David Padfield published a post entitled Book of Mormon or the Bible. What did he get wrong in his post? Let us examine his claims and determine whether or not he is engaging in perpetuating false and misleading information.
First Claim: Paul did not mention Christ’s resurrected appearance to the inhabitants of Ancient/MesoAmerica
Padfield cites 1 Corinthians 15:4-8
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
What we see here is a logical fallacy known as begging the question:
The fallacy of begging the question occurs when an argument’s premises assume the truth of the conclusion, instead of supporting it. In other words, you assume without proof the stand/position, or a significant part of the stand, that is in question. Begging the question is also called arguing in a circle.
Utilizing 1 Corinthians 15:4-8, not only is Padfield engaged in Eisegesis (an interpretation, especially of Scripture, that expresses the interpreter’s own ideas, bias, or the like, rather than the meaning of the text.) as well as using begging the question fallacy. He makes the assumption that because Paul did not mention Christ’s appearance to the ancient inhabitants of America/MesoAmerica, the actual event did not exist.
The issue with this biased and prejudicial interpretation is to lack context of Paul’s statement in recounting his testimony. There are few things Paul relates in this passage.
- Resurrection of Christ and his appearance as recorded in the following passages:
- Christ appeared to 500 others: Biblical Scholars are uncertain as to Paul’s reference here to, however, this alludes to the fact that Christ appeared first to the women, then the 11 disciples. Christ was with them for 40 days and therefore it may be conceivable that there is an earlier recording we have yet to uncover/discover regarding Christ’s appearance to 500 people.
- Paul met the resurrection of Christ on the road of Damascus. This event occurred after the ascension of Christ Luke records in Acts 1:6-12.
Between Christ’s ascension and the account of Christ appearing to Paul on the road to Damascus – the Book of Mormon records Christ’s visitation to the inhabitants of the Ancient Americas/MesoAmerica. There is no certain understanding of the timing of Christ’s visitation to the inhabitants of the Land of Bountiful. A plausible explanation (from the linked essay) appears to be after Christ’s ascension (40 days after his resurrection).
Regardless, Paul may not have been aware of Christ’s visitation to other inhabitants outside of those whom he mentions in 1 Corinthians 15:4-8. And, even if Paul was aware, does not negate the truth of Christ’s visitation to other inhabitants. Paul was writing specifically to the Church in Corinth regarding the teaching and truth of Christ’s resurrection and the witnesses to the Saviors resurrection.
David Padfield failed to objectively present a case against the Book of Mormon and its central event that occurred in 3 Nephi.
Second claim: Joseph Smith plagarized the king james version of the bible:
Padfield uses the same argument regarding the supposed translation of the Book of Mormon and the utilization of the King James style. This argument has adequately been refuted by scholarship:
The Book of Mormon was supposedly written in the “reformed Egyptian tongue” and translated with aid of two miraculous stones. There is something very strange about the Book of Mormon. The Golden Plates, from which the Book of Mormon was supposedly translated, were, according to Mormons, written prior to the 1st century, and yet one-eighteenth of the Book of Mormon is identical, word for word, to the 1611 King James Version of the Bible—1 Corinthians 13 and Isaiah 53 are quoted in full! They even quote words in italics that were supplied by the translators. In the KJV Bible the words in italics are words that are supplied by the translators and are not in the original text.
How is it that the Book of Mormon which they claim predates the KJV by 1500 years, could have precisely the same language word for word? Another strange thing: why are there no quotations from the New King James Version, or the American Standard Version, or any other modern English translation? Could it be that since those translations had not yet been made, Smith could not copy them?
Daniel L. Belnap wrote this essay – The King James Bible and the Book of Mormon – and relates the following:
Of the two questions, the first is easier to answer, at least from a cultural perspective: the presence of King James English, or early modern English, in the Book of Mormon is most likely the result of the KJV’s influence on religious discourse in the early nineteenth century. Such language, though no longer the spoken English, was used in sermons and discourses to impose a sense of tradition to what was being spoken and written.  In fact, as late as the early twentieth century, King James language was still used in certain translation mediums. For instance, Charles’s translation of the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha, Loeb’s series of translations for ancient Latin and Greek texts, and other translations of Classical and Near Eastern texts were written in the King James English to instill an air of antiquity to the nonbiblical texts. That such language would be utilized for the Book of Mormon, a text that purported to be not only ancient but directly related to the Bible, is not a surprise.
