Response to Benjamin McGuire
Rejoinder by By Eric Johnson
In order to make this review easier to read, all original quotes from the Mormonism 201 rebuttal are boldfaced and italicized to separate these from the rest of the rejoinder.
The Bible is considered to be the most authoritative book for evangelical Christians. In fact, conservative Christians hold to an inerrant view of the Bible. That is, they believe that authors who were inspired via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote down the very words of scripture. These books (66 in all) were gathered and preserved. Since God inspired these authors Himself, the Bible is therefore considered as God’s Word for His people today. In fact, the Bible can and should be used by all humankind for authoritative doctrine and instruction.
Evangelical Christians hold that the best way to combat error is understanding and then applying the Word of God. Second Timothy 3:15 says that Timothy knew the Holy Scriptures from childhood. This is what made him “wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Verses 16-17 read, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Of course, many have tried to minimize Paul’s words in these verses. A common argument is that he was only referring to the Old Testament since the New Testament was not yet put together. In a sense, this is correct. However, the New Testament is the testimony of the fulfilling of the Old Testament through the story of Christ and the Christian church of the first century. Even the apostle Peter correlated Paul’s writings with scripture in 2 Peter 3:16. Later church councils declared the authenticity and authority of the New Testament writings, and finally, at Carthage in AD 397, the Christian church finalized the canonization of the New Testament books that we have today.
While we are the first to admit that there are differences between the many manuscripts in existence, we can fully trust what we have. As Dr. Norman Geisler wrote, “God breathed out the originals, not the copies, so inerrancy applies to the original text, not to every copy. God in his providence preserved the copies from substantial error. In fact, the degree of accuracy is greater than that of any other book from the ancient world, exceeding 99 percent.” As far as not having the autographs (the actual papyrus and velum documents that were written upon by the writers), this should not prove a problem for two reasons: 1) there is no autograph of any other important work during this same time period; 2) the Book of Mormon autographs are gone as well. Yet few Mormons would cast doubt on The Iliad, Plato’s Republic, or the Book of Mormon itself!
So, obviously, the Bible means a great deal to evangelical Christians. Yet does this book mean as much to the average Latter-day Saint? If what our e-mails and conversations on the street are any indication, the answer is a definitive “No!” In fact, most Mormons whom we meet seem to have the same attitude as Apostle Bruce R. McConkie who wrote: “By the standard works of the Church is meant the following four volumes of scripture: The Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. The Church uses the King James Version of the Bible, but acceptance of the Bible is coupled with a reservation that it is true only insofar as translated correctly. (Eighth Article of Faith.) The other three, having been revealed in modern times in English, are accepted without qualification.”
Because Mormonism’s eighth Article of Faith states that the “Bible is true only insofar as (it) is translated correctly,” it is, as McConkie states, LDS scripture but with limitations the other three scriptures do not have. In fact, many Mormons take this limitation and determine that the Bible is not worthy of full trust because of many errors. Yet Benjamin McGuire, the author of theMormonism 201 rebuttal on chapter 7 (“The Bible”), claims that Latter-day Saints have a very high view of the veracity of the Bible. Is he correct? I do not think so, and in this rejoinder, I would like to show why.
Calling the Kettle “Black”
McGuire begins his paper by accusing Bill and me of mishandling quotations from LDS leaders. He claims that we have taken several quotes to make the proverbial mountain out of a molehill. Consider this quote from his introduction:
“By selecting only passages that support their preconceived notions of LDS beliefs and theology, they do not present historical Mormonism at all, but instead fabricate a Mormonism that seems to both members and non-members to be strange beyond belief. Citations are selected because they best fit the mold into which the authors wish to place Mormonism. The result is that the authors do not use the most representative references, as they should have.”
He highlights the introductory quote of our chapter to show how we supposedly practice shoddy research. Saying the source of Orson Pratt’s quotation on page 97 should have read “The Bible and Tradition, Without Further Revelation, an Insufficient Guide” (rather than just “The Bible An Insufficient Guide” as we so recorded it), he writes: “It was published in Liverpool in 1850 as the third of three pamphlets addressing the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon. My own copy of the text is the 1945 reprint by Deseret News Press. However, the title has not been changed.”
While he is correct in saying that we were not exact with our title reference, McGuire himself is wrong in two ways! First, he is wrong when he says that there were only three pamphlets since there were a total of six. Second, to have been precise, the title should have been “Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, No. 3, 1850, p. 47.” In volume one of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, this description is given under the designation “Book of Mormon Studies Orson Pratt“:
“In Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon (1850-1851), a series of six pamphlets, Orson Pratt (1811-1881), a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, drew together early Latter-day Saint thinking about the Book of Mormon. He argued on logical grounds for the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon, confronted criticisms of it, and presented evidence in favor of its truth, relying heavily on biblical and historical evidences. He did not discuss the contents of the Book of Mormon directly, but addressed ideas of other churches that hindered their acceptance, or even serious consideration, of the Book of Mormon.”
Apparently the subtitle of pamphlet three was “The Bible and Tradition, Without Further Revelation, an Insufficient Guide,” as McGuire pointed out. However, I noticed when looking throughout the 1997 LDS Collector’s Library CD-Rom that the information from this pamphlet is always referenced as Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon. This is true in other cases by respected LDS leaders.
While we were not exact in our attribution, every word we gave in our title was part of the third tract’s subtitle. We did leave out “…and Tradition, Without Further Revelation…” Frankly, though, we think McGuire goes out on a far limb when he continues: “Now, you might suggest that I am picking at details, and possibly I am. Yet, the details as we will see, show a consistent pattern of McKeever and Johnson presenting the worst possible image of the LDS Church, both past and present, and consistently ignoring conflicting or corrective statements issued by the leaders of the LDS Church both past and present. There is a significant difference between the two titles, the complete title showing Pratt’s intent in writing the pamphlet, while the title provided by the authors clearly portrays an attack on the Bible-which better proves their asserted reason for writing this chapter.”
Although McGuire seems to be accusing us of purposely manipulating the title, he himself doesn’t get it right when it comes to how many pamphlets Pratt wrote or what the correct reference to the publication should be. Does he think we made our mistake in a deliberate fashion? We didn’t! Should we accuse him of something sinister because he too made errors? Of course not. His errors show just how easy it is to not be accurate in every minute detail, especially when it comes to resources and page numbers.
