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Comparing Isaiah in the Bible and the Book of Mormon (Part 1)

The following is a comparison of Chapter 6 in the First Book of Nephi (1 Nephi 20-21) in the original 1830 edition text of the Book of Mormon (BOM) and Isaiah 48-49 of the King James version of the Old Testament. In several instances, prophets in the BOM quote from Old Testament prophets, whose writing were contained on the plates of brass. There are several differences between the King James version of the revelations of Isaiah and the text provided by Nephi in the Herald Heritage Reprint (1973) of the 1830 edition of the BOM. It should be noted that much of the text (excluding spelling errors) in the 1830 edition and today’s 2013 version of the BOM are nearly identical. Some differences include changing the word “which” to “who” and adding “or out of the waters of baptism” in 1 Nephi 20:1 in later additions of the BOM (most likely to provide clarity to the meaning “waters of Judah”).

Text that is found in the BOM but not found in the Old Testament will be bolded, underlined, and italicizedText that is included in the Old Testament and not found in the BOM will have a line through the text. The chapters will not be reproduced in their entirety, but all changes aside from spelling errors will be noted.

“First Book of Nephi: Chapter 6” (1 Nephi 20)/Isaiah 48

Verse 1.”Hearken and hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, which swear by the name of the Lord, and make mention of the God of Israel, yet they swear but not in truth, nor in righteousness-”

2. “Nevertheless For they call themselves of the Holy city, but they do not and stay themselves upon the God of Israel, which is the Lord of hosts; yea, the Lord of hosts is his name.”

3. “Behold, I have declared the former things from the beginning; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I shewed them; I did shew them suddenly, and they came to pass.

4. “And I did it because I knew that thou art obstinate, and thy neck was an iron sinew, and thy brow brass;”

5. “And I have, even from the beginning, declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed them it thee; and I shewed them for fear lest thou shouldst say, Mine idol hath done them; and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.”

6. “Thou hast seen and heard see all this; and will ye not declare them it? And that I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.”

7. “They are created now, and not from the beginning; even before the day when thou heardest them not, they were declared unto thee, lest thou shouldst say, Behold, I knew them.”

8. “Yea, and thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time, that thine ear was not opened…”

9. “Nevertheless, for my name‘s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain from for thee…”

10. “For, behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”

11. “For mine own sake, yea even, for mine own sake, will I do this it; for I will not suffer how should my name to be polluted…”

12. “Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; for I am he; and I am the first, and I am also also am the last.”

13. “Mine hand hath also also hath laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: and when I called unto them, and they stand up together.”

14. “All ye, assemble yourselves, and hear; which among them hath declared these things unto them? The Lord hath loved him: yea, and he will fulfill his word which he hath declared by them; and he will do his pleasure on Babylon, and his arm shall come upon be on the Chaldeans.”

15. “Also, saith the Lord; I the Lord, yea, even I have spoken, yea, I have called him, to declare I have brought him…”

16. “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was declared, have I spoken there am I; and now the Lord God, and his spirit, hath sent me.”

17. “And thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy one of Israel; I have sent him am, the Lord thy God, which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldst go, hath done it.

19. “Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof…”

20. “…with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it even to the end of the earth…”

21. “And they thirsted not; when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he cleaved clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.”

22. “And notwithstanding he hath done all this, and greater also, There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.”

“First Book of Nephi: Chapter 6” (1 Nephi 21)/Isaiah 49

1. “And again: Hearken, O ye house of Israel, all ye that are broken off and driven out, because of the wickedness of the pastors of my people; yea, all ye that are broken off, that are scattered abroad, which are of my people, O house of Israel. Listen, O isles, unto me…”

4. “…I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain; yet surely, my judgment is with the Lord…”

5. “And now, saith the Lord, that formed me from the womb that I should to be his servant…”

7. “Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nations abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.

8. “Thus saith the Lord, In an acceptable time I have heard thee, O isles of the sea, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee my servant for a covenant of the people…”

9. “That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that sit are in darkness, Shew yourselves…”

12. “And then, O house of Israel, behold, these shall come from far…”

13. “Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; for the feet of them which are in the east shall be established; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for they shall be smitten no more: for the Lord hath comforted his people…”

14. “But, behold, Zion hath said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me; but he will shew that he hath not.

15. “For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.

17. “Thy children shall make haste against thy destroyers; and they that made thee waste, shall go forth of thee.”

18. “Lift up thine eyes round about, and behold: all these gather themselves together, and they shall come to thee. And as I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely clothe thee with them all, as with an ornament, and bind them on thee even as a bride doeth.”