Belnap moves to the more difficult answer regarding the so-called plagarized texts of the King James Bible where he mentions the difficulty and variant processes of translations based on those who were assisting in the process. He remarks on two different theories and then concludes:
The familiarity of Joseph’s contemporaries with King James English would have made their reading of the Book of Mormon an easier experience and one in which they could more readily accept the claims made by the book as both scripture and as an ancient record that was tied to biblical history. The use of King James English in the Book of Mormon would itself be part of the Lord’s promise that he would reveal his truth to humankind “after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding” (D&C 1:24). The specific phrase “manner of language” suggests that such transmission would occur not only in terms of the actual language but even in specific mannerisms that would be recognized by the audience in question. That this “manner of language” worked, at least in part, can be evidenced by how quickly the Book of Mormon became known as the “Golden Bible” or “Mormon Bible” by believers and critics alike, demonstrating a tacit understanding that, at the very least, the Book of Mormon sounded biblical. Thus the presence of King James English and even KJV passages in the Book of Mormon functioned to establish the book’s validity to people already familiar with the words of God via King James English while making it easier to recognize the truths found therein because of the text’s familiar cadence and sound.
Another response comes from FAIRLDS: Book of Mormon/Translations Errors from the King James Bible. This website addresses some of the more common criticisms regarding the claim of Joseph Smith plagarizing from the King James version of the Bible.
Considering the criticism Padfield utilizes, what many Christians fail to understand is the same criticism may adequately be used against the Old and New Testament. For instance, Biblical Scholarship and Textual Criticism presents Genesis 6 (the Noahic Flood Story) where one may argue that it is plagarized from the more ancient Sumarian/Babylonian Text known as the Epic of Gilgamesh. With the progress in archaeology and understanding Ancient cultures – we do know that multiple flood stories exist from Ancient Mesopotamia to Ancient America’s/MesoAmerica civilizations. While each flood story varies from ancient culture to ancient culture – the reality is there are similarities that show forth a cataclysmic flood came and destroyed the world on a global scale.
I bring this point up because it proves that while Ancient cultures are far removed – they share commonalities when examined thoughtfully and mindfully. Similarly, looking at 19th Century culture – and understanding how King James Language was utilized as common among many people – the argument Padfield employs falls short of proving the Book of Mormon (and Joseph Smith) false.
third claim: 4,000 changes to the book of mormon since its 1830 publication
Padfield relies on the ongoing perpetuation of the enormous amount of changes to the Book of Mormon that was initially produced by Jerald and Sandra Tanner. The Tanners founded the Utah Lighthouse Ministry and published enormous amounts of literature criticizing and condemning Joseph Smith, teachings and doctrines of the LDS Church, and is continually relied upon as a reference of many Anti-Mormon and uninformed evangelical Christians.
Addressing these 3,913 changes – we turn to FAIRLDS: Changes in the Book of Mormon . Another great essay on this subject that of Brian C. Hales over at Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-Day Saint Faith and Scholarship and is titled: Changing Critics’ Criticism of the Book of Mormon Changes.
Hales writes this abstract:
In early 1830 Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon, a 269,938-word volume that discusses religious themes intermingled with a history of ancient American peoples.1 Claiming it was scripture like the Bible,2 in 1841 he declared it to be “the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of our religion.”3 Yet, many changes in the text of the Book of Mormon can be detected when comparing the original manuscript to the version available today. These changes have served as a lightning rod for some critics who imply that a divinely inspired book should not require any alterations. This article examines the types of changes that have occurred while trying to assign levels of significance and identify Joseph’s motives in making those alterations in the 1837 and 1840 reprintings of the book.
Along with these – one thing Padfeild fails to recognize is that the very same criticism regarding the changes of the Book of Mormon Text from its initial publication in 1830 is actually the very same criticism that may be easily applied to the multiple changes over the texts of the Old and New Testament. This is verifiable through Biblical Scholarship and Textual Criticism. Unfortunately, when one presents the same criticism and argument to Padfield and other Christians regarding the Bible – they appear to become unglued and claim the Bible is Divinely Infallible and Inerrant despite the scholarly research and commentary presented.
