What evidence is there that portions of the BOM were copied from the King James Version of the Bible?


The following is a very nice discussion of this idea from a web site called Zarahemla City Limits.  The link is noted below.


Ancient Scriptures: Sources for the Book of Mormon

Something I had been completely unaware of regarding the Book of Mormon is the strong evidence for the book's dependence on 19th century sources. The Book of Mormon perpetuates many errors of translation that exist in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. The following comes from Dr. David Wright, a professor of Hebrew and Near Eastern studies at Brandeis University. He is a former BYU professor and was fired and then excommunicated from the church for publishing his findings (a sad example of the suppression of an honest examination of the Book of Mormon that doesn't match what we are taught in Sunday School). Here Wright is illustrating how Joseph copied many passages of the KJV into the Book of Mormon while merely leaving out the italicized words:

"Besides cases where the text is incomprehensible, some variants where words italicized in the KJV are lacking in the BM present readings that are significantly different from and incompatible with the Hebrew text. In Isaiah 51:17, for example, the KJV reads "thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling, *and wrung *them out"; the BM has "thou hast drunken the dregs of the cup of trembling rung (sic) out" (2 Ne 8:17; "rung" here is just a phonetic spelling for "wrung"; there is no difference in meaning). In the BM the term "rung out" becomes an adjective modifying "dregs" (or perhaps "cup"). The Hebrew, which reads 'et qubbacat kôs hattarcëlâ $ätît mä&ît, can be construed literally as "the goblet of the cup of reeling you have drunk, you have drained out." It is impossible to get the BM translation from the Hebrew and it is unlikely that the BM is due to a variant in an ancient text. The BM has merely eliminated the italics, producing a reading that is erroneous."

"Isaiah 2:6//2 Nephi 12:6: "And they please themselves in the children of strangers." Modern renditions: "they strike hands with foreigners," "make bargain/covenant with foreigners," or "are crowded with foreigners."

Isaiah 2:16//2 Nephi 12:16: "Upon all pleasant pictures." Modern renditions: "upon all grand boats/precious things."

Isaiah 10:18//2 Nephi 20:18: "And they shall be as when a standardbearer fainteth." Modern renditions: "and it will be as when a sick man wastes away," "and it will be as when a weak person despairs," or "and it will be as when someone falls in a fit."

Isaiah 10:27//2 Nephi 20:27: "And the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing." The KJV is clearly wrong. It should be translated something like "the yoke shall be destroyed because of fatness." Some emend the text because the MT does not make clear sense."

He concludes:

"The foregoing list [only a very small part of which I included above] makes clear that the KJV has grave deficiencies. Biblical scholarship has grown and advanced greatly since the early seventeenth century through the benefit of new archaeological, textual, and linguistic evidence and through improved methods of study and analysis. The developments are in their own way as revolutionary as those in the sciences (astronomy, physics, chemistry, medicine, etc.) since that time. The KJV, while having elegant language and conveying the meaning of the original texts adequately in many places, has been superseded like many of the scientific theories of its age. The BM conserves many of the unacceptable translations of the KJV now clearly recognizable from the stance of modern research. If the former were a translation from an ancient text one would expect it to transcend the limitations of the KJV, and even the limitations of modern scholars who still find a number of the passages noted insoluble." (This is taken from the web version of an essay now published as Wright 2002.)

Some critics have claimed that these errors are doctrinally inconsequential, but they miss the point. It is not about the doctrine - it is the fact that the book contains errors unique to the KJV, which suggests the Book of Mormon was written after 1611.

Another example of such an error in the Book of Mormon is found in Christ's sermon to the Nephites after his resurrection. Jesus ends the Lord's prayer with a doxology: "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." This phrase is a late, fourth century addition to the book of Matthew. It is found nowhere in the early sources and most reliable manuscripts of the book of Matthew. Most scholars seem to think that it was added for liturgical purposes to the developing Christian worship service. Having Christ speak these words in the year 30 is a huge blunder, and strongly indicates that Joseph Smith composed this passage himself, using the KJV, rather than translating it from an ancient record. (Almost any current New Testament commentary will verify this claim about the addition of a doxology. For a discussion of the Sermon on the Mount in Third Nephi, see (Larson 1993).)

In addition to the hundreds of such errors in the Book of Mormon, there are many other places where supposedly ancient prophets like Alma essentially plagiarize Paul and other New Testament authors. The Book of Mormon constantly uses phrases that are taken from the New Testament - ancient American prophets supposedly use the words of Paul and Peter before these Old World apostles ever wrote them. Here are some examples (from the Jerald and Sandra Tanner's online version of The Changing World of Mormonism at http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/changecontents.htm):

KJV: That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you (1 John 1:3)
BM: to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard (1 Nephi 1:18)

KJV: that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not (John 11:50)
BM: that one man should perish than that a nation should ... perish in unbelief (1 Nephi 4:13)

KJV: the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5)
BM: the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts (1 Nephi 11:22)

KJV: made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14)
BM: made white in the blood of the Lamb (1 Nephi 12:11)