As far as trying to “present the worst possible image of the LDS Church,” Bill and I could have done many things to accomplish such a goal. However, our purpose—as we clearly state in the book’s introduction—is to consider the LDS religion in light of what the leaders had to say. There is no doubt that we are not completely objective. In fact, everyone—even the “neutral” observer—brings presuppositions to the table whenever comparative religions are discussed. But for McGuire to say this is an example of a “consistent pattern”—that we go out of our way to present “the worst possible image of the LDS Church” —is quite a stretch. It is no more accurate than for us to accuse him of “stacking the deck” because he writes nothing nice about us in his rebuttal to our chapter!
But to show that we were not clipping words out of context, let’s consider the words of Pratt in its context since we were limited with space in the original book. Here are Pratt’s words, with the first two sentences as copied into our book, and the underlined words showing what he said afterward:
“Add all this imperfection to the uncertainty of the translation, and who, in his right mind, could, for one moment, suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original? Who knows how many important doctrines and ordinances necessary to salvation may be buried in oblivion in some of the lost books? Who knows that even the ordinances and doctrine that seem to be set forth in the present English Bible, are anything like the original? The Catholics and Protestants do not know, because tradition is too imperfect to give this knowledge. There can be no certainty as to the contents of the inspired writings until God shall inspire someone to re-write all those books over again, as he did Esdras in ancient times. There is no possible means of arriving at certainty any other way. No reflecting man can deny the necessity of such a new revelation.”
Notice how Pratt says that the way to trust the contents of the Bible would come only if “God shall inspire someone to re-write all those books over again.” McGuire then quotes the next Pratt paragraph in his rebuttal: “Would God reveal a system of religion expressed in such indefinite terms that a thousand different religions should grow out of it? Has God revealed the system of salvation in such vague uncertain language on purpose to delight Himself with the quarrels and contentions of His creatures in relation to it? Would God think so much of fallen men that He would give His Only Begotten Son to die for them, and then reveal His doctrine to them in a language altogether ambiguous and uncertain?”
Quite conveniently, he leaves out Pratt’s sentence before this paragraph: “Under this confused state of things, you have, peradventure, involuntarily exclaimed: can the Bible be the word of God?” His rhetorical question quite clearly demands a negative response. According to Pratt, the Bible must therefore be an insufficient guide!
Pratt continues after the above quote provided by McGuire:
“Such questions, doubtless, have passed through the mind of many a religiously-inclined person. Millions have been sensible of the midnight darkness, but have not known the true cause; they have acknowledged that they could not understand a very great proportion of the Bible, yet they have believed it to be the word of God; they have wondered that the Bible should be their only rule of faith, and yet so few be able to understand it alike.
“Many seeing the contradictions, the vagueness, and the uncertainty of all modern religions, professing to have emanated from the same God, have been so disgusted that they have renounced the Bible as a fable invented by priestcraft; others, fearing to do this, have poured over whole libraries of uninspired commentaries, seeking after the true meaning of that which they believe God has revealed; and at last, finding the learned commentators as widely disagreed as the sects themselves, they have concluded that the Bible is a great mystery and that God did not intend to have it understood when He revealed it. Others still having a little more perseverance, and believing that God would not send a revelation which He did not wish the people to understand, have with great diligence collected vast numbers of the most ancient Greek and Hebrew manuscripts of the sacred books, but here they find themselves utterly confounded: these ancient manuscripts, which they had hopes would reveal the truth, are perverted and corrupted in almost every text, so that they find “an incredible number of different readings” on every page and almost every sentence.
“From this heterogeneous mass of contradictory manuscripts they give an English translation, and call it the Bible; thus leaving millions to guess out the true meaning and quarrel, and contend with each other because they do not guess alike.”
Based on Pratt’s words, would somebody walk away believing that Pratt believed in the trustworthiness of the Bible? Hardly!
McGuire then asks, “What is the solution according to Pratt? Divine revelation. Both on an individual basis, and through prophets called by God. This is his theme, and it reflects the core beliefs on scripture of the LDS faith. This belief McKeever and Johnson consistently avoid in their portrayal of Mormonism.”
McGuire fails to understand that the point in this chapter is centered on the Bible, not the apostasy that we had covered in the previous chapter. Did McGuire somehow not read this chapter? Our point in quoting Pratt was to show that, indeed, Mormons are told that they cannot trust the Bible in its present state. Otherwise, why even have Article 8 in the Articles of Faith, which says, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly“? Pratt’s quote—and, remember, we’re only talking about an introductory quote here, something that I had originally suggested to Bill back in1995 as being an interesting way to introduce each of our chapters—was not given to present “the worst possible image of the LDS Church,” as McGuire wants to insist. With all of this said, McGuire then goes full steam ahead and defends Pratt’s words! He writes,
“Pratt’s observations at the time were valid. There is no question that the manuscripts of the Bible are not in agreement. We have the addition or subtraction of whole chapters, particularly in the Old Testament where differing traditions place two substantially different versions of the Book of Jeremiah for example. Or, the only English translation of the Bible available to Pratt, the King James Version, which contained the Johanine Comma: a passage in 1 John long recognized as a corruption which has since been removed from nearly every modern translation of the text. The fact that the oldest manuscripts did not agree in all points everywhere has not changed since Pratt wrote this. Does this invalidate the text? No. Does Pratt indicate that this invalidates the text. (sic) No, he does not. Instead, he suggests that because of these evidences-evidences which are based in clearly observable facts that the Bible itself cannot stand as its own witness to its truth.”
First, the Joseph Smith Translation (JST), a Bible version brought about by Joseph Smith in 1833 and touted by at least one apostle as “a thousand times over the best Bible now existing on earth,” includes the same length of the book of Jeremiah as the King James Version. Second, the Johanine Comma, a portion of 1 John that McGuire says was a “corruption,” also found its way into Smith’s translation. Given the fact that this Bible “translation” was given to mankind by a Mormon prophet—yet even the most respected of all LDS prophets, Joseph Smith—we would think that McGuire would be more cautious before suggesting that somehow having a living prophet solves the perplexing issues regarding textual criticism.
The Problem of Translation versus Transmission
Obviously, Pratt and McGuire both have a problem with the transmission of text and not translation, which was our point from pages 100-102. McGuire makes another serious accusation here, saying that there is “no question that the manuscripts of the Bible are not in agreement.” In saying this, McGuire only bolsters our reason for using Pratt’s quote. (Can anyone say “the Bible (is) an Insufficient Guide”?)
