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The Pentateuch, Part 1: Migratory Patterns

I’ve resolved to blog more consistently this year, which means I’m ready to start a series of a textual analysis of the Pentateuch.  Actually, I’m not sure I’m really ready for this, the more I study the Torah the more amateurish I feel about it.  While I’m sure I’ll never be studied enough for my own satisfaction, I do feel confident nevertheless that I’m capable of dispelling some of the common misunderstandings about the writing processes of the Torah.  From my experience, most Christians don’t seem to acknowledge a writing process is indeed involved in the creation of scripture.  But even if they may admit to that, it doesn’t necessarily mean they intellectually understand the ramifications this has for the interpretive process.   Yet Christians both learned and ignorant have high esteem for the Books of Moses, some to the point that they believe it contains a rulebook for the ideal civilization, even if they don’t really follow that in practice.  Hopefully in the next few weeks I can impart some of the theories and conclusions I’ve made from my personal study, and help you see these books in a radically different way.

One interesting feature of the Pentateuch as a whole is that the entire text has a migratory pattern that reflects the internal migration within the narrative.  The ante-deluvian stories share many similarities to Sumerian creation and flood myths like the Epic of Gilgamesh.  After the call of Abraham from Ur, however, the text becomes more apparently self-reliant: there are three interdependent sister-wife narratives within the book of Genesis  (Gen. 12:10-20, Gen. 20, Gen. 26:1-11) and incrementally fewer references to outside source material with each passing patriarch.  By the time we get to Joseph the book has a decided cultural identity, but upon the Exodus traces of multi-culturalism resurface.  The rescue of Moses from the Nile has similarities to exposure narratives of the Assyrian legend of Sargon and others, coincidentally right before this exiled prince would end up in the land of Midian, later to be part of the Assyrian empire.  Returning to Egypt as a prophet, the text shares some similarities with ancient Egyptian stories: in Se-Osiris and the Sealed Letter, an Ethiopian magician turns a sealed roll into a serpent (similar to Aaron’s rod in Ex. 7:9), and also casts a spell of darkness on the land for three days and nights (Ex. 10:22); a lake is parted in the Golden Lotus.

When Moses gives the Law on Sinai, the text itself is in between Egypt and the Promised Land.  The Ten Commandments echo the Negative Confessions from the Egyptian Book of the Dead, while the influence of the surrounding legal systems of Babylon’s Hammurabi, the Hittite Code of the Nesilim, the Persian Avesta, and others is undeniable.  It’s also interesting to note that the Hebrews acquired the punishment of stoning while wandering in the Arabian desert, where this method is still in effect to this day for the same sins, although the Jews seem to have discarded it after settling in the Holy Land.  While the Qur’an was a book of rules written by an authoritarian seeking inspiration in a dark, desert cave with little outside exposure, the Law of Moses is clearly written from observation and experience.  Aside from the more familiar “thou shalt not’s”, it includes a great deal of casuistic legal rulings that demonstrate the experience of a lawgiver who had settled cases himself from morning till night (Ex. 18:13).  Occasionally, contextual narratives are joined to the rulings to give insight into the case process (Lev. 24:10-16, Num. 15:32-36), but other times the reasons are frustratingly lost to the ages, such as the prohibition on boiling a kid goat in its mother’s milk (Ex. 34:26, Deut. 14:21).  Nevertheless, we can see these were not arbitrary rulings dictated by a single-minded tyrant, there is no attempt to hide or disguise the writing process and rely solely on a claim of divine inspiration to demand blind obedience, as the writers of other holy books have done.

The narrative doesn’t just move through time as it progresses forward, it also visibly moves through space.  It has a timestamp and a location stamp that corresponds perfectly to where the text ought to be at a specific time and place.  Parallels to contemporary literature sometimes make the more hardline fundamentalists uncomfortable, and they react either with outright denial or the insistence that the Bible was always the original source that other cultures borrowed.  This obsession with primacy is really just to satisfy the fundamentalist’s psychological need for closure, but they really need not be so threatened at the thought of the Biblical authors borrowing from another source.  That fact certainly discredits the Rabbinic tradition that the five books of Moses were dictated to a single author in their final form except for the last chapter of Deuteronomy, however, anybody who understands the process of how a book is written and edited can reconcile that process with the doctrine of divine inspiration.  A believer who can’t do that simply has a flawed understanding of what divine inspiration actually means.

