Changing Scriptures


Do the changes in Mormon scriptures indicate that they are from man, not God?


Reference Links

Book of Mormon Changes
Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible
Articles of Faith Change
Removal of Lectures of Faith
Doctrine and Covenants Changes

Video Transcript

All Mormon scriptures, have been subject to change over the years. Some changes are more substantial than others, but they all raise questions about how Mormons regard communication from God.

The current edition of the Book of Mormon contains almost 4000 changes from the first edition. These consist of spelling and grammatical errors, word choice changes, and inserted phrases. A change in one verse replaced the name King Benjamin with King Mosiah, because Benjamin was already dead.

These changes would be considered relatively minor, if it weren’t for the claims that the Book of Mormon was given by God word for word from the Golden Plates, and that it was the most correct of any book on earth.

Just after the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, Joseph Smith received a revelation that he was to make a new translation of the Bible, which was corrupted. This was not a literal translation from ancient texts, but a revelatory process, parts of which Smith revised several times.

He made thousands of changes, additions, and deletions, including completely removing the Song of Solomon. Some of the passages that he added suffered from the same kind of anachronisms found in the Book of Mormon including quoting from the New Testament over a thousand years before it had been written.

But the most important changes he made were to make the Bible explicitly teach unique Mormon doctrines about baptism, the afterlife, and the priesthood, among others. He rewrote verses that originally said that no man can see God because he had claimed to have seen God, he even inserted a prophecy about himself into the book of Genesis.

And yet, with the exception of two excerpts, The Book of Moses and Matthew, published in the Pearl of Great Price, the Joseph Smith translation is not official church cannon. Instead, they use the King James version, which, according to their Articles of Faith, is not translated correctly. And although the church has prophets, seers, and revelators, they have yet to correct the Bible.

An important change in the Pearl of Great Price is found in the Articles of Faith. Article number four used to state that the ordinances of salvation were faith, repentance, baptism, and the laying on of hands. By 1902, it was changed to say that these were only the first principles of the gospel. This was to reflect the added qualifications for salvation, including as temple work.

The Doctrine and Covenants which was first published in 1835 contained two parts, the Lectures of Faith, and sections of revelations. In 1921, the Lectures of Faith, which taught conflicting views of God, were removed.

The revelation in Doctrine and Covenants Section 5 was originally published saying that Smith would receive no other gift than the ability to translate the Book of Mormon. A few years later, it was changed to say that it was only his first gift, and he would receive others.

Section 7 was supposedly translated from a parchment written by the hand of the apostle John, but over a hundred words were added to the middle of the text from the time it was first published, begging the question as to whether or not those words were actually on the parchment.

And finally, in 1876, Section 101, which explicitly prohibited polygamy, was removed and replaced with section 132 which allowed polygamy.

Mormons explain away changes by saying that prophets can make mistakes and God changes his mind. But others see this as a convenient excuse to change doctrine whenever it becomes expedient. Find out more at ldsvideo.org.