Several months ago we published an article focusing on the Greek words in the Book of Mormon. After we published it we received more than a handful of inquiries about the numbers for each word.
In light of your requests I enlisted a devoted partner of LAM to double check my work. Thanks to Alice’s kindness, here is the final tally! I chose to only count the Greek words up to the end of Helaman as that takes the reader up to circa 1 BC to 1 AD.
The original article that focused on this subject was written because of Joseph Smith’s claims published in Times and Seasons, vol. 4, (November 1842-November 1843), Vol. 4, No. 13 May 15, 1843, pg. 194. Here in part is what he said;
“The error I speak of, is the definition of the word “MORMON.” It has been stated that this word was derived from the Greek word mormo. This is not the case. There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of God, translated the Book of Mormon Let the language of that book speak for itself.”
In order to understand the significance of Smith’s claims let us first take a step on the side of being objective and look at the origins of the Greek language, the use of Koine Greek in the New Testament, and what was taking place in that geographical area at that particular time.
The Israelites spoke Hebrew up until 586 BC, the time of the Babylonian Empire. During this takeover the Babylonians discovered that they had better control of the people when they separated them into small colonies. Along with a geographical move there also came a change to the language of the common people. This is where the Aramaic language (a sister language of Hebrew) came onto the scene in the lives of the Hebrew people and some parts of the Bible.
Fast forward about 250 years (336 BC) and we are presented with the military takeover and conquests of Alexander the Great. He was arguably the most thorough, if not one of the most successful rulers in the history of time. At the time of his death in 323 BC, his empire included the Middle East, Greece, western India, Syria and Egypt. Wherever he went he left his fingerprint of Hellenism. This culture had dug its heels in deep enough to survive the birth and takeover of the Roman Empire some 300 years later at the time of Christ. Hence, today we still hear of the Greco-Roman culture. Its effect stretched itself out some six hundred years in all.
Koine Greek is what makes up major portions of the New Testament and is known as “common” or vulgar Greek. This type of Greek was used by the population at large, while the people in government circles spoke what is known as “Attic-Ionic” Greek during the Greek. This went on up until the time of the Roman Empire. During the reign of the Roman Empire, those in government spoke Latin while the commoners continued to speak Koine Greek. By the time Jesus was born, Greek had become an international language.
The exception to this rule was the Israelites. We have proof that the Hebrew people spoke Aramaic with their various dialects.
Being bi-lingual was for the upper-class only. Although Hebrew was spoken as well, it was done so by the priests of Judaism or those of privilege such as the Apostle Paul.
In addition to Jesus being able to speak Aramaic (“Abba” is Aramaic for “daddy” – Mark 14:36), we also know that He could speak Greek because of His various conversations with those around Him. The woman with the demon-possessed child in Matthew 14 and His conversation with Pontius Pilate are just two examples. We also know that Jesus could at least read Hebrew because of His encounters in the temple with the priests when He corrected their understanding of Scripture. John 7:14-17.
Proof of the many languages in existence comes from John 19:19-20;
“And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin.”
After His resurrection, Jesus gave the disciples the order to go out and make disciples of men (Matt. 28:18-20; the Great Commission). Their travels were made easier to the outlying towns and sea ports due in large part to the works and slave labor of commoners during the time of Alexander the Great. Thanks to this grand event in history, Jesus’ command to spread the gospel was without a doubt made possible.
Just as missionaries of today, the disciples who carried the gospel out of Jerusalem had to know the locals and understand their culture. Thus, our finding the New Testament being written in Hellenistic or Koine Greek.
What I find amazing is how God allowed all these things to happen up until that time, knowing the roads would be built, (the Appian Way is just one example) and the culture so widespread making it possible for the early Church missionaries to carry the Good News! It is said in the Bible, as well as many historical records that the Gospel spread rapidly. If you’ve ever wondered how that was possible now you have a little glimpse into the answer why! (See Acts chapters 1 through 9.)
Something else that I’ve found amazing is the audacity of Joseph Smith and his apparent arrogance in trying to push a “new testament” of Jesus while claiming it came directly from the mouth of God. It is obvious that he was jealous of the four individuals who wrote the gospels and left their mark in history like no one else ever would or could.