Rather than disproving the Bible, as the skeptics jump to conclude, the migration of the text is a strong testimony of its authenticity.  This book has indeed travelled through the cultures and periods that it claims.  On the other hand, fraudulent holy books like the Qur’an and the Book of Mormon are easily disproven by how they do neither.  Muhammad’s Qur’an does not have a linear concept of time, and all the Biblical characters simultaneously inhabit a continuous, mythical present.  His book never left the Arabian desert until his followers did.  The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, is more careful to tell a linear story but fails to visit any other culture except the one Joseph Smith imagines; he doesn’t dare attempt to give specific cultural details until his characters have safely stepped outside of the Holy Land, and history.  Even then, the animals and technological advancements he depicts contradict with what we know factually about pre-European America.  The only conclusion available is that both these books are frauds, and no amount of belief in them being divinely inspired can change that.  Quite the opposite, the Bible’s authenticity is reinforced by comparative study, and could be trusted without any belief in its inspiration at all.

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The Transition

Skipping over 2 Nephi, probably the most useless book in the Book of Mormon, I’ll resume with the minor books of the so-called small plates of Nephi: Jacob, Enos, Jarom, and Omni.  For those interested, 2 Nephi isn’t worth covering because half of the book is text copied nearly word for word from Isaiah, with some occasional changes.  Two facts are evident at this point in Joseph Smith’s creative process:  First, he had mentally moved on from his project of “translating” the gold plates and had already started his next project of re-writing the King James Bible, which he would commence after writing these last few books.  2 Nephi’s Isaiah is a precursory exercise, identifiable by Smith’s obvious obsession of removing all the italicized words from the KJV text, sometimes to the point of meaninglessness.  An in-depth study of his process isn’t really very interesting or reader-friendly, however, and would be more suitable if this blog ever gets up to what’s known as Joseph Smith’s Inspired Translation of the Bible.  The second and more obvious fact is that Joseph Smith is just filling space at this point.  Apparently, even in this supposedly abridged version he felt he had to cover a certain number of pages to make up the lost material.

With the original manuscript conveniently lost, we can only speculate why Smith decided at this moment that he had rambled on enough to resume the narrative.  Whatever the reason, he abruptly abandons the character Nephi and for these next few transitionary books, pretends to pass the plates down from father to son.  I call these transitionary books, because during this period Joseph Smith is decidedly trying to connect this re-told beginning with the rest of the book he had already written after Mosiah.  This transition is far from smooth, making the grafting point one of the most confusing sections of the whole book, as we’ll see later.

The books get progressively smaller, and by the time we get to Omni the plates are supposed to have passed through five different authors in one book.  This suggests that Joseph Smith was aware that he had rambled a little too long in Nephi’s voice, and if he was going to bridge a gap of hundreds of years then Nephi’s descendants could not be so long-winded.  He lets the character Jacob ramble on a little, interestingly making the Book of Mormon the only sacred text in the world to explicitly condemn polygamy (Jacob 2:27), and giving an early glimpse into Smith’s own psychological preoccupation with plural marriage.  Enos and Jarom aren’t given nearly as much space, but Smith still had not learned to economize words, these still read like the same ramblings only shorter.

Finally, we get to Omni, perhaps one of the most fascinating sections of the Book of Mormon.  As Jerald and Sandra Tanner have pointed out, this is the very moment that Joseph Smith safely passes the black hole made by the 116 lost pages.  In this book, the plates pass from Omni, a self-confessed “wicked man”, to son Amaron, to son Chemish, and Abinadom.  These writers tell us practically nothing, and only seem to etch a paragraph or two on their death bed.  My theory of the Book of Mormon as a parallel Bible suggests that Joseph Smith has arrived at the book of Judges in his Bible reading and is influenced by accounts of the lesser judges: Shamgar, Tola, Jair, Ibzan, Elon, and Abdon.  Interestingly, the passages here seem to be considered Mormon scripture solely because they were written on the same plates as the others, as Chemish even suggests that divine revelation has ceased altogether at this point (Omni 1:11) .