19. “The children which thou shalt have, after thou hast lost the other, shall again in thine ears say shall say again in thine ears, the place is too strait for me…”

21. “…Behold, I was left alone; these, where have had they been?

24. “For shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captives delivered?”

26. ” And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood…”

 

An Argument in Favor of the Divinity of the Book of Mormon Translation (Part I)

The following is an examination of the hypothesis that Joseph Smith was able to produce the Book of Mormon by dictating it to his scribes by either making it up as he went along, or by using an outline (which all witnesses say Joseph never had). It is hypothesized that if he were able to use a story outline to produce the Book of Mormon (while hiding it from his translators), then the production of the Book of Mormon would be a plausible undertaking. In this post and in subsequent posts, I will attempt to prove this hypothesis false, and in turn giving greater support for the veracity of the Book of Mormon as a divine translation of an ancient record. For Part 1 of this examination, I will look at how the complex meta-narrative makes it unlikely that Joseph dictated the Book of Mormon from his memory, beginning his dictation with the Book of Mosiah after having lost the 116 original first pages of the manuscript (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705384845/Scholars-Corner-The-stolen-chapters-of-Mosiah.html?pg=all). In future posts, I will add upon this first post by suggesting that additional outlines needed for individual books and chapters of the Book of Mormon suggest a level of complexity that is not characteristic of a fraudulent record dictated to scribes without the use of manuscripts.

1. The use of a meta-outline: After Joseph Smith and Martin Harris had the first 116 pages of the original manuscript stolen from them, it is believed by both members of the LDS faith and most critics alike that Joseph Smith resumed his translation from the Book of Mosiah, rather than going back and translating the story from the beginning with 1 Nephi (http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705384845/Scholars-Corner-The-stolen-chapters-of-Mosiah.html?pg=all). No doubt it would have been easier for Joseph to go back and rewrite the story from the beginning, especially since the events of the Book of Lehi would have been fresh in his mind. However, it seems that if Joseph did invent the Book of Mormon, then he performed the translation in the most difficult fashion possible by writing the rest of the Book of Mormon from the Book of Mosiah and back-referencing specific events that happened earlier in the narrative. Here are several examples of references from the latter half of the Book of Mormon (Mosiah-Moroni), referencing events in the first half of the Book of Mormon (1st Nephi-Words of Mormon) that had not yet been written. The number and detail of the references suggest that Joseph did not use his memory from what he translated of the 116 pages to reference in the latter half of the Book of Mormon, and providing detailed enough outlines would have been difficult to both produce and hide from his scribes.

a) THE VISION OF LEHI AND ALMA: Since Alma 36 was written by Joseph and Oliver before 1 Nephi 1, it would be unusual to have Joseph have Alma reference an exact quote from the prophet Lehi found in 1 Nephi 1 had Joseph Smith dictated the Book of Mormon. Alma, however, in telling the story of his repentance, makes a specific reference to 1 Nephi 1.

Alma states: “Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul to long to be there” (Alma 36:22).

Nephi, in abridging the account of his father Lehi, states: “And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God” (1 Nephi 1:8).

These two quotes are found nearly 234 pages apart if compared chronologically to the times they were translated.

b) THE PROPHECY OF THE BRASS PLATES: The content of the brass plates, as well as the prophecies surrounding their purpose are consistently found throughout the Book of Mormon. The prophet Alma references the prophecies made surrounding the purpose and the preservation of the brass plates found in material that was not translated by Joseph until after he had already referenced it:

Nephi states: “And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers” (1 Nephi 5:14)

And these plates of brass, which contain these engravings, which have the records of the holy scriptures upon them, which have the genealogy of our forefathers, even from the beginning” (Alma 37:3).

And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed-That these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed”  (1 Nephi 5:17-18)

Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon” (Alma 37:4)

Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time” (1 Nephi 5:19)

And now behold, if they are kept they must retain their brightness; yea, and also shall all the plates which do contain that which is holy writ” (Alma 37:35)

c) THE LIAHONA: Here is sacred object that was used by Lehi and his family to navigate the more fertile parts of the wilderness while they traveled from Jerusalem to the promised land. It is also interesting to note that the term “Liahona” is never used to name the “ball, or director” until Alma 37:38. The passage suggests that the word Liahona means compass. The language by this time may have been significantly altered by the Nephites, so Alma needs to clarify that the word “compass” was different to Lehi (between 600 B.C. and 580 B.C.) than it was to the people during Alma’s time (73 B.C.)

