“O Fools, They Shall Have a Bible”

Brant Gardner

These three verses explain why Yahweh introduced his “Bible” parallel. It is a two-pronged argument. The first predicts the contention related to those who will not accept a new written communication. Second and more important is his highlighting of the proper relationship of the Jews and the Gentiles. (In the Book of Mormon, “Jew” is a collective term for the entire house of Israel.)

Verse 4 explains that, while the Gentiles will accept and proclaim the text received from the Jews (the Old World Jews), they will not accept the Jews themselves. Yahweh describes the historical Gentile enmity toward the Jews and points out the irony that the Gentiles deny the Jews as the source of their Bible, while proclaiming that same Bible as their salvation. This dichotomy between the source of the revealed knowledge and the current text becomes the focal point for the next verses.

Verse 5 notes that the Gentiles have “cursed” and “hated” the Jews, thus denying them the care and respect they deserve as Yahweh’s chosen people. But Yahweh has not forgotten them.

Like verse 4, verse 6 repeats the heavy-handed irony that the Gentiles, who despise the Jews, venerate the “Bible” that came to them from the Jews. This explicit connection between Yahweh’s promises to the Jews (meaning the house of Israel) and the Bible’s existence is the foundation for the next phase of Yahweh’s argument.

Variant: Verse 4 had the word travels instead of travails in the printer’s manuscript and all editions until 1981. Skousen notes that in all cases where the text should have read travails the scribe wrote travels. Skousen cites a letter from John Gilbert to James Cobb written February 10, 1879: “In one instance he [Oliver Cowdery] was looking over the manuscript, when the word ‘travail’ occurred twice in the form, but spelled in the manuscript, travel. Mr. Grandin when reading the proof pronounced the word correctly, but Cowdery did not seem to know the difference.” It appears clear that travels was simply a misspelling for the more logical travails.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2