Friday, November 09, 2007

Change in Intro. to Book of Mormon

Did anyone see the news report on the left sidebar about the changes in the introduction to the Book of Mormon the church has recently made? One of the changes is just the addition of one word. Where it says that all the inhabitants "were destroyed, except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.", they add the word "among" before the words 'the principle', so now it implies that the people in the Book of Mormon were only a few of the people that were actually here. This gives great relief to those who found themselves trying to defend the church from criticism that the church erroneously teaches that the American Indians were all descended from Israel, and not from people who came across the land bridge from Asia which is what all the archeological evidence suggests. I never really had that problem since I kind of just assumed that the book of Mormon people were just a small subset of the people here, and that the B.O.M. introduction isn't scripture anyway.

The other change is the omission of the words "as does the Bible" in the sentence that says it is "a record of God's dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fullness of the everlasting gospel."

Any idea why they would have changed that?



25 comments:

apyknowzitall said...

I feel that "as does the Bible" was added because there are so many other Christians that see us as having The Book of Mormon and assume it had replaced the Bible as being the word of God instead of being complimentary. Of course it doesn't help when many members only read the BOM instead of alongside or interchanged with the Bible. I can't remember if it was the latest PBS doc about our church but on one show, a nonmember made the comment that many missionaries haven't even read the Bible,only memorizing bits and pieces that correlate with our beliefs.

As for the NA thing, I couldn't tell you. I've always been amused by members who obsess over every single possible archaic detail over our religion. Like "Why was reformed Egyptian used?" or "Oh my goodness, a huge burial site was found someplace in South America. That must be where the last big battle happened where all the Nephites were wiped out" while in the process loosing sight on more important things like self-development in the gospel or something.

Cabeza said...

No, "as does the Bible" was not added; it was removed.

My only guess off the top of my head is that maybe this coincides more with the eighth Article of Faith, which states that the Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly. Maybe the Church is emphasizing that there are things missing from the Bible, and the Book of Mormon is necessary for a more complete understanding of the everlasting gospel.

Amy Jean said...

I agree with cabeza on the bible thing. I don't know why people freak out about little things like this. I wonder how many people are questioning the prophets right now.

apyknowzitall said...

My reading comprehension skills are really up there eh?

Nick said...

My guess is that since the introduction in the B.o.M is supposed to be the introduction to the B.o.M, then the focus should be on the B.o.M and not on the Bible. They want it to stand on its own and let it speak for itself, and not try to tie it to other books the reader may have read.

I don't see it at all as an attempt to downplay our placement of the bible in our scriptural cannon (not that I think thats what you suggested, Cabeza, but in my mind I can hear some of the members in my ward make this argument. Grr.) Some members I know are very anti-Bible (inexplicably so, since the bible is the most quoted book in general conference). They like to engage in what I call "the other bible bashing"- they kind where you bash the bible, not each other with the bible. My fellow Priest quorum teacher is so anti-bible that I had to devote a whole lesson to why the bible is important despite its imperfections (most of which we bring on ourselves by sticking with the king james version, instead of using an updated version, but thats for another blog post). Anyway, expect many anti-bible rants by a member or three in your wards because of this.

Nick said...

Though I should add that these changes will only be in the 2nd edition (hardcover) of the doubleday version that the church has authorized, and will not make it into the church's edition (with all the footnotes) until it comes out with a new edition, which may not be for awhile.

apyknowzitall said...

That's what I don't understand about "anti-Bible" members. You would think that being the work that connects us with other Christian churches, it would be, not necessarily more embraced than the BOM, but studied more than it really is.

On another note, is it just me or has there been at least one talk a year in general conference addressing the BOM to be a companion to the Bible, not necessarily to replacing it?

Cabeza said...

Totally what I was going to say, apyknowziall. The general authorities have been putting a lot of emphasis on the importance of the Bible and its divine origins. Do people in your ward ignore those talks, Nick?

And what's up with there being any problem with the King James version? Why would there be less "imperfections" if we used a "more updated version?" You said this was the subject of another post, perhaps it's time for that now.

It may just be because I grew up with it, but I kind of prefer the old-timey language of the King James Version. It makes the poetry of the Old Testament more poetic. Also, in spite of the myriad of "more updated" versions, the King James is still the most standard and widely recognized. On top of that, and this probably has nothing to do with why we use it, but I think it's significant anyway, but I think that the King James Version represents in a lot of ways the great sacrifices that the earliest English translators of the Bible made to bring it to the masses. See the multiple references that the apostles have made to William Tyndale and John Wycliffe in General Conference (Hales and Packer in October 2005, Monson in April 1997, and Ballard in the most recent conference, to name a few).

So please respond. Feel free to write a new post.

Nick said...

These people that I'm thinking about must have selective hearing at conference or something, since they love to "bible bash".