KJV: shall be saved; yet so as by fire (1 Cor. 3:15)
BM: shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire (1 Nephi 22:17)

KJV: O wretched man that I am (Rom. 7:24)
BM: O wretched man that I am (2 Nephi 4:17)

KJV: death and hell delivered up the dead (Rev. 20:13)
BM: death and hell must deliver up their dead (2 Nephi 9:12)

KJV: he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still (Rev. 22:11)
BM: they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still (2 Nephi 9:16)

KJV: endured the cross, despising the shame (Heb. 12:2)
BM: endured the crosses of the world, and despised the shame (2 Nephi 9:18)

KJV: to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life (Rom. 8:6)
BM: to be carnally-minded is death, and to be spiritually-minded is life (2 Nephi 9:39)

KJV: Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female (Gal. 3:28)
BM: Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female (2 Nephi 10:16)

KJV: there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12)
BM: there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, ... whereby man can be saved (2 Nephi 25:20)

KJV: the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world (John 1:29)
BM: the Lamb of God, who should take away the sins of the world (1 Nephi 10:10); the Lamb of God, which should take away the sins of the world (2 Nephi 31:4)

KJV: steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work (1 Cor. 15:58)
BM: steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works (Mosiah 5:15)

KJV: O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory (1 Cor. 15:55)
BM: the grave should have no victory, and that death should have no sting (Mosiah 16:7)

KJV: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (John 5:29)
BM: If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation (Mosiah 16:11)

KJV: Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free (Gal. 5:1)
BM: stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free (Mosiah 23:13); stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free (Alma 58:40)

KJV: Marvel not that ... Ye must be born again (John 3:7)
BM: Marvel not that all mankind ... must be born again (Mosiah 27:25)

KJV: come out from among them, and be ye separate, ... and touch not the unclean thing (2 Cor. 6:17)
BM: come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things (Alma 5:57)

KJV: lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us (Heb. 12:1)
BM: lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you (Alma 7:15)

KJV: I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel (Luke 7:9)
BM: I say unto thee, woman, there has not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites (Alma 19:10)

The Book of Mormon is full of New Testament language. These examples are not likely to be coincidences; the Book of Mormon adopts very distinctive phrases - such as the "sting" of death, the "victory" of the grave, and the love of God 'shedding' itself abroad. One critic stated that these examples are no more significant than the two books sharing the phrase "the man." It should be obvious to most people of minimal intelligence that the parallels are much stronger than that. Significantly, not only is New Testament language simply used, but the Book of Mormon employs this language to respond to the themes in the specific books from which this language is taken. For example, in Alma we find an extensive use of phrases from Paul's epistle to the Hebrews when Alma is elaborating on ideas and doctrinal issues found in that epistle (such as the discussion of Melchizedek, priesthood, etc, see Wright 1993; Marquardt 2000). All of this suggests that Joseph composed the book himself, elaborating on ideas he came across in his study of the King James Bible. Although it is certainly possible that Alma and Paul could have discussed the same doctrine, you would not expect Alma to use Paul's distinctive language from Hebrews when discussing Melchizedek and the priesthood (presuming Paul was the actual author of Hebrews, which most scholars don't believe - see (Mack 1996)).

The use of Malachi in the Book of Mormon is also interesting. Christ quotes Malachi 4:2 in 3 Nephi 25:2: "But unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of righteousness arise with healing in his wings..." In the original Malachi, the word sun is used instead of son. In English this is actually a nice play on words and adds depth to the meaning of this verse. Unfortunately, in the original Hebrew such a play on words was not possible, since the word for son, ben, is very different from sun, shemesh. Christ would have thus been inaccurately quoting Malachi, adding a meaning that wasn't there originally, and most likely confusing his listeners who didn't hear the sermon in English. Interestingly, in an edition of the periodical Plain Truth, available in Joseph's neighborhood in the 1820's, a writer makes this very same switch.

An excellent online essay on the King James language in the Book of Mormon is "The Book of Mormon and the King James Version," by Curt van den Heuvel. He points out that the Book of Mormon exhibits an improper understanding of the archaic grammar used in the KJV, which supports the idea that Joseph, with his limited education, was the author. He writes:

Most English people are unaware that King James English is more than a few simple `thee's' and `thou's in the right places. The archaic words are actually part of the grammar, and indicate verb tenses and noun cases and number. For example, `thou' is the second person, singular, personal pronoun, while `ye' is the corresponding plural form. In addition, the second person personal pronoun is declined differently to its modern counterpart. Thus, `ye' or `thou' is used as the subject of a sentence, while `you' is used as the object of a sentence. Modern English has lost this distinction, using `you' for both the singular and plural forms of the word, as well as both noun cases...

One can find numerous examples of inconsistent application of the Jacobean personal noun case in the Book of Mormon. For example, in Mosiah 4:22, the personal noun case switches from plural to singular in the same sentence `...and yet ye put up no petition, nor repent of the thing which thou hast done.' Technically, the last part of the sentence should read `...which ye have done'.