Finally, we get to Amaleki, the point where the “small” plates crash awkwardly into the (as of yet) incomplete book of Mosiah and the finished book of Ether.  Here it helps to have read the rest of the Book of Mormon first, but even then it can be difficult to understand, especially if one tries to abide by the Mormon interpretation.  The Nephites venture out to the land of Zarahemla, populated by another group of Jews who crossed to the Americas during the reign of Zedekiah.  Not only this, the people of Zarahemla had been in contact with Coriantumr, the last survivor of the Jaredites, and had the plates of the book of Ether.  What Joseph Smith attempts to do here is rather brilliant, by tying together his post-Tower of Babel Jaredites to the Nephites in a form of foreshadowing; his actual execution, however, is lacking and raises a lot of questions.

First, this Amaleki serves a king named Mosiah, the father of king Benjamin.  In the next book, however, we’re introduced to king Benjamin, who has a son named Mosiah, who in turn sends a man named Amaleki to Zarahemla (Mosiah 7:6).  The LDS explanation, unsupported by the text, is to refer to these duplicates as Amaleki I and II, and Mosiah I and II.  While this certainly helps the narrative flow, I think the more logical explanation is that Joseph Smith intended these characters to be the same person, but his memory had faded in the re-write process.  The book of Mosiah is the actual point where the lost pages cut off, but where exactly is unknown; nevertheless, it had been almost a year since Smith had worked on Mosiah until the time he wrote Omni.  Furthermore, we also know that Mosiah received substantial editing by Joseph Smith before the printers manuscript was delivered, but even then, Smith had failed to catch errors in the first edition, as he continues to refer to King Benjamin (Mosiah 21:28, 1830 edition) well after his death.  I suspect he originally intended Mosiah to be the father of Benjamin, but by the time he came back around he accidentally reintroduced them in reverse order and killed off Benjamin prematurely.  Although the narrative makes less sense that way, I think it seems much more likely to conclude that these were supposed to be the same people in different tellings of the story.  The Mormon interpretation, after all, presupposes that this is a story that’s supposed to make sense to anybody other than Joseph Smith.

Omni ends with Amaleki wasting precious space to tell the reader that the “plates are full”, which would have been obvious to the reader had there actually been any real plates.  Time and time again, purported authors describe parameters about the plates that are not only unnecessary to anybody who would have actually handled them, but rather tedious to chisel into metal.  For unknown reasons, Smith seems to have paced himself to fill up a precise amount of pages and once that is accomplished he brings it to an abrupt end.  Mormons struggle just to derive a coherent narrative from this transition, yet without the LDS church’s guidance I think most Mormons would be at a loss to make sense of these different characters.

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The Mormon Mind Prison

Well, it wouldn’t be quite fair on a blog that’s supposed to be dedicated to Mormonism (sorry folks, 2 Nephi is just sooo boring it’s hard to blog about) to do an entry on the “Muslim Mind Prison” and not follow-up with an essay on the Mormon Mind Prison.  Islam and Mormonism have a lot of similarities in how they were founded, but their present-day practice and social integration couldn’t be further apart.  Unlike Muslims, Mormons are well-integrated into most societies and cultures, have literacy rates up to Western standards, and (believe it or not) are more open-minded.  Nevertheless, Mormons have several intellectual barriers that can make dialogue or debate a frustrating exercise.

Mormons Cannot Engage the Book of Mormon as Literature

I’ve pretty gone as far as I can with the missionaries at the temple visitor’s center.  After a certain point of discussion, they all but stop volunteering information or answering questions to any degree of satisfaction, and instead seem to be reading from a script.  It’s not really their fault, however, because I’ve tried to take them outside the perimeters of their mind prison.  The most obvious way in which we’re on two irreconcilable wavelengths is my stubborn refusal to accept the Book of Mormon as fact in any way.  My open rejection of its historicity is met with aggressive, dogmatic claims that saturate the entire discussion.  If you don’t believe the Book of Mormon, it will eventually take its toll on the conversation, as if the missionaries seem to be trying to gradually wear away at your defenses, fatigue you into conceding to their belief for the sake of advancing the conservation, or possibly get you to inadvertently agree with them in some small way.  It’s life or death for the Mormon in this scenario, because the Book of Mormon absolutely has to be literally true or else the entire faith unravels.  This contest of wills is possibly one of the keys to the missionary’s success rate, since even people who are challenging the claims of Mormonism need to overcome this hurdle to move the conservation forward, and agreeing with or ignoring their claims about its origins and authorship seems like a small compromise at first.

