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Five Tests of Joseph Smith

Moroni 10:4 in the Book of Mormon gives the test Mormons use to be convinced that the Book of Mormon Is true:  “4 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, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”  This manifestation has often identified as a “burning in the bosom” or some other such subjective event.  But this test is in the Book of Mormon itself.  If the whole Book of Mormon is to be tested for truth, external, more objective tests are needed.  I propose the following:

(1)    The Great Isaiah Scroll Test

Premise 1:  The Old Testament was delivered to the Apostles “in purity” (i.e., without the “plain and precious parts” having been taken away yet – 1 Nephi 13:25).

Premise 2:  After the Apostolic Age, i.e., during the Common Era or AD, the “abominable church” removed “many plain and precious parts,” including eight verses from Isaiah 29 (1 Nephi 13:20-29).

Premise 3:  In the Joseph Smith Translation, Joseph Smith restored many of the “plain and precious parts” that had been removed, including the missing verses from Isaiah 29.

Premise 4:  The Great Isaiah Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls was in existence before the Apostolic Age (scholars date it to around 125 BC)

Hypothesis:  The Great Isaiah Scroll has the missing verses of Isaiah 29 that were restored by Joseph Smith in the Joseph Smith Translation.

Test:  Examine the Isaiah Scroll or a translation of it from the Dead Sea Scrolls and compare it with the Joseph Smith Translation to see if the missing verses from Isaiah 29 are present.

(2 & 3)  The Book of Abraham Papyri Tests

Premise 1:  The Book of Abraham was translated by Joseph Smith from papyrus documents purchased by the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, in the 1830s.

Premise 2:  At least some of the papyri or photographs of them, that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham from (“Joseph Smith Papyri”) are available to examine today.

Premise 3:  Egyptologists who can translate the Joseph Smith Papyri have done so in a reliable and authoritative manner.

Hypothesis 1:  The authoritative translations of the papyri will agree in essential meaning with the Book of Abraham.

Test 1:  Compare the Book of Abraham with the translations of the Joseph Smith Papyri to see if they agree.

Premise 4:  The Joseph Smith papyrus translated as the Book of Abraham was "written by Abraham in his own hand," i.e., by the biblical man Abraham himself, written himself in person in his own handwriting.

Premise 5:  The time of Abraham was about 2000 BC.

Hypothesis 2:  The Book of Abraham papyrus is dated by reputable Egyptologists to around 2000 BC.

Test 2:  Find out what approximate date reputable Egyptologists give to the Book of Abraham papyrus.

(4)    The Biblical manuscript propagation test

Premise 1:  According to 1 Nephi 13 “the abominable church” took away from the Bible “many plain and precious parts”, that is, those parts that were restored by Joseph Smith in the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.

Premise 2:  In general people who read the Bible manuscripts after the abominable church removed them did not know that the “plain and precious parts” had been removed.

Premise 3:  The taking away of the “plain and precious parts” was unknown until Joseph Smith revealed this around 1830.

Premise 4:  The reason no one later knew that parts had been removed is for one or more of the following reasons:  (1) church officials controlled all the Bible manuscripts in existence, (2) all the church officials who possessed copies of the Bible manuscripts conspired together to uniformly remove the above-mentioned parts from all the manuscripts or produce new manuscripts with the removed parts absent, (3) before the above removal took place, no non-participant in the conspiracy was familiar enough with the affected passages of the Bible to realize afterward that the removal had happened, (4) no person who noticed the removal reported the change in a form that has survived into the present, or (5) no unchanged manuscripts survived in the years following to come down to us in the present.

Hypothesis:  The “abominable church” after the Apostolic Age took away the parts of the Bible that Joseph Smith restored by means of the Joseph Smith Translation, without knowledge of these changes getting out or records of this knowledge surviving to the present apart from Joseph Smith’s revelation.

Test:  Construct a plausible scenario that matches history after the Apostolic Age by which the Hypothesis could be true.

(5)    The Gospel tests

Premise 1:  The true definition of the Good News, i.e., the Gospel, in the Book of Mormon is expressed in 2 Nephi 25:23:  “23For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

Premise 2:  The last part of 2 Nephi 25:23 means that after we have done all that we can do by our own efforts to please God, God’s grace takes us the rest of the way to salvation.

Hypothesis:  This is Good News, since I will be saved, because I always have done and now do all I can do to please God.

Test 1:  I can review my past to determine if I have always done all I could to please God.

Test 2:  I can inquire into the life of anyone else to determine if that person has always done all he or she could to please God.

Can anyone be saved under this Book of Mormon requirement?

 

Bob Snyder

October 21, 2012