I have decided to broaden the scope of this blog to include not only "Jehovah's Witness" but also Mormonism "related matters."
I am aware that Mormons, unlike Jehovah's Witnesses, agree that Jesus of the New Testament is Jehovah of the Old Testament, although what they mean by that vwrbal agreement, will be found to be, like their `agreement' with other Christian doctrines, radically different from what Christianity means by it.
That is because Mormonism is based on the first vision in 1820 of its founder, Joseph Smith (1805–1844), then a 14-year old boy, in which he claimed that God the Father and His Son appeared to him and told him that of the Christian churches of his day, "all their creeds were an abomination in his sight" ("Joseph Smith-History," 1:17-19. My emphasis). But one of those creeds is the Apostles' Creed, which states in part:
"I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary ... was crucified, died, and was buried. ... The third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead."
So Mormonism today must either: 1) maintain that the doctrines of the Apostles' Creed, including the above, are "an abomination" in God's sight; or 2) admit that Joseph Smith's first vision upon which Mormonism is based was wrong (i.e. either a lie or delusion). There is no third option.
The reason I have now decided to also critique here Mormonism in general and the Book of Mormon in particular, is that some months ago I was stopped in the street by two Mormon missionaries, and in the course of our discussion they asked me if I had read the Book of Mormon. This would almost always be a winning point for Mormons because very few non-Mormons would had taken the time and effort to read the Book of Mormon. I had to admit that I had only read the first few chapters of it many years ago. But I pointed out, and they agreed, that one does not have to first read the sacred books of every other religion before one can rationally believe that one's own religion is true. I then went on the offensive with a question (based on what I had read in books about Mormonism, and had years before asked of two Mormon missionaries who knocked on my door):
"How, if the Book of Mormon is based on a 19th century translation by Joseph Smith of Egyptian texts written between 600 BC and AD 400, it contains extensive quotations from the 17th century AD King James Version of the Bible, including its translation errors"?
They had no answer but the older one claimed he had seen an answer to it. I replied that: 1) they had no answer now; and 2) it could not be an adequate answer, because it is impossible that a text could be written in Egyptian, such that when translated into English it would reproduce ~27,000 words of an already existing English text, let alone its errors (See Ankerberg & Weldon, 1991, pp.35-36 below). Nevertheless, I recognised that Mormons would always have at least one winning point in our encounters until I had myself personally read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover.
The issue came up again on Shazoolo's YouTube channel where I began responding to Mormons' comments. And having since re-read my existing books, and bought and read new books, on Mormonism, I asked them the same and other questions relating to the evidence for the Book of Mormon being a plagiarism of the King James Bible.
About a week ago, while waiting for my wife, I read the first five chapters of the Book of Mormon (1Nephi 1-5), and posted some questions that occurred to me, under one of Shazoolo's videos, "Re: answering anti-mormon claim about the book of galatians." Then, a few days ago, I bought a copy of the Book of Mormon (1981) and posted some more question about problems in its introductory pages. Only yesterday I bought some secondhand books about Mormonism and was given a combined "The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price" (1981).
So I have now decided to begin reading right through the Book of Mormon (and probably then The Doctrine and Covenants and The Pearl of Great Price), posting problems I find in it to this my "Jesus is Jehovah" blog. Throughout this series, I reserve the right to add to these questions retrospectively if further problems occur to me. There are no page numbers in the introduction pages, so the page numbers "p.i.," etc, are assumed. Text from the Book of Mormon (hereafter abbreviated "BoM") is in bold. Unless otherwise indicated, Bible references are to the King James Version, which I understand is the only Bible version that Mormon's accept. So here, after this long preamble, are my questions based on problems I found in the Title Page(s) of the Book of Mormon:
p.i. Another Testament of Jesus Christ Why another testament of Jesus Christ? The Old Testament (i.e. Old Covenant) predicts there will be "a new covenant" (Jer 31:31). And the New Testament claims that Jesus established that "new covenant" (Heb 8:13; 12:24) or "new testament" (Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24; Lk 22:20; 1Cor 11:25; 2Cor 3:6; Heb 9:15), as a fulfillement of that Old Testament prophecy (Heb 8:8). But there is no prophecy in the New Testament that there will be yet another testament or covenant. Rather, the New Testament states that the new covenant, was based on Jesus' "once for all" sacrifice of Himself (Heb 9:12; 26; 10:1-2,10 NIV). See also Hoekema, 1963, pp.30-31 below.
p.iii. An account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates The Introduction says these were "gold plates." Where did Mormon get the gold from? Is there any evidence that Native Americans knew how to mine and manufacture gold plates?