Mormons Give More Weight to the Book of Mormon than to the Bible

For a religion that claims to use the Bible, you almost wouldn’t know it from how the book is handled in the church.  The LDS’ Eighth Article of Faith states:

“We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”

While it’s common for people to view canons as flat, with lesser books still bearing the same weight as the major ones, in the Mormon mindset the Bible is unreliable without the body of other Mormon literature and the footnotes to the Joseph Smith Translation.  The damaging effect this has cannot be underestimated.  Anybody engaged in a Biblical discussion with Mormons needs to be aware of this fact, or they will be assuming a level playing field where one does not actually exist.  A sola scriptura Bible-based approach to trying to convert the Mormons is ultimately doomed to fail, because ultimately, the Mormon’s understanding of the Bible is filtered through Mormon theology, and in their minds the two are indistinguishable.  Mormons often cannot relate to how a Biblical interpretation would differ in the absence Joseph Smith’s doctrinal peculiarities, and even though they think they grasp it, they’re not easily capable of understanding Christian theology until they mentally divorce Mormon thought.

Mormons Think They Know about Other Religions

Because their canon encompasses the Old and New Testaments in addition to all their other books, Mormons often see themselves as more knowledgeable about scripture than Jews and Christians.  This isn’t in itself entirely the fault of Mormonism; a lot of Western Christians mistakenly believe they know more about Judaism than Jews, when the reality is they know very little of the Old Testament outside of the narrative.  This aspect of American folk religion permeated into the Book of Mormon, in which it appears Joseph Smith was entirely ignorant of ancient Hebrew culture.  There may be vague references to keeping commandments or festivals, but absolutely no specifics are cited from Mosaic Law.  It reads like what a Gentile would envision Hebrew society was like, but falls short of any identifiable facts.  Not only that, Joseph Smith continued to write his own scriptures that sought to correct the “mistakes” of mainline Christianity, but really only demonstrated his ignorance of Christian theology.  As a result, Mormons think they know what the Trinity is, when their anti-Trinitarian arguments are usually addressing Modalism instead.  Their smug know-it-all attitude about Christianity shouldn’t be as successful as it has been, but unfortunately most of their prospective converts are just as ignorant.  They may not know Christianity, but they do know more than a lot of Christians.  Not to mention they’re better dressed and prepared for the uninvited meeting, all of which give them a confident edge over their prey.

Mormons Fall Back on Their “Testimony” When All Else Fails

Obviously, the greatest intellectual barrier separating Mormons from the rest of society is their emphasis on their personal “testimony” that the Book of Mormon is true (in their mind, anyway).  Never mind that if every believer used this argument to defend their holy book nobody could ever be reasoned into changing religions.  Mormonism is the epitome of irrational and illogical faith, yet it is only within the domain of reason and logic that one can engage them.  It goes without saying that a Mormon cannot leave the church until they overcome this barrier, yet all too often its influence on the Mormon mind is not fully grasped by the one trying to reach them.  However, it can be very frustrating when reason, facts, and logic vanquish Mormonism in a debate but the Mormon still holds to their faith by this single thread, truly retreating into a mind prison.

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Nephi’s Ark

Although it takes longer to get to this point in the Book of Mormon, the story of the Nephite oceanic crossing in 1 Nephi 17-18 is in reality Joseph Smith’s analog to the flood of Noah.  An elementary comparison of them both by the casual reader would make them appear of similar quality, yet further scrutiny reveals one is clearly of superior literary quality.  While the Biblical account of Noah in Genesis 6-9 is concise, multi-layered, and complex, the Nephite story is simple, long-winded exposition.

Typical for the entire Book of Mormon, nearly every sentence in this passage begins with “and” (most often Joseph Smith’s favorite phrase, “and it came to pass”), or sometimes the occasional “but”, “wherefore”, or “yea” that were characteristic of his making up the story as he went along.  In Genesis, the narrative is laid out in episodic pericopes, the typical style of the Pentateuch, which is arranged more like building blocks than a linear story.  Noah has no lines of dialogue whatsoever (something Smith would remedy in his “inspired translation” of the Bible), but the bulk of Joseph Smith’s story is another run-on speech in 17:23-51 (and if that weren’t enough, Nephi tells us after the speech that he said even more things that weren’t even written in the book!).

