This entry is part 8 of 16 in My Search for Truth — Wes T.

The text of the Book of Mor­mon indi­cates that the peo­ples with­in the nar­ra­tive took great care to pre­serve their lan­guage from evolv­ing or frac­tur­ing into dif­fer­ent dialects. They wrote in Reformed Egypt­ian to sup­pos­ed­ly “save space” and spoke and read Hebrew. In 1st Nephi, Nephi is com­mand­ed to get the brass plates from Jerusalem to pre­serve “unto our chil­dren the lan­guage of our fathers” (1 Nephi 3:19). Lat­er in the text, the Nephite nation encoun­ters a sec­ond group of Hebrew migrants and finds that their “lan­guage had become cor­rupt­ed; and they had brought no records with them”. As a result, Mosi­ah (the Nephite leader) found it nec­es­sary that they should be taught in his (Hebrew) lan­guage (Omni 1:17–18). For the dura­tion of the Book of Mor­mon nar­ra­tive, there is no indi­ca­tion that the prin­ci­ple nar­ra­tive groups ever devi­at­ed from their lan­guage of ori­gin (spo­ken or writ­ten) for 1000 years. To the con­trary, the cur­rent body of evi­dence indi­cates that there were many dif­fer­ent spo­ken and writ­ten lan­guages uti­lized among the var­i­ous peo­ples of Ancient Amer­i­ca that have no resem­blance to Hebrew or Egypt­ian texts or languages.

Due to the phys­i­cal absence of the gold plates, there is no body of Ancient Amer­i­can evi­dence with which to com­pare Joseph Smith’s claim that Ancient Amer­i­cans wrote Reformed Egypt­ian. Except — the famous ‘Anthon Tran­script’ which was tak­en to Pro­fes­sor Charles Anthon for a cer­tifi­cate of authen­tic­i­ty may still exist.

Anthon Transcript

See http://​mor​mon​think​.com/​b​o​o​k​-​o​f​-​m​o​r​m​o​n​-​p​r​o​b​l​e​m​s​.​h​t​m​#anthon for an in depth analy­sis of the whole ‘Anthon Tran­script’ expe­ri­ence. What I found inter­est­ing is that the Com­mu­ni­ty of Christ has what is pur­port­ed to be part of the doc­u­ment brought to Pro­fes­sor Anthon:

What gives this paper more cred­i­bil­i­ty is that twice in late 1844, por­tions of these sym­bols were again pub­lished as char­ac­ters that Joseph Smith, Jr had copied from the gold plates. Char­ac­ters appeared in the Decem­ber 21 issue of the Mor­mon news­pa­per The Prophet. Also, in 1844 the Lat­ter-day Saints pub­lished a broad­side (see below) with the title “Stick of Joseph” which con­tained sup­posed char­ac­ters copied from the plates. The char­ac­ters are basi­cal­ly the same as those from the Anthon transcript.

And again in 1980, The LDS church print­ed an edi­tion of the Book of Mor­mon that fea­tured the same char­ac­ters from the Anthon Tran­script on the front and back cov­ers of a Book of Mor­mon made with gold cov­ers to sim­u­late what the gold plates may have looked like. The pho­to below is of one of these 1980 editions.

Based on these uses, I con­clude that the LDS church trusts that these are the char­ac­ters from the Anthon Tran­script or at least char­ac­ters that Joseph Smith, Jr copied from the plates for some oth­er rea­son. So, what do the char­ac­ters say? Noth­ing. Sev­er­al schol­ars, LDS and not LDS, have tried to make any sense of the lines, with no real luck. What I gath­er as being one of the more accept­ed con­clu­sions among non-LDS schol­ars is that the paper was writ­ten by some­one who had a book con­tain­ing var­i­ous alpha­bets from which to copy or adapt. Here is one analy­sis com­par­ing many of the marks to a Latin short­hand called Tiron­ian notes. The pho­to below shows the com­par­i­son with the Anthon char­ac­ters on the left and the short­hand on the right:

It is dif­fi­cult to believe that the char­ac­ters are reformed egypt­ian after this per­spec­tive is presented.

Greek and Other Language Issues

For a very detailed analy­sis of many of the lan­guage issues in the Book of Mor­mon, please see https://​pack​ham​.n4m​.org/​l​i​n​g​u​i​st.htm. I’ll sum­ma­rize a few of what I think are the biggest prob­lems here, but go there for more detail if any of this is interesting.

Joseph Smith, Jr. stat­ed that “There was no Greek or Latin upon the plates from which I, through the grace of the Lord, trans­lat­ed the Book of Mor­mon.” (Times and Sea­sons, Vol.4, No.13, May 15, 1843, p.194). How­ev­er there are sev­er­al places that have no mean­ing with­out Greek or Latin being found on the plates.