p.iii. Mormon, Nephi, Laman and Moroni These Jewish names do not appear in the KJV. Have those exact names been found in Jewish literature? If not, were they made up by Joseph Smith (or Solomon Spalding)?
p.iii. the people of Jared They appear in Gn 5:15-20 and so were presumably wiped out by the Flood in Gn 6-8. Neither are they mentioned in the Table of Nations in Gn 10. So how were they existing "when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel" in Gn 11:1-9?
p.iii convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ Since the Christian church has been doing this from ~AD 30, why would God need the Book of Mormon to do it from ~AD 1830? And why, after nearly 180 years, has the Mormonism only "two congregations in Israel"? And what does Mormonism mean by "Jesus is the Christ," since Mormonism must either: 1) regard as "an abomination in" God's "sight" the "Jesus Christ" of the Apostles' Creed (see above), i.e. God's "only Son, our Lord ... conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary ... was crucified, died, and was buried" and "The third day ... arose again from the dead" and "ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead"; or 2) admit that Joseph Smith's first vision, upon which Mormonism is based was a lie or a delusion.
p.iii Translated by Joseph Smith, Jun. Why should anyone believe that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon (Introduction) from Egyptian (Mormon 9:32), given that: 1) there are at least five different versions of Smith's crucial first vision of 1820 in his own handwriting which all conflict with each other in important details (see Ankerberg & Weldon, 1991, pp.35-36 below; and 2) Smith, in addition to being a convicted "impostor," falsely claimed to have translated The Book of Abraham (which is part of The Pearl of Great Price), from what turned out to be an Egyptian funerary text which has nothing to do with Abraham?To be continued in Book of Mormon-Introduction.
"Is the `first vision' account forming the foundation of the Mormon Church really credible? Joseph Smith's `first vision' forms the essence of Mormonism's claim to uniqueness: that God Himself had rejected all other churches as false and was now restoring the `true' church through this 15-year-old boy.' This is why Mormons have agreed that the `first vision' account is absolutely crucial to the credibility and authority of both Smith and the Church. Second in importance only to Christ's `deity,' the `first vision' is the `foundation of the church'; the Mormon Church stands or falls on the authenticity of this event, and the `truth and validity' of all of Joseph Smith's subsequent work rests upon its genuineness. The following facts prove, by Mormonism's own assertions, that their church is based on falsehood. The official account of the event was written by Smith around 1838 and published in Times and Seasons in 1842, two decades after `the event' took place. [Tanner, J. & S., "The Changing World of Mormonism," Moody Press, 1981, p. 148] What most Mormons have never been told is that at least five earlier drafts of the `first vision' exist. These conflicting accounts have been ignored or repressed by Mormon leaders because they disagree with what has come to be the preferred or official version. Of all versions, the official composition, Smith's final draft, is the least credible. [Ibid., pp.10,149-155] The earliest known account was written by Smith in 1832. It varies in important details with the official version. There are discrepancies in Smith's age, the presence of an evil power, Smith's reason for seeking the Lord, the existence of a revival, and the number of divine personages in the vision. For example, the revival Smith claimed happened in 1820 (he clearly gives his age as 15) actually took place in 1824-1825. [Walters, W.P., "New Light on Mormon Origins from the Palmyra [New York] Revival," 1967] There was no revival in 1820, and, therefore, Smith had no reason to seek God's counsel over his own religious confusion. Another account by Smith was written between 1835-1836. [Tanner, ibid., pp.155-156] In this different and contradictory version, there is no mention of God or Christ, but only of many spirits and `angels' who testified of Jesus. Leading authorities on Mormonism Jerald and Sandra Tanner conclude: `We have now examined three different handwritten manuscripts of the first vision. They were all written by Joseph Smith or his scribes and yet every one of them is different. The first account says there was only one personage. The second account says there were many, and the third says there were two. The church, of course, accepts the version which accepts two personages .... At any rate... it becomes very difficult to believe that Joseph Smith ever had a vision in the grove.' [Ibid., p.156] The crucial `first vision' account is simply not credible. Mormons who accept it must ignore and deny strong evidence to the contrary." (Ankerberg, J. & Weldon, J., "The Facts on the Mormon Church," Harvest House Publishers: Eugene OR, 1991, pp.35-36).