And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness” (1 Nephi 16:10)

And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness” (Alma 37:39)

And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director-or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it” (Alma 37:38)

And it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work” (1 Nephi 18:12)

And the ball or director, which led our fathers through the wilderness, which was prepared by he hand of the Lord that thereby they might be led, every one according to the heed and diligence which they gave unto him” (Mosiah 1:16)

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them” (1 Nephi 16:28)

d) CORIANTUMR AND THE BOOK OF ETHER:

The following are references to characters, events and prophecies found in the first half of the Book of Mormon (The Book of Omni) that were mentioned in the latter-half of the Book of Mormon (the Book of Ether).

And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it; and he did interpret the engravings by the gift and power of God. And they gave an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people. And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons. It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people; and the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward” (Omni 1:20-22)

Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; and every soul should be destroyed save it were Coriantumr” (Ether 13:21)

e) ZORAM (AND ZORAMITES, JACOBITES, JOSEPHITES): References to the origin of Zoram as well as the use of the name “Zoramites,” “Josephites”, etc.

I am Ammoron, and a descendant of Zoram, whom your fathers pressed and brought out of Jerusalem” (Alma 54:23)

And it came to pass that Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake. Now Zoram was the name of the servant; and he promised that he would go down into the wilderness unto our father. Yea, and he also made an oath unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth” (1 Nephi 4:35)

Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true worshipers of Christ, (among whom were the three disciples of Jesus who should tarry) were called Nephites, and Jacobites, and Josephites, and Zoramites” (4 Nephi 1:37)

And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites…” (4 Nephi 1:39)

Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites” (Jacob 1:13)

f) THE SWORD OF LAMAN: Another object that is mentioned briefly in the latter half of the Book of Mormon, but then has its origin revealed in the first half, which was translated last.

And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us” (2 Nephi 5:14)

and also the plates of Nephi: and also, the sword of Laban, and the ball or director…” (Mosiah 1:16)

g) ZARAHEMLA AND THE MULEKITES: There is a lot of significant material found in the following passages. First, the people of Mosiah, upon fleeing from the land of Nephi, find the people of Zarahemla, who were descendants of Mulek, a son of King Zedekiah. These people lived northward of the original landing of Lehi. There is remarkable consistency found throughout the Book of Mormon of the identity of the people of Zarahemla, the identity of Mulek, and the location of which they landed.

and they were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla. And they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla…Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon” (Omni 1:13-15)

My son, I would that ye should make a proclamation throughout all this land among all this people, or the people of Zarahemla, and the people of Mosiah who dwell in the land, that thereby they may be gathered together…” (Mosiah 1:10)

Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those that were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness” (Mosiah 25:2)

And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of who bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing” (Alma 22:30)

Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was callled Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah, for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10)

And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem?” (Helaman 8:21)

h) GEOGRAPHY: It is remarkable that the geography of the Book of Mormon is so well-established, especially since the initial translation of the latter half of the Book of Mormon (Book of Mosiah) begins after the Nephites have already left the land of Nephi and merged with those of the land of Zarahemla, which was northward. In Mosiah 7 the people decide to travel back to the land of Nephi to see what happened to those who traveled there under the command of Zeniff.

Land of Nephi:

And my people would that we should call the name of the place Nephi; wherefore, we did call it Nephi” (2 Nephi 5:8, after separating from the Lamanites)

“Mosiah, who was made king over the land of Zarahemla; for behold, he being warned of the Lord that he should flee out of the land of Nephi, and as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord…“(Omni 1:12)

And Ammon took three of his brethren, and their names were Amaleki, Helem, and Hem, and they went down into the land of Nephi” (Mosiah 7:6)

Land of Zarahemla/Land Northward:

And they were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla” (Omni 1:14)

And the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward” (Omni 1:22)

And it bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing” (Alma 22:30)

Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10) This may also suggest that the original place of landing by the Nephites was called the Land of Lehi, then after the death of Lehi and the separation of the Nephites and the Lamanites, the people named the land Nephi, after Nephi, their current leader (see Alma 8:7)

i) SEED OF JOSEPH: 

Behold, we are a remnant of the seed of Jacob, yea, we are a remnant of the seed of Joseph, whose coat was rent by his brethren into many pieces” (Alma 46:23)

And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt…” (1 Nephi 5:14)

These are just a few examples of the narrative consistency between the latter portion of the Book of Mormon (Mosiah-Moroni) and the first portion (1 Nephi-Words of Mormon). These suggest a detailed and well-thought narrative was made in order to write the Book of Mormon half-way into the narrative and then back-reference events and quotes that had not yet been written. Of course, I believe that this provides evidence that the Book of Mormon was a divine translation of an ancient record.

