“Things Taken Away from the Book”

Alan C. Miner

Daniel Bachman cites the specific example of John 3:16 (“he gave his only begotten Son”) to give the student some idea of how “plain and precious things” can be “taken away” from the Bible. He notes that many modern versions have changed this portion of the verse and removed the word “begotten” thereby removing the literal nature of Christ’s Sonhood. Here is how seven modern versions translate the phrase:

Living Bible: “he gave his only Son…”

Today’s English Version: “he gave his only Son”

NIV: “he gave his one and only Son”

Phillips Modern English: “he gave his only Son”

RSV “he gave his only Son”

Jerusalem Bible: “he gave his only son”

New English Bible: “he gave his only Son”

We find that when the word “begotten” is left out, the resulting phrase, “he gave his only son,” essentially counters the truth that all men are literal spirit sons of God (Jesus being the only begotten son in the flesh).

[Daniel W. Bachman, “Commentary on John 3,” unpublished paper]

“There Are Many Plain and Precious Things Taken Away from the Book”

Nephi sees in vision that “after the book [of the Lamb of God] hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book” (1 Nephi 13:18). While acknowledging the possible deletions and variations that might have entered into the book itself, Reynolds and Sjodahl bring up another perspective, which is the loss of numerous supportive texts that may have provided additional insight and testimony to this book.

People have a wrong idea of the civilization of the early ages. They are apt to think of the people as ignorant, unable to read and write. But not so… . Books were numerous. In the famous Alexandrian library, there were at one time circa 700,000 volumes. During the siege of the city by Julius Caesar, part of the library was destroyed by fire, but the loss was somewhat repaired by the turning over of the collection at Pergamos to Cleopatra by Mark Anthony. It remained for the so-called Christian Roman emperor, Theodosius the Great, to destroy that precious collection of literature, in the interest of the church, in the year A.D. 389. Similar acts of vandalism have occurred again and again. Precious books were given to the flames. The same policy was resurrected in America by the first Spanish missionaries who made bonfires of the literature of the Mayas. The vision of Nephi was fulfilled literally.

[George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 129]

"Precious Things Taken Away from the Book”

Richardson, Richardson and Bentley write that several Bible scholars have concluded that there are many passages of scripture that were deleted from the canonical Bible in use today. Adam Clarke quoted Justin Martyr, an early Christian writer who taught that a certain passage had been taken out of the Book of Ezra:

And Ezra said to the people; This Passover is our Savior and our Refuge: and if ye will be persuaded of it, and let it enter into your hearts, that we are to humble ourselves to him in a sign, and afterwards shall believe in him, this place shall not be destroyed forever, saith the Lord of Hosts: But if ye will not believe in him, nor hearken to his preaching, ye shall be a laughing-stock to the gentiles… .

This passage,“ Justin says, ”the Jews, through their enmity to Christ, blotted out of the book of Ezra. He charges them with canceling several other places through the same spirit of enmity and opposition."

Also in “Dialogue with Trypho,” Justin Martyr writes: “And since this passage from the sayings of Jeremiah is still written in some copies (of the Scriptures) in the synagogues of the Jews (for it was only a short time since they were cut out), … from the sayings of the same Jeremiah these have been cut out: ”The Lord God remembered His dead people of Israel who lay in the graves; and He descended to preach to them His own salvation." The deleted text clearly makes reference to the Savior’s visit to the spirit world, during the time that His body slept in the tomb--as recorded in Peter’s first general epistle (1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:5-6).

[Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 18]

“There Are Many Plain and Precious Things Taken Away from the Book”

According to Barry Bickmore, aside from the differences of opinion about which books should be canonical, it appears that certain parts of the canonical books have been removed by Jews and Christians alike! Justin Martyr accused the Jews of having removed certain passages from the Old Testament related to the Christian message [of salvation for the dead]. Justin quotes some passages which the Jews evidently removed from Esdras and Jeremiah and then declares:

“And again, from the sayings of the same Jeremiah these have been cut out: ’The Lord God remembered His dead people of Israel who lay in the graves; and He descended to preach to them His own salvation.’”

