon, part metal and part wood. He noted that the Canaanite “chariots of iron”57 were not solid iron, but merely iron-trimmed, and that various other iron tools mentioned in the Bible undoubtedly had wooden handles. If Nephi possessed a composite bow, made mostly of wood, this would more readily explain how he could have accidentally broken it. Indeed, the story reminds us of a Bible passage that cites a Psalm in which David declared, “He teacheth my hands to war; so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.”58
Another criticism leveled against the Book of Mormon is the mention of the “brass plates” of Laban.59 Critics contend that this is an anachronism because brass, a copper/zinc alloy, was not invented until Roman times. The term “brass” is used 116 times in the Old Testament of the King James Bible to translate the Hebrew term that means “copper” or “bronze.” Since the term was used in the Bible known to Joseph Smith, the argument about the copper/zinc alloy is pointless.
Much ink has been wasted on the argument that Alma 11:5-20 is anachronistic because the first coins were not minted until a century after Lehi supposedly left Jerusalem. While some commentators have assumed that the passage refers to coins, the text itself does not say that these monetary units were coins. Before stamped coins were invented in the late sixth century B.C., pieces of precious metals of varying weight were used as a medium of exchange. It is undoubtedly in this context that we must read of the Nephite monetary system. The most common Israelite unit of weight was the shekel, deriving from the verb meaning “to weigh,” a word that later denoted a coin of the prescribed weight. Most occurrences of the term “shekel” are in Exodus through Numbers, with the heaviest concentration in the latter book. The Hebrew term “gerah,” which denoted a smaller piece of money (but probably not a coin), is found only in the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Ezekiel. If these were intended to be coins only, then the use of the names in books attributed to Moses would make the Bible anachronistic, too.
According to the Book of Mormon, Lehi used a “compass” to guide him in his travels to the New World.60 Critics are wont to point out that the magnetic compass was discovered in the late middle ages in China and was unknown in the ancient Near East. Though the word “compass” in our day usually denotes a device used to determine the direction of magnetic north, it need not have that meaning in the Book of Mormon. The word “compass” may have been the closest equivalent of the original word available to Joseph Smith in the English language. Moreover, “compass” has several other meanings in English and originally meant “circle” (as in the compass used to draw circles). The word “compass” also appears a number of times in the King James Version of the Bible, usually as a verb but sometimes as a noun.61 We should also note that the fact that the Lord had to “prepare” the device for Lehi implies that it was an instrument not known in his day. So we don’t have to worry about whether it was a magnetic compass or not, on the grounds that such an instrument didn’t exist at that time. The Lord surely knew the principles on which the magnetic compass works, and could have provided one for Lehi. But it’s unlikely that this is what the Book of Mormon intended.
The mention of windows that could be “dashed in pieces” in Ether 2:23 is said to be anachronistic, since glass windows were not invented until the late Middle Ages. Actually, the earliest attestations of glass are from the eighth century B.C. But the term “window” originally referred to an opening through which the wind could enter. It is found 42 times in the Bible where, of course, it does not refer to glass windows, as we know them. In 2 Kings 13:17 we read that a window in the palace was opened, so windows sometimes had doors or shutters. The same is true of the “window” that Noah built into the ark.62
It seems likely that Ether 2:23 means not that the windows in the Jaredite barges would break, but that the barges themselves, would break if they had windows built into them. This, the Lord explains in the next verse, is because they would go through extremely turbulent conditions at sea, sometimes being buried beneath the waves. Windows would mean additional cuts through the wood that, even if shuttered, would weaken the wooden structure, making it more fragile and thus liable to be “dashed in pieces.” If we read only the sentence containing the word “windows” and read it out of context, then the antecedent of “they” would, indeed, be “windows.” But it is probable that the antecedent is “vessels,” the last word in the preceding sentence.
Another criticism is that the Book of Mormon speaks of candles,63 which did not exist in ancient America. The term “candle” is frequently used in the King James Bible, where the original refers to an oil lamp. Candles were not in use in the Holy Land in Bible times. Instead, they used oil lamps, which were less known in seventeenth-century England. The Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith translated into English, was evidently deliberately made to sound like the KJV language, which people of his day associated with scriptures. Consequently, he also used the term “candle.”