McGuire shows that he’s either playing games with words or he doesn’t understand the obvious difference between “transmission” and “translation” when he quotes from a Catholic Church source (“…the original text, which, having been written by the inspired author himself, has more authority and greater weight than any even (sic) the very best translation, whether ancient or modern…”) and pointing out words from the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy that “admits,” McGuire says, “that only in the original autographs (the original documents penned by the apostles and the other inspired writers) were the Biblical text inerrant.” No argument here.
McGuire then quotes Brigham Young (“And as far as it [Bible] could be translated correctly from the Hebrew and Greek languages, it is given to us as pure as it possible could be given”) and Joseph Smith (“I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers”).
As we discussed in Mormonism 101, if the Mormons were to interpret Article 8 as really meaning that the Bible is true only as far as it is translated correctly, we would agree with them. However, the average Mormon’s problem with the Bible is not with the original veracity of the words written down by the biblical writers. There is no doubt the average Mormon would agree with me when I state my belief about how the words of the biblical writers were originally written down in an accurate fashion. With this, there is no quarrel. Instead, the crux of the average Mormon’s problem involves the integrity of the Bible, or, as Dr. Douglas Groothuis puts it, the “preservation of the document’s original form over time that was written down by the Bible writers.” This is what is called “transmission” of the biblical text. The question is, can we trust the process of transmitting the text from the pen of the original author to what we have today? Based on our experience, the average Mormon doesn’t think so.
McGuire writes, “Speaking as a ‘knowledgeable Mormon who has studied the methods of translating languages,’ I respectfully disagree. The Articles of Faith were written by the Prophet Joseph Smith, who was not interested in the transmission at all, but rather in the translation. He studied Hebrew and Greek in an attempt to come closer to the original language of the Bible. When we do this, we become aware of some startling problems with the translation of the New Testament.”
Does McGuire also want us to believe that Smith attempted to utilize the original languages to the best of his ability when Smith: a) “translated” the Book of Mormon (he was supposedly given the translation word for word not by reading the plates but by looking at the seer stone in his hat); b) “translated” the Book of Abraham (he didn’t know Egyptian hieroglyphics, something that was proven when the original papyri were rediscovered in the Metropolitan Museum in 1967); c) made corrections to the Bible in the 1830s when he produced the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible—without use of the ancient manuscripts?
All this aside, McGuire clearly shows that he has problems with the Bible’s transmission and not the translation. He writes: “McKeever and Johnson earlier stated that ‘Translation means to take words from one language and put them into the words of another.’ This is an oversimplification that, even given the target audience of the book does not do justice to the subject. At the very least, some concern should have been given to the idea that translation also means to preserve, as closely as possible the intent of the author.
According to the first definition of the 14th century word “translation” in the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary, it means “a rendering from one language into another.” However, I cannot find any definition close to his meaning of translation “to preserve, as closely as possible the intent of the author.” Perhaps McGuire would like to consider a dictionary contemporary with Joseph Smith. The following is under the word “translation” as found in the 1828 Webster Dictionary, which would have been available to Smith when he produced the Articles of Faith:
TRANSLA’TION, n. [L. translatio.]
- The act of removing or conveying from one place to another; removal; as the translation of a disease from the foot to the breast.
- The removal of a bishop from one see to another.
- The removal of a person to heaven without subjecting him to death.
- The act of turning into another language; interpretation; as the translation of Virgil or Homer.
- That which is produced by turning into another language; a version. We have a good translation of the Scriptures.
I find nothing close to the meaning McGuire gives “translation.” Of course, good “translation” work includes translating the words as closely as possible from one language to another. However, “preservation” is more closely aligned with the idea of “transmission.” In fact, “transmit” (the shortened form of “transmission”) is defined by Miriam-Webster Dictionary as “to send or convey from one person or place to another,” which is the determination of how the original text is communicated to humankind today.
Mormon scholars Kent Jackson and Robert Millet seem to share our viewpoint rather than McGuire’s. They write:
When we read in the eighth Article of Faith, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God,” we are given to understand that the latter work, though containing “the mistakes of men,” is still translated more correctly than the Bible. Well, why translate the Bible at all? Can’t we study Hebrew and Greek and read it in the original? We can, but again that is not the point, which is that it is not only the English Bible which has not been translated correctly, but that the ancient texts also have suffered in transmission. When Joseph Smith announced in the King Follett Discourse that “some old Jew without any authority” had altered the first verse of Genesis, he served notice that that verse as it stands cannot be translated correctly no matter how well one knows Hebrew.
Jackson also writes that Smith “said that he believed in the Bible ‘as it came from the pen of the original writers,’ or ‘as far as it is translated correctly’ (Article of Faith 8), with ‘translated’ seemingly referring to the entire process of transmission from the original manuscripts to modern-language translations.”
According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, “Joseph Smith often used the words ‘translated’ and ‘translation,’ not in the narrow sense alone of rendering a text from one language into another, but in the wider senses of ‘transmission,’ having reference to copying, editing, adding to, taking from, rephrasing, and interpreting. This is substantially beyond the usual meaning of ‘translation.’ When he said the Bible was not translated correctly, he not only was referring to the difficulties of rendering the Bible into another language but he was also observing that the manuscripts containing the text of the Bible have suffered at the hands of editors, copyists, and revisionists through centuries of transmission. Thus, the available texts of the Bible are neither as complete nor as accurate as when first written.”
A book written by BYU scholars Monte Nyman and Robert Millet says this: “The major problem, it appears, is not one of translation but of transmission…. Did the Bible prophets—Moses, Enoch, Abraham, Paul, Matthew, John, and others—not know the gospel as clearly as the Book of Mormon prophets, or is it that the records of the Bible prophets have not been preserved in complete clarity and accuracy?”
Apostle Neil Maxwell agrees that the problem that Mormons have with the Bible is derived more from the “transmission” process rather than the “translation” process. He said, “Furthermore these ‘other books,’ particularly the Book of Mormon, ‘make known… plain and precious’ truths some of which do not appear as fully in the Bible. Some truths were, long ago, ‘kept back’ from the later translation process through which we received the Holy Bible. (See 1 Nephi 13:32, 34, 40.) As Robert Matthews has said, it is more a deficiency of transmission than of translation.”
We believe that our chapter on the Bible very clearly showed how, while certain translations can admittedly be faulty and there can therefore be bad translations, the general problem that the average Mormon has with the Bible is with the transmission process. Even the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, LDS scholars, and an apostle of the Mormon Church all agree with this distinction. McGuire needs to see that our section on the differences between translation and transmission is agreed upon by important LDS figures.