Irenaeus also gives witness to this reading:

And in Jeremias He thus announces His death and descent into hell, in the words: “And the Lord the Holy One of Israel bethought Him of His dead, who in the past had slept in the dust of the earth, and went down unto them, to bring the good news of salvation, to deliver them.” Here He also gives the reason for His death; for His descent into hell was salvation for the departed.

Heneri Daniel-Rops quotes Origen saying that even the New Testament texts of his time (early third century) had been corrupted extensively:

“Today the fact is evident, that there are many differences in the manuscripts, either through the negligence of certain copyists, or the perverse audacity of some in correcting the text.”

Sadly, this habit of “correcting the text” seems to have been quite common in antiquity. Bishop Dionysius of Corinth (A.D. 110-180) complained that “the devil’s Apostles” had not only tampered with the scriptures, but his own writings:

“It is, therefore not to be wondered at if some have attempted to adulterate the Lord’s writings also, since they have formed designs even against writings which are of less accounts.”

[Barry Robert Bickmore, Restoring the Ancient Church: Joseph Smith & Early Christianity, pp. 60-61]

“ Plain and Precious Things”

Richardson, Richardson and Bentley write that while the Book of Mormon testifies to the authenticity of the Bible, it does not claim that the Bible is without error. It specifically states that there were many “plain and precious things” that were deleted from its pages through the evil works of men. (See 1 Nephi 13:20-32; 19:10-12; 20:1-3; 2 Nephi 3:5-22; Alma 33:3, 13, 15; 34:7; 46:23-27; Helaman 8:19-20; 15:11; 3 Nephi 10:14-17; 12:13, 17-19, 22, 29-30; 14:1.)

Scholars of the Bible have found indisputable evidence that the Bible has indeed suffered many deletions. Non Mormon scholarship has concluded that the gospels found in the New Testament have also been manipulated.

Critics often ask for specific examples of any “plain and precious things” found in the Book of Mormon that are not also found in the Bible. Below is just a very brief list of such examples:

The Lord prepares a way for us to keep all of His commandments (1 Nephi 3:7)

How mysteries are made known unto man (1 Nephi 10:19; Mosiah 2:9; Alma 12:10; 26:22)

The process for receiving revelation and inspiration (1 Nephi 17:45; Enos 1:10)

The gentiles to assist the house of Israel (1 Nephi 22:8-11; 2 Nephi 10:18)

The law of consecration (2 Nephi 2:2)

The reason God allows evil and opposition to continue in the world and the importance of moral agency (2 Nephi 2:2, 10:16)

The purpose of Adam’s fall & man’s existence (2 Nephi 2:22-25)

The lost prophecy of the latter-day Joseph (2 Nephi 3:6-16)

God’s word is not limited to the Bible (2 Nephi 29:3-13)

The lost teachings of Zenos (Jacob 5:1-77)

A description of the natural man, and how to overcome (Mosiah 3:19; Alma 5:6-45)

How to retain the remission of sins (Mosiah 4:11-16)

The true process of being born again (Mosiah 5:2-9; Alma 5:6-45)

The office and calling of a seer (Mosiah 8:13-17)

The manner in which faith is developed and maintained (Alma 32:26-34)

The relationship between justice and mercy (Alma 34:15-16)

The state of the soul between death a d the resurrection (Alma 40:11-14)

Christians and Christianity flourished before the time of Christ (Alma 46:13-16)

The symbolisms of the remnant of Joseph’s coat (Alma 46:23)

The perpetual cycle of the human experience: obedience-->blessings-->prosperity-->pride-->sin--punishment-->humility-->repentance-->obedience … (Helaman 12:1-3)

The “other sheep” spoken of in John 10:16 are identified (3 Nephi 15:16-24)

The powers of translated beings (3 Nephi 28:36-40)

Baptism is only for those who are accountable (Moroni 8:5-23)

The manner in which all truth may be verified (Moroni 10:4-5)

[Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, pp. 16-17] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 29:3]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary