Change Book Of Mormon
Filed under Scriptures
Did the Mormon Church Change the Book of Mormon?
Anti-Mormon critics and others assert that the Mormon Church has made over 4,000 changes to the Book of Mormon. They claim that if the Book of Mormon was true and “the most correct book” as Joseph Smith described it, then it could not be changed, and since (as they claim) there have been changes, it is not true.
There are two arguments here. The first is that there have been changes to the Book of Mormon and second, that changes to the Book of Mormon would prove that it was false. Neither of these arguments is valid. It is true that there are differences among the printed versions of the Book of Mormon, but the number 4,000 is misleading. Most of the changes were made by Joseph Smith himself and were changes for clarification in meaning and style or correction of grammatical and spelling errors that crept into the published manuscript. Joseph Smith never claimed that the text was perfect. His claim that the Book of Mormon was “the most correct book” referred to its spiritual teachings as can be seen by finishing the quote, “a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”
If you look at your Bible and compare it to another translation you will notice subtle and sometimes major differences. This happens whenever you translate something from one language into a different one. Over time, printers might make a mistake or two and switch a word around, but hopefully subsequent editions of the book will correct them. This is what happens with both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Almost every single supposed change made to the Book of Mormon was a change in punctuation, spelling, or correcting a mistaken word. Joseph Smith himself went back in subsequent editions published in his lifetime and fixed mistakes.
Among these changes are:
- 891 changes of which to who to conform with modern English usage
- 177 changes of exceeding to exceedingly
- 162 changes of was to were
In some places Joseph Smith changed a word because he felt that another word more closely expressed the intent of the original. So, in several places he changed white to pure and once corrected a name from Mosiah to Benjamin because the printer had erred. In two places Joseph add the son of to clarify the meaning of a passage which had been confusing. As translator, Joseph could make these changes because he knew the original text and was trying to convey that same meaning in the English translation.
The other argument, that changes in the text make the Book of Mormon false, is also untrue. When dealing with translation, the translator must try his or her best to convey the original meaning, and sometimes this can be difficult. If these slight changes to the Book of Mormon invalidate it, then what about the many differences among the various translations of the Bible? When Joseph Smith said he translated the Book of Mormon through the gift and power of God, he did not mean that God just gave him the translation. He had to work to understand the text just as any other translator would have to. The truthfulness of the Book of Mormon lies in the doctrines it teaches and the principles it espouses. At the center of this message is the Savior, Jesus Christ.