Greek and Latin Words and Other Problems in the Book of Mormon Part 1
This is the first of several articles dealing with the “Problems in the Book of Mormon”. Make sure you check back often to see other issues that we see as problematic for the Mormon Church.
One of the things I’ve learned as a Christian is how to read the Bible and understand it’s a personal message to me. When I read the Bible I know for certain God is speaking to me with His promises of things ordained long before the foundation of this world. I’ve learned and have personally experienced the messages He’s provided aren’t just words on a page. They’re tangible promises I can claim for myself each and every day. When Jesus told us in Matthew 16:18 the gates of hell would not prevail against His church I can trust Him for His word. The proof of being able to trust His word is to take a look around anywhere in the world; His church is still here. Another promise is found in Isaiah 40:8 when God said the “word of the Lord endureth forever”. Again, not only I, but millions of others read the Bible every single day.
My prayer for the Mormon people has always been that they would have these types of assurances for themselves. When the Mormon people open the Book of Mormon I wonder if they’ve ever stopped to think about its origins and the promises made by Smith to its authenticity. I know my mother gets a “warm fuzzy feeling” when she sits down to read her Book of Mormon, but I fear the feelings she experiences is from her heritage, not God.
When we read the Bible we can know with certainty where the majority of cities are located and where people lived. Throughout history we’ve been able to document and verify the cities, peoples and events that it claims to have either existed or taken place. The Smithsonian, Museum of Natural History and countless archaeologists have used it to unearth our past. This is not the case with the Book of Mormon. I wrote both aforementioned reputable places and both wrote back with their official responses to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
Neither use it for their research, nor have they validated any of its claims. There are also many books written about the authenticity of the Bible which I highly recommend (the authors are much more eloquent than myself); Josh McDowell and Lee Stroebel are just two examples that come to mind.
Because I am always looking to give Joseph Smith the benefit of the doubt I’d first like to take a look at his promise to the Mormon people about the Book of Mormon. His words are recorded in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 299 as follows;
“There was no Greek of Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of God, translated the Book of Mormon.”
As you will see this is a lie.
On a personal note here I must share something with all of you. When I read statements that Smith made like the one above and compare it with the truth, I am sickened to the very core of who I am. I see the pages of notes I have taken to disprove Joseph Smith and still after all these years cannot believe this is what my own people believe. So if you’re a Mormon take just a moment of your day to verify these things for yourself and if you’re a Christian, please, get on your knees for my people…
One of the first things we’re looking at is Greek words in the Book of Mormon. If Joseph Smith said something he should be able to back it up at all times, not just when “he’s not acting as a prophet”. The following Greek and Latin words are in the Book of Mormon: Apostles, Baptize, Bible, Christ, Christians, Church, Cross, Crucified, Disciples, (*see note at end of article), Epistle, Gospel, Jesus, Religion, Resurrection.
The list above doesn’t include the following New Testament phrases found in the Book of Mormon: Born again, Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit, Lamb of God, Only Begotten, Son of God.
In addition to all that, the following words are from various origins of Latin, Middle English and French: Adieu, Extinction, and Industry.
The reason I have included these words is because of the time they (the languages) came into being. Let’s break this down to take a simple look. Smith was translating these plates from “Reformed Egyptian”. This story was supposed to have taken place from 600 BC to 421 AD.
French was not a language until 700 AD. The French word “adieu” presents itself at the end of the book of Jacob, circa 400 BC. This would mean there is an eleven hundred year discrepancy. If these “plates” are indeed another word from God we need to ask why these contradictions appear. God is not the author of confusion – 1 Corinthians 14:33.
How would someone speaking Reformed Egyptian in 400 BC have the fortitude to use a specific word in a language that hadn’t been invented yet? Maybe it was placed there not by inspiration or translation through God Himself, but maybe it was placed there because it was a made up story Mr. Smith passed on to the Mormon people. After all, who was going to know these things 175 years ago?
The word “industry” caught my attention in Alma 10:4; it didn’t sound like a word I might find in the Bible so I did a little investigating on the origins of that word. I learned that the word “industry” obviously came from the word industrious which is in the Bible (1 Kings 11:28). However, the word industry was first found to be recorded in 1475; some eleven hundred years after the end of the Book of Mormon. It came from its Latin descendent “industria”.
Latin is first known to have existed circa 700 BC, spoken by small groups of people living along the lower Tiber River. It first spread with the Roman Empire throughout Italy, then into Europe and eventually Africa. (Source: “Latin Language. Encyclopedia Britannica. 2006.). The “Middle English Language” existed circa 1100 to 1500 AD (Source: www.wikipedia.org).
Now with the social studies lesson behind us, we need to remind ourselves the people in the Book of Mormon “originated from the land of Jerusalem” and then resided in the Americas circa 600 BC to 421 AD. The words these people used originated in places they never lived in (Italy for example), or the words were created in time frames after the people had died.