Criticizing Textual Criticism
A definition of biblical textual criticism is the aim “to trace the history of a given biblical reading, passage or book by analyzing all manuscripts and ancient translations (or versions) to ascertain the most likely original readings. Because it requires judgments about the earliest forms of the texts, the analysis must be done in the original languages.”
While McGuire gives lip service to this important science, elsewhere he is a critic. He writes about half-way through his rebuttal: “Let us ask ourselves – if God is continuing to reveal his will and word to men, either to individuals or to prophets through the Holy Spirit, which would you prefer? The knowledge of scholars who cannot guarantee truth, or the witness from God? And, which is more reasonable? The fact that God allowed His word to be corrupted, and then intended to reveal the truth of His word, over several hundred years of textual criticism in an effort to identify original truth? Yet, textual criticism is still a discipline which is often controversial and unreliable in its ability to an original text. The alternative is that it was God’s intention that we study the scriptures and go to Him to gain a witness through His Spirit of the truth. While the LDS Church has never denied the importance of text critical tools and language studies to more correctly understand the text, they also state firmly that only revelation from God can give us confidence in His Word and in any interpretation of it.”
Notice how he says that his church has “never denied the importance of text critical tools and language studies.” Never? Consider this statement from the First President given in 1992: “The most reliable way to measure the accuracy of any biblical passage is not by comparing different texts, but by comparison with the Book of Mormon and modern-day revelations”
When it comes right down to it, McGuire believes that personal revelation takes precedence. Notice how he answers our question regarding James 1:5 toward the end of his rebuttal:
“How do we know if James 1:5, the verse that Joseph Smith used to draw him to the ‘Sacred Grove,’ was indeed correct? For that matter, how can anyone trust other proof texts used to support Mormonism?… The answer is clear. As Orson Pratt put it, The Bible and Tradition, Without Further Revelation, an Insufficient Guide. Revelation, whether personal revelation from God, or through a prophet called by God is capable of answering that question. Without the Holy Spirit, we are left to rely on the strengths and weaknesses of men, working with textual criticism to produce something as close to the original text as possible.”
He says “the answer is clear,” but just what is being said? It appears his line of logic goes like this:
1) James 1:5 told Joseph Smith to pray about truth
2) The Holy Spirit personally confirmed this truth in Smith’s life
3) Therefore, James 1:5 is true.
We can take this a step further and apply it to the individual:
1) James 1:5 tells me to pray about truth
2) The Holy Spirit personally confirmed this truth in my life (via warm feelings, also known as burning in the bosom”)
3) Therefore, James 1:5 is true
As far as the last sequence goes, we would disagree with both premises. Premise 1 is a misinterpretation of James’ words. Despite any good feelings a person may have about praying about the Book of Mormon or the LDS Church, premise 2 cannot be true because the Holy Spirit deals only with truth. This negates the conclusion.
This faulty logic could then be used by a Mormon to show times when the Bible cannot be trusted:
1) Acts 7:59 says that Stephen prayed to Jesus
2) Yet we’re not able to pray to Jesus, only to Heavenly Father (consistent with Mormon teaching)
3) Therefore, Acts 7:59 must have been mistranslated.
While premise 1 is true, premise 2 is not true because it does not follow a logical sequence. Just because you don’t agree with something does not mean it is not true. It is the classic case of begging the question, also known as circular reasoning. It’s the same as saying that something is true because you know it is true. Or, you know something is false because you know it is false. Using your presuppositions to determine truth can be very tricky and even dangerous because personal feelings can deceive. Whether the average Mormon gets his or her feelings from studying the church’s teaching or from personal feelings, one thing is for sure: textual criticism ends up taking a back seat in the entire process of biblical interpretation.
Yet the question is, how do we determine what is inspired revelation from God and what is not? If personal feelings apply, then what happens when my feelings contradict yours? I may not like what a particular text says, but for me to deny its truthfulness merely based on like or dislike is Post-Modernism at its pinnacle. Interestingly enough, McGuire spends the next paragraph criticizing the Bible for such things as shorter versus longer versions of Jeremiah (as discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls) and the Johanine Comma, among other issues.
Let’s get something straight. This is what is called a Red Herring, a logical fallacy that emphasizes throwing out plenty of tangents to get off the real issue. On the one hand, McGuire is trying to say that Latter-day Saints have a high view of the Bible. Then he turns around and says it cannot be fully trusted because of these “problems.” McGuire appears to want it both ways. It is typical with many Mormons. Referring to early Christian Church Father Irenaeus, Christian author Tony Lane writes about how he personally dealt with a couple of modern-day “Gnostics”: “This writer (Lane)…first tried to answer them from the New Testament but this did not work. They, like their second-century forbears, did not accept what they called ‘your Scriptures’. As Irenaeus himself put it, ‘when they are refuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct or authoritative’.”
Suppose the issues raised by McGuire really do keep him from accepting the veracity of the Bible. Allow me to give short answers, then. As far as the “obvious differences” in Isaiah, this issue has been adequately answered in numerous scholarly writing by a number of evangelicals. Since Isaiah 40-66 (known as “Deutero Isaiah”) contain such amazing prophecies such as the foretelling of how Cyrus would be raised up as king to punish Israel (Is. 45:1), liberal critics have claimed that such prophecies are not quite so amazing if the writing took place after the fact. These critics who do not hold to the supernatural have therefore tried to turn Isaiah into a book written by different people at different times.
This naturalistic tendency is based more on presupposition rather than fact. For instance, differences between the two sections of Isaiah are not as great as the liberals claim. Consider the fact that the name “the Holy One of Israel” is used twelve times in Isaiah 1-39 and fourteen times in chapters 40-66. Yet the other Old Testament books only use this phrase six times. There are also a number of verses that bear striking resemblance, and there are “at least 25 Hebrew words or forms found in Isaiah that occur in no other prophetic writing.”
When Jesus unrolled the scroll of Isaiah 61 in Luke 4:17-19, Luke clearly states that this was “the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.” This is consistent with other Gospel accounts. As far as the Dead Sea Scrolls and Isaiah is concerned, Dr. Norman Geisler writes: “The Dead Sea Scrolls include the earliest complete copy of the book of Isaiah, and there is no gap in the scroll between chapters 39 and 40. This indicates that the Qumran community accepted the prophecy of Isaiah as a seamless book in the second century B.C. The Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, which dates from the second century B.C., treats the book of Isaiah as a single book by a single author, Isaiah the prophet.”
