If I could ask them one question . . .
Come Follow Me, Lesson 38
For Come Follow Me, lesson 38, Sep 21-27, 3 Nephi 12-16
If I wanted to encourage thought and try to understand devout believers better, I might ask:
“Are some of Jesus’ Bible quotes in the Book of Mormon problematic?”
Things to consider:
- A lot of Book of Mormon criticism is directed at biblical quotes in the Book of Mormon, in part because critics see some of the quotes as plagiarisms or anachronisms. However, in a religion that believes in divine revelation, there is always the explanation that if God revealed it in the Old World at one time, then he could have revealed it in the Old World at another time. As is often the case however, the issue goes deeper than that, so here are some of the Book of Mormon biblical passages quoted directly from Jesus that I think are most interesting.
- When Jesus quotes the Lord’s Prayer in the Americas, he says, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (3 Ne 13:12). Now, that’s a verbatim copy of what’s in the King James Version of the Bible (KJV, Matthew 6:13), and since Jesus is quoting himself, of course he would be able to repeat this in the Americas. The problem comes because of another translation of the Bible, the Joseph Smith Translation (JST). In the JST, Joseph corrected this passage by replacing “lead us not” with “suffer us not to be led” (JST, Matthew 6:14). This seems like an appropriate adjustment, but why didn’t Jesus notice this and correct it in the Americas in the Book of Mormon if such a correction is called for? Doesn’t it actually seem like Joseph was just copying this into the Book of Mormon from the Bible?
- In the very next verse of the Book of Mormon, Jesus continued the Lord’s Prayer saying, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (3 Ne 13:13). It is identical to a verse in the KJV of the Bible (Matthew 6:13). This part of the Lord’s Prayer is often referred to as a doxology, “a usually liturgical expression of praise to God” (Merriam-Webster). As such, there is a problem with this being included by Jesus in the Book of Mormon. “If any reliance is to be placed on external evidence, this doxology, we think, can hardly be considered part of the original text” (Bible Hub). If that is the case, this is a huge problem to have Jesus including liturgical language he didn’t originally use, language that seems to have been added to Matthew decades after Jesus’ death.
- In the Book of Mormon, Jesus continued quoting himself from the Sermon on the Mount. He said, “The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light (3 Ne 13:22). Though the punctuation is a little different, it is again verbatim to its KJV biblical counterpart (Matthew 6:22), but once again, it differs from the JST of the Bible. The JST inserts the words “to the glory of God” after the word “single,” but that isn’t included in the Book of Mormon (JST, Matthew 6:22). Again, why would this be so important to correct in the New Testament but not needed in the Book of Mormon?
- Jesus then taught the Americans that some will claim they did things in the Lord’s name, adding, “And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity (3 Ne 14:23, underlining added). Again, this is word-for-word identical to (Matthew 7:23), but once again, it differs from the JST of the Bible. The JST says, “And then will I say, Ye never knew me …” (click note “a” of Matthew 7:23 to access this). This turns the meaning around, so which way is it?
- The Church claims the Book of Mormon was “the most correct of any book on earth” and “translated into modern speech by the gift and power of God” by a process in which Joseph read the English words that appeared to him apparently given by God. With these claims, shouldn’t devout believers be at least a little troubled by the fact that this most correct book seems to put words into the mouth of Jesus that even Joseph seemed to think needed correction in some instances?
Other observations about this lesson’s reading:
- Candles seem to be anachronistic (3 Ne 12:15).
- An allusion to Roman law seems anachronistic (3 Ne 12:41).
- I comment that though He blesses the evil, God also smites the innocent (3 Ne 12:45).
- Jesus’ instructions to the American 12 disciples seem to contrast the actions of the modern 15 apostles (members of the Mormon quorum of the twelve and the first presidency claim to be apostles) who seem to take a lot of thought for material things (3 Ne 13:31-32).
- Some think Book of Mormon references to swine are anachronistic, but I point out that Peccary existed in the Americas at the time and are similar enough to be considered swine or pigs by many (3 Ne 14:6).
- Jesus teaches what I think is an oversimplified view of human nature that I think is harmful (3 Ne 14:18).
- In defense of Mormons! Jesus quotes himself from the Bible teaching that it is those who do the will of the Father who will enter into the kingdom. In other words, yes, it’s grace by faith, but that faith is manifest in the practice of doing God’s will (3 Ne 14:21-27).
- Domestic sheep are anachronistic (3 Ne 15:17-24 and 3 Ne 16:1-3).
- Jesus seemed preoccupied with making sure certain things were recorded on the Nephite plates even though those plates would not be used in the translation of the Book of Mormon (3 Ne 16:4).
If you could ask believers questions about the scriptures for this lesson, what would you ask?
Have fun studying!
If I could ask them one question, Lesson 38