EVIDENCE: Hebrew Conditional Sentences (Moroni 10:4; Helaman 12:13–21)

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen

In the English language, we frequently say something like “If you study hard, you will succeed.” In this sentence, the first part of the sentence is the condition, and if this condition is met, the second part of the sentence will occur. In Hebrew, it is common to use an if/and conditional sentence, such as we find in the most well-known passage of the Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:4, which, in its original wording as it appeared in the first edition of 1830, stated: “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, and he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (emphasis added). The word and appeared in this version. The if/and conditional formulation, perfectly appropriate in Hebrew and found frequently in the Hebrew Bible, has a peculiar ring to our modern ears and has been adjusted in subsequent editions of the Book of Mormon in regard to passages such as Moroni 10:4 and Helaman 12:13–21—by omitting the word and without changing the meaning of the original. A native speaker of English would probably never write or speak a sentence using the if/and conditional form, as it would simply sound peculiar. Thus the presence of the if/and formulation in the original edition is yet a further confirmation of the antiquity of the Book of Mormon. (See Echoes, 212–214.)

Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2