Referring to passages such as Isaiah 7:14 (virgin birth) and the Suffering Servant chapter of Isaiah 53, Geisler adds this coup de grace: “Even if the critic could show that part or all of Isaiah was written in the fifth century or later, it would not disprove the supernatural nature of the predications about Christ. Those were fulfilled centuries later than even the latest possible date for its appearance.”
Charles Pfeiffer adds this: “The Isaiah scrolls were the first Biblical texts found, and the first to receive serious study. There is no hint in either of these scrolls of a ‘deutero-‘ or ‘trito-Isaiah,’ to use the language of modern scholarship. The advocate of two or three ‘Isaiahs’ may suggest that the book was put in its present form prior to the writing of the Qumran manuscripts, but the fact remains that our oldest pre-Christian manuscripts bear witness to the text substantially as we have it in our printed Hebrew Bibles.”
Meanwhile, when McGuire makes mentions of the Johanine Comma (the insertion of a Trinitarian verse in 1 John chapter 5), McGuire fails to realize that this is the very reason why textual criticism works! Despite the inclusion of 1 John 5:7b-8a in the King James Version, many modern translations such as the New International Versions omits verses 7b-8a. Giving a translation of the Textus Receptus (the first Greek compilation of the New Testament scriptures) in a footnote, the NIV translators write this honest evaluation: “Not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteenth century.” How much more honest can a translator be? Again, let us not forget that Joseph Smith retained this questionable verse in his “Inspired” version of the Bible, proving that having “Latter-day” prophets is no guarantee of accuracy.
Retired Oxford professor Dick France writes the following on this issue: “There is, however, one major weakness the 1611 (King James Version) shares with all its predecessors—one that is no fault of its translators. The Hebrew and Greek texts available in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century were much inferior to what is available today, and at many points the words rendered by the King James’ translators are not what is now agreed to be the original text. This problem is particularly serious in the NT, for which they were dependent on the Greek text issued by Stephanus in 1550. This text, misleadingly known as the ‘Received Text’ (Textus Receptus), was based on the few Greek manuscripts then available, which were late in date and represented the Byzantine type of text that most scholars now believe to be a revision (and in some places expansion) of the original. In a few places no Greek text at all was available, and Stephanus’s text was taken from the Vulgate, translated back into Greek. The most notorious example is the Trinitarian text in 1 John 5:7 that occurs in no Greek manuscript before the fifteenth century, where it is clearly derived from the Latin. The discovery of earlier texts and the advances in textual criticism mean that there are now serious textual questions to be set against the undoubted literary qualities of the KJV.”
Other significant passages where there is not sufficient textual support are Mark 16:9ff (NIV:“the most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20”) and John 7:53-8:11 (NIV:“the earliest and most reliable manuscripts and other ancient witnesses do not have John 7:53-8:11”). Interestingly enough, Joseph Smith’s “Inspired Version” leaves Mark 16:9ff and John 7:53-8:11 intact! It would seem that one of the first things Smith should have done was to eliminate these questionable passages from his version of the Bible, including the troublesome Johanine Comma brought up by McGuire.
With that said, something very important needs to be addressed. After all, if the Bible translators today wanted to create less trouble for themselves, then why not cast a blind eye to these discrepancies? To the contrary, biblical textual critics go through extreme trouble in order to be honest with the text. Truly the goal of textual critics is to accumulate the evidence and let this speak for itself. Hiding a passage such as the Johanine Comma, while tempting because it clearly confirms a fundamental Christian truth—the Trinity—is just not honest.
We have been provided a wealth of information when it comes to textual criticism, especially when the New Testament is concerned. Consider these additional words of Dick France: “There are complete Greek texts of the NT from the fourth century, and many earlier papyri of parts of it have survived, some from as early as the middle of the second century. In all, we have over 5,000 Greek manuscripts of the NT, though the majority of these are later and of lesser value. There is also a wide variety of manuscript evidence for the early versions in Latin, Syriac, and Coptic, as well as numerous citations from the NT books by early Christian writers whose works are preserved. The NT is thus vastly better attested than any other ancient literature. The works of Tacitus, by contrast, survive in only two incomplete manuscripts written many centuries after his time, between them covering only about half of what he is known to have written.”
Christian author Ron Rhodes lists some of the incredible statistics of the manuscript support for the Bible, including: “There are more than 24,000 partial and complete manuscript copies of the New Testament….There are also some 86,000 quotations from the early church fathers and several thousand Lectionaries (church-service books containing Scripture quotations used in the early centuries of Christianity)….The Dead Sea Scrolls prove the accuracy of the transmission of the (Old Testament). In fact, in those scrolls discovered at Qumran in 1947, we have Old Testament manuscripts that date about a thousand years earlier (150 B.C.) than the other Old Testament manuscripts then in our possession (which dated to A.D. 900). The significant thing is that when one compares the two sets of manuscripts, it is clear that they are essentially the same, with very few changes. The fact that manuscripts separated by a thousand years are essentially the same indicates the incredible accuracy of the Old Testament’s manuscript transmission.”
As far as the reliability of the Greek and Hebrew manuscripts that we have today, biblical scholar Bruce Metzger said this in an interview: “The earlier copies are generally closer to the wording of the originals. The translators of the 1611 King James Bible, for instance, used Greek and Hebrew manuscripts from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Today Bible translators have access to Greek manuscripts from the third and fourth centuries and Hebrew manuscripts from the era of Jesus. We even have the Ryland’s Papyrus, just a torn page with a few verses from John 18, that we can date between A.D. 100 and 150. So today we have access to a text of the Old and New Testaments that is more basic, more fundamental, less open to charges of scribal error or change.”
Responding to a question about most surviving New Testament manuscripts hailing from a century or two after the originals were written, Metzger said: “By contrast, our copies of other ancient writings, like those of Virgil or Homer, are often many hundreds of years later than their originals. In some of those writings, we have only one copy! The New Testament, on the other hand, has many copies. No key doctrine of the Christian faith has been invalidated by textual uncertainty. On the other hand, some passages have been affected. For example, take Mark 9:29. Jesus is explaining how he was able to cast out a demon, and in the earliest manuscripts, he is quoted as saying, ‘This kind can come out only by prayer.’ In the Greek manuscripts the KJV translators used, the two words ‘and fasting’ are tacked on. I do not think that is an earth-shaking difference, but it is typical of the kind of changes we are talking about.”
The efficacy of the biblical text that we possess today is trustworthy indeed!