A Horse is a Horse, of Course
One of the most common criticisms against the Book of Mormon is that it says there were horses in America during both Jaredite and Nephite times,64 but scholars are agreed that horses were not introduced to the Americas until after the arrival of the Spaniards. However, the paucity of skeletal remains cannot be taken as evidence that there were no horses. Though the Huns were renowned horsemen of the middle ages, no single horse bone has been found in the territory they controlled. Though the Bible mentions lions in the Holy Land,65 and despite the fact that archaeologists had been working there since 1864, it was not until 1983 that the remains of two lions were found in Israel, with no others being discovered since. Another factor that must be considered is that the animal bones found by archaeologists are almost always of animals consumed by the ancient inhabitants of a site. Since the horse (and the lion, for that matter) was considered an “unclean” animal by the Law of Moses, one should not expect to find it at a site occupied by the Nephites. When an animal that is not eaten dies in a human habitation, the people would remove it from town, so its bones would not be found in sites of interest to archaeologists.
There are other good explanations for the Book of Mormon horses, but the point I make here is that the Bible was, for centuries, in the same position as the Book of Mormon in regard to the existence of lions in the Holy Land.
My purpose in this paper has been to demonstrate that the Bible, which most of our critics accept as inerrant scripture, has the same kinds of perceived “problems” as those the critics find in the Book of Mormon. A few of those problems have already been solved for the Bible with the passage of time. Fairness and logic dictate that we give the Book of Mormon the same benefit of a doubt as the Bible.
1 Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 6 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1978), 57.
2 The term “translate” had quite a different meaning in earlier English than it does today. When Enoch was translated (Hebrews 11:5; D&C 107:49; cf. Ether 15:34), he was changed from mortality to another state, not rendered in a different language. In the King James Bible, the word “translate” must sometimes be read in the sense of “transfer.” For example, in 2 Samuel 3:10, we read that the Lord intended “to translate the kingdom from the house of Saul” to David. Paul also wrote that God “hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:13). The word “translate” is still used in this latter sense in ecclesiastical circles. The “translation” of a clergyman from one town to another, for example, is what we would normally call a “transfer.” This meaning, with an example, is found in Noah Webster’s 1828 dictionary.
3 Book of Mormon Title Page and Testimony of Three Witnesses; D&C 135:3; Smith, History of the Church 4:537.
4 Some corrections were made in the manuscript written by Oliver Cowdery from Joseph Smith’s dictation and in the “printer’s copy” made from that manuscript. See Royal Skousen, The Original Manuscript of the book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Extant Text (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2001); Skousen, The Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon: Typographical Facsimile of the Entire Text in Two Parts (Provo: FARMS, 2001); M. Gerald Bradford and Alison V. P. Coutts, eds., Uncovering the Original Text of the Book of Mormon: History and Findings of the Critical Text Project (Provo: FARMS, 2002). We also know that Joseph Smith later made some changes in the text that were included in subsequent editions (Smith, History of the Church 4:494-495; see also the note at the bottom of “A Brief Explanation about the Book of Mormon” printed near the beginning of the 1981 edition). Were there time and space enough, we could also discuss such issues as scribal and typesetting errors. For a more detailed discussion of such matters, see my forthcoming book, As Far as It Is Translated Correctly.
5 D&C 9:7-10.
6 Book of Mormon Title Page; 1 Nephi 19:6; 3 Nephi 8:2; Mormon 8:12, 17; 9:31-33.
7 Smith, History of the Church 4:461; emphasis added.
8 D&C 20:8-9; 27:5; 42:12; 135:3; Joseph Smith-History 1:34.
9 1 Nephi 10:14; 15:13-14; 3 Nephi 27:13-21; Ether 4:18.
10 D&C 3:20; 13:1; 20:9; 27:5; 33:11-12; 39:5-6; 42:12; 76:40-42; 84:26-27; 107:20; 135:3; 138:2-4, 57.
11 Joseph Smith-History 1:34; Articles of Faith 3-4.
12 Compare with D&C 128:5, 17.
13 Compare with Mormon 3:21; D&C 76:82.
14 1 Nephi 10:14; 15:13-14; compare with 3 Nephi 20:30-31; D&C 19:27.
15 See especially 2 Nephi 2, 9; Mosiah 15; Alma 34, 42.
16 See Mosiah 21:28 and Ether 4:1.
17 Mosiah 6:5.
18 Ether 4:1.
19 1 Nephi 11:18.
20 3 Nephi 20:26; 27:13-14.
21 3 Nephi 11:32, 35; 12:19; 17:2; 18:14.
22 3 Nephi 15:14-16, 18-19; 16:3, 10; 17:2; 18:14; 20:10, 14, 46; 26:2.