Fourth Claim: there cannot be another testament of jesus Christ
Padfield uses two scripture passages to support this short claim and assertion:
A subtitle was added to the Book of Mormon in 1982: “Another Testament Of Jesus Christ.” We all realize that in law, only the last will is binding. Once the testator dies, there cannot be another testament (Heb. 9:16). Offering “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” declares that the blood of Christ is void (cf. Gal. 1:8-9).
Robert L. Millet does a wonderful job in discussing this issue in his essay – Another Testament of Jesus Christ – and states this observation:
Most important, the Book of Mormon attests that Jehovah, the God of ancient Israel, truly became the Son of the Highest; that Jesus of Nazareth came to earth through birth and took upon himself a physical body; that he submitted to the throes and pains of mortality; and that he lived a sinless life, took upon him the sins of all mankind on conditions of repentance, was crucified, died, and rose again three days later into glorious immortality. In other words, the Book of Mormon is another testament of the gospel, the glad tidings that deliverance from death and hell and endless torment is available through the infinite Atonement and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel (See 3 Nephi 27:13–21).
What many critics of the Book of Mormon, and the LDS Christian faith for that matter, fail to understand what Testament means.
In Greek, this means a covenant. Thus, the Bible is comprised of two covenants. The first covenant is based on the Mosaic Law. The New Testament is based on the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. Thus – what the Book of Mormon says is that it is Another Covenant of Jesus Christ. This may sound a bit awkward, and still raise the question – why is there a need for ‘Another’ Covenant? When we look at what Covenant means one wants to look at the Hebrew language. When we do this, we find that it refers to the sacrifice of a fattened animal that is choice above all others –
A covenant was instituted by the two parties of the covenant who would take a fattened animal, the best of the flock or herd, and “cut” it into two pieces. Then the two parties of the covenant would pass through the pieces symbolizing their dedication to the covenant and by this action are saying, “If I do not hold to the agreements of this covenant, you can do to me what we did to this animal.” This methodology of “making” a covenant is clearly recorded in Jeremiah 34:18-20.
When we encounter the heroes of the Old Testament, Yeshua calls forth the sacrifice of an animal that is choice above all. Here, YHWH makes a covenant with his people. This is notable with Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and others. In the New Testament, the most choice was our Heavenly Father’s only begotten son – Jesus Christ.
Since the Book of Mormon bridges both the Old Testament (up to the death, resurrection, and visitation of Jesus Christ to the ancient inhabitants of America/MesoAmerica) and the New Testament. Like the patriarchs before the Nephites, they followed the Mosaic Covenant and offered their choice sacrifice according to the Law of Moses. Once Christ appeared, there was no need to continue the sacrifice of fattened animals as Christ was the most choice of all sacrifices made.
The other issue is that many critics of the Book of Mormon fail to understand that God has made covenants with the entire House of Israel and not just a select few. They fail to recognize that the Hebrews were dispersed under the destruction of First Temple of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and then the destruction of Jerusalem under the Roman Army in 70 AD and the diaspora of the Jews.
With them, they carried their scriptures with them (as evidenced by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Ugaritic Texts). What is to say God is not capable of making another covenant with a dispersed group of the House of Israel? According to many Christian critics of the Book of Mormon – the bible is the only authority of God. Unfortunately, the Bible is a collection of different books regarding different cultural contexts, time periods, literary styles, and we do not have the full scale of all of what the Bible itself may teach (as evidenced of the Coptic and Syriac versions of Enoch, 1 Clement, Book of Jasher, Book of Jubilees, et al.).
The four main claims on David Padfields post reveals lacking of intellectual integrity, lacking in honest research, and heavily relies on perpetuation of continued misinformation and deception without any scholarly research and reflection. In this writer’s experience, many critics of the LDS faith refuse to acknowledge LDS Christian Scholarly and universally dismiss such evidence.
Frankly, the evidence is pervasive here and shows forth the intellectual immaturity of Padfield and the appearance of blind reliance on false information.