Problems with Specific Passages
Many layMormons like to refer to less complicated errors, which they may call “contradictions.” These apparent contradictions are usually quite minor in nature. Consider an alleged error in 2 Kings 8:2 (which says King Ahaziah was 22 years old) with 2 Chronicles 22:2 (42 years old). Dr. Geisler points out that the latter verse was obviously a copyist error and “does not alter the inerrancy of the original.” Geisler then writes these very good points:
“First, these are errors in the copies, not the originals. Second, they are minor errors (often in names or numbers) which do not affect any teaching. Third, these copyist errors are relatively few in number. Fourth, usually by the context, or by another Scripture, we know which is in error. For example, Ahaziah must have been twenty-two. Finally, though there is a copyist error, the entire message comes through. For example, if you received a letter with the following statement, would you assume you could collect some money? ‘OU HAVE WON $10 MILLION.’ Even though there is a mistake in the first word, the entire message comes through—you are ten million dollars richer! And if you received another letter the next day that read like this, you would be even more sure: ‘YU HAVE WON $10 MILLION.’ The more mistakes of this kind there are (each in a different place), the more sure you are of the original message. This is why scribal mistakes in the biblical manuscripts do not affect the basic message of the Bible—and why studies of the ancient manuscripts are so important. A Christian can read a modern translation with confidence that it conveys the complete truth of the original Word of God.”
Using a text from 1 Corinthians 7 to make his point, McGuire compares the King James Version with the New International Version, which have different nuances in the first two verses. He writes:
“The following are two separate translations of the text as found in popular translations of the Bible. The KJV, and those Bibles which follow the more traditional reading, use the first line of text as an introduction, and then have Paul raising the subject of discussion:
KJV 1 Cor. 7:1-2 (also NIV) Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
In other words, as a response to the things which the Corinthians wrote to Paul, his response is “It is good for a man ….” It thus puts the concept of a man not touching a woman into the mouth of Paul. Other translations move the first line of text into the introduction, as the words of the Corinthians to Paul, as in the following text (REB also NRSV):
Now for the matters you wrote about. You say, “It is a good thing for a man not to have intercourse with a woman.” Rather, in the face of so much immorality, let each man have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
In other words, the Corinthians asked Paul if it was good for a man not to touch a woman. And Paul responds negatively. Two completely different interpretations, both being absolutely correct translations syntactically from the exact same passage in Greek.”
If a person wants to understand the scripture as best as it possibly can be done, the original languages can be learned. However, as in anything else, there can be different ways to translate the words. McGuire proves no point here because he is talking about an interpretation problem, not a “translation” problem. As far as 1 Corinthians 7:1-2, how did Joseph Smith translate this passage in his “Inspired Version” of the Bible? In fact, Smith “translates” it just as the King James translators did, with the exception of two added words in verse 2 (“I say” after the word “Nevertheless“). Is this evidence good enough for McGuire? So why the problem?
The problem is this. McGuire and many other Mormons want to use the Bible but have an “out” whenever this scripture contradicts LDS doctrine. As we ask in our chapter, why does the prophet not ask God for a more correct version? McGuire responds to our question,
“First, we have the issue of why the LDS Prophet does not provide us with a complete and perfect text for the Bible. The answer to this is simple. If God wanted us to have a perfect text, then He would provide it to us in whatever fashion He deemed appropriate. However, we have to ask – why didn’t God manage to keep His word in the Bible perfect for the last 2000 years? And, why would He choose to provide us with a perfect text now, after so many of His children have had to deal with it in an imperfect form? The answer lies within the nature of the text itself. LDS doctrine is that we rely on the Spirit and revelation to confirm truth for us. This means that we do not have to rely on scholars, on textual criticism, or on the fruitless search for the original autographs of the scriptures.”
To say “we rely on the Spirit and revelation to confirm truth for us” is a complete cop out. Our call to McGuire and his Mormon leaders is to quit playing games with the Bible. If your church is going to give it away to the general public, then you should stand behind it. (Can you imagine the missionaries saying, “We’d like to give you this King James Bible as a gift from our church. Just be careful, though, because there are some parts with ‘plain and precious truths’ missing from it!”)
We ask why the Mormons don’t officially recognize Joseph Smith’s “Inspired Version.” (It is getting much more use in official publications during the past few years.) Although some may claim that it wasn’t finished, Joseph Smith claimed he finished it in July of 1833. If Smith really didn’t finish this work, then one has to wonder why: a) he didn’t work on this project and finish it during the next decade of his life; b) after 1833, you never hear anything more about the Inspired Version’s incompleteness until recent years.
Also, if Smith did not finish it, wouldn’t this be a fairly important task that the current prophet and his fellow leaders ought to complete? After all, these are supposed to be men of God who provide current revelation. And which is more accurate, the KJV or the Inspired Version? Didn’t the Inspired Version contain corrections from some of the “errors” from the KJV? If the Inspired Version is at least an improvement over the LDS Church’s official Bible (KJV), then why not adopt the Inspired Version as official? These questions will not go away.
One other thing. McGuire complains toward the end of his review: “The authors then make a claim with no attempt to document them, and to which I take exception: ‘Some Mormons believe that the King James Version was a translation of another Bible translation.’ This is not true – the LDS Church in its official publications has detailed the translation of the KJV. The most in depth treatment was a series of articles in the Ensign titled How the Bible Came to Be, published over the course of the year 1982. If there are members of the LDS Church who believe this, it is not the general perception of the LDS Church.”
I’m sorry that he took exception with our statement, but he needs to read this section again. We weren’t saying that he or even a majority of Latter-day Saints believe that the Bible is a translation of a translation. However, notice how we said “some.” Has McGuire spoken to more than several thousand different Mormons? With those whom he has spoken, has he asked them about their version of how we got the Bible? I would encourage him to do so, for I have personally asked dozens of Mormons about this very issue. I am not kidding when more than half of all Mormons with whom I’ve spoken use such phrases as “from Latin into English” and “Middle Age corruption.” In fact, if we were to ask this question at my church and at his ward, I bet the results would be the same. For some reason (why, I can’t figure out!), the issue of how the Bible was transmitted and the science of textual criticism does not seem to be a common topic of conversation at church meetings, whether Mormon or Christian, and so there remains great confusion about the history of the Bible.