23 3 Nephi 15:1; 17:4; 18:27, 35; 26:15; 27:28; 28:1.
24 3 Nephi 17:21; 19:19-24, 27-29, 31-35.
25 3 Nephi 12:48.
26 3 Nephi 15:4-5.
27 3 Nephi 19:18, 22, 24-25.
28 3 Nephi 11:27, 36; 20:35; 28:10.
29 2 Nephi 31:21; Mosiah 15:3-5; Alma 11:44; Mormon 7:7.
30 2 Nephi 26:12.
31 Mormon 5:14.
32 Mosiah 13:28, 34; 15:1; 17:8.
33 2 Nephi 9:7; 25:16; Alma 34:10-14.
34 Alma 11:38-39.
35 Compare with John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:13-17; Hebrews 1:2.
36 Isaiah 9:6, quoted in 2 Nephi 19:6.
37 For these and other variants, see Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).
38 Alma 10:3.
39 See Exodus 28-31; Numbers 3:7; Nehemiah 7:63, 65; and Hebrews 7:12-14.
40 Judges 6:24-26.
41 1 Samuel 1:1; 7:9-10; 10:8; 13:15.
42 Exodus 18:12.
43 2 Nephi 5:28.
44 2 Nephi 5:16.
45 1 Kings 5:13, 15; 6:1, 38; 9:20-21; 2 Chronicles 2:2, 17-18.
46 2 Nephi 5:16.
47 Exodus 26:18-22.
48 Deuteronomy 27:5-6; Joshua 8:31.
49 Exodus 27:1; 38:1.
50 Numbers 21:1; 33:40; Joshua 12:14; Judges 1:16.
51 For more information, see William J. Hamblin, “Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (Spring 1993), 161-197.
52 See V. Garth Norman, “San Lorenzo as the Jaredite City of Lib,” Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology No. 153 (1983), available as FARMS reprint NOR-83. The most thorough study is John Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: FARMS and Deseret Book Company, 1985).
53 Warren P. And Michaela Knoth Aston, In the Footsteps of Lehi: New Evidence for Lehi’s Journey Across Arabia to Bountiful (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1994); Warren P. and Michaela J. Aston, “And We Called the Place Bountiful,” (Provo, Utah: FARMS paper AST-91b, 1991); Warren, P. and Michaela J. Aston, “The Place Which Was Called Nahom,” FARMS paper, 1991; Warren P. and Michaela J. Aston, Stephen D. Ricks, and John W. Welch, “Lehi’s Trail and Nahom Revisited,” in John W. Welch, ed., Reexploring the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret and FARMS, 1992), 47-52; Warren P. Aston, “The Arabian Bountiful Discovered?” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 7/1 (1998); Warren P. Aston, “Newly Found Altars from Nahom,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10/2 (2001); Eugene E. Clark, “A Preliminary Study of the Geology and Mineral Resources of Dhofar, the Sultanate of Oman” (Provo, Utah: FARMS paper CLR-95, 1995); Alan Goff, “Mourning, Consolation, and Repentance at Nahom,” Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, edited by John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company and FARMS, 1991), 92-99; S. Kent Brown, “The Place That Was Called Nahom,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/1 (1999), 66-68.
54 1 Nephi 16:18.
55 1 Nephi 4:9.
56 2 Samuel 22:35; Job 20:24; Psalm 18:34.
57 Joshua 17:16-18; Judges 1:19; 4:3.
58 2 Samuel 22:35. For further reading, see William J. Hamblin, “The Bow and Arrow in the Book of Mormon,” Warfare in the Book of Mormon, edited by Stephen D. Ricks and William J. Hamblin (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company and FARMS, 1990), 373-374.
59 1 Nephi 3:3; 16:10; 2 Nephi 5:15; Jarom 1:8; Mosiah 8:7-10; 11:8,10; Ether 10:23.
60 1 Nephi 18:12-14; Alma 37:38.
61 Exodus 27:5; 38:4; 1 Kings 7:35; Isaiah 44:13.
62 Genesis 6:16; 8:6.
63 3 Nephi 8:21; 12:15.
64 1 Nephi 18:25; 2 Nephi 12:7; Enos 1:21; Alma 18:9-12; 3 Nephi 3:22; 4:4; 6:1; 21:14; Ether 9:19.
65 Judges 14:5-9; 1 Samuel 17:34-37; 2 Samuel 23:20; 1 Kings 13:24-28; 20:36; 2 Kings 17:25-26; Jeremiah 5:6