Sunday, January 26, 2014

"A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible"

That's a quote from 2 Nephi 29:6 in the Book of Mormon. Let's talk Bible translations. I heard someone say that some languages began to be written down for the first time just so that they could have the Bible in their own tongue.

A Bible translation organization called has some statistics on their site:

As of 2013, over five hundred languages have complete Bibles
Over one thousand have at least the New Testament
About one thousand more have at least one book 
They also estimate that 98 million people speak something for which there is no known Bible translation (yet). 

This is somewhat mind-boggling for me, not only how much translation has been done but that there are so many languages in the world. I looked up how many there might be and found 7,105 according to Ethnologue. Tower of Babel, anyone?

I am thinking the world still needs more Bibles. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A river does NOT run through it

In the book of First Nephi, chapter 2, Lehi takes his family three days into the wilderness away from Jerusalem. They camp in a valley by a river:
 And it came to pass that he called the name of the river, Laman, and it emptied into the Red Sea; and the valley was in the borders near the mouth thereof.
 And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!
Okay, show me a map of the area so I can see this river: 

Hmmm, not seeing it. What do other sources say?

 The Suez Canal only opened in 1869 and it's at least a five day walk to where it meets the Red Sea, according to modern conditions and as perceived by Google Maps. There are seasonal rivers in Eritrea...but that's in Africa, much more than three days away from Jerusalem. There's the Gulf of Aqaba, but it doesn't look like a river. And the Red Sea itself is quite salty, as Wikipedia announces:
The salinity of the Red Sea is greater than the world average, approximately 4 percent. This is due to several factors:
  1. High rate of evaporation and very little precipitation.
  2. Lack of significant rivers or streams draining into the sea.
  3. Limited connection with the Indian Ocean, which has lower water salinity.
Did you see the part about "lack of significant rivers or streams draining" into it?

If there was a wadi, perhaps, that had seasonal water...but the family stayed camped there while Nephi and his brothers went back for the Brass Plates. If it was only a stream resulting from rainstorms, Lehi was not hoping for much when he wished his son Laman would be "continually running into the fountain of all righteousness." 

Now let's see about rivers mentioned in the Bible, how many of them can be found today? Jordan, check. Tigris and Euphrates, check. The "river in Egypt," aka the Nile, check. Kishon, check. 

Now perhaps there was some river that existed three days distance from Jerusalem and it emptied into the Red Sea, but has since silted over. But this is only one of the examples of how Book of Mormon geography and history look like they were invented for a novel.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How did this false prophet end up making a true prophecy?

Most important, you must know that no prophecy of scripture represents the prophet’s own understanding of things, because no prophecy ever came by human will. Instead, men and women led by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
But false prophets also arose among the people. In the same way, false teachers will come among you. They will introduce destructive opinions and deny the master who bought them, bringing quick destruction on themselves.  Many will follow them in their unrestrained immorality, and because of these false teachers the way of truth will be slandered.  In their greed they will take advantage of you with lies. The judgment pronounced against them long ago hasn’t fallen idle, nor is their destruction sleeping.
2 Peter 1:20-2 Peter 2:3, Common English Bible Translation
I read these verses today and thought about Joseph Smith. I consider him to be a false prophet. You can read about how his own "prophecies" failed. You can find out about his "unrestrained immorality." You can read how he "introduced destructive opinions."

In his "translation" of the Bible, Joseph made it seem that he himself was mentioned in Biblical prophecies. It's with a bitter smile I see that indeed someone prophesied of Joseph--as a warning to us in the latter days.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Who judges us?

According to chapter 46 of Gospel Principles posted online at, at the Final Judgment, people will be judged by "The Son" with the assistance of the "The Twelve." I presume they mean Jesus and his apostles. To support this idea, they quote Matthew 19:28, which in the King James Version reads,

"And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
In the New Revised Standard Version,
"Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
It seems that they take the English word "judging" literally. In Greek it is κρινοντες and can mean to preside over, or to rule, as well as pass judgment. I looked through several Bible commentaries available online and couldn't find any support for the LDS doctrine that the apostles would be helping Jesus in the Last Judgment. Instead, I found multiple sources that said something similar to this statement from the Scofield reference notes:
"The kingdom will be administered over Israel through the apostles, according to the ancient theocratic judgeship."
In my personal opinion, Jesus doesn't need any help to judge us. The triune God is perfectly loving and omniscient and it's a relief to entrust my eternal salvation to God and not to any other person.