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Walter Martin's plagiarism criticisms
Table of Contents From Walter Martin, Kingdom of the Cults, (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), pp. 187–89.
Plagiarisms—The King James Version
According to a careful survey of the Book of Mormon, it contains at least 25,000 words from the King James Bible. In fact, verbatim quotations, some of considerable length, have caused the Mormons no end of embarrassment for many years.
The comparison of Moroni chapter 10 with 1 Corinthians 12:1–11, 2 Nephi 14 with Isaiah 4, and 2 Nephi 12 with Isaiah 2 reveals that Joseph Smith made free use of his Bible to supplement the alleged revelation of the golden plates. The book of Mosiah, chapter 14 in the Book of Mormon, is a reproduction of the fifty third chapter of Isaiah the prophet; and 3 Nephi 13:1–18 copies Matthew 6:1–23.
The Mormons naively suggest that when Christ allegedly appeared on the American continent after His resurrection and preached to the Nephites
he quite naturally used the same language as recorded in the Bible. They also maintain that when Nephi came to America he brought copies of Hebrew Scriptures, which account for quotations from the Old Testament. The only difficulty with these excuses is that the miraculous plates upon which they were all inscribed, somehow or another, under translation, came out in King James English without variation approximately a thousand years before this 1611 version was written. Such reasoning on the part of the Mormons strains at the limits of credulity and only they are willing to believe it.
There are other instances of plagiarisms from the King James Bible including paraphrases of certain verses. One of these verses (1 John 5:7) is reproduced in 3 Nephi 11:27, 36. The only difficulty with the paraphrase here is that the text is considered by scholars to be an interpolation missing from all the major manuscripts of the New Testament but present in the King James Bible from which Smith paraphrased it not knowing the difference.
Another example of this type of error is found in 3 Nephi 11:33–34, and is almost a direct quotation from Mark 16:16, a passage regarded by many New Testament Greek scholars as an addition to that gospel by an overzealous scribe. But Joseph Smith was not aware of this either, so he even copied in translational errors, another proof that neither he nor the alleged golden plates were inspired of God.
Two further instances of plagiarisms from the King James Bible which have backfired on the Mormons are worth noting.
In the third chapter of the book of Acts, Peter's classic sermon at Pentecost paraphrases Deuteronomy 18:15–19. While in the process of writing 3 Nephi, Joseph Smith puts Peter's paraphrase in the mouth of Christ when the Savior was allegedly preaching to the Nephites. The prophet overlooked the fact that at the time that Christ was allegedly preaching His sermon, the sermon itself had not yet been preached by Peter.
In addition to this, 3 Nephi makes Christ out to be a liar, when in verse 23 of chapter 20 Christ attributes Peter's words to Moses as a direct quotation when, as we have pointed out, Peter paraphrased the quotation from Moses; and the wording is quite different. But Joseph did not check far enough, hence this glaring error.
Secondly, the Book of Mormon follows the error of the King James translation which renders Isaiah 4:5: "For upon all the glory shall be a defense"(See 2 Nephi 14:5).
Modern translations of Isaiah point out that if should read "For over all the glory there will be a canopy," not a defense. The Hebrew word, "chuppah," does not mean defense but a protective curtain or canopy. Smith, of course, did not know this nor did King James translators from whose work he copied.
There are quite a number of other places where such errors appear, including Smith's insistence in Abraham 1:20 that "Pharaoh signifies king by royal blood," when in reality the dictionary defines the meaning of the term Pharaoh as "a great house or palace."
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible renders Isaiah 5:25: "And
their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets," correctly rendering the Hebrew suchah as refuse, not as "torn." The King James Bible renders the passage: "And their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets." The Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 15:25) repeats the King James' text word for word, including the error of mistranslating suchah, removing any claim that the Book of Mormon is to be taken seriously as reliable material.