“Thus Saith The Lord:” Calling into Question Beliefs of How Revelation Should Be Received.

I have decided to examine some examples of prophets recording the word of the Lord in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Many critics argue that modern-day LDS revelations, some of which have gone through grammatical and textual changes, are false revelations. They argue that because the revelations are not perfect or went through revisions, then they are not the words of the Lord. Essentially, critics demand that revelations be written in perfect form, without revision, and in one sitting. As far as I know, the assumption that revelations from the Lord must be written in one sitting without change or revision is not based on any Biblical or historical evidence. I will argue that there is absolutely no reason to suggest that when a prophet says “Thus saith the Lord” that every word that comes out of his mouth is what exactly what the Lord said, down to the last exclamation point. The Bible and Book of Mormon are shrouded in mystery on the subject of how revelations are recorded, so I do not claim to know for a surety how revelation is received and recorded in ancient scripture. What I do hope to do is help the reader understand the possibility that when we are criticizing modern-day revelations that we are doing so based on our own assumptions of what revelation should be and not what it actually is as presented in ancient scripture. All of the points I make and questions I ask are pure speculation and are not meant to provide conclusive evidence of how revelation is received. I ask these rhetorical questions because I want to show that the nature of recording prophetic revelations are seldom brought to light in ancient scripture, and unfortunately our own assumptions tend to fill the void. (I will be citing from the King James Version of the Bible and the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon)

Before I begin, I would like to ask some rhetorical questions to help set the stage to challenge assumptions about ancient and modern day revelation:

  1. Do prophets in the Bible and Book of Mormon, when quoting the Lord, literally quote him word for word?
  2. What happens when the voice of the Lord comes to a prophet when they do not have a quill and parchment on hand? Do they  write what they heard the Lord say according to their memory?
  3. Did the prophets wait for the Lord to speak to them, and then literally write down every single word that the Lord spoke in real time?
  4. If prophets write the words of the Lord according to their memory, does that mean that there would be human errors in the revelation? Does the Holy Ghost prevent errors from being made?

I will begin by examining some examples of the Lord commanding his prophets to write his words as found in the Book of Mormon. The following examples have helped strengthen my testimony in the revelations from the Lord through Joseph Smith because it has helped me break down my own assumptions about the nature of recording prophetic revelation.

EXAMPLE #1: The first example is of the Brother of Jared in the Book of Ether.The Brother of Jared has a miraculous vision of the Spiritual Lord Jesus Christ when the Lord touches clear stones in order to provide light in the Jaredite barges. The Brother of Jared quotes the Lord in Ether 3:7,9,11,13-16,21-24. According to Moroni, who abridged the Book of Ether, these writings are much longer, but he is forbidden to write them down (v. 17).

The Brother of Jared quotes the Lord for many verses, and yet he had the vision while he was at the top of a mountain without means to write down what he heard. It is after he has the marvelous vision that the Lord commands him to descend and write down what he saw and heard (Ether 4:1). We do not know by what means he wrote down this miraculous and lengthy vision. It is possible that he wrote it all according to his memory or was guided by the Holy Ghost. It is possible that he wrote it in one sitting without revision, or he wrote it, and revised it several times before being satisfied with it. All of these options are pure speculation.

The prophet Moroni, in Ether 4, then goes on to say that the Lord spoke to him and commanded him to write the words of the Brother of Jared, and he quotes the Lord’s commandment in verses 6-19. In Ether 5:1, Moroni may give us a clue as to what actually happens (on at least this one occasion) when a prophet writes down the words of the Lord. He states: “And now I, Moroni, have written the words which were commanded me, according to my memory; and I have told you the things which I have sealed up…” If Moroni is referring to the words of the Lord in verses 6-19, then the words that are spoken by the Lord may not be word for word what was spoken to Moroni, but rather the words of the Lord as he remembered to the best of his ability.

EXAMPLE #2: The second example I will offer from the Book of Mormon comes from the writings of 1 Nephi. Nephi is commanded to write a record on two separate sets of metal plates (1 Nephi 19:1) after he and his family arrive in the Americas, about 11 years (589 B.C.) after they left Jerusalem. Previous to writing on the plates of ore, Nephi experiences miraculous visions of angels and of the Spirit of the Lord. Specifically, Nephi has the vision of the tree of life and his interactions with the Spirit of the Lord and an angel are found in 1 Nephi 11-14. This vision comprises 12 pages of dialogue between Nephi, the Spirit of the Lord, an angel, as well as physical descriptions of what Nephi saw. While it is possible that, shortly after having them, Nephi wrote down his visions on another source, such as parchment. However, Nephi does not begin to write down his experiences on the plates of ore until nearly 11 years after his experiences. It is possible that Nephi is writing according to his memory, and thus the words of the Lord are not the exact words spoken, but nevertheless they are the doctrines and events that the Lord commanded to be written. Other examples of Nephi receiving the word of the Lord prior to making the small and large plates include 1 Nephi 2:19-24 and 1 Nephi 17:53.