Joseph Smith evidently favored the first 9 chapters of Genesis over the rest of the Pentateuch; it is, after all, nearly the only extract of the Joseph Smith translation widely used in a Mormon holy book (the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price), and he revisited the creation passage again in the Book of Abraham (also in the Pearl of Great Price).  Particularly, he must have drawn on the antediluvian section because, on the surface at least, the civilizations and customs described therein are less specific than in later parts of the Bible, just as throughout the Book of Mormon.  Although Nephi talks at length about keeping the commandments in this story, Joseph Smith appears virtually ignorant of the Mosaic Law; there is no reference nor even a hint of awareness of the Hebrew purity code, sacrifice rituals, or the festivals in the Book of Mormon.  Joseph Smith was a storyteller, so his interest in the Bible was limited to its narratives, but his undoing was in never realizing the law and the lore were irrevocably intertwined.  Although Moses and Sinai are a great distance away, Genesis still demonstrates an awareness of near-eastern customs and traces of Mosaic law appear from the Lord’s creation sabbath onward.

One of the most astounding feats in the Flood story is that across the span of days and months, every event respects the sabbath starting from the seven days from which God sends the rains for forty days and nights (Gen. 7:4), to 150 days of standing floodwater (7:24), and beyond.  On top of that, each month of the flood corresponds to a day of Creation, starting in the second month (Gen. 7:11) when the heavenly floodgates are opened, in contrast to the firmament created on the second day (Gen. 1:6).  The 150 days, or 5 months, then signify the undoing of the 5 creation days of all life on Earth.  Finally, in the seventh month the ark rests, and after another month-day cycle, Noah and his family depart the ark on the next sabbath-month.  It’s incredible how much nuance and significance is crammed into this brief passage.

On the other hand, Joseph Smith’s imitation is uninterestingly devoid of subtlety or deeper meaning.  His intent here, as in his previously written flood narrative in the Book of Ether, seems to be to apologetically fill in the logistic cracks missing in Noah’s ark.  Here he explains in tedious detail the rather unimportant details of God directing him first where to find the ore so he can craft tools to build his enormous ship, how he made a bellows to blow fire, and even how he made the fire (17:11).  This is clearly a 19th century response to skeptics who questioned the logistics of Noah’s ark building.  Despite being a liar and a fraud, Joseph Smith was a pious fraud in the long line of pseudepigrapha authors from antiquity, and many of his fabrications were designed to offer solutions like this to his contemporary critics of Biblical literalism.

While on the voyage, Nephi’s rebellious brothers tie him up for the space of three days (18:11-14), obviously an anticipatory allusion to the burial of Christ, but with nowhere near the double-complexity in the Deluge.  With nothing else to mention in the undisclosed “many days” that followed, Nephi’s ark lands in the American promised land abruptly and instantly establishes a new civilization.  Here, all of Joseph Smith’s apologetic explanations are undone in one fell swoop, as the very next thing the Nephites do (18:25) is find cows, horses, and goats–none of which were indigenous to this hemisphere (Of course, he had already outdone himself in the Jaredite crossing by curiously mentioning elephants).  While most critics point out such flora and fauna anachronisms, it rarely is mentioned how immediately upon landing in the New World that it occurs.

even the church's artistic renditions of Nephi's ship capitalize on familiar images of Noah's ark

even the church's artistic renditions of Nephi's ship capitalize on familiar images of Noah's ark

Like a bad Hollywood sequel made long after the last installment, it’s undeniable to anybody, except the willfully blind, that Joseph Smith’s imitation is substandard compared to the original.  It certainly doesn’t read as methodically as one would think an ancient Hebrew would write, especially if they were chiseling words on metal plates.  It reads more like the first draft of a novel, or more specifically, like the transcription of a story as it was made up in dictation, which of course it was.

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In the Beginning (Sort of)

I had the hardest time trying to decide where to start blogging through the Book of Mormon.  Logically, you should start a book at the beginning, but the big question with the Book of Mormon is: which beginning?

The real beginning to the Book of Mormon was written in the 116 pages that are now lost to the ages, Joseph Smith resumed writing somewhere around Words of Mormon and Mosiah, and what appears at the beginning of the published book is actually the last part that was written.