It is also apparent from his outlandish claims of superior intellect and the stupidity of others through the annals of time that he wanted his name to last as the writers of the New Testament have done. Ironically enough, the authors wanted nothing of the sort. The purpose of responding to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to write the gospels and other books was to bring attention to Jesus Christ, not them. The Good News wasn’t what they had done, but what God had done for mankind by sending a Messiah for all.
Now with our history lesson behind us, let’s examine what the Book of Mormon says and make an analytical decision based on fact.
Below you’ll see that we have listed several Greek and Latin words that Smith used while writing the Book of Mormon. We’re still compiling the totals of each time they appear, so look for that in the next month or so and keep in mind these aren’t the only words we’ve found.
Abomination Bible Church Commandmant
Apostle Christ Confound Cross
Baptize Christians Contentious Crucified
Disciples Intercession Omnipotent Revelation
Epistle Jesus Christ Pastor Rude
Gospel Liberty Preach Saint
Grace Monster Religion Scripture
Industry Omega Resurrection
To date the count is almost 2,000 words.
Think about it…
What is the probability that the people of the Book of Mormon were using Greek words in the Americas when Greek wasn’t really a common language of the masses until circa 336 BC? The accounts from the Book of Mormon in First Nephi tell us that they fled Jerusalem circa 600 BC. And don’t forget what we learned earlier; the Israelites spoke Aramaic, not Greek.
One example of how ridiculous Smith’s claims are can be found in the word “bible”. This particular word in the Greek is biblia, meaning books. In the fifth century this name was given to the accepted collection of letters written by the original witnesses. The name Bible was often used by Wycliffe and then gradually introduced and adopted into our English language.
The entire scenario with the Book of Mormon is so confusing on multiple levels that it is disheartening at best to try and explain this problem to an average LDS member; in particular my own mother.
Another good example of how the Mormon Church continues to laud Smith’s name can be found in the LDS Gem that I received via e-mail on February 6, 2008. Once again the Church does not promote looking at truth, but instead bases their theology on a feel-good religion of “happiness”. Mr. Hinckley got one part of his message right in the LDS Gem that was sent out today. Smith’s name is indeed known for both good and evil. It said;
Gordon B. Hinckley, “Benediction,” Ensign, Nov. 2005, 103; ““[Joseph Smith] was a young man, then a poor farm boy with very little education. He had nothing. His parents had nothing. He lived in a rural community, scarcely recognized outside its borders. And yet the angel [Moroni] said to him that ‘he was a messenger sent from the presence of God . . . ; that God had a work for [Joseph] to do; and that [his] name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people’ (Joseph Smith–History 1:33). “How could such a thing be? Joseph must have wondered. He must have been absolutely stunned.”
There are two more items of interest when studying the Book of Mormon. As I was perusing the chapters and verses looking for Greek and/or Latin, I came across Alma 41:15;
“For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all.”
Restored/restoration is a Latin word and then we have Smith telling everyone in black and white their “restoration” has no mercy. I’ve been dealing with Mormonism for 44 years now; that equates to my entire life. In those four and half decades I have been shocked more than once while reading their blasphemous teachings. With that being said, I have to tell the reader that one verse sandwiched into the “holy book” of Mormonism literally brought me to my knees. I’ve never…
The only thing Smith’s vision of a “restoration” did for my people were to demean them on the road to hell.
If you’re LDS I would ask that you look at this evidence from an objective point of view. I remember having serious misgivings about some of the teachings of Mormonism when I was LDS. I decided to meet those doubts head on by studying probabilities of truth within the doctrines based on historical fact. I knew two things for certain at the beginning of my search. In my heart I loved Jesus and desperately wanted to know Him more; and I loved the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My years of inactivity hadn’t diminished the loyalty to my heritage, and my loyalty to know the truth had only grown.
We are praying for the Mormon people today and every day and if you’re LDS, that means you too! Know that we don’t do this out of animosity or any contention on our part, but out of deep concern for your very soul.
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With Love in Christ;
1 Cor. 1:18
Book of Mormon
New Scofield Study Bible (KJV)
The Archaeological Study Bible
The Amplified Bible
Holman Bible Dictionary
Easton Bible Dictionary
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
Professor Dave Hebert (Sunday school teacher at my home church. He teaches Survey of the Old Testament.)