"But the content of the Book of Mormon presents further difficulties. For example, there are many clearly demonstrated plagiarisms. Material has been taken from ... the King James Bible. Some 27,000 words from the King James Bible are found in the Book of Mormon. [Hoekema, A.A., "The Four Major Cults," Eerdmans: Grand Rapids MI, 1977, p.85] But if the Book of Mormon was first written between 600 B.C. and A.D. 421, how could it possibly contain such extensive quotations from the King James Bible, not to be written for another 1,200 to 2,000 years? The Tanners have listed, one by one, 400 verses and portions of verses quoted from the New Testament in the Book of Mormon in their book The Case Against Mormonism. [Tanner, J. & S., "The Case Against Mormonism," Vol. 2, Modern Microfilm Co: Salt Lake City UT, 1968, pp.87-102] The Book of Mormon even contains King James Bible translation errors. For example, in 2 Nephi 14:5 (Isaiah 4:5) the correct translation of the Hebrew chupaah is `canopy,' not `defense.' In 2 Nephi 15:25 (Isaiah 5:25) the correct translation of the Hebrew suchah is `refuse,' not `torn.'" (Ankerberg & Weldon, 1991, pp.38-39).
"We must at this point assert, in the strongest possible terms, that Mormonism does not deserve to be called a Christian religion. It is basically anti-Christian and anti-Biblical. The Mormon contention that `after the book [the Bible] hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church ... there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book...' (1 Nephi 13:28), is completely contrary to fact. The many copies of Old Testament manuscripts which we now possess do vary in minor matters - the spelling of words, the omission of a phrase here and there - but there is no evidence whatsoever that any major sections of Old Testament books have been lost. The manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, generally dated from about 200 to 50 B.C., include portions of every Old Testament book except Esther'; studies have revealed that these documents - older by a thousand years than previously discovered Old Testament manuscripts - are substantially identical to the text of the Old Testament which had been previously handed down. As far as New Testament manuscripts are concerned, the oldest of which go back to the second century A.D., the situation is substantially the same. The variations that are found in these manuscripts -- all copies of the originals or of copies made from the originals - are of a relatively minor nature. There is no indication whatever that any large sections of material found in the originals have been lost. Most of the manuscript variations concern matters of spelling, word order, tense, and the like; no single doctrine is affected by them in any way. There is, further, not a shred of evidence to show that any translations of the Bible, including the fourth-century Vulgate, which became the official medieval Roman Catholic version, omitted any portions of these manuscripts or failed to reproduce any major sections of the Bible. The Bible itself, moreover, clearly indicates that it is the final revelation of God to man, and that it does not need to be supplemented by additional revelation. We have already noted Christ's reference to Moses and the prophets as giving sufficient revelation for man's salvation (Lk. 16:19-31 ...). When the risen Christ appeared to the disciples from Emmaus, He did not find it necessary to give them additional revelations, but `beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Lk. 24:27). The finality of the revelation that came through Jesus Christ is strikingly expressed in Hebrews 1:1 and 2: `God, having of old times spoken unto the fathers in the prophets, by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son... .' God's revelation through Christ is here described as climactic and definitive -- the claim that further revelations would have to be given to the church 1800 years later by Joseph Smith clearly contradicts the thrust of this passage!" (Hoekema, A.A., 1963, "The Four Major Cults: Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Seventh-day Adventism", Paternoster: Exeter UK, Reprinted, 1969, pp.30-31).
"The Mongoloid Factor It is one of the main contentions of Mormon theology that the American Indians are the descendants of the Lamanites and that they were of the Semitic race, in fact of Jewish origin. As we have seen, this claim is extensive in Mormon literature; and if evidence could be adduced to show that the American Indian could not possibly be of Semitic extraction, the entire story of Nephi and his trip to America in 600 B.C. would be proven false. It is, therefore, of considerable value to learn that in the findings compiled by anthropologists and those who specialize in genetics, the various physical factors of the Mediterranean races from which the Jewish or Semitic race spring bear little or no resemblance to those of the American Indian! Genotypically, there is therefore little if any correlation, and phenotypically speaking the American Indians are considered to be Mongoloid in extraction, not Mediterranean Caucasoids. Now, if the Lamanites, as the Book of Mormon tells it, were the descendants of Nephi, who was a Jew of the Mediterranean Caucasoid type, then their descendants, the American Indians, would by necessity have the same blood factor genotypically; and phenotypic, or apparent characteristics, would be the same. But this is not at all the case. Instead, the American Indian, so say anthropologists, is not of Semitic extraction and has the definite phenotypical characteristic of a Mongoloid." (Martin, W.R., 1977, "The Kingdom of the Cults: An Analysis of the Major Cult Systems in the Present Christian Era," Bethany Fellowship: Minneapolis MN, p.163. Emphasis original).