Christ the Messiah”

The Hebrew word which gives us the term “mes­si­ah” is ‘mashiach,’ mean­ing lit­er­al­ly “[the] anoint­ed [one].” It is used in the Hebrew Old Tes­ta­ment 47 times in ref­er­ence to all anoint­ed per­sons such as priests and kings. It is only rel­a­tive­ly late in Hebrew lit­er­a­ture that it came to have the addi­tion­al spe­cial mean­ing of the yet-to-come anoint­ed king of the house of David who was expect­ed to appear and free the Jews from for­eign dom­i­na­tion and estab­lish God’s king­dom for­ev­er on earth.

Usu­al­ly in the New Tes­ta­ment, which was writ­ten in Greek, the Hebrew word ‘mashiach’ is trans­lat­ed into Greek with the Greek word which means “anoint­ed”: ‘chris­tos’, and that Greek word is usu­al­ly not trans­lat­ed into Eng­lish, but only translit­er­at­ed (angli­cized), as “Christ,” with a cap­i­tal letter.

In the Greek of the New Tes­ta­ment, of course, he was referred to as “Jesus the Anoint­ed One” (‘Iesous ho chris­tos’), which in Hebrew or Ara­ma­ic would be some­thing like “Ieshua ha mashiach.”

Now, when we look at the Book of Mor­mon (sup­pos­ed­ly trans­lat­ed from Hebrew writ­ten in Reformed Egypt­ian), we find that the term “Mes­si­ah” occurs about 25 times. The term “Christ” occurs about 317 times.

Joseph Smith, Jr insist­ed that there was no Greek on the plates. So how could some­times “the Anoint­ed One” be trans­lat­ed as “Mes­si­ah” while oth­er times it is trans­lat­ed as “Christ”?

Espe­cial­ly trou­bling are vers­es like:

2 Nephi 25:19
For accord­ing to the words of the prophets, the Mes­si­ah cometh in six hun­dred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and accord­ing to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

So first, I’m com­fort­able stat­ing that no schol­ar believes that Jesus’s name was “Jesus Christ”, being the son of “Joseph Christ” and “Mary Christ”. Addi­tion­al­ly, this would mean that the angel of God spoke to the hebrews in Greek at times, instead of their own lan­guage. That doesn’t work.


Alma 16:13
And Alma and Amulek went forth preach­ing repen­tance to the peo­ple in their tem­ples, and in their sanc­tu­ar­ies, and also in their syn­a­gogues, which were built after the man­ner of the Jews.

Schol­ars of Jew­ish reli­gious his­to­ry are almost unan­i­mous in the view that the syn­a­gogue, which we think of as so typ­i­cal of Jew­ish reli­gious life, did not exist before the destruc­tion of the tem­ple and the Baby­lon­ian Cap­tiv­i­ty, which was defin­i­tive­ly after Lehi and the fam­i­ly left. So how could any Nephite know about “syn­a­gogues … after the man­ner of the Jews”? It may or may not be sur­pris­ing at this point that the word “syn­a­gogue” is also Greek (from ‘syn-’ “togeth­er” and ‘ag-’ “bring, lead”).

Bible” and more Greek words

Our Eng­lish word “Bible” is an angli­ciza­tion of the Greek word ‘bib­lia’, which means “books,” and is sim­ply the plur­al of the Greek word ‘bib­lion’ mean­ing “book.” The chap­ter of 2 Nephi 29 is odd for many rea­sons in itself, but the Greek words writ­ten by a Hebrew speak­ing, Reformed Egypt­ian writ­ing peo­ple adds addi­tion­al difficulty.

The fol­low­ing names from the Book of Mor­mon are also Greek in origin:

Antipas, Anti­pus, Archean­tus, Ezias, Jonas, Judea, Alpha and Omega, Tim­o­thy, Zenos, Angola

The Book of Mor­mon men­tions a har­lot named Isabel (Alma 39:3). “Isabel” is a name that only came into use in France and Italy dur­ing the late Mid­dle Ages. Except, the Nephites invent­ed it first, by over 1,000 years.

Series Nav­i­ga­tion: My Search for Truth — Wes T« Book of Mor­mon Issue 3: Tech­nol­o­gyBook of Mor­mon Issue 5: Hebrew DNA »



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Jerry Grover
8 years ago

For an inter­est­ing free book on the trans­la­tion of the “Anthon Tran­script” from the reformed Egypt­ian go to http://​www​.bookof​mor​mon​car​ac​torstrans​la​tion​.com

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