Question: Did Joseph Smith ignorantly include an error from the Bible into the Book of Mormon when including the Lord's Prayer in 3 Nephit 13:13?

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Question: Did Joseph Smith ignorantly include an error from the Bible into the Book of Mormon when including the Lord's Prayer in 3 Nephit 13:13?

The text is arguably both an original teaching of Jesus and something associated with the Lord's Prayer, and thus is entirely supportable as a teaching of Jesus during His ministry as recorded in the Book of Mormon

Critics of the Book of Mormon point to the ending of the Lord's Prayer as found in 3 Nephi 13:13 which reads "For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen." This phrase, called the doxology, is missing from early manuscripts of Matthew 6:13 but is included in the King James Version of the Bible. The argument is that Joseph Smith ignorantly included a late addition to the Bible into the Book of Mormon, thus proving the Book of Mormon to be a creation of Joseph Smith and not an ancient text.[1]

The issue of recovering the earliest form of Matthew is a matter of manuscript discoveries and continued scholarship. But the doxology is arguably both an original teaching of Jesus and something associated with the Lord's Prayer, and thus is entirely supportable as a teaching of Jesus during His ministry as recorded in the Book of Mormon.

The problem with the criticism is that it presumes that, based on an appeal to the Bible, the doxology was not spoken by Jesus to the Nephites

The problem with the criticism is that it presumes that, based on an appeal to the Bible, the doxology was not spoken by Jesus to the Nephites. The presumption is that the Book of Mormon record should properly match our earliest manuscripts for Matthew rather than being in its own right an historical record of Jesus' words to the Nephites. This criticism also is based on the related assumptions that Matthew properly recorded the entire words of Jesus and that the doxology was not used by Jesus during His mortal ministry in connection with the Lord's Prayer. The critics err in all of these instances.

It is not known when the doxology was first used by Christians, but the doxology might first be prefigured in 1 Chronicles 29:10-11 where the following phrases appear:

"Blessed be thou, Lord God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all."

It is clear that early Christians believed that Jesus spoke those words and that the words were associated with the Lord's Prayer

The first extant text of the doxology in association with the Lord's Prayer is found in the Didache, an ancient Christian document written in Greek and dating from no later than the early second century and possibly as early as A.D. 70.

It is clear that early Christians believed that Jesus spoke those words and that the words were associated with the Lord's Prayer. We cannot know whether Matthew simply did not record those words or if Matthew's record had been corrupted early on to remove those words. It is possible that Jesus taught the Lord's Prayer on multiple occasions and didn't always use the same form, making Matthew's account neither incomplete nor corrupt, merely a record of one of several sermons that include the Lord's Prayer. It is even possible that during His mortal ministry Jesus spoke the doxology yet never combined the doxology with the Lord's Prayer, but that He combined those teachings during His three-day ministry among the Nephites.


Notes

  1. ↑ H. Michael Marquardt, Literary Dependence in the Book of Mormon: Two Studies, 2000. Accessed on April 14, 2008, on the Institute for Religious Research (IRR) website.