50 Questions: 21 through 30

Book of Mormon and Bible

Book of Mormon21.  Does the LDS Church still regard the Pearl of Great Price as Holy Scripture even after several prominent Egyptologists proved it was an ancient funeral scroll?

“In July 1835, Joseph Smith purchased a portion of a collection of papyri and mummies that had been discovered in Egypt and brought to the United States. Believing that one of the papyrus rolls contained, ‘the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt,’ and ‘purportedly written by his own hand, upon papyrus,’ Joseph commenced a translation. The Book of Abraham was the result of his work.”  The Book of Abraham comprises only part of the Pearl of Great Price, which also contains writings of Moses received by revelation when Joseph Smith was working on a translation of the Bible, the Articles of Faith, and Joseph Smith History.  It is possible that the text was written by Abraham and passed down through other ancient scribes, or that the writer himself was a scribe who recorded oral history passed down from Abraham.  It is also possible that Joseph Smith received some information through revelation.

“After Joseph’s death, the collection was eventually sold and split up. The original papyri were thought to have been completely destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871. Fragments, however, including the illustration represented in Facsimile 1 [in the Book of Abraham], were discovered in 1966 in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, who gave them to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in November 1967. The vast majority of the papyri remains lost, and has probably been destroyed. Dr. John Gee (Ph.D., Egyptology, Yale) has presented evidence demonstrating that at least 87% of the original collection is still missing. Dr. Gee used a standard Egyptological calculation for estimating the amount of missing papyrus on a scroll. These calculations rely on how tightly papyrus can be rolled, and measuring the crease marks on the rolled papyrus.  Critics who claim that we have all, or a majority, of the papyri possessed by Joseph Smith are simply mistaken.   The material received by the Church contain none of the Book of Abraham.  The Church ran a multi-part series with color pictures of the papyri in the Improvement Era (the predecessor to the Ensign) less than two months after they were received from the Metropolitan Museum. The series repeatedly affirmed that the recovered papyri contained Egyptian funerary materials and not the text of Book of Abraham.” (This answer is adapted from an article at Fairlds.org.  Read more.)

22. Why does the Book of Abraham, chapters 4 & 5 contradict Alma 11 in stating that there is more than one God?

Alma 11 in the Book of Mormon reports a confrontation between a minister of God  (Amulek) and Zeezrom, a man engaged in “priestcraft” (preaching in order to get gain), who was also anti-Christ, in about 82 B.C.).  Zeezrom challenged Amulek, saying that Amulek preached that there was only one God, but also said that God has a Son, Jesus Christ, who should come to redeem mankind.  Zeezrom also said that if someone called Christ did come, that He would not save anyone. Zeezrom began to be intimidated by Amulek’s power, and he asked the following: “Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father”?  Amulek answered, “Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last; And he shall come into the world to redeem his people; and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else. “

In the Book of Abraham, it says, “And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods organized and formed the heavens and the earth.”  The “Gods” are God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, through whom all of God’s creations were and are made.  Christ is also called “The Word,” and is called by Heavenly Father “the Word of My Power.”  All Christians believe this.  Christ can also be called the Eternal Father, because all who are saved are His children, and He is eternal. [16]  Both passages refer to God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

23.  Why does Doctrine and Covenants 42:18 say there is no forgiveness for a murderer when 3 Nephi 30:2 says there is forgiveness for him?

Doctrine and Covenants 42:18 says, “And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.”

3 Nephi 30:2 says, “Turn, all ye Gentiles, from your wicked ways; and repent of your evil doings, of your lyings and deceivings, and of your whoredoms, and of your secret abominations, and your idolatries, and of your murders, and your priestcrafts, and your envyings, and your strifes, and from all your wickedness and abominations, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, that ye may receive a remission of your sins, and be filled with the Holy Ghost, that ye may be numbered with my people who are of the house of Israel.”

Men are judged according to the knowledge they have received and the covenants that they have made.  Sinning against knowledge brings greater condemnation.  In Doctrine and Covenants 42, the Lord is speaking to baptized members of the Church, who have received knowledge of the doctrines of Christ and covenanted to take upon themselves His holy name.  In the Book of Mormon quote, the Lord is speaking to the Gentiles, whom He is calling out of the world.

24.  If the Adam-God doctrine isn’t true, how come Doctrine and Covenants 27:11 calls Adam the Ancient of Days, which is clearly a title for God in Daniel chapter 7?

“The critics are also perhaps too confident in their ability to definitively interpret an isolated verse of scripture. This section of Daniel is written in Aramaic, while the rest of the Old Testament is in Hebrew. The phrase translated “Ancient of Days” (attiq yômîn) as one non-LDS source notes, “in reference to God…is unprecedented in the Hebrew texts.” Thus, reading this phrase as referring to God (and, in the critics’ reading, only God) relies on parallels from Canaanite myth and Baal imagery in, for example, the Ugaritic texts. Latter-day Saints are pleased to have a more expanded view through the addition of revelatory insights (FairLDS.org).”  Adam is called “The Ancient of Days,” because he is the first man, first prophet, and the oldest of all.