I am not a language professor, nor am I an expert in any of the languages we’ve looked at here. I’m a Christian first, and then a wife and mom. However, God created me to bring Him glory and reside inside of me. I listen to His voice as He prompts me to investigate things that don’t make sense. This language problem in the Book of Mormon is one of those cases. I know for a fact that if I can research these simple things, anyone can.
As I’m sure you can tell from my writings I am not an expert on perfect grammar, but feel confident enough to know the following serves as another reason why the Book of Mormon is not an inspired work. Here are some examples with the location and questionable part of the verse.
1 N 22:4; “…the more part of all the tribes have been led away…”
1 N 22:14; “…the pit which they digged…”
2 N 4:14; “…for a more history part are written upon mine other plates.”
2 N 5:33; “…search mine other plates.”
2 N 7:5; “…neither turned away back.”
Now I would humbly ask the sincere seeker of truth if these verses sound like something the God of the Bible would write to His people. I had a conversation with a young Mormon man not long ago about this subject. He told me it was much better to trust someone like Smith over the scholars of Greek and Hebrew who have taken careful consideration when translating the Bible. He said that just because they had studied for fifty years it didn’t mean they were men of God. In light of that here are some other questionable verses.
Omni 1:5; “…the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed.”
Omni 1:21; “…and the slain of his people…”
Alma 16:21; “…having got the victory over the devil…”
Alma 22:28; “…the more idle part of the Lamanites…”
Alma 47:2; “…or the more part of them would not…”
Alma 51:33; “…sleep had overpowered them because of their much fatigue…”
Where in any of these examples can we find comfort for our souls or a promise from the Lord? While I know these examples aren’t in any particular order of things it makes me wonder how they keep focused on God when things like this presents itself. I just can’t imagine God approving of things like this. There are actually dozens of other examples in the Book of Mormon which prove this point; if it were really true wouldn’t it at least have proper grammar? And if you’re a Mormon and ever wondered why you keep getting confused; you’ve just found the answer. When your mind is distracted by things like this it’s next to impossible to keep focused on the task at hand.
Something to keep in mind is what Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:16. If you consider the Book of Mormon to be scripture it should be able to stand this simple test. If there are inconsistencies and changes that distort what God has always said and even contradicts itself then we must consider the obvious…the Book of Mormon is not scripture.
Another discipline is study. When someone goes to school to learn how to be an engineer, teacher or doctor they don’t have just one source of information from where they draw their knowledge. It is gained through an accumulation of sources and number of venues and I’m certain that every Mormon would agree with me on that!
With this in mind I am left wondering why the Mormon won’t apply that same philosophy to discovering the history or the beginnings of the Bible. Why is it they only go to one source for their information; that being the LDS Church? There are dozens if not hundreds of reputable sources to retrieve information about the Bible from scholars and universities worldwide who can provide anyone the truth.
Please understand that if you’re a Mormon we are here praying for you and only want the very best for you. We pray you will be filled with the truth from God and know His Only Son, Jesus Christ. He does have a plan for you, even out of the Church!
With Love in Christ;
1 Cor. 1:18
*I’ve pointed out the word disciples because it’s a Latin word and because of the timing in the Book of Mormon – the BC era. The word disciples can be found in the Old Testament in two places. Isaiah 8:16 and 1 Chronicles 25:8.
The transliteration for disciples is: taught, instructed, learned, or used. It is # 3928 in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and the Hebrew word for this is “limmud”. In OT times it referred to someone who was an adherent of a particular teacher. Their sole task task and identity in life was that of a pupil. They were there to learn, study and eventually pass on teachings from the teacher. The existence of a disciple included question and answers, memorization, repetition and more instruction. Being a disciple in OT times was a lifetime commitment and over time they became totally devoted to the rabbi.
Smith used it incorrectly as meaning a person who is a disciple of Jesus Christ. A person cannot be a disciple of Jesus before He was born. Furthermore, this word is another example of how Smith used words in the wrong place and time to confuse the reader. The Mormon won’t have the benefit of learning about Jewish customs or rules that enhance the Christian’s understanding of the New Testament.
If Joseph Smith wanted to use the term disciple in the Greek sense of the word then he has uttered a false prophecy.
In the NT Jesus referred to the twelve as His disciples. In OT times the disciple could pick out the rabbi they wanted to follow and we see Jesus telling those He picked out to follow Him. Following a rabbi meant leaving your family, home, career and literally everything in life to follow that teacher. Jesus’ words carried a heavy lifelong devotion and demanded a total and exclusive devotion to Him – Luke 5:27, 9:57-62.
The broader sense of the term disciples came when Jesus told the twelve to go out and make disciples of men in Matthew 28:18-20 and numerous incidents of when the Bible referred to believers as disciples. It was used 233 times in the Gospels and 28 times in the book of Acts.