Consider the words of Christian scholar Douglas Groothuis’:“Documents from antiquity are sometimes condemned for being ancient. Something several thousand years old could not have been preserved with integrity. Too many omissions, additions, and distortions would have crept in. In addition, many worry that ancient records—especially the New Testament—have been translated from one language to another to another, so that their original meaning has been lost….It is false that modern translations of the Gospels have been corrupted by being translated from language to language—say from Greek to Latin to German to English. Translators of modern English editions consult primarily ancient Greek manuscripts.”
As Groothuis points out, many misunderstand the process of how we have received the Bible. But the point that we were making in the book was that “some” Mormons misunderstand the process of how we received the text. We were not trying to make fun of the Latter-day Saint people (especially since many Christians also confuse the issue) or personally insult McGuire.
The Authority of the Bible in Mormonism
At the beginning of a section titled “The Mormon Conspiracy and the Bible,” McGuire writes: “Here we see that they intend to show by the citations from early and current LDS leaders that the LDS faith is critical of the Bible. However, what they are not going to show are the statements which are consistently used throughout the body of LDS literature that paint a positive picture of the Bible and its place within the LDS Church. The real evidence indicates that the LDS Church’s study of the Bible as sacred scripture is neither limited in scope nor is it of recent origin.”
What he seems to say here—and he appears to be quite serious—is that while quotes from certain LDS leaders can be found that are critical of the Bible, other quotes complimenting the Bible were left out of our book. Before I am criticized by McGuire or anyone else of making this up, I suggest you go back and read the paragraph again. (It’s basically what McGuire says in the section on “methodology.”)
Let’s get serious here. I can find a number of quotes from LDS leaders who mock the historicity or accuracy of the Bible, which Bible-believing Christians hold sacred as the Word of God. But, in order to be fair, should we really have shown how Mormon leaders “paint a positive picture of the Bible and its place within the LDS Church”? Does this sound like double-speak? The very foundation of the Mormon Church is based on the apostasy and the loss of priesthood authority. The Bible could not be trusted, these leaders said, because it was not completely reliable. It took Joseph Smith and the founding of the LDS Church in 1830 to restore this authority. Even the very book “translated” by Smith and published in 1830—the Book of Mormon—has a verse in it that states that only fools trust in the Bible alone.
McGuire points to the high school seminary program that LDS teens take, including two years of Bible study. This is very admirable, and many Christian churches could benefit from observing how the Mormon Church teaches its teens. (He later rightly points out how a Barna survey from 2001 revealed that more Mormons than Protestants read the Bible in a typical week. Unfortunately, it is true that many Protestants are clueless when it comes to the importance of staying in God’s Word!)
However, many other religions besides those in Christianity emphasize and even study the Bible. For instance, Muslims are known to be readers of the Bible. They agree with it when it is in line with the Koran and the Islamic presuppositions. But when the Bible contradicts either one of these ideas, the Muslim claims that the Bible is corrupt and cannot be trusted. A Muslim, like a Mormon, has to say that the Bible must be mistranslated or, as we learned above, mishandled in the transmission process. Yet if the Bible is misinterpreted by a person, then the interpretation is not valid, not the book itself. As 2 Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
McGuire then points out that the following: “In 1979, the Church produced its own King James Bible, complete with a set of footnotes and cross references, as well as translational notes and study helps. Prior to this publication, the Church purchased most of its King James Bibles from Cambridge University Press. Does this sound like an organization that is using the Bible merely as a public relations gimmick? If so, millions of members were never told. The Church and its members have a deep love and appreciation for the Word of God as found in the Bible.”
This is all well and good, but as I mentioned above, there have been too many times when I have quoted a particular Bible passage only to be told by the Mormon that it must not be “translated properly.” By using the Bible, the LDS Church is able to retain a claim to legitimacy. It makes Mormonism sound “Christian.” But not telling potential converts that their other three scriptures are more pure than the Bible is just not ethical. For McGuire to try to make it look like the LDS Church should be commended for producing its own Bible—with LDS Church notes, even!—while casting doubt on the trustworthiness of the very biblical text handed down (i.e. bringing up two versions of Isaiah or the Johanine Comma) is disingenuous at best and, at worst, deceptive.
McGuire tries to quibble when he writes, “…over the course of the next two years, every member of the Church is asked to read and study the entire text of the Bible as part of the Church’s Sunday School curriculum. Asked by whom? By the leaders of the LDS Church.” We did not say that Mormons don’t use or ever study their Bibles. I have no problem in saying that I believe many Mormons have a high respect for the Bible and even study it for truth on a regular basis, such as in the seminary classes. This is not the issue. Rather, based on the amazing evidence we have in the veracity of the biblical text, the question is whether or not the Bible—the one we have today—can be trusted. Does the Mormon consider the Bible to be fully authoritative, especially when it contracts the other three LDS scriptures? My experience shows that the answer is no.
Since the transmissional evidence strongly shows that what we possess of the Bible is, for the vast majority of the text, the same as what was given to the original authors, why is there a need for Article 8? Either Smith, Pratt, and numerous other LDS leaders who have been critical of the Bible’s transmission process are correct, or the other leaders who have said nice things about the Bible are correct. According to the law of non-contradiction, however, you cannot have it both ways.
Before giving his conclusion, McGuire ends his regular rebuttal with this paragraph: “I find it ironic that the most significant changes to the Book of Mormon text are attached to the footnotes. It is true that there have been many changes. Anyone who picks up a facsimile copy of the first edition of the Book of Mormon will notice them. However, anyone who actually reads through them will also realize how most of them reflect a hundred and fifty years of changes to the language. And while we could discuss each of the changes, this is neither the time nor the place. The issue here is the Bible, and LDS doctrine regarding the Bible.”
While he finds it ironic, I find it fascinating that he gives the Book of Mormon such leeway. Does he really believe that a verse such as 2 Nephi 30:6 (“And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people”) was not made for a political reason? In the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon, the word “white” was replaced with “pure” since blacks were given the opportunity to possess the priesthood since 1978.
McGuire then gives his conclusion by making four points:
“1. First, the statements regarding the accuracy of the biblical text, from the LDS leaders are identical in content, if perhaps a bit bolder in their expression to those statements which we find representative of the majority of Christendom. McKeever and Johnson, the authors of Mormonism 101 endorse the Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy. The difference between the two is not in our rejection of the accuracy of the biblical text, but rather our rejection of the ability for secular scholarship to produce the original inspired text.”
As this rejoinder has shown, McGuire wants to have his cake and eat it too. He apparently will accept the accuracy of the biblical text as long as it agrees with his personal revelation. Those “translations” that do not conform to his revelation is rejected. In essence, every Mormon becomes his own Bible judge and scholar.
