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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ

“The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ”
By Connie Raddon

The October 2011 Ensign magazine is dedicated entirely to the Book of Mormon.  One article is called, “The Book of Mormon: A Witness with the Bible”

I will test the Book of Mormon as a “witness”, as this article claims that it is.  The introduction to the Book of Mormon begins, “The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible.”

In this article, I am going to take a look at the evidence for both the Bible and the Book of Mormon being witnesses of Christ.  Like in a courtroom, we will place them both on the stand and examine their evidence.  You are the judge.

Color Code:
Book of Mormon statements in blue
Bible statements in red

Questioner:  If you claim to be a witness of Christ, you must be accurate.  What proof do you have that you have been copied accurately?

Bible: My Old Testament can be compared to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date back nearly to the time of Christ.  They contain the entire Old Testament with the exception of the Book of Esther.  Over 98% of today’s Bible is consistent with the Dead Sea Scrolls.  The inconsistencies are very insignificant, and don’t change words or meanings. 

My New Testament has more written manuscripts, earlier manuscripts, and more accurately copied manuscripts than any other book in the ancient world.  Since early forms of paper are not very durable, there are no complete individual copies of my entire New or Old Testaments, yet there are over 5,500 fragments that have survived and contain the totality of the New Testament. (The second book in the running is Homer’s Iliad, having 643 copies within 500 years of the original.)  If an error took place in copying one of those manuscripts, it would stand out like a sore thumb among all the other manuscripts. 

Book of Mormon: Unfortunately, there are no original manuscripts.  The plates that I was translated from are back in heaven.  The first publication was in 1830.  Since then there have been over 3,000 changes.  Only a few change the meaning of the text significantly. 

(The Book of Mormon was published in 1830. However in the next printing, in 1837, thousands of words were changed. While most of these changes were to correct spelling or grammar, a few definitely affected the meaning of the text.
In four places the phrase "the son of" was added to verses speaking of God.   For instance, on page 25 of the first edition is a prophecy of the coming Messiah: "the virgin which thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh." This was changed in 1837 to read, "... Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God" (1 Nephi 11:18), thus altering the concept of God from Modalism to a more traditional Trinitarian view.)
(Additional changes have been made since Smith's death. In 1981 a change was made to obscure the racial teachings in the Book of Mormon. In the Book of Mormon story the Israelites who came to the Americas divided into Nephites (the followers of God) and Lamanites (those in rebellion against God). The Lamanites were given a "skin of blackness" due to their rebellion,  but in 2 Nephi 30:6 they were promised that at some future time, when they repented, they would become "a white and delightsome people." This verse was changed in 1981 to read: "a pure and delightsome people."   However, the book still retains its racial position of dark skin as a mark of God's displeasure.)

Questioner:  If you claim to be a witness of Christ, your stories must be true.  Can you prove the geography of your stories?

Bible: Yes!  Today you can visit cities and rivers that existed when I was written.  For example, the Jordan River, Sea of Galilee, Dead Sea, Jerusalem, Jericho, and Bethlehem are all still in the same place.  Just look at all the maps in the back of any Bible.  I can show you exactly where the Land of Canaan was, where Jesus was born, lived, and died, and where Paul and the other apostles travelled. 

Book of Mormon: The LDS Church takes no official position on the geography of the Book of Mormon.

(I would like to point out that the general membership of the Church believes the Book of Mormon stories took place in Central America.  Many paintings, illustrations, and films produced by the LDS Church  show scenes from the Book of Mormon with Mayan temples, clothing, and artifacts that give the impression of the scene taking place in Central America.)

Questioner:  If you claim to be a witness of Christ, the people you speak of must have existed.  What proof do you have that you have they did actually live?

Bible: Many of my people still exist today – the Jews, Egyptians, Romans, Greeks.  There is much archeological evidence, as well as the written records left from these Empires. 

