HELLO! So if you’re multilingual, you’re probably aware that different languages follow different grammatical rules. For example, “David’s shoes” in Spanish would be, “Los zapatos de David,” or “the shoes of David.” So if you were to hear someone say, “Hey, look at the shoes of David,” you’d understand what they’re saying, but you’d also be able to tell that English probably is not that person’s first language, since that’s not how we talk.
Joseph Smith claimed he translated The Book of Mormon from a record written by ancient Jews. If that’s true, you’d think we’d be able to see some elements of the ancient Hebrew language in the English translation of The Book of Mormon. And guess what? We do.
The Book of Mormon exhibits dozens of Hebraisms throughout its text. We’ve talked about some of them before, but this video is going to focus in on just one category, called “If/And Conditionals.
In English, we don’t have If/And Conditionals, we have If/Then Conditionals. IF I eat 15 Costa Vida raspberry smothered chicken chipotle burritos, THEN I will die. But in Biblical Hebrew it’d be, “IF I eat 15 Costa Vida raspberry smothered chicken chipotle burritos, AND I will die.” They mean the same thing, but an English speaker would never naturally use an If/And conditional.
This is where things get interesting. If you read your current Book of Mormon, you won’t see any If/And Conditionals. This is because Joseph Smith and early editors thought these were grammatical errors, which, in English, they are, and they edited them out, which is a real bummer, because Joseph obviously had no idea that these ‘errors’ were evidence of the authenticity of his work.
Thankfully, we can look at the original manuscript of The Book of Mormon and the First Edition of The Book of Mormon, where we find our If/And Conditionals.
Right now, Moroni 10:4 says, “IF ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you…”
In the first edition is said, “IF ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, AND he will manifest the truth of it unto you.”
In the original translation, the first manuscript of 1 Nephi 17:50 it said, “…IF he should command me that I should say unto this water be thou earth, AND it shall be earth.”
The first edition version of Helaman 12 was a GOLDMINE:
“…and IF he saith unto the earth, Move, AND it is moved; yea, IF he saith unto the earth, Thou shalt go back, that it lengthen out the day for many hours, AND it is done…
And behold, also, IF he sayeth unto the waters of the great deep, Be thou dried up, AND it is done. Behold, IF he sayeth unto this mountain, Be thou raised up, and come over and fall upon that city, that it be buried up, AND behold it is done.
…and IF the Lord shall say, Be thou accursed, that no man shall find thee from this time hence forth and forever, AND behold, no man getteth it henceforth and forever. And behold, IF the Lord shall say unto a man, Because of thine iniquities thou shalt be accursed forever, AND it shall be done. And IF the Lord shall say, Because of thine iniquities, thou shalt be cut off from my presence, AND he will cause that it shall be so.”
Here’s the thing. I’m not going to tell you what to believe, but these are my thoughts: Either Joseph Smith was a fraud or a prophet of God. If he’s a fraud you have no choice but to believe that he either put these If/And Conditionals in here on purpose to give the book a more authentic look, or it was a complete coincidence.
I do not believe he put these in here on purpose. There are no If/And Conditionals in the King James Version of the Bible. Even by Joseph’s time they’d been edited into better English. And it’s highly unlikely Joseph had access to any literature that would have taught him about this stuff in the 1820s. Also, if he put them in here on purpose to give the book a more authentic look, why would he edit them out? It doesn’t make any sense. He would have kept them in and called a bunch of attention to them. “Ah, you know what, this here is an If/And Conditional, look, the book is real!” But he doesn’t do that. He thinks they’re errors and fixes them.
Could it all just be a big coincidence, then? Believe what you will, but nobody wrote like this in Joseph’s time. Maybe once could just be a coincidence, but he does it over and over again, back to back, in the Helaman example. That doesn’t look like an accident to me.
The other option is that this is a legitimate translation of an ancient document of Jewish origins.
But wait, there’s more! This is just one Hebraism. We’ve got plenty more to cover. As these things continue to compound one on top of the other, the chances that Joseph just made this stuff up grows inhumanly small. We’ll get to more of those in future episodes.
- A scholarly article on If/And conditionals in the Book of Mormon
From ThirdHour: https://bit.ly/2KK6amT
From FairMormon: https://bit.ly/2wLttol