EXAMPLE #3: The third example I will give of prophets writing the words of the Lord well after receiving them comes from Helaman 10. Nephi has decided to return home after validating a prophecy he made about the murder of the Chief Judge. Helaman 10:2-3 states: “And it came to pass that Nephi went his way towards his own house, pondering upon the things which the Lord had shown unto him… And it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him…” The Lord then speaks for 8 verses or 289 words. What happens after he hears the voice of the Lord is important to consider when understanding the nature of recorded revelations. It states in verse 12: “when the Lord had spoken these words unto Nephi, he did stop and did not go unto his own house, but did return unto the multitudes…to declare unto them the word of the Lord which had been spoken unto him.” In verse 12, we find that Nephi did not receive this revelation in his home, at his desk, with a parchment, quill, and ink to write down the exact words of the Lord. He instead turned around and returned to the city to preach the words of the Lord, and then he or someone else wrote the words afterwards. Just how he went about writing the words of the Lord—whether by memory, the Holy Ghost, or some other means—we are not sure.

EXAMPLE #4: The revelations of Isaiah and the words of Moses in Exodus are hardly put through as much scrutiny by Christians as are the revelations of Joseph Smith. Yet the words of Isaiah and Moses are similar to that of Joseph Smith’s revelations in that they claim to quote the Lord (“saith the Lord”) and they do so uninterrupted for many pages. Unlike the revelations of Joseph Smith, some of which were received and recorded in the presence of witnesses, we know very little about when or how the revelations of Isaiah and Moses were written. In Isaiah 1, Isaiah writes claiming that what he writes are the words of the Lord himself (“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord” Isaiah 1:18). This chapter is two pages long in the KJV Bible. What we don’t know about this chapter, as well as other verses in Isaiah quoting the Lord (see Isaiah 7:3-9, Isaiah 6:1,3-10,12), is how this revelation was recorded. Did Isaiah make several revisions of his account? Did he receive the revelation and simultaneously write it down, or did he record it hours, days, or years after the fact? Did the Holy Spirit give him power to remember the exact words spoken to him, or did he record it to the best of his knowledge? Those who criticize the revelations of Joseph Smith do so without understanding that prophets such as Isaiah may have used the exact same methods to produce their writings, such as recording from their memories or making multiple revisions. If it were somehow proven that Isaiah made multiple revisions of his writings and wrote the words of the Lord according to his memory then critics would not have ammunition to criticize LDS revelations. What we do know about ancient prophecies, however, is that we don’t know much about them.

The writings of Moses are also very similar to the revelations given by Joseph Smith because he also claims to quote the Lord God and often records the words of the Lord after he has heard them. In Exodus 19, the Lord is quoted on several occasions. We know he is quoting the Lord because in verse 3 it reads “And the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob” and in verse 9 it reads “And the Lord said unto Moses…” and he goes on to quote the Lord. (see Exodus 19:3-6, 9-13,20-22,24). Most of Exodus 20 also quotes the Lord, as well as all of chapters 21-23. In Exodus 24 it is suggested that Moses came down out of the mountain, after receiving chapters 20-23 from the Lord, spoke these commandments to Israel, and then wrote them down after he had spoken them to the people. It would be a superhuman feat for Moses to have copied the exact words of the Lord (nearly 7 pages in the KJV) without divine help after having spoken them to the House of Israel. Seldom do Christians question this accomplishment, some of whom believe the Bible to be the perfect word of God. We do not know exactly how this revelation was received or recorded. Similar to the questions asked previously about the revelations of Isaiah, I would like to ask again: did Moses write down the exact words of God? Did he bring a quill and parchment to write word for word the commandments of the Lord on the mountain? Did he write according to his memory, or did the Holy Spirit expand his memory to perfection? Did he make multiple revisions to these revelations, or did he write them perfectly, in one draft and in one sitting?

Once again, the point I am making is that we know very little about how ancient prophets recorded the words of the Lord. How much do we put our perceptions of what revelation “should be” on what revelation actually is? Since we know very little about how the word of the Lord was received in ancient times, it is unreasonable for us to challenge modern-day revelations according to our unfounded beliefs of how revelation from the Lord should be received.