Book of Mormon and Bible25. Why does the Book of Mormon contain extensive, word-for-word quotes from the Bible if the LDS Church is correct in teaching that the Bible has been corrupted?

In the Book of Mormon, the Lord explains that many “plain and precious things” have been taken from the Bible, but that doesn’t mean it has no value.  Mormons study the Bible constantly.  The Book of Mormon does not quote the Bible extensively, however.  The original Book of Mormon peoples left Jerusalem in 600 B.C., just before the Babylonians destroyed the city.  They longed for their homeland all the days of their lives.  Nephi quoted long passages from Isaiah that promised a return, a gathering of Israel in the last days.  The “Nephites” had brought “Old Testament” scriptures with them, including Isaiah.

Then, after His resurrection, Jesus Christ visited the Book of Mormon peoples, taught and blessed them, and organized His Church among them.  He gave them the equivalent of the Sermon on the Mount and other counsel nearly identical to the sermons He gave in the Holy Land.  These with the quotes from Isaiah constitute a very small part of the Book of Mormon.

26. Why do the Bible verses quoted in the Book of Mormon contain the italicized words from the King James Version that were added into the KJV text by the translators in the 16th and 17th centuries?

Witnesses to the translation process are unanimous that Joseph did not have any books, manuscripts, or notes to which he referred while translating. Most of the text to which the Nephites had access would not have differed significantly from the Hebrew texts used in Bible translations. The differences in wording between the KJV and the Book of Mormon highlight the areas in which there were theologically significant differences between the Nephite versions and the Masoretic text, from which the Bible was translated. The 21 chapters of Isaiah which are quoted (Chapters 2-14, 29, and 48-54) either partially or completely, represent about one-third of the book of Isaiah, but less than two and one-half percent of the total Book of Mormon. We also find that more than half of all verses quoted from Isaiah (234 of 433) differ from the King James version available to Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon apparently follows the King James (Masoretic) text when it conveys the original meaning. [17]

27. If the Book of Mormon was engraved on gold plates thousands of years ago, why does it read in perfect 1611 King James Version English?

Do current readers of the Bible condemn the Bible, because new translations read like current English?  In actuality, only the Isaiah text in the Book of Mormon reads like the KJV (which is what was familiar to Joseph Smith), and that is less than 2 ½ % of the book.  The rest of the book is much easier to read than the King James Version.

Section 3 ─ Bible Questions

28. If marriage is essential to achieve exaltation, why did Paul say that it is good for a man not to marry (1 Corinthians 7:1)?

First of all, let us explain that all men and women who have not committed the “sin against the Holy Ghost” (personally seeing Christ and then denying Him) will obtain a kingdom of glory in heaven.  Little children who die are exalted to God’s highest kingdom; they are “saved in innocence.”

“Paul does not say it is good not to marry, but quotes the Corinthian Saints’ comments in a previous letter to him. Paul is responding to this claim, and he critiques it” (FairLDS.org).  The New English Translation (NET) Version reads: “Now with regard to the issues you wrote about: It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” (Read more.)

29. Since the Word of Wisdom teaches us to abstain from alcohol, why did Paul encourage Timothy to drink wine for his stomach?

The Word of Wisdom was given by revelation in 1833, “in consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days (Doctrine and Covenants 89:4).  It proscribes the use of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea.  Before water was safe to drink in the United States, people used to add alcohol to disinfect it.  In Paul’s day, wine (which contained much less alcohol than it usually does today) was safer than water to drink.  “New wine” was simply fruit juice.  Taking it for the stomach was the science of the day.

30. If obeying the Word of Wisdom ─ which tells us to abstain from caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco ─ is important for our exaltation, why did Jesus say that there is nothing that can enter a man to make him defiled (Mark 7:15)?

First of all, the Word of Wisdom makes no mention of caffeine.  Modern science has identified it as one of the harmful substances in coffee and tea.  This science was not available at the time the revelation was given.

It is disobedience that defiles a man.  However, Latter-day Saints do whatever they can to retain the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, and corrupting the body (which is a “temple”) can cause the Spirit to depart.  Drunkenness often leads to sin, and the agency of man can be compromised by addictions.

It is also necessary to explain the use of the word “exaltation” in your question, because the vocabulary is different for Latter-day Saints and Evangelicals.  Salvation is a multi-faceted thing, and includes salvation from sin, salvation from death, salvation from ignorance, and salvation from our separation from God.  Salvation from death is a free gift to all mankind, due to Christ’s atonement, and it includes the resurrection.  Exaltation refers to the quality of life we will live once we are resurrected. There are many mansions in heaven, and Latter-day Saints normally mean the highest kingdom in heaven, wherein God dwells, when they speak of exaltation.  Good people of any faith will be exalted to a kingdom of glory in heaven.  Even the lowest kingdom of heaven is “glorious beyond all description.”  (Read Joseph Smith’s account of his vision of heaven)

Go to 50 Questions: 31 through 40

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