Note one more example, that of First Nephi 11:7 `...after thou hast beheld the tree which bore the fruit which thy father tasted, thou shalt also behold a man descending out of heaven, and him shall ye witness; and after ye have witnessed him ye shall bear record that it is the Son of God.'

The King James verb tenses also seem to have given Smith some trouble. Like the languages that it evolved from, in particular Latin and Saxon, Jacobean English used inflected word modifiers to conjugate verbs... Traces of this confusion are evident in the first edition of the Book of Mormon. For example, in First Nephi 12:9 the third person form of a verb is used with a second person subject `...Thou remembereth the twelve apostles of the Lamb?...'. Compare this with John 16:21 of the King James Version, where the third person form of `remember' is used correctly `...but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish...'. This verse was corrected to read `rememberest' in the later revisions of the Book of Mormon.

The implication of this is clear - Joseph Smith was familiar with the form, but not the substance, of King James English. Consequently, his prose displays a fundamental lack of understanding of the syntax and grammar of the tongue.

Like David Wright, van den Heuvel also notes that the Book of Mormon retains KJV translation errors of Isaiah passages, and in the following example we see that the book contains a ridiculous addition:

A more serious translation error affects Isaiah 9:1, copied into the Book of Mormon as II Nephi 19:1 `...and afterwards did more grievously afflict by the way of the Red Sea beyond Jordan in Galilee of the nations.' A translation error in this verse of Isaiah has given the text almost the opposite meaning to the original. The phrase `did more grievously afflict' should be rendered as `honour' in English. Thus the New International Version reads `...In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles...'.

Again, as an aside, the Book of Mormon adds the qualifier `Red' to the King James Version. A glance at a map of Palestine will show why this rendering is impossible. The Red Sea is located on the Southern border of Palestine, over 250 miles from the Sea of Galilee.

Another interesting example of Joseph's problems with Jacobean language is in the use of the word 'strait':

There is at least one archaic spelling that confused Smith, and that was the word `strait'. This word is used in Matthew 7:14 in the familiar phrase `...strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.' Joseph Smith evidently thought, as do most English readers, that `strait' is simply a variant spelling of `straight'. In fact, it is not. The word `strait', in this context, means `restricted' or `difficult'. Nevertheless, the first edition of the Book of Mormon uses the word `straight' when it quotes Matthew in III Nephi 14:14. In fact, the 1830 version of the Book of Mormon uses the word `straight' every time that `strait' is meant. (See, for example, I Nephi 21:20, where the King James Version of Isaiah 49:20 has `strait'. The word `straight' makes no sense in this context.) Most of these were corrected in subsequent versions.

This is telling indeed, for it is evident that only an English person would confuse the two words. A Nephite, who had no knowledge of English, would certainly not make that mistake. In spite of this, we find that at least one of the Book of Mormon characters displayed similar confusion about the word. In II Nephi 9:41, the prophet Nephi speaks these words `...Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him...'. It is quite certain that Smith was alluding to the King James version here. Not only does the word `gate' appear in the same sentence, but we also find the phrase `And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life...' in II Nephi 31:18. When Smith revised the Book of Mormon, he corrected the spelling of II Nephi 31:18 to `strait', but was obviously unable to change II Nephi 9:41, since the context makes it clear that the word `straight' is meant.

To summarize the foregoing: the Book of Mormon is evidently unable to update the archaic language of the King James Version, even when such language is technically incorrect. The fact that these shortcomings seem to mirror the gaps in Smith's knowledge is strong evidence that Smith, not a collection of ancient American prophets, was the sole author of the Book of Mormon.

Curt van den Heuvel illustrates how one of the most quoted sermons in the Book of Mormon further supports the idea that the book was authored by Joseph:

A second archaic word that seems to have crept into the Book of Mormon is the word `charity'. This word appears in Paul's famous treatise on Faith, Hope and Charity in I Corinthians 13. In fact, the Greek word that is translated `charity' in the King James Version is the word `agape'. This word is consistently translated `love' elsewhere in the King James Version. The Book of Mormon, too, contains much on Faith, Hope and Charity, including a protracted quotation from I Corinthians 13. Moroni 7:45 reads `And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.'

It is interesting that the Book of Mormon not only uses the same archaic King James word for `love', but also that Smith felt that he had to explain this fact. II Nephi 26:30 declares that `...all men should have charity, which charity is love.' Ether 12:34 reads `And now I know that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity...' In the same chapter as the Corinthians quotation, we find in Moroni7:47 `But charity is the pure love of Christ...'. Also in Moroni 8:17 we find `And I am filled with charity, which is everlasting love...' Logically, this statement makes no sense, since `charity' and `love' are actually the same word.

Conclusion:  This discussion makes fairly clear that the Book of Mormon was at least strongly influenced if not copied from the KJV.  Grammatical and translational errors betray Joseph Smith’s ignorance about Jacobean english.  Transposed translational errors suggest that the Book of Mormon is a 19th century work.  New Testament phrases and syntax suggest that the Book of Mormon was written by someone very familiar with the language and phraseology of the KJV.