Monday, October 1, 2012

2 Nephi 22: Isaiah, Director's Cut

This is another copy of Isaiah.  These are not the most interesting chapters to read or to comment on.

It's only six verses and it almost exactly mirrors Isaiah chapter 12, with a few differences in punctuation.  My favorite difference is at the end of the first verse, when the already odd-sounding, archaic "comfortedst" is altered to "comfortedest."  This seems to be simply a misspelling of an early modern English verb form.  It's interesting, though, that the only real differences in so many of these Isaiah chapters are punctuation and spelling.

As far as I can tell, the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew.  Around 600 BC, Nephi's family took a copy of the Hebrew scriptures with them to the Americas.  Somewhere over the next thousand years and a few abridgments, Nephi's copies of Isaiah chapters got translated into some language called "Reformed Egyptian," which Joseph Smith then translated into English.  I guess the closeness to the established book of Isaiah after all that time and those translations could be faith-promoting for a believing Mormon.

But unfortunately, Mormonism teaches that one of the reasons we need the Book of Mormon so much is because, over the centuries, evil men had altered or removed the "plain and precious truths" from the scriptures, rendering the King James Bible flawed and incomplete.  But considering that what became the King James Bible was translated piecemeal from various translations and with an ear to established scriptural traditions (meaning the translators' choices were sometimes practical instead of inspired) and prone to those evil conspiring men messing it all up, it seems very suspicious to me that two versions of the same text took very different linguistic journeys in distinct civilizations on opposite sides of the globe only to result in minute punctuation differences.

That isn't evidence that the Book of Mormon is true.  It's evidence that Joseph Smith simply copied large sections of the Old Testament.

Actually, sitting down and thinking about this for more than a minute makes me disappointed with my own reasoning skills for not working this out much, much earlier in life.

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