After Christ arrives in the Americas and he finishes teaching the Nephites about baptism he delves straight into what is called the sermon at the temple. I believe that comparing this sermon with the very similar sermon at the mount as found in the New Testament provides meaningful insight into the teachings of Jesus Christ. Since both sermons comprise three chapters and 109 verses of rich content, I cannot do adequate justice to this topic in just one post. Therefore this topic will be multiple posts and will likely take weeks to complete. However, considering these are the words of Jesus Christ who is the Eternal Father and the only God with whom we should concern ourselves, I believe the extra effort is worth it.
For purposes of following along I’ll use 3N as a representation of 3 Nephi 12 and Mt as a representation of Matthew 5. The sermon at the temple has only a few differences from the King James Version of the Holy Bible. And so I’ll begin by highlighting those differences:
Verses 1 – 2 are a different opening as they setup who the audience will be. In the case of 3N these are the people at the temple. In the case of Mt these are disciples on a mountain.
Verse 3 in 3N adds “who come unto me” after blessed are the poor in spirit. This is significant because the Book of Mormon demonstrates that faith in Jesus Christ is the only saving faith, whereas the Biblical account appears to leave some doubt. One interesting discovery I’ve made is that in the Book of Mormon additional words are added to each verse, such as “Yea”, and “And again”, and “And”. Assuming the Book of Mormon was a direct translation, why are these additional words added since they would represent additional space on the golden plates? In the printer’s manuscript the word and is written in shorthand. So perhaps, these words weren’t actually on the plates, but were added by Joseph as a manner of speaking?
Verse 6 in 3N adds “with the Holy Ghost” as promised blessing for hungering and thirsting after righteousness. This verse is interesting because to me it appears to allude to later sermons by Christ in the New Testament. Specifically John 6 and 7 where Christ declares himself to be the living bread and water. It is likely that Christ taught the Nephites some comparable sermon; however, such is not found in the Book of Mormon.
Verse 11 in 3N removes the word you after persecute, so it reads “blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute,”. This might be a translation error, as the inference is that the persecution is happening to you. The sentence doesn’t actually make sense without the you and every version of the KJV Bible including the 1769 version includes this word.
After examining the Joseph Smith Papers I discovered a gem that resolves the mystery for me. In the printer’s manuscript, the word you is crossed out. Why Oliver Cowdery did this, I am not sure. However, it appears that it never managed to be corrected even to this day. You can see this verse in the printer’s manuscript here:
Additionally I’ve provided a screenshot below:
This indicates to me that the text was clearly intended to be the same wording as the Bible, but for whatever reason was edited out. Perhaps Oliver was deliberately attempting to make just enough changes to the text to make it seem different. Or perhaps it was just a mistake, and needs to be corrected.
The excitement of finding this overwhelms me. I feel much like Brent Metcalfe who explained that discovering crossed out words is the most exciting part of examining historical documents. With this discovery I complete my post.