Book of Mormon: God promised that the Jaredites would become the greatest nation on earth.   Ether 1:43 “And there will I bless thee and thy seed, and raise up unto me of thy seed, and of the seed of thy brother, and they who shall go with thee, a great nation.  And there shall be none greater than the nation which I will raise up unto me of thy seed, upon all the face of the earth.”

(This verse is God speaking to Jared and his brother [Hebrew descendents], promising to send them to a promised land, which is the Americas.)

(In Ether chapter 15, the Jaredite nation is utterly destroyed – one a man named Coriantumr remains.  So the Jaredites did NOT become the greatest nation on earth)

Questioner: The DNA evidence proves that the American Indians are actually from Asian descent, and NOT Hebrew like you claim. 

Book of Mormon: You shouldn’t worry about those scientific or historical facts.  Just read my pages and pray to know if I’m true.  If you get a good feeling from the Holy Ghost, then you will know that I am true. 

Moroni 10:4-5 “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.”

Questioner:  Tell me about the plants and animals that are recorded on your pages.

Bible: There is reference to lions, sheep, cows, doves, donkeys, and whales.  As for plants, there were palm trees, olive trees, and fig trees.  All the animals and plants can be proven to have existed at the time and place I said they did by evidence outside the Bible.  

Book of Mormon: My people also have cows, sheep, ox, and horses.  And my pages mention many plants - including grains like wheat and barley that my people used for food.

  Questioner:  Book of Mormon, horses did not exist on the American continent when you claim to have taken place.  They came much later when the Europeans arrived in America.   Neither was wheat or barley found there. 

  Book of Mormon: It’s really more important that you pray sincerely to know if I am true than it is to worry about animals and plants.

Questioner:  Are there any outside sources that make any kind of reference to the people or places found in your stories?

Bible: Absolutely.  The history of the Greeks and Romans mention Jesus, Pontius Pilate, and several of the King Herods.  

Book of Mormon: No.  There are no other writings of Jaredites, Nephites, or Lamanites.  Unfortunately, there is ZERO manuscript evidence of my truthfulness because the gold plates were never copied – only translated from Reformed Egyptian by Joseph Smith, and then returned to heaven. 

Question:  Wait, you said “gold plates”.  There was no technology available then to make plates of metal.  There was no mining done prior to the Spanish conquest.   Also, linguists today have never heard of such a language as “Reformed Egyptian”.

(In 1 Nephi Chapter 3, the story is claimed to take place in Jerusalem.  That would mean that these records of the writings of the Holy Prophets were part of the Jewish records, which we have still with us.  There are NO Jewish records, written on metal, as any part of the Royal (official) record, they are always, 100% of the time called scrolls).

Question:  Both of you have stories of great battles taking place.  Is there any evidence to support those stories?

Bible: Yes.  On the sites where these battles have taken place many arrowheads have been found from both the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires.  Also, many skeletal remains have been found.  The remains of horses and chariots are found in the Red Sea which supports the account found on my pages of the Israelites leaving Egypt.

Book of Mormon: No.  Millions died in a great battle on Hill Cumorah.  The LDS Church owns that site, and doesn’t want to excavate it for trinkets.  It’s a beautiful landscape. 
(There is no evidence to support the claims of a Hebrew family leaving the Holy Land and populating the Americas.)

So now I turn to you, the reader.  You be the judge.  Based on the evidence of places, people, materials, weapons, plants, animals, language, records, technology, and culture, is the Book of Mormon “a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible”? 

Is the Book of Mormon a credible “witness with the Bible”?

Are you willing to base your salvation on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon’s witness of Christ?

God gave you a mind to search these things out. 

If you are interested in more information, I would recommend this one hour documentary on “The Bible vs. the Book of Mormon”

On May 18, 1873 (as recorded in the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16 p. 46), Brigham Young issued a challenge:  “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter Day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.”

I have accepted that challenge from Brigham Young.

In the October 2011 issue of the Ensign, the LDS religion FAILS this test.

I sincerely thank my research partner, Art Haglund.