“Second, I find that the Christian perspective as introduced by our authors is very similar to the LDS perspective. We both call the Bible Holy Scripture, and use it for the same purposes. We differ in our interpretation of the text, but, that is not surprising.”
As Pratt and other LDS leaders have shown, the Bible cannot be fully trusted. He holds that there was corruption from the time of the biblical writers until today. Evangelical Christians, on the other hand, hold to the idea that the Bible we have is, for all intents and purposes, 99 44/100ths pure. Any discrepancies (after comparing the numerous manuscripts) do not alter any fundamental teaching of the Christian church.
“Third, I find that contrary to assertions made in Mormonism 101, Latter-day Saints are perhaps more interested in translation than in transmission of the text, especially in the formative years of the LDS Church. LDS doctrines and interpretations can be taken from the text, however, in many places, theologically motivated translations pre-suppose an interpretation. We hold the KJV in greater esteem than the other translations – not on a quality of translation basis, but because it was so important in the formation of the Church. This does not prevent LDS members and leaders from using other translations from time to time as specific needs dictate. However, as I hope was clear, there are significant translation issues with the text, and these issues can not be solved merely by an appeal to scholarship.”
If, as we have discussed, the LDS prophet and the other general authorities have the same office as the prophets and apostles of old, then why should they not help us ascertain the discrepancies of the Bible? And why not use the Joseph Smith Translation or, at the very least, “finish” it? Could it be that any changes without any textual evidence and with nothing more than “prophetical” insight would be a magnet of criticism from the scholarly world at large? Truly there is no reason to “correct” the Bible because Mormons can continue to utilize Article 8 and enjoy a proverbial Bible buffet, picking and choosing whatever their hearts desire. But remember, Jeremiah 17:9 says that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
“Finally, we aver that the Spirit of God is an objective source of truth, and that on this truth we can affirm the scriptures, the doctrines they contain, and the modern day revelation given from God through His prophets – both modern and ancient.”
How can personal revelation be “an objective source of truth”? The contradictions so pervasive among LDS leaders alone make this statement nonsensical. As it can be seen, McGuire’s arguments against our position are comprised of feelings rather than facts. Despite what McGuire may say, Mormonism’s leaders have not been friendly to the authority of God’s Word, the Holy Bible.
For other rejoinders to the rebuttals of Mormonism 201, click here.
Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics ( Baker, 1999).
Under the section “Standard Works” in Mormon Doctrine (Bookcraft, 1966).
In order to make this review easier to read, all original quotes from the Mormonism 201 rebuttal are boldfaced and italicized to separate these from the rest of the rejoinder.
For instance: B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, Vol.2, p.266; James E. Talmage,Articles of Faith, p.251, Footnotes; p.392, Footnotes; p.496 Footnotes, p.503 – 504 Footnotes; p.509 – 510, Footnotes; B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.3, p.254; and Joseph Fielding Smith,Church History and Modern Revelation, Vol 1, p.22.
Bruce McConkie, Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie, p.289
McGuire conveniently fails to quote from the rest of the words found in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 327: “Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.”
Aeropagus Journal, Vol. 3 No. 3, May-June 2003, p. 12.
Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 2: The Pearl of Great Price [Salt Lake City: Randall Book, 1985], 201 – 203.
(Kent P. Jackson, From Apostasy to Restoration [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1996], 5 – 6.)
Article titled “Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.”
The Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Things, edited by Monte S. Nyman and Robert L. Millet (Bookcraft, 1985), pp.285–286
But for a Small Moment (Bookcraft, 1986), pp. 23-24.
Presidents Benson, Hinckley, and Monson, dated May 22, 1992, Printed in the Church News, June 20, 1992, page 3.
Harper’s Concise Book of Christian Faith (Harper and Row Publisher, 1984). Of course, I am not claiming that Mormons are true Gnostics! In fact, the Bible (as far as it is “translated” correctly) is accepted in Mormonism as one of four scriptures. However, in reality, trying to use the Bible to show Mormons how LDS doctrine contradicts God’s Word can sometimes be just as difficult as bringing out a Bible in conversation with the atheist. Too often “corrupt transcribers” or “contradictions” are smokescreen phrases that prevent many Mormons from being troubled by the fact that the Bible and Mormon teaching are incompatible.
Compare 1:2 with 66:24; 1:5-6 with 53:4-5; 5:27 with 40:30; 6:1 with 52:13 and 57:15; 6:11-12 with 62:4; 11:1 with 53:2; 11:6-9 with 65:25; 11:12 with 49:22; 35:10 with 51:11.
NIV Study Bible, Introduction.
For example, Isaiah 40:3 as mentioned in Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:2-3; John 1:23; Isaiah 42:1-4 as mentioned in Matthew 12:17-21; Isaiah 52:1-4 as mentioned in Matthew 12:17-21; and Isaiah 53:1 as mentioned in Romans 10:16.
Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics (Baker, 1999), p. 368.
The Dead Sea Scrolls And The Bible (Baker, 1981), p. 112.
The Challenge of Bible Translation, edited by Glen Scorgie, Mark Strauss, and Steven Voth (Zondervan, 2003), pp. 183-184.
Biblical scholar Bruce Metzger says that he considers this passage, though not written by Mark himself, to be a “fifth evangelical witness to the resurrection of Jesus.” (Christian History magazine, Issue 43, p. 40)
The Challenge of Bible Translation, edited by Glen Scorgie, Mark Strauss, and Steven Voth (Zondervan, 2003), p. 179.
Christian History, Issue 43, p. 38.
Ibid, pp. 39.
Baker Encyclopedia of Apologetics, p. 79.
History of the Church 1:368
Areopagus Journal, Vol. 3, No. 3, May-June 2003, p. 12.
Instead of spending any more time on this issue, allow me to provide some books that can be read for further information about how and why we can trust the Bible we possess:
F.F. Bruce, Are the New Testament Documents Reliable, Eerdmans, 2003
F.F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, IVP, 1988
F.F. Bruce, History of the Bible in English, Lutterworth Press, September 2002
Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels, IVP, 1987
William LaSor, David Hubbard, Frederic Bush, Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament, Eerdmans, 1982.
Norman Geisler, ed. Inerrancy, Zondervan, 1980
2 Nephi 29:6.
See chapter 16 in Mormonism 101. For more information on the changes in the Book of Mormon, including the idea that these changes were not all grammatical, seehttp://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/3913intro.htm