Written by John T. Gadd

The author of JosephLied.com, Mike Norton, presents several differences between the earliest edition of the Book of Mormon and the current authorized version as proof that the Book of Mormon was not, in fact, translated by the gift and power of God, but rather was made up by Joseph Smith. He claims that spelling and grammatical errors in the earliest edition of the Book of Mormon prove that the book is a fraud.

The truth is that several changes have been made to the text of the Book of Mormon over the years, but none of these corrections prove the book is a fraud. FAIR has compiled a list of articles that address these changes in detail. The long and short of these articles is that many of these changes were made during Joseph’s lifetime and under his direction, and that the “changes were either nontextual, corrections based on printing mistakes, or clarifications.” (see Book of Mormon Criticisms by Michael R. Ash). Thus, similar to the numerous revisions that the Bible has gone through, the Book of Mormon has been revised for correction or greater clarity. These revisions do not prove the book to be a fraud. They simply represent an effort by the Church to preserve the record as it was received and revised by Joseph in the 1820’s and 1830’s.

As for the quotation of Joseph Fielding Smith cited by Norton, we have another example of words distorted by taking them out of context. Norton quoted the following:

 

…enemies of the Church…have made the statement that there have been one or two or more thousand changes in the Book of Mormon since the first edition was published. Well, of course, there is no truth in that statement.

(The Improvement Era, December, 1961, pg. 924). Norton claims that this statement is clearly a bold faced lie since there is no question that there have been many corrections since the first edition of the Book of Mormon was published. However, when the quotation is read in the context of Smith’s entire statement, it is clear that Smith was not denying any changes were made, only that the changes made represented a substantive change in the doctrine presented by the Book of Mormon:

 

During the past week or two I have received a number of letters from different parts of the United States written by people, some of whom at least are a little concerned because they have been approached by enemies of the Church and enemies of the Book of Mormon who had made the statement that there have been one or two or more thousand changes in the Book of Mormon since the first edition was published. Well, of course, there is no truth in that statement.It is true that when the Book of Mormon was printed the printer was a man who was unfriendly. The publication of the book was done under adverse circumstances, and there were a few errors, mostly typographical—conditions that arise in most any book that is being published—but there was not one thing in the Book of Mormon or in the second edition or any other edition since that in any way contradicts the first edition, and such changes as were made, were made by the Prophet Joseph Smith because under those adverse conditions the Book of Mormon was published. But there was no change of doctrine.

Thus, it is clear, when viewed in its context, that the quotation cited by Norton does not claim there were no changes, only that the nature of the changes was not as the critics of the Church claimed.

Finally, I would simply suggest that Book of Mormon is true, and anyone who reads it with a sincere heart, with faith in Jesus Christ, can know for himself that it is true by the power of the Holy Ghost. The prophets who wrote the book were inspired men called of God to provide a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ for our day.