Skip to comments.Single Word Change in Book of Mormon Speaks Volumes
Posted on 11/08/2007 5:23:05 PM PST by Colofornian
The LDS Church has changed a single word in its introduction to the Book of Mormon, a change observers say has serious implications for commonly held LDS beliefs about the ancestry of American Indians.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe founder Joseph Smith unearthed a set of gold plates from a hill in upperstate New York in 1827 and translated the ancient text into English. The account, known as The Book of Mormon, tells the story of two Israelite civilizations living in the New World. One derived from a single family who fled from Jerusalem in 600 B.C. and eventually splintered into two groups, known as the Nephites and Lamanites.
The book's current introduction, added by the late LDS apostle, Bruce R. McConkie in 1981, includes this statement: "After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians."
The new version, seen first in Doubleday's revised edition, reads, "After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians."
LDS leaders instructed Doubleday to make the change, said senior editor Andrew Corbin, so it "would be in accordance with future editions the church is printing."
The change "takes into account details of Book of Mormon demography which are not known," LDS spokesman Mark Tuttle said Wednesday.
It also steps into the middle of a raging debate about the book's historical claims.
Many Mormons, including several church presidents, have taught that the Americas were largely inhabited by Book of Mormon peoples. In 1971, Church President Spencer W. Kimball said that Lehi, the family patriarch, was "the ancestor of all of the Indian and Mestizo tribes in North and South and Central America and in the islands of the sea."
After testing the DNA of more than 12,000 Indians, though, most researchers have concluded that the continent's early inhabitants came from Asia across the Bering Strait.
With this change, the LDS Church is "conceding that mainstream scientific theories about the colonization of the Americas have significant elements of truth in them," said Simon Southerton, a former Mormon and author of Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA and the Mormon Church.
"DNA has revealed very clearly how closely related American Indians are to their Siberian ancestors, " Southerton said in an e-mail from his home in Canberra, Australia. "The Lamanites are invisible, not principal ancestors."
LDS scholars, however, dispute the notion that DNA evidence eliminates the possibility of Lamanites. They call it "oversimplification" of the research.
On the church's official Web site, lds.org, it says, "Nothing in the Book of Mormon precludes migration into the Americas by peoples of Asiatic origin. The scientific issues relating to DNA, however, are numerous and complex."
Mormon researcher John M. Butler and DNA expert further argues that "careful examination and demographic analysis of the Book of Mormon record in terms of population growth and the number of people described implies that other groups were likely present in the promised land when Lehi's family arrived, and these groups may have genetically mixed with the Nephites, Lamanites, and other groups. Events related in the Book of Mormon likely took place in a limited region, leaving plenty of room for other Native American peoples to have existed."
In recent years, many LDS scholars have come to share Butler's belief in what is known as the "limited geography" theory. By this view, the Nephites and Lamanites restricted their activities to portions of Central America, which would explain their absence from the general American Indian genetics.
Kevin Barney, a Mormon lawyer and independent researcher in Chicago, welcomes the introduction's word change.
"I have always felt free to disavow the language of the [Book of Mormon's] introduction, footnotes and dictionary, which are not part of the canonical scripture," said Barney, on the board of FAIR, a Mormon apologist group. "These things can change as the scholarship progresses and our understanding enlarges. This suggests to me that someone on the church's scripture committee is paying attention to the discussion."
Ping to you Brother.
Do you have anything to add to this preposterous “change” in Mormon understanding of the Lamanites (American Natives)?
Here, have a little cog dis with that whine.
(Oh, no. We're sure that whenever a "living prophet" addresses an interpretation of the Book of Mormon, that it's tantamount to no more...oh, to espousing what brand of coffee NOT to drink).
When the Prophet is speaking as the Prophet, he says so. Period. No bravo sierra from you will change that.
You guys are funny as all get out. Did they change anything substantive in the BOM? No?
Hmmm . . . looks like you folks are wasting your time again!
Goodnight to one and all!
Not true. MOST of what has been said by EVERY LDS "prophet" was never so couched apriori. (Does that mean you get disregard all such unqualified statements? I doubt you'd conclude that).
Even LDS HQ Deseret Publisher claimed that the Journal of Discourses was "inspired" (DP's word, not mine)
Why pray tell would they want to be one of you?
I don’t know. Why don’t you ask Mitt Romney. He keeps saying he is one of us (Christian that is)
Cuz I’m asking you.
It appears they are running from their own doctrine as fast as they can. Perhaps they will join you, and become converted to Judaism. They are very good at “law keeping.” They already believe they are adopted descendents of Ephraim and Manassah, so perhaps you are right.
Only God ultimately knows.
I learned it’s best to send the page by e-mail to myself. That way I always have a copy, even if it “disappears” as some have over the years.
***Perhaps they will join you, and become converted to Judaism.***
Maybe then THEY will tell me what sin Israel did that was so bad that God allowed the Holy temple to be destroyed and has not allowed it to be rebuilt in these last 2000 years.
The Jews were expelled from the first holy temple for only seventy years. Why two thousand years.
I never thought of that. God made them a promise, I guess they couldn’t keep their end of the bargain. (nor could have I)
Aren’t we blessed in Christ?
2 Nephi 30:6 in editions of the BOM prior to 1978 reads "... and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and delightsome people."
I know that because I have a copy of the 1977 edition in front of me.
Editions of the BOM after 1978 change the word "white" in 2 Nephi 30:6 to "pure".
How do you suppose that happened, since the gold plates have never resurfaced, and no "reformed Egyptian" text exists for the church to retranslate, even if there were any scholars fluent in "reformed Egyptian"?
Could it be that God's perfect revelation had to be edited a bit to conform to a change in church policy regarding the priesthood?
What do you mean? Of course it's been rebuilt ... there's one in Salt Lake City, one in Ogden, one in Logan, one in Idaho Falls, one in Los Angeles, one in London, one in Washington, DC ...
Either that or could it be that in common usage at the time the BOM was translated, the words could be used interchangeably? Did that ever occur to you or are you just looking for something to put us down with?
You mean "pure," "white," and "mark of Cain" are just three ways of saying the same thing? Who knew?
Did that ever occur to you or are you just looking for something to put us down with?
You guys stop going after Catholics to convert and I'll stop going after you. Until then, you're fair game.
Oh, you are one of those infallability of the Pope papists?
While this observation neither "proves" nor "denies" that all native peoples in the Americas came across the Bering land bridge as conventional theory teaches, it would be the first time that civilization becomes more advanced the further away the original settlers move from their point of entry.
Then, there is the strange case of Kennewick Man, a caucasiod skeleton older than the native peoples in the area of present-day Washington State.
Like the so-called "truth" about Gorebal warming, majority vote or concensus does not determine actual scientific fact. A statement that all native peoples to America came across the Bearing Straight is as silly as a claim that none of them did. As Mark Twain said "No generalizaton is worth a damn, including this one."
***Either that or could it be that in common usage at the time the BOM was translated, the words could be used interchangeably?***
***You mean “pure,” “white,” and “mark of Cain” are just three ways of saying the same thing? Who knew?***
There is a simple way to get at the origional meaning. I understand Joseph Smith’s “peep stone” is in the posession of the church historians.
Place it in a hat, have the church “prophet” look into it and tell us what appears. Have him wired with a mini cam so the world can see it and all will be cleared up!
Simple, isn’t it!