As for the King James, what I would like to see is a version that preserves the poetic prose of the King James, but cleans up all the awkward passages (like most of Paul), and brings it up to date with scholarship that has happened since the 16th century. The problem is that the King James committee did not really use the original Greek and Hebrew texts as their source. They started with Tyndale's bible (which I believe was based off the Vulgate- the Latin Bible which has its own problems) and used some other contemporary sources. Since that time, we have found manuscripts dating to the early 2nd century (like 120 AD)(we now have over 5500 documents from the 2nd-4th centuries, most of which I believe the KJV committee did not have) that clear up some of the confusion introduced into later manuscripts by scribal error and additions or omissions in the text. Most of the modern versions take these into account. Also, Western Europe in general did not have a good grasp of Hebrew at that time so the committee couldn't even resort to the Hebrew texts, meaning the translation is very iffy in a lot of places in the OT.

So, with all these translation errors that are really unique to the KJV, I think it is pretty silly when members raise their hand in my gospel doctrine class saying how incomprehensible and badly translated the bible is, when if they would just pick up a different tranlation most of the problems go away. Of course, we don't have the ORIGINAL manuscripts, so there may still be a few errors introduced into the text between the originals of the mid to late 1st century, and the copies made in the early 2nd century, but not nearly as many as came afterwards and which have been fixed in translations after the KJV.

I wish I had time to put together a comparison of some verses in the KJV with the NRSV, the NIV or the English Standard Bible. Its interesting to see the differences, and many of them explain why they chose to translate a certain word the way they did in the footnotes.

But I'm with you on the language of the KJV. When I read familiar passages in a different translation, they just don't do it for me.

Nick said...

Though I do not see the church adopting any of the other translations- mainly because of financial and copyright reasons. The King James is free, and it makes sense just to use that one and add footnotes where the translation is iffy (hence all the greek and hebrew footnotes, as well as JST footnotes- which often agree with modern scholarship).

I think that in the future (like 20-40 years from now), the church bible scholarship community will have matured to the point that the brethren will authorize a group of them to write a new LDS version that preserves a lot of the KJV language, but fixes the errors, anachronisms, and make it easier to read in general.

apyknowzitall said...

Nick you took the words right out of my mouth.

Julie C said...

This is only somewhat related - but I have noticed, in my 6 weeks so far of teaching the 12-13 year old Sunday School class, that the kids are pretty familiar with the Book of Mormon. They know where most of the books are, they can use the index, etc. But every week I try to have at least one scripture from the Bible (I should note that the lesson manual for this Sunday School class is based on latter-day prophets and not on any particular book of scripture). And the kids don't really know how to use the Bible. Well, one of the four does. But I secretly think she knows more in the scriptures than I do and it's only her age and lack of experience that keeps her from just teaching her own class.

Well, last week they had to find people in the scriptures. Turn to the Bible Dictionary or Topical Guide and find a scripture where that person was mentioned. I wasn't being obscure - Peter, Paul, Moses, Joshua - they just are not taught to use the Bible very much by that age I guess. But they will be when I'm through with them. :)

apyknowzitall said...

Way to go Julie. Get those youth into shape.

On a side note, I just opened my conference copy of the Ensign and sure enough there was Elder Nelsons talk "Scriptural Witnesses" on pg 43. Excellent talk.

Cabeza said...

Ah yes, it was Elder Nelson that gave the pro-Bible talk this time around. When I said "Ballard in the most recent conference," I actually meant the second to most recent conference--April 2007.

apyknowzitall said...

There's a new game. Put uh, bets on who will give the next pro Bible talk at conference. Now that I think of it, I suppose you can do that with other subjects like porn, stay at home mommies, tithing etc.

Actually a fun game my hubby and I played during the last one was guess the accent.

Julie C said...

Speaking of games - anyone care to share their favorite version of scripture chase? What makes the game worthwhile? Individual or teams? Any other favorite games that can be played at church? So far I've used hangman, charades, memory, pictionary, and acting out a skit.

Amy Jean said...

as long as we're discussing games-does anyone else miss testimony bingo?

Nick said...

Is that the one with bonus square in the middle replaced with the word "fiber"? (as in: "with every fiber of my being"). There should also be one for "in the name of thy Son...", since about 80% of the people in my ward forget that they're bearing a testimony and not praying. (ok, so I really do like my ward. I also like making fun of it.)

apyknowzitall said...

The major thing I remember that makes chase worthwhile was whether or not brownies were involved.

Ben and Shara said...

Jen and Nick are you around still? I keep up with your blog weekly. I'm always amazed at your scholarly writing. Would you mind updating me on your plans? What are you up to?

Nick said...

Scholarly? I guess we need another post where we talk about farting.

Speaking of farting, Lucy is quite the little tooter. Everytime she farts (loudly, like an adult male), she'll smile and say "Lucy toot!" She prefers passing gas when she is sitting on our laps.

apyknowzitall said...

Hmmm... no doubt on who her dad is.

Nick said...

I don't recall ever passing gas on your lap.

apyknowzitall said...

No but Joe HAS told me stories.

Nick said...

Ah yes. I have probably passed gas on his lap.