There’s really no way to do a literary analysis without being aware of this structure.  Starting on page 1 is the fatal mistake that prospective converts make, and leads to understanding the Book of Mormon only within its own set parameters, the way all its believers understand it.  Reading in continuity from the end of the book of Moroni to the beginning of 1 Nephi reveals clues to Joseph Smith’s creative process that just aren’t evident any other way.  For instance, an apparent original idiom in the beginning of the book, “my words shall his forth”  (2 Nephi 29:2) , seems less remarkable when one knows that Joseph Smith first developed it while completing the final chapter of the book (Moroni 10:28).  The last verse of Moroni equating Jesus with Jehovah marks the real starting point of Smith’s Modalist phase that would later have to be edited out of 1st & 2nd Nephi.  The Book of Mormon reads very much like a stream of conscience in which ideas and idioms flow visibly into one another, as long as one knows what order to look for these trends.

Unfortunately, barring the Mormon history discovery of the Millennium, there’s no way to reference the original beginning from the lost pages.  Beginners can’t as easily jump into the middle of the narrative, either, so Chapter 1 of 1 Nephi is really the only serviceable, albeit inadequate, starting place.

I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days. Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians. And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.

It’s no “In the beginning.”  It’s not even “Call me Ishamel”, or “It was a dark and stormy night.”  One would think since this is Joseph Smith’s second attempt at writing the beginning of his book that his writing might have improved by now.  On the contrary, he seems to be phoning it in at this point.  After all, he only re-wrote the beginning because he had to, not because he really wanted to.  Unlike before, having to recreate the content from the lost pages required plotting, focus, and concentration, and after completing the initial narrative to get his Hebrews to the New World, he’s just taking up space.  At the point that he’s just reading 20 chapters from Isaiah in 2 Nephi, you can see that he’s already mentally checked out of this project and moved onto the next one.  Immediately after completing the Book of Mormon he would start work on his “inspired” translation of the Bible, continuing pretty much the same process he had started with Isaiah.

His writing style and creative process remained the same, even though he had better source material as a basis.  In the first chapter of Nephi, it’s certainly unusual for an ancient writer to identify himself in the first sentence, and even stranger to specify the language it’s written in.  Context of authorship are certainly not to be found in Genesis, and Joseph Smith appeared to view that as a deficiency to be remedied.  He even changed its famous first line to his favorite, most repeated (and most annoying) phrase, “and it came to pass.”

And it came to pass, that the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, I reveal unto you concerning this heaven and this earth; write the words which I speak. (Gen. 1:1, JST)

Notice how he re-wrote Genesis 1 in the first person,

Yea, in the beginning I created the heaven, and the earth upon which thou standest. (Gen. 1:3, JST)

His “I, Nephi” now became “I, God”:

And I, God, said, Let there be light, and there was light. (Gen. 1:6, JST)

These are notable since the earliest books (Mosiah through Ether, with the exception of Mormon) were written in the third person, yet from Moroni through 1 & 2 Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom, Omni, and into the JST Genesis, Joseph Smith persisted in the first person.  It makes me wonder if the original draft in the 116 lost pages was in the first or third person, but there’s really no way to know.  What we can see clearly, though, is that by the time he got around to re-writing the Holy Bible, he was corrupting it with his own bad writing sense.  One doesn’t even have to search for Hebrew manuscript evidence (there isn’t any to support his “translation” anyway) to be able to see that this is same author as 1 Nephi

1 Nephi

1 Nephi 1 in the 1830 edition

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Comparisons of the first line of the Book of Mormon to the Bible are inevitable, even among believers.  While they may seem like night and day to the non-Mormon, from an inside perspective one can see that Joseph Smith always intended them to be similar, even if he had to retroactively re-write the Bible to make them closer.  Unfortunately, he took a well-written passage of literature and butchered it to suit his non-literary concept of scripture.  It’s no wonder Mormons hardly even use his “inspired” translation of the Bible, just the occasional footnote, a few chapters in the Pearl of Great Price, and some excerpts in the back of their KJV Bible.  I can’t help but think that it’s not only because it would be a jarring red flag and an insurmountable obstacle to anyone remotely familiar with the Bible, but also because it’s obviously of inferior literary quality.

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