Jon Gary Williams sent this question for Mormons to a discussion list, and he gave me permission to post it here.

Here is a devastating question for Mormons. Several times I have asked the official LDS web site for an answer. Never a response. And from the nature of the question it is no wonder. Here’s the question.

I have found something that is disturbing. In my reading I noticed that II Nephi 15:21 is a direct quote of John 10:16 in the KJV of the Bible. Since the KJV dates only to 1611 A.D., how can this be explained? And since the Book of Mormon was unknown in 1611, this means also that the KJV translators could not have copied it. I considered that this may be just a coincidence. However, this seems highly unlikely, not to mention that III Nephi 15:21 also contains the italicized word “and” supplied by the KJV translators. Can you please give me an explanation?

Regards, Jon Gary Williams

Update: Jon tells me you can get his free book The Book of Mormon: A Book of Error and Fraud by writing him here.

8 thoughts on “Question for Mormons

  1. There are many unknowns that make it impossible to answer the question. First, was John 10:16 the first time that that expression was written and I would say… we don’t know. It is almost universally accepted that a previous document referred to as the Q Gospel is the source of all the similarities in the Gospels and preceded them all. We also do not know the writings that were available to the author of the book of John. He did not have the Old Testament as we think of it today, nice and bound in one book and strictly canonized. The Dead Sea Scrolls created a big question mark in what letters, small histories, etc. were viewed as authoritative by first century Christians and variations within the holy land in which books were available.

    Second, we don’t know the exact process of translation and what “translation” means in terms of the Book of Mormon. Was it a rigorous, word for word translation from one language to another as we think of a translator’s job today, the answer is- no, it was not. For example, for most of the Book of Mormon translation process scribes reported that Joseph didn’t even look at the plates, sometimes he used special instruments, sometimes he didn’t but that words just rolled out of his mouth and the scribe wrote them down. The original papers show no punctuation or edits except for specific spelling of names. There is also an argument for Joseph ‘translating’ the ideas into the language of his day and knowledge which would be the language of the King James Bible. So should we necessarily be surprised that such is the case? No, not if the ideas and principles are coming from a God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

    So a definitive answer is not as easy as your question would imply. Ultimately I believe God prepared a certain amount of ambiguity so that the decision to follow his commandments and Son was not strictly a matter of the mind but also of the heart. We must rely on the feelings of the Holy Spirit to recognize truth and goodness and not decide based on results from a lab.

    I thought I’d also point out that your reference is incorrect, it should be 3rd Nephi 15:21, 2nd Nephi 15:21 reads:

    Wo unto the wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight!

    I’m not making that up and the exclamation point is not my own, that is exactly how the verse appears.

  2. David:

    You are correct. It is III Nephi, not II Nephi. Thanks for noticing this.

    The comments in your first paragraph regarding this Book of Mormon quotation of John 10:16 are not clear and fail to address the problem. It almost seems that you do not comprehend the problem.

    The comments in your second paragraph show you do not understand the Mormon claim of how the Book of Mormon came to be. It was not a “translation” — Smith merely dictated what he claimed he saw revealed through a “peep stone” placed in a hat. Smith clamied (and all Mormon authorities claim) that as each word was dictated it was written down by a “scribe.” Further, the claim is that if the word was incorrectly written the word on the peep stone would remain until it was written correctly. In other words, no room for error. This is the standard argument used by Mormons to “establish” the accuracy of the Book of Mormon!

    The problem created by this direct quote from John 10:16 (including the italicized “and”) is obvious! It could not have been a “translation” from some ancient plates which were supposed to have been written some 1600 years earlier! Your comments do not deal with this real and precarious circumstance.

    Clearly, Smith (or whoever composed the Book of Mormon) copied John 10:16 right out of the KJV. It was a major blunder which exposes this book as fraudulent.

  3. Jon, You are entitled to your beliefs and understanding of Mormon scripture and I am not attempting to change you beliefs in a quick exchange in a blog post, I simply want to allow readers to know that there are alternative opinions.

    If my logic was not clear in my earlier response it was because I jumped back a few steps in my mind getting at the underlying assumptions in your question and language and then started explaining from there. So, perhaps going back to the beginning, the original text with my comments:

    Here is a devastating question for Mormons. (It’s not devastating at all, as if this was the first time someone noticed that the language in the Book of Mormon appears similar to the KJV or that there are two prominent sections where the text is nearly identical to KJV passages namely in Isaiah or the Gospels.)

    Several times I have asked the official LDS web site for an answer. Never a response. (this is simply false, at mormon.org you can chat live with a church representative, if you sincerely wanted to know what Mormons thought about the issue you could find out. If you’re sending questions directly to the webmaster of site that handles millions of hits with countless requests for information do you honestly think they would respond if they sense any trace that the request is not sincere but simply trying to pick a fight.)

