In part 1, I concluded with the discovery that Oliver and Joseph deliberately left out the word “you” in verse 11 of chapter 12. Initially, I believed that this was a rare find, but further research proved me wrong. However, it is still meaningful and suggests a deliberate copy and edit of the King James Bible.
I will now continue to examine 3 Nephi 12 (3N) with Matthew 5 (Mt).
Verse 12 of 3N begins quite differently from Mt, as 3N states: “For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven;” whereas Mt states: “Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven:”
The meaning of this first verse is nearly identical, in that there should be rejoicing for being persecuted. This persecution is part of being a disciple of Christ, just as the prophets were persecuted. Perhaps to the Nephites the prophets could be implied as the first Nephi through Abinadi, and on to Alma, Helaman, Samuel, and ultimately to the Nephi who authored 3 Nephi, but the original intent in Matthew 5 is in reference to the prophets of the Old Testament.
In fact when Jesus provided the great two commandments, in Matthew 22:40 He states, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Christ is referencing the Law of Moses and the prophets of the Ancient Hebrew scripture, such as Jeremiah, Isaiah, and those prophets persecuted under Ahab.
What is also curious about verse 12 is the wordiness of the Book of Mormon version. If this translation was from golden plates, then the most accurate translation would be as concise as possible, due to the space limitations described by Moroni and discussed below. The Book of Mormon has 18 words compared to the 12 words in Matthew.
Verse 13 follows the same methodology as verse 12 in that additional words are added to 3N which provide little additional value. This verse discusses the need for disciples to be as salt. Salt to me is a remarkable spice. Today if food is salted correctly, its flavor is richer without tasting salty. Salt when absorbed disappears, and is not seen. I believe that we should influence those around us like salt, rarely seen, but magnifying the gifts of others.
Verse 14 in 3N adds “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you to be the” just as verse 13 did. In Mt, the whole of verse 14 is only 18 words. Whereas in 3N the whole of verse 14 is 28 words. The Book of Mormon again appears to add words for no clear reason as the added words provide no value to the concept being conveyed.
The pattern appearing in 12, 13 and 14, causes me to question further. Especially because the core message in these verses is unchanged. If Christ did indeed provide a similar sermon to the Nephites, why would his message be nearly identical, except for filler words. From a faithful perspective, this demands that Joseph was at a minimum allowing his personal bias towards wordiness influence the content of the text.
One apologetic argument is that the wordiness is actually proof that the Book of Mormon follows a Hebraic language structure. This argument uses the King James Bible as evidence that Hebrew is especially wordy in order to be poetic. However, I would suggest that this is a straw-man argument. Let’s examine the three written languages of LDS scripture:
- Old Testament – King James English of a source written in Hebrew spoken in Hebrew
- New Testament – King James English of a source written in Greek spoken in Hebrew
- Book of Mormon – King James/19th century English of a source written in “Reformed Egyptian” spoken in Hebrew
According to Nephi and Moroni, reformed Egyptian was used as the written language because it was much more concise than Hebrew. Therefore, we’d expect the written language to be as condensed as the English translation of the Greek New Testament. Moroni states in Mormon 9:33:
And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.
Another apologetic argument is that engraving on the soft golden alloy was likely not too difficult and so it’s reasonable to assume that wordiness was reasonable to keep the purity of Hebrew. However, what this argument fails to recognize is that while the actual writing may have been relatively easy, the creation of the metal plates was likely very difficult and even Moroni states that length is primary concern and reason for writing in reformed Egyptian. Below is a sample of the reformed Egyptian.