    I have found something that is disturbing. There are millions of well-educated, logical folks that have the same information in front of them yet are not disturbed

    In my reading (the fact that you incorrectly referenced the passage and failed to notice that this verse is not limited to John 10:16 but that the entire section parallels the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew makes me seriously doubt that you actually did the reading yourself.)

    I noticed that II Nephi 15:21 is a direct quote of John 10:16 in the KJV of the Bible. Since the KJV dates only to 1611 A.D., how can this be explained? And since the Book of Mormon was unknown in 1611, this means also that the KJV translators could not have copied it. I considered that this may be just a coincidence. (neither Mormons, nor you think it is a coincidence, such a statement is included merely to mock, my previous response addressed some of the underlying assumptions in these questions, i.e. using what translators had available to them at the time of translation as a judgement for what verses have ancient authenticity. The same argument you use against the Book of Mormon is used against the New Testament itself in regards to the similar languages and passages of the Gospels. Critics use that as evidence that the books are fables, made up and copied and embellished over time, yet believers and scholars explain the similarities by a document Q which no one has ever seen or which there is no hard evidence. If we are going strictly on hard evidence it could be a perfectly logical conclusion that the Gospels in the New Testament are simply creative spinoffs of some previously published book, which is exactly the argument you are attempting to make about the Book of Mormon)

    However, this seems highly unlikely, not to mention that II Nephi 15:21 also contains the italicized word “and” supplied by the KJV translators. (again, simply false, I have multiple editions in my home and none contain such italicized words)

    Clearly, Smith (or whoever composed the Book of Mormon) copied John 10:16 right out of the KJV. It was a major blunder which exposes this book as fraudulent. (if you were a con man and spent such meticulous effort for such things as making sure to be completely internally consistent in geography, which the Book of Mormon is, to the level of a Tolkien novel, which he comparatively had years to perfect, compared to the couple months in which the Book of Mormon was produced, would you suddenly think you could just slip in some verses from the most famous book in history and hope nobody noticed… any fraud with half a brain would have been more sly than that. So on one hand to say Joseph Smith was a genius religious myth maker and on the other say he made such a silly error, just does not match up. There must be something more to it.)

  4. David:

    You say, “…the language in the Book of Mormon appears similar to the KJV…” No, it does not “appear” to be similar – IT IS THE SAME! I possess a photocopy of the original printing of the book of Mormon as it came off the press. THE ITALICIZED “AND” IS THERE! Of course, in more recent editions of the Book of Mormon this has been deleted, for an obvious reason – which is true of literally scores of other deletions as well as additions and changes.

    Your attempt to explain away this gigantic problem is grossly flawed. And your attempt to say the Bible has equal problems is, likewise, flawed. But, of course, this is the standard response offered when textual flaws in the Book of Mormon are pointed out.

    You say, “The same argument you use against the Book of Mormon is used against the New Testament itself…” If this is true, then show me a PARALLEL EXAMPLE – of the New Testament quoting from a writing known to have originated hundreds of years later! That would be the parallel – but, of course, you know there is no such parallel!

    David, the direct quote including the “and” shows this verse was COPIED right out of the KJV. This clearly exposes fraudulent nature of the Book of Mormon.

    By the way, I did “chat live” with Mormons!!! They gave me the run around and finally cut me off! Why don’t you “chat live” and present this problem to them – then tell me what they say!

    I’m curious. Why don’t you tell me how you think this direct quote from the KJV got into the Book of Mormon. So far you have only surmised a few ideas. Let’s see your EXPLANATION!

  5. I could offer my explanation but it would never be enough or satisfying to you. You have no desire to understand me as a person or why I believe what I do. If I felt it was a safe space to share the deep things of my soul I would share but if the most precious aspects of my life and who I am are to be kicked around as a spectacle why on earth would I share.

    God bless you brother Jon, I sincerely wish you peace and joy in Christ. I also sincerely pray for myself that I will be lead in righteous paths and further light and understanding, that has always been my quest and the quest I will forever continue in.

  6. David:

    You’re last response is puzzling. You sound as though I’ve been personally vindictive. Why you conclude this is beyond me.

    Apparently you have found this evidence of fraud in the Book of Mormon too difficult to solve. And, indeed, it is beyond solving isn’t it. Please open your eyes and take a candid, honest look at what I’m saying. The Book of Mormon is the product of man, not God! It is so fraught through and through with error. The reference I’ve given is only one many! If you’ll give me your postal address I’ll have a copy of my condensed work on the Book of Mormon mailed to you. I believe you’ll appreciate it.

    Regards to you – please be open-minded!

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